What is Ayahuasca?
In the Amazon rainforest, there’s a hallucinogenic brew that the indigenous people of the Amazon basin have been using for generations to get in touch with their spiritual side. This brew is called Ayahuasca, and it’s made from two plants, the vine of the Banisteriopsis caapi and the leaves of Psychotria Viridis. The caapi vine contains MAOIs which allow the DMT in the leaves of the Psychotria plant species to become orally active in the human body. If the DMT is taken by itself, then the psychedelic effect will not come into effect.
It’s still a mystery as to how the indigenous people found this specific combination of plants to make ayahuasca. The Amazon basin contains approximately 80,000 plant species, making it one of the most biodiverse regions on Earth, which makes the discovery even more perplexing.
The oldest evidence of the use of ayahuasca can be traced back to 500 BC in Ecuador, but it could very well be much older than that. Due to the fact that the native languages in the area have no written forms, it can be difficult to trace the origin of the brew. However, the indigenous people claim that the concoction was imbued within their people’s mind by the plant spirits.
Scientists and archaeologists believe that native people’s discovery of the concoction was the result of trial and error over the years. The caapi vine contains harmine, which is a psychoactive alkaloid. This psychoactive ingredient of the caapi vine was originally called telepathine, based on its propensity to induce parapsychological states. It was very likely that the people around the basin were already aware of the plant’s psychoactive properties, and found that the effects were enhanced by taking it with a Viridis leaf.
It was observed that the Jaguars around the basins were consuming the caapi vine, and was showing signs of being in an altered state of consciousness and behaviors. This might be what the indigenous people mean when they referred to the plant spirits. The first ancestors could have noticed that the Jaguars were eating these vines, which could make them more docile and friendlier. The Jaguars might come into contact with the tribesmen and showed signs of affection, which led the people to think that they were invited to consume to caapi vines.
It’s still believed by the native people that jaguars consume this plant to heighten their hunting prowess, and the tribal hunters were consuming caapi vines to gain the same effect.
The preferred method of consuming the caapi vine is to boil it along with other plants. This is how ayahuasca is made as well. They boil DMT containing plant with the caapi vine. On top of the psychedelic properties, the brew is believed to be able to treat illnesses and ailments, making it an even more mythical substance.
Ayahuasca is not only important in terms of a medicine for the native people, but the brew also flips the understanding of what we know about LSD and psychedelic drugs. The inventor of LSD, Albert Hofmann, first synthesized LSD in 1938 in the hope of obtaining a respiratory and circulatory stimulant which did not affect a woman’s uterus. He abandoned the project for 5 years, only to re-synthesize LSD in 1943 and accidentally absorbed a quantity of the chemical through his fingertips. We now know that the native people have been consuming the brew for thousands of year before that, and claimed to be a trip to the spiritual world.
If you are interested in one of our Ayahuasca retreats and would like more information or are looking to apply, please do get in touch with us! We would be happy to have you along & show you a truly unique experience.