What is Ayahuasca?

What is Ayahuasca?

Ayahuasca is an Amazonian plant mixture used to induce altered states of consciousness.  The effects of ayahuasca include purging, visual stimulation, and deep psychological introspection that may lead to profound insight.

The brew is created by mixing the ayahuasca vine (Banisteriopsis caapi) and most commonly either Chacruna (Psychotria viridis) or Chalipanga (Diplopterys cabrerana).  Both Chacruna and Chalipanga contain the psychedelic substance dimethyltryptamine (DMT).  DMT is endogenous in human and other mammalian brains and has been identified in numerous plants around the world.

Normally when DMT is ingested, its broken down by stomach enzymes before the body can absorb it. When combined with an MAOI (Monoamine-Oxidize-Inhibitor), such as the banisteriopsis caapi vine, gut enzymes don’t break down DMT, rendering it orally active. It remains unclear how and when this discovery was made.

In the Amazon Basin, ayahuasca is often employed as a shamanistic healing tool, permitting the healer to see the patient’s source of affliction.  Its both a medicine and a mechanism to commune with the spirit world.

Ayahuasca is traditionally consumed in parts of Amazonian Bolivia, Peru, Ecuador, Colombia, Venezuela and Brazil. Its ritual use is a common spiritual thread linking the Amazon basin.  Today, ayahuasca is rapidly expanding in South America and elsewhere through the growth of organized syncretic Christian religious movements such as Santo Daime and União do Vegetal (UDV).

Additionally, Increasing numbers of individuals are traveling to Peru, and surrounding countries such as Bolivia, to take part in ayahuasca ceremonies for spiritual, mental and physical well-being. In the US, there has been an increased academic interest in both ayahuasca and psychedelics, especially in the field of psychotherapy.

Those who wish to work seriously with ayahuasca usually prepare themselves through a traditional ayahuasca diet. Although restrictions associated with the diet vary, they always involve abstinence from salt, sugar, oil, spicy food, alcohol and sex. The purpose of the diet is to allow the medicine to work at a deeper level by removing the influence of toxins that can cause blockages in the physical and energetic body.

There are many reports of miraculous physical, emotional and spiritual healing resulting from the use of ayahuasca.  Many describe feelings of increased awareness, expanded-consciousness, and improved mental and physical health.

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