Ayahuasca: A Case Study

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    Have you heard of Ayahuasca yet? It’s time you do. The herbal tonic may just change your life.

    It all started in the 50’s in loveable Peru when religious rituals that used a psychoactive Amazonian drink began to appear. These newly adopted rituals were very rare for the common Peruvian, but evidence suggests that a similar, rare “drink” may have been more common for our native ancestors elsewhere in Latin America. Supposedly they would drink it before their ceremonies which were believed to be some kind of key to the portals of other realities.

    Mystery aside, one thing is certain: Ayahuasca made a come back somewhere around 2012, this time appearing in the mass media and generating a great deal of controversy.

    The psychedelic drink is believed to work for divinatory and healing purposes. It can be given to you in collective ceremonies and in some other cases, in intimate contexts. Always, however, the elixir is given under the guidance of Ayahuasqueros, who know the careful proportions and properties of the stem of the ayahuasca vine Banisteriopsis caapi and of the other plants like chagropanga or chacruna.

    Why try it?

    Ayahuasca has GREAT psychological effects, integrating emotion with both subconscious and conscious processes. Generally speaking, Ayahuasca is used as a healer, a key, or an instrument to open information coming from unseen parts of our mind, body, soul, and parallel universes. You can gain unseen information from the social or natural environment too.

    Moreover, it’s not unheard of for artists to use it while searching for their next piece. After all, the artist is a very peculiar person, and sometimes it takes extraordinary measures to inspire them for something new. Perhaps they even desire a complete reset so they can begin again from zero.

    A Case Study

    Recently I had coffee and a little chat with Cristina, an old friend who had just lost her father and decided that she needed to do “this Ayahuasca thing.” Her father was born in San Jose, Costa Rica, and they always had this dream that he would take her to Catedral where he was born, but only when she graduated from college. Sadly, she was unable to make her father’s dream come true before he passed—a misfortune that weighed down on her, even though losing your father in your twenties is already an awful thing.

    Cristina was encouraged by all the great publicity that Ayahuasca is gaining here in the Americas. A simple search on Google will lead you to tons of informational pages, tons of Facebook groups (including some that can introduce you to the drink), and all the frequently asked questions that you can imagine. There are even completely-packaged tours! You pay the price, and they drive you to the place where Ayahuasca can be done freely.

    In Christina’s case, the retreat was in Choroni, a coastal locality in the northern outskirts of the municipality of Girardot, Aragua state, Venezuela. This activity needs to be done in beautiful and far places like this; you need your freedom and privacy. Cristina paid the weekend tour price, waited for the bus and got on the trip of her life. She was in obvious pain because of her lost and thought she was the perfect candidate for it. I was curious if by the end of her experience she felt the same. She told me this story:

    Christina’s Ayahuasca Experience

    On the first day, she woke up and had breakfast. She told me that she was given special rules for three days prior and three days after the trip:

    • No excess of salt
    • No excess of sugar
    • No spicy food
    • No meat
    • No coffee or soda drinks
    • No sex
    • No drugs
    • No alcohol

    When Christian jumped on the bus, she had close to zero sleep because of the nerves. Everyone on that bus was silent, checking their phones, and looking like they didn’t know what they were doing. Most of them were first timers, and they were all nervous as you might think. When they get to the place, the first rule was to turn off their cell phones, there was a guy collecting them in a little bag. He told them that when the journey was over, they would be handed back to them again.

    Then they proceed to meet the ayahuasquero; his name was Octavio, had long hair and a white Real Madrid F.C. jersey. He introduced himself to every one of them and told them to do the same thing. He told them to sit on the grass and said that they were going to be like a little family for the weekend.

    Their first goal was to know each other, why they were there, and what they expected to achieve with the experience. They were all first timers, except for one guy who was just “too friendly” according to Christina—you know, those friendly guys who are too good and very polite to you even you don’t know them. When it was her turn, Christina told the story of her loss, that she couldn’t even look at the old photos of her father because the pain was just too much to handle, that the direction of her life was gone, and that she had no meaning to live or whatsoever. Everybody was kind to her and she started to feel comfortable.

    When everybody finished, they entered into another room to change their clothes. They were all given white t-shirts and white pants. No shoes!

    Then, when they were all ready with their white clothes, they proceeded to divide themselves into two separated lines, so that Octavio could move between them easily.

    And here we go!

    Octavio called everybody name by name so they could come up and take the drink. When Christina’s name was called, Octavio was very friendly and told her that she was lucky, because her drink had a surprise ingredient, and it was happiness. It made her laugh, and he told her to not let the drink linger to taste it—so she didn’t throw up—just to swallow it one shot.

    She had the drink in one hand and a little bag that Octavio gave to every one of them just in case they felt sick in the other.

    And then, all at once, boom!

    She drank it. Cristina noticed at the bottom of the cup, that there something leftover that looked like coffee beans.

    Afterward, Octavio told them that they could walk freely in the house and in the garden. It was an open field with people watching you so that everything and everyone is Ok.

    A Journey Like None Other

    Christina said that after 30 to 45 minutes she started to feel some funny things happening in her body, and all of the sudden she felt like in a dream, in an altered state of mind. Everything looked in funny colors and it felt very cool for the first hour. Then, she started to fight the very thing that got there in the first place: the loss of her father. Cristina started to cry very loudly and was fighting with herself. Hearing voices, hearing and seeing her worst fears came true. She told me that her worst fear was losing another relative again, and having no one alive that loved her. And as crazy as it sounds, she saw her mother die, she even told me that she buried her, went to the funeral, and was in the worst denial status that you could ever imagine.

