There are many people who have heard about a plant in Amazons with 'special power,' a natural psychedelic that can give them life-changing visions and heal deep psychic wounds. Many believe that this substance can help them find relief which they didn't get from the Western medication.
This is none other than the popular substance which can be found in the Amazon rainforest—Ayahuasca. Some indigenous communities of South America regard ayahuasca brew, which contains the hallucinogen DMT, as a powerful medicine that keeps them spiritually resilient and connected to the natural world.
Now, these days, after the name of the psychedelic substance became popular in other counties thousands of people visit South American countries like Peru every year, seeking ayahuasca brew—which is a very popular medicine for the localities but experts claim that it is a part of the more complex medical system and everyone cannot use it due to the side effects.
The Natural Healer
Rudy Gonsior, an American former Special Forces sniper—still carrying painful memories of comrades fallen in battle, taking lives and having suicidal thoughts—visited Amazons as he decided to try out this psychedelic brew to get rid of his horrible memories. "I have traveled across continents to come to the jungle [in Costa Rica] to do psychedelics. I guess this is what might be considered a Hail Mary," he said.
Gonsior is among those people who put their faith in this alternative medicine to ease their pain and move forward in life. Chris Sutherland, 36, a Canadian soldier recently retired on full disability for post-traumatic stress disorder. He had visited Amazon, seeking the brew, after years of panic attacks, binge drinking, and periods of taking antidepressants that left him feeling that "I was no longer human."
A British former special forces soldier, David Radband, 34, said he visited South America's forests hoping to drown out the rage that had consumed his life after he left the army. Another veteran who believes that ayahuasca can help to release the trauma is Juliana Mercer. The 38-year-old Marine veteran said she developed a condition called caregiver fatigue after spending years looking after wounded service members in San Diego.
But before the fame of ayahuasca spread across the countries, only a few botanists, hippies, and spiritual seekers used to visit the Amazon forest for the natural remedy. Many people from all around the world make pilgrimages each year to more than 140 ayahuasca retreat centers in Latin American countries.
In these centers, the substance's use in ceremonial settings is legal. These ceremonies are often physically and emotionally draining. In a documentary series on Netflix, Un-Well, an episode based on the use of this psychedelic medicine, it was showed the different effects of ayahuasca on different people.
Could Be Dangerous for Some People
While some people after consuming ayahuasca may witness a life-changing peaceful experience, there are some cases where people with health issues like seizures failed to cure themselves by using the vomit-inducing psychedelic brew.
Drinking ayahuasca can be dangerous, especially when someone is taking certain pharmaceuticals, such as antidepressants and hypertension drugs. As per experts, the 'magical cure' from Amazon can also cause psychotic episodes for people with serious mental health conditions, such as schizophrenia.
Dr. Matthew Johnson, a professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at Johns Hopkins University who has studied psychedelics since 2004 said that these psychedelic retreats are powerful tools and "they can put people in a very vulnerable place."
But many people do believe in psychedelic-assisted healing, hence, the popularity of such medicine is still booming. Melissa Stangl, a co-founder of Soltara said, "We are on the cusp of bringing psychoactive medicines into the mainstream health care system. Once science really catches up to just how effective that is for people who aren't being served by the current medical system, we can become allies."