Ayahuasca is a psychedelic brew typically made from boiling two plants, banisteriopsis caapi and psychotria viridis. The brew has been used by many indigenous peoples of the Amazon Rainforest for healing, magic and social welfare for at least a few centuries, possibly much longer. When consumed, ayahuasca usually creates extraordinary experiences of visions and intense emotions.
In recent decades, ayahuasca has become an increasingly popular choice of alternative healing for people in Western societies who travel to the Amazon for an ayahuasca retreat or who attend ayahuasca retreats in other parts of the world. Ayahuasca is also at the centre of two large religious organisations that began in the 20th century in Brazil and now exist in many parts of the world.
The brew is used in contexts of shamanism, spirituality, religion and psychotherapy. It has expanded from the Amazon jungle into societies in which similar psychoactive plants and chemicals are illegal, and it is currently illegal in many parts of the world.