Traditionally used in shamanistic ceremonies in the Amazon basin, ayahuasca is now also used to help people overcome addictions to drugs and alcohol.
Ayahuasca is concocted from a mixture of boiled banisteriopsis caapi vine and leaves from the chacruna or chaliponga shrubs. Boiling this combination of vines and leaves together produces as brew containing the potent hallucinogenic substance, N,N-dimethyltryptamine (DMT) that is able to cross into the blood brain barrier to produce psychoactive effects.1
What Does Ayahuasca Feel Like?
Ayahuasca induces a visionary state of consciousness. For a few hours after you take ayahuasca you experience rapid thinking and hallucinations which are multi sensory in nature (not just visual). Most people will experience a purging at some stage, either intense vomiting or diarrhea, but this purging is considered to be a spiritual cleansing and a necessary part of the ritual journey. Although ayahuasca can induce feelings of ecstasy, it can also induce feelings of terror and hopelessness and a genuine fear of imminent death. Ayahuasca unlocks the experience of all emotions, both those we consider to be positive and negative – although in an ayahuasca experience, no emotional experience is value-judged, as they are all teachable and important parts of the experience.
Ayahuasca deadens sensations in the body and some people find it brings a heaviness to their movements. Although the drug induces very potent hallucinations, it does not impair cognition and you are fully alert in the moment.
Because of the intensity of the experience and the physical side effects, ayahuasca is not something that is likely to be abused for recreational purposes.