The Science of Ayahuasca and How It Impacts the Health of Humans

The Science of Ayahuasca and How It Impacts the Health of Humans

A plant native to the Amazonian jungles has been used by the indigenous population for generations untold for physical, spiritual and emotional health. Now, science is beginning to prove its efficacy.

If you’re interested in alternative medicine and deep spiritual work, you’ve probably caught wind of a hard to pronounce, and very powerful purification rite called Ayahuasca. This ancient A word is Quechua in origin and refers both to an Amazonian healing ceremony and also the sacred beverage that is drank during it.

Ayahuasca has made headlines in recent months for its psychedelic properties which induce visions, as well as its purgative properties which cause many to expel liquids and solids from their bodies – a ritual detoxification of sorts.

This ancient jungle brew is used by tribes in the Amazon Rainforest to heal the body, mind, and spirit. A medicine man or woman will “prescribe” a ceremony to aid in treating a variety of ailments, from psychological / emotional to the purely physical.

Many Westerners have begun to seek it out in hope of ridding themselves of limiting beliefs, letting go of the past, and moving on from negative imprints left from troubled periods of their lives.

Others are desperately seeking an alternative treatment for chronic illnesses like MS, diabetes, Parkinson’s and cancer.

Recently, a number of personal healing stories are beginning to surface that, if true, are very promising indicators of Ayahuasca’s curative potential.

But how does this jungle brew work?

It’s one thing to experience the benefits, but it’s another to figure out what actually transpired to heal us, or at least got us going in the right direction again.

Here’s an inside look at how Ayahuasca affects the human organism.

The Spirit Molecule

First of all, Ayahuasca is made from two main jungle plants:  the actual Ayahuasca vine, orBanisteriopsis caapi, and the leaves of another plant, usually called Chacruna, or Psychotria viridis.  The Chacruna contains a substance called Dimethyltryptamine (DMT), which is the chemical that induces hallucinations. We naturally have small amounts of this in our bodies, and it exists in most green leafy vegetables. When taken by itself, nothing really happens, because the Monoamino Oxidase (MAO) enzymes that live in our gut naturally break down the DMT before it ever gets into our blood stream.

However, the Ayahuasca plant contains beta-carboline alkaloids including harmine, harmaline, and tetrahydroharmine that block the MAO enzymes from doing their job, and essentially keep the DMT active. This allows it to cross the blood-brain barrier after it’s ingested, and once that happens, the countdown to an altered state of reality has begun. Once the DMT reaches the receptors in your brain, the neurons begin to fire.

Activating and Reconnecting the Brain

When the effects of Ayahuasca start to take hold, multiple areas of the brain are triggered.  It activates the amygdala, which holds early emotional memories, usually traumatic ones.  It also activates the neo-cortex, associated with our perception and ability to reason and make decisions. For those who have experienced this sacred potion that many called “Grandma”, it probably comes as no surprise that it also activates the insular cortex, which plays a major role in awareness and consciousness.

Unlike psychedelic experiences with other substances, in which a person may not know what’s happening while they are under the influence, participants in an Ayahuasca ceremony are generally very alert and aware of what they are experiencing.  The combination of this heightened awareness and fingertip access to emotional and sometimes long-forgotten memories allows an individual to begin “the deep work”. Everything can be processed through a new lens, often times without any re-traumatization, and with an expanded capacity for mindfulness and empathy.

We also know that Ayahuasca has a calming or quieting effect on a group of interacting regions of the brain known as the Default Mode Network (DMN).  When this complex system is too active, symptoms include anxiety or depression.  Meditation has been show to work with the DMN in the same way to counteract those symptoms, and as we know, there’s plenty of scientific research and study on the benefits of meditation.

Binding Agent: The Cellular Link to Diseases

Another important aspect of Ayahuasca is how it works to manage stress at the cellular level, specifically with the Sigma-1R receptor – a protein that binds to DMT.  Found in the brain and organs including the heart, lungs and liver, as well as the immune system in general, it helps other proteins to align into their proper shapes.  Many diseases are associated with proteins like this that don’t work properly, and malfunctioning Sigma-1R is linked to depression, Alzheimer’s, addiction, cancer, Parkinson’s and traumatic brain injuries.

