Ayahuasca

Autor: Biking Perú trek

It is known as “Ayahuasca” to this beverage resulting from multiple plant decoctions. The basic component is a decoction of the “Banisteriopsis Caapi” vine, whose property is its content of oxidase inhibitors, known as monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs). It is mixed with leaf shrubs of the genus Psychotria, for its content of dimethyltryptamine.

In Quechua, ayahuasca means ‘dead rope’ by its etymology and a ‘dead spirit’ and waska ‘rope, string’ because in the worldview of native people and Andeans Ayahuasca is the rope that allows the spirit leaves the body without this one dies.

It is used in Andean religious rituals and in traditional medicine of Amazonian native people and also practised by the Incas.

The basic component is a decoction of the “Banisteriopsis Caapi” vine, but exist other plants which also contain this element, such as “Colaoriopsis Caapi”, so can be used instead of the liana, which will provide various ayahuascas of great variability in their composition and pharmacological profile.

In other cases, such as in the “Jivaro natemamo” rituals, “Banisteriopsis Caapi” vine is the only component of the decoction.

Ayahuasca rituals cusco

Reparation of Ayahuasca in Cusco (PERU)

The vine contains substances known as “harmala alkaloids”. The main ones are “harmina” (an active principle which before its official classification in 1939 was called “banisterín, yageína”) and low concentrations also it presents harmalina and harmalol. This group of alkaloids is not unique of “Banisteriopsis species”, it also occurs in the seeds of “Peganum harmala or Syrian Rue”.

One of the most common and prepared mixture is “Banisteriosis Caapi” with Psychotria viridis, Chacruna in one of its native names. You can also find mixed with Diplopterys Cabrerana or Chacopranga, or Mimosa Hostilis.

These plants would contribute to the preparation, in this case, dimethyltryptamine molecule. If the “escasísima concentration” of DMT is treated that these plants provide to the resulting decoction, compared to standard levels tested for oral intake psychoactive, pharmacological complexity of this decoction is seen and why their low toxicity can be understood as it serves.

Something similar happens with monoamine oxidase inhibitor ingested that used as antidepressants in psychiatry; it requires very long use so they can be effective.

However, the variability in the composition of the various “Ayahuascas” be very big meeting in some variant on snuff or other plants. The result is a pharmacologically complex and low toxicity concoction used for medical and / or religious rituals and in traditional medicine from the Amazonian native villages.