The online market for research chemicals, including Ayahuasca, is a subject of concern and scrutiny within the scientific and ethical communities. While Ayahuasca is a traditional Amazonian brew used in shamanic and healing ceremonies, the sale of Ayahuasca as a “research chemical” online raises several critical issues.
First, sellers often misuse the term “research chemical” to bypass legal restrictions. Ayahuasca, in its traditional form, is a potent psychoactive brew that contains DMT, a controlled substance in many countries. Sellers who market Ayahuasca as a research chemical may be exploiting legal loopholes, potentially endangering consumers and undermining the cultural significance of this sacred plant medicine.
Secondly, the online sale of Ayahuasca raises safety concerns. Experienced shamans or facilitators conduct authentic Ayahuasca ceremonies in controlled settings to ensure participants’ physical and psychological well-being. They are buying Ayahuasca online and bypassing these safeguards, putting users at risk of adverse reactions and psychological distress.
Furthermore, the quality and authenticity of Ayahuasca purchased online can be questionable. Traditional Ayahuasca brews are carefully prepared using specific plants, and the knowledge is passed down through generations. Online vendors may not adhere to these traditional practices, leading to variations in the composition and potency of the brew, which can be dangerous for users.
Additionally, selling Ayahuasca as a research chemical undermines the respect and understanding of indigenous cultures. Ayahuasca has deep cultural and spiritual significance for indigenous communities in the Amazon. Reducing it to a mere “research chemical” for profit is ethically questionable and disrespectful to the traditions and beliefs of these communities.
- 1 Summary
- 2 History and culture
- 3 Pharmacology
- 4 Subjective effects
- 5 Preparation
- 6 Potential therapeutic applications
- 7 Toxicity
- 8 Legal status
- 9 FAQ
- 9.1 1. What is Ayahuasca?
- 9.2 2. What are the Effects of Ayahuasca?
- 9.3 3. Is Ayahuasca Safe?
- 9.4 4. Is Ayahuasca Addictive?
- 9.5 5. Is Ayahuasca Legal?
- 9.6 6. Can Ayahuasca Treat Depression or Other Mental Health Conditions?
- 9.7 7. Where Can I Participate in an Ayahuasca Ceremony?
- 9.8 8. What Precautions Should I Take Before Using Ayahuasca?
- 9.9 9. What Are the Long-Term Effects of Ayahuasca?
- 9.10 10. Can Anyone Use Ayahuasca?
- 10 References
Ayahuasca, also known as Yagé, encompasses diverse traditional and contemporary concoctions derived from natural plant sources, renowned for their potent psychoactive and hallucinogenic properties. Typically, Ayahuasca compositions involve the synergistic pairing of a DMT-containing plant source with one containing an MAOI or RIMA, such as the B. caapi vine or Syrian rue. This combination results in exceptionally powerful and, at times, medicinal psychedelic experiences.
Incorporating an MAOI agent is imperative for the compound’s effectiveness, primarily because the DMT molecule, closely related to serotonin, becomes almost entirely inert when ingested in isolation. This is due to monoamine oxidase enzymes in the stomach, which rapidly degrade it.
Ayahuasca holds deep-rooted significance as a traditional spiritual remedy in the ceremonies of Indigenous communities residing in the Amazonian regions of Peru. Many believe that the knowledge of its use was directly conveyed to them by the plants’ spirits. Ayahuasca was first introduced to the broader world by Harvard ethnobotanist Richard Evans Schultes in the early 1950s, shedding light on its utilization for divination and curative purposes.
In line with the research and medical sphere consensus, Ayahuasca is not recognized as a substance that leads to dependence or addiction. Nevertheless, unexpected adverse reactions, such as anxiety, paranoia, delusions, and even psychotic episodes, can manifest, particularly in individuals predisposed to psychiatric conditions. While such negative experiences or “bad trips” can sometimes be attributed to factors like a user’s lack of experience or inadequate preparation of their mental and physical environment, they can also unpredictably occur even among seasoned users. Consequently, despite its well-established reputation for possessing minimal to no physical or neurotoxicity, it is strongly advisable to approach this potent and capricious hallucinogenic substance with utmost caution, prioritizing harm reduction practices and appropriate preparation.
