These days I have received some criticism about the image I have published where I affirm: «ayahuasca is not a drug». The main reason they give is that in the dictionary it says that a drug is anything that «produces psychological changes in the state of consciousness». According to this definition we could say that ayahuasca is one. This is what in linguistics is called «denotation», which refers to the meaning of something. However, there is the «connotation» that refers to the personal meaning that each person gives it or that the collective or society gives it. That is to say the mental meaning, the unconscious meaning. Not the one that is printed on paper.

It is this unconscious meaning that moves the relationships in the world on this issue and it is this meaning that we can open ourselves to re-signify. We can re-signify the word «drug» or we can re-signify the category in which we put ayahuasca, bufo alvarius or mdma, which for me are medicines. Medicines because they allow us to access experiences of healing, of liberation from the perceptions of ourselves, of life and of others that make us suffer. A medicine is something that helps you to take responsibility for your life, for what you feel, think or live. A drug is to escape from it. In this sense the so called «psychiatric drugs» like anxiolytics or antidepressants belong more to the category of drugs than medicines. Ayahuasca is difficult to use for escape, but it can also be used to create distorted images of ourselves, both «mystical» and «shamanic» and of other indoles. Also bufo alvarius some people smoke it because they want to be fused with wholeness all the time and reject this experience and mdma we have already seen how used in inappropriate environments it can serve as a drug or evader as well. However, used in the right environment they are wonderful medicines. In the case of changa or smoked dmt there is much more compulsive addictive behaviour that I have seen.

Let’s talk about ayahuasca. It does not produce physical addiction and there are no known cases of psychological addiction or craving. However, some people believe that ayahuasca is the source of wisdom and give it the power, they say «ayahuasca told me» as if it was the plant that speaks to them instead of the Love Consciousness.

It is also not a drug because it does not generate physical tolerance, i.e. you don’t have to take more and more doses but less and less because you become more and more sensitised to it.

A drug destroys neurons, but ayahuasca produces neurogenesis, i.e. the generation of new neurons, which is why it is used in the prevention of some neurodegenerative diseases. It also does not produce a hangover like drugs. There is no «chemical low» the next day, although there are people who can experience processes of catharsis and liberation that are the natural consequence of what they experience and understand when they take it the day before.

It is not a hallucinogen because it does not produce hallucinations, which would be unreal perceptions of things with the eyes open. What it does produce are visions that we experience with our eyes closed and serves in many cases as a hallucinogen, allowing us to dissolve hallucinations such as the perception that «we are not worthy of love».

For all these reasons for me ayahuasca is not a drug. In fact people who want to free themselves from addictions to real drugs like cocaine take it to help them in the process.

DMT is one of the active ingredients of ayahuasca and other entheogens. It is in Schedule 1 and is illegal. The human body contains DMT so as Terence McKenna said, your body and my body are illegal, and being your body and my body we are also «illegal». DMT is secreted in the pineal gland and has been found to be released in large quantities at birth and death and in other spontaneous processes of deep meditation or contemplation. In this sense the body manufactures its own entheogens.
The expansion of consciousness produces endogenous entheogens in the body and entheogens promote expansion in turn. Consciousness created the brain and the brain supports some processes of Consciousness.

When we take a blow the body secretes endorphins that relieve pain, i.e. it generates its own drugs or anaesthetics.

Therefore this article is an invitation to transform our perception of ayahuasca not so much in the physical dictionary but in the inner dictionary, because it is our inner change of perception that transforms the world.

In this article I am not presenting a negative connotation about drugs in the sense of the dictionary, neither a condemnation nor a paternalistic attitude as exercised by the state, nor am I in favour of the war on drugs because if it ended and they were regulated or decriminalised (as in the case of Oregon in the USA) much of the money that is used in pursuing them could be invested in healing centres where even entheogens are used as part of the process. Nor do I intend to give a negative connotation to what we call «escapism», which is sometimes necessary and healthy and is a form of enjoyment when it does not become compulsive, pathological and dysfunctional. I mean that it is not necessary for it to become an exasperating and self-punitive demand to observe our inner selves and behaviours.

What I am talking about is creating a movement to defend ayahuasca against all the attacks of those who criticise it without knowing what it is. I don’t know anyone who has had a profound experience with ayahuasca and calls it a drug precisely because their experience has told them that it is a medicine in the sense that it helps us to dissolve the idea that «I am a wrong and unworthy patient» and allows us, through its entheogenic quality, to embrace our humanity from the divine and to fall in love with life and love. Rivers of ayahuasca flow through the world, like bittersweet torrents of brown liquid through the veins of planet earth, reaching the hearts of every corner of the world. Ayahuasca travels together with other entheogens and entactogens to the forefront of the world’s transformation towards a world ever more full of Love.

Sergio Sanz Navarro

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