Is Ayahuasca Tourism Doing More Harm Than Good?
“The Last Shaman,” executive produced by Leonardo DiCaprio, tells the story of a man searching for a solution to his mental health problems through the use of ayahuasca. Raz Degan, its director, talks to us about his experiences with ayahuasca, and the balance between its potential healing effects, and the dangers to the individual, our culture and the environment.[social_warfare]
- The Last Shaman follows a search for healing in the Amazon
- There are good and bad sides to ayahuasca tourism
- Not a miracle treatment, not suitable for all
Raz’s first experiences with ayahuasca were unusual – he took the psychedelic brew with his mom. After seeing firsthand how much it improved her day-to-day life, Raz decided this was something that needed investigating further.
Raz quit his job and travelled to the Amazon with the aim of making a film about Shamanism. His initial, ambitious plan was to start “healing the world.” However, he soon found that the deeper he understood ayahuasca, the more he realized the harm that was being done in its name.
After taking ayahuasca with many different tribes, and experiencing many benefits of the rituals, Raz decided to investigate the cases of ayahuasca use that weren’t quite as positive.
Ayahuasca tourism has the potential to harm indigenous people. Many can’t afford their own ayahuasca – with more tourism, prices keep going up. The environment will eventually become damaged too, by using up natural resources that take decades to grow.
Raz emphasises that ayahuasca allows you to heal yourself – and that expecting a shaman to cure you is irresponsible. He hopes that anyone seeking to enter the world of ayahuasca would consider the limits of the plant, and the potential damage to indigenous culture and environments.