History and culture
A millennium-old assemblage of drug paraphernalia discovered in a Bolivian rock shelter unveils remnants of five psychoactive substances, including cocaine and constituents of ayahuasca, shedding light on ancient drug usage.
A troubling pattern has emerged within the realm of “traditional” ayahuasca ceremonies, marked by several documented instances of preventable fatalities. These tragedies transpire due to charlatans masquerading as shamans during these ceremonies. The main culprit in these unfortunate events is a specific ingredient known as brugmansia, which can precipitate complications when co-administered with a Monoamine Oxidase Inhibitor (MAOI). A proficient ayahuasca brew, however, need not be overly intricate, necessitating only a reliable source of DMT (such as mimosa or acacia) and a reversible monoamine oxidase A (RIMA or MAOI) inhibitor. Including additional components in ayahuasca preparations can pose potential hazards, necessitating thorough research to ascertain potential interactions before consumption.
Another pertinent concern associated with ayahuasca ceremonies revolves around the mysticism and pseudoscience cultivated over centuries of mythological rituals. This cultural backdrop has engendered a bias rooted in embracing a single narrative. An irrational conviction persists that ayahuasca should exclusively be ingested within the Amazon rainforest under the auspices of a shaman. Such beliefs deter many from exploring ayahuasca’s potential benefits outside of this seemingly restricted and, at times, challenging setting, despite a lack of logical substantiation for this stance.
The psychedelic effects induced by Ayahuasca have been substantiated to stem from its partial agonist activity at the 5-HT2A receptor. However, the precise mechanisms underpinning these interactions and their role in engendering the psychedelic encounter continue to elude scientific comprehension.
Harmala alkaloids, found in the B. caapi vine, belong to the category of MAO-inhibiting beta-carbolines. Three of these alkaloids have garnered significant research attention: harmine, harmaline, and tetrahydroharmine. Harmine and harmaline exhibit a specific and reversible inhibition of monoamine oxidase A (MAO-A), while tetrahydroharmine exerts a mild influence as a serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SRI).
The inhibition of MAO-A orchestrated by these alkaloids facilitates the unhindered passage of DMT through the membranes of the stomach and small intestine without undergoing metabolic transformation. Subsequently, DMT traverses the blood-brain barrier, which necessitates no MAO-A inhibition on its own. In the brain, DMT activates receptor sites, instigating its psychoactive effects. Without RIMAs or MAOIs targeting MAO-A, monoamine oxidase enzymes in the digestive tract would oxidize DMT, rendering it biologically inert.
Disclaimer: The effects detailed below reference the Subjective Effect Index (SEI), a compilation derived from anecdotal user accounts and the personal evaluations of contributors to PsychonautWiki. It is essential to approach these descriptions with a healthy degree of skepticism.
Moreover, it should be emphasized that these effects may not necessarily manifest predictably or consistently. However, higher doses are more inclined to engender the full spectrum of effects, including adverse outcomes like addiction, severe injury, or even fatality ☠.
- Stimulation or Sedation: Ayahuasca’s impact on physical energy levels depends on the setting. It can evoke stimulation and heightened energy in social contexts with lively music or during physically demanding activities (e.g., running, walking, climbing, or dancing). Conversely, it may induce relaxation and sedation in tranquil settings with dim lighting and comfortable seating.
- Perception of Bodily Heaviness
- Perception of Bodily Lightness
- Spontaneous Physical Sensations: Ayahuasca’s “body high” can be described as a pleasurable, warm, soft, and enveloping sensation. It may manifest unpredictably during the trip or persist consistently, peaking at the zenith.
- Physical Euphoria
- Nausea: Ayahuasca, in its traditional form, is renowned for its purgative qualities, leading to symptoms like nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and cold flashes. Termed “la purga” or “the purge,” this effect is contingent on the specific preparation of ayahuasca. Many shamans and experienced users consider the intense purging integral to the experience, signifying a potential healing process and releasing long-accumulated negative emotions. Scientific studies have validated some aspects of this notion, revealing the expulsion of parasitic worms by harmala alkaloids present in ayahuasca. Consequently, harmala alkaloids stun or eliminate the parasites, and their expulsion is facilitated by increased intestinal motility induced by these alkaloids. It is important to note that the overall emotional tenor of an ayahuasca trip in psychologically balanced individuals hinges significantly on the degree of nausea or purgation experienced. Discomfort can lead to paranoia, anxiety, delirium, and cognitive disarray among inexperienced users, while purge-free preparation methods mitigate these negative emotions.
