If Miley Cyrus told you to do something, would you do it? What if it was a psychedelic drug that could shift your way of thinking forever? Some of us would be a hard no on this, understandably, but some of us probably aren’t stoked with the wiring of our brains, and may be curious. What is this drug, Miley?
It’s called ayahuasca, and some people, including many celebrities, rave about its healing properties.
Ayahuasca is a South American psychoactive brew used both socially and as ceremonial spiritual medicine among the indigenous peoples of the Amazon basin. People who consume this drug are meant to do so under the direct supervision of an experienced shaman who guides them through their ‘trip’, which lasts around five hours.
It is a serious, mind altering drug, which is catching the attention of scientists who are keen to dissect just how effective this drug is at resetting our brains.
Researchers found that more than 80% of ayahuasca drinkers said they gained important insights about their personality, behaviours, morals, relationship patterns and physical health. A profound serving of heightened self-reflection seems to result in some positive mental breakthroughs.
A 2021 observational study of about 10,000 ayahuasca drinkers conducted by researchers from Australia, Brazil, Spain, the Czech Republic and Switzerland indicated that it has antidepressant and anxiolytic properties.
Around 75% of participants in the study suggested their depression and/or anxiety eased, whilst depressingly, 5% said it worsened.
However, it isn’t only being used to treat depression and anxiety, those who suffer from addiction or processing trauma are also reaping the benefits of this mind-blowing experience.
According to a 2021 paper published in the International Journal of Neuropsychopharmacology, consuming ayahuasca temporarily reorders the way our brain receives information by disrupting our neural hierarchy. In layman’s terms, it gives us different perspectives and changes how we think.
But before you all start texting your mates to organise a ayahuasca party, relax, you actually can’t in Australia. Whilst there are expensive retreats abroad that facilitate this treatment, it has not had the tick of approval here yet, and it may never get it. If you are gung-ho keen on getting amongst the wild experience by hook or by crook, hold the phone.
Scientists and shamans alike strongly discourage anyone to attempt ayahuasca without the guidance of an experienced shaman in an approved facility (again, none here in Australia) because some people have extraordinary adverse reactions where they scream for hours on end. Like most of Miley’s songs, that sounds quite unpleasant.