The #1 Myth About Sacred Plant Medicines Like Ayahuasca

As global interest in sacred plant medicines expands around the world, so is misinformation about what these powerfully visionary ancestral medicines can do for you. I want to share with you the #1 myth (or even lie about sacred plant medicines, like ayahuasca, iboga, etc, that can set you up for dashed expectations, health complications, or even death if you buy into the story.

Because many of ancestral, psychoactive plant medicines are prohibited, it’s extremely difficult, and nearly impossible to find reliable, medically-substantiated information about how they heal. It can be really frustrating and confusing to dig through all the opinions, self-reported miracle cures, and misinformed evangelistic opinions around sacred plant medicines like ayahuasca and what it can really do for you.

And especially stressful if you’ve tried everything allopathic medicine has to offer, and nothing has worked. The truth is, we DON’T know that much about ayahuasca works in the human body – scientifically – and we need more medical research.

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One of the biggest myths, or even lies, that is emerging about sacred plant medicines like ayahuasca, is that they can be a miracle cure or silver bullet that solves the problems of your life.

Can Ayahuasca Give You A Miracle?

Now, in the Amazon, ayahuasca is commonly used as a folk medicine that is believed to cure everything from the flu, to malaria, to cancer, to marital issues. My host in the Santo Daime community of Mapiá, told me a story of when she rescued a baby monkey whose mother had been shot and killed. The baby monkey had also been shot. She gave the baby monkey Daime as an anesthetic, which sent it into a visionary state, while she extracted the bullet, cleaned and stitched the wound. In this same community, Daime is used for women in labor, turning childbirth into a visionary rite of passage. It’s also said to assist with contractions. If a teenager is struggling with delinquency issues, an elder might take the teenager into the forest for a walk, with a good, strong dose of Daime to help him or her reconsider her choices.

In the global North, self-reported miraculous healings also proliferate the internet. People claim that ayahuasca healed them from depression, diabetes, Crohn’s disease, black mold, interstitial cystitis, and more. It’s wonderful that this ancestral plant medicine has helped many people find healing in ways that were unexpected, or when other conventional methods failed. The healing benefits of ayahuasca are promising and we need more scientific research to help us understand how this ancestral medicine works.

Because of exploding demand, North American and European run retreat centers and facilitators are also making unsubstantiated health claims and touting the life-transforming benefits of ayahuasca. This is how an Amazonian myth has evolved into a marketing tactic, that can generate a lot of money. People want a miracle. Especially vulnerable desperate people who have tried everything else. And they’ll pay to get it.

Don’t get me wrong, this Master Plant is magical and miraculous in many ways. It can show you what you need to see, what you need to change in yourself, the traumas or the root psycho-somatic cause of your physical disease. And there’s a lot that science doesn’t know about physical disease, and the mind body connection. But the truth is, there simply isn’t any scientific research to back up these miraculous healing claims. Now this doesn’t mean that there is no relationship between physical healing and ayahuasca consumption. It simply means that we need more medical research, and certainly before any definitive claims can be made.

Claiming Ayahuasca Can Give You A Miracle is Risky

For a facilitator or retreat center that is owned and operated by people from the global North, wealthy, scientifically-advanced, industrialized countries to promote ayahuasca as a miracle cure or solution for the problems of your life is misleading, irresponsible and even potentially dangerous. Especially if a program framework is designed to also encourage retreat or ceremony attendees to perpetuate the myth in a way that floods the Internet with testimonials endorsing this misconception.

It’s problematic on 2 fronts:

    1. It sets people up for dashed expectations.

Claiming that ayahuasca is a silver bullet for your problems, or can miraculously cure your disease, is dangerous, because it can set people up for dashed expectations. If a person is struggling with depression, or vulnerable to suicidal ideation, and expecting that ayahuasca will make this all go away, miraculously… and it doesn’t. The dashed expectation might be all it takes to trigger a vulnerable person to take their own life, thinking there must be something wrong with them for the miracle that worked for so many people to not work on them.

    1. It can cause people to delay needed medical care.

Many conventional methods for addressing serious illnesses like cancer, have a suboptimal rate of success, as well as undesirable side effects. Many people who are drawn to alternative, holistic therapies are extremely suspicious of conventional, allopathic therapies, for good reason. However, the idea that ayahuasca offers a miracle cure for serious health conditions can cause people to delay or even avoid needed medical treatment. This can exacerbate health complications or even result in premature death.

And I share this with you from the plant medicine retreat center of an ayahuasquero who fought cancer for 4 years, using alternative methods, before he finally succumbed last year.

People drink ayahuasca and still die from cancer. People drink ayahuasca, and still commit suicide.

Ayahuasca will not fix you. It will not solve your problems. It is not a miracle cure.

The True “Miracle” of Ayahuasca – is You

This is because ayahuasca doesn’t work this way. Ayahuasca expands your consciousness, making you aware of things that you need to change, unhealthy or self-damaging habits you need to change or let go of. It shines a light upon aspects of yourself and your life, past traumas you may have not been able to look at, refuse to look at, or have forgotten had taken place. Ayahuasca will show you what you need to heal emotionally, spiritually, and psychologically. It will show you the source trauma and emotional roots of your physical conditions. Sometimes you may heal this in one night. Sometimes it takes much more time, and requires additional support to heal this. Then it’s up to you to do the work.

But, the miracle comes when YOU integrate the wisdom and insight, and do the work to purge all that no longer serves you, and make the necessary changes in your life.

And because there is still so little science knows about the emotional roots of physical illness, there is also tremendous promise on how deep, emotional healing can lead to real physical healing. Ayahuasca can support this.

So be open to receiving the spiritual healing and transformation that sacred plant medicines have to offer. The shamanic view of illness is that all physical disease starts with spiritual, emotional, and psychological imbalance, so you may find when you heal the root cause, you experience physical healing as well.

And understand that the miracle really starts with you!'

About Lorna Liana

Lorna Liana is a new media strategist and lifestyle business coach to visionary entrepreneurs. She travels the world while running her business as a digital nomad. Lorna's boutique agency provides “done for you” web design, development and online marketing services for social ventures, sustainable brands, transformational coaches and new paradigm thought leaders. She is also a personal development junkie, and 20 year practitioner of shamanism, with extensive training in Tibetan Bon Shamanism and the ayahuasca traditions of the Amazon Basin. A self-professed ayahuasca snob and perennial ayahuasca tourist, Lorna has been drinking ayahuasca since 2004. She's been in approximately 150 ayahuasca ceremonies (from terrible to fantastic), and tasted wide variety of ayahuasca brews (from awful to exquisite). Her ayahuasca experience spans 30+ different shamans and facilitators, 7 indigenous tribes, several Brazilian churches, and a host of neo-shamanic circles, in Peru, Ecuador, Brazil, Europe, the US, and Asia. Through this widely-varied background, she hopes to shed some perspective on the globalization of ayahuasca.

1 Comment

  1.' Mikeala Weaver on December 6, 2021 at 9:20 pm

    Thank you for the article. I recently heard of Ayahuasca this year. I didn’t really pay much attention to it but once I started watching videos, I was hooked! I did hear stories about Ayahuasca healing people but that wouldn’t be my reason for doing it. I started my spiritual journey this year and I’m wanting to expand. Gaining knowledge and understanding was never my thing until I found something that makes sense.

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