Rachel Harris, PhD, visits the show to talk about her Ayahuasca research and what the medicine has to offer.
Psychologist Rachel Harris is the author of Listening to Ayahuasca: New Hope for Depression, Addiction, PTSD and Anxiety. She was in private practice for thirty-five years working with people interested in psychospiritual development. During a decade working in research, Rachel received a National Institutes of Health New Investigator’s Award and published more than forty scientific studies in peer-reviewed journals.
Healing with Ayahuasca (Opening) – Dr. Harris introduces the indigenous medicine Ayahuasca. She and Chris talk about what distinguishes Ayahuasca from drugs like alcohol and heroin, and discusses the ways it is used to heal the body and mind.
“The thing that is inexplicable to me is that some people, after one ceremony, feel that the depression is lifted and never returns. There is no biochemical explanation for that. They are not attending other ceremonies. They feel like they came out of the fog and never go back. I had to call this a miracle cure because we have no explanation for it. That is the part that is just kind of beyond us and we have to say there is a healing that happens that we don’t completely understand.” – Dr. Rachel Harris
To further explore the relationship between psychedelics and psychotherapy, check out A Long Strange Trip featuring Ram Dass.
Evidence-Based Medicine (11:10) – Beyond anecdotal accounts of the benefits of Ayahuasca, Dr. Harris shares the research that has been done on the medicine’s efficacy. She explains the brain science of psychological disorders and how Ayahuasca interacts with our brain’s chemistry.
“Ayahuasca acts on the brain in the way that all psychedelics do, in that it affects activity in the brain. All the psychedelics quiet the default mode network in the brain. We literally become quieter inside which opens the door to having an experience of oneness, of mystical experience; it’s a chance to get outside ourselves.” – Dr. Rachel Harris
Check out this conversation on the Mindrolling podcast about the formal and informal research being done on Ayuasca therapy.
Risks of Ayahuasca (26:50) – While Ayahuasca can be considered a miracle drug for all of its incredible benefits, its use does not come without risks. Dr. Harris talks about the psychological dangers the medicine presents to certain individuals. She and Chris talk about the precautions and safety measures necessary when working with Ayahuasca.
For more about whether or not psychedelic substances like Ayuasca are right for you, check out this conversation between Chris and Jamison Monroe.
Paying it Forward (33:20) – Dr. Harris shares her personal experience with Ayahuasca and how that moment inspired her research. She talks about the calling she felt to do the kind of research in the West needed to bring Ayahuasca into the mainstream.