This study on the possible effects of Ayahuasca against various diseases, suggests   that as DMT binds to Sigma-1R, what transpires is an effect that protects the cells by restoring neurons and regulating immunity.

If Ayahuasca truly does regulate the causes of cellular stress, it is a promising and suitable candidate for interfering with the conversion of environmental and psychological stress into cellular stress.

Now that you’ve got an idea of the “how,” it’s important to remember that the indigenous cultures who created this brew believe that there is far more at play here than mere chemistry. A shaman will tell you that for the experience to produce the strongest result, it must be done with the right surroundings (usually in nature) and under the supervision and care of the right “administrator” (usually referred to as an Ayahuascero or Curandero). Other things to take into account are the dosage, admixtures with other plants or ingredients, and even the condition or past history of the person taking it.

An interesting observation cited in the study mentioned above is that the South American tribes hit the nail on the head when it comes to finding a broad-spectrum remedy. But the ingenuity and intimate knowledge of herbalism that these cultures possess is just the tip of the iceberg.

Considering that Shamans have been experimenting and working with Ayahuasca for thousands of years, the next logical line of questioning would be “How did they discover this?” and “How did they know how to prepare it?”

There’s one major detail about the two primary ingredients in Aya that has anthropologists and botanists baffled.  They grow hundreds of miles away from one another, in completely different microclimates tucked into a green sea of over 60,000 plant species.

The improbability of these native tribes knowing which two plants to boil together in a pot for hours and hours and exactly how to administer the thick liquid that results is almost too much to ponder.

Was it intuition?  Curiosity?  Trial and error?  Were they actually communicating with the plants, which some say have their own consciousness, or were they guided by some ancestral force?

This is all part of the mystery that this sacred drink holds. It’s a mystery that many say can only be understood via one course of action.  Taking a sip.

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Great Barrier Reef Suffers Worst Coral Die-Off on Record

Great Barrier Reef Suffers Worst Coral Die-Off on Record

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Staghorn corals killed by bleaching on the northern Great Barrier Reef. Greg Torda / ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies

A new map released by the Australian Research Council shows unprecedented coral bleaching in the last nine months in Australia’s Great Barrier Reef, resulting in the largest coral die-off ever recorded.

About two-thirds of reefs have died in the most-impacted northern region stretching 435 miles and researchers estimate the damage could take up to 15 years to recover. Global warming, combined with a strong El Niño, caused disastrous coral bleaching across the world this year.

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ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies

“Most of the losses in 2016 have occurred in the northern, most-pristine part of the Great Barrier Reef,” said Professor Terry Hughes, director of the Australian Research Council (ARC) Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies based at James Cook University, who undertook extensive aerial surveys at the height of the bleaching. “This region escaped with minor damage in two earlier bleaching events in 1998 and 2002, but this time around it has been badly affected.”

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Researcher Grace Frank completes bleaching surveys. ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies

Source: EcoWatch

Top 10 Natural Phenomena In Ocean

Top 10 Natural Phenomena In Ocean

The oceans contain great mysteries within their depths. While many of these mysteries have been explained by scientists and analysts, there are still quite a few unexplained oceanic enigmas that intrigue us. A variety of mysterious ocean phenomena have been seen and experienced by sailors around the world.

Russian Researchers Captured The Most Mythical Colossal Squid For The First Time On Camera

Russian Researchers Captured The Most Mythical Colossal Squid For The First Time On Camera

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During the 300 years spanning the 16th to the 19th century – the heyday of discovering new worlds and brutally colonising them – popular belief had it that the ocean harboured enormous sea monsters. From dragon-like sea creatures to colossal squids, like the mythical Kraken.

The Mesonychoteuthis hamiltoni is the largest know squid species, and probably the scariest

Well, for all I know the Mesonychoteuthis hamiltoni could be a cousin of the mythical Kraken. This colossal squid is the largest known squid species and it can reach a length of 12 to 14 meters. The species was discovered in 1925, when they found two tentacles inside the stomach of a sperm whale. Sperm whales have been observed to dive to depths of over 2,000 meters to hunt colossal squid.

