After my first three Ayahuasca ceremonies, in which I felt hardly anything, I lay on my mat listening to the throes of vomiting beside me from a man who was surely expelling the devil. Yes, it sounded just like that. Like evil. Like an exorcism. The sound that came from deep within his body resounded that notion; a guttural, demonic like howl derived of unimaginable torture. Scared the bejesus out of me, but was an instantaneous healing for him. In fact, many people say they feel like they were vomiting out a dark entity or shadow being. Or expunging from themselves the suffering of all who walk the earth. No one likes to throw-up, but on an Ayahuasca journey, intense though it may be, it’s sweeping and efficient in its healing effect.
On the scientific level, these effects come from the plant medicines direct hit on the serotonergic system—involving the neurotransmitter serotonin—which influences mood and visual and auditory perceptions. The vomiting, in particular, comes from its action on the postrema, the part of the brainstem that controls the urge to throw up. In this region of the brain Ayahuasca acts on 5HT3 serotonin receptors, which are also in the gut, and a likely contributor to nausea, vomiting and diarrhea. Adding to this, Ayahuasca also increases serotonin levels in both the gut and the brain. Because Ayahuasca’s impact on the area postrema is so powerful, the vomiting one experiences is more violent than usual upchucks. It’s a deep sort of purge. The kind of purge that leaves one feeling as though they’ve released every toxic chemical ever ingested since the day of birth. The mere strength of this kind of vomiting can easily explain why it feels like you’re throwing up all negative thoughts, painful emotions or traumatic experiences from self and everyone else on the planet. It hits you at the core. At the soul level. At the emotional level.
Shamans, however, do not believe it is the Ayahuasca that makes one nauseous and sick during ceremony, but the negative things that exist in our body, such as sadness, anxiety, pain, fear, depression or anger, all of which resist leaving the body. But once the purging takes place and leaves the body, however many ceremonies it takes, Ayahuasca then takes that person into an ecstatic, blissed state of being so high, mere words could never do justice to describe it.
The body is where our emotions live, where knowledge lives. If we ever hope to get balanced and healed, the almighty purge is an absolute must.
Yes Ayahuasca can change your personality. In fact just one psychedelic experience can alter our personality for months, years, sometimes indefinitely.
Most of us grow up and live in a predictable world where we are told what is true, what is not true, what is right and wrong, good and bad, and so on and so forth. In the box is how we are conditioned to experience and integrate reality, which forms a basic prototype of personality. However, once we ingest substances such as LSD, magic mushrooms or Ayahuasca, inevitably we discover that the world we have been spoon fed to believe and obey is, in many ways, totally incorrect. This applies to; religious dogma, money, gender, color of skin, education, career paths, the agreed upon molds of society, the clothes we wear, etc. Psychedelics will blow the lid off everything we thought we knew about the world and ourselves while downloading new software into the mainframe of self, forever transforming the glorious world we never knew existed.
I had a few mushroom and LSD trips in high school that were fun and exciting. Yet I was still very judgmental and negative and viewed all humans as separate from me, too uptight and serious for their own good, and not worth my compassion. Flash-forward into my twenties where, on one single occasion, I ingested five grams of mushrooms. The perfect allotment to soar me over the rainbow to that instantaneous “ah-ha” moment. The moment where I wholeheartedly, without a measure of doubt, felt the connectedness of myself to all humans and each to the other. Judgment and separation went right out the door. Overnight I became kinder, gentler, more patient and empathetic to the human condition than I ever imagined was possible. Even the unforgivable, dictators and serial killers alike, were one with me and deserved forgiveness. This experience allowed me to see with eyes wide open, instead of eyes wide shut. It forever changed the way I behaved and interacted with humanity. Would I have come to this personality shift on my own at some later juncture in life? Maybe, but it was the actual physical experience of embodying this raw, emotional truth that changed me at my core. Something only near-death experiences can make happen, or aids like Ayahuasca, magic mushrooms, LSD or pure MDMA. Although the “high” lasted just a few hours, it has only enhanced throughout my life. So yes, Ayahuasca, being the powerful catalyst to higher states of consciousness it is, can and will, change you forever, personality and all.
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Refugio Altiplano explains the effects of Ayahuasca at their Ayahuasca retreat center in Peru. In this recent episode of The Mindfield with star Michael Stevens of Vsausce filmed at Refugio Altiplano, we go into depth about current research of ancient Ayahuasca with modern neuroscience, as they travel to Peru’s Amazon Rainforest.
Ayahuasca is a strong psychedelic brew containing DMT, found in the rainforest of South America. According to Dr. Robin Carthart-Harris, head of Centre for Psychedelic Research at Imperial College London, data can now show the effects of Ayahuasca on the human brain. They also pose the question – ‘Does a waking-dream state exist?’ Dr. Robin Carthart-Harris explains more about Ayahuasca during his journey to Refugio Altiplano.
