Ayahuasca has been used for thousands of years as a sacred drink and as a medicine by the indigenous Amazonian peoples throughout South America. Ayahuasca is widely used from Panama to Bolivia, including Peru, Ecuador, Colombia, and Brazil.
Ayahuasca (also called yagé) is a thick sludge-like brew. Ayahuasca is typically made from two primary ingredients, the Ayahuasca vine (Banisteriopsis caapi) and leaves from the Chacruna shrub (Psychotria viridis). There are countless variations on the formula and also various optional ingredients that can be added.
Chacruna contains dimethyltryptamine (DMT), which is an illegal Schedule I psychedelic in the United States and many other countries. Ingesting Chacruna tea alone would be useless, since DMT is a monoamine, and monoamineoxidase (MAO), a naturally occurring enzyme in the human gastrointestinal tract, breaks down monoamines, including DMT. However, The Banisteriopsis caapi conatains harmala alkaloids (harmine, harmaline and tetrahydroharmine) which block the MAO, allowing the DMT in the Chacruna to have an effect.
The Banisteriopsis caapi vine is cut up and shredded and combined with chacruna (or one of may other DMT containing plants) leaves in a large pot. Water is added and the mix is boiled for several hours while the Shaman speaks his intention over the brew and blesses it.
Ayahuasca is non-toxic, and many people have taken it hundreds of time with no long term ill-effects, although it is a purgative and can induce puking and diarrhea as it cleanses the body.
Ayahuasca has a powerful impact on both the mind and body. This makes it imperative that Ayahuasca be taken only in Ceremony in a ritual context and only under the care of an experienced Shaman since the experience will be intense, and can sometimes even be disturbing. The East West Lodge Shamans have extensive experience in all aspects of Amazonian plant medicine, are rooted in Ayahuasca’s cultural traditions and fully understand the physical, spiritual and psychological effects of this medicine. East West Lodge Shaman and facilitators pay constant attention to each guest during Ceremony, ready to help with all spiritual, emotional and physical needs.