The brain is "free" and "flexible" on ayahuasca

September 25, 2017

Hi friends,


This is my short monthly semi-irreverent evidence-based newsletter about ayahuasca in the West, because ayahuasca matters to me — it's a cure.


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Ayahuasca, as you know, is a jungle brew made from two plants — a vine and a leaf. It's psychedelic. Amazonians think it puts you in touch with spirits; atheists think it lets you dive deep into your own brain.


Those big questions are beyond my understanding. I mostly know about the news:


Brain scans of 10 people on ayahuasca showed that repetitive and constricted patterns of thinking became "larger," more spread around the brain. "The mind may become effectively more 'free,' attaining a more flexible state," the researchers wrote. The old worn grooves fall apart. New pathways are created. It literally opens your mind.


A woman went manic on ayahuasca, becoming euphoric and grandiose. Marijuana had done the same to her, which suggests many drugs are dangerous and drug-induced mania is a real self-esteem booster.


In fish, small amounts of ayahuasca reduced anxiety-like swimming behavior. The fish also reconciled with their parents and started regular meditation practices, I believe.


 [An anxious zebrafish. Why? No ayahuasca.]



A Dutch newspaper reports aya is so accepted there that some ayahuasca centers are registered with the Chamber of Commerce.


I mentioned ayahuasca in my feature for Rooster Magazine on religion and millennials, saying that drugs are the closest thing to a religion some young people have.


News about drugs generally.


After the FDA declared therapy with MDMA — aka molly or ecstasy — a "breakthrough" treatment for posttraumatic stress disorder, I interviewed therapists already doing the work underground.


I also:


Also in the scientific journals this month, psychedelics in general were found to allow brains to become hyperconnected and give users a sense of connectedness to other people and to the planet. I believe psychedelics also cure bad breath, IBS and plantar warts — though that was not reported in the journals this month.



Reilly Capps


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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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