Ayahuasca is popular in transforming lives. The users usually experience enlightenment and transformation after taking it. The vine enables Ayahuasca users a unique experience to the unknown. The hallucinogenic drink altered their state of consciousness. Some return to their childhood memories while others see their future. Although Ayahuasca makes one hallucinate, it is not a drug. Rather, it’s a medicinal plant and others claimed to have experienced healing from it.
Ayahuasca or Banisteriopsis caapi is a plant in Amazon. The Ayahuasca drink that participants take during Ayahuasca ceremony is a mixture of the stem of the Ayahuasca vine and leaves of other plants like chacruna (Psychotria viridis).
Although scientific evidences about the clinical benefits of Ayahuasca are limited, Ayahuasca advocates believe that it is efficient in treating post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), depression, addictions and even cancer.
In fact, according to one qualitative study that aims to understand Ayahuasca experience, participants reported positive physical and psychological improvements after taking the medicine. The study concluded that Ayahuasca has the potential interest in the development of new medicines and therapies.
Ayahuasca Treatment for PTSD
Individuals with PTSD have trauma. They have distressing and unresolved experiences in their subconscious. They live in a pathological state of fear and their fight or flight response is always active, making them anxious or furious easily. PTSD conditions may differ for individuals.
War veterans were exposed to so much stress due to their experiences on the battlefield when they were still active in their profession. They were always on the run for their lives. Their day-to-day activity was literally about survival that’s why some developed PTSD.
Former Marine Lance Cpl. Ryan LeCompte organizes a trip to Peru for war veterans who, like himself are also looking for a potential treatment for PSD. LeCompte admits that many veterans, including him, are not satisfied with the PTSD treatment they receive. Libby, an airman 1st class joined LeCompte on the trip. Her PTSD condition includes sexual trauma while on duty and the antidepressants she takes just made her more suicidal. LeCompte believes that Ayahuasca can give them relief from their condition.
Retired soldier Russ Binicki is also suffering from PTSD, which he initially denied. He is suffering from tremendous rage, he always gets angry. In fact, he describes his anger tendencies from zero to warp speed in a heartbeat. He admits that he is afraid of meeting someone as violent as him. As a father, he is very strict and goes into a full rage whenever his daughters show up late. Binicki turns to Ayahuasca for his condition
When Binicki went to Peru, he did eight Ayahuasca ceremonies in two weeks and his experience was life changing. He saw visions and finally admitted that he has anger issues. When he returned home, he enrolled in PTSD treatment program.
The Ayahuasca experience enabled Russ to understand himself better. He realized that his anger issues were due to guilt, after surviving the Vietnam War and losing three good friends in the first month they arrived there. He also learned that he gets mad when her daughters are late because in Vietnam when someone is late it means he is in trouble.
Ayahuasca treats PTSD by activating the subconscious brain. It reprograms the brain by reorganizing and neutralizing environmental triggers and symptoms. At the same time, it releases the traumatic experience to the conscious mind to process and integrate it into one’s life with meaning without replaying the emotional intensity.
Ayahuasca Treatment for Depression & Anxiety
Depression is more than feeling sad, down or unhappy. It is often a result of a series of negative or traumatic event in one’s life that slowly damages one’s capacity to feel and function normally. The condition may last for weeks, months or even years.
Some individuals with depression tried Ayahuasca for relief and many of them returned from the Peruvian Amazon with positive stories. One of them is Paul Hessell.
Paul developed depression after receiving a call that his father was trapped in the mine. For several days, the family was anxious to hear positive news about the rescue operation. Every day when he turned on the TV, he saw the news about the accident in the mine and as the days passed without any report about his father, his hopes shrunk.
After a week, the rescuers finally found his father along with the other miners, but everyone was already dead. While finding the miners gave his family a closure about the accident, confirming his father’s death only put Paul’s life in a pit. The following weeks, months, and even years were darkness for him.
Paul just discovered Ayahuasca in a magazine to pass time while waiting for his turn in his dentist’s office. It captured his interest, so he researched about it. The stories and testimonies of people with depression and anxiety who claimed that the wonders of Ayahuasca healed them convinced him to try it as well.
