Ayahuasca is a versatile medicinal tea made from two hallucinogenic plants: Banisteriopsis caapi (Ayahuasca Vine) and Psychotria Viridis. Traditionally, this brew is used by the natives of South America in their medicinal, spiritual, and cultural practices. The ancients have known the benefits of ayahuasca for many years, but the rest of us are just getting caught up.
When consumed, the DMT from the tea exerts psychoactive effects – it can stimulate senses, heighten emotions, and enhance spiritual introspection. Ayahuasca also has medicinal properties that purge the body and help treat from physical and mental health issues. It has the potential to treat PTSD, depression, anxiety, addiction, and even cancer.
With its growing popularity outside of South America, doctors and researchers have taken an interest in studying the benefits of doing ayahuasca. Here’s a list of a few:
- Ayahuasca helps clear the gut and digestive tract of worms and parasites. The harmala alkaloids found in ayahuasca are anti-parasitic agents that chemically kill the parasites without harming the individual. These antimicrobial agents also kill bacterial organisms such as E. coli, Salmonella, and yeast.
- Ayahuasca reduces depression. It increases blood flow to the frontal and paralimbic regions of the brain that are associated with emotion processing (controls mood and emotional states) and motivation. Similar to pharmaceutical antidepressants, this medicinal brew activates serotonin receptors, thus changing concentrations of the mood-boosting neurotransmitter in the brain. In several small-scale clinical studies, ayahuasca had rapid and sustained antidepressant effects; even in recurrent cases.
- Ayahuasca may contribute to substance addiction treatment. As a hallucinogen, ayahuasca induces changes in personality or behavior and causes anti-addictive effects. It induces biological effects on specific brain areas (like insula and amygdala) that impact behavior related to addiction. The body-oriented, psychological, and spiritual experiences provided by ayahuasca can lead to diminished cravings. It also helps enhance creative thinking while decreasing conventional thinking. This increases psychological flexibility, thus helping with addiction. There have been several studies on using ayahuasca as an effective treatment for substance addiction.
- Ayahuasca has the potential to support cancer treatments. However, this still needs to be further researched. There are very few studies available regarding the safety and effectiveness of ayahuasca as a cancer treatment because legal restrictions make these studies difficult to proceed. In a Brazilian study conducted by Eduardo Schenberg of the University of Sao Paulo, the results showed that Ayahuasca actually has the potential to treat cancer. Schenberg wrote, “There is enough available evidence that ayahuasca’s active principles, especially DMT and harmine, have positive effects on some cell cultures used to study cancer, and in biochemical processes important in cancer treatment, both in vitro and in vivo”. Ayahuasca can increase the number of white blood cells that kill cancer cells. It can help kill cancer cells and suppress cancer cell growth by blocking glucose usage in cancer cells.
- Ayahuasca increases the energy levels that affect efficiency. Since one of the physical benefits associated with ayahuasca is the cleaning of the body; this implies that at a physical and energetic level, it makes the body operate with as little impediments as possible. It allows the body to perform everything more efficiently. As it helps bring you to more clear senses (freedom from addiction), discover mental/emotional traumas and learn from it (recovery from PTSD), accept mistakes and shortcomings (recovery from depression), and begin to feel better as a whole. These learnings later resonate through work and relationships and ultimately make you more efficient in what you’re doing.
Ayahuasca undoubtedly has powerful medicinal properties. It’s important to note that it should only be administered in a traditional ceremony with a well-experienced Shaman. As with any medical intervention, it’s best to consult with a medical professional before choosing to experience this plant medicine.