Quarterback Aaron Rodgers credits ayahuasca for MVP awards. What is the psychedelic drug?

Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers said on a podcast this week that he had used the drug ayahuasca and that it had led to the “best season” he has had in his NFL career.

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Rogers said he tried the psychedelic drug while in South America and that it improved his mental health and was responsible for his performance in the 2020 and 2021 seasons, when he won his third and fourth MVP awards.

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What is ayahuasca and is it legal in the U.S.? Here’s what we know.

What is ayahuasca?

Ayahuasca (pronounced eye-ah-WAH-ska) is a plant-based drug that was used for spiritual and religious purposes by Amazonian tribes and is still used in some places.

The name comes from the words, aya, meaning spirit or soul, and huasca, meaning rope or vine, in the Quechua language. Ayahuasca is made from the bark of the Banisteriopsis caapi vine and the leaves of the Psychotria viridis bush.

When prepared, the herbal drink is reddish-brown, and has a strong odor and taste.

The active chemical in the drug is dimethyltryptamine, as known as DMT.

How does it work?

DMT is a strong psychedelic substance that occurs naturally in Psychotria viridis. However, it is rapidly broken down in the liver and gastrointestinal tract.

It takes the second plant used in making the drug — Banisteriopsis caapi — to provide a substance that allows the DMT to remain in the body and take effect.

What is the effect of ayahuasca?

Ayahuasca provides a psychedelic effect that leads to an altered state of consciousness, which can include hallucinations, out-of-body experiences, and euphoria, according to healthline.com.

Is ayahuasca legal in the US?

The use of ayahuasca is illegal in the United States. The U.S. government classifies it as a Schedule I drug. It has no approved medical use in the U.S.

What are the possible side effects of ayahuasca?

Ayahuasca contains chemicals that can cause hallucinations, tremors, dilated pupils, increased blood pressure, nausea, and vomiting. Life-threatening side effects and death have also been linked with ayahuasca use, according to WebMD.com.

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