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Forum Post: What Is Ayahuasca And Why Has It Arrived In The West Now?

Posted 5 years ago on March 24, 2013, 12:38 a.m. EST by quantumystic (1710) from Memphis, TN
This content is user submitted and not an official statement

Ayahuasca Effect By Kirby Surprise Psy.D

The world’s most powerful antidepressant and psychotherapeutic agent may be a natural herbal tea. As many as 40 million Americans will suffer from some form of depression during their lifetimes. For some depression will be a mercifully short episode in their lives, for millions it becomes a chronic experience of emotional pain that devastates all areas of their lives. Depression is notoriously difficult to treat, especially in its chronic form. Talk therapy is often ineffective, and anti-depressive medications sometimes have unwanted side effects. Medications such as Webutrin, Paxil, Prozac and Zoloft often leave the client with sexual dysfunction, agitation, sleeplessness and alterations in their personalities. These medications can and do save lives, but for some the side effects make them less than satisfactory answers to long term clinical depression.Ayahuasca is a tea made from a combination of legally available plants that produces a profound alteration in consciousness. It has been used for thousands of years by South American shamans, and is currently used as a sacrament in at least two Christian based religions in with world wide memberships. It is noted for the power of the experience it produces, and the tendency for it to facilitate positive personal change in those that consume it. It is non-addictive, non-toxic, and in its classical forms, produces no physical or psychological harm to the users. The primary drug involved is N,N-dimethyltryptamine (DMT), a natural substance that is in the bodies of all mammals, and one of the most powerful hallucinogens known. DMT is extracted from any one of the plant that contain it by brewing it in water that has been made slightly acidic, in effect making tea. Once the tea is made it is considered illegal in most western countries because it contains DMT, which was made illegal as a manufactured hallucinogen before it was known it existed in natural form in the plants used to make ayahuasca.

Normally the DMT in the tea would be destroyed in the digestive system by a chemical called mono amine oxidase, rendering the tea completely inactive. With the addition of a second plant containing a mono amine oxidase inhibitor (MAOI), either in the tea with the first DMT containing plant or taken separately, The DMT survives the digestive process and reaches the brain where it alters the persons state of consciousness.

The most common anecdotal reports from use of the tea are of profound psychological and spiritual healing, accompanied by personal insight and integration. It is often reported that the tea breaks even profound depressive episodes in a single use. This positive psychological benefit is what I call the “Ayahuasca Effect.” That is, to produce an intense and positive integrative experience with lasting beneficial effects from use of the tea, with no side effects common to pharmaceutical antidepressants. The following one such personal encounter with ayahuasca;

“Sometime during graduate school, while holding two jobs and trying to raise a family, I fell into a major depression. It was the kind of illness that one could fight through to lead a normal life, but it sapped the joy and light from every experience. My wife and I fought often, the world seemed a dark and difficult place.

There should have been the relative leisure of just work and family to enjoy, but the depression hung like a dark resentful fog on every day, coloring it with hopelessness and undeserved despair. In order to keep working I sought medical help, which came in the form of anti-depressant medications. After two years of trying different medications, Zoloft was the final choice. I was told to reconcile myself to having to take this medication every day for the rest of my life. I was grateful for having a chemical floor under my feet, it saved my life, both figuratively and literally, but there were side effects. The medication left me sleepless and mildly agitated much of the time, feeling like a constant infusion of caffeine. It made sex difficult, which played hell with my self-esteem, and it did not make me able to experience happiness or joy. I had been to years of talk therapy, taken the drugs western medicine had to offer, followed the known treatment courses, they had not restored me to wholeness.

Finally, even with the medication, the illness was winning. My ability to make a meaningful connection with my wife was gone, my work was an endless parade of despair, my attitude was permanently dark and agitated. This was not who I wanted to be, not the life I had worked hard to live. I decided I was not going to be healed by taking the advice of others, I would have to do it from within, I would look for a miracle, I would go back to the study of shamanism and find a way to heal myself. After months of research on shamanic cultures and their use of native plants I learned about ayahuasca, an herbal tea made from plants native to the Amazon basin. I read everything on the web, the books, the articles I could find, and went to an Ayahuasca conference with experts from many fields from all over the world.

