A Firsthand Report of An Individual's Experience Participating in a Traditional Costa Rican Ayahuasca Ceremony George Naratadam , George T. Naratadam, BS; Jason Narikkattu, MS; Safeer Shah MD (San Antonio, TEXAS ) P1
Historical evidence has shown the importance of psychedelic drugs in the treatment of disease. Reporting psychedelic drug experiences in the biomedical academic literature is critical to the progress of using psychedelics as therapeutics in medicine. Here we present one individual's experience participating in a traditional Costa Rican ayahuasca ceremony. The individual personally funded a trip to the Rythmia Life Advancement Center in Guanacaste, Costa Rica in Fall 2017. The ceremony lasted four days with each ayahuasca session running from sunset (6-7pm) to approximately midnight (with exception for the last night which went until sunrise). Prior to taking the ayahuasca, there was a rape (e accent) (pronounced huape) ceremony, where a tobacco-like substance was inhaled to prepare for the ingestion of ayahuasca. The ayahuasca was then served in a liquid form after being processed. The ceremonial leader assessed every individual and determined how much each individual would receive. They would offer opportunities throughout the session to ingest more and would limit the amount served each night. Upon completion of the ceremony, it was thought that each individual partaking could achieve a 'miracle', a supernatural like experience that can be reflected and utilized in daily life. The individual had various experiences during each of the four nights of the ceremony. On the first night, the individual reported gastrointestinal symptoms such as nausea and constipation that were induced shortly after ingestion of ayahuasca. The individual reported visual hallucinations and an inability to control thoughts. The individual reported heavy breathing as well. On the second night, the individual reported an increase in physical and visual intensity of hallucinations. The individual also reported recalling previously experienced memories. The individual experienced diarrhea as well. On the third night, the individual reported intense visual hallucinations. The individual specifically reported recalling the psychological challenge of having to surrender to chaos that developed within their mind and within the group. The individual experienced panicked breathing and diarrhea as well. The fourth night the individual reported a milder reaction upon ingestion and became somnolent without any other physical symptoms. The individual reports that their ayahuasca experience had many challenges due to the holistic aspects of health that were tasked in order to achieve a 'miracle'. These challenges included physical symptoms upon ingesting the compound, the suspension of belief in how the treatment could cure illness and the allowing of oneself to be vulnerable to the psychological effects of the compound. The individual believes that what had occurred upon completion of the ceremony was that they received their 'miracle'. Their attitudes and comfort towards the unknown shifted favorably welcoming new opportunities career wise and a change in how they spent their free time. They developed more meaningful and deeper personal relationships with family members. Their resolve to seek out alternative ways of healing changed as well. In conclusion, this experience has played an important part of the individual's life and continues to impact the way they live to this day.