How does Ayahuasca affect the Brain?

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


  • 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: (open to communication via DM)

Check out the full case study here:

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Spirit Vine COVID-19 Update

Last Updated: 5th May 2021

As travel has opened up in different parts of the world, we have resumed our retreats since October 2020. In light of the global situation, we are establishing new guidelines to ensure that we provide the maximum amount of safety to all participants who attend the retreats.

We will be following the guidelines provided by the Brazilian government which you can find below, and adding any necessary precautions suitable for the retreats.

In the Itacare area, where we are located, there are very low number of COVID cases.

We will update this section when new information is available.
Content listed here is subject to change.

If you have any questions, please contact us.

Brazilian Government Recommendations for COVID-19

  • Wash your hands frequently with soap and water;
  • if water and soap are not available or when hands are not visibly dirty, an alcohol-based hand sanitizer may be used;
  • Maintain at least a 1-metre distance between yourself and others;
  • Wear a mask, that covers your nose, mouth and chin;
  • Practice respiratory hygiene;
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth;
  • Be aware of the situation of your destination and follow the guidelines of local public health authorities;
  • Avoid spaces that are closed, crowded or involve close contact;
  • Monitor your health for COVID-19 symptoms and, if you feel unwell:
    – seek medical attention;
    – stay self-isolated as recommended by local health authorities.

Anyone who wants to enter in Brazil must present a negative Covid RT-PCR test taken within 72 hours prior to boarding the flight and travelers must fill out an affidavit (printed or digitally), with the written acknowledgement to the health measures that must be complied with during the period that they will remain in the country. You can find more information about the affidavit here.

Prior to leaving Brazil, depending on the requirements of your destination country, you may be required to present an RT-PCR test taken within 72 hours of your departure. In this case, we recommend you to budget the required time of 4 hours to take the test and get the results in Sao Paulo airport.

Please note that Itacare and Ilheus do not have RT-PCR testing centers.

Spirit Vine Guidelines for COVID-19

If you will arrive in Brazil more than 3 days before the start of the retreat, then you need to do another Covid test (quick Covid test) before entering our center and send the results to me by email.

Spirit Vine Cancellation Policy for COVID-19

If you have paid for a retreat and you are not able to participate for major reasons like travel restrictions due to Covid-19, then you may apply your credit to another retreat of the same value for a period of 2 years.