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Welcome to Ayahuasca Info

This page is dedicated to a magical potion from the Amazon basin which is known as ayahuasca. Here you can find information on the different ingredients that are used to make this brew, the way it's used by indigenous people, and what you can expect when you take it yourself.


Traditionally this beverage contains a combination of the Banisteriopsis caapi vine and the leaves of the Psychotria viridis (or alternatively the Diplopterys cabrerana). It has now been determined what the active components of these ingredients are, and some people have used plants from other parts of the world to make similar herbal potions. You can read about this in the botany and chemistry pages.

The most important active component in ayahuasca as far as its visionary qualities are concerned is a substance called DMT (dimethyltryptamine). DMT has a powerful effect on consciousness that is difficult to describe in words. It's described by many as "spiritual", and is characterized by detailed, very bright and colourful visions. Indigenous people say that during their trance, which lasts approximately four hours, they enter the world of the spirits and communicate with them, while psychologists consider DMT to be one of the hallucinogens, or psychedelics: "substances which make the soul visible."

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What is Ayahuasca?

Young ayahuasca plant

Ayahuasca is an Amazonian plant mixture that is capable of inducing altered states of consciousness, usually lasting between 4 to 8 hours after ingestion. Ranging from mildly stimulating to extremely visionary, ayahuasca is used primarily as a medicine and as a shamanic means of communication, typically in a ceremonial session under the guidance of an experienced drinker.

The main ingredient of this jungle tea is a vine, Banisteriopsis caapi, which like the tea itself is also called ayahuasca (which means ‘vine of the soul' or 'vine with a soul’). The secondary ingredient is either chacruna (Psychotria viridis) or chagropanga (Diplopterys cabrerana), plants that contain a relatively high amount of the psychedelic substance DMT.

Nobody knows for sure how long this drink has been used. First recorded Western contact with ayahuasca was made in 1851 by Richard Spruce, the famous ethnobotanist from England. When taking into account archeological evidence of comparable native plant use, it seems likely that its use dates back to at least two millennia ago.

Currently there is a lot of interest in the use of these sacred plants and one can regularly read about them in articles and magazines. A website keeps track of such publications in the news section.

Why are people using ayahuasca?

Urarina tribe ayahuasca shaman

Ayahuasca induces a psychedelic, visionary state of mind and this effect is employed by various people for various reasons.

Shamans or medicine men take ayahuasca to communicate with nature or to see what is causing a patient’s illness on a spiritual level. In Brazil several religions can be found that pivot around gatherings where ayahuasca is taken by all participants. Drinking ayahuasca and singing together takes them into a healing and inspiring kind of trance.

In the past few decades ayahuasca is slowly gaining interest from Western society as well. Not only academic researchers in the field of psychotherapy have shown an increased interest. Psychonauts, i.e. people who practice responsible and conscious use of mind-altering substances, use ayahuasca to confront themselves with the richness of the mind, the infinity of the universe, and their deepest fears, so as to experience ecstasy resulting from facing and overcoming these fears.

One effect of ayahuasca is that it makes a lot of people vomit and many drinkers get diarrhea. One tribe calls ayahuasca 'kamarampi', which stems from 'kamarank': to vomit. It is also called ‘la purga’, as it purges the body through this physical effect, and purifies the mind through the meaningful psychological experiences or visions. You usually feel totally refreshed and reborn after a strong experience.

What makes ayahuasca so interesting?

Although not unique to ayahuasca, there are many fascinating reports about people who have been healed from comprehensive problems, like addiction or depression, during one or more sessions. This, however, can also be achieved using LSD, psilocybin mushrooms, iboga, other psychedelics or various breathing and meditation techniques, and always involves heavy psychological work.

Ayahuasca is not a miracle cure in the sense that you drink the brew and all your troubles have vanished within a couple of hours. It is a miracle cure though, in the sense that it brings unconscious and seemingly other-worldly processes to surface, which enables you to work with it while the effects last.

What is more unique about ayahuasca, is that the effects rely on a specific combination of two plants: Banisteriopsis caapi and chacruna (or chagropanga, depending on the region). How and when exactly the discovery of combining these two plants was made by native Americans remains unclear, although many tribes and shamans have their own mythical tales explaining this event.

Second, the primary ingredient of chacruna and chagropanga is also a neurotransmitter found in all human beings and plays a key role in all kinds of extraordinary states of awareness. This neurotransmitter is called dimethyltryptamine, or DMT for short, and is found in the brain, blood, lungs and other parts of the human body. There is strong evidence pointing towards the pineal gland ("the third eye" in esoteric traditions), located in the center of the brain, as the main factory of human DMT. Apart from human beings, DMT can be found in every mammal and in a variety of plants.

