Shipibo Healers Laura Temple of The Way of Light. Photo by Tracey Eller for Cosmic Sister

People Are Drinking Ayahuasca to Treat Physical Illnesses
by Suzannah Weiss

“Humans like to put things in tidy little boxes, but nature doesn't do that.” – Zoe Helene, Vice | TONIC

Could the psychedelics be changing people's perceptions of pain?

Zoe Helene, who offers "psychedelic feminism" grants for women to experience traditional ayahuasca retreats in the Peruvian Amazon through her company Cosmic Sister, and Chris Kilham, who has researched plant medicines in 45 countries and is author of The Ayahuasca Test Pilots Handbook, both say they’ve witnessed many of transformational healings in the ayahuasca medicine space.

Many people describe feeling like the ayahuasca is scanning their bodies for areas that need help during ceremony, Helene says. In fact, in traditional ceremonies, shamans drink ayahuasca under the belief that it’ll help them see what parts of participants’ bodies they need to heal, Kilham explains. He most commonly finds that people with conditions that have multiple causes (often ones that can be hard to pinpoint), such as sleep disorders, backaches, and chronic fatigue, benefit from ayahuasca.

What scientists are discovering about the mind-body connection, in fact, reflects what ayahuasca-drinking cultures have believed all along: that, as Standish puts it, the body and the mind are one single thing. Helene agrees: “Humans like to put things in tidy little boxes, but nature doesn't do that."

“What happens in our brain affects everything that happens throughout our entire bodies,” Kilham says. “If our brain activity is harmonized, our physical bodies overall are appreciably more well.”

June 2018