First it will strangle you to death with its hooked tentacles, before ripping you into pieces


But the answer to the most important question remains, what would happen if this giant sea monster decided to eat you? Well, you can be sure that it would probably a painful experience. Because the brains of this creature are wrapped around its throat like a donut, the size of what it can eat at any one time is pretty constrained. But that’s no matter! First, it rips you down into little pieces with his razor-sharp beak before getting down to the business of eating you whole. Thankfully at this point, you’re probably too dead to witness the full horror of your fate. Did we mention this giant squid has tentacles with hooks instead of suckers?

All of that being said, though, there’s not actually been any (reliable) reports of a giant squid eating humans. But be honest. If you were a colossal squid straight from the dread pages of myth – wouldn’t you?

In short, I would advise you to steer away from any holiday plans involving diving to depths of 2,000 meters. Because you never know what you will encounter in the ocean depths. To watch this gigantic squid in live action, be sure to watch the video below.

102 Million Trees Have Died in California’s Drought

102 Million Trees Have Died in California’s Drought

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California’s six years of drought has left 102 million dead trees across 7.7 million acres of forest in its wake, the U.S. Forest Service (USFS) announced following an aerial survey. If that is not horrendous enough, 62 million trees died in the year 2016 alone—an increase of more than 100 percent compared to 2015.

In the photo below, all the dead trees are grey or orange.

“The scale of die-off in California is unprecedented in our modern history,” Randy Moore, a forester for the U.S. Forest Service, told the Los Angeles Times, adding that trees are dying “at a rate much quicker than we thought.”

“You look across the hillside on a side of the road, and you see a vast landscape of dead trees,” added Adrian Das, a U.S. Geological Survey ecologist whose office is located in Sequoia National Park. “It’s pretty startling.”

Most of the dead trees are located in 10 counties in the southern and central Sierra Nevada region.

“Five consecutive years of severe drought in California, a dramatic rise in bark beetle infestation and warmer temperatures are leading to these historic levels of tree die-off,” the USFS said.

Some have raised concerns that the staggering number of dead trees can fuel even bigger and more destructive wildfires in the Golden State.

Agriculture Sec. Tom Vilsack lamented that not enough resources are being invested into forest health and restoration.

“These dead and dying trees continue to elevate the risk of wildfire, complicate our efforts to respond safely and effectively to fires when they do occur, and pose a host of threats to life and property across California,” Vilsack said in a statement.

Not only that, researchers from the University of Washington found that large forest die-offs—from drought, heat, beetle infestations or deforestation—can significantly impact global climate patterns and alter vegetation on the other side of the world. The study was published this month in PLOS ONE.

“When trees die in one place, it can be good or bad for plants elsewhere, because it causes changes in one place that can ricochet to shift climate in another place,” said lead author Elizabeth Garcia. “The atmosphere provides the connection.”

In October 2015, California Gov. Jerry Brown declared the state’s unprecedented tree die-off a state of emergency. He formed a Tree Mortality Task Force to help mobilize additional resources for the safe removal of dead and dying trees.

However, some experts have suggested leaving the dead trees in the forests. Douglas Bevington, the forest program director for Environment Now, wrote that dead trees are vital to forest ecosystems.

“Dead trees can remain standing for decades or more and a standing dead tree—known as a ‘snag’—provides great habitat for wildlife. Birds and mammals make their homes in openings carved within snags, while wood-boring insects that feed on snags provide the foundation of the food chain for a larger web of forest life, akin to plankton in the ocean,” he wrote.

“From the perspective of the timber industry, a snag in the forest is a waste, so timber companies and the Forest Service have spent decades cutting down snags as quickly as possible,” Bevington continued. “As a result, there is now a significant lack of snags in our forests and this shortage is harming woodpeckers, owls and other forest wildlife. For them, the recent pulse of snag creation is good news.”

Forest Service experts believe that more trees will die in the coming months and years due to root diseases, bark beetle activity or other stress agents. The agency warned that tree deaths are on the rise in northern regions, especially in Siskiyou, Modoc, Plumas and Lassen counties.
The lack of rain and unseasonably high temperatures has added stress to the trees. These factors have made trees increasingly vulnerable to bark beetles infestations and disease.

Source: EcoWatch