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Potential Causes of Self-Harm & Psychiatric Disorders That Should Be Considered

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In Brief

  • The Facts:

    Policymakers and mental health providers are convinced that mental illness is organically formed or genetic. But there are 11 other proven contributors to the development of mental illness that we can no longer overlook.

  • Reflect On:

    What have you been led to believe about mental illness? And how many of these 11 hidden causes are embedded within your life or the life of a loved one?

Every day in the headlines we hear about another school shooting or another teen suicide. What is going on? Why aren’t we getting to the bottom of this? What are we doing to help prevent the next tragedy? As I learn about another, I get more and more frustrated that nothing is changing.

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We need to start taking a more in-depth look at why our children are so depressed, anxious, and angry – our lives depend on it. If not properly treated, obsessive thoughts turn into compulsive behavior, and we will hear about the next suicide or mass shooting when we turn on the news tomorrow.

What Is OCD?

Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) is categorized by the DSM-5 (the diagnostic manual and bible of psychiatry) as an anxiety disorder. However, it is a maladaptive coping skill that develops as a result of trying to manage the overwhelming fear or worry one feels. A person may start obsessively feeling nervous about a home intruder, so may check the alarm system or door locks fifty times before bed. One may fear the flu, so may wash their hands 50 times.

As an attempt to quiet the sense of alarm, the compulsion provides a “quick fix” for the negative intrusive thoughts.  It gives a temporary sense of power over the problem and helps someone feel like they are doing something about it. But it’s a trap because it just feeds into a vicious cycle. The more one follows the rituals, the more they need to do them.

The Darker Side of Obsessive Thoughts & Behaviours “Harm-OCD”

Intrusive thoughts can be benign, like song lyrics that continuously play in one’s head or obsessive behaviors like overly tidying one’s apartment. However, if paranoia, feelings of isolation, anger, and depression are already brewing it could lead to sinister thoughts like harming themselves or others.

Some believe that OCD can masquerade as psychosis as it closely mimics the symptoms of the psychiatric disorder schizophrenia. When a person gets lost inside their depressed and chaotic mind, they become infatuated with their depressive thoughts, violent video games, building bombs, guns, and revenge. Some begin planning their suicide, while others start stockpiling weapons to carry out the next mass shooting.

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A newer study published in the Journal of Molecular Psychiatry, concluded that “those with OCD are ten times more likely to commit suicide and patients with OCD are at significant risk of suicide, even in the absence of other psychiatric conditions.” Others with OCD have brutally violent thoughts of hurting others that consume one’s mind making it difficult separating visions from reality.

According to a study published in the Industrial Psychological Journal, anger attacks are associated with a surge of autonomic arousal. Symptoms include tachycardia, sweating, flushing, and a feeling of being out of control were present in half of the patients with obsessive-compulsive disorder, and they correlated with the presence of comorbid depression.

The Problem

Policymakers and mental health providers are so convinced that these individuals have an organic or genetic mental illness. They have called off the search for a better understanding of these conditions.  When they start recognizing the epidemic of teen suicide and teen violence, they call for more psychiatric labels and more psychiatrists to prescribe medication. However, they don’t acknowledge that medication does nothing to address the conditions that derail the mind in the first place. And, drugs often only mask symptoms without considering dangerous side-effects. Antidepressant medications are driving people to psychosis. In fact, Americans are admitted daily to psychiatric institutions as a direct result of psychosis caused by the drugs themselves.

The 11 Hidden Causes of Psychiatric Disorders Almost No One Considers

1. The Standard American Diet (SAD)

Neurotoxic chemicals and foods are void of essential nutrients and can lead to obsessive thoughts, depression and violent behavior.  There are extreme amounts of refined sugar/salt and thousands of chemicals allowed in the American food and drink supply. Many of them are harmless, but others such as artificial colors, flavors, preservatives, emulsifiers, high fructose corn syrup, sugar, hydrogenated vegetable oil, and glyphosate (GMOs) are not compatible with human bio-chemistry. They are destroying our immune system and causing many mental health symptoms. A CSPI report, Food Dyes: A Rainbow of Risks, further concludes that the nine artificial dyes approved in the United States are carcinogenic, cause hypersensitivity reactions and behavioral problems. Also, our food supply is so processed and refined that they do not contain adequate healthy protein and they strip away many vitamins and minerals that are essential to our health and replace it with synthetic substitutes.

