This is your mind on DMT or Ayahuasca 

Ayaan Paul
Ayaan PaulMar 24, 2023 | 08:00

This is your mind on DMT or Ayahuasca 

In a remarkable first, scientists have been able to study the effects DMT - the psychedelic compound found in ayahuasca that is known for its extremely potent 10 minute psychedelic trips - has on the brain.

Ayahuasca is a powerful entheogenic brew traditionally used by indigenous people of the Amazon basin for spiritual and medicinal purposes. The brew is made by boiling the ayahuasca vine (Banisteriopsis caapi) with the leaves of the chacruna plant (Psychotria viridis), which contains the psychoactive compound DMT (dimethyltryptamine).


The name of the brew comes from the Quechua language spoken by some of the indigenous groups in the Andean region. ‘Aya’ means soul, ancestors or dead people and ‘wasca’ means vine or rope.

Practitioners of ayahuasca have reported experiencing powerful hallucinations, near-death experiences, contact with higher-dimensional beings, and transformative voyages through alternate realities. 

When consumed, the DMT in the ayahuasca brew induces a powerful and intense psychedelic experience that can last from 4-8 hours. However, when smoked or vaporized, DMT can produce an even more intense and short-lived 10 minute experience. 

During a 10-minute DMT trip, the user can experience a complete dissolution of their sense of self and reality, entering a realm of vivid and complex hallucinations. Many users report encounters with seemingly intelligent and autonomous entities that are often described as alien or otherworldly. The experience can be overwhelming and can induce feelings of awe, terror, or transcendence.

Those who have used it say that the intense 10-minute psychedelic trip from ayahuasca or DMT can be a transformative experience and can provide profound insights and spiritual growth. However, it should only be used under the guidance of an experienced shaman or therapist in a safe and controlled environment.


The latest findings show that DMT has a significant impact on many areas of the brain, particularly those involved in planning, language, memory, decision-making, and imagination. The regions that contribute to our perception of reality become more connected, with communication becoming more fluid and flexible.

A healer starting a Ayahuasca ceremony by offering the medicinal plant to a person taking part of the ritual, in La Calera, Colombia.

This ability to make brain activity more fluid and flexible is thought to be the reason behind the promising results seen in early clinical trials using DMT and psychotherapy to treat depression. DMT's short-acting effects make it a more flexible tool than other psychedelics, such as psilocybin and LSD, which can last for hours.

While scientists have gained insight into the effects of DMT on the brain, they believe there is still much to be learned. It is suspected that while newer parts of the brain may be dysregulated by DMT, older systems may become disinhibited, similar to what happens during dreaming. The study of how DMT works to alter consciousness is still in its early stages.

While the use of ayahuasca has been a part of indigenous South American cultures for centuries, it has recently gained popularity among Westerners seeking spiritual or therapeutic experiences. However, the use of ayahuasca and other psychedelics has also been met with controversy and legal restrictions due to safety concerns and indigenous cultural appropriation.

Last updated: March 24, 2023 | 08:00
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