Ayahuasca is an Amazonian plant mixture that is capable of inducing altered states of consciousness, usually lasting between 4 to 5 hours after ingestion. Ranging from mildly stimulating to extremely visionary, ayahuasca is used primarily as a medicine and as a shamanic means of communication, typically in a ceremonial session under the guidance of an experienced drinker.
The main ingredient of this jungle tea is a vine, Banisteriopsis caapi, which like the tea itself is also called ayahuasca (which means ‘vine of the soul’ or ‘vine with a soul’). The secondary ingredient is either chacruna (Psychotria viridis) or chagropanga (Diplopterys cabrerana), plants that contain a relatively high amount of the psychedelic substance DMT.
Ayahuasca induces a psychedelic, visionary state of mind and this effect is employed by various people for various reasons. Shamans or medicine men take ayahuasca to communicate with nature or to see what is causing a patient’s illness on a spiritual level. In Brazil several religions can be found that pivot around gatherings where ayahuasca is taken by all participants. Drinking ayahuasca and singing together takes them into a healing and inspiring kind of trance.
Although not unique to ayahuasca, there are many fascinating reports about people who have been healed from comprehensive problems, like addiction or depression, during one or more sessions. This, however, can also be achieved using LSD, psilocybin mushrooms, iboga, other psychedelics or various breathing and meditation techniques, and always involves heavy psychological work.
Ayahuasca is not a miracle cure in the sense that you drink the brew and all your troubles have vanished within a couple of hours. It is a miracle cure though, in the sense that it brings unconscious and seemingly other-worldly processes to surface, which enables you to work with it while the effects last.