Ayahuasca has been used for thousands of years by the indigenous people of the Amazon rainforest for healing. Now, with the help of modern fMRI brain scanning, it is possible to show the brain before and after ingesting Ayahuasca. This allows doctors to examine the complex interaction of these compounds on the brain. Ryan O’Hare discusses this drink and its effects on the brain on the Imperial College London website. As mentioned, it is used as part of a shamanic ceremony and is associated with vivid visions or hallucinations. A recent study found that Ayahuasca can change our brain waves, with some researchers commenting that it is like dreaming in an awakened state. The research, completed by researchers at Imperial College London, state that taking DMT and Ayahuasca can lead to intense waking-dream like experiences.
You may be wondering, what is DMT? DMT is a chemical compound found in the human brain and is released from the pineal gland during childbirth and death, but is also found in some plant species. Accounts taken from people who have ingested DMT to have hallucinations or near death like experiences, or to enter into ‘alternate states of realities’, scientists can now begin to collect data on the brain to see when consciousness has changed.
Researchers study human consciousness in two different states — when we’re awake, and when we’re asleep. “However we’re missing a big part of the picture if we don’t take into account other ways of being conscious,” says Christopher Timmermann, co-author on the recent Scientific Reports paper and researcher with Imperial College London. Timmermann states, “From the altered brainwaves and participants’ reports, it’s clear these people are completely immersed in their experience. It’s like daydreaming, only far more vivid and immersive. It’s like dreaming, but with your eyes wide open.”
Dr. Robin Carthart-Harris methods of testing involved cognitive testing and EEG monitors during ayahuasca ceremonies at Refugio Altiplano, to collect relevant information about shifts in the perception of ones basic self, ego, and reality. He states: “DMT is a particularly intriguing psychedelic. The visual vividness and depth of immersion produced by high-doses of the substance seems to be on a scale above what is reported with more widely studied psychedelics, such as psilocybin or ‘magic mushrooms.” However the method does not stop there. After the ceremonies they returned to UCLA for the final fMRI scans of the brain, which concluded a range of powerful effects that ayahuasca produces in the brain. This is groundbreaking research being carried out by scientists, with the assistance of the shamans at Refugio Altiplano. In the documentary we can see this result first hand.
Science is just beginning to explore these formerly unexplored areas of psychedelic neuroscience, as it is becoming more apparent that many plants have healing properties that can be used for medicinal purposes that have extremely potent, positive, long-term effects on human health and well-being.
Refugio Altiplano offers a beautiful and serene Ayahuasca healing experience at their center in Peru. They have been providing this service for 25 years, with a personalized experience given to you, and an opportunity to meet each individual’s unique need for plant medicine healing.
If you would like more information about Ayahuasca and their retreat center in Peru, you can contact them today at +51 931 465 194, visit their website at, refugioaltiplano.org or email them at [email protected]
Whether you drink Ayahuasca in the rainforests of Peru, or the concrete jungles of a metropolitan city….not as nurturing, FYI….you will have side-effects. But what doesn’t? Sugar gets us jacked up then crashes us down. Same with caffeine, tobacco, soda, or long bouts of strenuous exercise. And let’s not forget the medications approved by the Federal Drug Administration, prescribed out to millions of people a day, which carry the following possible side-effects: fatigue, nausea, heart palpitations, muscle tremors, muscle weakness, nightmares, suicidal thoughts, insomnia, restlessness, restless leg syndrome, nervousness, blurred vision, constipation, incontinence, uncontrollable hunger, loss of appetite, confusion, delirium, dry mouth, hives, itching, forgetfulness, agitation, irritability, thoughts of grandeur, hallucinations, weight loss, weight gain, muscle atrophy, brittle hair and nails, swollen gums, fever, pain with swallowing, malaise, dermatitis, headaches, tinnitus, balance issues, early arthritis, compromised immune system, bruising, internal bleeding, and last but not least, cancer. Due to the side-effects of one drug, another prescription medication is often given to combat that, and so on down the line.
What the….? If those are possible side-effects, how are these drugs even legal? How indeed. But again, these are only possibilities. And according to the masses, the benefits outweigh the risks. Which begs the question, why do so many people shy away from trying Ayahuasca due to its side-effects, when its unpleasant aspects are so short-lived? We can’t get through to a healing without first shaking up the tree.
Possible side effects of Ayahuasca include: increased heart rate, hallucinations, tremors, dilated pupils, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, sweating, restlessness, fear, anxiety, panic, long lasting euphoria, peacefulness, tranquility, elimination of depression and suicidal ideation, elimination of hopelessness, fear, panic, anxiety and PTSD. Couldn’t one say that the pros outweigh the risks? Especially considering one does not have to be popping a pill on the daily to maintain their new level of emotional or physical well-being? Not having to pop a pill every day that eventually creates an unwanted side-effect which has us having to take another pill every single day?
Some argue that because Ayahuasca is illegal, it should not be used ever. To those who press that point, do take into consideration that legal prescription drugs have now outpaced car accidents as the leading cause of death in the United States alone. Yikes my friends. That means that over 40,000 people a year die because of prescription drugs. And that’s not including the deaths by overdose of opioid prescriptions, which kills an average of 130 a day and costs the US economy an average of &78 billion a year.
To each their own but…yeah, I’ll drink the foul tasting jungle brew, temporary side-effects and all….any day over that statistic.