Illustration showing the location of the pineal gland



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Rituals and Ceremonies

Below you will find an overview of the most common ways of how ayahuasca is taken.
Learn more about the importance of how and where strong mind-altering substances like ayahuasca are taken

Traditional Amazonian Healing

Shamanistic ayahuasca ceremony

A shaman is a person who knows his or her way around altered states of consciousness and enters these states to heal patients. Typically induced by a combination of psychedelic plants and music, the shamanistic trance enables one to perceive part of what can't be perceived in ordinary states of consciousness. This is usually performed for the purpose of healing, divination or communication with the spirit world.

Obviously ayahuasca is a shamanistic tool, if not the most important Amazonian one. According to many indigenous curanderos (healers) much of their botanical knowledge comes directly from ayahuasca inebriation. In healing sessions, which are typically held at night and on fixed days of the week, there are about four to eight patients present. The ritual begins around eight or nine in the evening, lasting up to seven hours. It takes place in the shaman's house or 'clinic' in complete darkness, which stimulates the visionary element of ayahuasca.

The shaman drinks ayahuasca so he can see the spiritual causes for his patient's illness. Sometimes the patient drinks as well. Most of the time the shaman is singing icaros or 'power songs' to invite good spirits and to perform healing. Sometimes patients are invited to sit with the shaman, who will then sing softly especially for each one of them.

Tobacco is an important tool in this tradition, together with the chapada, a bunch of leaves. Tobacco smoke is blown over the ayahuasca and the patient for the purpose of attracting positive energies. The chapada is used like one would use a percussion instrument, beating the air with a regular interval. Other tools are various perfumes, incense, rattles, crystals and other power objects. The day after the ayahuasca healing, there is usually some more individual treatment involving other medicinal plants.

The Church of Santo Daime

Daime ladies collect the chacruna leaves

Huge pans are used to brew the plants

Dancing and singing after drinking the sacrament

Founded in the early 1930s by Raimundu Irineu Serra, the Santo Daime is probably the most wellknown ayahuasca drinking tradition. It is an ideosyncracy integrating Catholic, Christian beliefs with the use of a native entheogenic ('manifesting the god within') plant. This is interesting in the light of the inquisition of some four centuries ago, which also entailed an almost total eradication of (ayahuasca) shamans and their cosmologies. This was fuelled by authorities operating in the name of Catholicism.

They call ayahuasca Daime and it is their sacrament in the so-called trabalhos (works or sessions). Besides the actual brewing, all rituals are held in a closed, fully illuminated hall, led by the padrinho. It is a widespread tradition nowadays, with many centers in Brazil and several more in Europe.

Although Santo Daime have fifteen types of sessions ranging between 4 and 800 participants, they distinguish five main sessions. The concentração (concentration or meditation) are held twice a month. The brew is taken by everyone present at the beginning of this regular session and typically there’s another serving later. The concentração pivot around a period of around two hours in which the participants sit in silence. Before and after this period of silence, there is praying and singing. Usually a session starts at eight in the evening and lasts for about six hours.

Santo Daime have festive sessions on fixed dates, including Christmas, New Year’s Day and sometimes marriages and anniversaries. They dance and chant while standing aligned in ordered formations, with a group of people playing guitar and sometimes other instruments, like electric organ or flute or clarinet. Many participants rattle the maraca, made from a tin or aluminum can with seeds inside. The festive sessions typically last around eleven hours and are held during the night. Daime is served up to five times during the session. After the second serving there’s an intermission, in which participants go outside and relax.

Sometimes a small number of participants have an intimate session, called trabalhos de estrela, referring to the star-shaped table at the centre of the hall in which all sessions take place. These sessions focus on somebody’s illness, and chanting for the purpose of healing takes place. There is another kind of session that takes place only rarely, a missa (mass) for the dead.

Held outside, the fifth kind of session is the preparation of the brew, called feitio. Large doses of Daime are served during this ritual, in which hymns are sung and the ayahuasca vine is collected and pounded with a hammer by eight to fourteen men. The chacrona has been collected and cleaned before the feitio by the women. Helped by members of the community, the padrinho is the one who actually makes the brew and decides the preparation method and the quantities of the ingredients.

The Santo Daime church is known for its hymns, or hinos, which are said to be received from the astral world under the influence of Daime, by the padrinho or other prominent members. These are the only written teachings of this church and form the core of a session. Functionally they can be somewhat compared to the icaros of ayahuasca shamans, songs sung by the shaman to support the drinker in his spiritual journey.

União do Vegetal

A UDV nucleo in Brazil

Most of the following description is copied, with very kind permission of the author, from 'Ayahuasca, eine Kritik der psychedelischen Vernunft', a German book about ayahuasca written by Govert Derix, a philosopher from the Netherlands.

