How does Ayahuasca affect the Brain?

I’m Ozel Christo – meditation nerd and previous Spirit Vine retreat participant. I love combining science with psychedelics, meditation and tantra.

I was genuinely curious. It is believed by many that taking ayahuasca can catalyze an enlightenment experience or “kundalini awakening”. As far as I know, no one has tested this notion so I designed a case study to test the effects of ayahuasca on the brain.

First, I needed a way to quantitatively define higher consciousness. I had read studies where Buddhist monks were hooked up to advanced EEG devices in a western laboratory and shown to be able to increase the power of their gamma waves at will. So, I thought the power (specifically, power spectral density) of the gamma waves could be a good heuristic for higher consciousness. Not wanting to stop here, I remembered in Joe Dispenza’s series, Rewired, his favorite neural success metric was the brain coherence. Therefore, I decided to add this to the mix as well.

I travel with a 4-node EEG device called the muse2. It’s a lower resolution hardware than would be found at a lab at MIT, for example, but for my purposes it was enough – it measured gamma waves and I could calculate hemispheric coherence from the raw data. Perfect!

Hardware, software and theoretical constructs around consciousness were actually the easy part. The challenging part was actually doing it – collecting the brain data. I knew from previous experiments that the brain is a very noisy place and to find a repeatable pattern in the brain is often akin to finding a needle in an electromagnetic haystack. The brain is influenced by literally everything (moon cycles, time of day, mood, diet, sex, caffeine, alcohol, the list goes on…), so I knew that I had to follow a very strict lifestyle if I wanted to collect clean and reliable data

  • Vegetarian/Vegan Diet
  • No smoking
  • No sex
  • No alcohol
  • No Coffee / Stimulants
  • 16/8 Intermittent fasting
  • No Media (Netflix, Youtube, etc.)
  • Binduasana
  • No artificial sugar
  • No fluoride
  • No vitamins/supplements

Following a strict lifestyle and a disciplined daily brain measurement regimen, I was able to collect data during the Control (1st 10 days, no ayahuasca, setting a baseline), Test (middle 10 days at Spirit Vine) and Integration (last 10 days, no ayahuasca) periods. I then compared the brain at these three different periods and here is what I found:

Figure 1: Average Gamma Wave Power Spectral Density (PSD)
Figure 2: Average Left/Right Brain Hemisphere Coherence

Conclusions

  • The Integration period (last 10 days) was hugely important in both the power of the gamma waves and the brain coherence. This aligns with conventional shamanic wisdom that the real work of ayahuasca actually begins after the ceremony.
  • From the beginning of the case study to the end, 30 days later, brain coherence shoots up over 450%

Author: Ozel Christo
Instagram: @amargi.life (open to communication via DM)

Check out the full case study here: https://amargi.life/blogs/psychedelics/ayahuasca-experiment

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