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In the article we will look at healing PTSD with Ayahuasca.
We all long for trips that take us far away. Journeys that we adjourn to, running away from a situation that we feel sucked into. This way, we can get a bird’s eye view of that situation, and thus a clearer understanding. Recently, such journeys have condensed into psychedelics pills.
Most notably, there’s a ritualistic plant that’s making its presence felt among such medicines: Ayahuasca.
PTSD is one of the most common ailments that scientists debate Ayahuasca can cure. So, is this jungle cure really effective? Is healing PTSD with Ayahuasca that’s dawning upon us in its way to prevail? Let’s see!
First things first: What is Ayahuasca?
What’s the Active Component in Ayahuasca?
The effective chemical in healing PTSD with Ayahuasca is called DMT. I know, you must be thinking: what is all of this alphabet soup? So, simple enough, DMT is the active component in Ayahuasca, and it occurs naturally in the brain in small amounts.
Nonetheless, some researchers say it doesn’t occur naturally in the brain, or it does only at birth and on the death bed. They even relate the peculiar experience of “my life is flashing before my eyes” to it.
DMT is a hallucinogen, or something that causes hallucination. However, the term “hallucinogen” has been superseded by “entheogen”. This means a substance that affects the nervous system, and that’s used in a spiritual, ritual context.
This ritualistic nature of the Ayahuasca highly affects the way in which it’s administered.
How to Take Ayahuasca?
As Ayahuasca takes you on a internal trip, it may also demand you going on a trip to get it.
You won’t be expecting Ayahuasca to be available at drug stores soon. One reason for that is the clinical trials the drug has to go through. Another is the cultural resistance such a drug will be facing, owing to its jungle origins.
Those jungle origins themselves require you to go to Ayahuasca instead of Ayahuasca coming to you. According to shamans experienced with the plant, in order to heal PTSD with Ayahuasca, it is necessary to use it in a ritualistic manner to get its full effect.
What’s the Ritualistic Manner Ayahuasca Has to Be Taken in?
The ceremony usually takes place in a village, far away from urbanized communities. It’s led by a local shaman acquainted with Ayahuasca’s ways. Participants gather in a tent and meditate in silence for some time.
Then, the shaman prepares the plant into a drinkable form, and the participants take it. First, there’s more silence. Then, special music starts to be, bit by bit, palpable in the atmosphere.
The music that’s played is often local, traditional music. An example of that would be the Icarus sacred songs in Peru. Also, the ceremony usually stretches over more than one day.
Is There a Way to Duplicate the Ayahuasca Experience Without Travelling Thousands of Miles?
According to the bestselling author Dr. Gabor Mate, it may indeed be possible. However, the presence of an experienced shaman will be a must. Another cornerstone is the rural setting. This serves two purposes. First, the quietness. Second, the immersion in nature.
He also says that the participants have to go on a full-week retreat. Which necessitates them bonding, and being committed to their mutual growth.
But what does that growth involve? What’s the scope of Ayahuasca’s effects?
What Is Ayahuasca Used For?
Post-traumatic stress disorder, better known as PTSD, is first in line to get treated by Ayahuasca. That being so as it showed results more promising than traditional medication. Aside from that, it showed efficacy in treating depression and anxiety.
Ayahuasca and Chronic Diseases
The potential of Ayahuasca in healing trauma brings even greater potential. Ayahuasca could play a role in treating chronic diseases, such as rheumatoid arthritis. That’s due to that new idea emerging in the medical field, the one that relates chronic illnesses to trauma.
There’s even this new field investigating this relation; it’s called psychoneuroimmunology. Quite a mouthful, I know. But it’s the intersection of different disciplines, the relationship between which hasn’t yet been fully investigated.
The Advantage Healing PTSD with Ayahuasca Has Over Traditional Medication
One advantage healing PTSD with Ayahuasca has over traditional medication is that it doesn’t tamper with physiological vital functions. Meaning, there’s no evidence of Ayahuasca exerting any major effects on heart functions, for example.
So, these are the effects it doesn’t exert—what about the ones it does?
What Does the Journey Ayahuasca Takes You on Look Like?
First, You’ll feel sedated and lethargic. Then, images will start coming in waves in a sharp, vivid manner. You may also find all kinds of ideas welling up in your brain from nowhere, as the plant stimulates ideation. Other effects include:
- Sharp perception of sound, which has its interplay with the music element of the ritual
- General feeling of well-being
- Reduced panic and anxiety
- Overflowing self-confidence
- Tendency to no longer conceal intimate thoughts
- On top of that, Ayahuasca may have different effects on different individuals. So there’s this subjective effect that’s harder to measure or predict.
