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fayebauder's avatar

Is ayahuasca used for treating psychological disorders?

Asked by fayebauder (10 points ) January 3rd, 2013

Is there truth to what people say that the ayahuascan experience can reconcile you with your inner turmoils?

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7 Answers

wundayatta's avatar

Who can say? These things are internal. One person might find the experience enlightening and helpful, and the next might have a psychotic episode triggered. The problem is that we need this to be tested as any other drug would be tested. I don’t know if it is being tested, though. I doubt if drug companies would want to test it since it is a natural substance, and they can’t make money off of it.

I grew up in the time of hippies, yet I never took LSD. I was always afraid that if I took it, I would go on a trip and not come back. I felt that my mind was already pretty far out there, and I thought that put me at risk.

Turned out that at age 51, I was diagnosed with bipolar disorder. There is good reason to believe that if I had taken LSD, it would have had a very strong and possibly long term debilitating effect on me. So I was right to follow my instincts on LSD.

I would not touch ayahuasca for a similar reason. For me, it would be playing with fire. And it would be completely unnecessary. There are meds that help me with my disorder and in addition, I have learned various coping techniques.

My bias would be to go for proven mechanisms to treat a disorder, and to not take chances. But I’m not a big risk taker, especially where my brain is concerned. You know your own mind and body, so maybe you think ayahuasca would treat you differently. It’s really hard to know in advance, though.

I’m not sure what the theory of how it works would be, either. It seems like it puts you in a psychotic state. How would seeing visions help someone who is already having problems with hallucinations and paranoia? It seems to me it is more likely to make things worse, although, if your theory is one of desensitization, then perhaps if you start with a small amount and slowly build up over time, you would be able to use it that way.

Again, I wouldn’t. Too many unknowns. Let someone else experiment with it. I am sure it is not a magic bullet. I am sure that people do not usually titrate up on it, which is how every other psychological medicine is used. I think it’s more likely people use it in a crap shoot kind of way, and that is not how I’d treat my psychological disorder.

ETpro's avatar

Hi @fayebauder and welcome to Fluther. Excellent question.

Ayahuasca is something I want to experience at least once before I die, but I don’t wish to do so illegally. There are ways to legally try it, and I plan to take advantage of that at some point.

There is considerable research going on currently. Couple that with Terrance McKenna’s tantalizing postulate that our early foraging lifestyle led us to eat psilocybin in quantities sufficient to jump-start higher thought processes. He feels this explains the sudden emergence of the human neocortex in such a short space of time, and advent that seems to defy all the rules of evolutionary theory.

Shippy's avatar

Yes, a lot of truth.

Rarebear's avatar

From Wikipedia and my snarky editorial comments:

“This is viewed by many as a spiritual awakening and what’s often described as a rebirth.[3] In addition it is often reported that individuals can gain access to higher spiritual dimensions and make contact with various spiritual or extra dimensional beings who can act as guides or healers.[4]”
—This is called a “hallucination.”

“However, during an ayahuasca experience, people sometimes report nausea, diarrhea, and cold flashes.”
—FAR more likely than encountering an extradimensional being. . If your body is trying to puke it out, doesn’t that tell you something? That’s called “poison.”

“Additionally, vomiting almost always follows ayahuasca ingestion; this purging is considered by many shamans and experienced users of ayahuasca to be an essential part of the experience as it represents the release of negative energy and emotions built up over the course of one’s life.[7]”
—I’ll keep my negative energy to myself, thank you, and avoid dropping it in the toilet.

Jeruba's avatar

From what I’ve read (including several books by the late Terence McKenna), I think it can bring you to confront your inner demons, which is not necessarily to say reconcile with them.

I have the impression that the use of this profoundly powerful substance is as likely to create psychological disorders as it is to treat them. However much I might desire the sense of awakening to reality, I have to view that as an emotional experience and not necessarily one based in truth. To me the dangers seem far too great to offset the possible gain, especially since drugs are not the only path to awakening.

kitszu's avatar

@fayebauder I’d be wary of using theses kinds of brews in general. Home remedies can be as dangerous as OTC or prescription drugs if not more so. I don’t know if they’ve helped anyone or not but I’m throwing this out as a general caution point.

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