Is Ayahuasca Good for Mental Health?

Long used by Amazonian shamans as a ‘medicine for the soul’, the ayahuasca plant has now surfaced to global consciousness. People from all over the world are travelling to South American countries like Brazil, Peru, Ecuador to take part in an ayahuasca retreat with experienced facilitators to be in the jungle environment where the plant grows naturally.
The use of exotic psychedelic blends by spiritual seekers disenchanted with formal Western religion and lifestyles is hardly something new, but in the case of the ayahuasca tea there may be something more going on. Recent scientific reviews suggest that ayahuasca effects could be beneficial to individuals suffering from depression, substance abuse problems and post-traumatic stress disorder.

The Science of Ayahuasca and Mental Health

There’s much that is known, but also much that is still shrouded in mystery in the world of mental health.
It’s known that irregularities in the production, reception and balance of neurotransmitters has a role to play in the development of mental health problems. Imbalances in one specific neurotransmitter, serotonin is heavily implicated in depression, obsessive thought patterns and poor impulse control.
It’s also known that ayahuasca contains the psychoactive molecule Dimethyltryptamine (DMT) which binds to serotonin receptors. One scientific explanation of the role of ayahuasca in helping individuals who have mental health problems is that this binding helps to regulate and modulate serotonergic neurotransmission.
It needs to be remembered however that medications developed to treat mental health problems which act directly on the serotonin system have different effects in different patients, and that placebo effects are often very significant in antidepressant studies. In other words, there are no ‘magic bullets’ in the treatment of mental disorders.

Does that mean it’s all in the Mind?

Well, where else would you look for the answer to mental illness? The scientist who can develop a full understanding of just what ‘the placebo effect’ is, and harness it at will, will have made the greatest contribution to medical science since Alexander Fleming developed penicillin.
Can Ayahuasca be good for mental health? Based on personal reports of many people who’ve used it, the answer is yes. Alcoholics say that they’re better able to control their drinking, and people with a history of depression report sustained mood improvement after drinking the spirit vine medicine.
Most of those who report these benefits took the brew with a facilitator or shaman. It’s possible that the benefits are only partially related to the way DMT and Serotonin interact. Ayahuasca effects are related just as much to the whole Ayahuasca Experience — the commitment implicit in travelling thousands of miles, the willingness to adhere to the ayahuasca diet, and the intention to open up to a voyage of self-discovery could all play a part in what’s happening.

Where Science Meets Spirituality

Holistic healers have long been frustrated by the tendency of conventional medicine to seek reductionist solutions. They sometimes make the comparison of looking for straightforward cause and effect relationships between disease and medicine as ‘trying to describe a rose with a ruler’. You can measure every dimension precisely, even analyze the chemicals responsible for the aroma but it just doesn’t capture the ‘roseness’ of it.
And it may be that this is the truth of Ayahuasca, it needs to be taken with commitment, reverence, and an open heart in the company of an experienced guide to offer the maximum benefits.

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Spirit Vine COVID-19 Update

Last Updated: 9th August 2022

We have established guidelines to ensure that we provide the maximum amount of safety to all participants who attend the retreats.

We are following the guidelines provided by the Brazilian government which you can find below and have added some 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

The current guidelines from the Brazilian government state that anyone who wants to enter Brazil must present a Covid vaccine certificate. You do not need to take any other vaccines to enter Brazil. These guidelines may change in the future.

Travelers must also fill out an affidavit 24 hours before departure acknowledging the health measures that must be complied with during the period that they will remain in the country. You can find the affidavit here.

Prior to leaving Brazil, depending on the requirements of your destination country, you may be required to present an RT-PCR or Antigen test. If you need a PCR test we recommend you to budget the required time of 6 hours to take the test and get the results at Sao Paulo Guarulhos airport. Antigen test can be taken in the town of Itacare near our center before you go to the airport or at the airport in Sao Paulo.

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

Spirit Vine Guidelines for COVID-19

We require that vaccination must be done at least 2 months prior to drinking ayahuasca. This is for the safety of participants to make sure the vaccine doesn’t have any reaction with the ingestion of ayahuasca. 

We also require all visitors to provide a valid Covid-19 test prior to entering the Center. The Antigen test is only valid for 24 hours and PCR test is only valid for 72 hours. A valid negative test result must be sent by email prior to entering the Center.