An Ayahuasca Retreat Brings Powerful Changes

An Ayahuasca Retreat Brings Powerful Changes

An ayahuasca retreat can be an extremely powerful experience. Participating in ayahuasca sessions can lead to meaningful and transformative changes in your life. This article describes what some of these changes might be, referring to the latest research on how ayahuasca can improve mental health issues.

An Ayahuasca Retreat Can Influence Major Life Decisions

In an ayahuasca session, you have the opportunity to think about your life from a number of different perspectives. This special trait can help to destabilize and restructure some of our core beliefs. The decisions you should take in life suddenly become clear, and this insight can in some instances prompt psychological growth. A survey carried out by the Global Ayahuasca Project, led by University of Melbourne research Dr. Daniel Perkins, highlights the major life decisions that people have been shown to make following an ayahuasca retreat. These changes can include:

  • Ending unhealthy relationships
  • Entering healthier relationships
  • Starting new careers
  • Lifestyle changes, such as giving up drinking or drug use
  • Dietary changes
  • Healing interpersonal conflicts

You will often find anecdotal reports of people making changes like this following an ayahuasca retreat. However promising this psychedelic may eventually prove to be in expanding our consciousness in a positive way, it is important to keep some caveats in mind about this study.

Firstly, the survey was voluntary. This means those who have had positive ayahuasca experiences may have been more likely to participate than those who had negative ones. In this study, Perkins noted that five percent of respondents said ayahuasca had a negative effect on their life. Also, the kind of person willing to do an ayahuasca retreat may already be primed to make major changes to his or her life.

Ayahuasca Retreats And Mental Health

Many people who join an ayahuasca retreat or experiment with psychedelics treatment often do so to treat mental health-related issues. These problems may include trauma, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), or major depression. There is now some interesting research backing up claims of quick and effective recovery from hard-to-treat mental health conditions.

According to one study, nearly half (45 percent) of users who had never used ayahuasca met the criteria for a psychiatric disorder. After ayahuasca use, over 80 percent of naïve users showed clinical improvements, lasting for six months.

Ayahuasca and Depression

Major depression is the most common type of mood disorder. It affects an estimated 17.3 million American adults (or 7.1 percent of all U.S. adults). Many treatments — medical, psychotherapeutic, and lifestyle-based — can treat depression. Ayahuasca, however, is a more novel treatment that deserves attention.

Ayahuasca can lead to significant and sustained reductions in depressive symptoms, including six months after use. One placebo-controlled study has shown that ayahuasca causes rapid and significant antidepressant effects in people with treatment-resistant depression. This refers to a depression that does not respond well to classic interventions — such as SSRI medication or some form of traditional, talking therapy.

Earlier research has likewise demonstrated that the antidepressant effect of ayahuasca is superior to the placebo effect. If you are suffering from depression, then, it is possible that you could see improvements in your mental health after an ayahuasca retreat. In these studies, many patients no longer meet criteria for major depression following ayahuasca use.

Ayahuasca and PTSD

The lifetime prevalence of PTSD among U.S. adults is 3.6 percent. When it comes to treating PTSD with ayahuasca, the evidence is more scant compared to depression. However, some research is currently focusing on this area. Researchers have proposed ayahuasca as a candidate for the treatment of PTSD, while others are collecting survey data to provide insights into this subject.

In a paper published in Frontiers in Pharmacology, the researcher Antonio Inserra has hypothesized how ayahuasca can help heal traumatic memories, at the level of brain activity. Some researchers in the field have stated that ayahuasca is similar to exposure therapy. This is a form of therapy commonly used to treat PTSD. It involves exposing oneself to trauma-related memories. With a sufficient amount of exposure, clients can change the meaning of the trauma, reducing the fear they feel in response to memories.

Overcoming Addiction During An Ayahuasca Retreat

One of the other common reasons people join an ayahuasca retreat is to try and overcome drug addiction. This may be an addiction to opioids, benzos, stimulants, or alcohol. Several centers that use ayahuasca to treat addiction claim they have higher success rates than traditional forms of addiction treatment. In a study looking at ayahuasca-assisted therapy and addiction, researchers discovered the following:

  • Reductions in self-reported alcohol, tobacco, and cocaine
  • No decline in cannabis or opiate use
  • Statistically significant reductions in cocaine use
  • Statistically significant improvements in hopefulness, mindfulness, empowerment, and quality of life (which includes your sense of meaning and outlook)

A follow-up analysis of this study revealed that participants were able to identify negative patterns in ayahuasca sessions that related to their addictions. Researchers underscore that this was associated with reduced substance use and cravings.

While the study does involve ayahuasca ceremonies, it includes group counseling as well. When taking part in an ayahuasca retreat, one doesn’t tend to receive counseling or therapy before or after the sessions as part of the retreat. In addition, trained therapists aren’t always on hand during sessions. Nonetheless, with the right kind of preparation, support, and integration, a better chance of overcoming addiction is possible.

What To Expect After An Ayahuasca Experience

An ayahuasca retreat brings the opportunity to notice the underlying issues that are leading to addiction. For many people, addiction is a way of dealing with trauma and emotional pain. During an ayahuasca retreat, patients can intimately confront pain and gain new perspectives. When dealing with the core issue in this way, coping mechanisms like alcohol and drug use become unnecessary. However, to effectively work on these deeper problems, it may require additional support before and after the ayahuasca retreat.

Issues like major depression, PTSD, and addiction can often be hard-to-treat. Mental health conditions and addictions can be intensely distressing and cause major disruptions to work, relationships, and social life. While microdosing psychedelics is an option, self-medicating psychedelics has risks, so be aware of those. It’s why, when other treatment options fail, an ayahuasca retreat is a possibility. It has the potential to aid recovery.

Even healthy people can benefit from an ayahuasca retreat. The experience might open up a better, more fulfilling path to take in life. Even if a bad trip occurs, it may bring a positive impact.

Under the right circumstances, ayahuasca can be safe to take. These conditions include supervision, not consuming any food or substances that can interact negatively with the brew, and not having pre-existing conditions that might make ayahuasca use risky. Always keep these factors in mind before joining any ayahuasca retreat.

These retreats offer an intensely emotional and introspective journey. It’s why the future of psychedelics looks bright, and why so many are turning to alternative medicines.

Ayahuasca Retreats Around the World

Etnikas Clinic of Integrative Medicine – San Salvador, Peru
Ayahuasca Foundation – Iquitos, Peru
Arkana Ayahuasca Retreat – The Sacred Valley, Peru
Soul Quest Ayahuasca Church of Mother Earth – Orlando, Florida
The Temple of the Way of Light – Peru
New Life Ayahuasca – San Ramòn, Costa Rica
Ayahuasca Healings – Colorado Springs, Colorado
Soltara Healing Center – Nicoya Peninsula, Costa Rica
Hummingbird Healing Center – Iquitos, Peru
Refugio Altiplano – Iquitos, Peru
Gaia Sagrada Retreat – Cuenca, Ecuador
The Holistic Sanctuary – Beverly Hills, California
Lotus Vine Journeys – Tarapoto, Peru
Gaia Tree Retreat Center – Iquitos, Peru
Spirit Vine Retreats – Itacaré, Brazil

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Sam Woolfe

View all posts by Sam Woolfe

Sam Woolfe is a freelance writer based in London. His main areas of interest include mental health, mystical experiences, the history of psychedelics, and the philosophy of psychedelics. He first became fascinated by psychedelics after reading Aldous Huxley's description of the mescaline experience in The Doors of Perception. Since then, he has researched and written about psychedelics for various publications, covering the legality of psychedelics, drug policy reform, and psychedelic science.

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