There’s some controversy about the legality of Ayahuasca, because even though the preparation of the concoction (the combination of two plants that we know as “Ayahuasca”) is not regulated, one of its active components, the one called DMT (what causes the visions) does appear at the #1 JIFE list, the international authority watching the use of drugs all over the world. The legality of its consumption is governed by each individual country; it’s completely legal in Peru, since it’s considered “national heritage”.
The ambiguous situation the Ayahuasca at an international level is very curious: the ONU defends it and encourages its use through their cultural branch (UNESCO), while it’s persecuted by its repressive branch (JIFE).
One of Ayahuasca’s main components it’s DMT, which shares the legal status of “abused drugs”, just like other substances. However, Ayahuasca is far from being a substance that creates addiction: there is not even one documented case of a “hook” in scientific literature. It’s not addictive. Quite the opposite, Ayahuasca is used to successfully disintoxicate people from other drugs, besides tobacco and alcohol.
It can be lethal
There is not even one documented case of a death where the consumption of Ayahuasca is one of the possible causes. While it’s possible to get into a trance, it doesn’t have any side effect for those who drink it. However, not everyone can participate in the ritual: Ayahuasca is contraindicated in people with a history of mental disorders, such as schizophrenia. At a physical level the concoction is very safe from a medical standpoint, though it can raise blood pressure, so people with heart disease should be careful.
We secrete DMT when we’re born and when we die
The belief that there’s a natural presence of DMT in the brain has become common. According to this theory, mentioned by Richard Strassman in his book “The spirit molecule”, there’s three moments when DMT is secreted in our body: in the fetus, during the REM phase of sleep, and in the exact moment when we die. There’s more to this scientific explanation: “It’s known that there’s DMT in our nervous system, but there are barely traces and there’s no evidence that it’s part of any mental process; furthermore, there’s 40 other tryptamines in our bodies”, as explained by the neuroscientist José Carlos Bouso. “The hypothesis of DMT as a “spirit molecule” is just that; a hypothesis, according to what the very same Strassman has subsequently acknowledged, but it has been taken as an axiom by many people.”
It’s a panacea for health
Citing again the researcher José Carlos Bouso: “Ayahuasca has shown to be an efficient tool of personal introspection, and it can even work at a psychological or psychosomatic level, but it can’t cure viral or bacterial illnesses, much less a cancer.” There’s a number of shamans that offer the cure to every kind of ailment, but at least in the physical plane, it’s not backed scientifically. Regarding mental disorders, it’s known that it can treat efficiently several different disorders, however, it’s dubious to back that it can cure cancer and other complicated physical illnesses. There are testimonies of improvements, but there’s still much research to do about it.