How Long Does Ayahuasca Last?

APL Shamanic Journeys retreats blog
Curious about the lasting effects of an ayahuasca (or 'iowaska') journey? This article delves into the timeline of this psychedelic brew's influence, exploring how long its transformative effects linger and the impact it leaves on participants. Join us as we navigate the temporal landscape of the ayahuasca experience, from the initial journey to its aftermath, providing insights with a professional perspective. At APL Shamanic Journeys retreats, we boast extensive experience managing traditional Ayahuasca retreats, garnering five-star reviews worldwide for over eight years.

Ayahuasca Trip Length

Ayahuasca is a psychoactive tea typically made from the Banisteriopsis caapi vine (also known as the Ayahuasca Plant, or the "Mother of All Amazonian Plants," as Shamans in Peru call it) and other ingredients such as Psychotria viridis leaves (or Chacruna), which contain DMT (N,N-Dimethyltryptamine). Both these ingredients function together, and this is why the effect and duration of Ayahuasca Tea are not the same as the effect of DMT ingested alone.
The duration of an ayahuasca journey is as diverse as the blend itself, influenced by many factors. Typically, it lasts between 4 to 8 hours. The experience unfolds gradually, with effects kicking in within 20 to 60 minutes post-ingestion. The pinnacle, often marked by intense sensations, peaks around the 1st to 2nd hour, persisting for several hours before gradually tapering off.

How Many Hours Does Ayahuasca Stay in the Body

As mentioned earlier, there are two main active ingredients in Ayahuasca:

  • DMT:

DMT itself, which comes from Chacruna Plant, is rapidly metabolized by the body when taken alone (via smoking or injection), typically clearing from the bloodstream within an hour. However, within the context of ayahuasca, the presence of MAOIs could extend the duration that DMT and other compounds remain in the system. Consequently, DMT can be detected in urine for up to 24 hours after consumption.

  • Harmala Alkaloids:

These are the MAOIs from the Ayahuasca vine, including harmine, harmaline, and tetrahydroharmine. These substances have a longer half-life than DMT and can remain in the body for several hours. Typically, harmala alkaloids might be detectable in the blood for up to 24 hours and in urine for a couple of days after ingestion.
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What Does the Duration of Ayahuasca Depend On

The duration of the effects of an ayahuasca ceremony, or session, can vary significantly from one person to another. Here are the key factors that influence the duration of ayahuasca's effects:

  1. Dosage: The amount of ayahuasca, also known as "Aya," consumed is a primary determinant of both the intensity and duration of the experience.
  2. Individual Metabolism: People metabolize substances at different rates based on their genetics, liver function, and overall health. These metabolic differences can affect how quickly the active compounds in ayahuasca are processed and eliminated from the body.
  3. Ingredients and Preparation: The specific composition of the ayahuasca brew can vary. Different strains of the Aya vine and varying concentrations of Psychotria viridis (or Chacruna - DMT-containing plant) can alter the potency and the effect duration. This is why it is crucially important for the Ayahuasca Tea to be prepared by an Indigenous Shaman maintaining the traditional preparation of this Amazon recipe.
  4. Physical Condition: An individual’s weight, body fat percentage, and overall health condition can influence how the body absorbs and metabolizes ayahuasca.
  5. Psychological State: Mental readiness and set (the mindset of a person) can affect how they process and respond to the psychedelic journey.
  6. Setting: The environment in which ayahuasca is consumed (often referred to as the "setting") can also impact the experience. A calm, supportive environment may lead to a more introspective and prolonged experience compared to a stressful or unfamiliar setting, which can break the magnificence of this spiritual ritual.
  7. Diet: The dietary choices made before consuming ayahuasca, particularly the avoidance of certain foods as recommended by dietary protocols of APL Shamanic Journeys (avoiding processed foods, red meat, and certain medications), can affect how the body reacts to the brew.