The União do Vegetal was founded on the 21st of February 1961 in Porto Velho Rondonia, Brazil by José Gabriël da Costa, a rubber tapper. Working in the rubber camps, he got acquainted with native Indians in Bolivia who introduced him to ayahuasca right there in the jungle. The ritual that evolved from his ideas is repeated every first and third Saturday of the month in all of Brazil by roughly tenthousand men and women. There are about 40 to 50 rituals every half year where ayahuasca is served, generally in milder doses than daime.

The sessions take place under the guidance of a leader ('Mestre'), who distributes the tea and guides the collective and individual experience. This is mainly done through the chanting of chamadas, special chants about the origin of ayahuasca, the meaning of the effects of ayahuasca (which is called the burracheira) and the meaning of the life of an ayahuasqueiro (somebody who regularly drinks). People listen to music and there's space for asking questions to the leader and for addressing the group.

Like the Santo Daime, the UDV is gaining popularity amongst all walks of life, having centers, called nuclei, in all major cities of Brazil and several oversea. 'União' means 'union', and rudimentarily refers to the unification of seemingly disconnected principles. A simple example is the unification of the various plants used in the brew. In the UDV Banisteriopsis caapi is called mariri and represents power. Psychotria viridis is called chacrona and represents light. Another example is the unification of masculine and feminine principles. Members of the UDV refer to various kinds of unification, and especially unification with the universe in its totality through drinking vegetal, ayahuasca, with the phrase 'fazer a ligação', making the connection.

Like many other religions, the UDV has scheduled her gatherings and festivities within an annual framework. They are held in a closed, illuminated hall where the participants sit in armchairs. The most important gatherings are the sessões de escala, the sessions of the ladder, which are held every first and third Saturday of the month. Starting at eight o'clock in the evening, they end a quarter past midnight.

Besides the official sessions there are sessions on Christian holidays (Christmas, Easter), on the days of several Christian saints (St. John, St. Peter), on the birthday of the founder of the UDV, on the birthday of the foundation date of the UDV, on Mother's Day, on Father's Day and during reveillon, the transition to the new year. Experienced ayahuasqueiros also have sessões instrutivas, instructive sessions, in which the drinkers explore the more esotheric aspects of the UDV. The last kind of session is the preparo, in which the vegetal is prepared and, like Santo Daime's feitio, drunk.

The official sessions every first and third Saturday of the month use the following program:
  • Drink ayahuasca together (20.00h)
  • Focus on the effect of the tea (until approximately 21.00h)
  • The leader of the ceremony starts chanting the first chamadas to guide people in the process of making the connection
  • Experience the effect of the tea, opportunity to speak towards the group and ask questions, to listen to popmusic with lyrics with a message and to sing chamadas (until 23.30h)
  • The master sings several closing or goodbye chamadas (around midnight)

Barquinha

Barquinha ritual

Founded in 1945 in Rio Branco, Brazil, this church combines elements from the Afro-Brazilian Umbanda religion and the Santo Daime. The name means 'little boat', referring to the boat the founder, Frei Daniel Pereira de Mattos, saw in a vision. In his mind it represented the spiritual voyage. Barquinha has more rituals than the Santo Daime and UDV, apparently serving a brew that is more potent as well.

In some sessions which are based on Umbanda rituals, Barquinha members, often dressed in seamen's uniforms, enter into trance and 'incorporate' spirits. During some sessions the gira is performed, a circle dance taken from the Umbanda tradition. Three times a year there is a pilgrimage, or romaría, involving an up to thirty day period of nightly sessions with drinking. In non-festive sessions salmosare sung by a cantor and the rest, while seated, joins in for the refrains. These hymns are typically much lengthier than the ones of the Santo Daime.

 

     

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The importance of the setting

The word 'setting' is used to describe the physical surroundings, including people, in which an experience induced by a psychedelic substance takes place. Setting is the most important factor, together with set (current state of mind) and dose, when it comes to making sure you will have a beneficial psychedelic experience. Close to 100% of all voluntary psychedelic experiences turn out to be in the range of not damaging to extremely positive. The small amount of psychedelic experiences that turn out to be damaging to fatal, have, as far as anyone has been able to research, almost always been caused by sloppiness with usually a multitude of the factors mentioned.

When someone drinks ayahuasca, the dose is typically very high, since this is necessary to achieve effects that are unique to ayahuasca. Most people who take ayahuasca have done research in advance, by reading and talking about it. They also have a clear idea of what their intentions really are, which is usually to overcome an obstacle in life caused by personal problems. This leaves setting as the most important factor when taking ayahuasca.

Together with iboga, ayahuasca is invariably the strongest psychedelic known to man, although the intensity of the experience is strongly influenced by the dose, as with all psychotropics. With most psychedelics, however, there's a saturation point; an established dose that facilitates the strongest experience possible. For example, a normal dose of LSD is anywhere between 50 and 250 micrograms. A strong, overwhelming dose of LSD is anywhere between 100 and 500 mcg. For most people, taking more than 500 mcg. doesn't add anything new to the experience, so 500 mcg. is their saturation dose. They could take 1500 mcg. and get the same intensity range as with 500 mcg.

