If you’re reading this you’ve probably heard of ayahuasca.
Ayahuasca is a sacred plant used by indigenous people in the Amazon to seek spiritual awakening and connect to a higher consciousness.
In recent years Ayahuasca has become increasingly popular in the western world. Stories have been published in the Huffington Post, National Geographic, Discovery Channel and many other well known news outlets about the wonders of Ayahuasca.
It has been taken by many people as a short cut to spiritual enlightenment and a source to infinite knowledge about one’s true self. Spiritual and pseudo spiritual groups are taking this drug as part of their spiritual path. However, people tend to forget that in tribes from the Amazon, ayahuasca is not drunk by the entire tribe, only the shaman drinks it and shares his/her experiences with the tribe. It takes shamans years of discipline and study to prepare their bodies and minds for the savage effects of ayahuasca.
In western society anyone with a one week or one month diet is told that he/she is ready for the drug. People are not screened physically or psychologically to see if they’re fit for such an experience. In the best case scenario that they are indeed physically healthy to take it, it is imposible to know the spiritual effect that the experience can have on the fragile human psyche.
Nevertheless it is important to fully comprehend that Ayahuasca is NOT a recreational drug and that there could be negative side effects that are not widely reported by the media. It’s not all fun and games and wonderful stories.
Many people have used it in hopes of improving their lives and for many it has been life changing. However, there are many stories that don’t make it to National Geographic and other news outlets, where lives changed for the worst.
It is extremely important to understand that every person, every body, every mind and every soul is different. So there’s really no telling how each person will react to the drug. Wikipedia might say that long-lasting effects are not known, however, this doesn’t mean that they don’t exist.
Before you embark to Peru to do an Ayahuasca retreat make sure that you are willing to take full responsibility of the possible side effects that could come with taking this plant.
The web is full of testimonies of people seeking help after enduring long-lasting effects from Ayahuasca that go from persistent hallucinations, depression, anxiety, panic attacks and depersonalization disorder. Shamans and curanderos attribute this to prolonged teachings and lessons from the plant for people who refuse to face a certain issue and are lingering with “pressure” to face their inner demons. These side effects may continue even after the effects of DMT (the active ingredient in Ayahuasca that causes the mind altering trip) have worn off.
Psychologically, the drug can have ravaging effects on the human psyche, altering one’s sense of the self and identity, amongst many other reported effects.
Physically, the drug can alter the brain chemistry and cause a long list of mental disorders like the ones mentioned before.
In a study performed by the Institute of Psychiatry and Mental Health of the Universidad Complutense in Madrid, Spain, they exposed the negative psychiatric effects that such an exceptional level of consciousness can have on the human mind.
In the study they exposed the case of a 19-year-old boy and 28-year-old man who had to deal with psychotic outbreaks after the use of Ayahuasca. A side effect to the higher state of consciousness that they had received through their journey with the drug and that their human minds couldn’t comprehend in a HUMAN way, as a consequence it drove them to a complete neurotic and psychiatric breakdown .
In another study performed by researcher Sarah Lewis from Columbia University, she exposes the case of three people who had adverse effects to ayahuasca, their symptoms ranging from depression, to anxiety, psychotic breaks and a highly altered psyche.
Ayahuasca has changed many lives for the better, but has also deteriorated others. The truth is that there’s no way of knowing which way each experience will go. But it is important to be aware of the other side that is not being advertised by the media.
Ayahuasca might seem like an easy, quick fix to one’s problems, but the long-lasting effects can be brutal. If you are seeking to achieve a higher level of consciousness but don’t wish to deal with negative effects there’s always the long way, that it is also the safe way: Meditation, yoga, healthy eating, positive thinking and breathing exercises. It might take you longer to achieve a higher level of consciousness but it will also help you to assimilate it in a healthier way.
Make sure before you take this drug to thoughtfully understand the price you might be paying.
Feature Image Source: sciencemag.org