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ayahusaca

Ayahuasca Info:
The Ultimate Guide

27th August 2019 | by Skye | Personal Development

After my experience with Ayahuasca, it inspired me to create a resource to help others whose destiny leads them towards this path.

I have attempted to create the most comprehensive, well-researched guide to ayahuasca available on the internet.

This guide is updated regularly.

If you spot anything you think I should include or edit, you can reach out to me here.

Want Me to Email You a Copy?

No problem! Just type in your email address below, so we can send it to you. (You can read the full guide without giving us your email -- keep scrolling!)

Ayahuasca The Definitive Guide - Cover

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Disclaimer

This guide contains information about a healing plant medicine.

However, ayahuasca is not without dangers.

You should know them. You should do your own research (this guide will help).

I am not a doctor; I am not giving advice.

I have only collated the information available about ayahuasca into a single place.

Table of Contents

Table of Contents show

Navigating This Guide

To return to the table of contents, click this icon:

You can find it in the bottom right corner of all pages.

Chapters

Chapter 1:
About Ayahuasca

Chapter 4:
Your
Health

Chapter 2:
Ayahuasca Experience

Chapter 5:
The
Ceremony

Chapter 3:
Preparing Yourself

Chapter 6:
Next
Steps

Chapter 1:
About Ayahuasca

What is Ayahuasca?

Ayahuasca is a hallucinogenic plant that can create significant personal transformation.

It produces visions, reveals where you are stuck in your life and is deeply healing.

The tribes of the Amazon have used Ayahuasca for over 5,000 years.

They use it as a master plant in their traditional medicine.

To make ayahuasca, there are two ingredients:

  • the ayahuasca vine
  • the leaves of chackruna

The shaman (a practitioner of ancient healing) boils the two plants together:

Ayahuasca-and-chakruna-leaves
Image Credit: Alamy

Chackruna is responsible for the visions.

It happens because it contains DMT (dimethyltryptamine), which is hallucinogenic.

The two plants make what we commonly refer to as ayahuasca.

The tribes consider the drink sacred.

It’s usually consumed only during a ceremony with a shaman.

I loved this piece by Tina “Kat” Courtney, especially this part about how the two plants work together:

“I feel this is Chacruna’s way of throwing our brains into a blender and opening us to the downloads of her partner, ayahuasca.

She creates the light show of emotions that gets us to purge and release a blockage or two or twenty, so that ayahuasca can come in with the wisdom and illumination.”

Where Does Ayahuasca Come From?

Ayahuasca is a vine that grows in the world’s biggest jungle - The Amazon.

ayahusaca-vine
Image Credit: Apollo

The Amazon stretches into:

  • Columbia
  • Peru
  • Brazil
  • Bolivia
  • The Guianas

It’s so big, it contains 1/5 of the world’s plants!

How Was Ayahuasca Discovered?

There’s no straightforward answer to how ayahuasca was discovered.

The Amazonian tribes will tell you “The plants told us”.

That doesn’t satisfy most rational minds - even if it’s true.

Throughout history there have been many stories of people “waking up with the idea” or “seeing a vision” so perhaps it’s not so crazy.

Animals naturally know which plants to eat and which to avoid.

Perhaps its instinct because they are always in nature.

Maybe it’s the same for the Amazonians.

ayahuasca-jaguar

Another explanation suggests the tribes people saw jaguars eating the leaves.

They then noticed the jaguars change in behaviour.

However, the jaguar would only eat the ayahuasca vine, not both plants together.

It’s more likely the tribes boiled different plants together to create medicines.

You can imagine the shaman mixing two plants together, having a mystical experience and then telling everyone.

There are over 80,000 catalogued plants in the Amazon.

Stumbling upon the combination of the two plants seem unlikely, but no one has a better explanation yet.

How Do You Pronounce Ayahuasca?

It’s pronounced eye-yuh-waa-skuh.

Here’s a helpful audio clip from Google

Note: The American pronunciation is the most common.

Why Do People Drink Ayahuasca?

ayahuasca-cup
Image Credit: Sascha Grabow

There are many reasons people drink ayahuasca.

Here’s the most common:

20 Reasons People Drink Ayahuasca

  1. Experience huge personal growth

  2. Learn who you really are

  3. Find and get clearer on your purpose

  4. Understated consciousness

  5. Understand how the world works

  6. Heal trauma and gain emotional release

  7. General physical healing

  8. Ease/treat medical conditions including:

    1. PTSD

    2. Cancer

    3. Addiction

    4. Anxiety/Severe depression/Chronic grief

  9. Hallucinations/visions/out-of-body experiences

  10. Recollection of personal memories from your life

  11. Insights into behaviours you want to change

  12. Mild to extreme euphoria

  13. Feel deep connection and gratitude

  14. Heal your relationships (family, love, friends, colleagues)

  15. Creative inspiration

  16. Experience enlightenment

  17. Ego softening/death

  18. Inner peace/self-acceptance 

  19. Mystical/Religious/Spiritual insights & experiences 

  20. Relaxation/Mindfulness/Improved psychological well being

Which Celebrities Have Tried Ayahuasca?

Many celebrities have tried ayahuasca, but most don’t talk about it.

Here’s the celebrities who spoke publicly:

Chelsea Handler

For her latest Netflix series, Chelsea Does, she tried ayahuasca.

Here’s what she said about the experience:

Jim Carrey

To prepare for his 2017 role as famous “psychedelic activist” Terence McKenna, Carrey experimented with mushrooms.

Apparently this was not Carrey’s first experience with psychedelics.

Rumours suggest when on ayahuasca, he refused “to get off a mountain until he believed he could earn $10 million a picture - which eventually, he did.”

Carrey was also known to carry a blank cheque with $10m written on it - so this is likely to be true.

Sting

Ayahuasca was so profound for Sting.

He shared 60 pages about his journey into the Amazon of Brazil in his 2005 autobiography, Broken Music.

He’s also spoken on camera about the experience:

Joe Rogan

The American stand-up comedian, MMA commentator & podcast host has been very vocal about DMT and ayahuasca.

Dorian Yates

Former professional bodybuilder and entrepreneur from the UK.

You'll notice this conversation is from Joe Rogan's podcast.

Ricki Lake

The famous television host briefly talked about taking ayahuasca 11 times in 10 years.

Tori Amos

Musician Tori Amos told The Huffington Post she has done ayahuasca many times, starting in the 1980s.

She said:

“With ayahuasca it was approached as - you fasted for a day and there was a group of us that would meet with someone that was running [the situation].

You would work for a week beforehand and write about what you were hoping to work through and you would write what you were hoping to achieve. 

And then you got back together the next week after you’d done it… It was very structured.”

Chris Robinson

In an LA Weekly interview, the former front man of The Black Crowes said:

“I was very lucky, eight or nine years ago, to have an ayahuasca experience. 

Even though a lot of my belief systems had let me up to that day, and believing in the esoteric realities of aggressive psychedelic and entheogen-driven experience, that was the literal opening up of all my minds and hearts.

Where my mind and heart and soul all coalesce of having at least the initial understanding of the interconnectedness of all living entities in the universe, really.”

Paul Simon

The Simon & Garfunkel musician recounts an ayahuasca experience in the 1990 song “Spirit Voices”.

In the song, he describes his journey into the Amazon.

“I drank a cup of herbal brew,” he sings.

“Then the sweetness in the air / combined with the lightness in my head / and I heard the jungle breathing in the bamboo.”

Penn Badgley

The Gossip Girl actor said he did ayahuasca with an indigenous tribe in the Colombian rain forest.

He had hopes of going “back to New York City with my glittering spiritual tool” but then experienced difficulty purging during several ceremonies.

When he finally did, he said:

“I dropped into my heart, and I felt it in my blood and all of the discomfort and this mercurial nature of perceptual boundaries during these ceremonies seemed to melt away and all melt into one gleaming psychic arrow pointing towards my heart… 

And that was the simplest but, to this day, the most profound moment of my life.”

Lindsay Lohan

Actress Lindsay Lohan’s drug use is no secret, considering her public journey with rehabilitation.

But Lohan appeared to have a positive experience with ayahuasca.

She claimed it set her free from her addiction struggles.

Lohan was also dealing with the emotional aftermath of a miscarriage, and she felt ayahuasca facilitated the release of much of that pain.

“It changed my life,” she said.

Chapter 2:
The Ayahuasca Experience

What Are Ayahuasca’s Effects?

Your experience of ayahuasca will vary each time you drink.

Ayahuasca works on you on all levels:

  • Physical
  • Mental
  • Emotional
  • Spiritual

It meets you wherever you are and intuitively knows what experience you need.

Ayahuasca seems to seek anything you are ready to release.

The release happens either energetically or physically through “purging”.

Purging is the process that may include any (or all) of:

  • Intense sweating
  • Diarrhoea
  • Shaking
  • Yawning
  • Vomiting
  • Twitching
  • Stretching

And many other physical reactions.

The most common effects are:

Positive Effects

Temporary Change in Consciousness

ayahuasca-conciousness

Being able to take a detached view of your thoughts and emotions.

It enhances self-acceptance and allowing you to process and let go of emotional events safely. (Source)

Hallucinations/Visions/Out-of-Body Experiences

visions-ayahuasca

From your past, observing yourself from outside the body and other mystical visions.

Recollection of Personal Memories

ayahuasca-memories

From your childhood and throughout your life.

Often brings emotions and insight with them.

Insights into Behaviour You Want To Change

ayahuasca-insight

See your patterns, habits and ways of being that don’t serve you.

Clarity on the way you’ve been in the past.

And deep insight into how to be the best person you can.

Euphoria

ayahuasca-euphoria

From mild to extreme mood lift, feelings of joy and happiness.

Deep Connection

ayahuasca-connection

Feeling of being connected to everything (God/universe, others, nature, yourself).

Relationship Healing

ayahuasca-relationship-healing

Understanding and letting go of family/past love issues.

Trauma/Emotional Release

ayahuasca-trauma-release

Strength to recall traumatic experiences and deal with things you usually ignore.

Release of built up negative energy and emotions built up.

ayahuasca-physical-healing

Release from long-standing aches, pains and ailments.

Some people report healing of severe illnesses (e.g. cancer).

In this study, 9 patients with different cancers took ayahuasca:

  • Seven experienced improvements.
  • One patient deteriorated.
  • One patient was difficult to evaluate.

There are many studies showing ayahuasca reduces the symptoms of these crippling conditions:

    • A single dose of ayahuasca reduced symptoms of treatment-resistant depression significantly (Source).
    • Reductions of up to 82% in self-assessed depression scores 1, 7 and 21 days after taking ayahuasca (Source).
    • Significant antidepressant effects and that ayahuasca use as antidepressant needs more investigation (Source).

Scientists also believe psychedelics are important in the treatment of human mental disorders.

Lastly, this published, randomised placebo-controlled trial (the gold standard for scientific studies) looked into the effect of ayahuasca for treatment-resistant depression.

The researchers supported ayahuascas safety and value “when dosed in the appropriate setting, to help treat depression.”

ayahuasca-steve-jobs
Image Credit: Steve Jobs

Many people report increased creative thoughts both during and after the ayahuasca experience.

This study concluded “The data shows ayahuasca enhances creative divergent thinking,”

There’s not much research about ayahuasca’s impact on creativity.

However, most people accept psychedelics boost creativity.

Did you know?

    • Nobel Peace Prize Co-winning biochemist Kary Mullis who studied at Berkeley said: “LSD was certainly more important than any course I took”. (Source)
    • Nobel Peace Prize Medicine winner Francis Crick reportedly discovered the structure of DNA (the double helix) during an LSD trip. (Source)

Feeling of Enlightenment

ayahuasca-enlightenment

This experience is often only for advanced and committed yogis, monks and other spiritual people.

Ayahuasca allows access some of these same insights and awareness.

This produces a sense of enlightenment that stays with you after the experience.

Image Credit: <a href="https://justinepnelson23.wordpress.com"> Justine P Nelson</a>
Image Credit: Justine P Nelson

The ego is what we refer to as our identity.

Your ego develops over the course of your life.

The most destructive parts are born in response to traumatic events.

It develops a “hard shell” to protect you from pain.

This creates a “false self” which can lead to negative behaviours which are automatic.

Through spiritual evolution or consumption of psychedelics, you can “lose” this false self.

Carl Jung referred to this experience as a complete loss of subjective identity.

He said it precedes a rebirth into a new identity.

In many of our movies and books we see the hero’s life ruined.

His old way of being is destroyed before he is reborn.

This is because nearly all of our stories use the same formula:

Joseph Campbell’s “The Hero’s Journey”.

ayahuasca-ego

The second stage of this formula, is ego death.

In Buddhism, ego death allows you to understand your true nature.

People call ayahuasca “The Vine of Death”.

It’s called that because it kills your false self, the part that limits and doesn’t serve you.

Ayahuasca reveals a path to move beyond your ego.

To be your true self again.

While positive, it can have negative consequences too.

Especially if your life has been severely traumatic.

If so, you may need help after the ayahuasca experience to integrate what you learned.

A therapist for support might help if you have a lot of “stuff to work through”.

ayahuasca-self-Acceptance

As humans, we need to be accepted and loved for who we are.

If we don’t experience this in childhood, we seek it later.

Usually in romantic relationships.

