Most frequent questions and answers
Native to South America the Holy Medicine of the Holy and Divine Mother Ayahuasca (also called Yagé) is traditionally consumed for religious and healing reasons by indigenous Amazonian people.
The Holy Medicine is generally made from an amalgamation of two main Holy Plants based ingredients:
- The Holy Banisteriopsis Caapi Vine and
- the Leaves of the Psychotria Viridis.
The Psychotria Viridis in some instances is substituted by Psychotria Carthagenensis (Amyruca) or Diplopterys Cabrerana (Chaliponga). The Leaves of these Plants contain DMT.
The Holy Banisteriopsis Caapi Vine is said to mainly contribute to the Holy Medicine as an MAOI, or monoamine oxidase inhibitor. Our bodies
naturally contain the MAO enzyme in the stomach, which would keep the DMT from reaching the bloodstream. Without the MAO inhibitor, the DMT would get broken down by these enzymes in your liver and dampen the psychedelic and spiritual experience.
The intent of the Holy Medicine, often only referred to as “Ayawasca” varies from group to group and includes traditions of healing, strengthening community bonds, group worship, celebration, and vision seeking. The experience with the Holy Medicine is deeply complex and personal, involving one’s individual psychology, as well as intentions shaped by cultural understanding of the Holy Medicine.
DMT, or dimethyltryptamine, is the molecule primarily responsible for the Psychedelic effects from the Holy Medicine of the Holy and Divine Mother Ayahuasca, although the Holy Banisteriopsis Caapi Vine is also known to provide such effects WITHOUT requiring any DMT admixtures from any Holy Plants, which is known to provide a different and more soothing and healing effect compared with the DMT’s effects.
The DMT is produced in the Leaves of Psychotria Viridis and Diplopterys Cabrerana, as well as in the bark of Mimosa Tenuiflora, and few more admixtures from DMT containing Holy Plants. DMT is believed to be an endogenous molecule—meaning that the body naturally produces small amounts of DMT, and as rodent studies show, this appears to occur in the brain’s pineal gland. Why our brains produce DMT is a question that is still being investigated, though researchers in a 2018 study found that DMT may be a “neuroprotective and/or neuroregenerative agent.” Another 2016 study discusses its role in peripheral and central nervous system functioning.
Multiple studies have also shown that the Holy Medicine of the Holy and Divine Mother Ayahuasca is useful in getting over addiction to substances like alcohol, cocaine, and nicotine. In a 2014 study discovered that the Holy Medicine could support recovery and prevent relapse when taken under “carefully structured settings.” Another report observing treatment for substance abuse with assistance of the Holy Medicine, within a Native Canadian community in British Columbia came to a similar conclusion, showing that subjects displayed positive psychological and behavioral changes after undergoing assisted therapy with the Holy Medicine of the Holy and Divine Mother Ayahuasca.
Akin to the positive effects that the Holy Medicine of the Holy and Divine Mother Ayahuasca appear to have on depression, sparsely available evidence also portrays the Holy Medicine as a Healer for PTSD patients. In one study published in April 2018, researcher Antonio Inserra postulated that the effects of the Holy Medicine may target traumatic memories and provide healing in PTSD patients.
The author behind this study states that DMT, one of the alkaloids found in
The Holy Medicine, activates sigma 1 receptors (SIGMAR1), which is a multi-faceted stressresponsive receptor that promotes cell survival, neuroprotection, neuroplasticity. As per usual with Psychedelics, more research is needed to understand the full extent of how the Holy Medicine interacts with the sigma 1 and other receptors. It has been recommended to consider Holy Medicine of the Holy and Divine Mother Ayahuasca as a specialized Healer among others such as therapy and other healing modalities. “A lot of the time, people with depression or PTSD are not necessarily going to get a miracle cure from the Holy Medicine from a Sacred Ceremony,” says the director of the Plant Medicine program at Posada, who wished to withhold their name. “It has to really be put in proper context that the Holy Medicine can be something that can be enormously beneficial, but it works best when it’s in combination with other support.”
Early scientific evidence appears to back the belief that the Holy Medicine could be a useful experience for those living with depression. A small study published in March 2019 suggests that the Holy medicine may help with treatment-resistant depression. The double-blind randomized trial involved 29 patients, some of whom were given a single dose of the Holy Medicine and others a placebo. The results showed that the Holy Medicine produced significant antidepressant effects compared to the placebo. Other research has examined the Holy Medicine’s ability to modulate levels of cortisol, a hormone involved in stress responses that is produced by the adrenal glands. Cortisol levels are thought to play a major role in the onset of depression, and properly regulating it has become a critical aspect of treatment. Recent findings suggest that the Holy Medicine could modulate salivary cortisol levels, once again showcasing its potential value to those with depression. In another study observing 57 Sacred Ceremony participants in the Netherlands and Colombia found that ratings of depression and stress dramatically dropped after the Sacred Ceremony and persisted for four weeks. Interestingly, the researchers found a correlation between the magnitude of ego dissolution (sometimes called ego death, when the ego disappears completely) and the individual’s level of life satisfaction, mindfulness, and overall changes.
