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Ayahuasca is a medicine native to the people of the Amazon basin. It is a brew that contains the Banisteriopsis caapi vine and other ingredients, including Psychotria viridis which contains the primary psychoactive element in Ayahuasca, dimethyltryptamine (DMT). For the DMT in Ayahuasca to be effective orally, it must be combined with a monoamine oxidase inhibitor (MAOI), several of which are found in the Banisteriopsis capi vine.
Preparation for Ayahuasca often includes a specialized diet and refraining from alcohol, caffeine and sexual activity for a number of days. Ayahuasca is generally served as a tea, and the experience generally lasts 1 – 4 hours, depending on how often more doses of the tea are consumed. The journey with Ayahuasca is often reported to feature visual hallucinations, body detachment, ego dissolution, introspective insights, and intense emotions. With ayahuasca, it is common to purge, in fact, the medicine is known as “La Purga,” as the vomiting and occasional diarrhea (and some consider tears another form) are often and important part of the experience.
Ayahuasca is currently only legal for use in the United States as part of certain religious ceremonies. It was decriminalized in Oakland, California. It is legal in Peru, Brazil, and a number of other South American countries.