Michelle Rodriguez Claims Ayahuasca Helped Her Get Over Paul Walker's Death

By McCarton Ackerman 04/06/16

A new documentary shows the Fast and the Furious star confronting her grief while tripping on ayahuasca. 

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Michelle Rodriguez Claims Ayahuasca Helped Her Get Over Paul Walker's Death
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The psychedelic drug ayahuasca helped Michelle Rodriguez fully grieve the death of friend and Fast and the Furious costar, Paul Walker.

TMZ reports that the actress made the candid admission in The Reality of Truth, a documentary presented by Deepak Chopra and Mike “Zappy” Zapolin. The film’s website says that the movie examines “true reality through spirituality, meditation and psychedelics.”

Walker died in November 2013 in a high-speed single vehicle crash after he was trapped inside his friend's car, which had went in flames. Rodriguez said she went “crazy, nuts, berserk” in the months after Walker’s death as she tried “to hide from myself” and wondered “physically what could I do to get my mind off existentialism and how transient life is.”

A clip from the movie shows her drinking an ayahuasca brew during a traditional ceremony used for the medicine. She said afterwards that “my ayahuasca trip made me sad that he left me here. It wasn’t a sadness that he’s gone. It was more of a jealousy that he’s there first.”

Though controversial, its proponents claim ayahuasca, when administered correctly, is a healing tool for a range of spiritual and mental health ills like addiction and depression. Research studies have shown that long-term ayahuasca users showed increased sensitivity to serotonin, the brain chemical that regulates mood. This is particularly noteworthy because those who suffer from alcoholism routinely show deficits in serotonin production.

“Here we have a medicine that apparently reverses these deficits, something no other medicine is known to do,” Dennis McKenna, an ethnobotanist and professor at the University of Minnesota, told LA Weekly in 2013.

At the time, McKenna was looking to raise money to conduct a study in Peru that examines the effects of ayahuasca on people with PTSD.

However, it’s unlikely these studies will be conducted anytime soon in the U.S. because ayahuasca, since it contains DMT, is currently considered a Schedule I drug. The psychedelic vine has also been linked to several deaths. In September 2012, 18-year-old Kyle Nolan was found dead after reportedly consuming ayahuasca during a ritual at a retreat at the Shimbre Shamanic Centre in Peru. The center’s shaman, Jose Manuel Pineda, was arrested along with two others after confessing to burying his body at the facility.

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McCarton Ackerman is a freelance writer and editor living in Portland, Oregon. He has been a contributor for The Fix since October 2011, writing on a wide range of topics ranging from medical marijuana in Colorado to the world's sexiest drug smugglers. Follow him on Linkedin and Twitter.