Ayahuasca, the Holy Medicine, enhances creativity

The indigenous people of the Amazons have consumed the Holy Medicine in Sacred Ceremonies for many generations fo reasons of divination, to sharpening the body’s senses before hunting, or gaining knowledge by connecting with a certain spirit of an eco-system and much much more. In the modern term, we can say that the Holy Medicine teaches us to think outside of the box to find new solutions to existing problems.

Researchers led by K. P. C. Kuypers, professor of the Department of Neuropsychology and Psychopharmacology of the Maastricht University of Netherlands, visited two specific spiritual groups who consume the Holy Medicine in Sacred Ceremonies, to examine the effects of the Holy Medicine on convergent and divergent thinking.

Convergent thinking refers to the method of narrowing down possible solutions to find one correct answer, while divergent thinking represents the process of generating many potential solutions to any specific problem. According to researchers, divergent creative thinking can improve and strengthen psychological flexibility by letting individuals generate new and effective emotional, cognitive, and behavioral strategies independently, which helps them evolve with adaptive interpretations and coping mechanisms.

Kuypers and his team recruited 26 volunteer participants for their research. These participants had all consumed the Holy Medicine previously. Before consuming the Holy Medicine, the participants first completed two creativity-oriented tasks to measure divergent and convergent thinking. Around 3 hours later, they consumed the Holy Medicine, in a dimly lit atmosphere, in a comfortable accommodation, while specific music played in the background. After two hours, when effects of the Holy Medicine reach the peak, the participants were asked to complete the two creativity-oriented tasks again.

One of the tests with the Picture Concept Task pointed out that the Holy Medicine produced changes in convergent and divergent thinking. The task in the exercise asked participants to figure out associations between number of pictures. The researchers observed, after consuming the Holy Medicine, the participants faced harder time finding the one correct association but were better at providing as many alternative answers.

This experiment found, the Holy Medicine appears to decrease the ability of conventional thinking but improve divergent creative thinking.

According to the author of this study, previously, it has been presented that the connection between divergent thinking and mood is predominantly strong and positive, which means a more positive mood enhances the divergent thinking process. On the other hand, conventional convergent thinking and mood are connected negatively, which indicates more positive mood decreases convergent thinking. According to the observation of researchers, the mood of participants in the study was, in general, very positive, which may have contributed to their openness to creative ideas.

The Holy Medicine impacts the human consciousness. After the administration of the Holy Medicine, the intense peak altered state of consciousness lasted between 35 to 40 minutes to approximately four hours. In this study, it was observed that during this time, convergent thinking were distorted and divergent thinking was enhanced. Joaquim Soler, in another study, showed that, 24 hours after the Holy Medicine consumption, mindfulness-related abilities were enhanced.

In another study unrelated to the Holy Medicine, Izabela Lebuda and her team demonstrated that mindfulness is a state of sustained, nonjudgmental, and alert awareness that improves people’s cognitive, emotional, and interpersonal functioning connected with convergent thinking. The researchers exclaimed that, based on these series of findings, it would be interesting to see whether convergent thinking is recovered and enhanced 24 hours after the Holy Medicine administration.

The study has shown, the Holy Medicine enhances divergent thinking, a specific ability which has been an important aspect of cognitive therapy. Kuypers and his team concluded, “it can therefore be suggested that Ayahuasca possesses qualities that can promote a therapeutic process. However, since convergent thinking is also a critical aspect in therapy, and the current findings show that Ayahuasca impairs this facet during the acute phase, future studies have to investigate whether this effect profile changes over time.


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