In this thread from the ayahuasca sub-Reddit “Did ayahuasca change how you felt about yourself? (Self esteem/love/compassion etc)” user comments include:

“It changed how I feel about trauma from my past, it’s only as bad as I make it.

I also have a lot of beautiful, pure experiences from childhood/adolescence that have made me compassionate and creative.”

“Ayahuasca changed how I feel about myself by totally destroying my sense of self.

It helped me see a new way of relating to people and things I previously considered ‘not me’.”

“Ayahuasca can be tremendously helpful with addressing self-esteem issues and all the secondary problems that emerge out of those self-esteem issues."

“Yeah, it definitely helped me with self esteem and fear issues, but those changes didn’t happen overnight.“

“Deep long standing self-esteem issues were certainly approached and I’m very thankful for the understanding I gained.”

Lastly, this study compared a 4 week ayahuasca program (one session per week) against a Standard 8-Week Mindfulness Training Program.

Researchers found “a small number of ayahuasca sessions can be as effective at improving acceptance as more lengthy and costly interventions.”

ayahuasca-ptsd

This is one of the more exciting areas for ayahuasca.

There’s been a lot of attention here in recent years.

Researchers found ayahuasca can help PTSD and want to study it more deeply.

However, the science community has struggled to gain approval for a clinical trial.

This is because ayahuasca contains DMT, a schedule one drug.

Despite that, researchers think governments should relax regulations regarding ayahuasca.

This study concludes “so that it could be provided more readily to recognised, credible researchers to conduct comprehensive clinical trials.”

In the Peruvian Amazon, the Temple of the Way of Light is undertaking a large-scale study.

They are collaborating with:

  • The International Center for Ethnobotanical Research and Service in Spain
  • The Beckley Foundation in the UK

The study will analyse the long-term effects on psychological wellbeing.

Over 580 people attend their retreats each year.

Which makes this the largest psychedelic study of this type ever undertaken.

Jessica Nelson, PH.D and Julie Megler, MSN, NP-BC wrote an interesting scientific article:

Consideration of ayahuasca for the Treatment of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder”.

They say “Current research indicates that ayahuasca mimics mechanisms of currently accepted treatments to PTSD.”

You can see more from Jessica here:

This study reveals the reason ayahuasca may aid PTSD.

The results proved that while on ayahuasca, participants amygdala activates highly.

The amygdala is the part of the brain most commonly linked as the source of PTSD symptoms.

When ayahuasca reactivates the amygdala, it allows you to recall of traumatic events.

You can then process the emotions again.

With ayahuasca, the re-experiencing of trauma is different.

This is because it comes with “moral lessons and higher perspectives”.

They help you deal with the memory in a healthy way.

ayahuasca-helps-PTSD

Thousands of PTSD sufferers are turning to ayahuasca.

Usually after everything else has failed.

These patients are often public servants. exposed to trauma in their work.

They include:

And many more like them.

The results have been promising.

There are now many charitable organisations connecting military veterans struggling with mental trauma to ayahuasca therapy retreats.

Heroic Hearts is one such place.

A non-profit doing great work to help people suffering with PTSD.

ayahuasca-drug-addiction
Image Credit: Imagens Evangélicas

Ayahuasca has shown strong addiction relief qualities in the studies completed so far.

This study concluded:

“Several present day studies suggest that it may be useful for treating various psychiatric disorders and addictions. 

The side effect profile appears to be relatively mild, but more detailed studies need to be done.”

Many studies specifically focused on addictions to strong substances (crack, alcohol, nicotine).

These studies showed promising results.

This study included interviews with 13 therapists who apply ayahuasca professionally in the treatment of addictions.

The 13 therapists consisted of:

  • 4 indigenous healers

  • 9 Western mental health professionals

  • 2 expert researchers

  • 14 individuals

They all had undergone ayahuasca-assisted therapy for addiction in South America.

They found ayahuasca can serve as a valuable therapeutic tool.

It supports recovery from substance dependencies and prevents relapse.

In another study, scientists researchers selected 12 people from a rural aboriginal population.

Drug addiction is common in these communities.

All suffered severe psychological and behavioural issues related to substance abuse.

They took part in a 4-day treatment program that included 2 ayahuasca ceremonies.

At a 6-month followup, the participants showed significant improvements in:

  • Mindfulness
  • Hopefulness
  • Empowerment
  • Overall quality of life
  • Self-reported use of tobacco, cocaine and alcohol significantly declined
ayahuasca-spiritual-experiences

The web is full of stories about profound ayahuasca experiences.

Many called ayahuasca the most spiritual and transforming experience of their life.

This post called “How ayahuasca changed my life” provides a great overview of the common experiences.

Most people gain an understanding of the true nature of the universe.

Many experience a spiritual awakening.

Usually visions include seeing the habits holding you back.

This awareness alone creates a “rebirth”.

See ego softening/death for more.

Many people report gaining access to higher spiritual dimensions.

Some say they contacted spiritual or extra-dimensional beings.

They say these beings act as guides or healers.

Most people don’t consider themselves spiritual or believers.

Neither did I for many years.

You don’t even need an open minded (though it’s better).

The plant will give you a spiritual experience regardless.

The experience is a profoundly positive, life changing one.

Find/Get Clear on Your Purpose 

Image Credit: <a href="https://www.flickr.com/photos/84979541@N00/7021431279">Leesean</a>
Image Credit: Leesean

One of the most common effects of ayahuasca is getting clearer on the purpose of life.

This can include your specific life purpose.

Each ayahuasca ceremony begins with the question you wish to ask.

Ayahuasca will reveal the answer (if it’s what you need).

My personal experience was that I got very clear on my purpose and even the path to achieve it (see here for more).

Google searches reveal many similar stories.

One of my favourites is this one by Rohan Tahiliani.

It’s so relatable to me and maybe for you too:

“After a 10-year downhill ride, I felt completely lost and directionless in life. 

Although on the surface my life looked perfect - a high-paying job with flexible work hours, a lake-facing apartment, and the “freedom” to do whatever I wanted—none of these things gave me any real satisfaction or contentment. 

My life felt completely monotonous, and although my job was interesting, something just didn’t feel right.“

Rohan’s experience was pivotal, and he discovered his purpose.

In his own words:

“To say I discovered the meaning of life and found my purpose is one way to put it, but even that falls short of expressing the deep and massive impact the retreat had on me.”

Rohan also offers this pearl of wisdom:

“But what does ayahuasca have to do with living our life’s purpose?

Only by healing ourselves can we fully live out our life’s purpose.”

This made so much sense to me.

Another story filled with emotion is this one by Mindy West.

Her journey begins like many peoples, with a breakdown:

“My search for my life’s purpose began about a year and a half ago. I was going through the hardest part of my life so far.

My husband and I separated; he decided he’d rather be with someone else.

He said she reminded him of me when I was 23, and that’s why he liked her.

Well, she’s 23, and I was then 28 with a job and a house and a baby. 

So really, who could blame him? 

It was devastating for my son and me. I didn’t know what to do with myself. 

I didn’t like my job, the novelty of making a lot of money working at my corporate job had worn off, and I felt like it was killing my soul. 

My son would barely sleep, he was just as heartbroken as I was, and I felt like I didn’t know how to take care of him anymore. 

Before, I thought he was the happiest baby in the world. 

At that point, he was miserable.”

Mindy went to the ceremony asking ayahuasca:

“What is my life purpose, and how do I move forward?”

Mindy found exactly what her life purpose is and has dedicated her life to it. Go read the post to find out more.

Lastly, this blog post details Trinity de Guzman’s experience after asking the same question.

She was given her purpose, and her path to make it happen.

Another recommended post, well worth reading.

 

ayahuasca-Mindfulness

Ayahuasca can be traumatic.

But the overall lasting effect is increased well being and feelings of peacefulness.

The science support this too:

Chris Timmermann and his colleagues at Imperial College London conducted a study with 13 volunteers.

In one experiment, they group received DMT and in another got a placebo (a dummy pill).

The group didn’t know which session contained the real drug.

After the DMT session, all 13 reported feeling:

  • As though they entered an “unearthly environment”
  • Feeling “incredible peace or pleasantness”
  • Heightened senses and a feeling of unity with the universe

This study compared a 4 week ayahuasca program (one session per week) against a Standard 8-Week Mindfulness Training Program.

The researchers found:

“A small number of ayahuasca sessions can be as effective at improving acceptance as more lengthy and costly interventions.”

The results showed ayahuasca could produce the same improvements in mindfulness that takes years of dedicated meditation to achieve.

Ayahuasca raised mindfulness to levels equal to or greater than people practising meditation for seven years.

Another interesting study comes from researchers in Madrid led by Jordi Riba.

Interestingly, Rolling Stone magazine named Jordi among the 25 people who will mark the future of science.

Jordi works at CIBERSAM, a mental health research centre.

For this study he recruited 25 volunteers.

  • Most had taken ayahuasca in the past.
  • They had not consumed any for at least 15 days before the experiment

The volunteers filled out a questionnaire designed to assess mindfulness.

It was given to them before, and 24 hours after the experiment.

The answers suggested significant improvements in all three aspects of mindfulness:

  1. Greater acceptance of mental experiences

  2. Less “inner reactivity”

  3. Increased ability to take a detached view of thoughts and emotions

The summary of Jordi’s study concluded:

“Our findings indicate that ayahuasca intake leads to a rapid increase in several mindfulness-related parameters”

And...

“The scores in some mindfulness capacities observed after ayahuasca are analogous to those of experienced meditators.”

Other studies you may wish to look at include this one.

It “Assesses the Psychedelic “After-Glow” in Ayahuasca Users” and looks into the “Enhanced Mindfulness Capacities”.

Researchers concluded there were “increases in the “non-judging” subscale of the Five Facets Mindfulness Questionnaire” and “increased scores on the self-compassion questionnaire” which sustained when checked up on 2 months later.

This study called “Exploring the therapeutic potential of ayahuasca: acute intake increases mindfulness-related capacities” took 25 volunteers.

They were assessed before, and 24 hours after taking ayahuasca.

Researchers then measured mindfulness using two methods:

  1.  The Five Facets Mindfulness Questionnaire (FFMQ)

  2. The Experiences Questionnaire (EQ)

Ayahuasca intake led to significant improvements in the key areas associated with traditional mindfulness training.

The scores were the same as what we could expect in people who practise mindfulness extensively.

This study of 57 people showed ratings of depression and stress reduced significantly immediately after consuming ayahuasca.

ayahuasca-depression

The effects were still significant 4 weeks later when researchers followed up with the participants.

However, they said:

“Satisfaction with life and several aspects of mindfulness increased the day after the ceremony.”

The changes did not reach significance 4 weeks after.

“Changes in effect, satisfaction with life, and mindfulness were significantly correlated to the level of ego dissolution experienced during the ayahuasca ceremony and were unrelated to previous experience with ayahuasca.”

Neutral Effects

Sensation of Energy Moving Through Your Body

You may feel:

  • Tingles
  • Vibrations
  • Heat
  • Itchiness
  • Any other physical sensation

The feeling may be in a single location, passing through your body, or everywhere at the same time.

In my case, I felt strong vibrations.

ayahuasca-energy

Like every cell in my body had been “activated”.

I was buzzing with energy and life.

It reminded me of the life-changing kundalini experience I had during a meditation in April 2018.

If the feeling gets unpleasant, remember this:

  1. Thoughts Become Things: You can change the physical experience by changing your thoughts. Thinking about a more positive feeling and breathing can work wonders.

  1. Accept & Release: If you can’t change the feeling - accept you need this experience. Don’t fight it, don’t try to control it.  It’s part of letting go. Keep breathing and it will pass.

Visual Noise

Visual noise is when you see the continuous flickering of tiny black and white dots.

It looks like this:

static-tv
Sound Distortions

Sometimes your hearing gets worse.

Most people get enhanced hearing.

Other distortions of sound can happen, buzzing, static and vibration for example.

For me, I felt well grounded in reality and could hear everything that was happening around me.

Strong Visions 

Whilst not everyone experiences visions, the vast majority do.

Visions come in waves.

Sometimes as simple as brighter and clearer sight, but often elaborate geometric shapes.

Many find themselves “re watching” experiences from their life.

visions

Visions usually happen only when the eyes are closed.

Visions with the eyes open are possible, but only when doses are very strong.

Many report interacting with intelligent entities or “teachers”.

They talk of encountering everything from:

  • Animals
  • Plants
  • Humans
  • Gods
  • Aliens
  • Hybrids
  • Other indescribable beings

The visions are very vivid.

Participants usually believe they are real, despite some people arguing it’s just the imagination.

 

What Science Says About Ayahuasca Visions

A scientific answer comes from neuroimaging research.

It suggests the area of the brain responsible for vision lights up intensely during the ayahuasca experience.

Scientists claim this is “comparable in magnitude to the activation levels of a natural image with the eyes open”.

Draulio de Araujo of the Brain Institute at the Federal University of Rio Grande do Norte took 10 frequent ayahuasca users and handed them photographs of nature.

He scanned their brains during 3 activities:

  • while they looked at the photos
  • while they imaged the photo with their eyes closed
  • while they viewed scrambled versions of the photos

The volunteers later drank ayahuasca and repeated the tasks.

De Arauj discovered the brain’s memory circuits “feed” activity in the primary visual cortex.

That is what produces the visions.

The primary visual cortex is more active during imagery with eyes closed than during viewing of actual images when on ayahuasca.

Scientists think increased activation of serotonin receptors throughout the brain regions cause these effects.

 

What People See During Ayahuasca Experiences

These visions seem to have Universal Archetypes.

These are common similarities in the visions people see.

This is despite participants having different backgrounds and drinking different brews of ayahuasca.

Cognitive psychologist Benny Shannon made a list of the common things he encountered in his 70+ ayahuasca experiences plus the visions of 19 research participants.

The common visions are (in descending order of frequency):

  • Beings
  • Animals
  • Palaces
  • Human beings
  • Serpents
  • Ancient civilisations
  • Birds
  • Angels and divine beings
  • Felines
  • Forests
  • Cities
  • Landscapes
  • Flowers
ayahuasca-shannon-visions

Many artists have tried to capture ayahuasca visions.

Here’s some of the best:

Image credit: <a href="https://www.alexgrey.com/">Alex Grey</a>
Image credit: Alex Grey
Image Credit: <a href="http://www.debernardivision.com/">Anderson Debernardi</a>
Image Credit: Anderson Debernardi
ayahuasca-art
Image Credit: Luis Tamani
Image Credit: <a href="https://kahpi.net/ayahuasca-visions-artist-pablo-amaringo/">Pablo Amaringo</a>
Image Credit: Pablo Amaringo

And a couple from my personal favourite ayahuasca artist, Juan Carlos Taminchi:

Image Credit: <a href="https://www.taminchivisions.com/store">Juan Carlos Taminchi</a>
Image Credit: Juan Carlos Taminchi
Image Credit: <a href="https://www.taminchivisions.com/store">Juan Carlos Taminchi</a>
Image Credit: Juan Carlos Taminchi

There are also video artists, who have tried to represent what they saw during their ayahuasca experience.

Here’s the best of them:

Sedation 

Ayahuasca creates a state of calm.

You’ll be less irritable and agitated.

Negative emotions such as stress and anxiety ease.

You may feel drowsy and fall asleep or be in a “between awake and asleep” state.

I remember being awake and despite being super tired; I couldn‘t sleep.

When the ceremony ended and my girlfriend asked how I was and I told her…

“I could sleep for 100 years”.

The following day I felt better, but I was definitely still a little subdued.

Negative Effects

Nausea/Vomiting
ayahuasca-vomiting

During the ayahuasca experience there is often a “purging”.

Most common are:

  • Shaking
  • Yawning
  • Crying
  • Sweating/chills
  • Diarrhoea
  • Repetitive vomiting

Vomiting is so common, there is a bucket placed next to each participants yoga mat in every ceremony.

Ayahuasca impacts the serotonergic system.

This influences your mood plus your visual and auditory perceptions.

Georgetown University Medical Center’s James Giordano, profession of neurology and biology says ayahuasca impacting the area postrema.

This is the part of the brainstem that controls that urge to throw up.

Ayahuasca’s impact on this area is very strong.

Because of this, the vomiting is often more violent than you may be used to.

Why we vomit depends on who you ask.

The shamans of South America believe feeling the emotions creates a physical purging.

They say it’s negative feelings like anger, depression, sadness, and fear leaving the body.

Western medicine says there is no scientific proof behind that answer.

Poet Allen Ginsberg has described the physical part of his ayahuasca experiences:

emotions

“Stomach vomiting out the soul-vine, cadaver on the floor of a bamboo hut, body-meat crawling toward its fate.”

Vomiting is normal.

Don’t be afraid, even if it’s described as “like nothing you’ve experienced before.’’

Some say they see visions as they vomit:

  • Snakes
  • Demons
  • Dragons
  • Parasites leaving the body

These are mind/body manifestations of the energy being released.

Vomiting could also happen if you drink too much.

In ceremonies it’s common to have 2-3 doses of medicine.

If you drink too much, the body removes the excess.

During my ceremony, I had a single dose.

I experienced all the visions and benefits and did not vomit.

The closest I got was an acidic feeling in my stomach and a few minutes of thinking I might be sick.

Fear/Paranoia/Panic/Anxiety 
ayahuasca-anxiety

Ayahuasca requires you to relive some scenarios from your life.

You re-experience the feelings to let them go.

When this happens, it can create fear.

The rough times can feel like they last forever, but time is difficult to quantify during the experience.

Here’s how you can overcome the fear:

  1. Change your thoughts to more positive ones
  2. Accept what you are experiencing and don’t try to control it
  3. Breathe deeply to remain present and rooted in reality
  4. Know everything has an end - “this too shall pass”
Diarrhoea/Gastrointestinal Distress
ayahuasca-diahorrea

One of the commonly listed methods of “purging” is diarrhoea.

There are stories in the Ayahuasca Reddit group of entire groups experiencing multiple bouts of diarrhoea.

This is often from a bad batch of medicine.

When the brew causes diarrhoea, it’s likely to happen in the first few hours.

Don’t worry if you get the urge to go.

You’ll make it to the bathroom before things get explosive.

Jokes aside, the stool consistency ranges from “unusually dense to loose and unformed (but not watery)”.

Pay attention to how your body feels.

Go to the bathroom as soon as you need to. It might take time to get there.

Pro tip: carry your bucket wherever you walk. You may need to vomit while on the toilet.

Charming, I know.

Intense Fatigue
ayahuasca-fatigue

My experience started with intense fatigue.

I felt like I’d been hit with a ton of bricks.

The energy just drained out of me and I yawned uncontrollably.

This started before the visions and continued throughout and after the experience.

Whilst sleep deprivation is a likely candidate, there was something different about this.

Apparently yawning is one way of “purging” and is common.

Heather Molina nailed it by describing it as:

 “My “purging” took the form of great big yawns. Yawns so big that I felt my jaw was going to snap from stretching it so far.”

During my experience, the fatigue was so intense.

I had a vision showing me I’d been trying way too hard instead of letting life flow.

I’d been holding onto to an identity that wasn’t really me.

And doing that was so tiring.

What followed was purging.

yawning

Then very clear visions of “the new me”.

You can read more about my experience here.

Intense Sweating/Chills (Alternating)

Another common form of purging is intense sweating or chills - often both.

I got so hot I had to take my top off.

Within 15 minutes I was so cold I had it back on.

Hood up, wrapped in my blanket trying to stay warm.

I can only summarise it like this:

ayahuasca-temperature-switch
Difficulty Walking for Short Period After Ceremony 

Ayahuasca affects your motor skills, but not as much as you might think.

You will still be able to walk, go to the bathroom etc - but sometimes you’ll need a little help.

The effect last between 2 and 4 hours for most people.

In my experience, I wasn’t able to open my eyes for more than a few seconds.

Ayahuasca pinned me to the yoga mat.

I was there for the entire 11 hour ceremony.

Thankfully, I didn’t need to go to the bathroom.

I’m not sure I would have been able to.

I had to walk at the end of the ceremony, when everyone gathers around the fire.

I used my arms to get to my feet.

I stumbled clumsily a few steps forward.

I was off balance and scared I might fall into the fire.

I had visions of spending the rest of my days living like The Hound.

the-hound-got

OK, no more GOT memes (maybe).

Many people have commented that in the early morning as the sun rises, they still can’t move much.

In my experience, when I woke up, I could walk.

But it was like something out of The Walking Dead.

walking-dead

I shuffled awkwardly and needed my girlfriend to hold me up for balance.

This passed after around 20 minutes and normal functions returned.

Blood Pressure Rises 

We know ayahuasca increases blood pressure, but not much information exists about it.

This study looked at the impact of ayahuasca on the full range of blood pressure.

The top of the range is systolic blood pressure.

blood pressure

The bottom number is diastolic pressure.

The study showed diastolic blood pressure increased significantly at higher doses (0.85 mg/kg) while systolic blood pressure increased moderately.

The shamans know blood pressure rises without the scientific measurements.

They will not allow you to take part if you have chronic high blood pressure.

The pre-ayahuasca diet in the days prior to the event removes foods known to increase blood pressure.

Heart Rate Rises
ayahuasca-heart

Ayahuasca can increase your heart rate.

That’s dangerous if you have a heart condition.

Interestingly, the rise in heart rate is from the strong emotions you feel during the experience.

Ayahuasca does not cause arrhythmias.

In people susceptible to arrhythmia, the emotional aspect could be a trigger.

Doctors recommend aspirin because arrhythmia is a problem if blood clots form.

Aspirin thins the blood reducing this risk.

Mixing aspirin with ayahuasca should not cause problems (as it doesn’t affect MAOIs).

However, avoid taking large quantities to be safe.

Lastly, if you have a heart condition, follow the pre-ayahuasca diet to minimise the risks.

Dizziness/Vertigo
ayahuasca-dizzy

Dizziness is another common experience.

However, there’s little scientific evidence to explain why this happens.

Anecdotal evidence exists, like this thread on the Reddit Ayahuasca group.

An interesting theory in that thread is from a woman who asked an ayahuasquera (a woman who administers ayahuasca) why this happened.

The ayahuasquera told her the shaman was using his favourite icaro (see ayahuasca music) throughout the entire night.

The shaman used that icaro specifically to create a “whirlwind” effect.

The effect on the people present, she said, was dizziness.

Another poster in the same thread who experienced intense dizziness found 2 main causes:

  • Not Drinking Enough Ayahuasca - Smaller cups nearly always led to a night of confusing thoughts and unpleasant physical feelings.
  • Victim Mindset - They used to go back to their mat, huddle up like a victim, and wait for this terrible medicine to “have its way with me”.

This mindset did not lead to a pleasant experience.

Instead, they now:

  • Embrace what will happen
  • Trust that whatever happens is for the best
  • Sit upright calmly in an open pose
Distress
ayahuasca-distress

As you re-experience traumatic situations, you’ll feel distress.

It only lasts as long as you need to “process” the experience.

The distress is only temporary.

Long-term, there is scientific evidence showing ayahuasca reduces feelings of distress significantly.

Brad Adams Ph.D. (Counselling Psychology at USC) is a cancer researcher at the UCLA Medical Center.

He is completing a final analysis of a study of three separate groups of participants who attended a 10-day retreat in the Sacred Valley of Peru.

Each retreat included 3 ayahuasca ceremonies.

Remarkably, the participants overall psychiatric distress decreased by over 42%.

For people with more severe ongoing issues, like PTSD, the re-experiencing can cause significant distress.

However, overall the experience is still healing.

For those suffering with these severe conditions, post-ceremony professional support is absolutely required.

This is because it’s important to integrate the ayahuasca experience for everyone.

Even people without PTSD need to do this .

You may find integration difficult to do alone.

You can find more information about post-ayahuasca integration here.

Tremors/Shaking

Shaking is one way you “purge” during the experience.

This happened during my experience but it didn’t last for more than an hour.

Digging into the Reddit ayahuasca group reveals a few tales of tremors like this:

“During my 8th and final ayahuasca ceremony at a retreat in Peru my body convulsed violently for about 3 hours.

These convulsions were electric and uncontrollable making my limbs flail about and my abdominals tense repeatedly.

When the convulsions stopped I felt amazing, an incredible feeling of elation and consciousness.

I could feel and see energies and manipulate them at will, even feeling the essence of other people in the room.

It felt as if I were a child in a brand new magical world.”

In that same thread, another poster shares an interesting perspective about why the shaking may happen:

“You have stumbled onto one of the oldest ways mammals heal trauma.

This shaking is your physical body shaking out the physically stuck energy from your body.

I highly recommend reading the book Waking the tiger by Peter Levine.

This video will give you an introduction into somatic experiencing and healing.”

The video reveals the physiological basis of trauma and how Somatic Experiencing® (SE™), developed by Peter A. Levine, PhD, helps distressed individuals recover a sense of wellbeing, stability and vitality.

Muscle Spasms/Twitches

There’s little information explaining why we experience twitching or spasms.

I could only find a single statement that “muscle spasms are primarily caused by the harmala alkaloids in ayahuasca”.

Anecdotal experiences suggest muscle spasms are common and mostly mild.

With that said, some people experience more than the involuntary muscle twitches.

They find their muscles beginning to spasm.

One guy described it “as if someone was digging their fingers into my nerves”.

Though its uncommon, it sounds painful.

Autonomic Instability

This condition causes the autonomic nervous system (ANS) to not work properly.

This can affect the functioning of:

  • The heart
  • Bladder
  • Intestines
  • Sweat glands
  • Pupils
  • Blood vessels

I couldn't find any evidence for this either scientifically or anecdotally.

What Does Ayahuasca Feel Like?

ayahuasca-feelings

For a list of all the effects, positive, neutral and negative, go here.

If you’re asking “What is an ayahuasca trip like?” - here’s your answer:

It’s like being fully awake and conscious of your surroundings, but seeing vivid visions when you close your eyes.

A handful of people even see the visions with their eyes open.

If you haven’t tried ayahuasca, but want to see what the visions are like, these clips will give you an idea:

How Long Does Ayahuasca Last?

The duration of an ayahuasca experience depends on many factors.

They include:

  • The strength of the brew
  • The amount you drink
  • Your body chemistry
  • How you react to psychedelic substances

As a general guide, this table will help you get an idea:

Ayahuasca Duration (Oral Consumption)
Onset 20 – 60 mins
Coming Up 30 – 45 mins
Plateau 1 – 2 hrs
Coming Down 1 – 2 hrs
After Effects 1 – 8 hrs
Total Duration 4 – 8 hrs
Hangover  Day After

This is supported in studies like this one which say:

“Psychedelic effects of ayahuasca are dose-dependent.

