What Is Ayahuasca?
The two main ingredients in this medicinal tea are the Ayahuasca vine (Banisteriopsis caapi) and Chacruna leaves (Psychotria viridis), which are both native to the tropical regions of South America. The Ayahuasca vine acts as a monoamine oxidase inhibitor (MAOI) while the Chacruna leaves provide a high concentration of DMT. These two plants mixed together are what we typically call Ayahuasca, a powerful blend which can bring about visions, energetic sensations, purging effects, emotional release, healing effects and much more. Taken separately, neither plant would have the effects that they produce together. They are indeed a magical combination.
Is Ayahuasca a Drug?
Yes and No. In the West anything that causes an altered state is a drug; in reality, you could classify emotional states, food, and all kinds of things as drugs but the standard definition is mainly something you ingest or put in you. Ayahuasca is DMT, which creates an altered state.
It’s also a medicine, which in the West we call “drugs” as well. Drugs, the way people think about them, are mostly used to party or for some form of abuse and that is not the case for Ayahuasca. Ayahuasca is a medicine, it is a tool for divination, it is a tool for gaining insight and knowledge, it is a tool for gaining awareness, it is a tool for moving reality for just about anything you want. People have used it to party, people have become sicker using it by falling into deeper delusions which would eventually spit them out the other side to face reality and make them well over the long term. It’s some combination of drug, medicine, teacher, or tool; really, anything you could think of, you could do with it.
Delve deeper into the world of Ayahuasca through the following resources:
Ayahuasca: Sacred Tea from the Amazon (Utne Reader)
Ayahuasca: Sacred Tea from the Amazon (Live Science)
What is Ayahuasca? (1hr 14min)