“The whole world is both rising and setting, a turning sphere, a travelling star.” ~ Ibn Arabi
Ayahuasca is a psychedelic (slow simmered) brew made popularly out of the Banisteriopsis caapi vine in combination with the leaves of dimethyltryptamine (DMT)-containing species of shrubs from the genus Psychotria. The vine represents the actual spirit of the Ayahuasca.
DMT-containing plants (such as Psychotria) remain inactive when drunk without a source of monoamine oxidase inhibitor (MAOI) that allow the release of the DMT from the digestive tract into the brain. Without MAOIs the DMT remains supressed in the body.
Monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs) that are naturally found in various plant species and are added to the Ayahuasca brew as well as to the Middle Eastern version of Ayahuasca, the Haoma, are also chemically reproduced in various psychiatric medications which inhibit the activity of the monoamine oxidase enzyme family.
Vomiting can follow Ayahuasca ingestion; this purging is considered by many shamans and experienced users of Ayahuasca to be an essential part of the experience as it represents the release of negative energy and emotions built up over the course of one’s life.
The ingestion of Ayahuasca can also cause significant but temporary emotional and psychological distress (the ‘bad trip’ experience). Deaths due to consumption of ayahuasca have been reported. The deaths may be due to preexisting heart conditions as DMT increases pulse rates and blood pressure (which feels like a near death experience), or interaction with medicines taken such as antidepressants, and is in some cases a result of the addition of other psychoactive plants taken together with the Ayahuasca such as Angel Trumpet and Datura.
“The most important ingredient in Ayahuasca or Haoma is intention…”
Haoma or Soma is the Avestan language name of a plant brew and its divinity, both of which play a role in Zoroastrian doctrine since pre-Islamic days and in Shi’a Islam itself. The MAOI inhibitator Pergamum Harmala (Syrian Rue/Esfand) is added to an DMT carrying plant such as the Ephedra, the Mimosa or the Acacia. The risks are similar to Ayahuasca. It can interact with various modern chemical medications and with other plants. The original recipe of the Haoma brew is to this day debated. The use of Haoma in Islam is said to have originated with the primary figures of early Shi’a Islam, namely the Prophet Mohammed (a.s) himself, Ali (a.s), Fatimah (a.s) and Hassan (a.s) – Source: Haoma and Harmaline. The Botanical Identity of the Indo-Iranian Sacred Hallucinogen “Soma” and its Legacy in Religion Language, and Middle Eastern Culture, by David Stophlet Flattery and Martin Schwartz
My husband Wahid Azal has further studied the subject of Haoma in Islam (see also his interview in Reality Sandwich) and Grand-Ayatollah Rohani has granted a fatwa in favor of using Haoma and other psychoactive brews for spiritual development provided the usage is supervised by an experienced expert or Shaykh.
There has been a tremendous amount of interest in Haoma and the use of psychoactive plant in Islam since the release of this fatwa, and I believe it is really important to explain some of the dangers that are in brews that contain DMT and MAOIs, as those dangers can not only be disturbing but also deadly as briefly pointed out earlier in this post.
Sadly we live in a world in which the healthy spiritual functions and connections of humans with the world are often supressed and manipulated. Many modern societies are entangled in multiple spiritual, mental and social diseases such as eating disorders, badly treated mental and social ailments, drug addictions and similar. The Islamic world itself fights for it’s survival in the face of an ever expanding Capitalism that treats the world as it’s colony. Unfortunately also within the Islamic world various poisons in disguise were released and create their damage, amongst them chemical party drugs and Psychiatric medications.
What many people who take Ayahuasca and Haoma and other spirit brews learn about this world, is that we are all part of One world, that all is spirit, and that we are surrounded and part of a spiritual world, which is exactly the message of Islam. Islam’s teachings are about ONE. All is connected, all lives, all has consciousness, and all consciousness is itself spirit. Such revelations are a direct negation of everything that large segments of Western psychology and psychiatry tell us about our nature and the nature of this world. It leads straight to the God experience and the revelation that matter is only a side show of many in this world.
However, to cut to the chase, to enjoy a safe psychoactive plant experience with Haomo, Ayahuasca and other DMT / MAOI carrying brews it is important to go through a check list. Many psychiatric medications, but also Asthma medications and over the counter meds such as Paracetamol interact very severly with DMT and/or MAOIs and can lead to heart attack, serotonine syndrome and complete mental collaps if mixed. Please consult a comprehensive list of interacting medications and drugs on the internet
As for psychiatrically framed violent mental “illnesses” such as schizophrenia, violent psychosis, psychotic borderline, to name just a few: There are more studies out now on possible healing interactions between Ayahuasca and these illnesses, but the general recommendation is to stay away. However, I don’t like to leave it at that and believe there is a lot of hope for people who were diagnosed with such severe mental issues if they would receive the right care and support (something that is terribly missing in times of cut downs in public spending) or if they would have not ended up in the clutches of the Psychiatric system and some badly trained and underpaid Psychiatrists in the first instance.
One should be at least 6 months drug free before considering taking Haomo or Aya. One also needs to prepare with a special diet that contains very little stimulants. Modern wheat products for example contain too much Gluten which increases the blood sugar levels and affect the brain. However, to go off psychiatric medication is easier said then done, as these medications have the habit to addict a person not only mentally but also physically. To come off psychiatic medications can be a long process that demands a lot from a person, and the end result may be that one is free of psychiatric meds but unable to enjoy a psychoactive plant experience after all because the medications have done lasting damage to the metabolic system; or perhaps a person can simply not get away from the meds because their body-mind system is too deeply addicted to the medications. In every case I can only advise to accept the experience and to continue with the spiritual path regardless.
More on the subject on this blog:
Ethneogenic Islam – On Haoma and Ayahuasca
On the Islamic treatment of Psychosis and Iatrogenesis (over-medication) of Psychiatric meds