Ayahuasca: alkaloids, plants & analogs
Section 4 :
Comments concerning the brewing of analogs
The DMT material can be cooked out together with the MAOI, as is traditionally done with ayahuasca, but it may be found advantageous to process them separately and then combine them. It is my opinion that longer simmering time is needed for full extraction of the harmala alkaloids than for DMT. Not everyone agrees but apparently no comparative quantitative analysis has been performed.
Traditional approaches which result in the highest alkaloid concentrations involve long periods of boiling combined with reductions in volume. If using only water to extract this is a good approach. Acids can help remarkably both in enhancing the efficiency of extraction and in decreasing the time required for the cooking.
On the other hand, it is possible to try to minimize nausea and still obtain excellent alkaloid concentrations. It is my belief that hydrolyzed products from lengthy cookings (especially with acids) greatly contribute to nausea and that large volumes of liquid make obtaining an effective dosage difficult. There is also the potential problem of oxidizing or partially destroying the active tryptamines. [Presence of emetine in Psychotria leaves may also play a role in producing nausea.]
To maximize effectiveness and simultaneously decrease distress (as much as is possible) I suggest the following: Always try to keep the volume as low as possible and, if possible, avoid reducing the liquid by simmering. [See Ott 1994; I agree completely]
The reason for this is to minimize the amount consumed as well as the time it has been cooked. Acidification will greatly facilitate the process. Ott uses 30% lime juice in water but this may be a bit of overkill. However, The encountered proposal suggesting that Ott really meant 3% lime juice in water is not simply wrong but inadequate for acidification purposes.
It certainly will not hurt anything if the short cooking times he recommends are adhered to. Normally using the juice and pulp of one lemon or lime per dose for each cooking, unless they are small in which case two are used. [Citric acid at 1 to 1.5 grams per quart will also work well.]
Traditional extractions may involve long cooking times and reduction in volume; both of these will help when extracting poorly water soluble substances such as harmine or harmaline base.
Both are entirely unnecessary when using an acid to extract as the alkaloids are converted to their corresponding salts which are extremely water soluble (especially if the water is hot).
[There is some thought that such prolonged boiling may help aromatize the hydrogenated b-carbolines, increasing the amount of harmine and harmaline present (via conversion of harmaline and tetrahydroharmine respectively). While sound in logic and observed in Virola alkaloids, this is not suggested by the accounts of McKenna and coworkers when compared to Rivier & Lindgren (see alkaloid ratios above).]
A valuable approach practised by what can only be described as brew masters is to use excess water, little if any fruit acid and never permit it to boil at any point.
The material is cooked out several times with several changes of water.
After straining each extract is slowly reduced without ever permitting it to boil. They are reduced seaprately from each other and not combined so that no portion is heated longer than the others.
After careful reduction to a desired consistency (usually about the viscosity of a light machine oil) the extractions are then combined and bottled until use.
This produces a sweet tasting and highly potent beverage without the nasty taste so frequently appearing in ayahuasca brews due to the carmelization and burning of dissolved sugars.
If applied to cactus extractions this also produces a superior brew.
When using Banisteriopsis caapi, after pounding or shredding, it traditionally is generally either brought to a boil and steeped for an hour or else boiled for hours and reduced until ~10% of the liquid is left. [The Peruvian Matsigenka cook their Psychotria leaves for 3-6 hours. Shepard 1998]
We have met an ayahuascero who believed a prolonged slow simmering of each individual extraction was needed and anything more would burn the plant. The resulting sweetness and potency of his brew gave us respect for this opinion. (He used a Cielo cv. of B. caapi with a 7:3 ratio of chagra panga to chacruna; the brew additionally containing jurema)
Matsigenka believe that powerful plants should be broken by hand rather than cut to avoid offending the plant spirit. Shepard 1998. (The avoidance of using a metal knife to cut magic herbs is also fairly common in European magical practice and some early herbals.)
Plant material is highly variable both in size and in concentration so it is not to give an accurate dosage estimate. If using commercial material, use the whole package. It will probably be several feet of material. See the material presented earlier to help gauge an approximate dose. Trial and error may be needed.
The material should be crushed or broken up as best as is possible. Pliers can reduce stems to smaller pieces, which in turn can be effectively shredded in a blender (dry).
