Ayahuasca is a psychoactive beverage from the Amazon, traditionally used by indigenous and mestizo populations in the region. Widespread international use of the beverage began in the 1990s in both secular contexts and religious/spiritual networks. This article offers an analysis of these networks as health care systems in general and for the case of Spain and specifically Catalonia, describing the emergence and characteristics of their groups, and the therapeutic itineraries of some participants. The medical anthropology perspective we take enables us to reflect on the relationship between medicine and religion, and problematize the tensions between medicalization and medical pluralism. Closely linked to the process of medicalization, we also analyze prohibitionist drug policies and their tensions and conflicts with the use of ayahuasca in ritual and ‘health care’ contexts. The paper ends with a reflection on the problem of ayahuasca as ‘medicine’, since the connection between religion and medicine is a very difficult one to separate.
Apud, I., & Romaní, O. (2017). Medicine, religion and ayahuasca in Catalonia. Considering ayahuasca networks from a medical anthropology perspective. International Journal of Drug Policy, 39, 28-36. 10.1016/j.drugpo.2016.07.011