In a 2014 article in the American Journal of Public Health, the relationship between diet and mental health in children and adolescents was evaluated. “There are numerous potential biological pathways by which diet quality may have an impact on mental health in children and adolescents.” First, a poor-quality diet that is lacking nutrient-dense foods may lead to nutrient deficiencies that have been associated with mental health issues. For example, the dietary intake of folate, zinc, and magnesium is inversely associated with depressive disorders, whereas dietary long-chain omega-3 fatty acids are inversely related to anxiety disorders.

2. Gut Dysbiosis

The gut microbiome has become a topic of major interest as of late, with a new focus specifically on psychiatric disorders. The human body hosts an enormous abundance and diversity of microbes, which perform a range of essential and beneficial immune and metabolic functions. In a June 2016 edition of the Journal of Molecular Psychiatry, the authors take a look at how microbes in the gut affect brain function, and how imbalances of gut bacteria can lead to mental illness. “Evidence is now emerging that, through interactions with the gut-brain axis, the bidirectional communication system between the central nervous system and the gastrointestinal tract, the gut microbiome can also influence neural development, cognition, mood, and behavior.”  Functional medicine M.D.s recognize how poor diet, pesticides, antibiotics, steroid use and other factors are influencing brain function by destroying healthy gut bacteria and negatively shaping the gut microbiome.

3. Food Sensitivities

Often not recognized in the mainstream mental health model, food allergies and sensitivities can wreck-havoc on mental health. The antibodies produced when a person consumes food that they have an intolerance to can cause intestinal permeability and trigger inflammation in the brain which can lead many mental health symptoms, including increased anxiety/OCD, insomnia, brain fog, hyperactivity, impulsivity, irritability, and rage. Overaggressive behaviors are provoked by an immune reaction to every-day foods. Reactions range from irritability to  aggression to psychosis. Some of the more common food intolerances are gluten, dairy, corn, soy, and nuts.

4. Pediatric Autoimmune Neuropsychiatric Disorders (PANDAS or PANS)

PANDAS is associated with an unresolved strep infection. It wreaks havoc on the immune and neurological system, causing brain encephalitis/inflammation. Symptoms associated with this autoimmune disorder are facial tics, OCD symptoms, anorexia, depression, paranoia, irritability, hyperactivity, sleep disturbances, and psychosis. Pediatric Autoimmune Neuropsychiatric Disorders (PANS) can be triggered by other infectious agents as well, including Epstein Barr and Lyme Disease. Many physicians who treat a large number of Lyme patients acknowledge that Lyme Disease can cause “Lyme Rage,” which includes psychosis and violent behavior. There are more than one hundred peer-reviewed medical journal articles linking tick-borne diseases to mental symptoms and quite a few that reference Lyme-induced rages.  As Dr. Kenneth Bock, MD points out in his book, “Healing New Childhood Epidemics,” PANDAS/PANS cook the brain of these kids.  The infection attacks the brain’s basal ganglia, causing severe thought malfunctions and maladaptive behavior. The affected person could fly into uncontrollable rages and violent behavior.

5. Genetic Mutations

Our genetic profile is not the end of our story. The environment in which we live and breathe, genetically modified foods and the chemicals we eat and inject have a direct influence on the expression of our genetic code, by altering the expression of genetic information. In the study of disease, researchers in the field of epigenetics are increasingly finding that the “turning on or off” of our DNA is affecting our mental health.

The MTHFR gene mutation inhibits the body’s ability to transform vitamin B12 into vital folate enzymes. A healthy MTHFR gene converts vitamin B12 to folate (B9), an essential vitamin for brain, spine, and nerve health. Deficiencies of essential B vitamins can lead to developmental problems, mood disturbances including increased anxiety and depression.

Faulty expression of the COMT gene can also cause a variety of problems including irritability, hyperactivity, mood swings, OCD, sleep issues, and lower frustration and pain tolerance.