- Changes in Felt Bodily Form
- Muscle Relaxation or Muscle Tension
- Physical Autonomy
- Loss of Motor Control
- Sudden Loss of Consciousness When Walking
- Muscle Contractions
- Muscle Spasms
- Appetite Suppression
- Stomach Cramps
- Pupil Dilation
- Color Enhancement
- Pattern Recognition Enhancement
- Visual Acuity Enhancement
- Drifting (Melting, Flowing, Breathing, Morphing): Characterized by slow, detailed, and fluid motion with a static visual appearance, distinct from other psychedelics.
- Colour Shifting
- Color Tinting
- Scenery Slicing
- Symmetrical Texture Repetition
- Geometry: Ayahuasca’s visual geometry shares more similarities with psilocybin mushrooms than LSD or mescaline. It features intricate, abstract, organic patterns with structured organization, multicolored schemes, glossy shading, sharp and blurred edges, large size, rapid motion, smooth flow, rounded and angular corners, non-immersive depth, and progressively intensifying complexity at higher doses.
- Hallucinatory States: Ayahuasca and DMT elicit many high-level hallucinatory states, often more consistently than other psychedelics. These include “machinescapes,” transformations, internal hallucinations (with scenarios, entities, and landscapes), and external hallucinations (similar scenarios).
- Ayahuasca’s cognitive effects are often described as remarkably clear-headed and sober, unlike other psychedelics like LSD or psilocin. Nevertheless, it encompasses a wide array of typical and unique cognitive effects, including:
- Mindfulness: Ayahuasca frequently induces a prolonged and therapeutic sense of mindfulness, persisting for days, weeks, or even months after a high-dose experience. This is distinct from other psychedelics that usually evoke spontaneous and temporary mindfulness.
- Addiction Suppression
- Language Suppression: A perceived difficulty or reluctance to vocalize despite coherent internal thoughts, often more prevalent among inexperienced users.
- Analysis Enhancement
- Conceptual Thinking
- Creativity Enhancement
- Déjà Vu
- Autonomous Voice Communication
- Ego Replacement
- Personality Regression
- Emotion Enhancement
- Empathy, Affection, and Sociability Enhancement: Unlike MDMA and other entactogens, this effect feels natural and less forced, with varying rates of sociability enhancement, often context-dependent.
- Euthymia: Acute euphoria is often observed when combining one to three doses with psychotherapy, outperforming conventional treatments for several mental health issues.
- Perceived Exposure to Inner Mechanics of Consciousness
- Decreased Libido
- Enhancement and Suppression Cycles
- Personal Meaning Enhancement
- Immersion Enhancement
- Novelty Enhancement
- Personal Bias Suppression
- Suggestibility Enhancement
- Increased Music Appreciation
- Increased Sense of Humor, Including Laughter Fits
- Memory Suppression
- Ego Death
- Multiple Thought Streams
- Thought Acceleration
- Thought Connectivity
- Thought Organization
- Time Distortion
- Dosage-Independent Intensity
- Ayahuasca’s transpersonal components bear the closest resemblance to naturally occurring entheogenic tryptamines like ayahuasca, ibogaine, and psilocybin. These components encompass:
- Existential Self-Realization
- Spirituality Enhancement
- Feelings of Self-Design
- Feelings of Eternalism
- Feelings of Interdependent Opposites
- Unity and Interconnectedness: Ayahuasca consistently induces this effect, often accompanying ego suppression and death, in contrast to other psychedelics that trigger it less reliably.
Traditional ayahuasca is a brew crafted by combining the Banisteriopsis caapi vine, rich in MAOIs (Monoamine Oxidase Inhibitors), with a DMT-containing plant like Psychotria Viridis. A similar blend known as pharmahuasca replaces the plant-based MAOI with a pharmaceutical counterpart. Notably, MAOIs come in two varieties: reversible and irreversible. It’s essential to understand that irreversible MAOIs have a prolonged effect, lasting up to two weeks rather than just hours. This is crucial because, aside from potential drug interactions, there’s a risk of interactions with tyramine-rich foods, leading to hypertensive crises. To mitigate these risks, opting for a reversible inhibitor of monoamine oxidase A (RIMA) instead of an irreversible MAOI is strongly recommended. Moreover, reversible MAOIs share a closer pharmacological resemblance with the Harmala alkaloids used in traditional ayahuasca.