What I learned was that studies had been done on members of the UDV, one of the religions that use the tea as a sacrament, which indicated ayahuasca was a powerful anti-depressant which treated the cause of the condition rather than the symptom. In short, most depression is caused by problems with the way the brain processes serotonin, which could be called the “mood” neurotransmitter. Prescription antidepressants work by various means to keep serotonin in the synapses longer. Ayahuasca contains DMT, which bonds to the 5-htp receptor sites, the same sites as serotonin. The DMT bonds at a higher rate, and the body adapts to this by increasing the number of 5-htp receptor sites, making better use of natural serotonin levels.

The UDV studies stated regular drinkers of the tea were less depressed, more social and more organized than the control groups, and that there were no physical or mental side effects to long term use in healthy individuals. Ayahuasca seemed to be an anti-depressant that treated the cause, had a better psychological outcome, and no side effects. The final factor in my decision was some of the people who I met at the conference. Many of them were long term drinkers of the tea from countries where it has been legalized. I found them to be some of the most grounded, sane, kind, and generally healthy people I had ever met.

Anecdotal evidence from users of the tea treating depression suggest it can be effective in treating serotonin based depression, but it is not a magic bullet or cure-all. The tea tends to lift depression, but does not change the underlying personality. If the user was depressed because of trauma or had other personality issues before the depression, these issues will still be present if the tea lifts the depression. I have known people who were depressed with many somatic symptoms, took the tea, and had their aliments and depression replaced by anger. The anger was what the depression was keeping repressed, in some cases the anger was over incest or other traumatic abuses. The people were generally then able to move on into doing the work of healing and restructuring the way they think about their experiences. Ayahuasca gave them the opportunity and ability to do the work, but did not do it for them. My personal experience was the tea broke the cycle of depression and medications that prevented me from moving on to actual healing. Ayahuasca is potentially one of the most powerful antidepressant and psychotherapeutic therapies ever seen. At present the legal issues and lack of medical support and understanding around its use leave much of that potential unexplored. It is my hope that an understanding of the “ayahuasca effect” may someday allow direct research studies to be done of it’s effectiveness as an antidepressant treatment and tool of self awareness. http://www.ayahuasca.com/science/the-ayahuasca-effect/ edited read complete.



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[-] 3 points by Middleaged (5140) 5 years ago

Here is my Prayer,
I invoke the silence,
I give of my self,
I invite the holy spirit to join us for brotherhood,
I invoke Pachamama to this forum,
I don't ask for personal Gain,
I am a man made humble,
This is the shaman's Prayer,
I invite all of mother Earth to Join us,

This earth is Good,
This earth is Clean,
The spirits of earth & Pachamama are Clear and Strong,
We honor the Mountains,
We honor the Rivers that feed us,
We honor the heavens who bring rain down and feed our crops,
We honor the Sacred Directions,
North, East, South, West, Below, and Above,
We honor the Standing people in the Forest,
We honor the Life of the Oceans,
We honor the Life in the Amazon,
We honor the life in the Andes,
And we honor the Condor,

There are so many great spirits of this earth,
Let us pass on the spirit of the Shaman,
Let us pass on the spirit of Good Will,
We wish for the Highest and Best Good for all Beings,
Today we might have new leaders here,
Lets share the power of the Condor and Pachamama,

Today is an open day,
If people want to understand the spirit of the Earth,
Let these people find spirit and learn,
If people want to seek spirit and seek the Shaman knowledge,
Let these people find spirit and learn,

Let us make it so,
Let us make it so,

The lesson is seek truth and know yourself,
The lesson is seek truth and know yourself,
Now lets have quiet,
It is time to be quiet,
Now lets have quiet,
It is time to be quiet,
The spirit of the Earth is here,
The spirit of the Earth is here,

We must be quiet the spirit is here,
we must be quiet the spirit is here,
We can be still and listen,
We can be still and listen,
Count slowly to 40 silently and know the spirit of the earth,
Count slowly to 40 silently and know the spirit of the earth is with you ....

The protection of Spirit is upon you and here to protect us... the spirit that you know, the spirit that you chose now.
Love and Light are the protection, We only ask for the highest and best good for everyone.

[-] 2 points by quantumystic (1710) from Memphis, TN 5 years ago


[-] 2 points by Middleaged (5140) 5 years ago

Thanx. I almost missed your post. I did some work long ago. I like what I wrote. I like the whole structure. I think it is universal. And it is sort of careful in several ways. But ....

It tries to control the high energy of some people that will read it...

