What is Ayahuasca?
Ayahuasca is a psychedelic brew that has been used in the Amazonian area of South America, specifically Peru, for thousands of years. It is traditionally used under the guidance of a shaman in a ceremonial setting for spiritual discovery and awakening. In the Western world, it has been building a name for itself as an increasingly popular tool for treating drug addiction, depression, anxiety and PTSD. It has been featured on many prominent television and news programs such as BBC, CNN, HBO’s VICE and Newsweek and the message is clear: Ayahuasca has incredible potential.
Shamans believe that each plant has an individual spirit and these spirits have their own unique personalities. When you participate in an ceremony you get to know the spirit of ayahuasca. This entity is feminine in nature, and is often comforting and gentle. While some people can have difficult experiences, it is infrequently reported as a ‘bad’ trip. This is because ayahuasca, like ibogaine, is a plant teacher, and sometimes the way it teaches may not be the way you want it to teach, but it is still beneficial and for growth and the lessons are learned.
There is a lot of mystery concerning the history of ayahuasca. No one knows for certain just how long its use has been practiced, but there have been artifacts discovered that suggest its use dating back to 2000 B.C. Ayahuasca was discovered by the Western world in the mid 19th century and has captivated ethnographers, chemists, botanist and pharmacologists because of its unique properties. The brew contains plants that, if consumed individually, would have no effect but the specific combination activates certain properties that contribute to ayahuasca’s hallucinogenic effects. It remains unclear exactly how the indigenous people of Amazon knew which plants to use and how to prepare them for the brew, but many claim they received the information directly from the plant spirits themselves.
The brew is made from Banisteriopsis caapi vine alone or in combination with other plants. The active hallucinogenic properties of ayahuasca come from the leaves of dimethyltrytamine(DMT)-containing species of shrubs from the genus Psychotria family such as Chacruna. However, without a monoamine oxidase inhibitor (MAOI) such as B Caapi in the brew, the DMT-containing plants remain inactive.
Ayahuasca can radically change an individuals perception of reality. Most people report the experience to be intense, profound and spiritual. Ayahuasca allows you to ‘wake up’, leaving behind old ideologies, and creates a feeling of oneness with all of life. Many users report experiencing vivid and elaborate visions that lead to profound revelations. These revelations can be anything, but are often related to the essence of life: who we are, where we came from, why we are here, how we interact with other life (both humans and nature) and how it is all connected. Some even report gaining access to other dimensions and interacting with spirits. Ayahuasca as a plant teacher reveals itself differently to everyone, but almost all users report it as being one of the most positive and profound experiences of their lives.
Ayahuasca consumption comes with a purging process that is considered a somewhat un-pleasurable but essential part of the experience. The physical purge comes in the form of vomiting and diarrhea. The intensity of the purge varies on an individual basis but the purpose is the same for all: cleansing and purification. The purge represents the release of negative energies and a cleansing of the body, mind and spirit.
There is a special diet to follow for the week prior to participation in ceremonies. This is mainly to reduce any counter-indications with the MAOIs found in the brew. Main foods to avoid are aged, preserved, dried, fermented, pickled, spicy, cured meats, red meats, or any foods containing tyramine. During your stay at New Life Ayahuasca all meals will be prepared in accordance with the suggested diet . Find the full list of diet restrictions here.
Certain prescription medications can cause potential dangerous interactions with ayahuasca. Always disclose all medications to the ayahuasca provider prior to participation in ceremonies. Refer to our safety page for more information on possible medicinal interactions.
Not sure if Ayahuasca is right for you?
Here is an article with many links and resources detailing 6 primary benefits of ayahuasca. The information and corresponding links may help you decide if participating in ceremonies is right for you.6 Benefits of Ayahuasca