The effects take 20-60 minutes after oral intake and may last approximately 2-6 hours.”

Where Does Ayahuasca Take You?

ayahuasca-spiritual

Most people who drink ayahuasca will tell you they visited the spiritual plane.

Also known as another dimension or an alternate reality.

If this sounds far fetched, consider this explanation from Carlos Tanner:

“A dimension is a range of electromagnetic frequencies that is defined by one’s biological capacity to perceive them. 

The visible spectrum of light is an example of an aspect of a dimension of reality.

Anything above the visible spectrum, like ultraviolet, for instance, would exist in another dimension, because it cannot be perceived by our eyes under normal circumstances. 

Everyone experiences other dimensions of reality nearly every night, when we dream, but we don’t give those dimensions much attention either.

What ayahuasca does is difficult to describe without getting “spiritual”. 

It raises one’s sensitivity to light to include light beyond the visible spectrum, thus allowing people who ingest ayahuasca to see more of reality than they usually can. 

They can also hear more of reality and feel more of reality. Thus, they can exist in an expanded dimension of reality. 

Their dreams can also become a part of this reality, although they need not fall asleep to have these dreams, and because they are conscious during this experience, they are able to control themselves in these unusual, interdimensional states.”

If that feels a bit “woo woo” - you probably haven’t experienced ayahuasca yet.

If so, this explanation may be more acceptable for you:

Based on my experience with ayahuasca and significant research into other people’s experiences:

Ayahuasca takes you deep into your emotions, memories, experiences, trauma, psyche and body.

It goes everywhere looking for junk to clear up.

What Does Ayahuasca Taste Like?

There are many descriptions of what ayahuasca tastes like.

The way it’s brewed influences the taste.

Rather than offer a single, definitive description, it’s more helpful to list all of them.

You’ll get a sense of what to expect.

Here’s what people say about the look, smell and taste of ayahuasca:

Image Credit: <a href="http://www.saschagrabow.com/">Sascha Grabow </a>
Image Credit: Sascha Grabow

Look

  • The colour and consistency of an espresso shot

  • Doses the size of a single-to-triple espresso shot

  • The consistency is oily, like used motor oil

  • Watery and thin

  • Chunky and contain pieces of soft bark

  • Plant matter the size of chocolate chips

 

Smell

  • Acrid odour

  • Stinky smell

  • Like wet dirt

 

Taste

  • The taste clings to your mouth

  • Like a tea made of bark and twigs

  • Bitter and earthy - like drinking rainwater from a muddy hole in the forest floor

  • Like a sour smoothie that didn’t nearly have enough water in it

  • Like they had mixed some dirt in

  • Like strong, bitter coffee

  • Salty, sour, sweet - sometimes all at once

  • Earthy and woody

  • Thick and slightly molasses like with a very bitter taste

  • Like dirt and molasses

  • Imagine several crushed aspirin mixed with juice (spit) from several people chewing tobacco and spitting into a cup. Now let it sit in a dark, mouldy cave for a month, add some fresh dirt and viola!

  • Like week old burnt coffee that someone had thrown a handful of dirt into and stirred right before serving

  • Sulphur with a Hint of Chocolate

  • Forest rot

  • Maple syrup

  • Like Marmite

  • Earthy, woodsy, slightly bitter, slightly thicker than normal tea.

  • Like a liquefied corpse

  • A combination of tobacco juice and stale espresso, with the consistency and texture of sludge

  • Bitter, rotten-coffee taste

  • A mixture of foot-rot, raw sewage, battery acid, sulphur and just a hint of chocolate

  • Like it had already been vomited up, by someone who’d been on a steady diet of tar, bile and fermented wood pulp

And last, but definitely not least, my favourite:

ayahuasca-taste

You’re probably now wondering how to stop yourself vomiting the moment you drink.

Relax.

The taste is really not that bad.

But here are some pro tips to manage the taste:

How To Handle The Taste of Ayahuasca

Water helps clear most of the aftertaste immediately.

But the oily taste will linger long afterwards.

To get rid of the taste faster, bring a travel size toothpaste.

Put a tiny bit on the tongue right after you drink.

This makes the flavour goes away faster.

Chewing a piece of gum, ginger or even lemon can help too.

You probably won’t need any of these things.

But if your gag-reflex is triggered by a stiff breeze, these tips could save you.


Chapter 3:
Preparing Yourself For Ayahuasca

How To Prepare For Your First Ayahuasca Ceremony

Preparing for your ayahuasca ceremony is both detailed and extensive.

While mostly safe, there are some risks.

It’s important to observe the preparation guidelines as closely as possible.

Ayahuasca preparation falls into 6 categories:

  1. Pre ayahuasca Diet Changes - Full details here
  2. Pre ayahuasca Behaviour Changes - Full details here
  3. What To Bring With You - Full details here
  4. What To Wear - Full details here
  5. Get Your Questions Answered - This is the aim of this page
  6. Mental Preparation & Setting Your Intention - See below

Mental Preparation & Setting Your Intention

ayahuasca-intention

It’s said that “ayahuasca gives you the experience you need, not the one you want”.

That’s true, but it’s still possible to slightly influence the experience.

What I found was, that ayahuasca amplified what was already present.

I could change the experience by changing my thoughts.

The process of mental preparation is about what you do before the cup touches your lips.

There needs to be a period of “mental cleansing” ahead of drinking day.

Yoga and meditation are recommended, but I didn’t do either of these.

Instead, I asked myself what question I wanted answered during the ceremony.

They call this your intention.

Setting an intention and focusing on it during the week, “embedded” it in me.

The more specific the intention, the clearer your answer.

pre-ayahuasca-foods

The dietary preparation is key.

What goes into the body directly affects the mind.

Fasting ahead of the ceremony was important for me.

I’m sure it helped me not vomit!

It’s also important you go into the ceremony without fear.

Reading about other people’s experiences helped.

Getting answers to my questions put my mind at ease.

As a result, I felt more excited than anxious.

I was prepared mentally and everything went well.

If you worry a lot, maybe go easy on the googling.

No matter what you search for, you’ll find people with bad experiences.

That could scare you.

Just remember, by following the rules and preparing properly, the risks are very low.

ayahuasca-what-to-bring

Before my ayahuasca experience I didn’t know what to bring. As a result, I was at the mercy of whatever the centre provided.

Thankfully, Bluestone Ayahuasca gave me a yoga mat, cushions, a blanket, a bucket and tissues.

This seems to be the “standard ayahuasca kit” centres provide.

Other participants had more elaborate set ups - I was clearly the only “first timer”.

Here’s a comprehensive list of what people often take to ayahuasca ceremonies.

You don’t need everything, but hopefully it will be a helpful “memory jogger”.

Select the items you think you’ll need.

 

Essentials

Sandals/Flip Flops/Slip-on Shoes
ayahuasca-footwear
Shoes are not allowed within the ceremony room.

You’ll need to leave them outside.

Also, when the ayahuasca kicks in, you might to go to the toilet quickly.

Being able to slip your shoes on quickly is priceless.

 

Pillows

You’ll be lying on a thin yoga mat for 8-10 hours.

This can be uncomfortable.

I was fine thanks to my airplane neck cushion.

I put it under my head, which allowed me to use the main cushion under my hips.

Blankets

The blanket you get will probably be a woven blanket.

It will be thick enough to keep you warm.

You may prefer your own blanket for “home comfort”. In most cases it’s not necessary.

If you bring your own, go with cotton or any other “silent” blanket.

Noisy, synthetic blankets won’t be permitted.

Eye Mask

Some people swear by an eye mask.

In my experience it’s unnecessary.

The ceremony room will be pitch black, as will the jungle outside.

I wasn’t able to open my eyes for 90% of the ceremony.

I didn’t need an eye mask - my eyes were heavy enough on their own!

Water Bottle

I didn’t bring a bottle of water with me.

I drank nothing the whole night.

Not a good idea.

A bottle is essential, at least 1 litre.

Some centres give you water, mine did not.

Choose a bottle that is silent.

The crinkly disposable/reusable bottles are great for the environment, but not for an ayahuasca ceremony as they disturb others.

Choose one with a lid in case you knock it over.

Chapstick 

By 7am the next morning my lips were so crusty.

Layers of “gunk” on top and I was licking them a lot as they were so dry.

In hindsight, a chapstick is essential.

Chapped-lips

Optional

Snacks

Some people bring snacks.

I did a juice-only diet for 7 days and then water-only for 1.5 days before the ceremony.

I didn’t eat during the ceremony or until the afternoon of the following day.

I didn’t feel like I needed snacks.

ayahuasca-snacks

After the ceremony was over, the shaman gave everyone fruit (a cube of papaya).

It made me feel sick, and I ate only a slither.

Tobacco
ayahuasca-smoking

The girl next to me was rolling tobacco before the ceremony.

She offered me one. I told her I don’t smoke.

She told me she doesn’t either.

Wait…what?!

Turns out she only smokes during ceremonies, if the experience is too intense.

Intrigued, I quizzed her more.

I learned tobacco is “grounding” and brings you down when you’re “flying a little too high”.

I took a roll-up from her, but didn’t need it in the end.

I don’t think I would have been able to smoke it, anyway.

Small Flashlight With Red Light

torch-ayahuasca

Ceremonies happen in the dark.

When you open your eyes, it is hard to focus.

It may affect your judgement of how close or far away things are.

I wasn’t even able to open my eyes around the fire at the end.

To go to the toilet, you’ll need a torch.

If you take one, don’t take one with “white light”.

They are very disturbing for others, as ayahuasca heightens the senses.

Important: Don’t use any light inside the ceremony area.

Remember, the people outside are also still in the ayahuasca experience.

Try not to blind them.

Red lights are dimmed and don’t disturb others.

I didn’t need one, but you might.

Make sure the batteries are new.

Wet Wipes 

Useful to freshen up the next morning.

Also useful if you have any purging accidents.

Look, purging from one end, or both is possible.

Wet wipes will make you feel human again.

Pro tip: The ones in the baby section are softer.

Inflatable Mattress 

Probably not required (I didn’t see anyone with one) but on the forums they seem to be popular.

Just make sure you buy one that doesn’t make noise when you move.

You won’t be allowed to bring it into the ceremony room otherwise.

Thermarests are not permitted for this reason.

Sleeping Bag 

Some people prefer sleeping bags as they give that safe “cocoon” feeling.

If you do, avoid nylon sleeping bags.

They are noisy and are often banned.

Journal
ayahuasca-journal

You probably won’t be able to write during the ayahuasca experience.

The next morning you might want to record the insights, before you forget them.

Ayahuasca does the work during the ceremony.

But the more you remember, the more you can integrate.

Ayahuasca often shows you what is blocking you. And the right path to follow.

Implementing the changes in your life is the next step.

A journal helps remind you of the changes you need to make.

This is useful when you’re back in the whirlwind of your day-to-day life.

After my ayahuasca experience, I recorded a voice note to capture everything.

I used the Voice Record Pro 7 app.

I used the recording to write much of this blog post.

Insect Repellent 
ayahuasca-insects

Especially if your ceremony is in Peru or you always get bitten.

I don’t get bitten ever thankfully, so I don’t use insect repellent.

You might need it.

It will help you feel more relaxed during the ceremony.

I don’t recommend focusing on the insects when drinking, who knows what “Mother Ayahuasca” will show you!

Important note: Malaria pills are potentially dangerous when mixed with ayahuasca.

Stop taking them a few weeks before.

See How To Take Ayahuasca Safely, specifically the section called Don’t Mix With Other Drugs, Supplements or Medication.

Post-Bite Cream 

If you get bitten during the ceremony, some cream to ease the pain might be helpful.

Travel Size Toothpaste 

If you think the ayahuasca taste will be too much.

Put some on your tongue immediately and the flavour goes away quicker.

Your clothes will have a big impact on your experience.

Here’s everything you need to know:

Priority #1 - Comfort
ayahuasca-clothes

Think loose fitting, soft and natural.

Cotton is king.

Synthetic clothes rustle and make noise.

Loose yoga pants are common. Jeans are not.

P.S - Choose underwear wisely. Too tight will disturb you.

Guys, go with loose fitting or sports undershorts (I wear these).

Ladies, go with bras without a wire and comfortable underwear.

Priority #2 - Warmth/Coverage

Bring long sleeves and long pants made of light materials.

In the jungle, they will keep you cool but protected.

Light materials are key because the weather might be hot.

You can layer these for warmth if the temperature drops (which is common at night).

Also remember your body temperature drops naturally, because you don’t move for many hours.

I wear these lightweight, breathable zip up tops.

Avoid the ones with full zips, they can be tricky to navigate.

Priority #3 - Comfortable, Quick To Put on Footwear 

You’ll likely need the bathroom and will be searching for your shoes:

  • In the dark and
  • While deep in the ayahuasca experience

Shoes you could put on with your eyes closed are best.

Go with sandals or flip-flops.

Laces are not your friends. Boots will be impossible.

Also, the bathroom may be a short walk away, you’ll need to protect your feet.

If you need to purge in the bathroom, you’ll need something you can put on quickly.

Priority #4 - Colour & Avoiding Branding, Writing & Logos 

colour-ayahuasca

Many centres ask you to wear plain white only.

Some centres insist on this, others don’t care what you wear.

The centres that insist may not let you take part if you don’t wear white.