As for how much it’ll take before Ayahuasca’s effect kicks in, it starts from 30 to 45 minutes after administration. It reaches its peak in the 90 or 120 minutes mark. Finally, the effect fades away after 4 hours.
Is Ayahuasca Addictive? and What Are Its Risks?
Compared to other addictive substances, the likelihood of developing an addiction to Ayahuasca is significantly low. Aside from the properties of the substance, the ritual use of it surely plays a role in that. The case is so as it isn’t used as recreationally as other substances.
However, addiction isn’t the only thing you should worry about. Like any other drug or substance, Ayahuasca does have its side-effect profile.
What Are the Risks Associated With the Use of Ayahuasca?
With the previously-mentioned desirable effects of Ayahuasca, it puts you in a vulnerable state. You become more impressionable than ever. The vulnerability extends to your body, making it tremble like a leaf. There will also be other psychological effects, such as:
- Psychological defense mechanisms plummet
This diminishing of psychological defense mechanisms makes memories of past traumas re-surface. That was enough reason for some experts to say that Ayahuasca could re-traumatize people.
Finally, the effects culminate in vomiting. This vomiting is called by shamans “the purge”, and they say that it’s a fundamental milestone in the process. Good or bad, those are the immediate effects of Ayahuasca. What about its effects in the long term?
What Are The Effects of Ayahuasca on the Long Run?
It has been shown that not only does Ayahuasca have no risk of addiction; it also helps to combat addiction. That’s especially the case for alcohol consumption.
However, these benefits of Ayahuasca have been reported in new participants of religious groups. So, the supportive community could have played its role in the good results of the substance.
Another long-term effect is enhanced memory and word recall. These results have been obtained using a test prepared by the WHO, along with the University of California. Also, the use of Ayahuasca has been tied with creative thinking, though not all evidence is in favor of that.
Some researchers also tied Ayahuasca with increased levels of self-awareness and empathy. However, aside from its desirable or undesirable effects, there’s an important question that poses itself: What’s the legal status of Ayahuasca?
Is Ayahuasca Legal in the Us?
Ayahuasca is currently illegal in the US.
However, there were pressures on many fronts pushing for its legalization. Namely, researchers, substance users, and religious groups and churches incorporating Ayahuasca in their ceremonies.
Researchers, though are fighting the good fight, have lost that battle. They attribute that to the fact that the policies aren’t grounded in science. Also, the media’s portrayal of Ayahuasca as just another street drug isn’t helpful.
Other Considerations in Legalizing Ayahuasca in the US and Outside of It
People who seek the beneficial effects of Ayahuasca also faced a roadblock in their pursuits. That being the case as the active component in Ayahuasca, DMT, is a schedule-one drug. It was classified as such in the US Controlled Substances Act in 1970.
Schedule-one drugs are considered to be of no medicinal use. Other drugs on that list include cannabinoids and some other psychedelics. Strange enough, substances such as cocaine and opioids aren’t on that list. Rather, they are schedule-two drugs.
Churches as the Only Hope for Ayahuasca to Be Legal
It was Brazil that legalized the use of ayahuasca in religious settings for the first time in 1987. In the US, ayahuasca churches kept their use under the radar. However, this didn’t last long, as the situation was simmering beneath the surface.
In 1999, the Drug Enforcement Administration took away shipments of Ayahuasca smuggled to churches. This was the last straw that brought the previously simmering situation to a boil. In 2000, the UDV churches led a crusade against these policies, in the form of a federal lawsuit.
The lawsuit was grounded in religious freedom. According to the Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1993, UDV churches won. In Oregon, Santo Daime churches followed in their fellow UDV’s footsteps and legalized Ayahuasca’s religious use.
Past trauma could be the puppeteer steering our lives without us knowing. These traumas are what cause ingrained patterns from the past to dictate our future. With that increasing tide of trauma effects, traditional medication often falls short.
Here comes the need for us exploring the expanse of lands yet to be explored. In that regard, Ayahuasca offers a great solution with its wide spectrum of effects. These effects are exactly what made researchers prompt policymakers to legalize it. After all, its effects still need further investigation.
As we explored this journey towards healing ptsd with Ayahuasca, we found that the ritual use of music is an essential part of the Ayahuasca experience. In traditional ceremonies, the use of Icaros (traditional song) is essential to set and setting for the healing journey.
However, even without Ayahuasca, sound therapy can have great benefits—be sure to Sonic Yogi for a variety of relaxing sounds.
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