What it means when saying ayahuasca and iboga are stronger than most other psychedelics, is that with a saturation dose of these plants it is possible, albeit not guaranteed, to reach states of conciousness that are more otherworldly, deeper, stranger, meaningful and healing than with a saturation dose of other psychedelics. Preparing for an ayahuasca experience is therefor a different ballgame, both in your mind as in the place where you plan to take the drink. For example, many people have visions of animals, beings, gods and other entities that communicate with them, and it usually seems more profound and real than everyday life. Experiencing ego-dissolvement is so common an effect, that taking ayahuasca is sometimes referred to as 'little death'. Some people have experienced the same things or similar on LSD, mushrooms or other psychedelics, but it typically takes very high doses and very specific intentions or a specific background to reach this state on these agents.

In the case of ayahuasca, such amazing changes in the perception of reality are practically a given. Where you take it and who is there to take care of the situation is therefor of vital importance.

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Botany

1. B. caapi, member of the Malpighiaceae family

2. P. harmala seeds

3. D. cabrerana leaves

4. A flowering Brugmansia suaveolens

5. A flowering Brunfelsia grandiflora

In ayahuasca botany 3 groups of plants can be distinguished: MAO inhibitors, DMT carriers and additives. Without the MAOI, the visionary properties of DMT are not present, as it would be broken down in the body before reaching the DMT sensitive parts in the brain. In other words, a DMT-only brew would be inactive. An additive can be any kind of plant, some of the more wellknown ones being tobacco, san pedro and coca.

Ayahuasca can be made from any combination of an MAOI plant and a DMT plant, although strictly speaking there has to be the Banisteriopsis caapi vine (pic. 1) in it, an MAOI plant which is also called ayahuasca.

Although many plants produce DMT, traditional ayahuasca is made from the leaves of either Psychotria viridis (chacruna) or Diplopterys cabrerana (chagropanga or chaliponga) (pic. 3). The first is used in the Amazon basin and the second in the foothills of the regions where ayahuasca is used. Once you’re not using using the B. caapi vine as the MAOI or you’re employing plants other than chacruna or chagropanga for the DMT, we speak of an ayahuasca analogue, or anahuasca.

Banisteriopsis caapi a.k.a. Ayahuasca

'Ayahuasca' is Quechua, the language of the Inca empire, for ‘vine of the soul’, 'vine with a soul' or ‘vine of the dead’. Ayahuasca, a member of the Malpighiaceae family, is considered to be the most important 'plant teacher'. According to most of the native ayahuasqueros (frequent drinkers of ayahuasca) the effects of B. caapi are their main source of botanical knowledge.

Indigenous shamans distinguish over 40 varieties of ayahuasca vines, for example tucunacá and caupurí. The plant is cultivated, typically using cuttings, throughout the Amazon basin of Peru, Ecuador, Colombia and Brazil. A young shoot or the end of a branch is put in water. After forming roots it is put in soil and watered thoroughly.

The woody stems of the giant B. caapi are very long and branch repeatedly. The leaves can be between 8 to 18 cm long, 3.5 to 8 cm wide. They are green, round-ovate and pointed at the end. Flowering only rarely and exclusively in moist, tropical climates, the infloresences grow from axillary panicles and four umbels. The flowers are between 12 and 14 mm in size and have five white or pale pink sepals.

Psychotria viridis a.k.a. chacruna

Chacruna, like coffee, family of the Rubiaceae, is also known in different varieties, such as cabocla and chacroninha. It is a tropical bush that grows in the Amazon lowlands and through cultivation in Colombia, Bolivia and eastern Brazil. This evergreen can grow into a little tree, though most cultivated plants are between 2 and 3 meters in height. The long, narrow, ovate leaves are light green to dark green in color and the side facing the sky is glossy.

The flowers are attached to long stalks and have greenish white petals. Cultivation by means of seeds has shown to be a lot less fruitful than using cuttings. With P. viridis one only needs to put a small part of the plant directly in the soil and give it a lot of water. Even a branch with only two leaves can be used for this.

Diplopterys cabrerana a.k.a. chagropanga

Also known as chaliponga, this plant was called Banisteria rusbyana when it was discovered. It has also been called Banisteriopsis rusbyana and Banisteriopsis cabrerana, and, like Banisteriopsis caapi, is a member of the Malpighiaceae family. This tropical vine is found only in the Amazon basin (Ecuador, Peru, Brazil, Colombia). It grows wild in the forests but is most often found in cultivation.

The plant is cultivated in house gardens using cuttings. A young shoot or the tip of a branch is allowed to sit in water until it develops roots. It can also be placed directly into the moist jungle soil. This very long vine has opposite leaves that are oblong-oval and retuse-attenuate in shape. The inflorescences, each of which bears four tiny flowers, grow from the petiolar axils. However, the plant only rarely develops flowers, and almost never under cultivation.

