If you are into biohacking, a follower of Tim Ferris or work in Silicon Valley, you may have heard of Ayahuasca. If not, you may be asking what the heck it is. A long time follower of Tim Ferris and an avid biohacker, I became interested in Ayahuasca years ago as a potential treatment for someone I knew that was suffering from anxiety and PTSD. It wasn’t until recently that I started seriously researching it as a potential treatment for me.
So, what is it? Ayahuasca is a type of plant medicine used in traditional ceremonies among the indigenous tribes of the Amazon region. It is an entheogenic brew made from the Banisteriopsis caapi vine (Ayahuasca) and the Psychotria viridis leaf (Chacruna plant). Chacruna contains DMT, a powerful hallucinogen, and the Ayahuasca vine contains monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs). These work in conjunction to produce a hallucinogenic experience that can last for several hours.
Studies have shown that Ayahuasca therapy may be effective in the treatment of PTSD, depression, addiction, and anxiety. This has led to increasing popularity and acceptance as an alternative form of therapy. The medicine works by breaking down the control that the prefrontal cortex has over parts of the brain, triggering vivid hallucinatory memories and emotions. By reliving traumatic memories and being aware of them within a safe, controlled environment, Ayahuasca allows the brain to reprocess and eliminate conditioned fear responses, commonly referred to as triggers.
Why did I want to do this? For most of my life I have suffered from chronic PTSD, the result of being trapped in a basement with a house fire burning above me as a child. Add a handful of unpleasant experiences throughout my life and most recently a toxic, abusive marriage to that, and I was finding myself triggered in everyday situations – anxious, angry, and unable to get through some days without crippling fear and anxiety. Those days were usually followed by horrific nightmares that I was unable to wake up from. Not fun. I tried various modalities of therapy to no avail, so I needed to do something different. I chose Ayahuasca because it is proving to be a faster and more effective way to treat PTSD than traditional therapies.
Finding someone to administer and guide this was not easy. It took months of researching. When I finally got serious and was ready to commit to it, my healer kind of just appeared. They say you are called to do this and when you are really ready it just falls into place, which is exactly what happened for me. Two weeks later I was sitting in front of this man, ready to change my life. I chose to do multiple sessions, or ceremonies, in succession, as you can get deeper healing with each additional experience.
What was the experience like? Incredibly peaceful. After the initial set up, during which I was a bundle of nerves, I drank the medicine and laid down to wait. There was intense and beautiful music playing, and I quickly relaxed. My first night was all calm, healing energy and I felt more refreshed than I ever have the next morning. There was some purging partway through (they don’t call this medicine La Purga for nothing) but it wasn’t violent or overly messy. My guide was well prepared and had it all under control.
The second night was filled with vibrant color and at times was almost like watching a movie that I was the star of. I was guided through some pleasant times and through painful experiences but without the deep emotion connected to them. There were a few interesting visions and some that were dark and difficult to face, but overall it was a beautiful, calming experience. While I made significant headway on the PTSD, other things also came up that I didn’t expect and were unaware had been the root of some present issues. The second night lasted significantly longer and I reached a greater level of insight and depth.
When I awoke from day two, all the negative emotion had been erased. It was no longer tied to the events. I had an overwhelming sense of peace and calm. I felt physically refreshed, and like I had been emotionally reset. I am now able to think about these experiences and take what I good I can from them. I am able to salvage some happy memories instead of the memories being overpowered by negative emotion because of who was present. I am finally able to learn and grow from these same experiences that I couldn’t even think about prior to the Ayahuasca. I no longer react to some of my frequent triggers either. Time will tell on the rest of them as they are less frequent. And, unexpectedly, I also feel like some of my brain fog has cleared and I have better word recall.
It hasn’t been that long since the experience, but I haven’t had a nightmare since. I have noticed increased confidence and increased decision-making ability. I have also had multiple people tell me they can see and feel the difference in me.
I feel an immense amount of healing, and that I can finally move past all of the negativity. Truly past it, not just the kind of “past it” that happens with time.
My healer joked at the end that it is said that there is life before Ayahuasca and life after. So far, I like life after. I feel rewired, reset. I am calm and at peace, finally.
This was a fantastic experience and I am ecstatic to have found a treatment that really worked instead of just masking the symptoms. This was truly life changing. Words cannot even convey the power of the experience and the depth of the healing that this brought on. For the sake of anyone suffering from emotional trauma, I hope this continues to gain acceptance as a form of treatment.
If you are considering this and would like more details about the experience (I know I wanted to talk to people who had actually done it before committing) you are welcome to reach out to me privately through Instagram, Twitter or Facebook. I am happy to share my experiences with you and help you reach the level of healing you seek.