Paul’s experience on his trip to Peru was not similar to others. He did not puke during the ceremony because he has stomach problems and he didn’t see visions as what he expected. He experienced a terrible headache, the worst in his life. He even asked for the owner’s help, who handed him a citrus drink to neutralize Ayahuasca. The shaman sang a particular song for him and his headache was gone so was the nausea. He started to see visions. After that, he decided not to take Ayahuasca anymore during his stay because he can’t throw up and cut his trip short. When he returned home things went better. The euphoria lasted for two months. Although there are times when he still feel less happy and depressed, his low times are not as low as it used to be. He is positive that his condition will get better and is still considering Ayahuasca if his stomach problems get better. He is also considering other medicinal plants.
Two separate studies suggested that Ayahuasca has the potential to ease depression. One study includes a group of Brazilian researchers who tried Ayahuasca to a group of animals and human patients. They concluded that the harmine and other substance found in Ayahuasca have anti-depressant effects in the nervous system of the sample. The study suggested a possibility of the therapeutic use of Ayahuasca in humans.
In a separate study, researchers examined the anti-depressant effect of a single dose of Ayahuasca in patients with recurrent depression. The patients were admitted to an inpatient psychiatric unit for two weeks prior to the experiment. They were not under any psychiatric medication or recreational drugs. The experiment only lasted for four hours and followed by the administration of the scales. Patients remain under observation for 24 hours and were eventually discharged.
The researchers learned that Ayahuasca has potential antidepressant and anxiolytic effects. It also showed faster therapeutic action than current traditional antidepressants, which makes it more effective. After one shot of Ayahuasca, there is a significant reduction in the participants’ depressive score by up to 82%. The researchers concluded that Ayahuasca might represent a powerful new substance for treating depressive and anxiety symptoms.
Ayahuasca Treatment for Addiction
Addiction is a condition when one ingests a substance (alcohol, cocaine, nicotine, or drug) or engages in an activity (gambling, shopping, or sex) that can be pleasurable but have negative consequences when continued. It affects one’s responsibilities, relationships or health. Some are not aware of their addictions, but others crave for it despite their knowledge about its threat.
Melissa MacGregor is a self-confessed addict. She grew up from an abusive family, with alcoholic parents. At only 16, she was kicked out of her home and lived on the streets. She turned to alcohol, heroin and cocaine for survival. At 17, she got pregnant and found herself in another abusive relationship.
She was able to find a great job that supported her needs and addictions. Her depression and drinking problems worsened. She found herself getting out of bed for a drink to be numb and go to work. She wanted to have another child believing that it will bring joy, but she’s not bleeding for five years. That was her routine until she decided to stop her addictions for good.
She decided to go to Peru to take Ayahuasca. It took her three Ayahuasca ceremonies to finally see transformations. The first two ceremonies did not affect her, but the third one hit her hard. However, after the second ceremony the shaman told her that he wanted to help her because she’s not bleeding. She was surprised how the shaman knew about it, but did not object. He cleansed the negative energy from her sacral chakra. She went to bed confused.
On her third Ayahuasca ceremony, Melissa saw visions of lights and energy surrounding her. It touched her heart and filled it with love and peace. She cried. It was pure joy, she felt safe and protected. Then it went down to her feet, lungs, and stomach. It cleaned all of her organs. She saw the damages in her lungs due to years of smoking and the toxins of the processed food she ate. Her stomach started bubbling and she found herself throwing up. As she vomited, she felt that she was releasing all the pain she had from her unpleasant experiences, including childhood trauma, rape, abandonment, rejection as well as the years of alcohol and drugs. She also felt the toxins from the food she ate getting out of her body. When she cleaned up, she realized that her period was back.
Melissa felt lighter. She’s free from all the baggage she kept in the past. The purging emptied her to make room for positivity. She felt loved and connection to every being in the universe. Ayahuasca cured her of infertility, depression and PTSD. But, most of all, it freed her from addictions.