The “Warrior Gene” MAO-A (Monoamine oxidase A) is one of the two genes that encode mitochondrial enzymes. It is responsible for catalyzing the oxidizing amines, such as serotonin, norepinephrine, dopamine, and adrenalin. Mutation of this gene results in Brunner syndrome. MAO dysfunction (too much or too little MAO enzyme activity) is thought to be responsible for many psychiatric and neurological disorders including depression, mood swings, OCD, schizophrenia, substance abuse, migraines, irregular sexual maturation.  It is also associated with behaviors associated with attention deficit disorder (ADD) and autism.

6. Heavy Metal Toxicity

Brain damage and inflammation can also be caused by heavy metal toxicity – like mercury, aluminum, and lead. They can promote aggressive, antisocial and violent behaviors. Lead exposure is known to cause learning and behavioral problems. The Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry published a study that demonstrates the strong relationship between high levels of lead levels in blood and hyperactivity, aggressive and antisocial behavior in children.

7. Emotional Wounds & Trauma

Heightened anxiety due to upsetting life events in a person’s life can lead to OCD and depression. The lower a person’s resiliency, the higher level of sensitivity and dysfunctional thinking is believed to make a sufferer more vulnerable to developing it. Stressful situations and traumatic event(s) that can lead to OCD include but are not limited to a death of a loved one, divorce, an accident, a move, school pressure and bullying, as well as an upsetting or abusive home environment.

8. Video Gaming & Too Much Screentime

Screens are being used more and more as a method of escaping from the stress of life. However, it may be backfiring. Disassociating in this way is taking teens away from the dealings of everyday life and is creating an alter reality where they are not learning how to foster real or meaningful relationships. A recent study published in the Journal of Clinical Psychological Science finds that “increased time spent with popular electronic devices — whether a computer, cell phone or tablet — might be contributing to an uptick in symptoms of depression and suicidal thoughts.” The study established a correlation between long hours of daily screen time and symptoms of alienation. A 2016 article in the New York Post, “It’s Digital Heroin: How Screens Turn Kids into Psychotic Junkies” discussed how addicting these screens are and how they are affecting our kid’s mental health. “Brain imaging research is showing that they affect the brain’s frontal cortex — which controls executive functioning, including impulse control — in exactly the same way, that cocaine does. Technology is so hyper-arousing that it raises dopamine levels — the feel-good neurotransmitter most involved in the addiction dynamic — as much as sex.”

9. Too Much Caffeine

Teens are lining up at coffee shops and consuming an alarming amount of caffeine-loaded energy drinks. Highly concentrated caffeine aggravates obsessive/upsetting thoughts and can set anxiety out of control. This central nervous system stimulant can cause dependency and withdrawal and cause insomnia as well. Although some studies point to the positive mental effects of caffeine, it makes sense that energy drinks could be a contributing factor for kids and teens feeling both homicidal and suicidal. Caffeine intoxication keeps the body in “fight or flight” mode. This can leave people feeling very frightened and threatened. According to the Journal of BJPsych Advances, “In psychiatric in-patient facilities, caffeine has been found to increase anxiety, hostility and psychotic symptoms.”

10. Sleep Deprivation

In a 2011 pediatric OCD study published in the Journal of Anxiety Disorders, researchers found a strong correlation between insufficient sleep and severe compulsive behavior. While kids with OCD sometimes only exhibit compulsions (without the obsessions), the study reflected children with both the mental and behavioral symptoms. A 2014 study published in the Journal of Psychiatric Research, implicated obsessions are a likely culprit behind disturbed sleep. Based on patients’ self-reported assessments, researchers found a link between insomnia symptoms and obsessive thoughts. Shorter sleep and delayed ability to get to sleep are associated with repeated negative and distressing thoughts that are repeated over and over again, such as “my life is not worth living.”

11. Psychostimulant Medication

It has been known for the last 35 year that stimulants have the potential to induce psychosis-like or manic-like symptoms in children. Psychotic symptoms from Ritalin can include hearing voices; visual hallucinations, urges to harm oneself, urges to harm someone else, suicide, severe anxiety, euphoria, grandiosity, paranoid delusions, confusion, increased aggression, and irritability.