Here are the specific guidelines from one centre I found:

  • 3 metres of white 100% cotton cloth (to wear during the ceremony)
  • White sweats or t-shirts
  • White socks (for retreats in colder regions)
  • A towel for drying yourself after washing
  • White underwear
  • Cowrie Shell bracelet or necklace *optional
  • Ceremonial Feathers *if available

Shamans say the reason for the white is because:

  • White gives protection from evil spirits
  • It attracts good spirits, and
  • It’s easier to see your energy, so the shaman knows what you need.

You can decide if that’s true or not.

On a practical level, white clothing is much easier to see in the dark.

Lastly, avoid clothes with:

  • Logos
  • Brands
  • Sports teams
  • Writing

No one wears them and you may feel out of place.

Plain clothes are best. No one is sure why.

Maybe it’s so you don’t look like a vain asshole.

Maybe it’s because words and symbols have energy.

If you’re interested in this, read this HuffPost piece by Llewellyn Vaughan-Lee.

Priority #5 - Have Replacement Clothes With You 

You probably won’t need extra clothes.

But sometimes people don’t get to the bucket or bathroom in time.

If the worst happens, you don’t want to be in those clothes until the morning.

Extra clothes, visible to the facilitators (e.g. next to your yoga mat) will be helpful should the worst happen.

Can You Do The Ayahuasca Ceremony With Your Partner?

ayahuasca-partner

The short answer is yes.

But consider these factors before making your decision.

#1 - Ayahuasca amplifies what is already present

If you have a good relationship with your partner, it can amplify the love, bond and connection you both have.

This was my experience.

If you have a drama-filled relationship, you’ll likely experience that during the ceremony.

Decide if you want to bring that energy into the experience.

#2 - Ayahuasca is a deeply personal experience

ayahuasca-experience

This is a personal journey.

You are on your own.

You have to do the work.

No one else can do it for you.

Having a loved one nearby can be problematic.

Hearing your partner in distress will probably

  • Distract you
  • Make you want to check if they are OK

Doing either impacts the process for you, them and possibly others.

Allow your partner to work through their stuff. The facilitators will look after them.

It’s not your job.

Give each other space.

In some ceremonies, shamans separate couples and so their energies don’t mix.

Alternatively, you may decide to do the ceremony alone.

You could even do the first few alone and then a later ceremony together.

Just go with what feels right.

#3 - You May Not Like What You See

ayahuasca-eyes

Some people ask ayahuasca a specific question about their relationship.

Others don’t.

Even if your question is not about your relationship, you may still get visions about it.

Remember, ayahuasca shows you what you need to see, not what you want to see.

You may see a strong future with your partner, which brings you closer together.

This was my girlfriends experience, and it helped ease any “what if this happens” questions in her mind.

It was good for us.

Others see their relationship is:

  • Already over, or
  • Will be over soon

Whether it’s through a vision or just being open enough to feel what is present, it could spell the end of your relationship.

During the ayahuasca experience, you feel without judgement or critical thinking.

Perhaps it’s what you truly feel when you are fully open and honest.

Check out this post by Linzi Oliver called “Ayahuasca Made Me Purge My Guts and My Boyfriend”.

It includes this unrelated but “laugh so hard I spat out my coffee” headline:

“Dear God #5: Oh, and thank you for blessing me with a strong sphincter.” 🤣

#4 - Post Ceremony Sharing is Awesome

ayahuasca-couple

After the ceremony ends, you’ll sit together with the other participants.

During my (first) ceremony I felt weak and could barely open my eyes.

My girlfriend was there. I leaned on her and she took care of me.

When we went back to our mats to “get some sleep” (impossible btw).

We spent an hour or two just sharing our experiences with each other.

This was helpful for two reasons:

  • It helped me remember everything - It allowed me to write this post and integrate the lessons, because I remembered them and could make plans to implement the lessons.
  • We bonded over our shared experience - The connection and love between us grew. The visions are deeply personal and sharing them with someone else brings you closer together.
before=ayahuasca-sex

Some claim the sex ban is nonsense.

They point to the fact the old curanderos would eat, drink and have sex before ceremonies without issue.

However, there seems to be some reason behind this rule.

Most ayahuasca centres are very clear - avoid sex (including with yourself!) two weeks before the ceremony.

This is mostly because sex involves the exchange of bodily fluids.

Fluids are powerful energetically and so sex can deplete your energy.

You need your energy to engage with the experience fully.

Without it, you may not receive all the teachings you need from the plants.

This is because the experience would be too taxing for you.

By abstaining, you purify the body:

  • Mentally
  • Physically
  • Spiritually, and
  • Energetically

During this time, it’s important not to blend energy with anyone else.

That means ayahuasca is just working with your energy when you drink.

The body has 7 energy centres, known as chakras.

chakras

The sexual energy (known as kundalini) can rise through your chakras if you have enough.

When kundalini rises high enough, it reaches the pineal gland.

This is also known as your third eye and can give you visions.

Sex of any kind dissipates this energy.  That means there is less available for kundalini to rise.

Interestingly, throughout history spiritual men have abstained from sex, here’s why:

Can You Have Sex After an Ayahuasca Ceremony?

After the ceremony, abstain from sex for two weeks.

Two weeks before, plus two weeks after equals a month without sex.

The two-week period post ayahuasca is important.

It allows your energy to return to normal levels before engaging with others.

One person in the Reddit ayahuasca group said:

“As for sexual abstinence, the shaman from Cusco in particular spoke about how if your sexual energy is at a certain level incompatible with your partner, you can actually spiritually harm each other through sexual congress. 

He strongly implied this applies to masturbation, also, so, you know: time to demonstrate you are the “Master of Your Domain,” so to speak. ;-)”

The reasons I gave in response to Can you have sex before an ayahuasca ceremony? apply here too, so read that.

The bottom line seems to be that ayahuasca continues working on you after the ceremony.

Having sex too soon means you miss much of the healing.

Chapter 4:
Ayahuasca & Your Health

What Does Ayahuasca Do To The Brain?

When you drink ayahuasca, it lights up specific sections of your brain.

These are:

  • Neocortex - Controls decision making and reason
  • Amygdala - Stores your early memories, specifically the most traumatic experiences
  • Insula - Bridges the gap between your emotional impulses and decision making

Scientists know traumatic experiences create fixed brain patterns.

These patterns become shortcuts the brain uses when facing a similar event.

For example, imagine a child with an abusive father who shouted and then hit them.

The child experiences the same fear when they see someone else in the same situation.

This happens even when if they are watching it on TV.

Ayahuasca is promising because it allows the conscious part of the new brain to override the old pattern temporarily.

This study from the Beckley/Sant Pau Research Programme revealed ayahuasca can stimulate the birth of new neurons.

This allows new pathways to develop which overwrite the old patterns with new, more beneficial ones.

This means the old fears no longer have the same effect.

How Ayahuasca Heals The Brain

ayahuasca-brain-health

There are many scientific studies which show how ayahuasca heals the brain.

Ayahuasca’s two main active ingredients (DMT and β-carbolines) have neuroprotective and neurorestorative qualities.

DMT protects the brain cells by activating the sigma-1 receptor.

This blocks neurodegeneration (damage to your motor neurons).

It also regulates the production of antioxidant compounds that help protect the brain cells.

The same study shows DMT protects human brain cells from damage caused by lack of oxygen and increased cell survival.

Other studies such as this one and this one found Harimine, the main β-carboline in ayahuasca, has:

  • Anti-inflammatory
  • Neuroprotective, and
  • Memory-boosting effects

Most interestingly, this test-tube study showed exposure to harmine increased the growth of human neural progenitor cells by over 70% in 4 days.

These cells generate the growth of new neural cells in the brain - so the importance of this can’t be underestimated.

ayahuasca-deaths

There have been deaths related to ayahuasca.

However, ayahuasca being the direct pharmacological cause of death is extremely rare.

Here’s the details of the deaths related to ayahuasca:

Henry Miller, April 2014, Age 19, British

Cause of Death: Mixed ayahuasca with anti-nausea drug Hyocine

henry-miller-ayahuasca

An alternative theory comes from Emily Sinclair in her piece “Can People Really Die From Drinking ayahuasca, as Announced in the Media?”.

She says:

“As I was to discover later upon meeting his friends in Peru, Henry had actually died from a head injury sustained in a motorcycle accident following the ceremony when, panicking and presumably incompetent, the people running the ceremony attempted to take him to hospital. 

He fell from the motorcycle, hitting his head. The head injuries are clearly visible in pictures.”

Matthew Mellon, April 2018, Age 52, American

Cause of Death: Heart Attack

matthew-mellon-ayahuasca

Crypto-currency billionaire who dined with President Trump and had many A-list Hollywood friends.

Died after taking ayahuasca in his hotel room in Cancun, Mexico.

Details are scarce.  Unknown if he was taking other pills at the same time.

He was known to have substance abuse issues for decades.

At one point he had a $100,000 a month OxyContin habit (80 pills per day).

It’s reasonable to assume this would have weakened his heart.

People with heart conditions are advised not to take Ayahuasca.

Anonymous male, 2004, Age 25, Origin Unknown

Cause of Death: Hallucinogenic amine intoxication

Kyle Nolan, September 2012, Age 18, American

Cause of Death: Unknown

Kyle Nolan-ayahuasca

Details: A second autopsy in Sonoma County, California followed an initial one in Peru.

Both did not produce a definitive cause of death.

 

Anonymous Males (2), August 2011, Age Unknown/Origin 

Cause of Death: Unknown

 

Jane Maiangowi, October 2001, Age 71, Canadian

Cause of Death: Acute Nicotine Poisoning

Details: The autopsy did not identify a causal link between ayahuasca and the death. Her death was caused by nicotine poisoning.

The Center for Disease Control says 50 to 60 milligrams of nicotine is a deadly dose for an adult who weighs about 150 pounds.

Some research suggests a lethal amount may be a lot higher.

 

Unais Gomes, December 2015, Age 26, British

Cause of Death: Murder

Details: Joshua Stevens stabbed and killed Unais Gomes. 

Unais Gomes

Toxicology results show only one of them had consumed ayahuasca – the victim, Gomes.

Alfonso Geovanni D’Rose, December 2016, 38, American

Cause of Death: Unknown

Details: Felt no effects, allowed to go home at the end of the ceremony.

Found in his bathroom curled up beside the toilet.

Possibly choked on his vomit or ingested another substance, such as a sleeping pill.

It is also possible that there was an unforeseen medical event that caused his death.

Matthew Dawson, September 2015, 24, New Zealander

Cause of Death: Tobacco Poisoning

matthew-dawson-ayahuasca

Details: The retreat offered tobacco purges to all participants and are usually safe, but can lead to nicotine poisoning.

Matthew was in great physical discomfort following the ingestion of tobacco.

After several hours, during which he was screaming in pain, Matthew eventually died from a heart attack on the way to hospital.

Media headlines screamed “Ayahuasca caused death” - The smaller print told the truth.

 

What These "Cause of Death" Reports Tell Us

As you can see, in these cases reported there are no clear-cut links to ayahuasca directly, but other factors at play.

This study summarises the situation well:

“Circumstances around deaths are generally unclear and may be related to shamans adding additional plants with increased toxicity to brews or inappropriately screening patients for drug interactions. 

There has never been a death observed during a clinical study.”

This study investigated deaths related to ayahuasca and found:

“The evaluation of the cases highlights the fact that some lack accurate forensic/toxicological information, while others are not directly relevant to traditional ayahuasca preparations.”

How Dangerous is Ayahuasca?

Considering the number of people taking ayahuasca each year, the death rate is very low.

Let’s say there are 500 centres globally. 

Let’s assume each holds a ceremony once a week (very conservative).

52 weeks x 500 centres = 26,000 ceremonies

The number of participants can vary, but let’s assume each ceremony holds 25 people (again conservative).

26,000 ceremonies x 25 people = 650,000 ceremony participants per year

With a total death count of 9 against 650,000, the fatality rate is just 0.00001384615%

calculator

Ayahuasca has been attributed to 9 deaths in total.

Consider that against these numbers:

I think you get the point.

It’s often the media amplifying the story, mis-communicating the facts and scaremongering for attention.

With that said, you should still be cautious about taking ayahuasca and follow best practices to be as safe as possible.

Can Ayahuasca Make You Crazy?

ayahuasca-crazy

One of the most common fears regarding ayahuasca, is that it might make you crazy.

Scientists have studies this deeply.

Here’s what they found:

This study from Brazil called “Ayahuasca: what mental health professionals need to know” and the scientists concluded:

“Ayahuasca administration in controlled settings appears to be safe from a subjective and physiological perspective, with few adverse reactions being reported. 

More frequent adverse reactions occur in non-controlled settings.

Prolonged psychotic reactions are rare and seem to occur especially in susceptible individuals.”

In another study, researchers found:

“These results suggest that the incidence of psychotic episodes associated with ayahuasca/DMT intake is a rare phenomenon.

The psychotic episodes are apparently associated with several contributing factors, and not only ayahuasca or DMT intake. 

Many cases involved individuals with a personal or family history of psychosis or non-psychotic bipolar disorder, or concomitant use of other drugs.“

This study found:

“The scientific literature suggests that acute ayahuasca administration to healthy volunteers has a good safety profile, and that long-term ritual ayahuasca consumption is not associated with cognitive or psychiatric problems.” 

ayahuasca-visions

This study from the Journal of psychopharmacology is interesting.

