Vomiting

By Steve Beyer

There is no doubt that ayahuasca makes you vomit. There is some consolation in the fact that the vomiting will ease with continued experience; shamans seldom vomit. There is more consolation in the fact that the vomiting is considered to be cleansing and healing. But the vomiting is certainly distressing to a gringo, who has been taught that vomiting is wretched and humiliating. Indeed, ayahuasca vomiting has become something of a literary trope. Poet Allen Ginsberg has described the physical part of his ayahuasca experiences. “Stomach vomiting out the soul-vine,” he writes, “cadaver on the floor of a bamboo hut, body-meat crawling toward its fate.” William S. Burroughs writes: “I must have vomited six times. I was on all fours convulsed with spasms of nausea. I could hear retching and groaning as if I was some one else.” Novelist Alice Walker speaks of the effect of ayahuasca on her protagonist — horrible-tasting medicine, gut-wrenching nausea and diarrhea, “waves of nausea … like real waves, bending her double by their force.”

Anthropologist Michael Taussig, investigating the shamanism of the Colombian Putumayo, felt compelled to drink ayahuasca — he uses the Colombian term yagé — as part of his research. “Somewhere,” he writes, “you have to take the bit between your teeth and depict yagé nights in terms of your own experience.” And one gets the ineluctable impression that Taussig hated the experience of drinking ayahuasca, hated the corporeality of its effects, hated vomiting. He writes, “But perhaps more important is the stark fact that taking yagé is awful: the shaking, the vomiting, the nausea, the shitting, the tension.” It is, he says, “awful and unstoppable.” His description of the experience is filled with metaphors of slime and nausea. The sounds he heard “were like those of the forest at night: rasping, croaking frogs in their millions by gurgling streams and slimy, swampy ground,” “the sound of grinning stoic frogs squatting in moonlit mud.” He writes that the “collective empathizing of nausea” at the healing session “feels like ants biting one’s skin and one’s head, now spinning in wave after trembling wave.” He refers again and again to “the stream of vomit,” “the streaming nasal mucus,” “the whirling confusion of the prolonged nausea.”

But this is the reaction of a gringo. It is important to note that emetics and purgatives are widely used among the people of the Upper Amazon, who periodically induce vomiting in their children to rid them of the parasitic illnesses that are endemic in the region. Vomiting is often induced in children and adults using the latex of ojé, also called doctor ojé, which is widely ingested throughout the upper Amazon as a vermifuge; some shamans, such as don Agustin Rivas, use an ojé purge to begin la dieta. Vomiting may be induced in children by giving them piñisma, hen excrement, mixed with berbena, verbena, or ñucñopichana, sweet broom, along with other horrifying components, including pounded cockroaches and urine. I have no doubt that this is an effective emetic.

Communal vomiting is also found among indigenous Amazonian peoples. The Achuar drink a hot infusion of guayusa as a morning stimulant, much as we drink coffee, after which all of them, including the children, vomit together. Apparently the vomiting is not due any emetic effect of the drink, but is learned behavior. Here in the jungle, vomiting is easy, natural, expected; the strangled retching of a gringo comes from shame.

La purga misma te enseña, they say; vomiting itself teaches you. Giving yourself over to the plant, giving up control, letting go of shame — perhaps that is the first lesson you receive from el doctor.

Steve Beyer’s blog Singing to the Plants is at www.singingtotheplants.blogspot.com

Comments
14 Responses to “Vomiting”
  1. Alann says:

    I rarely vomit, not with yagé or with San pedro. ” days ago I guided a freind who is really ‘lost’, with both of drinking ayahuasca. I did the ceremony. It has been the strongest trance I ever experienced. The last 2 years I function as a medium, but this time I have to grapple dealing with spirits entities using my body to talk to others. ” nights ago I was definitley the instrument to talk to my Jewish ‘patient’. Satan or lucifer and Jahweh used my mouth to speak to him and admonish him. I have difficulties to come to terms with it. But I know what I felt and how I spoke and my postures were definitely from higher realm. I realised that God and the devil are one.

