Ayahuasca or Banisteriopsis caapi is a giant liana vine which grows in several regions of South America. It is also called Caapi or Yage which has several uses and effects on early tribal people as well as today. The brew made from the plant which seemingly has magical and therapeutic results is also called Ayahuasca.
The vine is widely cultivated by Shamans since they strongly believe in its physical, mental and spiritual properties which gave the name its definition, “vine of the soul”. Ayahuasca is known to contain tryptamine alkaloids, MAOIs harmine, harmaline and tetrahydroharmine, harmol, harmic acid, harmine N-oxide, harmalinic acid and DMT.
Are There Different Types of Ayahuasca?
Yes. Several South American countries categorize the plants differently. In Peru, there is the yellow, black, white, red, rattle, Indian and thunder variants. All these vary in reported functions and uses. In Ecuador, there is an Ayahuasca for men and women. Also, there are several unofficial subspecies of the plant although they all belong to the Malpighiaceae family.
How is Ayahuasca Prepared?
The decoction is made basically from the Ayahuasca vine with other herbal plants added such as chacruna and chalipanga. These plant species contain different chemicals that may have hallucinogenic effects which is why the brew is considered magical by ancient Amazon tribes. Different parts of the plants especially the leaves are then boiled. For people who intend to drink Ayahuasca – they must not eat tyramine-rich foods like aged cheese to avoid hypertensive crisis.
What are Ayahuascas Uses?
The woody vine is primarily used for the following purposes:
1. Pharmacological use. Although the full effects are not known, Ayahuasca reportedly serves as an antihelminthic which rids parasites and worms from the body. It cleanses the digestive tract with its gut-contracting qualities thus treating constipation and gastric problems effectively.
2. Spiritual use. The historical purpose of Ayahuasca is to protect people from black magic and evil spirits. Those who drink the herb undergo self-preparation activities like fasting and meditation since they believe that the body can only be spiritually cleansed through these methods.
3. Psychological use. The mental hallucinogenic action of the vine was traditionally used by ancient tribes as a means to relieve stress. The results were to induce restful sleep and stabilize emotions. At present, this purpose has then triggered several legal issues in the West.
Is Ayahuasca Legal?
In the United States, the plant species is uncontrolled. Some nations like Canada and Australia are controlling the harmala substance and not the plant. The plant may be legally acquired but the brewing of any plant species known to contain controlled substances is strictly prohibited. In France, it is strictly illegal to possess or use Ayahuasca.