Is Peru’s psychedelic potion a cure or a curse?
“Jessica Nielson, a University of California, San Francisco, neuroscientist who is leading the study, became interested in the potion after trying it herself following a difficult divorce and doubts about her career trajectory….U.S. Army veteran Asa Barrett tried antidepressant drugs and therapy to overcome depression and bouts of anger. Nothing worked. But then, like many other foreigners, he journeyed to Peru’s remote Amazonian jungle…”
Some longtime ayahuasca proponents in Iquitos lament the recent influx of tourism dollars, which they feel has corrupted the ritual and put some foreigners at risk from fly-by-night operators in the burgeoning industry. “People have got way too careless about all of this,” said Howard Lawler, 68, a Kentucky native who runs Spirit Quest Shamanic Sanctuary, one of the longest-running ayahuasca centers here. “It is never to be taken for any recreational purpose. It is a very serious medicine.”…After surviving firefights and a roadside bomb in Afghanistan, U.S. Army veteran Asa Barrett tried antidepressant drugs and therapy to overcome depression and bouts of anger. Nothing worked. But then, like many other foreigners, he journeyed to Peru’s remote Amazonian jungle to drink ayahuasca, a centuries-old, sacred indigenous brew that some Western scientists think can help to heal psychological traumas. During a recent ayahuasca ritual, the 30-year-old from Oklahoma lay on a mattress with about 20 other travelers on the floor of a round, wooden hut in a remote resort near a tributary of the Amazon River. About 45 minutes after drinking the dark concoction, he began to see vibrant colors. He then vomited into a plastic bucket, a common reaction to ayahuasca. Mr. Barrett acknowledged that it didn’t appear therapeutic. But he also described seeing visions of war-torn Afghanistan emerging as a shaman chanted spiritual songs called icaros. He recalled seeing bullet holes in a wall, a dead Afghan woman and the moment when an improvised explosive device almost killed him. He saw his small military base in Afghanistan’s mountainous border region with Pakistan. He heard a loud voice.
Original Article (Wall Street Journal):
Using psychedelics to increase performance and reprogram the mind/brain interface
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