Understanding The Science Of Ayahuasca
As of late, the hallucinogenic drug ayahuasca (also known as yage) has gained popularity in the United States as a booming trend. However, long before recorded history, shaman?of the Amazon had been using the medicinal psychoactive brew as a means for ushering people through healing treatments that involved visual and auditory hallucinations.
The term ayahuasca both refers to the shaman healing ceremony as well as the tea that is drunk at the ceremony. It is said in communities that support consumption that the psychedelic brew has the ability to provide mental clarity as well as detoxify by purging liquids and solids from the body.
Shaman of the Amazon have found that ayahuasca has medicinal value to heal the physical, mental, and spiritual well-being of the user. It can be prescribed by the medicine man to participate in the ayahuasca ceremony to treat people for multiple ailments. Along with its historical use, its also the epicenter of a current boom of traveling Westerners that are looking to test its psychedelic nature in an effort to expel themselves of burdens that cause limiting beliefs, escaping past traumas, and releasing negative energy that they have obtained from troubled times in their lives.
Preliminary research prompts belief that the psychedelic may help in the treatment of depression and anxiety which millions of people are suffering from worldwide. People have also used it as an alternative treatment for chronic illnesses like multiple sclerosis, Parkinsons, diabetes, and cancer.
Stories of personal triumphs and healing have been pouring out of the U.S. as a result of the ayahuasca trend as it seems to continue to build momentum. However, the question remains, “How does the shaman tea actual work for healing and transformation?” It seems to come back to the mixture of compounds within the ingredients that are derived from the plants used in the Amazon concoction.
Among the ill-informed, ayahuasca is thought to be derived from just one plant. However, the brew requires the combination of at least two plants: the leaves of the Chacruna, which is also referred to as Psychotria viridis, and the vines of?Banisteriopsis caapi.?The Chacruna holds a chemical known as Dimethyltryptamine (DMT). DMT is likened in its chemical form to serotonin, and similar to psilocybin that is found in psychedelic mushrooms.
DMT is a chemical that is naturally found within the human body in small doses and is also found in verdant leafy green veggies. When introduced to the body, DMT does not produce hallucinogenic effects because of the?Monoamine oxidase (MAO) enzymes found within the stomach of humans. The MAO breaks the DMT down before it can effectively reach the bloodstream.
The Banisteriopsis caapi plant contains beta-carboline alkaloids like harmine, harmaline, and tetrahydroharmine that act as MAO inhibitors preventing the DMT breakdown so that the user can experience the psychoactive effects. When used with an MAO inhibitor like that of the Banisteriopssis ingestion of the DMT allows the chemical to cross the blood-brain barrier which allows the psychoactive chemical to make its way to the receptors in the brain. This triggers the offset of neurons. It generally takes about a half an hour after ingestion to take effect, and typically wears off between four to six hours.
As the ayahuasca effects start to become evident, multiple areas of the brain fire. Such regions like the amygdala are where emotional memories are stockpiled. This includes traumatic experiences that are not easily accessed without additional assistance. Along with the amygdala, the neo-cortex also begins to fire at a high rate. The neo-cortex is responsible for human reasoning and the decision-making process. The insular cortex, which is noted for helping with awareness and consciousness, fires as well. With all of these brain functions triggering, the user is hyper-aware and is able to process past experiences with a new point of view, without re-traumatization, which some say brings about a more spiritual awakening of the experience.
When the hallucinogenic effects have worn off, many ayahuascausers report the discovery of inner contentment and a new-found perspective on life.
While we are still waiting for more scientific and empirical studies to conclude, many ayahuasca researchers believe that a quiet part of the brain called the default mode network, when overactive, is linked to depression, anxiety, and social phobia.
Regardless of the scientific implications, indigenous Amazonian tribes seem to have an insight into the use of the jungle tea. Shamans strongly recommend that the ceremony should be conducted in traditional ceremonial surroundings, like nature, under the care of an Ayahuascero or Curandero.