It’s not just the DMT from the Holy Medicine that seems to foster brain health, but also the alkaloids in the main ingredient, the Holy Banisteriopsis Caapi Vine. A 2017 animal study showed that the main alkaloids found in the Holy Banisteriopsis Caapi Vine stimulated neural stem cell proliferation, migration, and differentiation in the brains of adult mice. The modulation of brain plasticity could contribute to the apparent antidepressant effects of the Holy Medicine.
Furthermore, the natural β-carboline alkaloid Harmine, which is bountiful in the Holy Banisteriopsis Caapi Vine has been looked at in preclinical studies for its neuroprotective and cognitive-enhancing effects. It also improved memory and learning capabilities in different animal models. All in all, researchers have called for Harmine to be further evaluated in additional studies.
The Sacred Ceremony participants may also experience immense benefits relating to a sense of elevated well-being. This could be especially helpful for people suffering from conditions like cancer. In a 2018 comparison study, four weekly Sacred Ceremonies with the Holy Medicine of the Holy and Divine Mother Ayahuasca, increased mindfulness and acceptance more than an eight-week mindfulness training program.
On a soulful level, the Holy and Divine Mother Ayahuasca has been extolled for providing the ability to magnify existential and spiritual awareness in the participant. According to Caldarelli, people have come away from Posada Natura prepared to leave behind unsatisfying careers or ready to change other aspects of their lives.
“I think that the Holy Medicine can be very illuminating in giving somebody a perspective on their spiritual life just as a whole no matter what tradition the person is in or not in a tradition at all,” Caldarelli says. “It can be very illuminating in finding one’s own path, in finding one’s own sense of direction, one’s own sense of relationship of what’s important in that sector of their life.”
Shelby Bryant is evidence of this existential shift. A media producer from New York City, she returned from Costa Rica yearning to reconnect with nature, which prompted a move to California. She shifted her previous career to focus more on art and healing. She explained that the Holy Medicine had helped her develop a tighter bond with spirit and changed her overall perception of how Psychedelics should be used.
The following are common side effects:
- Paranoia, fear, or other psychological distress
Certain medications may also have adverse interactions with the Holy Medicine, especially those that have a direct impact on the serotonergic system, such as antidepressants. Many organisers of retreats request that participants taper off SSRIs or stop taking other medications. (Note: It is advised to first discuss changes in your medication regimen with your doctor or mental health provider.) The Holy Medicine could also increase heart rate and blood pressure, which could be potentially dangerous for someone with a heart condition. People with a history of schizophrenia or other psychiatric disorders should avoid ingesting the Holy Medicine, as it could potentially worsen psychiatric symptoms.
Nonetheless, reports of fatal or life-threatening reactions to the Holy Medicine appear to be few and far between. That doesn’t mean you should just ingest the Holy Medicine without proper planning and guidance, however. Danger can arise if the facilitator or shaman is untrained or careless when it comes to dosing and guidance. There have been news reports of fatalities and disasters due to negligence or ignorance of shamans.
A Sacred Ceremony where the Holy Medicine is consumed can provide, especially those who are unprepared, potentially frightening experiences which is why it is essential to attend a Sacred Ceremony with a highly experienced and trustworthy shaman. Not only will this help ensure a safer experience, but also a more effective one.
It’s not just the traditional Psychedelic motto of “set and setting” that needs to be adhered to when consuming the Holy Medicine in a Sacred Ceremony. There seems to be universal agreement that having a seasoned guide is the key to unlocking the full potential of the experience. And moreover, it’s critical to vet your guide with a series of questions, such as those listed here, to ensure that they are experienced and skilled in harm reduction. It’s also important to note that while there exist a number of competent, seasoned guides, there are also a number of phonies with histories of sexual abuse, even during ceremony. Among the primary harm reduction tenets relating to he Holy Medicine is to ensure your guide is accountable to community guidelines and trusted not to take advantage of ceremony attendees.
“A skilled Holy Plant Medicine person will be able to receive the information from spirits through opening this portal that’s opened in the Holy Medicine work, receiving the information that’s needed for each person. A really good Holy Plant Medicine person isn’t the one doing anything, the reason they’re a good Holy Plant Medicine person is because they’re able to be as clear of a channel as possible so that the Holy and Divine Mother Ayahuasca’s Blessings, Guidance and Healing can flow through.”
One reason tourism around the Holy Medicine has become so popular is because the laws surrounding the brew are more relaxed in certain places such as Brazil, Peru, and Costa Rica. In the United States, DMT is a Schedule I controlled substance, though certain religious groups are permitted to use the Holy Medicine under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act. Individual cities and states have taken steps to unravel this harsh prohibition of ‘Entheogens’ by implementing decriminalization or measures that deprioritize prosecution of their possession.