    Christina was screaming, crying, and felt like her heart was going to get out from her chest. The Ayahuasca process is like an internal war, is based on letting go all of your fears, letting go all of those loaded guns that we have inside of us.

    That’s the key: to be completely free, completely free of our prejudices, and free of what society thinks is right.

    Cristina said that at one moment, it felt like her soul was out of her body, and she could see herself from above. She was flying over the place watching and judging herself in all of the aspects of her daily life like she was watching a movie of herself: of her past, her present and her future. Christina also told me that in one part of the flight, she got to a room where she could watch her entire life on TV. Christina even remembered to tell me that it was a freezing room. She noticed that her body started to feel tense there, and was shaking.

    Soon though it got better for her. At one point, Christina sat on the grass and started to look at a piece of it, and inexplicably she suddenly understood “all of the trivial questions of life, and what her purpose on this planet was.”

    What’s even more amazing is that in the moment she released the piece of grass, Cristina started to feel sick, felt uncomfortable and tense. She was very irritated by every noise, by every sound, and then she started to feel dizzy and wanted to throw up.

    All of the sudden, she started to really pay attention to that symptom. She saw herself in the back seat of a moving car at full speed, like in a Formula 1 race car with a lot of obstacles. Her only wish was to STOP that car; she needed to get out of that car, or she was going to “die.” If she got out of that car, however, the obstacles would hurt her so she needed to STAY in that car. And in that moment, when she almost “died,” a moment of clarity came to her.

    She thought it was a metaphor for the life that she was living. That she was living full of fears and worried because of the obstacles or tricks that life itself can have. You can’t escape life, as you can’t get off from the car of Cristina’s dream.

    Nobody said the journey was going to be an easy one, so? Enjoy the ride and make the best out of it.

    Therefore Cristina embraced the pain she was feeling in her body and decided that if she needed to throw up, she will. Automatically she started to feel better and the car disappeared.

    But then, she was in front of a great black hole. A black hole with no end, just a hole, and she said she felt in her guts that she needed to jump, and in the second she was about to jump… guess what, her father appeared behind her. She cried and told him how much she loved him, but she needed to let him go to move on with her life. Her father said no words and gave a hug to her and she finally jumped!

    At the moment she jumped, she saw herself in the house again, and she finally threw up in the little bag that Octavio gave her at the beginning of the ceremony. Christina said it was the BEST throw up of her life; she felt like the most relieved person on earth. She said she felt like 20 pounds lighter, that she felt tickles all over her body and could not stop smiling and laughing.

    Octavio was looking, and then came close to her and gave her something like a mix of water with flowers, and poured it on her head. Cristina said that she had no idea what the time was, that it was very confusing, and that she even felt the struggle of her trip partners a couple of times, and that one of them even told her that he was driving the full speed car with her in the back seat. That amazed me, but Octavio was less surprised. After pouring the flower water on Christina’s head, Octavio explained that the participants of the ceremony create a unique spiritual bond and that things like that can happen and are very common.

    Then Octavio proceeded to clean everybody with tobacco and some stones poured over with water. Cristina said that everybody puked at some point. By this point, she felt very tired and was going to need a long rest. Octavio then decided that the ceremony was over and that he was going to sleep right there.

    A New Day

    Everybody fell asleep on the grass, in fact, and when the time came, embraced the light of the sun like it was a gift—some people even cried because of that. Once everybody woke up, Octavio served a light breakfast of fruits and water.

    The bus arrived, the little guy with the cell phones gave them back to them and they got off. Not one person turned on their phone though. Instead, everybody was singing, sharing their experience, and saying how happy they were that they did it. Cristina then told me that she planned to travel back to San Jose and spread the ashes of her father in his native Catedral.

    Satisfaction for the Well-Intentioned

    In my opinion, Ayahuasca is not just another “cool” new drug that young people use to get a buzz. The consumption of this elixir responds much better to the thoughtful intentions of good, sensitive and intelligent people—people with the need to feel better about some aspects of their lives or eliminate some of those internal fears that we all have.

    Moreover, it’s not a selfish thing; it has nothing to do with your ego, because these experiences not only help the guy that lives them, they generate also a sense of belonging to the group, while promoting altruism, empathy, mutual respect, etc. Inevitably, Ayahuasca helps to satisfy those aspects of our lives that society itself fails to satisfy.


    It’s important to stay up-to-date on scientifical research revolving around topics such as Ayahuasca, but when there fails to be any solid evidence that drink does harm, the question must be asked: then why the taboo? I think we should treat it like every non-harm drug or medicine.


    Ayahuasca is a very powerful mixture that has been described as “10 years of psychotherapy in one night.” While the results can be wonderful, it is critical that you partake in Ayahuasca ceremonies only in safe environments and under the supervision of trained ayahuasqueros. Certain medications can interact dangerously with the ingredients used in the drink, so it’s important to consult a doctor to learn how to safely wean off before your experience. Once cleared, you can get ready for a life-changing experience.

    Want to try Ayahuasca in Costa Rica? CONTACT US for a TCRN-tested and approved company that offers safe Ayahuasca journeys here in Costa Rica.

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