  2. Troy says:

    Plants of the Gods by Schult & Hoffman
    isbn 0-89281-406-3. i have utilized the book not the Alan watts book but 1 above…lol as a suppliment to my use of sacred plants for over 30 years. i purchased it in 1982 at the age of 18 while stationed at ft lewis WA. I and a friend had just finished preparing several small bags of powdered Anamita Muscaria. By the way i recently stumbled on to this site and am curious as to whether you have ingested said substances of which u speak? i’m curious as to relate my experiences with an expert. For instance on LSD i found that time stopped, the ego barrier was eradicated, i could see in dark like i was using night vision equipment, found i could suddenly play licks on my guitar that i couldn’t get after weeks of practicing, could detect sounds at further distances, found myself sometimes creatively spouting out what i call power chants, as well as was able to observe matter in motion at a molecular scale ie material objects vibrated slowly in rythymic fashion. i could stare at a material object let say a desktop – i could actually see the wood atoms slowly moving to and fro ie e=mc2 ie energy in motion. during one experience where i was really what i call ga ga i experienced a visionary landscape with a giant tree that reached to the heavens. curious have you ever experienced these effects or others?
    i have also been researching mythology & dreams since the mid 80′s. that tree image i experienced is the cosmic world tree ie yaddrisl in norse mythology and funny how its called odins steed in norse germanic literature. it’s my contention that the celts, norse, gauls, etc of northern europe were using psychedelic plants and “shaman trancing” during their time. I myself practice seid – see wiki link
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Seid_(shamanic_magic)
    wiki states Seid or seiðr is an Old Norse term for a type of sorcery or witchcraft which was practiced by the pre-Christian Norse. This same art was taught to odin (Woden) by the Frejya. Seid means literally “see thing or seeing” ie oracular vision via trance method and you’ll see that wiki link leads you down alot of other links concerning shamanism. i have several hundred links to shamanism, mythology and dreams and am willing to share i’ll but em in a file and you can copy em to you favorites folder and research to your hearts content. by the way anyone ever tell you mr Beyer that in that photo you look alot like a long haired Donald sutherland.. no offense intented…
    you may reach me by email
    ophiuchustroy@yahoo.com
    -TROY

  3. the spiral says:

    One can always extract the active alkaloids (DMT and harmine/harmaline) from the plants instead of ingesting the nasty ayahuasca brew that has all sorts of other stuff in it that makes you sick to your stomach.

    This method is better known as “pharmahuasca.” While it does take a good bit more effort to extract the DMT and harmine/harmaline and then to take only those active ingredients, it can eliminate some or all of the unpleasant body load. People do still report some nausea and vomiting on pharmahuasca, but significantly less.

    I’ve heard people say that going the pharmahuasca route is somehow “cheating,” or that you are somehow losing something and will have a less valuable experience this way. I disagree. I also find this article to be rather racist.

  4. zach says:

    i’m relatively new to the psychedelics world having only done weed, and salvia about 20 times. since im not sure how strong the trip on ayahuasca is, i am worried that vomiting or the constant nausea will induce a bad trip, any thoughts? Also, it says above that there are accounts of diarrhea , how common is that?

  5. I am researching the uses of ipecacuana in Costa Rica and Panamá. Today the syrup of the root of the plant is commonly used as an emetic. In the 19th century, there were serious searched for the plant in the BriBri areas of Talamanca in Costa Rica. But it doesn’t seem likely that the occasional and marginal use of Ipecac syrup as an emergency emetic would drive people into the rainforests looking for the herb. My conclusion is that ipecacuana was more important and was used in trance-induction among the people of the Talamanca area. Since the name “ipecacuana” come from the Túpi, are there recorded uses of it as a psychotropic emetic in Amazonia proper?

    More questions: is vomiting secondary to other psychotropic effects of Ayahuasca, or is the vomiting the chief inducer of the psychotropic experiences? Could ipecacuana be part of the Ayahuasca cocktail?

