An important new book, Ayahuasca y Salud, brings together perspectives from the social and biomedical sciences as well as personal accounts of ayahuasca shamans and practitioners in order to address diverse indigenous, mestizo and Western concepts of health, illness and curing related to the use of ayahuasca.
By Stephen Trichter, Psy.D.
As the use of ayahuasca shifts to use outside of its original cultural context, we must examine how the spread of this healing practice can not only bring the benefits for which it was originally intended, but how its transfer into a new cultural framework potentially can also cause distress and harm.
(Painting by Augustin Lesage)
The use of entheogens such as ayahuasca is exemplary of the long and ongoing tradition in many cultures to employ psychoactives as tools that stimulate foundational types of understanding. That such substances are capable of stimulating profoundly transcendent experiences is evident from both the academic literature and anecdotal reports. This article attempts to present these concepts in such a way that the possibility of using entheogens as tools is taken seriously by those with an interest in new and transformative ideas in education.
Jacques Mabit, M.D.
Ancestral medical practices are based on a highly sophisticated practical knowledge and view the controlled induction of non-ordinary states of consciousness as potentially beneficial, even in the treatment of the modern phenomena of drug addiction. These ancestral practices stand in contrast to the clumsiness with which Western peoples induce altered states of consciousness. Drawing from his clinical experience in the High Peruvian Amazonian forest, the author describes the therapeutic benefits of the wise use of medicinal plants, including non-addictive psychoactive preparations, such as the well-known Ayahuasca tea. Within an institutional structure, a therapeutic system combining indigenous practices with contemporary psychotherapy yields highly encouraging results (positive in 2/3 of the patients). This invites us to reconsider conventional approaches to drug addiction and the role of the individual’s spiritual journey in recovery.
In the book ‘Left In the Dark’, a culmination of over fifteen years of independent research into human evolution, the authors postulate that the universal myth of a pre-historic Golden Age is a racial memory that reflects our primate evolution in an arboreal, rainforest environment in which humans possessed mental and psychic abilities that have since become lost or atrophied in the profane ages that followed.
Effects of ayahuasca on psychometric measures of anxiety, panic-like and hopelessness in Santo Daime members.
Ayahuasca ingestion did not modify state- or trait-anxiety. The results are discussed in terms of the possible use of ayahuasca in alleviating signs of hopelessness and panic-like related symptoms.
Fifty-two North American and European participants in syncretic Brazilian church religious ceremonies were assessed for indications of personality and clinical disorders, and tendencies towards chemical dependency and addiction.