Ayahuasca: A Journey Many Young People Are Taking
Over the past decade or so, ayahuasca has gained tremendous mainstream popularity. From its history with indigenous tribes, to becoming a trend with many young people, this psychedelic is currently booming.
Since an ayahuasca retreat shows real promise for mental shifts, millennials are discovering the drug’s healing powers. But what is this psychedelic all about? Why are so many young people experimenting with it? Allow us to explain.
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What Is Ayahuasca?
Ayahuasca has been an integral ingredient for Amazonian tribes as a part of their spiritual and healing rituals for thousands of years. In fact, in some cultures, it’s still a sacred beverage. Traditionally, an experienced healer called a shaman prepares the drink, then takes a person through the ritual. This shaman guides the way through chanting, dancing, and invocation.
Shamans have the highest respect in their tribes. Many believe they possess the ability to use magic to heal, foresee future events, and communicate with spirits. They are often chosen for their amazing abilities, but sometimes receive a “calling”.
Ayahuasca “trips” are always under the shaman’s guidance, ensuring everything goes the way it should. This helps with any side effects, which are common due to the drug’s purging properties. These cleanses are meant to scrape the body from toxins and bad spirits.
What Makes Ayahuasca A Psychedelic?
The reason ayahuasca is a hallucinogenic is due to its molecular structure. An active chemical called DMT (dimethyltryptamine) — which, when combined with harmine found in Banisteriopsis caapi, alters the state of the drinker — may induce hallucinations. These are known as “trips”.
Harmine is responsible for inhibiting the processes in the stomach, especially monoamine oxidase (MOA). This prevents the psychoactive ingredients from reaching the bloodstream and, eventually, the brain.
DMT is still illegal in most countries, including the United States. However, many people are arguing against such harsh restrictions, especially as ayahuasca’s healing properties gain recognition.
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How Did It Become Known Outside Amazonian Tribes?
In 1851, Richard Spruce, an English botanist, made a discovery in the upper Rio Negro region of the Brazilian Amazon. Some natives were using a specific plant to open their minds and cleanse them from bad spirits.
In 1858, an Ecuadorian geographer, Villavicencio, mentioned ayahuasca in his writings. After consuming it himself, he said the experience was like “flying to marvelous places.”
These mentions sparked an interest amongst 20th century scientists, who spent time analyzing the plants and compounds. This is how DMT and other active chemicals were found in ayahuasca.
From then on, interest only grew, with researchers, scientists, writers, and explorers taking journeys to South American tribes for the sole purpose of experiencing these effects for themselves.
Side Effects Of Ayahuasca
There are many side effects with psychedelics, and ayahuasca is no different. A complete out-of-body experience is typical. Unfortunately, these hallucinogenic sensations may lead to unpleasant physical side effects as well, which include the following:
- Nausea and vomiting
- Experiencing powerful emotions
- Moderate increase in blood pressure and heart rate
- Increased body temperature
This can sometimes lead to negative feelings or a bad trip, which may deter the person from going through the ritual again. However, bad trips can be beneficial, despite the misconception otherwise.
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Many celebrities keep coming forward with ayahuasca experiences and stories. Additionally, a growing number of ayahuasca retreats are available all around the world, offering a cleansing and healing journey. Likewise, young entrepreneurs dabbling in drugs like psilocybin and LSD are wondering what microdosing psychedelics like ayahuasca can do for them.
Extensive research of ayahuasca is still in the early stages. Existing studies suggest this psychedelic may have several neurological and psychological health benefits.
A 2017 study showed its potential neuroprotective and cognitive-enhancing effects — since it reduces inflammation and oxidative stress. However, the study was on mice, so further research in humans is necessary.
In 2018, a research paper brought attention to the potential connection between ayahuasca and PTSD, as it helps with the retrieval of repressed memories. This may pave the way for the brain to reprogram or extinguish the associated fear response.
Early indications are positive about ayahuasca’s healing powers, but more thorough studies are important. Many psychedelic drugs show promise for mental health issues, but how safe are they? In time, we will find out.