NB! Drugs effects vary according to the psychological state and the health of the person concerned, the context in which the drug is taken as well as the quality of the drug and the quantity consumed.


Ayahuasca is a Quechua term meaning a mixture of liana-type (Banisteriopsis caapi) plants present in the Amazonian forests which are chewed or drunk in the form of an infusion. It is used during initiation or religious rites in Amazonia and there is not a recreational drug.

Ayahuasca is a psychoactive substance which is:

  • illegal
  • natural
  • hallucinogenic.

Desired effects

  • Mystical experience, visions, a “dream” state
  • Perception distortions (time and space), hallucinations and stimulation of sensations
  • Confusion of the senses, such as synaesthesia (“listening to colours”)
  • Psychic dissociations, depersonalisation, impression of detachment from the body

Physical symptoms

  • Increase in heart rate, respiratory rate and blood pressure
  • Dilation of the pupils
  • Transitory nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea

Immediate and long-term risks

It is difficult to determine the risk related to the use of ayahuasca, because the composition of the plant mix varies.

Risks observed are:

  • psychic disorders, delirium, anxiety, paranoia
  • psychotic states (particularly in people who are suffering from psychological disorders, are psychologically fragile or on antidepressants).

Sciensano collects data and analyses the consumption of drugs, the drug market, the consequences for health, requests for treatment and the policies implemented with regard to drugs in Belgium.

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