ATMA Journey Centers

Ayahuasca has been used in healing sessions for thousands of years and is now making it’s way into western medicine and therapy settings. Here’s what you need to know about ayahuasca and ayahuasca-assisted therapy.

What is Ayahuasca?

N, N-Dimethyltryptamine (DMT)

Ayahuasca is a botanical mixture that comes originally from the Amazonian basin and plays an undeniably integral part in the ethos of most all of the cultures that are connected to both Central and South America. 

Most commonly, Ayahuasca is a brew that contains both Banisteriopsis Caapi (ayahuasca vine) and Psychotria Viridis (chacruna) which contain N,Ndimethyltryptamine (DMT) and monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOI). Between these two compounds, DMT is able to reach the brain of the user and the 5-HT2A receptors are stimulated which contributes to a wide range of subjective effects.

Ayahuasca as a Ceremonial Medicine

Ayahuasca has been used as a ceremonial medicine for many generations and recent research has shown it to have a very high capacity to aid in the healing of intractable diseases and to provide enormous positive effects in the areas of general health and wellbeing. 

Ayahuasca is traditionally served in ceremonies for the sake of both healing and learning. It is often served by medicine men and women who have been given permission to serve it for the benefit of others and the serving of ayahuasca is often accompanied by sacred songs known as Icaros. Ayahuasca is traditionally served in the darkness of the evening to support the increased sensitivity to both light and sound.

Effects of Ayahuasca

Upon drinking their dose of ayahuasca, users often experience both gradual and fast-acting shifts in their perceptions and sensitivities. Some of these shifts produce visual distortions and displays of colours and patterns that are highly subjective. It is quite common for users to experience purgative effects that come as vomiting, diarrhea, sweating, crying, laughing and many other forms. This is traditionally seen as a sign of healing and constitutes a major benefit of the user that is seeking positive results from their experience. The effects of Ayahuasca typically last around 4 hours but are also dependant on many external factors.

Ayahuasca in Western Cultures

It is only since the 1950’s that Ayahuasca has been explored by Western cultures. Since this time, a massive surge of interest in its effects and potential benefits has spread across the globe. The underground culture of ayahuasca ceremonies has grown consistently with many people from all over the planet also seeking out guidance from retreat centers in Central and South America. 

In response to its growing popularity, many pharmaceutical sponsors are seeking a way to approve Ayahuasca or a synthesized comparable with the FDA. This is causing some concern amongst conservationists and traditionalists alike as it threatens the ecological balance of not only the Amazonian basin but the nature of the botanicals themselves. Ayahuasca has proven to carry a huge potential to benefit human beings in the areas of health and wellbeing and it certainly appears that it will be as effective as we are willing to respect it as a naturally occurring medicine with traditional roots in healing.

About Ayahuasca-Assisted Therapy

Psychedelic-assisted therapy incorporates the use of psychedelics, like ayahuasca, into the therapy process. Professionally trained psychedelic therapists work with their clients in pre- and post-experience sessions to both prepare them for the experience and then unpack the experience after. Therapists do not sit with clients while they have their ayahuasca experience. This important part of the journey is facilitated by a psychedelic or ceremony guide. Working together as a care team, the psychedelic participant is fully supported.

Learn more about the differences between a Psychedelic Therapist vs a Psychedelic Facilitator

What Disorders Could be Treated with Ayahuasca-Assisted Therapy?

There are several indicated opportunities for support for ayahuasca-assisted therapy including:

  • Mood disorders
  • Treatment-resistant depression
  • Interested in adding psychedelic-assisted therapy into your practice?

    Download the Psychedelic Basic’s Guide now for more information on psychedelics and how you can integrate this new treatment into your practice. 

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