June 29, 2017

What really happens when you drink ayahuasca?

We’ve all heard of psychedelic drugs associated with hippies and art students but in the rainforests of the Amazon they have their own version. Ayahuasca.

But what is it? And how are indigenous people using it?

What is Ayahuasca?

Ayahuasca is a hallucinogenic brew that has been hailed the most powerful hallucinogen on the planet.

This potion is made by boiling the leaves of either the chacruna (Psychotria vidridis) or chagropanga (Ddiplopterys cabrerana) plants with the ayahuasca vine (Banisteriopsis caapi), hence giving its name. In its most common form ayahuasca forms a strong smelling brown liquid with a bitter taste, affecting the recipient for up to six hours.

The psychedelic effects are reliant on the specific combination of the plants. Both chacruna and chagropanga contain relatively high amounts of the psychedelic substance dimethyltryptamine (or DMT for short), which is only activated in the body when combined with the ayahuasca vine.

What really happens when you drink ayahuasca?
The Asháninkan Shaman, Noemi

Why do the Asháninka use Ayahuasca?

The Asháninka refer to drinks made from as ayahuasca as kamarãpi meaning ‘to vomit’, because, you guessed it, it makes a lot of people vomit.

For the Asháninka, it’s primary use is for physical and mental healing, as well as a shamanic means of communication during ceremonial rituals also known as kamarãpi.The rituals are characterised by respect and silence with minimal communication between participants and the only sound being singing. This allows the Asháninka to communicate with spirits, thanking and paying homage to Pává. They see the kamarãpi drink as a gift from Pává enabling them to acquire knowledge and learn how they should live on the earth.


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