[-] 2 points by Middleaged (5140) 5 years ago

UU is good. I spent a lot of time at a Unity church. Many churches are interesting ... Only a few churches are really are open as I think the UU is.

[-] 2 points by Renneye (3874) 5 years ago

Beautiful Ma. You're a heart centered soul. Of that there is no question...


[-] 2 points by Middleaged (5140) 5 years ago

Thanks. you are strength for me. I wrote that just off the top of my head based on my life experiences... I tweaked it a little... and probably will add an s in one place.

I guess the best part of that prayer is saying it aloud... and repeating it a little to see how it feels. If I can create something good it means something .... and in my experience in music ... sometimes it just feels right ... it is spiritual to play something or ...even say a prayer that you felt was right.

It can be a good accomplishment and a .... beginning of a spiritual practice.

[-] 3 points by Middleaged (5140) 5 years ago

No, Ayahuasca has been a teacher in the west for a long time. When the student is ready the teacher appears....

The struggles of Western Men often are Spiritual. I suppose I mean women and men. When you have a fast life style, a throw away lifestyle, a life where it seems like we are often losing our grip on the prize, a life where youth and beauty are held as the ultimate value, a life where we are valued for our possessions or wealth in terms of money, power, or status .... this is a kind of empty life. This is the Crisis of the West and of Europe.

Our Personal Crisis is one of Valuing the wrong things.

I've never taken Ayahuasca. But what we seek from Religion and Spiritual Practice is a better understanding of ourselves and our place in the world. I think Religion, Buddhism, and even Ayahuasca can help ground us in ourselves... and reveal our position in the world more clearly.

[-] 3 points by quantumystic (1710) from Memphis, TN 5 years ago

Ayahuasca is here to save us from ourselves.

[-] 3 points by Middleaged (5140) 5 years ago

You are probably 100% right. It is not a question of belief, but a question of what I trust, or you trust, or people trust. We live in a land of Crisis where people can't think properly at all.... It might be critical thinking, ... but I won't claim to know the key.

People are not seeking the truth. people are not seeking their true self. Ayahuasca ... seems to guide people to the truth, right?

It is possible that spirit resides in plants and all animals. It is possible that through meditation we can discern a message from these plants and animals. They have proven emotions in plants. natives have received instructions from plants and have used the knowledge... in a sense proving the relationship.

There are those that will go deeper into the spirit and the communication because they have meditated or communicated with plants. But ... perhaps the spirit communication from Ayahuasca is much greater and broader in a universal spirit sense.

[-] 1 points by aBillyT (1) 4 years ago

Quantumystic I'm curious if we could meet somewhere to discuss ayahuasca. I live close by and could meet you in Memphis.


[-] 1 points by gnomunny (6819) from St Louis, MO 5 years ago

This was discussed on a recently censored TED talk. It's the second video in this link (the first video's pretty interesting as well, fyi). Pretty profound stuff:


[-] 2 points by quantumystic (1710) from Memphis, TN 5 years ago

This can help cure depression and addiction.

[-] 3 points by gnomunny (6819) from St Louis, MO 5 years ago

And do a whole lot more from the sounds of it. It can help achieve enlightenment.

[-] 3 points by quantumystic (1710) from Memphis, TN 5 years ago

Yeah, I predict a new age type religion modeled on Unitarian Universalist ideals with an emphasis on ayahuasca and technoshamanism will emerge and draw millions of followers. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Universalist_Unitarian

[-] 1 points by gnomunny (6819) from St Louis, MO 5 years ago

Interesting link, I hadn't heard of them before. But I wouldn't doubt that ayahuasca will be made illegal here in the States.

[-] 1 points by quantumystic (1710) from Memphis, TN 5 years ago

The dirty secret evangelicals don't want you to know is that America is a Unitarian Universalist and transcendentalist nation since the beginning basically. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Transcendentalism

[-] 1 points by gnomunny (6819) from St Louis, MO 5 years ago

Thanks for this other link QM. In fact, thanks for this post. I think it's quite a coincidence since I just watched that banned TED talk not three nights ago. I'd like to look into ayahuasca a little more. And UU as well. I've never been religious, but after reading your link about UU earlier, it's piqued my interest>

[-] 1 points by quantumystic (1710) from Memphis, TN 5 years ago

If organized religion is worth a second look it is UU but look into the transcendentalism as well.

[-] 1 points by gnomunny (6819) from St Louis, MO 5 years ago

I will. That I had heard of but know very little about.