Ayahuasca Is the New Juice Cleanse

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Photo: Alison Wright/Corbis

Like yoga and juice-fasting before it, ayahuasca has gone from being an ancient spiritual practice to a hippie hobby to an expensive form of self-improvement for women in Brooklyn. Marie Claire writer Abby Aguirre spoke with female users of the Amazonian psychedelic drug from Topanga Canyon to Soho, including an actress, a hair stylist, a corporate manager, a photographer, a pharmaceutical researcher, and an attorney. “Many of the women I spoke to seem to think of these ceremonies as just one more step on a holistic-health spectrum that also includes more conventional practices, like talk therapy, yoga, meditation, and juice cleanses,” she wrote. That’s because — in addition to hallucinations of spirit animals — the blended and boiled plant drink, administered by a shaman, provides heightened self-awareness. Or, in Aguirre’s case, a conversation with a higher power who knows all your flaws.

There are no kaleidoscopic visuals — or visuals of any kind — but a fully formed thought suddenly downloads into my brain: "You're afraid to nurture." "Say what?" I ask. The voice answers: "There is an imbalance of female and male energy in the world. Nurturers are not respected. You have cultivated your male energy as a defense." And with that, I realize I am tripping.

At $200 for a five-hour trip, ayahuasca is only slightly more expensive than a juice cleanse, but tastes, if you can believe it, even worse. "A thick sludge, it tastes like someone has put steak, Worcestershire sauce, and wheatgrass in a blender," Aguirre writes. Not mentioned in the Marie Claire article: Taking it sometimes requires you to give up sex for a month afterward.