Bia Labate, the noted Brazilian anthropologist living in Mexico, who is known for her studies in psychoactive substances, drug policy, shamanism, ritual, and religion, has written an interesting article for Huffington Post about the effects of ayahuasca on veterans suffering from PTSD. Ayahuasca, of course, is the trippy drink made from a South American vine that is both psychologically cathartic and mind-blowingly life-changing (it’s also the one Chelsea Handler is planning to drink on her new Netflix series.)
Bia wondered: “Did they regret having killed people? Did they think they were doing the right thing by going to war? Could ayahuasca really help them? Would their presence in the ceremony influence my own experience? Would they perhaps display aggressive feelings, as ayahuasca was traditionally used in warfare among indigenous people in the Amazon? Could they actually be re-traumatized by their visions?”
She was completely caught off guard by her experience. Says Bia:
One of them cried and screamed the whole session. He rocked back and forth, like a child. He also whispered, and talked to himself. He made guttural and profound sounds for hours, which were kind of disturbing. These sounds seemed to come from another world.
After the first ceremony, he shared with me some war stories, his panic while in the field, having to shoot, and seeing ahead only women and children, smoke, fire, buildings falling down, chaos. He told my friend a vision that constantly haunted him: a frozen black burnt body with the arms outstretched, like a statue.
The next day, we all took the brew again. I was processing my own stuff. There was a moment that I felt an urge to purge, and went to the toilet. While vomiting, I saw a horrible war scene, perfectly clear and visual. I had the feeling I was vomiting for him. This is something that can happen in ayahuasca; its part of the “tradition” so to speak. Of course, one can argue that what I saw was informed by what he told me, the movies or the media; or, that I was just in a suggestive state. However, I sincerely felt I was relieving some of his pain.
However, she explains that it was a joy to hear the vets’ stories, and left the retreat feeling positive that ayahuasca can definitely help war veterans! Read the entire article here.
Bia has worked on many books on the subject of ayahuasca with WOWlebrity (and WOWL superfan) Clancy Cavnar including: