We know that indigenous people of the Amazon basin have been consuming Ayahuasca for centuries. And we know that modern science is beginning to show evidence that Ayahuasca may be helpful in treating many mental illnesses including PTSD, depression, and addiction.
So, what then is the extent of Ayahuasca’s healing properties? The answer is we don’t know yet.
Modern-day Ayahuasca is a drink made from the cooking together of at least two plants, Banisteriopsis caapi and usually Psychotria viridis. Psychotria viridis contains dimethyltryptamine (DMT) a noted psychedelic drug, and Banisteriopsis caapi contains a monoamine oxidase inhibitor (MAOI). If the DMT-containing plant is consumed alone, then enzymes in the stomach would break it down and no psychedelic effects would be felt. The addition of the MAOI-containing plant inhibits these enzymes in the stomach and allows the mind-bending effects of DMT to be felt.
There is evidence this particular combination of plants has been used at least for centuries. However, interestingly enough, there is also evidence that the Ayahuasca vine, Banisteriopsis caapi, was consumed by indigenous people alone and before the addition of the second main ingredient, Psychotria viridis.
This means that indigenous people believed that the MAOI plant had medicinal properties without the addition of the DMT plant.
What does this all mean?
It means that there may be a lot more to Ayahuasca than previously thought. Now these two plants are being studied separately and together. Banisteriopsis caapi research shows the possibility of helping depression and growing new brain cells.
Research with the Ayahuasca brew as a whole shows evidence of increased “mindfulness.”
Indigenous people view Ayahuasca as a medicine, and they view the consumption of Ayahuasca tea as a serious religious act. They believe the ritual of drinking Ayahuasca opens the gates to the spirit world and allows mortals to view it and travel into it.
All the illnesses or problems Ayahuasca can be used to treat remains unknown. Current research suggests Ayahuasca may help not just PTSD and addictions, but depression, eating disorders, and may even boost brain plasticity and creativity.
No matter what modern science finds, indigenous people believe that Ayahuasca can cure the problems in your heart and soul, and who can argue with that?
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