When it comes to dealing with grief, there is no easy answer. Grief is a deeply personal process that often involves multiple layers and stages, each revealing a new aspect that wants to be released, healed, forgiven, or felt on a deeply visceral level. For hundreds of years, indigenous communities have looked to the healing power of plants and the ceremonial usage of them to support the grieving process. Microdosing ayahuasca vine is one such way to support conscious grieving.
The Banisteriopsis caapi vine is said to contain the spirit of ayahuasca, and shamans believe the vine can help with soul healing, soul retrieval, and processing grief (to name a few). The presence of beta-carbolines, a set of alkaloids in the B. caapi vine, may be partly responsible. These alkaloids are theorized to act as antidepressants, by stimulating the growth of new brain cells.
Whether it’s the loss of a loved one, the ending of an important relationship, or the existential grief that comes from feeling the weight of the world, grief is one emotion we are not taught how to deal with very well in our Western society. Funerals are kept on a tight schedule, and if you’re lucky, you have twenty minutes or so to cry amongst your loved ones. We’re told to deal with the devastating gloom of a break up with a bucket of ice cream, a few vengeful pop songs, and some sarcastic memes that will help you make light of the whole thing.
While there’s no doubt that these modern tools can provide some assistance in moving through grief, they generally do not tend to get to the deep roots of our grief. Grief then remains stuck in the eddies of our minds and tucked away in the pockets of our memories, creating stagnancy in our bodies and our lives.
Plant medicines, and specifically ayahuasca, can help bring to light the places that need healing. Studies have shown that people show a reduction in the severity of grief after experiencing an ayahuasca ceremony.1 Can the same be true of microdosing with the vine only?
How Microdosing With the Vine Can Support the Grieving Process
While most of the research surrounding ayahuasca and grieving is based on taking full doses of the ayahuasca brew, we believe there is tremendous therapeutic potential in working with the vine only. Shamans believe that the vine contains “the spirit of ayahuasca.” Despite the fact that you won’t be experiencing a visionary DMT world, you are still receiving the healing spirit of ayahuasca when working with the vine.
Chemically, the vine is theorized to function much like an antidepressant. Tetrahydroharmine, one of the main components of the vine, can increase serotonin levels 2 – while the beta-carbolines in combination have been shown to boost brain cell growth.3 When we make the conscious choice to face our grief and fully feel it, it’s helpful to have ways to support our nervous system in producing a healthy amount of serotonin and replacing damaged neurons. When choosing to consciously process grief, it can be easy to slip into a place of feeling like you’re drowning in it. The antidepressant aspects of the B. caapi vine can help to counterbalance that tendency.
Many long-term microdosers report being able to understand multiple aspects of a situation that may be causing them grief, an experience known as “decentering” in psychology. Users report that they are able to practice more acceptance, as well as have an easier time experiencing healing emotional releases.
If you are already going through a grieving period, microdosing with the ayahuasca vine could be a supportive tool in helping you to get through this painful period. On the other hand, if working with the vine on a daily basis brings up some unexpected grief, don’t be afraid to embrace it and let it flow through you.
Other Practices to Support Grieving During Your Microdosing Regimen
If you are microdosing with the ayahuasca vine with the clear intention to do some conscious grieving work, then you may want to incorporate some other modalities and practices to facilitate this process.
Here are some recommendations for modalities to explore that compliment the microdosing experience:
- Counseling/Therapy. Working with ayahuasca vine aids in neurogenesis, which is helpful for building new pathways and growing resiliency. Any progress that you make in counseling or therapy will only be enhanced and amplified by your microdosing.
- Breathwork. Breathwork is a great way to open up the channels in your body and really get some energy moving. See if you can find someone in your local area that offers guided breathwork (such a holotropic breathwork). These powerful ceremonies can be very transformational. If you can’t find a practitioner in your area, then try some yogic breath techniques as home such as kapalbhati (a.k.a. Shining skull). 4
- Shamanic drumming. Shamanic drumming is one of the most ancient practices of civilization. Drumming is one of the most consistent themes found by anthropologists across all ancient and indigenous civilizations. Drumming is used as a way to journey beyond the veil, receive insights and wisdom, and as a healing tool.
- Create a grief altar. The more intention and ceremony you put into your microdosing experience, the more you will get out of it. If your desire with microdosing is to bring healing or resolution to some area of your life that is causing you grief, creating a grief altar is one way to bring more awareness and structure to your process. Suggestions for what to put on your grief altar are: A candle; Some items in nature that you feel a connection to (such as a stone, dried flowers, bark from a tree you love, etc.); Crystals; Palo santo or sage; Your ayahuasca vine tincture. Use this altar as a space for you to sit with your grief, and offer it to the spirits and to the vine to be transmuted and released.
- Receive Reiki or other energy healing. Moving the energy of grief can feel like a big emotional workout. Receiving Reiki or energy work is kind of like taking an epsom salt bath after going hard at the gym. It’s to help soothe your energy body and ensure proper recovery. Seek an experienced Reiki master or energy healer in your area; preferably someone who comes highly recommended to you.
Any benefits you receive from microdosing ayahuasca will be amplified much more if you combine it with one or more of these practices.
How Neuroplasticity Can Help With Grief
Neuroplasticity is the brain’s ability to alter the structure of its neural network. It can make new neural connections, form new neurons, and alter the strength of existing connections. Essentially, neuroplasticity refers to the brain’s ability to change. People who struggle with depression often have reduced neuroplasticity.
Ayahuasca contains beta-carbolines, which are the alkaloids in the vine that plant the seeds for neuroplasticity.3 Any coping mechanisms you choose to engage with during your grieving process may be enhanced and supported by microdosing with the B. caapi vine.
Take advantage of your brain’s enhanced capacity for neuroplasticity when microdosing the vine by engaging in healthy behaviors like receiving counseling support, getting regular exercise, and doing things that support your mental health overall. Your brain is likely more equipped for building these new neural pathways due to the presence of the beta-carbolines in your system. These activities will strengthen your resiliency, helping you to persevere through your grief feeling stronger and more connected to yourself.
How To Start Microdosing Ayahuasca
Extracts of ayahuasca vine prepared specifically for microdosing are available to buy online. EntheoNation recommends several products that are sourced sustainably with high quality and care.
1 Gonzalez et al (2020) Therapeutic potential of ayahuasca in grief: a prospective, observational study. Psychopharmacology (Berl), 237(4), p1171-1182.
2 Buckholz & Boggan (1977) Inhibition by β-carbolines of monoamine uptake into a synaptosomal preparation: Structure-activity relationships. Life Sciences, 20(12), p2093-2100.
3 Morales-Garcia et al (2017) The alkaloids of Banisteriopsis caapi, the plant source of the Amazonian hallucinogen Ayahuasca, stimulate adult neurogenesis in vitro. Scientific Reports, 7(5309).
4 Kapalbhati step-by-step explanation: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8UURgA8Rf7E