  6. m says:

    @Stephen Duplantier — The emetic effects are concomitant with the psychotropic effects, but they are definitely not the inducer.

    @the spiral — Are you basing your opinion on wide experience with both?

  7. el doctor says:

    Drinking a tincture or tea of psychotria viridis vs. mimosa hostilis is in itself a less nauseating approach to pharmahuasca. (It contains less tannins.)

    More importantly, it is harmine-like alkaloids that CAUSE nausea and diarrhea. Replacing syrian rue or other analogues with a western pharmacuetical like Parnate or moclobimide can completly eliminate negative physical experiences like emesis, while producing any other typically desired effects.

  8. Richard says:

    I have experienced Ayahuasca about 40 times over a 10 year period. Never did I vomit, even with very strong doses. I did experience diarrhea when I began using the medicine; it felt as if there was a war going on in my intestines; I have read that the brew acts as a parasite purgative. The diarrhea became less and less each time, and then just stopped. My experience is that Aya is a wonderful medicine for the entire body. Gringos tend to worry too much about vomiting, and pretty much everything else. This is not racist. I live in a gringo body.

  9. Douglas says:

    I feel compelled to try ayahuasca. My life feels directionless now, without purpose. I wish I could find somewhere near Seattle or even in the USA, that would welcome me to a ceremony.

  10. Vivienne says:

    I haven’t vomited for any reason in over 30 years. I will not be trying ayahuasca. Thanks for the warning. I like to get high on fresh air.

  11. Sean says:

    my dad recently tried ayahuasca. We made the brew using the traditional ingridients (Banisteriopsis caapi, and chacruna leaves) i think. We are very well read and edeucated on the culture and usage of ayahuasca and other materials like it. However, there were no effects that he felt from it. No vomiting or nausea. We are confused as to why it didnt work, especially because we are very sure we had the right ingridients and prepared it the right way.

  12. TanThai says:

    No effect in ayahuasca might come from any production factor such as
    1 too hot temperature on production can destroy essential substance .
    2 your ingredient might be fake item or low quality
    3 too low dose of ingestion
    4 condition of user
    5 God didn’t to let you go to the experience (^_^) If you still insist , Show more attempt on another right way .

  13. Deo McBottle says:

    Science is on gringo’s side though and vomiting is really bad for your health (your teeth, your esophagus, etc). I don’t care what people with less advanced technology do to get rid of parasites and I don’t care that it’s customary for some Amazonean tribes to vomit every morning, it’s customary to slice out a young girl’s clitoris in some places too. Doesn’t make it ‘good practice’.

    Gringo wins this round, sorry.

  14. Sam says:

    Do somebody have had experience with Ayahuasca after a Nissen fonduplication surgery? Could a person with this type of surgical treatment for GERD is able to work with Ayahuasca?

Leave A Comment

Please note: Owing to the complex legal status of ayahuasca in many places, comments geared towards finding ayahuasca or ayahuasca ceremonies cannot be accepted. Comments with commercial intent are also not accepted.

Ayahuasca.com

Exploring Ayahuasca, the healing, creative, botanical and scientific aspects of the Amazonian Great Medicine.

Copyright ownership is retained by respective contributors. Please request permission before reproducing any contents of this website.

The Ayahuasca Forums

The Ayahuasca Forums archive and present a diverse and ongoing collection of articles, opinions, research, reviews, testimonials, safety information, links, news and conversation.

Established in 1999, The Ayahuasca Forums brings together individuals, communities, perspectives, insight and support regarding the use of ayahuasca, and the practice and traditions of ayahuasca shamanism.

This website hosts articles written by a variety of contributors. Each contributor assumes full responsibility for the reliability and accuracy of the information contained in each such article, and this website and its editorial board specifically disclaim any responsibility for the content of any article by any of its contributors.

The information on this website is offered for informational use only, and is not intended for use in diagnosing any disease or condition or prescribing any treatment whatsoever.

Read the disclaimer in full