Ayahuasca and the spirit world

Ayahuasca's abilities to connect us to the truth don’t stop there, however.

The amazonian ayahuasqueros (shamans) have long claimed that ayahuasca allows one to journey into the spirit world and communicate with the spirits that reside there. In fact, they claim that all of their plant knowledge was obtained precisely through communication with these spirits during ayahuasca experiences. This claim may sound a bit far-fetched to some, however one can’t help but wonder that there may be some truth to that.

Take for example the ayahuasca brew that is consumed during an ayahuasca retreat. The main psychoactive compound in the brew is DMT, which is provided by the Chacruna plant (psychotria viridis). However, DMT is not active when ingested orally due to an enzyme called Monoamine Oxidase (MaO), which exists in the stomach and denatures DMT before it can reach our brain and produce a psychoactive effect. But, the brew also includes the ayahuasca plant (Banisteriopsis caapi), also referred to as the ayahuasca vine of the soul, that contains an inhibitor which temporarily deactivates the MaO enzyme, allowing the psychoactive alkaloids to reach the brain and produce the desired effect.

Now the interesting thing is that these shamans have absolutely no knowledge of modern chemistry, yet they were able to put together a concoction with just the right proportions of the necessary ingredients to set off a complex chemical chain reaction that produces the ayahuasca experience. There are many other examples, such as knowing which plants can remedy a snakebite, and which variety of curare can be used as a poison for hunting (even though out of 40 different kinds of curare only a couple are poisonous). Considering all this, and the isolation of these tribal cultures from the modern world, the shamans’ claims no longer seem so far fetched.

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