Coarse grinding will reduce extraction efficiency but in some cases this may be desired to help decrease clogging of filters. (Prefiltering with a fine steel strainer will also help; empty it and rinse it as it clogs.)
Use of lemon or lime juice will reduced the time of cooking to 15 or 20 minutes. Bring to a gentle boil and then simmer. This should be done again with fresh liquid. Combine the resulting liquids. Keep the volume as low as is physically possible since you want to consume a dose in what can be drank comfortably and fast. Safe, easy and simple should be guiding words.
For the comments which follow it must be remembered that alkaloid content within Banisteriopsis and Psychotria can vary radically; the following is based on isolation reports and presented only as general guidelines.
An 8 to 1 ratio of B. caapi to P. viridis (dry weight) has been recommended. In most cases, 20 grams of the dry leaf has been an entry level dose, approximating 35 mg of DMT, but some commercially obtained leaves have required 30-50 grams for a comparable effect.
30 pieces of 30-40 cm long B. caapi stem and 200 Psychotria viridis leaves yields 12 doses according to Luna 1984a
McKenna 1989 stated that near Pucallpa, Peru a 2.5:1 ratio of Banisteriopsis to Psychotria is usual.
Ott 1993 reported potent effects using around 50 leaves of P. viridis per dose.
In most accounts using Diplopterys cabrerana, 4 leaves is presented as the amount used. Analysis suggests that 30 grams is a dose.
If using Peganum harmala seeds, grind or crush and simmer in water for 30 to 45 minutes or MORE PREFERABLY add the juice of a lemon or lime to the water and simmer for 20 minutes. Strain. Repeat with fresh liquid. Keep the volume as low as possible. Using a tiny pot will help.
Note on straining:
These seeds rapidly clog filters. First strain them with a fine metal sieve (empty & rinse the strainer clean as often as needed), then filter them through filter cloth (or paper) to remove all particulate matter (empty & rinse the filter clean [or replacing it] as often as the draining slows to a crawl.) It is also suggested not to attempt to press out the last dregs from the marc as this will add fine particles.
Some users extract with hot water or hot water and lemon or lime juice, strain and slowly simmer away the liquid. The reddish brown material which remains is scraped up and used dissolved in hot water or taken in capsules. Total number of doses should be determined before extraction and the resulting material apportioned appropriately.
Peganum harmala seed powder rapidly clogs filters. A useful way to deal with this is to first do a crude screening with a fine metal sieve, follow this by filtering through a wet cloth and finish by filtering through a filter paper. At any stage, when clogging occurs, the filter should be emptied and cleaned before continuing.
Seeds are highly variable in concentration. So are the roots which are also useable and, while they have less alkaloid, have a better alkaloid profile than ripe seeds. Do not use other parts of the plant as the b-carbolines concentrations are weak and other alkaloids predominate. If available, the green seeds have a better alkaloid profile than the ripe ones.
A good ballpark estimate is 3 to 4 grams of seeds per dose. In some Peganum strains less than a gram will work; in others, 5 grams is a better idea. Ideally you want the least amount possible which will enable full activation. For most, this will take trial and error to test your supply.
A more predictable route involves extracting the purified alkaloids via Hasenfratz's method and either mixing with purified and measured DMT (as pharmahuasca) or else with a tea made from a DMT containing plant.
Other extraction methods exist but the standard alkaloid extraction used for tryptamines will produce loss.
A useful approach would be to basify the material by moistening with ammonia, then extract it with an organic solvent like chloroform. The chloroform should then be extracted with a dilute acid solution like hydrochloric and the harmine/harmaline recovered by making the acidic solution basic with ammonia. This will cause the precipitation of harmine/harmaline as their free bases. They can be recovered by filtering and purified by dissolving in a small amount of chloroform, extracting with dilute acid, precipitating with ammonia and recovering by filtration.
In most people vomiting appears to be a given when using either plant. For some reason, while usually experiencing extreme nausea, I rarely vomit when drinking ayahuasca or analogs. It has happened, but for me it is not the norm. [Diarrhea is not uncommonly reported in the literature but much more rarely by people that have been spoken with. In my case; never.]