Re: Ayahuasca

Elaine Hills (ehills@SOLEIL.ACOMP.USF.EDU)
Thu, 7 Dec 1995 17:32:05 -0500

John mentioned the stimulation of serotonin from some of these tea's and
such that were being discussed in usage throughout the Amazon. I wonder
if anyone knows of any awareness or labeling of schizophrenia in such
cultures. What I mean is that the signs of schizophrenia and such are
very well known in the US, and many devote their lives to try and "cure"
these "diseases." Are there such customs in cultures that use these
tea's and herbs that stimulate the signs of schizophrenia,
ie: hallucinations, etc? How are the uses of the tea's viewed by the

Input will be appreciated!

--Elaine | |

On Thu, 7 Dec 1995, Bosley_J wrote:

> Laura L-P writes:
> "Has anyone any information concerning current use of Ayahuasca tea? I
> understand that Ayahuasca is a vine plant, that some part of the plant is
> mixed with some part of the cawa plant to make a tea that is described as
> "meditative". I have been told that it is used by the Jivaro and Conibo
> Indians of Ecuador/Peru - along the Rio Ucayali drainage. And that it is a
> current favorite in California. Anyone familiar with it?"
> There is a really rich haul of material about ayahuasca, or yage, or jage,
> or caapi, on the World Wide Web--just do a search on the term. I was
> involved in research on psychedelic--or hallucinogenic, if you will-drugs
> back in the '60's, before the likes of Tim Leary queered the deal for all of
> us by getting the no-brainers all stirred up about the possiblility that
> these compounds might have something to do with radical politics (in my
> experience, they certainly don't), and yage was a compound of considerable
> interest.
> Pharmacologically, the tea called ayahuasca (from the Inca "vine of the
> dead, vine of souls") is brewed from segments of a vine named Banisteriopsis
> caapi. (In Quecha, "aya"="spirit, ancestor, dead person" and
> "huasca"="vine") I think these images give you a pretty vivid idea of the
> kinds of psychedelic experiences that often follow ingestion of the tea. :-)
> Indeed, to call the tea "meditative" is, to me, like calling a nuclear blast
> "fairly strong." :-)
> The major activity comes from a group of alkaloids, harmaline, harmine,
> d-tetrahydroharmine and some say dimethyltryptamine or DMT, although perhaps
> the DMT in the tea comes from additional plants brewed along with the vine.
> (DMT itself has been synthesized and used as a psychedelic in "the West.")
> The structures of these compounds are similar to those of mescaline or the
> psychedelic psylocibin from "magic mushrooms." The structure of these
> alkaloids is also similar to the neurotransmitter serotonin, which of course
> has been discussed from time to time as being possibly involved in
> schizophrenia or other mental disorders.
> The tea is used freely throughout the Amazon--Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, and
> Brazil and has been apparently for millenia as a means of entering the
> supernatural world, healing, foreseeing the future, and as an ingredient in
> worship. Not surprisingly these effects have attracted the attention of a
> variety of folks, from anthropologists to poets to flying saucer kooks and
> New Age mavens. Citations to a number of works along these lines can be
> found through the links that come up if you do a Web search on "ayahuasca."
> John