There is a new drug out there running rampant called “Ayahuasca”. Originally popularized in South America in the mid 20th century, this drug is made by boiling a certain species of vine with a certain species of bush. The bush contains DNT, and the vines contain a monoamine-oxidase inhibitor. When combined, the inhibitor blocks an enzyme in your body that normally degrades DMT, allowing the DMT to have extreme psychoactive effects.

What’s interesting about this drug, however, is how people characterize it, and the class of people that take it. The drug has become extremely popular in the last few years, particularly in urban cities like New York and San Francisco, among health conscious, hipster circles. Why? Well a primary reason seems to be the type of hallucinations it induces.

Despite the fact that the episodes this drug induces are extremely intense and often induce vomiting (One person described his first trip as “the most painful experience I’ve ever had by a factor of a thousand. I felt like I was being torn apart and killed a thousand times a second for two hours.”), the episodes also induce a sort of transitive state where the person feels at one with nature.

People who take the drug regularly comment on how they hear the plants talking to them, they feel mother nature talking to them, they see animal incarnations of the earth appear before them, and similar such things. One famous series of early explorers who were among the first to document this drug referred to its induced hallucinations as “vegetable television”, as if they felt the plants were directly telling them important information.

People have called it “divine consciousness in liquid form”. Another user believes that using this drug will not only heal him, but heal civilization at large. Users from all over the world have reported encounters with the “Spirit of the Plant” while using the drug.

These nature-friendly trips have become quite popular, and as a result this drug has become somewhat trendy in a lot of the circles where you might otherwise find people obsessed with juice cleanses and similar bullshit.

Tim Ferriss (noted author of the 4 hour work week and the 4 hour body) is on record saying that the drug is all over San Francisco: “Ayahuasca is like having a cup of coffee here…I have to avoid people at parties because I don’t want to listen to their latest three-hour saga of kaleidoscopic colors”

As one might expect with this cohort of people, this drug has taken on a religion of its own. Groups of people will come together for ceremonies, taking it together and treating the word they hear from the plants as gospel. Sadly, a few of these group experiences have gone awry. In one group ceremony in Peru recently, a British man grabbed a knife and started yelling, causing another man also on ayahuasca to take the knife from him and stab him to death.

Interestingly, however, the drug may have some legitimate medical backing in how it alters users’ brains. A study by UCLA in the early 1990s showed that people who were regular users of the drug had extremely high levels of serotonin reuptake transporters. Interestingly, low levels of these transporters are common among those with depression, type 2 alcoholism, and other such ailments. This research suggests that regularly taking this drug could help reverse such defecits and lead people to be more at peace and less depressed. Evidently, no other known drug has this effect on increasing these transporter levels. (inb4 adil and lefko get mad at me for some incorrect science terms here)

Anecdotally, this is precisely the feeling that many users of the drug feel. Tranquility. Peace. Happiness. No anger. Users feel like they are “reborn” and can throw away their past. Maybe this is the reason the people continue to use the drug, despite the fact that it induces vomiting, visions of death, and other terrible things while you are high.

So, if you’re a big, hipster city some time, maybe try to go find some ayahuasca :)