Psychedelic drugs have remained popular in the United States since first achieving widespread recognition in the 1960’s with the counterculture movement. For instance, 2016 alone saw hallucinogens being reported as the 4th most popular drugs of abuse in the United States by person’s aged 12 and over. (1)
Here we take a look at one of the effects and dangers of one of the most popular naturally occurring psychedelics: ayahuasca.
What is ayahuasca?
Ayahuasca is a traditional brew originating in South America that is known for its ability to cause hallucinations. Ayahuasca is essentially a blend of two plants, which together are responsible for its psychoactive effects.
The first ingredient is a shrub known as chacruna. Chacruna contains a chemical known as N,N-Dimethyltryptamine (DMT for short), which is a well known hallucinogenic alkaloid.
DMT has the ability to cause incredibly powerful visual and auditory hallucinations in users. DMT, however, is not active when taken orally unless certain other chemicals are taken with it.
The second plant used in ayahuasca is the ayahuasca vine that causes DMT to become active when take orally. Without the ayahuasca vine, DMT is not readily absorbed by the body when taken orally. (2)
What are the effects of ayahuasca?
The effects of ayahuasca typically take about an hour to come on, and last approximately 10-12 hours. The effects of ayahuasca vary depending on the strength of the brew and the individual, but typically include the following symptoms (3):
- Loss of physical coordination and control
- Intense visual hallucinations, such as shifting environment, bright colors, and patterns
- Intense emotions, ranging from fear to euphoria
- Perspective shift
- Auditory hallucinations
- Time distortion
- Memory loss
What makes ayahuasca so dangerous?
Psychedelic drugs, such as ayahuasca, cause the user to have extreme shifts in perception that can be extremely dangerous. This is largely due to the user’s inability to control their actions once under the influence of the drug. (4) Death has also been reported directly from ayahuasca use. (5)
The correlation between psychedelic abuse and mental health issues has been a source of much debate since psychedelic use became common in the Western world.
One study found that a significant portion of study subjects who had prior mental health problems or a family history of mental health problems presented psychotic issues after ingesting ayahuasca. (6)
Another study found that use of psychedelic drugs was directly correlated with an increased risk of mental health issues, with subjects having a three times higher odds of being admitted to a mental health hospital than those who had not abused psychedelic drugs. (7) Finally, a study found that endogenous DMT was detected in the urine of 47% of test subjects who had schizophrenia. (8)
This article is intended for those considering a new way of life, free of the pain of drug and alcohol addiction. For more information on recovery and anyone seeking help with addiction and substance abuse problems, please call True Recovery at (844) 744-8783 or visit us online.