What Is Ayahuasca? Experience, Benefits, And Side Effects
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While there is a growing number of modern practices that promote mental and physical health, practices that date back many centuries may still be popular among people. Ayahuasca is one of these practices.

And while this ritual and psychedelic drink may be rather intimidating for some people, others believe in the many benefits it has.

The History Of Ayahuasca

Ayahuasca is a psychedelic brew that has been used by the people of South America for many centuries. Although the history of Ayahuasca dates back 1000 years, it started gaining popularity in the late 20th century.

Ayahuasca is made from a few ingredients – the Banisteriopsis caapi vine, the Psychotria Viridis shrub, and other plants. The leaves and stalks of these plants are boiled in water. Prolonged boiling causes the water to reduce, leaving behind a red-brown liquid. Once the concentrated liquid cools, the shaman preparing the drink strains it.

When consumed, this brew causes an altered state of consciousness. The person who drinks it experiences hallucinations and euphoria.

Traditionally, the societies of South America used Ayahuasca for spiritual and religious purposes.
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The Science Behind Ayahuasca

Many people are skeptical about the effects of ayahuasca. Others simply think that it is ‘fake’. But there is science behind Ayahuasca and why it causes an altered state of consciousness.

The Psychotria Viridis shrub used for the preparation of the Ayahuasca brew contains DMT. This is a hallucinogenic drug and produces psychedelic effects.

If consumed on its own, DMT in the Psychotria Viridis shrub will be quickly broken down in the liver and gastrointestinal tract. The beta-carbolines in the Banisteriopsis caapi vine stop this process and help the effects of DMT to materialize. Additionally, these beta-carbolines, which are powerful MAO inhibitors, have hallucinogenic properties too.

The combination of these two plants along with a few others has a strong hallucinogenic effect on people who drink Ayahuasca. The effects of the brew may last up to 6 hours.
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Why Do People Take Ayahuasca?

With time, more people have learned about this psychedelic drink. People living in Europe, North America, and other parts of the world became interested in this brew and started drinking it. Since then, many studies have been carried out to explain how this drink works, what are its benefits, and its side effects.

Today, Ayahuasca is used as a mind-opening practice. People who suffer from past traumas, addiction, depression, and many other conditions take Ayahuasca hoping to have a life-changing experience.
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What Are The Potential Benefits Of Ayahuasca?

People who have taken this psychedelic drink claim that it has had a positive effect on them. And while there is still not enough scientific evidence to show the effectiveness of this practice, some studies do claim the health benefits of Ayahuasca.

May Benefit Brain Health
Studies have shown that DMT and beta-carbolines have neuroprotective and restorative qualities. As these are the main active ingredients in Ayahuasca brew, taking it may improve brain health.

May Be Good For Mental Health
Research suggests that Ayahuasca is good for overall mental health and may promote mindfulness. Drinking the Ayahuasca brew once a week for four weeks in a row may be as effective as taking part in a 2-month program that promotes mindfulness and mental health.

May Help Overcome Addiction
One of the main reasons why many people want to take Ayahuasca is to overcome addiction. Research has shown that Ayahuasca may help people who suffer from alcohol, tobacco, and cocaine addiction.

May Help Overcome Anxiety
Ayahuasca may be good for people suffering from PTSD, depression, and anxiety. This brew is reported to have an antidepressant effect. People who have gone into this practice note that Ayahuasca has helped them overcome depression and anxiety.
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4 Important Things You Should Know About Ayahuasca

Ayahuasca is not the safest practice and you should do proper research on it before you consider taking it. Here are four important things you should know about Ayahuasca.

1. Ayahuasca Is Illegal In Many Countries

Only a few countries in the world have legalized the use of Ayahuasca. These countries are Brazil, Costa Rica, Mexico, and Peru.

In most countries, Ayahuasca is banned as its main component DMT is considered to be a Schedule I drug. In the United States, it is not Ayahuasca that is banned but the active ingredient, DMT. With this said, Ayahuasca ceremonies can be conducted in the US for certain groups of people for religious use.

2. It May Have Side Effects

The experience of drinking this psychedelic brew may be different for everyone. Aside from learning about the potential benefits of Ayahuasca, it is also extremely important to learn about the side effects this drink may have.

Some side effects of Ayahuasca, including vomiting and diarrhea, are considered to be normal. If you have decided to take part in an Ayahuasca ceremony, you should prepare yourself to witness and experience them. Panicking and paranoia are other common side effects you should be ready for.

The side effects of Ayahuasca can be a lot more severe for some people. Ayahuasca may have dangerous side effects for people with psychiatric disorders and heart conditions as well as those who take medications.
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3. Ayahuasca Should Be Done With Experienced Shamans

The most important rule to follow if you consider attending an Ayahuasca ceremony is that it should be led by an experienced shaman. The shamans not only prepare the brew but also monitor the entire experience of the person who drinks it.

As it is not uncommon for the effects of Ayahuasca to be rather serious, Ayahuasca retreats also have a medical health team on site in case things get out of control.
4. You Should Be Well-Prepared For Ayahuasca

Ayahuasca is not a ceremony to make an appointment and attend whenever you feel like doing it. You should be well-prepared for it mentally, physically, and spiritually.

First off, educate yourself not only on the positive but also negative effects of this practice and make sure to eliminate all the risks. To prepare for Ayahuasca physically, you should try to eat as healthy as possible for weeks leading to Ayahuasca. You should cut out animal products from your diet, meat in particular. You should also abstain from alcohol, caffeine, cigarettes, drugs, and sexual intimacy.

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