By Ina Woolcott
What is Ayahuasca?
Ayahuasca is a powerful teacher and healer with frequently strong visionary effects. It is a combination of 2 plants found in the Amazon rainforests, the Banisteriopsis Caapi vine and thePsychotria Viridis (Chacruna) shrub. The vine stems are pounded and scraped and then boiled for hours, sometimes even days, along with the Chacruna leaves by shamans called ayahuasqueros (makers of Ayahuasca) or medicine men. Banisteriopsis Caapi contains various harmala alkaloids which are actually monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOI’s). Taken alone, the B. Caapi would not trigger psychotropic effects, unless an extremely high concentration were taken and even then would only have a moderate effect. This is where Psychotria Viridis comes into play, a botanical source of dimethyltryptamine (DMT). Dimethyltryptamine is present in small quantities in our brains. The psychoactive tryptamines contained in DMT are inactive when administered orally, without the intervention of the MAOI in the form of B. Caapi vine. When this second ingredient is added, the DMT’s psychoactive molecules are not destroyed in the stomach. This allows them to cross the blood/brain barrier and bestow the legendary effects associated with Ayahuasca.
It is speculated that an excess of DMT opens up the pineal gland, providing extraordinary visions and a feeling of transcendence. DMT affects the pineal gland that resides deep within the brain and is the only unpaired organ in the body. At the time of birth, death and near death experiences as well as other peak experiences significant amounts of DMT are released. In large doses DMT produces visions and profound insights. Some say this is crucial for the brain to function properly and that we are DMT deficient due to the pineal shrinking and going rigid in ‘modern’ man. According to some researchers one of the main culprits of this is the use of fluoride in tap/drinking water.
The two plants compliment each and work in perfect synergy, one maximizing the benefit of the other. The resulting brew, or tea, is a magical and visionary formula which has powerful consciousness expanding properties.
Sometimes other plants and herbs are added to the Ayahuasca brew such as mapacho (a tobacco used by shamans) and brugmansia, or toé. These are the 2 most common added extras, which are used to enhance the visionary effects of the tea. There are circa 100 identified species of B. caapi to be found in the Amazon. The most common one used in Peru is Cielo Ayahuasca, as it is oftentimes called. Shamans have their own recipes; oftentimes these are secret.
Known as a teacher and healing plant, Ayahuasca works synergistically on many levels, not just biochemical, but also spiritually with many feeling an intelligent presence while under its influence. Some interpret this as a grandfather or grandmother plant spirit, or even feel this presence is reptilian or alien. Others say this is your higher self guiding you.