Preventing Future Tragedies

Could future suicides and homicides be prevented? I believe so, and it starts with taking better care of our children.  We need to start acknowledging that people committing suicide or murder are medically ill; not mentally ill. And these causes of psychiatric symptoms need more attention.  We need more doctors to be trained in functional medicine to get to the root of the mental dis-ease. We need our insurance companies to pay for testing and treatments that will actually help our children.

We need more due diligence in our healthcare system.  And we need to stop the pharmaceuticals from leading us away from the truth. Just handing out medications to address symptoms and hoping the client follows through with recommended weekly individual psychotherapy appointments, is simply not enough. And quite honestly, these medications can be the final trigger in a homicidal or suicidal event.

I Am On A Mission

In 2012, I began counseling family members and first responders after the devastating tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary School. This led me to finish my book Healing Without Hurting. I consult with thousands of moms through social media and conduct workshops for medical professionals to teach them about holistic and natural solutions for healing mental illness and spectrum disorders.

I know from experience that addressing underlying medical issues significantly enhances the life, the health and the happiness of our children and our family.  Also, I know my mission has been successful in helping to prevent such tragedies.


To receive more info on how you and your family can overcome ADHD, apraxia, anxiety and more without medication SIGN UP HERE.

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Awareness

Frankincense Shows The Ability To Alleviate Symptoms Of Anxiety & Depression

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In Brief

  • The Facts:

    Studies have proven the psychoactive effects the scent of frankincense has on the brain, alleviating symptoms of anxiety and depression.

  • Reflect On:

    With all the man-made chemical pharmaceutical drugs out there, perhaps solutions to what ails us are more simple than we may realize.

Gold and frankincense and myrrh… sound familiar? These were the gifts that were allegedly brought by the three kings when Jesus Christ was born. We all know that gold is valuable, but what about the others? Frankincense has long been touted as a magical, mystical medicine and has been regarded as such for millennia within many ancient cultures of the world. The same goes for myrrh, but for the purpose of this article we are going to stick to the medicinal properties of frankincense.

Frankincense starts out as a type of resinous sap that is found inside a special family of trees called Boswellia, which grow almost exclusively in the southern end of the Arabian Peninsula. When it is harvested at specific times of the year, the trees are cut carefully with special knives and the sap seeps out. This special sap is then dried in the sun until it is ready for use. More commonly, frankincense is burned simply as sweet smelling incense, but it has many other uses as well including the following…

Historical Uses Of Frankincense

  • As a part of ritual or religious ceremonies
  • Was used extensively during burial rituals as an embalming material to help mask the odor of the deceased body
  • Smoke from burnt incense can effectively drive away mosquitoes and other pests

Frankincense has also been used medicinally, treating various ailments such as arthritis (it has strong anti-inflammatory properties), gut disorders (like Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis), asthma, and maintenance of oral health.

And perhaps the most intriguing quality for our westernized modern culture is the psychoactive effects of this special resin, as studies have shown that burning frankincense can trigger an effect that can aid and even alleviate symptoms of anxiety and depression.

The Research

One study in particular, conducted by a team of researchers form John Hopkins University and Hebrew University in Jerusalem, explains how burning the resin from the Boswellia plant (frankincense) activates certain previously misunderstood ion channels in the brain in order to alleviate symptoms of anxiety and depression. This might explain why Roman emperor Nero once burned an entire year’s harvest of frankincense at his favorite mistress’ funeral.

“In spite of information stemming from ancient texts, constituents of Bosweilla had not been investigated for psychoactivity,” said Raphael Mechoulam, one of the research study’s co-authors. “We found that incensole acetate, a Boswellia resin constituent, when tested in mice lowers anxiety and causes antidepressive-like behavior. Apparently, most present day worshipers assume that incense burning has only a symbolic meaning.”

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The researchers administered incensole acetate to mice in order to determine its psychoactive effects. This compound they found drastically impacted the parts of the brain that generate emotions and the nerve circuits that have responded positively to current drugs used for depression and anxiety. The incensole that was administered activated a protein called TRPV3, which is connected to the ability to perceive warmth of the skin.

