Is it bad for your health to consume yage?

Is the consumption of ayahuasca, that ancestral plant with which the native americans perform their rites, really bad for your health? Here we tell you

Is it bad for your health to consume yagé?

In 2014, 19-year-old Henry Miller died of hallucinogenic intoxication in Colombia, after participating in a popular indigenous ritual that is performed with ayahuasca. In 2018, the indigenous inhabitants presented an apology letter to Miller relatives in the trial that was carried out for the death of the young Englishman. According to The Guardian, one of the British officers in Colombia said she felt sensitized by the letter from the native americans.

Leer en español: ¿Consumir yagé es perjudicial para la salud?

"We are moved by the content of the letter, in addition, they expressed that this case was the first for their community and now they are more aware of the dangers that this rite can cause in foreigners, without previous indications or precautions", she said. However, is this ancestral plant really harmful to health?

The best answer to this question is: it depends. One of the most prestigious doctors in the field of Yagé called Bia Labate explained in an interview with the BBC that ayahuasca is very beneficial to treat mental health problems such as depression. Labate puts Brazil as an example, a country that has more than 80 patients on the podium to be treated with this natural plant.

In addition, according to her, this practice has a great cultural importance. "There is a cultural, spiritual and religious use, factors that are the center of the ritual. It is a path for people who want to grow both personally and spiritually, and this is the factor that makes it more attractive," says The Telegraph.

However, yagé is not for everyone and especially if these people are mentally weak. According to The Guardian, in 2014 a foreigner committed suicide in the Netherlands after being in a ritual with ayahuasca. David Rees, friend of the victim, said that the plant did not cause him a physical effect, but mentally it brought back many memories to the surface and for this he made the decision to take his own life.

So, while consuming ayahuasca is a shamanic ritual that has been practiced by indigenous communities for thousands of years, this is not for everyone. Therefore, some precautions and preventions must be taken when making the decision to ingest the hallucinogenic plant.

It may interest you: Colombia: Will Duque's decree against the minimum dose be effective?

Henry Miller's case: What did the authorities find?

According to the BBC, Henry Miller was in Colombia in 2014, when he died after taking ayahuasca in an ancient indigenous rite. The same media explains that the young Englishman had been in the coffee country for more than six months because one of his passions was traveling. According to The Guardian, the Miller contacted his family for the last time on April 22 of that same year.

"He contacted his family on April 22, 2 days before participating in the rite that led to his death. He had told his family that he had already participated in a rite led by a shaman in the Amazon jungle, where he had eaten 3 cups of yage, but he had not felt anything," said the same media. After this, the last thing his family knew was that his body was found on a highway.

In August 2018, the case was resolved and all the facts clarified in the capital of the coffee country. According to The Telegraph, the cause of his death was the combination of yagé with a line with scopolamine, that is, Miller died of hallucinogenic intoxication.

Because of this, not only was there an official trial in Colombia, but there was also a symbolic judgment made by the indigenous community that was involved in the shamanic ritual. According to the same media, the participants in this trial were Mama Cocha, Guillermo Shaman and the Indians who also participated in the rite.

The punishment was the atonement of the guilt with lashes of nettles, a toothed plant with quills. The previous punishment was revealed to the British authorities after the indigenous inhabitants presented a letter of apology to the affected relatives in the trial held in Bogotá.

LatinAmerican Post | Miguel Díaz

Translated from "¿Consumir yagé es perjudicial para la salud?"

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