Citation: Parrotquest. "A Harrowing Experience: An Experience with Voacanga africana (extract) (exp48721)". Erowid.org. Sep 27, 2007. erowid.org/exp/48721
First, some context.
Several weeks earlier I had taken 0.75 g of the V. africana extract, described as a 'pure freebase alkaloidal extract, with little effect other than stimulation, increased salivation, and some minor stomach pains and a slight headache the next day.
I buy and manage the renovation of old houses, and yesterday morning, my carpenter called in sick and my plumber was also unavailable. Realizing that I had a quiet Monday ahead of me, I decided to experiment with the V. africana extract. I had a total of 4.45 grams, and took 1.45 grams around 9:30 a.m. Nothing much happened, other than some stimulatory effects, so I decided to consume the remaining 3 grams at approximately 11 a.m. (for a total of 4.45 grams).
In about an hour I observed a purgative effect, but no nausea, and felt very restless. I had to defecate several times, and within another half hour or so developed diarhhea. I also noticed a strong tingling in my extremities, particularly my hands and arms, and my teeth began to ache. I found it hard to keep still, so took a walk of about a half mile or so up to a large historical park set on the banks of a major river in Maryland. On the way back my bowels acted up again but by walking fast, I was able to make it home in time to access the commode.
By this time, more than two hours had elapsed, and basing my trajectory on my prior experience with ayahuasca and other entheogens, I assumed I had probably reached a plateau. However, this was not the case. I felt increasingly uncomfortable, finding that I was producing great quantities of mucous from my mouth and nose, and became nauseated. I had consumed the extract with applesauce and about an hour into the experience had eaten a large banana. At about the two to two and a half hour mark, I had to vomit, and did so 3 times in quick succession. I felt better for while, and figured that the worst of it had passed.
However, this was not to be the case. I became increasingly uncomfortable, the tingling in my extremities and the aching of my teeth intensified, and I started to develop severe stomach pains. I had to defecate again, and also tried to vomit but could only retch. The stomach pain became unbearable, which I define as being pain which causes atheists to entreat God for mercy, and I wept and cried out in pain. Although my legs were rubbery and the pain excruciating, I was able to coordinate my movements (I remained in the bathroom for a long time) to reach for two tylenol 500 mg gelcaps. I took these with a small sip of water, and was able to keep them down.
Whether or not they eased the pain, or I had merely reached the worst part and it would have subsided of its own accord I do not know. I remained doubled over on the bathroom floor for about half an hour, constantly repeating to myself the mantra 'Move beyond the pain, move beyond the pain.'
As an aside, my large green parrot was flying freely from one end of the house to the other (I live in a small, two-story rowhouse). He looked at me oddly a number of times, and when I was crying out in pain, imitated my cries. However, he was quite well behaved, never screaming loudly, which I greatly appreciated. He also made some interesting vocalizations along with the Native American flute cassette that I kept playing on my stereo throughout the ordeal.
The pain gradually, very, very slowly, tapered off; with my eyes closed I saw the hint of some dark faces, but nothing one could describe as visions. Sweat was dripping from my face, I had to expectorate repeatedly, and continually had to blow my nose. I did try to vomit again but could only retch. By about 3:30 p.m. I was feeling well enough to stand up and walk around within my house. The room was glowing, I had the urge to chant some, although that took energy to focus, and I also had the urge to shake my head, arms and hands. I felt chilled, and my teeth were chattering.
I wrapped myself in a blanket, and at about 4 p.m. went upstairs into a warm, sunwashed bedroom and looked at the setting sun through my window. By about 5 o'clock I had settled down but was developing a headache. I eventually took two more tylenol gelcaps. I was still queasy. By about 8:30 p.m. my gut felt quiet enough that I cooked some oatmeal which I consumed with soy milk and honey.
I got into bed a little before 10 p.m. and eventually fell asleep. I awoke with a splitting headache around 2 a.m., and took 10 mg of Maxalt, a prescription migraine medication. It eased the headache pain enough that I did eventually fall back asleep, awakening around 7:50 this morning. At some point in the night, I had awakened briefly again and recalled going downstairs and taking two more tylenol.
As of now (it is a few minutes after 10 a.m. Tuesday, December 13), my headache has not returned. I went outside briefly and stood in the morning sunlight, it did seem brighter than normal and I felt a sea of gratitude for existence wash over me.
As compared to my experience with ayahuasca, the V. africana was more acutely painful in terms of gastrointestinal pain and the odd pain in my teeth. It did not, THANKFULLY, cause the intense and unremitting dizziness I experienced with ayahuasca. Overall, however, I would say it was more difficult than the ayahuasca session, in part because of the severe headache aftermath, which did NOT occur after the ayahuasca. The lack of dizziness, however, was welcome.
Part of the ordeal was navigating unknown waters in the absence of a supportive shaman guide and group. There is nothing remotely 'recreational' about the experience with V. africana: it remains to be seen in ensuing days and weeks if it helps to renew and 're-create' aspects of my life. While there were moments of great regret during the most intense pain of the experience, I now can say that I am glad to have gone through the ordeal and emerged whole on the other side.
However, I would not recommend that anyone follow in my footsteps, as the experience was at times harrowing and was overall an ordeal.
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