“Perhaps Marx wasn’t too wrong when he called religion the opium of the people: morphine comes from poppies, cannabinoids from marijuana, and LSD from mushrooms; each of these has been used in one or another religious ceremony,” said Gerald Weissmann, M.D., Editor-in-Chief of The FASEB Journal. “Studies of how those psychoactive drugs work have helped us understand modern neurobiology. The discovery of how incensole acetate, purified from frankincense, works on specific targets in the brain should also help us understand diseases of the nervous system. This study also provides a biological explanation for millennia-old spiritual practices that have persisted across time, distance, culture, language, and religion–burning incense really does make you feel warm and tingly all over!”

Can This Work For You?

Sure, this study was conducted using mice, which certainly aren’t the same as humans. However, many religious texts claim that this special resin had uplifting effects on the brain. So, the good thing is that if used appropriately, it really can’t hurt to try. You can typically buy the resin at health food stores and more commonly at stores that sell incense, crystals, sage and those sorts of spiritual ceremonial tools. It can also be found as an essential oil. I like to diffuse it in a diffuser, and sometimes I’ll burn the resin on charcoal pucks as well.

At the very least, you’ll get a nice and pleasant smelling aroma, and at best it can help turn that frown upside down, increase your mood, reduce your anxiety and maybe even put a smile on your face. Perhaps those three wise men were as wise as they’ve been made out to be, and frankincense really is as special as it’s been believed to be for millennia.

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Awareness

Binge Watching Is Associated With a 12 Percent Increased Risk of Inflammatory-Related Death

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In Brief

  • The Facts:

    An Australian study published in the journal Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise looked at more than 8,900 adults and found that each additional hour of TV viewing was associated with a 12% increased risk of inflammatory-related death.

  • Reflect On:

    How much TV do you watch? How active is your lifestyle?

I’m sure that you hesitated before choosing to read this article, as most of us have been sucked into a binge watching marathon on more than one occasion (myself included). While it may seem like we’re buckling down to give ourselves a break, we may actually be hurting ourselves far more than we realize. Sitting for prolonged periods of time has proven to be harmful to our bodies, especially for adults over 50, and when you match lounging with television, you create a deadly combo.

In an Australian study published in the journal Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, researchers examined more than 8,900 adults and found that each additional hour of TV viewing was associated with a 12% increased risk of inflammatory-related death, and those who spent more than four hours a day watching TV were at an even higher risk. This includes  diabetes, respiratory, cognitive, and kidney diseases. (source)

In general, watching television has proven to negatively impact mental health; it alters your brain, lowers your attention span, and has the potential to make you more aggressive. You don’t need to experience the “trance-like” state television can put us in, but I’m sure you’ve witnessed it before. This trance occurs roughly 30 seconds after you start watching TV. Your brain begins by producing alpha waves, leading to a light hypnotic state that makes the viewer less aware of their environment and more open to subtle messages — aka programming.

In the 1990s. Dr. Teresa Belton, a visiting fellow at the University of East Anglia, studied the effects that television has on the imagination of 10-12 year old children, ultimately concluding that television negatively impacts their development: “The ubiquity and ease of access to television and videos perhaps robs today’s children of the need to pursue their own thoughts and devise their own occupations, distracting them from inner processes and constantly demanding responses to external agendas, and suggests that this may have implications for the development of imaginative capacity.”

And these physical affects are becoming increasingly apparent. Not only does it eventually lead to immobility as you age, but with the risk of creating inflammation in the body, you are susceptible to a host of diseases including kidney disease, diabetes, asthma, Alzheimer’s, and even depression.

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Dr. Megan Grace is the lead investigator at the Baker Heart and Diabetes Institute in Melbourne. Between 1999 and 2000, her team quizzed adult participants about their viewing habits via a questionnaire. Again, this was before we had access to popular streaming websites like Netflix. The participants were separated into three groups based on their TV viewing habits: less than two hours per day, greater than two hours but less than four hours, and more than four hours.

“TV time was associated with increased risk of inflammatory-related mortality. This is consistent with the hypothesis that high TV viewing may be associated with a chronic inflammatory state,” the authors wrote.

