- ayahuasca-induced hallucination
- Ayahuasca is known under many names, including ayawaska, bejuco de oro, caapi, and yajé. The name ayahuasca is the hispanized version of ayawaska, which is Quechua for 'vine of the soul' or 'vine of the spirits'. Both names refer to a pharmacologically complex ritual brew used by Indians in the Amazon region, as well as to the central ingredient of that brew, which has been used since ancient times as an * entheogen, a * hallucinogen, a therapeutic, and a magical potion, as well as for divination and many other purposes. Although ayahuasca was described during the first half of the 18th century by European explorers, the first botanical samples of the vine were not collected until between 1851 and 1854 by the British botanist and explorer Richard Spruce (1817-1893). The central ingredient of ayahuasca has been identified as the jungle vine Banisteri-opsis caapi, the bark of which is either mashed to a pulp and then mixed with cold water or boiled in hot water. Ayahuasca is administered orally, in the form of a drink, but dried pieces of the bark can also be smoked. The number of plants used in the preparation of the ayahuasca potion can run into the hundreds. As noted by the Canadian anthropologist and ethnobotanist Edmund Wade Davis (b. 1953), "The smell and acrid taste [of ayahuasca] was that of the entire jungle ground up and mixed with bile." The potion's psychoactive effects are attributed primarily to the ß-carboline alkaloid harmine (in the past also referred to as telepathine, because of its purported telepathic powers), tetrahydroharmine, and harmaline. These alkaloids are believed to act as potent monoamine oxidase inhibitors. Due to the presence of the numerous other ingredients, however, the overall psychoactive effects of ayahuasca vary widely. Ayahuasca-induced hallucinations have been described as including * geometric visual hallucinations, * illusions, auditory hallucinations, and * complex visual and * compound hallucinations depicting scenes, animals (i.e. * zoopsia), people landscapes, and mythological or cosmic events. Reportedly, the user of ayahuasca can also experience a subjective transformation into a wild animal such as a jaguar, an anaconda, or a goshawk. These effects can be accompanied by sexual hyper-arousal, euphoria, hypomania, or sedation, as well as by anticholinergic adverse effects such as mydriasis, blurred vision, tachycardia, vertigo, a sense of suffocation, an extremely dry throat, constipation, urinary retention, * delirium, and sopor. Especially in higher dosages, the use ofayahuasca can eventually lead to coma and death. A person intentionally employing ayahuasca for the purpose of exploring the psyche may be called a psychonaut.ReferencesDavis, W. (1985). The serpent and the rainbow. New York, NY: Simon and SchusterRudgley, R. (1998). The encyclopaedia of psychoactive substances. London: Little, Brown and Company.Rätsch, Chr. (2005). The encyclopedia of psychoactive plants. Ethnopharmacology and its applications. Translated by Baker, J.R. Rochester, VT: Park Street Press.
Dictionary of Hallucinations. J.D. Blom. 2010.
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