Other MAOI plants

The most common MAOI after B. caapi is Peganum harmala (pic. 2), a member of the Nitrariaceae, and is also known as Syrian rue or Harmal. This is an Eastern plant, the seeds of which are highly potent in MAOI substances. P. harmala has been fully adopted into the western anahuasca scene, primarily because it is a lot cheaper and also easier to prepare than the MAOI component of the original brew, which is of course the ayahuasca vine. There are many other plants that are known to be MAOIs as well, like passionflower and cocoa. None of them seem potent enough, however, to make them very suitable for usage in an ayahuasca analogue.

Other DMT plants

The list of DMT plants is evergrowing. As mentioned before, traditionally the brew is made using chacruna or chagropanga. Many people use the rootbark of jurema, or Mimosa hostilis, to replace the traditional leaves. Another more recent addition gaining familiarity is Desmanthus illinoensis like jurema a descendant of the Fabaceae family, of which the rootbark is used.

The leaves of some species of Acacia (also family of the Fabaceae)are useful when preparing ayahuasca analogues, like Acacia maidenii. Certain Virola trees, which are family of the Myristicaceae, produce DMT in the bark, but this is typically snorted after processing rather than taken orally in conjunction with an MAOI. In the west people are also experimenting with reed canary grass, or Phalaris arundinacea of the Poaceae family, which is potent enough to make an ayahuasca analogue.

Additives

An additive is basically any plant the ayahuasca brewer decides to mix in. The leaves of coca (Erythroxylum coca of the Erythroxylaceae family), tobacco (Nicotiana tabacum and N. rustica of the Solanaceae family), and mescaline bearing cacti such as peyote (Lophophora williamsii) and san pedro (Trichocereus pachanoi syn. Echinopsis pachanoi and Trichocereus peruvianus, syn. Echinopsis peruviana), and various nightshades, of the Solanaceae family, (e.g. Brugmansia spp.) can be added for various psychopharmacological and spiritual reasons.

The Urarina, for example, are an indigenous people from the northeastern Peruvian Amazon who practice a form of ayahuasca shamanism that is largely based on the ritualized use of Brugmansia suaveolens (pic. 4), which contains hyoscyamine, atropine and scopolamine. The Kofan from northeast Ecuador and southern Colombia make regular use of scopoletin rich Brunfelsia grandiflora (pic. 5), another member of the Solanaceae. Other known common additives are Ilex guayusa of the Aquifoliaceae and Paullinia yoco, like guarana a member of the Sapindaceae family, probably for their high caffeine content, and Brugmansia ignensis.

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Chemistry and Psychopharmacology

2D image of a harmine molecule

2D image of a dimethyltryptamine molecule

Ayahuasca is as complex as both chemistry and psychopharmacology can get. There's a uniquely vast array of botanical sources, and an infinite amount of preparation methods, usually involving psychoactive compounds that we're only beginning to comprehend scientifically, such as DMT and 5-MeO-DMT. The plant sources, the chemical processes and psychopharmacological actions described below are the ones that are generally considered to be the most remarkable ones.

Banisteriopsis caapi

The primary active compounds in B. caapi are the alkaloids harmine, harmaline and tetrahydroharmine. They all belong to the β-carbolines group, which implies they are MAO-inhibitors. Harmine was first called 'telepathine'. Later scientists discovered they had already come across the same compound in P. harmala seeds, so 'telepathine' has become obsolete.

In the recipes of the Amazonian Indians, the liana itself is typically the main ingredient. Tests of different samples have found 20 to 40 mg, 144 to 158 mg, and even 401mg of β-carbolines per dose. Other alkaloids found in B. caapi are harmine-N-oxide, harmic acid methylester, harmalinic acid, harmic amide, acethylnorharmine and ketotetrahydronorharmine.

Harmine and other MAO-inhibitors prevent the breakdown of monoamine neurotransmitters by inhibiting the action of monoamine oxidase enzymes. Apart from creating a path for otherwise orally inactive tryptamines, this renders certain substances harmful, most notably tyramine and tryptophan. These compounds are present in many kinds of food, like cheese and ripe fruit.

Psychotria viridis and Diplopterys cabrerana

The primary active compound in P. viridis and D. cabrerana leaves is the indole ethylamine alkaloid n,n-dimethyltryptamine. Tests of different samples of Amazonian brews have found 25 to 36 mg of N,N-DMT per dose. It has a similar structure to serotonine and thus has affinity for several serotonergic 5-HT2 receptors. DMT is, like LSD, a partial-agonist on the receptor subtype 5-HT2A. When humans take DMT by itself orally, it is converted into inactive aldehydes by the endogenous enzyme monoamine oxidase.

