Dimethyltryptamine (DMT) is a constituent of the plant, and it is illegal in the U.S., which makes study of it very difficult. It is said to produce euphoric and hallucinogenic effects, and is claimed to have therapeutic use in helping addiction, trauma, and depression. Scientists have looked upon it with wariness, as the South American herb has negative effects when mixed with other medications or when used by people with preexisting medical conditions. The herb is, however, gaining popularity, and people are trying to use it under the protective blanket of its use in “religious rituals and ceremony.” Here is an excerpt from the article; please take note of the “distinguished” individuals who (according to the article) recommend using Ayahuasca:
“Thousands are flocking to sample the elixir and swear by its therapeutic properties, despite warnings from scientists and users that ayahuasca can be dangerous and even prove fatal, especially when mixed with other drugs. Ayahuasca’s proponents, who include celebrities such as Sting, Paul Simon, Tori Amos and Lindsey Lohan, say the plant offers a spiritual experience like no other. Many also say it has allowed them to overcome traumas that no other conventional therapy can tackle.”
Really, guys and gals, Lindsey Lohan? Sting? The point that I am making (and I am a trained Master Herbalist) is that scientific research and good laboratory work provide true and useful information that should not be ignored just for the sake of bucking the “Big Pharma” train. Seriously, if you want good information, weigh any herbal supplement against lab data and scientific research provided for you. In the past, I have mentioned such reference materials as “Medical Herbalism” by David Hoffman (a Doctor of Naturopathic Medicine), as well as the “PDR for Herbal Medicine,” a compendium gathered by hundreds of Medical Doctors and Herbalists. I have also mentioned traditional medical references, such as Taber’s Cyclopedic Medical Dictionary.
These reference materials in no way detract from the principles of herbalism and naturopathic aids: rather, they reinforce them with research, study, and in-depth chemical analyses that are possible only in a laboratory setting. They give dosages, contraindications, and specifics about the herbs that enable a person to arm themselves with knowledge that could prevent an illness or injury. Part of your survival supplies is the knowledge to employ them. Nothing could hold more true than with herbs and herbal supplements.
Most laypersons aren’t particularly fond of scientists and chemists; however, these people studied hard to win approval in their profession…with real and valuable information in their curriculums. It is my firm belief that traditional medicine and herbalism need to support and complement one another, as they are interrelated, with the latter discipline being the older of the two. Although there are plenty of laws that are not good, they are not the majority: there is common sense in stopping at a red light, common sense in being required to put a tarp over a dump truck loaded with gravel, and common sense with keeping a snarling dog on a leash and maybe muzzled. Common sense and the observance of it help keep people safe. If they “forget,” then the law is their guideline. Without laws people really would eat one another.
In this light, many times some of these exotic herbs have been used for innocuous or innocent purposes with well-meaning, and through no fault of their own, people have gotten hurt or worse. The reason for this is they didn’t really know the herb or know what they were doing in the first place. The scientific research on lesser-known substances should be trusted and further researched before attempting to utilize these herbs, as well as consent and approval of a physician…an individual trained in chemistry and biology with years of practical experience in medicine and (we hope) a professional who places patient care first and foremost.
So, to summarize, learn about herbs and herbalism as much as you can when an obscure or “new” thing comes to light. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, and your prevention lies within your references and the professionals you have at your disposal to question regarding your supplements. There is no shame in asking questions, and it is just as important to know about your supplements and how to use them as it is to have a full supply. Be safe, and have a Happy New Year!