It’s a large population study of 130,000 adults in the United States.

The title of the study summarises the findings - “Psychedelics not linked to mental health problems or suicidal behavior: A population study”.

To quote from the study:

“A recent large population study of 130,000 adults in the United States failed to find evidence for a link between psychedelic use  and mental health problems.

We found no significant associations between lifetime use of psychedelics and increased likelihood of past year serious psychological distress, mental health treatment, suicidal thoughts, suicidal plans and suicide attempt, depression and anxiety. 

We failed to find evidence that psychedelic use is an independent risk factor for mental health problems.

Serious adverse events involving psychedelics are extremely rare.”

Another interesting study is from the Department of Psychology at the University of Oslo, Norway.

It’s called:

The link between use of psychedelic drugs and mental health problems

The study analysed data on the mental health of ayahuasca users in religious communities.

The use of psychedelics is legal in these groups.

The participants had used ayahuasca over 360 times each.

Despite that, they scored significantly lower on all psychopathology measures compared to people who regularly took part in regular non-psychedelic religious groups.

ayahuasca-psychedellics

Another study found that LIFETIME use of “classic psychedelics” was associated with significantly reduced odds of:

  • Past month psychological distress
  • Past year suicidal thinking
  • Past year suicidal planning
  • Past year suicide attempt

The only credible information I could find which posed the opposite view was this one. 

All they could say was - ayahuasca may have contributed to a psychotic incident.

To quote the study directly:

“One literature review[4] reported that over a five-year period there were documented between 13 and 24 cases in which ayahuasca may have contributed to an undefined psychotic incident. 

These were reported from a cumulative estimated 25,000 ayahuasca sessions and represent a rate less than 0.1% (0.052-0.096%).”

From everything I found, its unlikely ayahuasca will trigger a psychotic reaction or affect your mental state negatively.

However, the literature is VERY CLEAR.

Anyone with a personal or family history of:

  • Mental issues
  • Schizophrenia
  • Schizophreniform disorders
  • Psychotic depression
  • Mania and related conditions

… should avoid ayahuasca completely.

How Often Should You Take Ayahuasca?

ayahuasca-how-often

There doesn’t seem to be one answer to this question.

The first consideration is how long your initial ayahuasca experience lasts.

Options include:

  • A single night
  • Week long retreats
  • 2 week courses

The consensus in the Reddit Ayahuasca board was “a week long retreat once every 1 or 2 years, if I can swing that, and then every 3 months or so for a single “maintenance” session.”

There are examples of people taking ayahuasca more frequently.

In this study, researchers observed two high-frequency groups:

  • One group had taken ayahuasca twice a month for 15 years (360-1080 times each)
  • The second group took ayahuasca 8 times per month (360 and 1440 times each)

In both groups, researchers found no negative effects.

They even found lower mental illness symptoms than non-users.

It is worth noting, both groups were from the Amazon.

There may be some natural inbuilt tolerance to the effects of ayahuasca and regular use.

The best summary I can offer is this:

As with the ayahuasca experience itself, the frequency is also deeply personal.

Can I Do Ayahuasca During Menstruation?

ayahuasca-menstruation

There is conflicting information about this topic.

There are basically 3 answers you’ll hear consistently:

  1. You can’t take part
  2. You can take part but it isn’t advised/may be limited
  3. You can take part as normal

 

You Can’t Take Part

Many centres don’t allow a menstruating woman to take part in the ceremony.

This is for one of two reasons:

1) Shamans claim it can be dangerous for the woman and others in the group.

A more detailed description can be found here from Camino al Sol in their retreat information:

“We believe women hold immense power during their lunar cycle.

During this period of the month women are connected to the spirits and are purging and regenerating.

Medicine is not needed at this time.

In rare occurrences, use of the medicine can cause additional and sometimes heavy and uncontrolled bleeding.

For these reasons, women on their period are not allowed to take part in the ceremony. “

or

2) Women cannot take part for religious, social or cultural reasons.

Possibly because menstruating women are considered “unclean”. Nothing to do with ayahuasca at all.

Tina “Kat” Courtney, a traditionally trained ayahuasquera (ayahuasca healer) talks about this in her post “Menstruation and Ayahuasca: Let’s Celebrate the Moon”

 

You Can Take Part But It Isn’t Advised/May Be Limited

ayahuasca-period

“In many shamanic traditions, including with the Shipibo healers we work with, the energy of menstruation is treated with great respect. 

Shamanic healers are very sensitive to all energies in ceremony. 

They sometimes find that the power of menstrual energy can interfere with their work. 

For this reason, they may ask a woman to sit out of a ceremony when her menstruation is at its strongest, or they may simply reduce the dose of medicine on that particular night. 

This will depend on what the healers perceive is best for the healing path of the individual and in the group they are working with.

Sitting out of ceremony because of the menstrual cycle can be a beautiful experience, especially during a journey at the Temple. 

You are still able to hear the songs of the shamans from the maloka and have personal time and space to celebrate being a woman in any way that feels right to you. 

It can be a wonderful opportunity to practice honoring oneself deeply.

It is not necessary to worry about the timing of your cycle nor would we advise booking a retreat around it. 

If it comes up, it will be part of the journey.”

 

You Can Take Part as Normal

The last answer comes from the experiences of participants who menstruated during the ayahuasca retreat.

They all said everything was OK, though there are some eye-opening tales (blood running down the leg as a spiritual lesson?!) and intense stomach cramps.

Read these stories in this Reddit ayahuasca group thread here.

Is Ayahuasca Legal?

ayahuasca-legal

The short answer is, it depends where you live and how you use it.

There are 3 legal statuses globally:

  1. Legal within specific contexts e.g. religious use or because ayahuasca is part of the national cultural heritage
  2. Specifically prohibited
  3. Not specifically prohibited, not specifically permitted - a legal void exists

I’ve summarised the legal status of ayahuasca here.

Note: I marked some status as legal because there is no law prohibiting it - use your own discretion):

Links in the Status column are to the specific laws, where I could find them.

Ayahuasca Legal Status
Country Status Related Court Cases
Canada Illegal Religious exemption granted
Gabor Mate told to cease work
USA Illegal Religious exemption granted
Religious exemption granted
Oakland City decriminalises all psychedelics
450kg importer facing 20 years
UK Illegal Religious use illegal
Ayahuasca seized, but case dropped
Australia No law exists
India Mixed - Plant ingredients not illegal, but DMT is. Retreat Raided
China Mixed - Plant ingredients not illegal, but DMT is.
Netherlands Mixed - Plant ingredients not illegal, but DMT is.

Ayahuasca ceremonies tolerated and religious use permitted.
Religious exemption granted
Ceremony raided, charges dismissed
Ayahuasca in luggage, charges dismissed
120 litres seized, sued government
Church sue government to prevent seizures
Brazil Legal
Japan Illegal
Mexico No law exists
Colombia No law exists
Peru Legal
Thailand No specific law exists but other psychotropics are listed
Indonesia No specific law exists but other psychotropics are listed
France Illegal
Denmark Mixed - Plant ingredients not illegal, but DMT is. Religious status denied
Import and distribution denied
25kg importer jailed
Finland Mixed - Plant ingredients not illegal, but DMT is. The plant ingredients of ayahuasca are on Finland’s “herb list” which means they are treated as a medicine or an illegal drug depending on whether medical use for it is shown. Arrest for online order
Belgium Mixed - Plant ingredients not illegal, but DMT is. Illegal importation
Possession and trading case
Argentina No specific law Ayahuasca retreat raided
Ayahuasca retreat raided
Ayahuasca retreat raided
Ayahuasca retreat raided
Rave raided
Church denied religious status
Possession of plants not illegal
Italy Legal Declared a non-narcotic substance
Spain Mixed - Plant ingredients not illegal, but DMT is. Religious use permitted. 38 arrests from 2010-2015
Chile Legal Couple Arrested
Accused Acquitted
Sweden Illegal
Portugal Mixed - All drugs decriminalised meaning possession and use is legal. The sale, transport and cultivation of the substance remain criminal offences.
Group denied religious status
Religious use denied
Ayahuasca retreat raided
Romania Legal - For scientific and medical research studies by authorised doctors in clinics and hospitals only.
Ireland Illegal Ayahuasca retreat raided
Switzerland No specific law - 26 states can make their own law. Religious use permitted. Shipment seized
Germany Mixed - Plant ingredients not illegal, but DMT is. Arrest for online order
Ayahuasca legal status case
Uruguay Mixed - Distribution  and selling are illegal. personal use is not. 30 litres seized. The person who transported ayahuasca was not charged, but they confiscated the ayahuasca.
Israel Illegal Importing arrests
Russia Illegal
Costa Rica Legal

Whilst the legal status is complex in most countries, there is hope that ayahuasca use will be permitted in the future.

There are many promising studies (referenced in this post, but if you’re lazy here’s a cool list) where the scientists feel the legal status should be relaxed so more studies can be done.

Ayahuasca seems safer than many things we have legalised, so perhaps at some point ayahuasca may too become legal.

Can Ayahuasca Be Detected in a Drug Test?

ayahuasca-drug-test

In many countries the ayahuasca vine is not illegal.

It becomes illegal when prepared with chackruna which contains DMT, an illegal substance.

Most standard drug tests do not look for ayahuasca.

Standard drugs screenings do not look for DMT, though specific tests can detect it.

Because this seemed like another “grey area” I dug a little deeper.

Here’s what I found:

  • DMT is not part of the screening process for standard drugs tests used for law enforcement, employment and treatment purposes.
  • The body metabolises DMT quickly. Even blood and urine tests specifically for common hallucinogens only find trace amounts, even shortly after use.
  • These trace amounts of DMT occur naturally in the body, making it difficult to prove conclusively they came from ayahuasca.
  • Tests that look specifically for tryptamines (mushrooms/DMT) may find DMT, but these tests are not common.

In the Reddit ayahuasca group, members added some valuable comments like:

“I work in substance abuse, I order drug tests every day, have used multiple lab companies, from simple presumptives to general lab companies, to labs that specialize in urine drug testing, I have never seen a test for ayahuasca. 

Would have to have a particular molecule/metabolite you are looking for. As an example, when looking for kratom we find mitragynine or hydroxymitragynine. I am not aware of a specific ayahuasca molecule.”

“I’m not an expert, but I do know someone who works with the U.S Government and according to them they now test for DMT. I imagine ayahuasca would come up as DMT on a test, if at all, but this is simply a guess. 

I think it really depends on what kind of drug test, higher up clearances in the U.S Government don’t seem to mess around.”

“It doesn’t show in the tests. I had a ceremony friend who worked for U.S customs and he got tested all the time, never had a problem, and he drank fairly regularly.”

The Reddit group seemed to have mixed messages.  I understood that most tests won’t find anything, but specific tests could.

So the question becomes:

How long does it take DMT to leave your body, so it doesn’t show up on any tests?

Here’s what I found:

  • Urine tests - Can detect DMT for 24 hours, after that no trace
  • Saliva tests - Can detect DMT for between 1 and 5 days, after that no trace
  • Hair tests - Can detect DMT (or any drug) for 90 days, after that no trace.
    • Note this applies to one time users, the period for regular users is unknown
  • Blood tests - No data available, believed to be the same as urine tests
pre-ayahuasca-what-to-eat

This section relates to the specific dietary restrictions.

For substances and behaviours to avoid go here.

What to eat before an ayahuasca ceremony is another area of controversy.

Most ayahuasca centres prescribe very specific guidelines for you.

They expect these to be followed before you take part in an ayahuasca ceremony.

However, some people say these guidelines have no scientific basis.

They usually point to cases where there are no issues from ignoring the rules.

In this section, we’ll look into these perspectives, so you can make the best choice.

 

Perspective 1: Follow The Pre-Ayahuasca Diet 

Here’s the standard diet recommended:

The Must Avoid List

  • Cigarettes
  • Drugs
  • Alcohol
  • Sex
  • Caffeine (coffee, black tea, green tea)
  • Pork (for two weeks before the ceremony)
  • Dairy (for two days before the ceremony)
  • Fried food (for two days before the ceremony)
  • Sugar/Sweets (for two days before the ceremony)
  • No foods with an amino acid called tyramine (full list here)
  • Spicy foods
  • Salt (including canned and processed foods)
  • Oils
  • Red meat
  • Yogurt
  • Nutritional supplements like protein powders
  • Aspartame (full list of foods and drinks here)
  • Chocolate (in large amounts)
  • Peanuts (in large amounts)
  • Foods with tryptophan (full list here)

 

You’re probably now wonder “What the hell can I eat?!”

Don’t worry, I got you.

Well, actually Lola Pickett has got you.

Go here and read her What You Can Eat Before Ayahuasca Guide.

Also download her handy print-out for your fridge.

 

Perspective 2: The Pre-Ayahuasca Diet is Nonsense

Science calls bullshit on the pre-ayahuasca diet.

According to Luís Fernando Tófoli, professor of medical psychology and psychiatry at the University of Campinas in Brazil, there’s no basis for this diet.

Some ayahuasca-drinking cultures have customs that directly contradict the diet:

  • The Brazilian Santo Daime tradition smoke weed during ayahuasca ceremonies
  • The União do Vegetal community in Brazil doesn’t have any dietary restrictions

These groups have reported no problems.

However, this doesn’t tell the whole story.

There are some very scientific reasons to follow the diet.

  • Foods containing tyramine, found in aged cheeses, cured meats, and pickled foods are dangerous.
  • These foods are dangerous when combined with monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs) like those in ayahuasca.
  • This is because tyramine and ayahuasca both increase blood pressure.
  • Blood pressure getting too high can cause:
    • Stroke
    • Heart attack
    • Loss of kidney function
    • Headaches
    • Severe anxiety

In summary, science and the shamans agree - follow the diet.

How To Take Ayahuasca Safely

There are risks whenever you introduce a foreign substance into your body.

The risk is low with ayahuasca (see here for more).

However, it is only low when you respect the rules.

This section will outline everything you need to:

  • Do
  • Ask
  • Arrange
  • Be mindful of

It will ensure you have a positive, life-changing experience.

Here’s how to minimise any risks significantly:

#1 -Select a Centre With a Risk Management Protocol

ayahuasca-support

This is often overlooked.

It’s mostly never mentioned on websites discussing ayahuasca.

Trust me, I’ve read over 300 while writing this.

Here’s a good risk management protocol from The Temple of The Way of Light.

The protocol is comprehensive and includes things other centres rarely think about:

  • Accident management protocols
  • First aid kit includes anti-venom, antihistamine medications
  • Contract with local medical clinic in case of an emergency that requires outside help
  • 24-hour transport to the city with medical assistance
  • 24-hour communication channel with the medical centre via cell-phone network (in case storm takes out telephone lines)
  • Rigorous medical screening prior to ceremony
  • Medical doctor to check your medications that may not mix with ayahuasca
  • Written disclosure providing full and complete information about medical, environmental and other risks
  • Supervising facilitator and carers ( who are not drinking ayahuasca) during the ceremony
  • After-ceremony care by sitter
  • Highly experienced healers and facilitators
  • Ayahuasca vine and chakruna – no other ingredients

#2 - Consider Your Pre-Existing Conditions Carefully

pre-existing-conditions-ayahuasca

The main areas of concern relate to your heart, liver and kidneys.

However, any serious medical problems should be cause for caution.

Most reputable centres will ask about your medical history prior to the ceremony.

Disclose EVERYTHING.

Even if you don’t think it’s significant.

There are specific conditions that mean you should never take ayahuasca are:

  • Cardiovascular disorder - Slightly increases blood pressure
  • Personality Disorders/Mental Health Disorders including:
    • Borderline personality disorder
    • Bipolar
    • Schizophrenia

There are also conditions which increase the risk of issues if using ayahuasca:

#3 - Don’t Mix With Other Drugs, Supplements or Medication

ayahuasca-medication

The pre-ceremony guidance will ask about anything you are taking.

This is because some drugs are fatal and others can cause significant problems.

Here’s what you need to know:

Legal Drugs

(Helpful tip, any drug in the US with DM, DX or Tuss in the product name)

Note: Never stop taking any medication without first consulting with your doctor.

Suddenly stopping can be very dangerous.

Also, don’t forget to include any health supplements or vitamins you take.

This includes any powders or pills taken before, during or after working out (e.g. BCAA, Creatine, Pre-workout etc).

Illegal Drugs

For a great list covering the medications to worry about, go here.

#4 - Choose a Centre With Smaller Groups and/or Adequate Support Staff

ayahuasca-facilitators

I’ve seen ceremonies with up to 80 participants.

This is a bad idea.

In terms of safety, the fewer people there are, the more personal attention you are likely to receive.

I would recommend asking ahead of time:

  • How many people attend each ceremony on average?
  • How many people are expected at the specific ceremony I will attend?
  • How many facilitators/support staff will be present during the ceremony?

#5 - Choose a Centre With a Clear Ayahuasca Recipe & Process

Image Credit: <a href="https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=8098145">Terpsichore~commonswiki</a>

This may be difficult in many centres.

Established centres catering to risk-averse Westerners will address this directly.

In many centres, each shaman brews ayahuasca in their own way.

Every time they brew ayahuasca, the potency and ingredients can vary.

This is because there is no standard process.

When the ingredients are just ayahuasca and chackruna, the risk is minimal.

But when a shaman introduces other plants like toe (Brugmansia suaveolens), the dangers explode.

The best centres carefully measure dosages and give smaller doses to first timers.

#6 - Follow The Pre-Ayahuasca Ceremony Diet

pre-ayahuasca-diet

The dietary guidelines or “La Dieta” are complex.

It requires cutting back on many foods and most medicines to reduce risk.

Participants cut back on:

  • Meat
  • Dairy
  • Alcohol
  • Caffeine
  • Nicotine
  • Most drugs (including anti-malaria or anti-diarrhoea drugs)

You can find full details here further down on this page.

The diet is important to prepare the body physically  for ayahuasca while reducing any risks further.

#7 - Select a Centre With Medical Support

ayahuasca-emergency

Choose a centre that has adequate medical support.

You will probably never need it, but you’ll feel better knowing it’s there.

integrating-ayahuasca

The work begins once the ceremony ends.

After you get home, integrating the ayahuasca experience is vital.

Generally speaking, the biggest challenge isn’t achieving a transformative experience, it’s implementing the lessons learned after the retreat ends.

This website lists good post-ceremony integration suggestions.

Beyond the information, ask if your centre allows contact for post-ceremony support.

Good centres allow this at any point.

#9 - Crowdsource Opinions on The Best Centres

ayahuasca-reviews

There’s safety in numbers.

Find the best-reviewed centres and start there.

Whilst it’s true that many centres don’t have a strong digital presence, reputable centres will have had enough Western guests for reviews to be somewhere online.

Use the wisdom of the crowd by researching which centres to shortlist.

Then contact the centres to ask these questions.

Go here to find centres to shortlist:

AyaAdvisors-Ayahuasca-Retreat-Reviews

Aya Advisors

Find plant medicine centres around the world.

Sort by highest rated, most affordable or search by name or location. 

The centres have a lot of reviews which adds safety - some centres have 300+ reviews.

logo_ayamundo

Ayamundo 

Find ayahuasca centres around the world.

Read reviews and book retreats without stress. 

You can also contact people who have been to each center and ask them questions about the retreats they visited.

The Ayamundo team is also available to answer questions about ayahuasca or help you decide which centre to select.

asa-logo


Ayahuasca Safety Association 

A nonprofit (which means their guidance is likely to be in your best interests) created to provide a self-regulating body that works in collaboration with the Peruvian Government.  

Their mission is to standardise safety and ethical practices of legally operating holistic practitioners and retreat centres offering ayahuasca and other medicinal plants and substances in Peru. 

The Ayahuasca Safety Association comprises centre owners and representatives, shamanic practitioners, medical professionals, researchers and those with a vested interest in the field.

asc-logo


Ayahuasca Safety Council 

A small but growing group interested in promoting safety in using ayahuasca and other visionary medicines.

They formed the council in the aftermath of the death of Kyle Nolan, a young American who died in Peru under the tutelage of a shaman whose credentials have been called into question. 

They focus on the free exchange of information, transparency and the continued research into the pharmacology and safety of ayahuasca.

Chapter 5:
The Ayahuasca Ceremony

What Etiquette or Rules Are There During The Ayahuasca Ceremony?

There are a standard set of rules, though centres don’t always make them clear.

In my case, they were verbal, in Spanish as the ceremony began.

I’m still learning so I understood about 50% of the rules.

With that said, most are common sense.

The rest I’ll give you here.

#1 - Don’t Disturb Others

ayahuasca-silence

Focus on your process.

Don’t talk to others.

Don’t interfere with or disturb them, even to check they are OK.

That’s the job of the facilitators.

They know when to intervene and when to leave participants alone.

This doesn’t include making noises as part of your process.

You will hear people being sick violently, sobbing (sometimes uncontrollably) and perhaps even screaming (less common).

These are part of the healing. These are permitted.

You can also talk to alert facilitators if you need help.

Focus on your process.

#2 - No Smoking Commercial Tobacco

ayahuasca-smoking-tobacco

Cigarettes, eCigarettes and regular tobacco are banned.

Mapacho, the powerful chemical free tobacco of the jungle is permitted.

Some centres even provide it.

#3 - Hold The Space

ayahuasca-bond

There is an energetic bond between everyone in the space.

The bond opens at the start.

The group maintains the bond by staying together.

This is the most important rule.

You can leave temporarily to use the bathroom, which is usually a few steps away.

You may even want to lie on the ground and look up at the stars.

If you do, stay outside for only a short time.

Come back to restore integrity to the group.

How Do You Take Ayahuasca?

This answer assumes you are at the centre, the ceremony is beginning and you haven’t sipped yet.

Your ceremony will probably be like this:

Finding Your Space & Preparing

Arrive with 30-60 minutes before the start.

Find a place that feels good.

Meditate or breathe deeply and try not to worry.

You can talk with other participants, but try to limit this and focus on your intention for the ceremony.

Pre-Ceremony Rapé (Tobacco) - Pronounced “Ra-pay”

rape-tobacco

A Tobacco snuff that is a sacred shamanic medicine.

It’s been used for thousands of years.

Before the ceremony, the shaman will prepare a pipe with Rapé.

You’ll sit in front of him, he will add Rapé to the pipe.

The pipe has two ends, one goes into the shamans mouth, the other into your nostrils.

He will blow smoke into your nose.

Exhale from your mouth when he blows.

You’ll feel burning in the nasal passage and possibly into your forehead.

It instantly focuses you in the present.

Go back to your area.

Sit with your head back for a while.

You might cough, spit and clear your throat and lungs into your bucket.

Rapé cleans out mucus, toxins and bacteria in your system.

Inside the body, Rapé causes the release of chemicals including:

  • Epinephrine (adrenaline)
  • Acetylcholine (a neurotransmitter that contracts muscles and activates glandular functions of the endocrine system)
  • Dopamine (mostly improves focus and mood)

Shamans also claim Rapé decalcifies the pineal gland, one of the main receptors in the brain.

Decalcification may protect against neurodegenerative diseases, but there is another benefit which is more interesting.

Why The Pineal Gland Matters

ayahuasca-third-eye

Almost every spiritual tradition has revered the pineal gland for thousands of years.

Here’s what they thought about the pineal gland (Source):

  • Buddhists: A symbol of spiritual awakening
  • Hindus: The seat of intuition and clairvoyance
  • Taoists: The mind’s eye
  • Christians: The light of the body
  • Ancient Egyptians: Known as “The Eye of Ra/Horus”
    • the Egyptian god of the sky. The symbol for one that sees everything from a bird’s-eye view.
  • Ancient Greeks: Our connection to thought itself

Every sophisticated ancient culture thought the pineal gland was important.

In Christianity, from Matthew 6:22, the Bible reads:

“The light of the body is the eye: if therefore thine eye be single, thy whole body shall be full of light.”

Notice how “eye” is singular - “thine eye be single.”

pineal-egypt

In Egypt, the symbol of the Eye of Ra/Horus is fascinating.

It seems to be a replica of a cross-section of the pineal, pituitary and corpus callosum region. [Source]

In summary, advanced societies revere the pineal gland as the symbol of enlightenment.

They believe it links the physical and spiritual worlds.

Ceremony Opening

There will be an introduction.

This may be in Spanish, Shipibo (a native language in parts of the Brazil/Peru Amazon) or English.

Possibly all three.

You’ll be told what to expect.

Each person goes to drink with the shaman (who prepared the ayahuasca the day before).

When it’s your turn, walk toward the shaman.

Drinking

drinking-ayahuasca

Sit or kneel in front of the shaman.

When you sit, the shaman will pour ayahuasca into the ceremonial cup.

He “feels” how much you need.

Usually first timers get less (you can always get more later).

The shaman may blow smoke over the cup.

The smoke is mapacho. It’s natural and without chemicals.

He will probably also “put” his prayer into the cup before handing it to you.

Hold the cup with both hands in front of your heart.

Focus on your intention or the question you want answered.

In my ceremony, we raised the glass above our head and said “Por La Vida”.

It’s Spanish and means ”For Life”.

Now drink.

Return to your mat and wait as the others drink.

Finally, the shaman drinks.

The shaman will then walk around to each person and blow more mapacho smoke over them.

He is aiming for the top of your head (the crown chakra) and your hands.

This protects you from negative energies.

Enjoy The Ride

ayahuasca-trip

Next it’s lights out until the morning.

Usually the music starts after 15 or 30 minutes.

The shaman and his team will be singing their traditional songs called Icaros.

The signing will continue for most of the night.

It helps you experience ayahuasca fully.

Throughout the night, you’ll get opportunities to drink more medicine.

Usually there will be 3 opportunities to drink.

Ceremony Closing

ayahuasca-ceremony-closing

After what feels like an eternity (but is usually 4 or 5 hours), the ceremony closes.

The shaman brings you together, often around a fire or a smaller circle.

He will give thanks in the form of a prayer.

You’ll sit in silence.

Maybe some light conversation.

Nothing too intense as everyone is still “feeling the effects”.

Remaining silent is best.

You’ll then be able to rest.

Some people sleep on their yoga mat in the ceremony room, others go back to their accommodation.

ayahuasca-music

During the ayahuasca ceremony, the shaman and his team play music.

It has a powerful effect on participants.

Nearly all people consider the music of “critical importance” to the healing benefits they experienced.

The lyrics use multiple languages and dialects (including traditional tribal tongues).

There is tribal drumming and chanting.