Changa, pronounced as /tʃɑːngɑː/, represents a smoking blend infused with DMT. Typically, extracts derived from DMT-containing plants are blended with various herbs, ayahuasca vine, and leaves to create a mixture containing 20-50% DMT, making it akin to smokeable ayahuasca.
For pharmahuasca, a standard recommended dosage per person consists of 50 mg of N, N-DMT, and 100 mg of harmaline. However, successful trials have also been conducted with combinations such as 50 mg of harmaline, 50 mg of harmine, and 50 mg of N, N-DMT. Generally, fewer β-carbolines tend to result in less nausea, while a higher DMT content leads to more spectacular visions. These constituents are encapsulated separately, with the harmaline/harmine capsules ingested first, followed by the DMT capsule after a 15 to 20-minute interval. An alternative to harmaline and harmine is the purely synthetic MAO inhibitor isocarboxazid (Marplan). Still, caution is advised, as it is an irreversible MAOI with potential interactions with various drugs and foods.
Recipes and preparation methods for ayahuasca brews and related blends vary, often involving intricate procedures to ensure a safe and practical experience.
Potential therapeutic applications
Potential Antidepressant Benefits
In a preliminary report from 2015, an intriguing discovery emerged, indicating a remarkable reduction of depressive scores by as much as 82% after ayahuasca administration. The report’s findings suggest that ayahuasca possesses rapid-acting anxiolytic and antidepressant properties, particularly beneficial for individuals with depressive disorders. This swift onset of effects contrasts conventional antidepressants like fluoxetine (Prozac), which often necessitate weeks to exhibit noticeable improvements and may prove ineffective for many users.
In 2016, a placebo-controlled randomized trial delved further into the prompt antidepressant potential of ayahuasca, particularly in the context of treatment-resistant depression, yielding positive results.
While the precise mechanism through which ayahuasca induces its antidepressant effects remains somewhat enigmatic, studies have proposed that the MAO-inhibiting and modest serotonin reuptake-inhibiting qualities of ayahuasca alkaloids might play a pivotal role. Investigations into the antidepressant potential of psilocin, a compound related to ayahuasca, have also suggested that the subjective effects arising from 5-HT2A receptor agonism contribute to its antidepressant efficacy. Nevertheless, further research is indispensable for comprehensively understanding how psychedelic substances impact depressive disorders.
Ayahuasca is a non-addictive substance, bearing no known potential for causing brain damage and exhibiting exceptionally low toxicity in its dosage. Like other psychedelic compounds, the physical side effects of ayahuasca remain relatively scarce. Numerous studies have consistently demonstrated that it poses no adverse cognitive, psychiatric, or toxic physical consequences when consumed in appropriate doses within a controlled context.
In a remarkable display of safety, a study aimed at estimating the lethal dose (LD50) of ayahuasca in rats could not establish one due to the substantial quantity of brew required for the experiment. However, the researchers made an approximate assessment, suggesting that the LD50 for ayahuasca is roughly 50 times the usual dose. This underscores the shallow risk associated with ayahuasca consumption.
Prioritize Harm Reduction
To ensure the safe use of this substance, it is strongly advisable to employ harm reduction practices.
Tolerance and Addiction Potential: Virtually Nonexistent
Ayahuasca does not foster habituation, and the desire to use it may diminish with continued usage. Similar to DMT, ayahuasca does not elicit tolerance to its effects even with repeated administration. Consequently, it can be employed repeatedly without a diminishing impact. Furthermore, ayahuasca does not engender cross-tolerance with other psychedelics, signifying that consuming ayahuasca will not diminish the effects of other psychedelic substances.
Caution with Dangerous Interactions
Due to its MAOI properties, ayahuasca carries a heightened risk of inducing serotonin syndrome or neurotransmitter overload, particularly at elevated doses, compared to other serotonergic psychedelics. Thus, avoiding combining ayahuasca with other MAOIs, stimulants, or substances that release neurotransmitters like serotonin or dopamine is crucial. This caution extends to various substances, including but not limited to:
- Harmala alkaloids
Exercise extreme caution when considering interactions with ayahuasca to ensure your safety.
