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What is ayahuasca? Packers QB Aaron Rodgers says psychedelic drug helped him with back-to-back MVP titles

(NEXSTAR) – It’s no secret Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers is good at what he does — he most recently had two back-to-back MVP seasons. What was a secret, until Wednesday, was exactly how he claims he did it.

During a recent podcast appearance, Rodgers credited a plant-based psychedelic, ayahuasca, for his accomplishments over the last two seasons.

While on the Aubrey Marcus Podcast, Rodgers explained that he had used ayahuasca while in South America. He decided to try ayahuasca following a previous experience with psychedelics, during which he ingested mushrooms on a beach and then felt as though he was merging with the ocean.

Described as a hallucinogenic drug, ayahuasca is usually consumed as a tea, according to the Milwaukee Detox Center. It’s made from a mixture of the bark and stems of the Banisteriopsis caapi plant and is commonly used by “indigenous peoples in the Amazon for its healing properties.”

Ayahuasca ingredients and brewed. (Getty)

Ayahuasca is a concentrated liquid, according to Australia’s Alcohol and Drug Foundation (ADF), that is made by heating or boiling the Banisteriopsis. Its active chemical is DMT, or dimethyltryptamine, a hallucinogenic that can be smoked with a pipe or brewed into a drink. DMT is a Schedule I drug in the U.S.

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Ayahuasca also has alleged spiritual properties, which has led to its popularity in the U.S. A drug alert from the Milwaukee Detox Center says ayahuasca can be purchased as a tea online, and some countries like Ecuador and Costa Rica offer “weeklong experiences where you can attend ayahuasca ceremonies led by a shaman.”

Rodgers said he doesn’t “think it’s a coincidence” that he won MVP in 2020 and 2021 after an ayahuasca experience in South America.

“We talked so much about … mental health, and to me, one of the core tenets of your mental health is self-love, and that’s what ayahuasca did for me. [It helped] me see how to unconditionally love and it’s only in that unconditional self-love that then I’m able to truly be able to unconditionally love others,” Rodgers explained. “I mean it’s important that I play well and show up and lead and all that stuff but they won’t care about what you say until they know how much you care.”

As a tea, ayahuasca can cause “a dream-like state and hallucinations, making you feel your emotions very intensely,” according to the Milwaukee Detox Center.

Users may believe ayahuasca promotes “a conscious state of mindfulness that lets you examine your thoughts and emotions from the outside,” the center explains, adding that some feel it lets you ” recall your memories very vividly.”

Effects of ayahuasca, however, sound much less pleasant. According to ADF, ayahuasca impacts everyone differently, but common effects include:

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  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Anxiety
  • Panic and fear
  • Increased body temperature
  • A moderate increase in blood pressure and heart rate
  • Intense visual and auditory hallucinations
  • Powerful emotions
  • Introspection
  • Feelings of connection and unity

Still, Rodgers advocated for focusing on the benefits of the drug rather than the negatives. He credited ayahuasca with giving him “a different perspective on things … to be way more free at work, as a leader, as a teammate, as a friend, as a lover.” Overall, he said the experience helped with his mental health.

Ayahuasca is not a proven treatment for mental illness, according to the Milwaukee Detox Center. ADF reminds that there is no safe way to use psychedelic drugs, including ayahuasca.

Rodgers, the highest-paid player in the NFL, is entering his 18th season with the Packers.

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