At DMT Times we understand that there are many possibilities as to what can happen when psychoactive substances are consumed. While some may consider these to be medicines and genuinely experience medicinal effects, others may have diametrically opposed experiences.
Physical dangers, disingenuous centres and legality
There are physical dangers associated with journeying to retreat centres in distant lands. Although it is possible that your trip (physical or mental) will pass without hitches, there are many unscrupulous persons running retreats, and your safety may not be their priority. Even if it is, that doesn’t guarantee capability - ask pertinent questions, as integral centres will be happy to answer in detail for your peace of mind - both before and after booking.
It is always smart to exercise considerable caution when selecting a host or traveling to an unfamiliar destination. Personal recommendation by a trusted source, or consistent recommendations from verifiably unbiased strangers are probably your best bet. Aside from legitimacy and integrity of the retreat centres you’re vetting, it is crucial to check the legality in the specific area you’re thinking of traveling to. Laws change often and without notice, so be sure to research the current law before committing.
Psychological consequences and unexpected after effects
Then there is the issue of delusion. In his book Antipodes of the Mind, Israeli psychologist Benny Shanon (who imbibed ayahuasca over 100 times), gives a fascinating account of both his own visions and those of others. He attributes ayahuasca with having transformed him from a “devout atheist” into a spiritual believer, awestruck by the mysteries of nature and the human mind.
Yet he openly acknowledges that these experiences can pose risks, something that like Dr. Rick Strassman also feels. In his book Shanon quotes an ayahuasca shaman and warns that ayahuasca can also be “the worst of liars,” leaving some users gripped by delusions.
Another article (by a DMT Times writer) presents another angle on this topic, with an article entitled “When plant medicines lose the battle with ego”.
While many people report positive life-changing experiences and enhanced awareness, there are cases of severe psychological trauma that may even result in existential crisis, a form of PTSD, HIPPD or what is known as ‘depersonalisation’.
Whether these are down to changes in brain chemistry or an ability to process the magnitude of what has been experienced, these are real dangers and anybody who wishes to step into unknown realms should be aware that the results can not be in any way predicted.
It should be considered that certain substances may have the capability to alter brain chemistry. In some cases, this may be permanent, but is more likely to happen when consuming a brew containing unknown admixtures. There are tales of people drinking ayahuasca brews containing other psychoactive plants such as Datura, which has been known to cause serious physical and psychological reactions, and in some cases permanent damage or fatalities.
Hidden realms and their inhabitants
Many shamans will tell you that when you enter the DMT realm, you are entering a spirit world filled with beings of varying temperaments. Regardless of belief in this possibility or otherwise, there are many reports of people having terrifying experiences which seem to continue long after the ceremony or session is over. It is important to consider that there are many unpredictable factors at play when consuming a powerful psychoactive substance such as DMT.
Below we present articles published around the internet that discuss issues around the use of of DMT and ayahuasca, make safety recommendations and document less common user experiences:
The Dark Side of Ayahuasca, by Shaman Elizabeth Herrera
Black Magic Vs Emotional Intelligence, by the Paititi Institute
Ayahuasca: The Bitter Cup - Beware the Hands That Serve You, by Passionfruit Cowgirl
Ayahuasca: Dispelling Myth – Harm vs. Healing, by Holistic Evolution
Ayahuasca Harm: Emails Submitted to Holistic Evolution (Ayahuasca Watch)
The Not So Sacred Valley: Decolonizing Plant Medicine in Pisac, Peru, by Travel Alchemy
The Dark Side of Ayahuasca, by Mens Journal
Trip Report: DMT is Not What You Think, from DMT Nexus
A Warning About DMT, by Patricio Dominguez
8 Suggestions to Minimise Dangers for Ayahuasca Drinkers, by Jeff Brown
Substances that Contraindicate with Ayahuasca, by Ayahuasca Safety Council
Pandora’s Brew: The New Ayahuasca, by Brewminate. Covering legitimacy and integrity of retreat centres, legality in the USA and more.