According to Dr. Gabor Mate, addicts faced continuous defeat and felt unloved. When they take heroin for the first time, it helps them experience the essentials of life and gives them joy. However, continuous use of the substance program the brain that it is the only source of life and joy that’s why they keep on taking it. Dr. Mate who experienced Ayahuasca himself believes that Ayahuasca has the potential to treat addictions because it frees one from psychological baggage. Also, it shows one his full potential of loving and makes him feel loved at the same time. It helps one find connection and sense of self, which is a potential treatment for addiction.
One observational study in Canada examined the efficiency of the Ayahuasca-assisted therapy for addiction. The process included “Working with Addiction and Stress” retreat combined with four days of group counseling. The researchers collected pre-treatment and six months follow up data from the 12 participants who were involved in the study. They learned that the Ayahuasca-assisted therapy resulted in significant improvement concerning problematic substance use. The participants experienced positive psychological and behavioral changes. It improves their mindfulness, empowerment, hopefulness and quality of life-outlook and life meaning.
Ayahuasca Treatment for Cancer
Ayahuasca is a life changing medicine. Its power is unlimited because it does not only cure PTSD, depression and addictions, some cancer patients attested that it also did wonders on their condition.
Donald M. Topping, a former professor in Hawaii revealed that he was diagnosed with colon cancer. Immediate surgery was advised, but he opted for a four-month timetable. Within four months, he followed a Naturopathic regimen and took micro-doses of various substances. He ate a vegetarian diet, exercise and had enough rest. His condition improved, but since cancer cells were, still present, he decided to take the surgery and five years later, he was totally cancer free.
Unfortunately, after several years, the cancer returned and his survival rate was down to 25 to 30 percent. He turned to Ayahuasca for healing and after several Ayahuasca ceremonies when he returned to his oncologist, his CEA count showed that the cancer activity indicator was below normal. Dr. Topping believes that Ayahuasca healed him.
“Black Smoke” author Margaret De Wys is another cancer survivor, thanks to Ayahuasca. She was diagnosed with breast cancer and Ayahuasca called her for healing. A shaman saw her in Guatemala who saw the cancer insider her and told her that he can heal her. She followed him in the jungles of Amazon and tried Ayahuasca. In her first ceremony, she immediately felt that the illness was sucked out of her life at a cellular level. She could feel cancer moving out of her body and she was healed.
Eduardo Schenberg, of the University of Sao Paulo, Brazil published a study in Sage Journals about the potential of Ayahuasca in treating cancer. The researcher did an in-depth review of literature using PubMed, books, institutional magazines and nonprofessional sources regarding biomedical knowledge about Ayahuasca with the objective of finding Ayahuasca’s relation to cancer treatment.
“In summary, it is hypothesized that the combined actions of β-carbolines and DMT present in Ayahuasca may diminish tumor blood supply, activate apoptotic pathways, diminish cell proliferation, and change the energetic metabolic imbalance of cancer cells, which is known as the Warburg effect,” Schenberg wrote. “Therefore, Ayahuasca may act on cancer hallmarks such as angiogenesis, apoptosis, and cell metabolism.”
He concluded that the available data he gathered is not sufficient to claim that Ayahuasca helps in cancer treatment, but the medicinal plant has the potential abilities to do so.
“However, there is enough available evidence that Ayahuasca’s active principles, especially DMT and harmine, have positive effects on some cell cultures used to study cancer, and in biochemical processes important in cancer treatment, both in vitro and in vivo. Therefore, the few available reports of people benefiting from Ayahuasca in their cancer treatment experiences should be taken seriously, and the hypothesis presented here, fully testable by rigorous scientific experimentation, helps to understand the available cases and pave the way for new experiments,” he added.
Despite the lack of studies guaranteeing Ayahuasca’s efficiency in treating PTSD, depression, anxiety, addiction and cancer, several Ayahuasca users attested that it worked on them. They testified that they experienced its healing wonders. Moreover, although the prior studies suggested further studies to examine Ayahuasca’s healing effects it did not deny that the medicinal plant has the potential to treat these conditions.