The β-carbolines in the vine temporarily inhibit the production of this enzyme, allowing the DMT to reach the sensitive parts while still active. Inside the nervous system these are located near most of the serotoninergic terminal rich areas, including the neocortex (mainly the prefrontal, parietal, and somatosensory cortex) and the olfactory tubercle. Outside the nervous system 5-HT2A receptors are present in platelets (cell fragments, circulating in the blood, that are involved with clotting) and some muscles.

When inhaled through a vaporizer or bong, DMT gives pronounced effects without the intervention of an MAOI. The same goes for parenteral administration (injecting). Inhalation causes effects that last up to 30 minutes. Nasal insufflation, which is an important tradition of the Yanomamo tribe (see Wikipedia's Yopo page) of DMT causes an experience that lasts up to 60 minutes. Oral administration of DMT after a corresponding amount of MAOIs causes an experience of at least 3 hours. Intra-muscular and intravenous administration is effective without an MAOI.

Unlike P. viridis, D. cabrerana doesn't only contain DMT (between 0.17 and 1.75% of the leaves), but also N-methyltryptamine, 5-MeO-DMT, bufotenine and N-methyltetrahydro-β-carboline. The stems contain roughly the same set, excluding bufotenine. 5-MeO-DMT (5-methoxy-dimethyltryptamine) is, like DMT, a psychedelic agent.

DMT

The status quo of DMT in prevailing science, despite the compound's visionary properties, is that DMT is a by-product of metabolism. In the light of an ayahuasca experience, this conclusion obviously calls for more scientific research. Since DMT is every bit as illegal as LSD and heroin, however, it is a tough process for interested parties to actually get to research DMT.

Dr. Rick Strassman, a professor at the University of New Mexico medical school, has managed to survive the bureaucratic jungle of the FDA, DEA and other authorities. In 1991 he commenced the first official psychedelic research program in the U.S. since 1970. In 2001, Strassman published his findings in 'DMT: The Spirit Molecule'.

DMT is being produced in the body all the time, and it is probably involved in the process of dreaming. DMT is also one of the few substances which can cross the blood-brain barrier. Hardly anything is known about how the extreme psychedelic activity of DMT really works.

DMT is used more and more these days by psychonauts, also in its smokable form. They use hard to obtain botanical extracts made from Acacia spp. or Mimosa hostilis, which are pure enough for one draw to contain enough DMT to be active through inhalation. If one smokes the unpurified leaf or other DMT carrying plant material, typically many lungfulls are required to achieve even the lightest kinds of effects. This leaves one exhausted before the effects start.


An example DMT extraction is shown below. Please note that DMT extraction, besides being a potentially dangerous chemistry procedure, is illegal in most countries.

Simple Mimosa Hostilis DMT extraction

 

 

  1. Before you start, make sure you have all the materials needed:


    - 100 gram of Mimosa Hostilis rootbark powder (MHRB)
    - 250 ml naphtha
    - 150 gram of lye (NaOH, caustic soda)
    - 2 litre mason jar (a glass pickle jar will work also) or wide mouth HDPE jug
    - 2 small glass (mason) jars (~0.5L)
    - Guard
    - Metal spoon
    - Sheet of A4 paper
    - Eye dropper/pipette
    - Freezer

  2. Dissolve 150 grams of lye in 1.5 litre of (tap) water in a large glass jar. It is advised to wear safety goggles and gloves, as lye is a very aggressive substance that can cause burns and blindness. Add the lye in two or three steps, and allow the liquid to cool down in between.
  3. When the water with added lye has cooled down and is clear again, it is time to add the powdered mimosa bark. Add the powder slowly while stirring all the time. After adding the 100 grams of mimosa, leave the brew to stand for about an hour.
  4. Add 100 ml of naphta and put the lid on the jar.
  5. Gently turn the jar end over end for about 5 minutes. It is important not to shake or splash. After 5 minutes, put the jar down for some minutes and repeat the agitating process two more times.
  6. After a short period two separate layers will be distinguishable. Separate the upper layer (naphta) using a pipette or eyedropper. It is important that none of the dark solution is collected.
  7. Again, add 100 to 150 ml naphta to the large jar, and repeat the previous two steps two more times. Separate the upper layer in a new jar
  8. Put the collection jars in the freezer.
  9. After 24 hour the jars can be taken from the freezer. Carefully drain the naphta, making sure any floating crystals remain in the jar. Scoop out the white crystals from the side of the jar using a spoon, and leave them to dry on a folded piece of A4 paper.
  10. After drying, crush any lumps up. The three pulls combined will result in 500-1000 mg pure DMT crystals.
  11. Phalaris arundinacea

