Plant Medicine pt. I
Personal Journey to Psychedelics
At the beginning of this year, I was contacted by an old friend who had a vision of me connected to plant medicine. After further connecting, she asked me if I would be interested in sitting in Ceremony for the drinking of mother nature’s ayahuasca plant in the magical land of Joshua Tree.
Having been heavily reflective and up-close with matters of my own healing and also passions of healing work for others, psychedelic plant medicine has been an aspired next step of healing for myself and life path.
In the back of my mind lies a quote from a dear friend of mine whom I shared a spiritual connection with last summer, for he stated “when the student is ready, the teacher will arrive.” He mentioned things about ayahuasca medicine and we spent a lot of our time talking about psychedelics, his personal experience with psychedelics, and how the effects can rewire one’s life and reveal the truth of yourself and the universe.
Having this evolved desire to find a safe and guided experience with psychedelics, I began hearing more and more about psychedelic experiences, discovering people’s journaled and vlogged experiences with ayahuasca ceremonies and retreats, and discovering very up to date research on the potential therapuetic effects of psychedelics. Little did I know that this fascination in my heart, would be preparing me for my own soon-to-be experience with ayahuasca.
Contrary to popular belief, psychedelics do not act on dopaminergic pathways and do not lead to dependence or addiction of the substance (Patra, 2016). Psychedelics actually have, what Patra (2016) describes as “anti-addictive properties” with extremely therapeutic effects for the treatment of addiction, anxiety and depression, emotional distress and suicidal ideation (p. 51).
The results within the literature are fascinating, for people are coming out of these psychedelic experiences no longer having cravings for their drug of choice, rewiring their brains to no longer suffer from anxiety and depression, and purging themselves of emotional and physical pain.
As this flow of information has continued to inspire my holistic nursing knowledge and focus I have began to dig deeper into the healing properties of psychedelics such as ayahuasca, psilocybin from mushrooms, and LSD, with an emphasis on ayahuasca therapeutics.
What is ayahuasca and how does it work?
Ayahuasca consists of two different plants: the stems of the Banisteriopsis caapi vine, which have monoamine oxidase-inhibiting (MAOI) properties (which are the base of most worldwide antidepressants) and the leaves of the Psychotria viridis shrub, which contain the N-Dimethyltryptamine (DMT) hallucinogenic (Gonzalez, Carvalho, Cantillo, Aixala, & Farre, 2017).
The DMT hallucinogen is described to act on the antidepressant and anxiolytic 5-HT-2A receptor sites, which causes the brain to release what’s called the neurotrophic factor (Gonzalez & et. al., 2017). The neurotrophic factor release is then responsible for promoting neurogensis and neuroplasticity.
Talin and Sanabria (2017) explain this effect as decreasing the brain’s “Default Mode Network” to open up to a new channel or new wiring. This is very similar to what happens when one practices meditation or mindfulness, for it creates space for something *greater* to come in and create lasting neuroplastic effects on the brain.
Spiritual and Ancient Healing Perspectives
From a spiritual and ancient healing perspective, it has been said that the psychedelic medicine opens up one’s brain to enter into a spiritual dimension of the universe, while showing people that we are ever connected energetic beings.
Dr. Rick Strassman (2001), author and psychedelic researcher believes that DMT, or what he calls "the spirit molecule", opens the brain up to other planes of existence or a shared parallel universe that everyone enters while experiencing DMT. He believes that this dimension always exists, however as humans we are not naturally programmed to be attuned to its presence due to our "normal" mental programming (2001).
When we look back into ancient spiritual history we see that many indigenous cultures used plant medicine for many forms of healing and spiritual awakening, while understanding that these pyschedelics were gifts of increased consciousness from the divine or the whole of existence. Without getting into politic and societal debate, it is simple enough to say that shifts in consciousness and societal values have changed public views around the use of these substances but that much research is pointing back to the medicinal benefits of our sacred psychedelic plants.
It speaks to the idea that DMT creates space for something greater and creatively intelligent to communicate with one’s true self, as I have mentioned in previous blogs on imagery and mindfulness. It seems as though, when we as humans, are able to silence the parts of our mind and brain that steer the ego or biological mental pathways, something truly magical happens—as if the entire universe is made of conscious intuitive love, waiting to guide us all in the direction of light and clear our shadows.
Allowing a fast track for the brain to enter this state through psychedelics, can lead to a catapulted lift in consciousness and an experience of the vast and powerful loving truths of the universe.
Ceremony Preparation & Synchronicity
As my introduction with ayahuasca is nearing, Hannah and I have been aligning our hearts and minds for the journey ahead and experiencing an increased amount of synchronicity to validate that our path is in alignment with both of our hearts' desires.
As we go into ceremony this weekend we will both be setting our intentions for healing, growth, and expansion, while sharing with the universe the love we would like to receive. In special regards, I look forward to sharing this expanding experience with you all, and I thank you for the blessings that have been sent my way. It is in community and love that we heal, and I am blessed/truly thankful to have Hannah as my personal guide into the world of psychedelic plant medicine.
See you guys on the other side,
Bogenschutz, M. P., & Johnson, M. W. (2016). Classic hallucinogens in the treatment of addictions. Progress in Neuro-Psychopharmacology and Biological Psychiatry, 64, 250-258. doi:10.1016/j.pnpbp.2015.03.002
Gonzalez, D., Carvalho, M., Cantillo, J., Aixala, M., & Farre, M. (2017). Potential Use of Ayahuasca in Grief Therapy. OMEGA - Journal of Death and Dying, 1-26. doi:10.1177/0030222817710879
Patra, S. (2016). Return of the psychedelics: Psilocybin for treatment resistant depression. Asian Journal of Psychiatry, 24, 51-52. doi:10.1016/j.ajp.2016.08.010
Strassman, R. (2001). DMT: The spirit molecule. Rochester, VT: Park Street Press.
Talin, P., & Sanabria, E. (2017). Ayahuasca's entwined efficacy: An ethnographic study of ritual healing from 'addiction'. International Journal of Drug Policy, 44, 23-30. doi:10.1016/j.drugpo.2017.02.017