The Afterglow Phenomena After Using Psychedelics

Written by Derek Johnson

Many consumers of psychedelics wish their trips would continue after they come down. Unbeknownst to them, it is likely that they get their wish without even realizing it. Recent research has determined that long after the waves of psychedelia have seemingly subsided, an afterglow phenomenon lingers on for much time later.


The Psychedelic Afterglow

The term afterglow refers to feelings of invigoration and the carefree states of being that follow psychedelic experiences. [1,2] It is reported to make consumers more amenable to developing close relationships with people, and some even claim that it aids greatly in psycho-therapeutic interventions. According one scientist, the afterglow lasts between two weeks and up to about a month after disappearing. [2]

The thing about the afterglow is that it has not been scientifically verified as a real phenomenon, even though plenty of anecdotal evidence abounds demonstrating its existence. But that hasn’t quelled the excitement over a phenomenon that could hold much potential for treating patients for various ailments, both physical and psychological.


Ayahuasca and the Afterglow Effect

Ayahuasca has attracted much attention in the past decade for its therapeutic potential. In particular, people from developed countries, such as the United States and Great Britain, have been attending ayahuasca ceremonies to experience a new way of getting healing and peace in their respective overstimulated and crazy worlds. Additionally, researchers have conducted studies in recent years in an attempt to unlock the benefits of ayahuasca and make them available to patients in need.

In reference to the afterglow and ayahuasca, not much direct scientific research has been carried out on the topic, although there has been research on it. The problems with the non-scientific approaches is they fail to provide information on the exact formulas of the ayahuasca brews used in their research, and the data is self-reported.

Still, there is valuable information to be gleaned from any studies at this point. Take a study conducted by Murphy-Beiner, and Soar. [3] It demonstrated that 24 hours after consuming ayahuasca, subjects experienced augmented mindfulness. They also experienced positive changes involving their cognitive flexibility.

More research and study are needed as well as well-thought out approaches to studying ayahuasca and other psychedelics to truly understand the afterglow effect. But just because it’ hasn’t been figured out by science yet doesn’t mean it can’t provide benefits in the meantime.


Image Source: Fiona



[1] Majić T, Schmidt TT, Gallinat J. Peak experiences and the afterglow phenomenon: when and how do therapeutic effects of hallucinogens depend on psychedelic experiences? J Psychopharmacol. 2015 Mar;29(3):241-53. doi:10.1177/0269881114568040. [journal impact factor = 4.562; times cited = 121]


[2] Pahnke WN. The psychedelic mystical experience in the human encounter with death. Harvard Theological Review. 1969;62(1):1-21. [journal impact factor = 0.28; times cited = 96]


[3] Murphy-Beiner, A, Soar K. Ayahuasca’s ‘afterglow’ imporved mindfulness and cognitive flexibility in ayahuasca drinkers. Psychopharmacology (Berl). 2020 Apr;237(4):1161-1169. doi:10.1007/s00213-019-05445-3. [journal impact factor = 4.312; times cited = 37]

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Derek Johnson

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