    This plant is also called reed canary grass and is one of the few DMT sources that you can find growing outside in the Netherlands. Little research has been done as to how exactly this plant can be used as the botanical DMT source for an ayahuasca analogue. Jim DeKorne, author of "Psychedelic Shamanism", is currently one of the few people who has published information on how P. arundinaceacan be processed into an administrable substance. His idea of canary grass extraction is this:
    1. Pulverize the grass clippings
    2. Add water, "enough to make a pourable soup"
    3. Acidify to pH 5 or so
    4. (Optional) Simmer the acidified soup in a slow cooker overnight, not allowing the liquid to evaporate. ("It may take two or three such operations to get all of the alkaloids into solution")
    5. Strain the plant matter through cheesecloth, then through a paper coffee filter
    6. Add 10 to 15% of the mass of the solution in a "defatting solvent" such as methylene chloride, ether, chloroform, or naphtha.
    7. Shake vigorously
    8. The crap will go into the solvent, leaving the good stuff in the water.
    9. Separate the water from the solvent.
    10. Add a base to the aqueous solution in small increments until the pH gets to about 9 or 10. This converts the alkaloids into their free base.
    11. Extract with 10% of the mass of the solution of an organic solvent four times, at one 24-hour and then three weekly intervals. The solvent layer will take on a darker tint, usually yellowish or reddish-brown. It will take almost a month to extract all of the alkaloids, and the solution should be shaken at least twice a day between extractions.
    12. Evaporate the solvent off from the combined extract fractions. You now have the alkaloids.
    In a later publication, "The Entheogen Review", DeKorne has more information on Phalaris extraction:
    "The latest scoop is that you don't even have to use chemical extractions anymore - run several handfuls of grass through a wheatgrass juicer (sold in most health food stores) and you'll wind up with a glass or so of incredibly potent liquid. One teaspoon (with MAO inhibition, of course), is a standard dose with strong grass. Only two teaspoons proved very challenging to one of my correspondents - an OD! The juice can be dried and smoked in a bong - two tokes will usually do it."

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Reply with quote  #7 
Be prepared
Two Peruvian Mestizos making ayahuasca

Ayahuasca plants mise en place

The ayahuasca experience has proven to be an extraordinary one. It has positively changed the lives of many people. It has cured various forms of depression and addiction. Ayahuasca has shown people the immense beauty of the cosmos and ourselves through overwhelmingly enchanting and emotional visions and visualizations. An experience capable of phenomena with such magnitude needs to be valued and respected for what it is.

This means that part of drinking ayahuasca is the preparation. Everyone should find out what his or her preparation is, but in general it is recommended to read some of the common literature on ayahuasca and the psychedelic experience in general. Another thing it should involve for most people is discussing the topic with various experienced drinkers. You can also find a lot of information by taking Erowid, the best psychoactive substances website, as a starting point. Their ayahuasca page can be found here. Googling for 'ayahuasca' also gives good results for general orientation on the topic.

Furthermore we are not in the position to do any more recommendations. Nevertheless we disrecommend to take ayahuasca without any preparation. It is also strongly not recommended to take ayahuasca without the presence of an experienced ayahuasca drinker who has experience with guiding too. You can get an idea of the risks involved by reading the experience reports on this site.

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Recipes

Making an ayahuasca brew is a task by itself that usually involves a lot of time, patience and care. For those who are nevertheless considering the option, here are some of the preparation methods to give an idea of what it involves to make ayahuasca. The required ingredients can easily be purchased online at places such as Botanical Spirit.

Natema Recipe of the Shuar

The Shuar shamans (uwishin) split a 1- to 2-meter-long piece of Banisteriopsis caapi stem into small strips. They place the strips in a pot along with several liters of water. They then add leaves of Diplopterys cabrerana, a Herrania species, Ilex guayusa, Heliconia stricta, and an unidentified Malpighiaceae known as mukuyasku. The resulting mixture is boiled until most of the water has evaporated and a syrupy fluid remains. The Kamsá, Inga, and Secoya make similar preparations.

B. caapi & M. hostilis recipe - by an anonymous member of the Erowid forum

The use of Banisteriopsis caapi in this recipe is based on the premise that a) a brew of B. caapi and (usually) P. viridis is the traditional South American brew, b) the caapi is particularly important as traditionally the caapi itself is considered to be "ayahuasca" while the DMT-containing plants are simply helpers, and c) the caapi and the experience it provides are smoother, safer, and "wiser" than that produced by Peganum harmala (syrian rue). B. caapi is less unpredictable and more controlled, a more reliable and learned teacher.

