Ayahuasca—also known as “the tea,” vine of the soul, la purga, and yagé—is a brew made from the stalks of the Banisteriopsis caapi vine and the leaves of the Psychotria viridis shrub, which contains the hallucinogenic drug DMT. This drink was used for spiritual and religious purposes by ancient Amazonians and is still used as a sacred beverage by some Indigenous communities in South America. A carefully guided ayahuasca journey starts with drinking the tea and involved being led by an experienced shaman on an emotionally and physically intense multi-day experience, usually accompanied by vomiting and hallucinating. Many people report that these journeys help them work through memories of traumatic events, which is why neuroscientists are beginning to study ayahuasca as a treatment for depression and PTSD. Please be aware that the substance remains illegal in most of the world. As with all hallucinogens, there are physical and psychological risks to consuming ayahuasca, and with the rise of tourist interest, there also has been a rise in questionable ayahuasca preparations sold by unskilled individuals. We’ve started gathering valuable information on this topic, but haven’t yet curated the findings.
On March 2, associate professor Monnica Williams, who is also the Canada research chair for mental health disparities at the University of Ottawa’s School of Psychology, led an online seminar entitled, “Psychedelics, Therapies, Research, and Training.”
Plant medicines and psychedelics have the potential to heal many mental health ailments. But each plant medicine has its own strengths. Join Kelli Foulkrod, MS, LPA, LPC, RYT in learning more about the different properties of healing plants.