They call the songs “Icaros”.

These songs are personal to the individual shaman.

They are designed to create specific vibrations.

These vibrations impact us significantly.

For example, the tone, frequency and resonance cause an altered state of consciousness.

This could be because the rhythms create theta brain waves.

Theta waves are associated with dreams, meditation and the unconscious states.

Shamans say their songs are sacred.

They believe it allows them to summon the spirits of various plants and animals during the ceremony.

Below are some real icaros recorded during the ceremonies:

This video has icaros recorded in the Peruvian Amazon during ayahuasca ceremonies.

post-ayahuasca-diet

How you eat before and after your ceremony is of critical importance.

Some people say they eat whatever they want before ceremonies and have no issues.

However, the guidance is probably there for a reason.

5,000 years of experience should not be taken lightly.

Most people adhere to the pre-ceremony diet, but many ignore the post ceremony diet.

Binging after the ceremony is common.

All the foods you’ve couldn’t have, are now available to you.

The dangers have passed, so you don’t worry so much.

However, the post-ceremony diet is equally important.

It allows you to integrate the experience fully.

Here’s the post-ayahuasca diet guidelines from The Temple of The Way of Light.

The Post-Ayahuasca Diet

For 3 Days after:

  • Protect the crown (your head) from sunlight and rain

For 2 Weeks after, abstain from:

  • Spicy foods
  • Alcohol
  • Sexual activity of any kind
  • Ice, ice cream, ice-cold drinks


For 2-4 Weeks after, abstain from:

  • Pork
  • Cannabis and all plant medicines
  • Massage and energetic work
  • ALL street drugs (cocaine, LSD, MDMA, amphetamines, etc.)

The healers recommend following a healthy diet after the retreat, and to avoid or minimise intake of the following for 2 weeks after the retreat:

  • Refined sugars
  • Red meat
  • Junk foods
  • Salt or pepper
  • Sweets or chocolate
  • Oils
  • Animal fats (lard, etc.)
  • Carbonated drinks (including diet sodas, energy drinks, non-alcoholic beer)
  • Dairy products
  • Fermented foods
  • Caffeine & other stimulants

Critical Note – Due to a very limited number of past guests who have not adhered to dietary restrictions after leaving a workshop, we need to re-emphasise that maintaining the diet is an essential factor in the healing process.

Should I Take Ayahuasca or Do Meditation?

ayahuasca-meditation

Many people wonder whether they should pursue enlightenment through ayahuasca or mediation.

The short answer is:

  • Ayahuasca will probably give you a better result and faster
  • Meditation helps you integrate the ayahuasca experience

A good, simple answer I found, that also made me laugh out loud was this:

meditation

The longer answer and the reasons are below.

Ayahuasca will probably give you a better result, faster

Faster isn’t always better.

Often the best things in life require careful, patient (usually boring) steps repeatedly.

Meditation is like that. It’s a slow process:

  1. Gradually the mind becomes quiet. Thoughts fade.
  2. With regular practice, you eventually feel present and centred.
  3. The ego (or “false self”) goes quiet.
  4. It’s no longer in control of you.

You become mindful of the thoughts that prevent you feeling centred.

You evolve through meditation by maintaining presence and centring yourself throughout all situations in life.

Enlightenment through meditation is a gradual, gentle process.

With ayahuasca (and any psychedelics), the process is faster but far rougher.

It can break you open, your deepest traumas and wounds exposed in seconds.

Reliving, re-feeling everything again.

There are also deeply beautiful, positive moments.

But ayahuasca will take you to the dark corners of yourself where you need to do work.

Ayahuasca is a window, or a mirror into yourself.

Some people have described it as:

Are you willing to face your demons? 

To have the light shone on your darkest corners? 

To be vulnerable and own your shit?

If so, ayahuasca might be for you.

How Meditation Can Help To Integrate An Ayahuasca Experience

During the ayahuasca ceremony, you’ll receive many insights.

The most pivotal are about the changes you need to make in your life.

Implementing these lessons in real life is called integration.

There are three stages of integration:

  • Base Structure of Your Life - Your diet, career and relationships. In the weeks that follow the ayahuasca ceremony, pay close attention to the revelations you have about these areas of your life.
  • Unprocessed Feelings & Acceptance - Doubtlessly, unconscious baggage forces you to focus on unprocessed feelings and secrets.  Understand and accept these parts of yourself that have become clear.
  • Stay In Tune - Lastly, find a way to keep in tune with the new spirit within. This newfound sense of self needs to prevail in your life so you can use your talents for the betterment of others.

To successfully navigate these stages, meditation can be valuable.

It can help to deal with the feelings which come up during the ceremony.

These feelings may be with you for some time afterwards.

You may also feel overwhelmed by what ayahuasca showed you.

You’re probably sold on meditation as a tool for integration, but did you know there is a specific type which is best?

The Best Type of Meditation For Post-Ayahuasca Integration

Post-Ayahuasca-Integration

Dzogchen Meditation comes from Buddhism.

It’s based on abandoning previous concepts and the emergence of an uncluttered perception of reality.

It works to clear the mind and restore a state of simplicity.

Like a happy child.

Learning Dzogchen Meditation is complex.

Many people will tell you the religious aspects are required and asking for the instruction alone is “tantamount to going into a music lessons shop and asking to play guitar like Jimi Hendrix that day”.

Here’s a free course and the video below is a good place to start:

Chapter 6:
Next Steps

Where Can I Find Ayahuasca Centres and Retreats?

Here’s the fastest way to find a good ayahuasca centre:

AyaAdvisors-Ayahuasca-Retreat-Reviews

Aya Advisors

Find plant medicine centres around the world.

Sort by highest rated, most affordable or search by name or location. 

The centres have a lot of reviews which adds safety - some centres have 300+ reviews.

logo_ayamundo

Ayamundo 

Find ayahuasca centres around the world.

Read reviews and book retreats without stress. 

You can also contact people who have been to each center and ask them questions about the retreats they visited.

The Ayamundo team is also available to answer questions about ayahuasca or help you decide which centre to select.

asa-logo


Ayahuasca Safety Association 

A nonprofit (which means their guidance is likely to be in your best interests) created to provide a self-regulating body that works in collaboration with the Peruvian Government.  

Their mission is to standardise safety and ethical practices of legally operating holistic practitioners and retreat centres offering ayahuasca and other medicinal plants and substances in Peru. 

The Ayahuasca Safety Association comprises centre owners and representatives, shamanic practitioners, medical professionals, researchers and those with a vested interest in the field.

asc-logo


Ayahuasca Safety Council 

A small but growing group interested in promoting safety in using ayahuasca and other visionary medicines.

They formed the council in the aftermath of the death of Kyle Nolan, a young American who died in Peru under the tutelage of a shaman whose credentials have been called into question. 

They focus on the free exchange of information, transparency and the continued research into the pharmacology and safety of ayahuasca.

Where Can I Watch Ayahuasca Documentaries To Learn More?

There are many documentaries which help you learn more.

They will make you feel comfortable before you do ayahuasca for the first time.

Here’s a list of the best ayahuasca documentaries.

You can watch them directly from this page.

The 24 Best Ayahuasca Documentaries You Can Watch Right Now (For Free)

#1 - Ayahuasca Diary

Features four people with various challenges.

One suffering from cancer.

Good for anyone thinking of going to Peru for their retreat.

#2 - Metamorphosis

See the full range of reactions to ayahuasca including joy, laughter, tears, shouting and even a possession.

#3 - The Mirror of the Spirit

Traditional practitioners, aficionados and western converts take you on a journey and share stories of transformation.

#4 - Ayahuasca

A short film showing a group searching for a shaman in the Peruvian Amazon.

Watch as they find their shaman, prepare and then go through the ceremony.

#5 - Madventures Amazonas

Short (10 minute) clip showing the ceremony.

See everything experienced during the experience and the purge.

#6 - Ayahuasca, The Morning After My First Experience

Another short video, this time a firsthand experience from an ayahuasca user.

This is an FAQ format video covering:

  • Her first ayahuasca ceremony

  • When it started

  • What they did

  • How the ayahuasca tasted

  • What the shaman did to assist

  • How she felt afterwards

  • What she heard and saw

#7 - Drinking The Jungle

Made by a tour company.

This film explores the growth in ayahuasca tourism industry, meeting the people who come to Peru and asking why they came.

#8 - Divine Steps Ayahuasca Retreat [The Documentary]

This documentary goes in-depth into ayahuasca and other medicinal plants.

Following two people as they first encounter ayahuasca during a 12 day programme.

#9 - Ayahuasca and The War on Consciousness

A good introduction to ayahuasca by the well respected Graham Hancock.

This TEDx talk was later banned and removed.

#10 - The Jungle Prescription

The story of two doctors trying to heal people with plant medicine but coming up against the medical profession and risking their reputations.

Features the famous Dr. Gabor Mate as he tries to open an ayahuasca centre in Canada.

#11 - Shamanism Other Worlds

Looking at scientific studies on ayahuasca, plus the rituals and practices followed by the shamans.

#12 - Amazonia: Healing with Sacred Plants

Reveals the secrets of sacred plants and healers that work with them deep in the jungle.

#13 - Ayahuasca: Into The Dark Abyss

Short documentary about Tom’s personal journey into the deep jungle of Peru to face his deepest fears.

#14 - DMT: The Spirit Molecule

The Spirit Molecule investigates (DMT) and traces Dr. Rick Strassman’s government-sanctioned, human DMT research and the many trials, tribulations and inconceivable realisations.

A closer examination of DMT’s effects through the lens of two traditionally opposed concepts, science and spirituality.

The Spirit Molecule explores the connections between cutting-edge neuroscience, quantum physics and human spirituality.

Strassman’s research, and the experiences of the human test subjects before, during, and after the intense clinical trials, raises many intriguing questions.

A variety of experts voice their unique thoughts and experiences with DMT within their respective fields.

As Strassman’s story unfolds, the contributors weigh in on his remarkable theories, including the synthesis of DMT in our brain’s pineal gland, and its link to near-death experiences

#15 - Ayahuasca: Vine of the Soul 

A naturopathic doctor and an accountant join a group heading into the Amazon seeking spiritual awakening and healing.

#16 - The Reality of Truth

Featuring accounts of personal experiences with ayahuasca by Deepak Chopra and Michelle Rodriguez (The Fast and the Furious), Ram Dass, Bruce Lipton and many more.

The Reality of Truth film has been viewed by hundreds of thousands of people and we want to continue this momentum. 


This documentary explores the relationship between spirituality, religion and plant medicine. 

#17 - The Plant Teacher

The Plant Teacher, an ayahuasca documentary filmed in part in the Amazon jungle of Peru, and in part with leading experts:

  • Dr. Dennis McKenna
  • Rak Razam
  • Dr. Gabor Mate
  • Dr. Kenneth Tupper
  • Dr. Jim Fadiman
  • Daniel Cleland

...and more from the Psychedelic Science Conference hosted by MAPS (Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies) which took place in 2017.

A wonderful overview of ayahuasca medicine coming from some of the world’s leading minds and advocates for psychedelic reform in western society.

#18 - Shamans of The Amazon

How the actions of the oil companies affect the indigenous people and the land of the Amazon.

This is an old documentary, from the early-naughties so the quality is only 240p. 😩

Anyway, it’s worth watching for the Australian man with his wife, Willow, 7 months pregnant and trekking through the Amazon.

#19 - The Path of Purity

Three friends, putting one foot forward, one step at a time on a spiritual journey of self-awareness and enlightenment.

#20 - The Sacred Science 

Eight brave souls leave the developed world behind in search of deeper answers.

Living in seclusion for one month in the heart of the Amazon jungle, these men and women take part in the powerful healing practices of Peru’s indigenous medicine men, working with centuries-old plant remedies and spiritual disciplines.

In their most desperate hour, these patients suffering from Parkinson’s Disease, Diabetes, Depression and Cancer are forced to confront not only their physical ailments, but their own spiritual and psychological barriers in the process.

Five will return with real results, two will return disappointed, and one won’t come back at all.

#21 - Eye of the Needle: An Ayahuasca Journey

Take a journey to the Peruvian amazon to discover the medicinal and conscious-expanding practice of ayahuasca.

#22 - Reclaiming the Feminine: A Woman’s Healing Journey with Ayahuasca

Interview with Carolina Dowell, former facilitator at the Temple of the Way of Light, about her own healing journey and her new woman’s ayahuasca retreat.

#23 - Ayahuasca Shamanism and Epigenetics

Dr. Joe Tafur MD who is also an ayahuasca Shaman explains the potential role of Epigenetics in ayahuasca Shamanism.

Note: The Question and Answer session at the end of the video is awesome!

#24 - The DMT Mystery

This video isn’t for everyone. It’s about DMT being used to lead people away from Christ.

Interestingly compares the electrical nature of beings in the DMT realms and the electrical nature of demonic beings.

Congratulations!

If you made it to here, I hope you feel better equipped to make this important decision.

A few final requests from me:

  • If you want me to answer any additional questions, let me know in the comments below
  • Let me know what you thought about this post in the comments
  • Please share this post on the social networks to help others like you

Thank you, and until next time!

Skye

Skye-About - Copy

About The Author

Hi, I'm Skye!

My mission is to help other people quit their soul-sucking 9 to 5's and start working towards the dreams they don't tell anyone about.

You can learn more about me or contact me directly or connect with me on the socials:

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