Ayahuasca: A Complex Elixir With Variable Effects


While researching the therapeutic potential of ayahuasca from a Psychiatry perspective, I have realized that ayahuasca is a highly variable plant medicine that has variable effects depending on how it is brewed. This presentation explains the implications of these variations for the subjective experience of people attending ayahuasca ceremonies, where legally permitted.

Most indigenous Amazonian tribes brew ayahuasca with Banisteriopsis caapi vines and Psychotria viridis leaves, while some substitute Diplopterys cabrerana instead of Psychotria, and some included admixture plants too. There are many different types of Amazonian vine used by different tribes, some of which are different species. Additional complications have been introduced in Australia because the scarcity of the Amazonian plants has inspired the use of Peganum harmala for MAO inhibition and various species of Acacia for DMT content. All of these variations of source plant material affect the resulting balance of the 4 psychoactive ingredients in ayahuasca: harmine, harmaline, tetrahydroharmine and DMT.

I have developed a theoretical understanding of the individual effects of the 4 psychoactive components, and I will be explaining what the molecular variations mean in terms of human experience. I will discuss variations in cooking techniques and their implications for subjective experiences. I will explain and discuss the problematic consequences of ayahuasca fermenting, and how to fix fermentation. I will also provide an honest report of the dangers of combining ayahuasca with cannabis and/or other psychoactive substances.

This presentation will be referencing my own 15 years of personal experience in ayahuasca ceremonies, together with observations of others, my academic research and my own experiments. My intention is to provide information that will minimize risks to health and safety, enhance the experience for ayahuasca ceremony participants, and guide the Australian community towards legal authorization of this sacred healing modality.


Benjamin Mudge has a background in music, art and political activism, and is now a PhD candidate in the Psychiatry Department at Flinders University researching the therapeutic potential of ayahuasca for people with bipolar disorder. After psychiatrists prescribed him 17 different pharmaceuticals over a period of 10 years (all of which were problematic), he gave up on pharmaceutical psychiatry and decided to find his own solution to living with manic depression. He has been managing his bipolar disorder with ayahuasca for 14 years (without any need of pharmaceuticals) and was awarded a PhD scholarship to research whether his personal protocol could assist other bipolar people. Mudge is director of <a href="https://www.bipolardisorder.me">Bipolar Disorder CIC</a>, a not-for-profit community interest company working for the interests of bipolar people. His vision is to make ayahuasca ceremonies available to bipolar people as an alternative treatment to pharmaceutical drugs. He is also an advocate for the religious freedom of ayahuasca ceremonies, and led a team of ayahuasceros to the Parliament of the World’s Religions that succeeded in receiving the Parliament’s recognition of ayahuasca ceremonies as legitimate religious practices. His spiritual practice involves singing sacred ayahuasca songs, which he shares under the name Santa Estrela.

Written by