They followed up with their participants 12 years later and found, of 909 deaths, 130 were inflammatory-related. Of the inflammatory-related deaths, 21 were from diseases of the respiratory system and 18 of the nervous system, and those who watched between two to four hours of TV a day showed a 54% higher risk of inflammatory-related death. Additionally, people who watched more than four hours of TV a day doubled their risk of dying from an inflammatory disease compared to those who watched two hours.

In addition to cutting down the amount of time you spend sitting in front of the TV and sitting or lying down, you can help combat inflammation with a number of foods like avocados, berries, sweet potato, onions, and watermelon, and herbs like, cloves, ginger, rosemary, and turmeric.

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Awareness

The Science Of Healing Trauma With Plant Medicine – Dr. Jeff McNairy Explains

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In Brief

  • The Facts:

    Ayahuasca has assisted thousands of people with an array of mental health disorders. There is real science that can explain how this "medicine" is able to actually change the brain.

  • Reflect On:

    Ayahuasca is not for everyone, and it will not fix you. It might, however, show you what you need to see in order to release what is no longer serving you in life and holding you back.

Over the past decade or so, the use of ayahuasca by western cultures has absolutely blown up. Chances are you’ve either taken it yourself or know someone who has. You may have heard some incredible and transformative stories about how this indigenous plant medicine has assisted many of those struggling with depression, addiction, anxiety and many other ailments.

It has been difficult to explain how this plant actually works to help alleviate symptoms of trauma, and many stick to simply regarding it as a mystical experience that shows you whatever it is that you need to see in order to heal your wounds. However, there is a scientific way to explain what is actually happening within the brain and body when ayahuasca is ingested. Some people with a more logical method of receiving information might prefer to know the actual physical “why” as to what is happening. In the video below, Dr. Jeff McNairy explains this.

Dr. Jeff McNairy is part of the Rythmia family, the world’s first fully licensed medical facility that offers ayahuasca. The entire CE team had the opportunity to go back in 2016 and it was a wonderful experience for us all.

Personally, I have processed a lot of my own trauma with the assistance of this potent plant medicine. It was able to show me things that I hadn’t realized had such a profound impact on my life, things that I had simply written off as unimportant. There were many things that I had stuffed down, locked away and refused to look at over the years that ultimately were the cause for my struggle with depression, addictive behaviours and anxiety. With the assistance of ayahuasca, a light shined on these areas that I had locked away in my subconscious, which helped me to see where healing was still required.

Is Ayahuasca For You?

Whether you are drawn to ayahuasca or not is okay, it’s not for everyone. But if you have a serious desire to uncover more layers of who you are and why you are the way you are, and you’re drawn to this medicine, then it may be for you. Ayahuasca can be a great tool for those who have suffered trauma, but it is important to know that ayahuasca won’t fix you, however it can lead you to understand what it is you need to know in order to fix yourself. It has the capacity to show you whatever it is that you are not seeing from a different perspective, opening your eyes to what you may not have been able to see before.

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It is no coincidence that ayahuasca has emerged within westernized cultures around the globe during this important time of transition. Not only is it assisting people to reconnect back to their soul’s essence, but it is also increasing our regard for our environment and our Mother Earth as a whole.

On another note, here’s an interesting quote from Joe Martino:

Psychedelics were used back in a time when the level of consciousness of the planet was not as high, which helped give insight to shamans so they could share it with their communities. It was meant for use in extreme cases where heavy trauma or addictions existed and people could not use other ways to work through their emotional challenges. Here in present time, we use them in a western fashion as THE GO TO for moving through all of our challenges. I’m here to remind you that you have so much power and ability as a being that in most cases, you don’t need any of these things to evolve. I’m not suggesting don’t do it, I’m simply saying truly ask your heart what you want, and don’t get caught up in the grand allure and peer pressure. (source)

Use Responsibly

It is important to seek out and use ayahuasca that is harvested using sustainable practices and served by shamans who have the utmost respect for the sacred medicinal brew. As its popularity has increased, so has the opportunity to exploit it, so do your due diligence when it comes to determining if ayahuasca is right for you and who will be serving you this medicine.

Related CE Article: Why Psychedelic Drugs Are Not A Shortcut To Enlightenment

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