Banisteria caapi – Yage, yajé



Banisteria caapi is a vine belonging to the family of the malpighiaceae. It can be found in South America in the area of the upper Amazon and the river of Orinoco.

Use: The lower part of the trunk is ground with a mortar by members of South and Central American native tribes, not rarely it is mixed with other psychoactive plants (mostly nightshades and/or DMT-containing material), cooked in a bit of water for 2–8 hours and then strained. The decoction obtained this way is further cooked until one tenth of the original volume remains. The natives, who are used to it, drink about 100 ml of this brew; people who are not used to caapi should start with at most 1/3 of this amount. 15 g of the liana, without further ingredients, cooked for about 16 hours, caused a very peaceful meditative condition, that was described as “heart opening and happy“. More reports of pure extracts out of 30 g of the liana speak of a mood lifting, euphoric and relaxing effect.


Active constituents: Harmines; in the recipe above around 500 mg per cup of 100 ml.

Effects: The effects are described in various manners, among others it depends, if the ayahuasca potion was drunk by a white or by Indians. Also, almost every medicine man has his own recipe. Indians do not just drink the ayahuasca potion for cultural purposes, but also occasionally just for its inebriating effect. Ayahuasca is used to communicate with spirits and ancestors, to learn in visions how to go about a healing ritual, to predict the future, or to call forth visions during rituals of manhood. Especially the visionary encounters with beings from other dimensions that were experienced as real could be traced back to added DMT-containing plants, particularly Psychotria viridis. Harmine alkaloids render DMT also orally effective. Occasionally violent acts are reported. Caucasians, who took ayahuasca, expressed themselves more reserved. The hallucination changes the sight; most of all the color perception, the hearing and the perception of sizes change often. Occasional fantastic landscapes and wild beasts are seen, sexual sensations can take place. Occurring hallucinations are often experienced as real. In case of harmine can be said: small doses (25–50 mg) act stimulating, sexually as well. Afterwards, a sleepy state that lasts one to two hours sometimes follows. A hallucinogenic effect due to higher doses from about 500 mg up to a maximum of about 750 mg harmine without the addition of other plants, which is sometimes claimed, is controversial.

Side Effects: Harmines are reversible MAO-inhibitors. It is absolutely necessary to pay heed to safety-precautions that are found in the paragraph “MAO-inhibitors“. Not observing the guidelines stated there can be lethal in extreme cases. Aside from this, harmine alkaloids are only little poisonous. Vomiting often occurs after the intake of harmine. Profuse sweating and muscle tremor can happen as well.

Suppliers: Sections of the liana in the ethnobotanical trade.

Miscellaneous: In the second part of this book you can find experience reports in the section “Ayahuasca und its analogues“ – Experiences with the DMT-harmine Combination as well as further information about this topic.

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