On the global stage, DMT falls under the Schedule I classification as outlined in the Convention on Psychotropic Substances. It is important to note, however, that the plants containing DMT are not subject to international control, as clarified in the Commentary on the Convention on Psychotropic Substances:
“The cultivation of plants from which psychotropic substances are obtained is not controlled by the Vienna Convention. . . . Neither the crown (fruit, mescal button) of the Peyote cactus nor the roots of the plant Mimosa hostiles nor Psilocybe mushrooms themselves are included in Schedule 1, but only their respective principals, mescaline, DMT, and psilocin.”
“No plants (natural materials) containing DMT are controlled under the 1971 Convention on Psychotropic Substances. Consequently, preparations (e.g., decoctions) made of these plants, including ayahuasca, are not under international control and, therefore, not subject to any of the articles of the 1971 Convention. — International Narcotics Control Board (INCB), United Nations”
The religious use of ayahuasca is considered legal in Brazil. However, it is essential to note that this legality pertains to religious practices and does not extend to therapeutic or recreational use.
In Peru, the traditional utilization of ayahuasca for therapeutic purposes, often referred to as “vegetalismo,” is legally permitted.
Louisiana: In Louisiana, the cultivation, sale, or possession of ayahuasca plants is generally prohibited, with exceptions made for ornamental purposes. This restriction is established by Louisiana State Act 159, which encompasses plants like Anadenanthera colubrina, Banisteriopsis spp., Mimosa hostilis, Peganum harmala, and Tetrapteris methystica.
1. What is Ayahuasca?
Ayahuasca is a potent psychoactive brew traditionally used by indigenous communities in the Amazon rainforest. It typically consists of two main components: a plant containing the hallucinogenic compound DMT (such as Psychotria viridis) and a vine or plant containing MAOIs (Monoamine Oxidase Inhibitors), like Banisteriopsis caapi. When combined and brewed together, they create a potent entheogenic mixture.
2. What are the Effects of Ayahuasca?
Ayahuasca induces intense psychedelic experiences, including altered perceptions, visual hallucinations, emotional insights, and a deep sense of interconnectedness. These effects can vary widely among individuals, but many describe profound spiritual or therapeutic experiences.
3. Is Ayahuasca Safe?
Ayahuasca is generally considered safe when used in a controlled, ceremonial setting. However, it can cause adverse effects like nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea. It should not be taken casually or mixed with other substances, especially antidepressants or MAOIs, as it may lead to dangerous interactions.
4. Is Ayahuasca Addictive?
Ayahuasca is not considered physically addictive, and users often report a reduced desire to use it after experiencing its effects. However, it can be psychologically habit-forming for some individuals who seek its profound experiences repeatedly.
5. Is Ayahuasca Legal?
The legality of ayahuasca varies by country and region. In some places, it is legal for religious or traditional use, while in others, it is strictly controlled or prohibited. Researching and understanding the legal status in your area is crucial before attempting to use ayahuasca.
6. Can Ayahuasca Treat Depression or Other Mental Health Conditions?
Research suggests that ayahuasca may have potential therapeutic benefits for depression and PTSD. Some studies indicate rapid antidepressant effects, but more research is needed to understand its therapeutic potential fully.
7. Where Can I Participate in an Ayahuasca Ceremony?
Ayahuasca ceremonies are conducted by experienced shamans or facilitators in various countries, particularly South America. Seek out reputable retreat centers or organizations that offer these ceremonies, and be cautious of fraudulent or unsafe practices.
8. What Precautions Should I Take Before Using Ayahuasca?
Before participating in an ayahuasca ceremony, consider your physical and mental health, and consult a healthcare professional if you have any pre-existing medical conditions or are taking medication. Follow dietary guidelines, abstain from certain substances, and ensure you are in a safe and supportive environment.
9. What Are the Long-Term Effects of Ayahuasca?
Research on the long-term effects of ayahuasca is limited, but some users report lasting positive changes in their outlook, behaviors, and overall well-being. These experiences are highly individual and can vary significantly.
10. Can Anyone Use Ayahuasca?
Not everyone should use ayahuasca. It may not be suitable for individuals with a history of mental illness, certain medical conditions, or those taking specific medications. It is crucial to approach ayahuasca with caution and under the guidance of experienced facilitators. Always prioritize safety and informed decision-making.
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