A Brief Guide To Ayahuasca

articles plant medicine Feb 17, 2020

Ayahuasca is a psychedelic brew that is made from the leaves of the Psychotria Viridis shrub and with the stalks of the banisteriopsis caapi vine. It is used in Northern South America and Brazil as a sacred brew for religious and spiritual communities. A lot of people today go on retreat so they can take ayahuasca as a way to open their minds, heal trauma and addictions and some just want to have the experience.

How it is Made

A shaman is an experienced healer who will make the ayahuasca brew and lead the ayahuasca ceremonies. They clean and smash the banisteriopsis caapi vine before they boil it so they can get all the medicinal components. They then prepare the brew by boiling the leaves of plants in water. When the shaman is happy with how the brew is, they will remove the water and keep it so just the plant material is left behind. This process will be repeated until it is a highly concentrated liquid. Then it is cooled and strained to remove anything that shouldn’t be there. 

How it Works

DMT or N,N-Dimethyltryptamine is a hallucinogenic chemical that occurs naturally in plants. DMT gets broken down very fast in the body by enzymes called monoamine oxidases that are found in the liver and gut. So DMT must be combined with MAO inhibitors that contain β-carbolines that allow the DMT to take effect. Psychotria viridis contains DMT and Banisteriopsis caapi contains the MAOI and also has a psychedelic effects also. Both of plants together create a strong psychedelic brew. Ayahuasca affects the central nervous system and alters your consciousness for a couple of hours and you can experience hallucinations, out of body experiences, euphoria and purging. 

How it is Used

Traditionally ayahuasca was used by religious and spiritual purposes by specific peoples but since is more world widely known now people travel to countries like Peru, Brazil and Costa Rica where you can take Ayahuasca retreats that last for a couple of days. Rythmia is a great life advancement center if you are considering going to one. The ayahuasca is taken during a ceremony that are lead and supervised by experienced shamans who prepared the brews and monitor the participants safety.

Before You Take Ayahuasca

If you are planning a trip to go to a Ayahuasca retreat about 1-4 weeks before the week of your trip, you should try your best to free your body of toxins. Try to stay away from processed food and eat clean, raw, organic high vibration foods. This could be vegetarianism or veganism. It is also good to try and stay away from cigarettes, drugs, alcohol and caffeine. 

What You May Experience

The ceremony is usually held at night and it can last until the ayahuasca is no longer in effect. Ceremonies are usually held several nights in a row. The shaman will prepare and bless the ceremony space and the ayahuasca before you take it. After this the ayahuasca is given out to the participants and you will be able to have a couple of cups during the night. Ayahuasca can take 20 minutes to an hour to take effect depending on the person and it can last for 2-6 hours. 

Every ayahuasca experience can be different and it is usually very different depending on the person. During the ceremony, people will experience strong visual or auditory hallucinations, mind-altering psychedelic effects, fear, euphoria and enlightenment. You can also experience purges such as vomiting and diarrhea or smaller purges such as yawning or stretching.

Benefits of Ayahuasca 

During the ceremony, you will be purging a lot whether it is vomiting, diarrhea, yawning etc. This will be how you work through things and let go of things that you have subconsciously collected throughout your life. You will be working through a lot during these ceremonies and after you will feel great for a bit but integrating the new you into your life again can be a bit challenging.

After 6 months after taking ayahuasca, usually this is where people have integrated back into real life and have experienced positive, long-term life changes. Usually after 6-months people report of improvements in mindfulness, hopefulness, empowerment, quality of life and drug and alcohol addictions have decreased or gone away. It has been shown that it is good for mood and emotional regulation. Stress, depression, anxiety and posttraumatic stress disorders have all been shown to decrease after taking ayahuasca. There was a study done with 29 people with depression who took a single dose of ayahuasca and they showed improvement compared to those with a placebo.


Things to Consider

Being apart of an ayahuasca ceremony, you will be putting your life in the shamans hands since they are responsible for watching over you and they are in charge of the ingredients in the ayahuasca and how much they give you. There is also a lot of unpleasant side-effects that are considered normal and temporary like vomiting, fear and being uncomfortable and this can be distressing to some and they may not have a good experience. At Rythmia, a ayahuasca retreat centre, they have a doctor you must see before to make sure it is safe for you to take the ayahuasca and you can visit them anytime if you have concerns.


After Care

The ayahuasca will be in your system for 2 weeks after you take it so it is good to still eat vegan or vegetarian raw, organic, unprocessed, high vibration foods and not to drink alcohol, smoke or do drugs. Just make sure you are taking really good care of yourself for those 2 weeks after you take ayahuasca.



Rythmia is a life advancement center in Costa Rica, where you can take ayahuasca in order to get spiritual enlightenment or heal yourself. It is a great option if you are wanting to go somewhere to take ayahuasca. It is very safe and a great environment for taking ayahuasca. Everyone there is so nice and caring and if you need someone to talk to about your experiences there is always someone around. They provide amazing healthy food and relaxing activities like yoga, breathwork, meditation, massages, swimming and colonics. A trip there lasts a week long with 4 ceremonies during the week. 


Ayahuasca can be an amazing, healing experience that can help you improve the quality of your life. It has a ton of benefits and it is becoming more popular around the world as a new source of healing. If you are interested in taking it, make sure to do your research on ayahuasca and the retreat centres.

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