“ Psilocybin is Orally active DMT.”- Dennis Mckenna

It has become a progressive businessman’s rite of passage to head to the Amazon to use Ayahuasca. Luxury Ayahuasca retreat centers have popped up to accommodate the demand for the experience. Yet this adventure travel and experience is built on a fantasy of the exotic. DMT, the active ingredient in Ayahuasca, and Psilocin, the metabolized chemical that Psilocybin Mushrooms deliver to the brain, are virtually identical molecules. The only difference? Psilocin contains an extra hydroxene leg(see the image that accompanies this essay) that does not allow it to be metabolized in the gut. Psilocybin is Orally active DMT. The brew of Ayahuasca requires an MAOI inhibitor that keeps DMT from being broken down in the digestive process before it can pass through the blood brain barrier.. The “vine of souls” that everyone imagines is the magical catalyst of the Ayahuasca brew doesn’t even contain psychedelic DMT. It contains the MAOI inhibitor. The plants that contain DMT, looks like common houseplants and would inspire nobody to fly ten hours to drink it.. In fact, many common plants, vegetables, and fruits contain DMT, including oranges and lemons. Orange juice and lemonade don’t cause Ayahuasca like hallucinations because your stomach breaks down DMT before it can travel to your brain and introduce you to “Mother Ayahuasca.”

The identical nature of these molecules are not just chemical, but experiential. At comparable doses, the same experience is catalyzed by either. I discovered this in a fairly humorous way. When I was in graduate school I was frequently invited to see the Grateful Dead perform by a friend who supervised float building for their New Years and Mardi Gras shows at the Oakland Coliseum. Her frequent partner in these excursions was a man named Howard Rheingold, who was a publisher of the Whole Earth Catalogue, an expert on Virtual Reality and Lucid Dreaming(and current Stanford professor). Because of their standing in the Grateful Dead Universe, the seats they had at the shows were amazing. I had never gone to Grateful Dead shows before this, and never after this time. I had one experience during this time, where I was invited by a Grateful Dead civilian whose seats were nearly at the back of the Coliseum. The Dead were so far away, that I swallowed a few mushrooms that I was offered, lay back in my seat and closed my eyes for the entire show. It was a unique experience, but not so unique that I didn’t access to the same realms of consciousness the first time I went to an Ayahuasca Ceremony. When the brew kicked in, I returned to the closed eye state I had last experienced at that Grateful Dead Show with bad seats. My “aha!” moment was that the states were identical, and that “Ayahuasca” was a Quechua(and later Spanish) word for Psilocybin.

Since then, I have been an Ayahuasca apostate. “La Purga” the highly anticipated and desired vomiting inspired by Ayahuasca, results from the high acid content of the brew, and and not some metaphysical expulsion of bad juju.. Some people’s stomachs can handle it, others cannot. I have drunk Ayahuasca five times and never vomited. The one real Shipibo Shaman whose ceremonies I attended was a very powerful performer and singer. He called his thick brew “chocolata” and assured me it would make me purge. It didn’t. He’s now in jail for some undisclosed form of sexual abuse.

Psilocybin Mushrooms grow throughout the Americas. Mexico itself has 24 different species of psilocybin mushrooms. Forty different species grow in North America. Two hundred species grow worldwide. Wherever you live, Psilocybin Mushrooms probably grow nearby. They are the organic intelligence of the land. There is no need for a nine hour flight from Los Angeles or a ten hour flight from New York City to Peru for what you seek. There is no reason to release the hydrocarbons that these flights create. There is no reason to believe that Icaros sung in Spanish and tobacco smoke blown at you are superior in any way to sitting with a trained professional who speaks your language, and knows you. It makes as much sense as deciding you have to travel Bali or Goa to meditate. Every weekend people fly “Shamans” from the Amazon into their cities, who are carrying Ayahuasca as their sacred elixir. People sit in living rooms with strangers who are vomiting, or crying or laughing at a ratio of 10:1. This is not holistic. This is not environmental stewardship. This is not valuing where you exist.

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