Ayahuasca – Potentially Healing Hallucinogen
- Ayahuasca is a potent psychedelic drug found in specific plant.
- It is an illegal, psychedelic compound found in at least 60 species of plants worldwide. It is also produced naturally in certain animals and the human body.
Historically, users were indigenous cultures in the Americas to produce divinatory hallucinations as well as healing purposes. Thus, the hallucinatory effects are the subject of some past studies.
- DMT is also produced naturally in the human body.
For centuries, Amazonian tribes have been extracting the chemical from plants for shamanic rituals and ceremonies. However, this potent and potentially deadly hallucinogen has made its way into the modern drug scene.
The hallucinogenic properties of it are so intense that the drug has been coined the “god” or “spirit” molecule by users. More potent than other hallucinogens, the psychedelic “trip” that users experience can last from a few minutes to more than an hour, depending on the dosage.
While it is naturally occurring, it also comes from backstreet labs where purity and safety are likely, held in low regard, making the drug even more hazardous. It is a white powder and can be smoked, snorted, injected, and taken orally.
One of the most common hallucinogenic experiences caused is hallucinations of humanoid-like beings, characterized as seeing creatures from “other worlds.”
- Begins within seconds of ingesting the drug
- Short duration
- It causes a distorted sense of reality
- Produces powerful hallucinations
Users on a “bad trip” can cause harm to themselves and others.
In the 60s, it was often referred to as a “businessman’s trip” because of the rapid onset and short duration of the reaction when inhaling it. The effects generally last between 20 minutes to 1 hour.
Like almost every other drug in existence, this drug produces adverse side effects in some users. These side effects include:
- Stomach discomfort and possible nausea
- An overwhelming fear of the visual hallucinations
- Lung irritation that may cause difficulty breathing
- A rapid increase in the heart rate of the user, also potentially exacerbated by fear
- Significant increase in body temperature
- Possibility of falling into an unconscious or a coma-like state
- Concussion from falling
- Vomiting and choking
When used in small doses, as most users take the drug for religious purposes, these side effects are rare and minimized. The user should always have another individual that is not under the influence of the drug. However, when used frequently in higher doses, as the portrayal of drug use by Hunter S. Thompson in the movie “Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas,” these symptoms become a significant threat;
- Increased heart rate
- Dilated pupils
- Loss of consciousness
- Nausea and vomiting
- Respiratory irritation
- Altered perception and intense visuals
- Panic attacks
There is not much data on the continued and long-term. However, research suggests that users can be traumatized by negative hallucinations or “bad trips.” It is especially dangerous as it concerns people with preexisting mental conditions, such as depression, anxiety, schizophrenia, or bipolar disorder.
Massive celebrity stars such as Lindsay Lohan and Sting have used it to enhance their spiritual growth.
Ayahuasca (pronounced “I – Ah- What-Ka”) is a plant containing this drug. Interest in it as a “spiritual” experience has skyrocketed recently. As a result, countries like Ecuador, Peru, and Brazil have seen increased tourism-related “ayahuasca retreats.”
- These events have also gained a foothold in the U.S.
In a fascinating article in Scientific American, “Ayahuasca—a foul-tasting hallucinogenic tea that can induce violent nausea and terrifying visions—is becoming trendy. In addition, an article in the “Fashion & Style” section of The New York Times notes that many people—including celebrities such as Lindsay Lohan and Sting—have turned to Ayahuasca as a “catalyst for inner growth.”
It is a Schedule I drug under the UN 1971 Convention on Psychotropic Substances. That means using it is supposed to be restricted to scientific research and medical use. Natural materials containing it, including Ayahuasca, are explicitly not regulated. Nevertheless, Ayahuasca is part of various religious groups and other organizations inside and outside the U.S.; the government has classified it as a Schedule I drug. Using it comes with substantial risks.
According to Wikipedia, a ‘”hallucinogen is a psychoactive agent which can cause hallucinations, perceptual anomalies, and other substantial subjective changes in thoughts, emotion, and consciousness.”
The common types of hallucinogens are psychedelics, dissociative, and hysterical. There are theories that it is active in the brain during REM sleep, the period in which we dream the most, and when we’re closer to death.
Scientists are not entirely sure, but there are theories that it is active in the brain during REM sleep, the period in which we dream the most, as well as when we’re closer to death. Though it doesn’t appear to be physically addicting, regular users can develop a psychological dependence on it, leading to a lack of pleasure in day-to-day life while not under its influence.
Debates about whether or not its use can be beneficial for people continue. Some researchers believe that the compound might have some medical help in the future with the proper research and study. However, the idea that it is safe to use recreationally simply because it’s naturally occurring is dangerous.
Mixing this drug with alcohol, other medicines, or medications can cause any of the following results:
- Nerve damage
- Fatal asphyxiation from vomiting while unconscious
- Heart failure, coma, or death, especially in individuals using antidepressants and opioid painkillers
Psychedelic drugs affect brain chemistry in users by agonizing serotonin receptors. This action alters perceptions and cognition, which almost always causes specific effects depending on the type of psychedelic drug. For drugs in the tryptamine family, which this drug is one, the change in brain chemistry usually produces hallucinations.
At lower doses of the drug, these hallucinations usually involve color variation, shape alteration, and geometric repetition of the standard visual field. Thus, a user can still see the car or tree near them. It just might waver, appear to be pixelated, or be a completely different color. At higher doses, the hallucination is likely to affect more than the visual senses. For example, users may experience synesthesia (an effect where the brain identifies stimulation of one reason as stimulation of a different sense), apparent time dilation, or sensory overload. With these types of hallucinations, the user is usually completely incapable of identifying their surroundings.
When taken, either through inhalation, injection, or ingestion, this drug is remarkably quick-acting, usually producing psychedelic effects within seconds. These effects rarely have a long duration, generally lasting for no more than 15 minutes. Taking the drug in higher doses or ingesting it can obtain more prolonged results, but typically, any chemical effects end quickly compared to almost every other drug on the market.
Psychedelic drugs, as a rule, generally do not produce physical dependence, and this drug is no exception to this rule. Studies show that users do not become physically addicted and do not have physical withdrawal symptoms. Overuse of the medication may produce a psychological addiction, however. This level of overuse tends to be very dangerous because it means the user is likely living a large portion of their life in a state where they have no cognizance of the natural world via sensory input. Such addictions are best treated with psychiatric counseling to determine why the user feels the need to escape the world and prevent that need in the future.