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  • Christine Angelica

Why Ayahuasca Is Having a Moment, and May Soon Become Legal

In recent years, Ayahuasca has been rediscovered, so to speak. A growing number of health professionals have found that its therapeutic and healing properties for people struggling with treatment-resistant depression are credible. Research is now being done to support these findings and a handful of lawmakers are pushing for the treatment to become legal again.

Now, scientists are studying its effects by using advanced imaging techniques to monitor brain activity during and after an ayahuasca ceremony. Here's what they've learned about how ayahuasca alters neural pathways in the brain and what kind of profound impact it can have on the lives of those who undergo this experience.

Ayahuasca is a powerful psychoactive brew traditionally used by indigenous Amazonian tribes in Peru and Ecuador as part of spiritual rituals. In the last decade or so, it has become increasingly popular in Western countries— both with curious thrill-seekers looking for an exotic experience, as well as individuals seeking emotional healing.

Neuroscience researchers are trying to understand exactly how these special ceremonies, including the consumption of ayahuasca, have such profound impacts on an individual’s well-being, and specifically what it does to the brain.

By subjecting participants to MRI scans while they are under the influence of this hallucinogenic brew, doctors are starting to get some answers about what's going on in people's brains when they take ayahuasca —and why this ancient ritual produces such incredible results for many those who use it in the treatment of all sorts of mental health concerns.

The main active ingredient responsible for the psychological effects produced by drinking ayahuasca is DMT (dimethyltriptamine), a naturally occuring chemical that works to alter neural pathways affecting mood regulation, fear extinction, and stress responses — all factors associated with depression or anxiety which could be improved with psychotherapy interventions like ayahuasca.

According to a study conducted at Brigham Young University, taking ayahuasca modulates brain waves associated with high-level cognitive processes and even awakens dormant connections between certain networks within the cerebral cortex that are inactive while sober.

Basically, drinking ayahuasca helps our brain "reset" itself — often providing profound insight into one’s old hurts and traumas hidden away beneath conscious thought processes which could even resolve long-term mental health issues like PTSD and addiction.

Ayahuasca opens up more neuronal pathways in our brains while strengthening existing ones – creating more holistic thought patterns and greater life satisfaction after participating in an Ayahuasca ceremony.

It's exciting to think that science may finally be able to unlock much of the mystical power behind the use of Ayauhsuaca – giving us further evidence that not only does this biological privilege provide important insights into our mental process, but it also actively works towards helping individuals find ways out from difficult states.

This new knowledge is incredibly valuable and will enable us to customize treatment plans tailored specifically to each person’s therapeutic needs -- promoting positive outcomes from its use far into future.