To Hell and Back: Healing Depression With Ayahuasca and Huachuma, Part 3
Here is the last installment of the three part post about one of my readers' experience with ayahuasca and huachuma. If you have already read the first two posts, you are probably itching for the third one! If you have not read the first two posts, you will definitely want to check those out before reading this last one. Enjoy!
Huachuma: I got a really good night's sleep that night and woke up the next morning feeling...amazing. I felt better than I had felt in a long time. The usual chatter in my head that was constantly telling me how horrible my life was wasn't there. In fact, there was nothing there and it felt so, so good! For the first time in a very long time I actually felt alive.
Today was going to be a San Pedro day, which is supposed to be taken on an empty stomach. We would receive no breakfast or lunch, but we would get a light snack of fruit in the late afternoon and a normal dinner.
San Pedro, or huachuma, as the locals call it, is very similar to the psychedelic peyote. Both are derived from cacti, and both have the exact same active ingredient, mescaline. A typical huachuma experience lasts 10-12 hours. Like ayahuasca, huachuma also has powerful healing properties. I was game to give it a try and I'm glad I did.
We all gathered around in the big house as Jim mixed Huachuma in separate glasses for each of us. I filled my glass with water, mixed it as best I could with a spoon, and then drank it down. It had a strong earthy taste to it and the huachuma did not mix well with the water. The only way I know to describe drinking it is that it was kind of like drinking a glass filled with a mix of sand and water. As you can imagine, it was a little hard to get it down and one guy started throwing up before he could finish drinking his. I got mine down without any trouble and then waited for it to kick in.
After about 10-15 fifteen minutes I was starting to feel it and I could tell right away that the huachuma experience was going to be very different from ayahuasca. It gave me a strong feeling of euphoria, like everything was all right in the world. It also gave me a strong feeling of connectedness with the natural world around me. For some reason I just felt like I was one with everything while on Huachuma. My perception of the passage of time changed as well. Everything seemed to slow down almost to a crawl. As the hours passed, it felt more like minutes passing.
Another interesting thing I noticed with huachuma: At one point Jim played a little mood music on his stereo...some Enya and similar groups. I didn't just hear the music...I actually felt it! This phenomena, as I understand, is called senesthesia, and it happens with other classic psychedelics, too. It occurs when our brains become hyper-connected while on these amazing medicines. Senesthesia can also mean hearing colors and seeing sounds.
My huachuma experience was absolutely amazing and I spent most of the day walking through the jungle trails at the retreat and relaxing in the hammocks. By dinner I was no longer feeling the huachuma. I would experience huachuma one more time before returning home.
A Hard Decision: We were scheduled to do either ayahuasca or huachuma every other day. I knew that I could not use ayahuasca again because of my stomach problem, but I was scheduled to stay here for a full three weeks. That's a long time when the days are hot and humid and the insects are biting (I didn't use insect repellant like I should have..totally my fault). I was still feeling great, too. My depression had completely lifted and I was able to easily fall asleep at night, something I had not been able to do in many years. I'd come a long way in a very short time.
After careful consideration, I decided to cut my trip short. On my tenth day in the jungle I said goodbye to Iquitos, Peru, and flew home to Nashville, Tennessee. I knew that both the ayahuasca and Huachuma had done some serious work on me, but I wasn't sure if the benefits would last. Only time would tell.
Integration: After returning home I noticed a few interesting things. First, for a few weeks everything around me looked incredibly bright to me, like someone was shining a spotlight on my surroundings everywhere I went.
Another interesting thing I experienced: Every morning upon waking I wouldn't have a clue as to where I was. I was waking up in the same bedroom I'd slept in for the past two years, but for the first twenty or thirty seconds after waking, I wouldn't recognize my surroundings at all. This caused me to panic a little, but I was always able to quickly regain my bearings.
My feeling of euphoria continued for about two months. As winter started to set in I started to feel less and less happy, and then I started to have a few days here and there where I actually felt depressed again.
Was my trip to the Amazon Jungle a failure? No, and here's why: It has now been about a year and a half since I returned and although I'm not cured of depression and anxiety (I still have days here and there where I don't feel very good), I can honestly say that my lows don't go anywhere near as low as they used to. And not only that, but the days that I do feel depressed don't happen as frequently as they used to either. For me, this is a major improvement.
Looking Forward: So, where am I going to go from here? Honestly, I feel like I'm just getting started in my use of these incredibly powerful and healing medicines. I have made a lot of progress, but I know I still need additional healing. Whether or not I use ayahuasca again depends on whether I can get my stomach issues straightened out. But there are other psychedelic medicines that have powerful healing properties as well...like ibogaine and psilosybin mushrooms that I am considering.
In recent years medical research has resumed on these powerful medicines and the results have been astounding. With help from these medicines, I'm confident I can be completely cured and live not just a normal life, but a totally fulfilled life. I can't wait!
***New Update 6/22/17! I just finished a book, "Healing With Iboga" about experience with iboga! It includes information about what iboga is, my experience, and my tips to make the most of your experience as well as how to integrate back into everyday life! Available in paperback or kindle!***