These factors can interact in complex ways, making the ayahuasca experience highly individualized. Maintaining certain recommendations and rules can help alleviate the journey, although it does not guarantee smoothness. In APL Shamanic Journeys we have witnessed times when a participant has done everything to prepare themselves but did not achieve the desired results. Conversely, very limited preparation time did not hinder an individual from having the most profound and spiritual journey of their life.
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What Happens During the Effects of Ayahuasca: A Timeline

To ensure a profound ayahuasca journey, it is recommended to start preparing yourself not later than 1-2 weeks before the ingestion itself:

Days Before: Participants often follow dietary and behavioral guidelines, avoiding certain foods, drugs, and activities to purify their bodies and minds in preparation for the ceremony.
Hours Before: A calm setting is prepared, often with a shaman or guide who sets the space with rituals and intentions.

  • Ingestion and Initial Phase (0-30 Minutes)
Ingestion: Ayahuasca is typically consumed as a brew and has a strong, bitter taste.
Initial Reaction: After drinking the brew, it can take anywhere from 20 to 60 minutes for the effects to kick in. During this time, participants might feel anticipatory anxiety or excitement.

  • Onset Phase (30 Minutes - 2 Hours)
Early Effects: Initial effects, including nausea, dizziness, and increased sensitivity to light and sound, take from 30 minutes up to 2 hours. The mind may begin to experience racing thoughts or a feeling of unease.
Visual and Auditory Visions: Vivid visual and auditory images can take effect. These might include geometric patterns, intense colors, or encounters with spiritual entities or symbolic visions.

  • Peak Phase (2-4 Hours)
Intense Emotional and Psychological Experiences: This is often the most intense part of the journey. Participants might confront deep-seated emotions and memories, leading to profound psychological revelations or catharsis.
Physical Sensations: The body may react with further nausea, vomiting, and sometimes diarrhea. This physical purge is considered a normal reaction and part of the healing process.

  • Plateau Phase (4-6 Hours)
Stabilization: The intensity of the peak may lessen, but users often continue to experience significant psychological and visual effects.
Integration Beginnings: Thoughts and visions start to become more coherent, allowing for initial reflection and mental integration of the experiences encountered.

  • Come Down Phase (6-8 Hours)
Diminishing Effects: The visionary effects start to fade, but emotional and psychological insights may continue to evolve.
Physical and Mental Fatigue: After the intense experiences, users often feel physically and mentally tired.

  • Post-Experience (8+ Hours and Days Following)
Reflection and Integration: The days following the experience are crucial for integrating the spiritual thoughts gained into one’s daily life. Sometimes participants experience "afterglow" effects - some insights about the visions etc might come a couple of months after the ceremony itself happens. That is why the reviews about the experience may differ individually. The opinion about it right after may easily change over time.

Frequently Asked Questions

Let’s cover some most common questions on the way Ayahuasca brew works and effects it produced on a physical, mental and spiritual levels of participants in Amazonian ceremonies.

How Long Does It Take for the Effects of Ayahuasca to Wear Off Completely?

Usually, the effects of an ayahuasca session can last for about 4 to 8 hours. They kick in about 20 to 60 minutes after drinking it, becoming stronger and reaching their peak intensity between the 1st and 2nd hour, lasting for up to 10 hours after that. Even as things wind down, you might still feel some effects lingering, both in your brain and soul, as well as in your body. Some psychological effects can stick with you for several days, shaping how you feel and perceive things.

How Long Does the Ayahuasca Trip Experience Linger in Your Memory After the Ceremony

The imprint left by an ayahuasca experience can endure long after the ceremony concludes, with memories often retaining vividness and significance. However, the duration and clarity of these recollections vary greatly among individuals. While some may find that the detailed nuances of their journey fade over time, the profound emotional and psychological effects can endure indefinitely. Conversely, others retain sharp, detailed memories of the spiritual visions and emotions encountered, comparable to recollections of significant life events.

Maximum Duration of Ayahuasca Trip

The maximum duration of the acute, noticeable effects typically does not exceed 12 hours, but the broader impact and integration can be a long-lasting journey. It's crucial for those considering an ayahuasca retreat to be prepared not just for the trip itself but for the potentially life-altering insights and changes that may follow.
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