Ayahuasca is a  jungle vine that allows your brain's natural psychedelic, DMT, to persist and affect you. I first encountered it when Karla took me to visit her family in the Amazon nine years ago. Her tribe, the Shipibo, has used it for hundreds, thousand of years, and her mom drank it for stomachaches as a little girl. So it's either children's Tylenol or uber-LSD, or both. But for unknown reasons, it helps depression, drug addiction and acedia — at least it did for me.

Reilly Capps // reporter
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Aya has 'low toxicity'

July 4, 2016

In a forthcoming paper, Ayahuasca was seen to stimulate the "birth" of new brain cells. Researchers took cell cultures containing neuronal stem cells, and, adding alkaloids present in the ayahuasca vine, the cells "dramatically increased their differentiation and maturation into neurons." Presentation slides from lead researcher Jordi Riba show ayahuasca's alkaloids lighting up mice brains like fireworks. This is potentially useful for traumatic brain injuries and alzheimer's.

 

Ayahuasca is a safe and beneficial substance, the accumulated medical literature shows. In a sweeping survey, scientists from Brazil and Spain reviewed 28 peer-reviewed studies and found that ayahuasca has "low toxicity," was "well-tolerated," "increased introspection and positive mood," "improved planning and inhibitory control," "showed antidepressive and anti addictive potentials" enhanced cognition, "reduced impulsivity" and "was not associated with increased psychopathology or cognitive deficits." Some negatives were that, while under the influence, it "impaired working memory" and induced "transient anxiety," exhaustion, nausea and vomiting. And they note that "while aya could be therapeutic to some people, it could be quite uncomfortable for others."

 

Want to try the stuff? Lots of sites are vying to be the Trip Advisor for ayahuasca, including Ayaadvisors and Ayareviews. Ayamundo popped up on my radar this past month; it looks good.

 

Ayahuasca continues to flow into celebrity cups. Sting, Miley Cyrus, Paul Simon and Russell Brand have testified to its power. This month, the MTV show "Scream" featured ayahuasca as a plot point. Chelsea Handler, whose last series took her to an ayahuasca retreat in Peru, and who said it helped her work through childhood issues, talked ayahuasca on her Netflix show with friend Jenny Mollen, who took aya with Handler in Peru. Jenny Mollen's husband, actor Jason Biggs, was on the show, too, and said his wife was transformed by the tea -- temporarily. I'm gonna print Jason Biggs's quote: "When Jenny came back, there was a good two week period where she was a transformed person. Her priorities had shifted so dramatically that I thought I was with a different person -- in a great way... She was like, 'I've spent too much time on social media,' and 'What is life really about?' and 'My career, who cares?' and 'It's all about you, Jason, and Sid (our son),' and I was like, this is amazing, I need to like intravenously give ayahuasca to her every night, and then two weeks later she was a f------ bitch again."

 

Finally, the Onion reports:


Ayahuasca Shaman Dreading Another Week Of Guiding Tech CEOs To Spiritual Oneness.

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AyaNews: Ayahuasca improves mindfulness

June 24, 2018

End-of-the-world "preppers" do ayahuasca, too

January 4, 2018

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