What are the effects of ayahuasca in mental state?

Ayahuasca has been traditionally used in several communities of the Amazon belt. In South America

Ayahuasca is used by the indigenous Shaman for the purposes of magical experiences, spirit communication, and religious rituals. However, in recent decades, its usages spread throughout the world. In the US and Europe, its usage has gone beyond just healing and religious purposes but also for recreation.

The Shaman prepares the brew by combining the stalk of the Banisteriopsis caapi vine and the leaves of Psychotria viridis shrub. The Psychotria viridis leaves are cleaned, crushed, and boiled in water together with the cleaned Banisteriopsis caapi vine stalk. After it has obtained the Shaman liking, the liquid is decanted out reserved leaving behind the plant materials. Another bunch of plant materials is added and the process is repeated until the desired concentration is achieved.

 Mode of Action

Ayahuasca is known to have hallucinogenic properties and here are the components that are responsible for that. Psychotria Viridis contains N, N- dimethyltryptamine (DMT) which is a psychedelic substance.

Psychedelics are a hallucinogenic category of psychoactive drugs whose main effect is to alter the state of consciousness and psychedelic experience. This results in specific psychological changes as well as visual and auditory changes.

However, DMT is known to have low bioavailability in the body since it is rapidly broken down by monoamine oxidase (MAO), an enzyme in the liver and gastrointestinal tract. With that said, it is apparent that DMT has to be combined with a substance containing MAO inhibitors to prolong its existence within the body. That is the role of Banisteriopsis caapi vine is in the concoction.

The latter contains β-carboline which, despite being a psychedelic on its own, is also an MAO inhibitor (MAOIs). When the two plants are combined and boiled, the result is a powerful psychedelic tea that has a tremendous effect on the central nervous system. Its action on the Central nervous system alters one’s mental state resulting in hallucination, out-of-body experience, and/or euphoria.

Read more: Vegetarianism – A Lifestyle Towards Ayahuasca

Effects on the mental state

Not many researches have been conducted to prove the effect of Ayahuasca in the brain. Much of the arguments are theories that are based on the experiences and behaviours of the users.

The effect it has and the resultant behaviour of users have made many scientists conclude that it increases activity in various areas of the right hemisphere of the brain. The suggested parts of the brain are involved in body awareness, feelings, and processing of emotional information.

 While that may be the case, the effects on the mental status can be felt within 30minutes to 1 hour of consumption. Consequently, some effects may occur in later life; months or years from the date of the last consumption. For that reason, we can categorize the effects as short term/immediate and long term effects of Ayahuasca in mental state.

Immediate or short term effect of Ayahuasca in Mental state

The medicine alters the state of consciousness once consumed. The effects are felt as early as 30 minutes after drinking the brew. As a result, you are likely to experience the following:

ayahuasca for mental health
Image Source – Pixabay


Ayahuasca Retreats Peru always introduces you to another world. It detaches you from your thoughts and feelings and introduces you to the world of spiritualism. You only gain your original mental status after 5 to 6 hours or so of effect.

Altered sense of time and space

Ayahuasca always makes you lose touch with reality including real-time. The ceremonies are held at night but the vision is in a daylight setting. Consequently, you can never recognize your body image. You may feel as though you are just a skeleton hovering in the midst of intensified colour.  Well, everyone has a unique experience though.

Visual and auditory hallucination

Once you are under the influence of the brew, you either experience visual hallucination or just sound communication or both. You visualize and speak to those who are not around you at the moment.

Feeling of euphoria

To some people, there is always a feeling of excitement, pleasure, and intense well being. This effect is mostly felt when you engage in some aerobic exercise during meditation. It is the best experience one would want since it drives away fear.

Long term effect in the mental state

Some conditions may emerge months or years after the last exposure to Ayahuasca. Prolonged users are at greater risk of these effects. Prolonged use of Ayahuasca can result in persisting perception disorder, persistent Psychosis, and frequent flashback.

Persistent Psychosis

Psychosis is a mental condition that makes you lose touch with reality. This is a situation you get into every time you take the medicine. It usually lasts 5 to 6 hours.

However, if you continuously attend the ceremonies to have the experience with Ayahuasca, the symptom may persist. When the symptoms persist, you lose touch with reality even if you are not under the influence of the medicine.

Those who are at higher risk of getting into this condition are the ones with medical records of psychological problems. Ayahuasca users who experience the following symptom even when they are not under the influence of the medicine may suspect the condition.

1. Mood disorder

2. Disorganized thinking

3. Ongoing persistent paranoia.

4. Visual disturbances.

Hallucinogen Persisting Perception Disorders

Hallucinogen Persisting Perception Disorder (HPPD) is associated with frequent use of Hallucinogenic drugs. Ayahuasca being in the class of hallucinogens is likely to cause this condition in later life.

 Those who have existing health conditions are at higher risk of developing this condition. That is why it is always recommended at every Ayahuasca ceremony, you unleash all your medical records to a Shaman.

If you experience the following symptoms chances are you have the condition:

  • hallucination even if you are not under the influence of Ayahuasca.
  • Visual disturbances; for instance, you may see trails attached to moving objects even if such doesn’t exist.
  • Neurological disorders related symptoms like stroke or brain tumour.

Final Verdict

Every coin has two sides. Despite the side effects of the brew, the experience is one thing you never want to miss. The medicinal plant is known to be among the best to relieve depression; offer spiritual healing and much more.

However, if you are under medication or have a history of psychological problems, you better avoid it. Even if you don’t fall in the mentioned category, you should use it sparingly. 

About the Author:

Rafael is often called “The Millionaire’s Shaman” by his clients because of his powerful personal fulfilment and financial wealth formula. Rafael walks his talk having created an extraordinary life of living in a tropical island paradise, sailing the Thailand archipelago with his family, and enjoying the big city experience from his Bangkok Ritz Carlton residence.

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