After examining your intentions, researching, and following the requisite dietary regimen, gather together:
  • 50 grams of Banisteriopsis caapi (whole vine, not shredded/powdered)
  • 12 grams of Mimosa hostilis root bark (not shredded or powdered.) [See Note 1]
  • white vinegar
  • distilled water
  • 4 stainless steel pots [See Note 2]

Steps
  1. Wrap the caapi in a towel and break it up with a hammer until it is shredded. Powder the mimosa with a coffee grinder or shred by hand.
  2. In one pot, put in the mimosa, a teaspoon of vinegar, and a liter or so of water.
  3. In another pot, put in the caapi, and a similar amount of water and vinegar.
  4. Simmer for 2-3 hours or until water level gets low. Avoid boiling -- it should be just cool enough not to bubble. Speak your intentions to the brew as it is brewing; listen to the sounds it makes. Do not leave it unattended; if you need to do something different, turn off the stove.
  5. Keeping the mimosa and the caapi separate, filter each through a cloth (e.g. a t-shirt) until the brew becomes clear, probably 4 or 5 times. (An excellent method for easy filtering is to duct tape a t-shirt over an empty pot, allowing you both hands to pour the brew. The t-shirt will become quickly clogged, so for each filter you must use a fresh section of cloth.) Put the mimosa tea in a pot for mimosa, the caapi in a pot for caapi, and reduce both; remember not to bring to a full boil.
  6. Repeat steps 2-5 three times, keeping the mimosa and caapi separate. The plant material is to be boiled a total of three times with fresh water and vinegar each time; the brewed/filtered tea is kept separate and reduced over low heat as you do the second and third washes. This method requires four pots, unless you spread it out over several nights.
  7. At this point you will have a pot containing the three washes of mimosa, reduced, and the same for the caapi. Each dose should be no smaller than half a cup and no larger than a cup. (Less concentrated brews taste better, but leave you with more to drink.) Put them in the fridge overnight.
  8. The next day, carefully remove the cooled mimosa from the fridge. Through a t-shirt filter, pour off the liquid; avoid disturbing the sludge/sediment on the bottom of the container. You don't need it. DO NOT do this with the reduced caapi brew; if you've filtered properly, your tea should be pretty clean. It should become clear when heated, and have a purplish color, much like red wine.
  9. Once you have done this, you have the option of combining the mimosa and the caapi or drinking the mimosa after the caapi. Shake up the caapi to make sure that any sediment is in the tea and not on the bottom of the container. Heat up the tea, drinking it warm.

It is suggested that two doses be brewed for each person. If you cannot keep the tea down and purge prematurely, you will then have another cup to drink.

Be thankful for the experience, no matter what happens. There are always lessons to be learned, whether it "works" or not, whether you have a "good" trip or a "bad" one.

This is a bit more complex than some recipes that call for syrian rue, but using real vine instead of syrian rue is worth it. It is a bit more expensive, but worth the money; even with B. caapi, a dose will still cost less than many other hallucinogens.

  • Note 1 - Fifty grams of P. viridis leaves can be used instead of mimosa. If going this route, the completed washes should be put in a container or pot in the fridge until the next day instead of being reduced immediately.
  • Note 2 - Make sure your pots are steel -- no aluminum and ABSOLUTELY no Teflon. After finishing a wash (step five), you can reduce the brewed tea while doing the remaining washes; however, if you do not have four pots, it is possible to do it all in one pot. The caapi and mimosa can be combined into one pot throughout the brewing and reduction process. If you are doing it like this, you must spread out the brewing over more than one night; the reduction must be done AFTER the sediment settles overnight in the fridge, as in step eight. You can reduce the mimosa and then pour off the sediment after letting it sit in the fridge without it affecting the quality of your tea; you cannot do this with caapi.
  • Note 3 - Storing your ayahuasca brew. After preparing, ayahuasca can be stored for several weeks, if not months. Make sure the brew is stored in well sealed pots/containers and in a dark, cool place. Always boil the ayahuasca again before drinking it.

Another recipe

This recipe circulates on the web and was probably developed from recipes used in Ecuador and northern Peru.
  • 500 grams fresh B. caapi vine per person.
  • 85 grams fresh P. viridis leaves per person.
  1. The ayahuasca vine is thoroughly crushed and placed between alternate layers of P. viridis leaves in a stainless-steel or earthenware pot, and covered with water.
  2. The brew is gently boiled for 4 hours.
  3. The liquid is poured off and collected.
  4. Using the same plant matter, the pot is filled again with fresh water, and gently boiled for a further 4 hours.
  5. The liquid is again poured off and collected.
  6. The plant matter is now discarded.
  7. Both quantities of liquid are combined and boiled gently for to concentrate the ayahuasca, until a managable amount is left for each dose.
  8. While the evaporation and concentration is taking place, care should be taken to ensure the ayahuasca is not boiled too vigorously, as this will cause degradation of the active ingredients and will also cause caramelisation of the contained sugars, resulting in a very thick final brew.

Vine and leaves ready to be boiled

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Reply with quote  #9 
Damn, this info makes me want to go to South America and "expand my mind" with the shamans!!!
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Reply with quote  #10 
Thanks for the info Andy!!!!!!!
Time1969

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Reply with quote  #11 
Good info Andy!!!
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