In recent years, the drug has gained much acclaim – and notoriety – as a tool for “spiritual healing.” Ayahuasca does come with its share of effects and side effects though.
In fact, they advise anybody interested in the experience to really study the Ayahuasca effects and side effects before taking the leap. Unlike most other common drugs, Ayahuasca is not a party drug.
What is Ayahuasca and How You Get Ayahuasca Side Effects?
Ayahuasca is an ancient South American brew of the psychedelic leaves. It comes from the psychedelic Psychotria Viridis plant (or Diplopterys cabrenana) and the stems and bark of Banisteriopsis caapi. They consume the brew orally. As a result, this makes the Ayahuasca effects and side effects less intense than smoking or injecting the active ingredient.
The exact understanding of how DMT acts like such a potent psychedelic or entheogen is still unknown. However, all the scientific community know is the brain’s pineal gland produces DMT, naturally. In addition, most plants can contain trace amounts of the compound.
Usually, doses by oral consumption, for example in the form of Ayahuasca tea, are in the 35mg-75mg range (of the active ingredient). Meanwhile, smokers of DMT consume 30mg-150mg for a greatly intensified effect.
Doctors classify DMT as an entheogen. In addition, the primary reason why users venture into its territory is for the profound mental effects.
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What are the Ayahuasca Effects?
Strangely enough, users of Ayahuasca consume the drug at very rare intervals. Usually, they take it in a ceremonial setting, and often only once or a small number of times over the course of their lives. Let’s take a look at the most prominent of the Ayahuasca effects.
Psychological Effects of Ayahuasca
The Ayahuasca experience has a profound psychological impact on the user. The ‘trip’ can be either very good or very bad. Research into Ayahuasca use very rarely provides any ‘neutral’ experience with the drug.
Visual and Auditory Hallucinations
Sometimes, they call the users ‘psychonauts’ due to the extreme Ayahuasca effects of such a potent psychedelic. Many users of the drug report:
- Disturbances and ‘changes’ in their visual surroundings
- Intensification of colors and details, especially and natural surroundings
- Changes in the normal experience of time: where it either speeds up or slows down
- Hallucinations usually have a theme: often that of ancient civilizations (for instance Aztec, Mayan or Olmec), futuristic (including alien technology and beings) or where it personifies nature itself (as Gaya, or ‘mother nature’ in Western terms)
- Open-eye hallucinations, where phantom images spontaneously appear
- They report closed-eye hallucinations to be more profound. This is where the drug transports the user to a different setting of time and space
- Many users have out-of-body experiences
- Intense powerful vibrations of the physical environment felt in the body
- Auditory hallucinations also include spontaneous open-eyed and closed-eyed experiences
- Auditory hallucinations, likened to a “crinkling sound, like cellophane”, “chattering”, or a high-pitched “whining and whirring”
- Synesthesia is frequently reported (where sights and heard and the visualization of sounds)
- Depersonalization (an experience in its most acute form, this is “ego death”)
In terms of auditory and visual hallucinations, they say getting high on Ayahuasca is similar in effect to other psychedelics. They include the likes of magic mushrooms, LSD, peyote, and mescaline. However, they are exceptionally more potent though.
Improved Mood (‘good trips’)
Ayahuasca may produce intense feelings of elation and euphoria. They often connect it to the ‘spiritual journey’ aspect of the experience. User accounts of positive experiences liken it to a ‘spiritual birth’ or ‘spiritual rebirth.’
This is the most prominently cited reasons for taking Ayahuasca. They advertise it on the dozens of websites for Ayahuasca retreats. It includes:
- Overcome past traumas, often from childhood, early adolescence or pain experienced in close relationships as children or adults
- Epiphanies or greater insight into personal habits, behaviors, and patterns
- Overcoming substance abuse problems
Common Ayahuasca Side Effects
The drug has a marked effect on the body. As a result, the users will find themselves unable to perform any complicated task. In plain language, the user becomes incapacitated. Therefore, they may be susceptible to environmental dangers. Keep this in mind if taking Ayahuasca out in nature.
Physical Side Effects of Ayahuasca
The Ayahuasca effects on the body include:
- Diarrhea (when taken in a ceremonial setting, shamans or ayahuasqueros provide instructions mitigating or avoiding this effect)
- Dilated pupils
- In rare instances, double vision (where the eyes have trouble focusing)
- Uncontrolled rapid eye movement
- Disturbances in depth perception
- Increased blood pressure and heart rate or even chest pain (at very high doses)
- Fever-like symptoms (in very high doses)
- Decreased motor skills and coordination
Tolerance and Physical Addiction
The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) advises the need for further research. This way, one can determine whether DMT is physically addictive. Current research suggests that users are not able to develop any tolerance for the drug.
Is Ayahuasca Lethal?
In August of 2012, there was a report of an 18-year-old Californian man to have died from consuming a lethal dose of Ayahuasca. This is while attending a Peruvian Ayahuasca retreat. They did not establish the lethal dose in this particular case or a lab setting.
Psychological Side Effects of Ayahuasca
Those who have consumed Ayahuasca warn that “the drug is not for everybody.” The intensity of the brew can evoke a very negative experience. It is especially with pre-existing emotional or psychological conditions like schizophrenia.
Worsened Mood (‘bad trips’)
Many users report a journey into past traumatic events, viewed as a bystander. The intense nature of the experience may evoke feelings of fear, paranoia and emotional hurt. It will happen as one revisits these events. It is not uncommon for users who have these negative experiences to consume the drug again. This way, they can confront these past events in an attempt to ‘set things right.’
Persistent Psychosis and Hallucinogen Persisting Perception Disorder (HPPD)
Persistent Psychosis is where users of a drug encounter continued emotional problems after consuming a drug, such as:
- Changes in general mood
- Confused or disorganized thinking
Hallucinogen Persisting Perception Disorder is where, after drug consumption, users suffer from:
- Visual disturbances, for instance seeing trails attached to moving objects
- Symptoms of other neurological disorders
The rising media attention given to Ayahuasca makes it unlikely for the drug to disappear from Western society. Furthermore, we need to do much more research before DMT is well understood. Learn the Ayahuasca effects and side effects before booking that flight to the Amazon.