Ayahuasca is a plant-based psychedelic brew that originated from the South American rainforests. It is made from boiling the Banisteriopsis caapi vine, the Psychotria viridis shrub together, although a variety of other plants can be included in the mix depending on tradition. The active chemical in ayahuasca is DMT (dimethyltryptamine), an extremely powerful psychedelic drug obtained from the viridis leaf. DMT typically gets broken down in the stomach when ingested on its own. However, when combined with the caapi vine that contains monoamine oxidase inhibitors, or MAOIs, your body can absorb the DMT, resulting in a trip.
Evidence of ayahuasca usage was discovered in a cave located in southwestern Bolivia, it dated back to at least 1000 A.D. so we know this brew has been around for some time. Records from the 16th century reveal that Christian missionaries from Spain had encountered indigenous Amazonians using ayahuasca, they described it as “the work of the devil”. However lately ayahuasca usage has seen somewhat of a boom, it still remains a fringe medicine of sorts, but now we see it more and more in mainstream media. So why has the world become so fascinated with this psychedelic mix?
In this film, we follow Howard Lawler, who in 1995 established the Ayahuasca Spiritquest Healing and Higher Consciousness program located in the Amazon. Lawer takes us on a journey through traditional plant medicine from the Amazon i.e. ayahuasca and reveals to us how it is used to treat a variety of physical and psychological illnesses and conditions. Indigenous people in countries such as Colombia and Peru have been brewing it for thousands of years, primarily for religious or spiritual purposes. They consider it to be a medicine, a means to heal internal wounds and reconnect with nature.
With that in mind, Lawler shows us how this concoction is used for holistic medicine, and challenges the stigmas that surround its use. Setting out to aid people in becoming more conscious and ethical consumers of the plant if that’s the path they choose.
Directed by: Gavin Hoffman