Ayahuasca (pronounced ‘eye-ah-WAH-ska’) is a plant-based psychedelic. Psychedelics affect all the senses, altering a person’s thinking, sense of time and emotions. They can cause a person to hallucinate—seeing or hearing things that do not exist or are distorted.
Ayahuasca is a decoction (concentrated liquid) made by prolonged heating or boiling of the Banisteriopsis caapi vine with the leaves of the Psychotria viridis shrub, although there can be a variety of other plants included in the decoction for different traditional purposes. The active chemical in ayahuasca is DMT (dimethyltryptamine). It also contains monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs).
Ayahuasca has been used for centuries by First Nations peoples from contemporary Peru, Brazil, Colombia and Ecuador for religious ritual and therapeutic purposes.
The effects of ayahuasca can last between 4- to 6-hours and may include:
*When ayahuasca is taken in a traditional or ritual setting, these effects may be perceived as cleansing or purging and a part of the spiritual or healing journey.
There is no safe way to use psychedelic drugs, including ayahuasca.
If you do decide to take ayahuasca, it’s important to consider the following.
Use of ayahuasca is likely to be more dangerous when: