Thousands of people travel to international destinations for an ayahuasca ceremony or healing retreat. South American traditional healers use this brew during specific religious ceremonies and recommend it for its healing properties.
There are various long-term health benefits associated with ayahuasca and sacred plant medicine. Many ayahuasca retreat centers help people navigate and heal from various mental and behavioral health struggles. People may attend retreats for different health conditions but may ultimately find healing by the end of the retreat.
What is Ayahuasca?
Ayahuasca is a brew (concentrated liquid) prepared from the stalks of the Banisteriopsis caapi and leaves of the Psychotria Viridis plant. Some healers will also include other plants in the brew depending on the traditional purposes. The term “ayahuasca” has Quechua language origins, where aya represents the ancestors or the soul, and huasca (wasca) means rope or vine. This primarily translates to “vine of the soul.”
People in the Amazon have been using this brew for spiritual and medical purposes for generations. It induces an immediate dream-like experience which includes memories and visions. Today, people will travel from different parts of the world to engage in ayahuasca rituals.
Ayahuasca is popular among First Nations populations from contemporary Ecuador, Colombia, Brazil, and Peru. It looks like a brown-reddish liquid with a strong smell and taste. The substance has been traditionally used for spiritual and religious ceremonies by specific populations. However, it has become popular worldwide among people who want to experience the ayahuasca journey and healing.
Strong recommendations are that people take this brew under an experienced shaman’s supervision since those who drink it should be observed. The effects of the mixture can last several hours.
How Does It Work?
The active ingredients from the plants used in the tea have hallucinogenic properties. DMT combines with MAOI inhibitors, allowing the DMT to affect the central nervous system. This results in a distorted sense of consciousness that could also include euphoria and hallucinations.
Benefits of Ayahuasca Retreat in California
At an ayahuasca retreat in California, people will experience the brew’s therapeutic effects under an experienced shaman’s guidance. The shaman carefully prepares and monitors all participants during their experience. If someone plans on partaking in this ceremony, they should refrain from caffeine, sex, alcohol, drugs, and cigarettes to purify their body.
Beta-carbolines and DMT, the primary psychoactive ingredients in ayahuasca, can restore and protect brain parts. Consuming DMT leads to higher production of antioxidant and antistress proteins.
There is a significant connection between harmine and increased brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) rates. BDNF is a protein that promotes the survival of neurons or nerve cells and maintains their links.
Mood and Emotions
Ayahuasca may improve how the body regulates mood and emotions, with additional positive effects on depression and stress reduction. Some people even view the brew as an alternative to anti-depressant medications. The compounds typically in an ayahuasca brew have properties that can balance chemicals in the brain. Research also shows that the brew has the potential to help treat certain anxiety disorders.
A 2018 study of people who participated in ayahuasca ceremonies found that stress and depression ratings decreased significantly after the ceremony. The decrease in levels of depression lasted up to 4 weeks after the retreat. Other research supports that a single dose of the brew results in rapid antidepressant effects for individuals with treatment-resistant depression.
Some studies indicate that ayahuasca can increase one’s ability to be mindful. Consuming the brew once a week for four weeks works the same way as an eight-week mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR) course, where the individual experiences higher levels of acceptance. In this scenario, acceptance is the nonjudgmental behaviors and attitudes represented on the mindfulness score. There is a need for further research to confirm these findings.
Ayahuasca can help people with substance abuse disorders. People with behavioral and psychological issues from substance use experience positive and sustained changes after a 4-day treatment program. Investigators recorded these results for six months after treatment. They also reported improvements in their sense of hope and empowerment, mindfulness, and quality of life scores.
The retreat participants reported significantly reduced cocaine, tobacco, and alcohol use. However, their rates of opiate and cannabis use remained the same.
Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
Ayahuasca may benefit individuals with PTSD by retrieving repressed memories, allowing the brain to extinguish or reprogram the associated fear reaction. There is a greater need for research in this field to establish the effectiveness and safety of the brew for treating people with PTSD.
Consistent use of psychedelics can lower a person’s level of suicidal ideation. Ayahuasca is a promising substance for treating several mental health issues resulting in suicidal ideation. There is a need for further research to establish how the brew helps suicide intervention.
Finding Healing with Acera Health
Acera Health offers three specialized programs, each focusing on a specific population. Our initiatives are intensive, results-driven, and proven to provide better long-term recovery. We have a continuum of care that ensures that we will help you on your recovery journey.
The professional staff at Acera Health can help you research and connect you with safe ayahuasca retreats near you. People who have any questions about this therapy should reach out to learn more.
Contact us to learn more about our program and how we can help.