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Ayahuasca Recipes
by Christian Rätsch
Originally published in The Encyclopedia of Psychoactive Plants
Citation:   Rätsch C. Encyclopedia of Psychoactive Plants. Park Street Press. 2005. pg. 703-08.
In the past, methods for preparing ayahuasca were well-protected secrets of the shamans. Only they knew the ingenious recipes. Only they knew which plants to use, where to find the lianas and herbs, which protective spirits needed to be invoked, and how to prepare the brew.

Banisteriopsis caapi stems are the basis for all ayahuasca recipes. To prepare ayahuasca, manageable-size stems of this liana must be boiled, after which chacruna leaves (Psychotria viridis) are added. The mixture is allowed to sit on the fire until a black, thick, horrible-tasting liquid results. The drink should never be prepared in aluminum pots, as it will corrode the aluminum and may in some cases produce inedible aluminum salts. Although cold-water extracts of Banesteriopsis caapi and Psychotria viridis will also produce the desired effects, they are only rarely made.

In the recipes of the Amazonian Indians, the liana itself is typically the main ingredient. Tests of different samples have found 20 to 40 mg, 144 to 158 mg, and even 401 mg of β-carbolines as well as 25 to 36 mg of N,N-DMT per dose. The ayahuasca prepared by the urban mestizos contains consistently higher concentrations of alkaloids (especially N,N-DMT) than are found in the Indian preparations. The highest concentrations are said to be found in the preparations of Barquinha Santo Daime church (Luis Eduarda Luna, pers. comm., 1996).

Natema Recipe of the Shuar
The Shuar shamans (uwishin) split a 1- to 2- meter-long piece of Banisteriopsis caapi stem into small strips. They place the strips in a pot along with several liters of water. They then add leaves of Diplopterys cabrerana, a Herrania species, Ilex guayusa, Heliconia stricta, and an unidentified Malphighiacea known as mukuyasku. The resulting mixture is boiled until most of the water has evaporated and a syrupy fluid remains (Bennett 1992, 486). The Kams, Inga, and Secoya make similar preparations (Bristol 1965, 207 ff.).

Ecuadorian Recipe
The bark of the Banisteriopsis caapi liana is peeled off and placed beneath a certain tree in the forest. The bare stems are then split into four to six strips and boiled together with fresh or dried Psychotria viridis leaves. A piece of liana approximately 180 cm long and forty Psychotria leaves represent a single dosage, although a piece of stem just 40 cm long and 3 cm thick is also said to be sufficient. In general, the less vine that is used, the easier the ayahuasca is on the stomach.

Preparation of the União do Vegetal (UDV), Brasil
Pieces from Banisteriopsis caapi vine are pounded, mixed with leaves from Psychotria viridis, and boiled for 10 to 12 hours in rust-free steel pots until all that remains is a thick liquid with globules of fat on the surface that shimmer in all colors of the spectrum.

Recipe of the Shipibo of San Francisco/Yarinachocha
A fresh piece of Banisteriopsis caapi bark is boiled together with a fresh handful of chacruna leaves (Psychotria viridis) and a flor de toé (Brugmansia suavolens flower) until a thick liquid decoction is produced. This preparation is said to have especially strong effects and to produce many visions.

Indigenous ayahuasca preparations exhibit considerable variation. Numerous plant admixtures can be used to induce psychoactive effects, and stimulating or medicinal drinks can also be produced. An Ecuadorian preparation of Banisteriopsis caapi and Ilex guayusa is purported to be a strong purgative. Recipes that cause delirium often contain tobacco and angel's trumpets (Brugmansia). Experienced ayahuasca shamans posses a vast wealth of knowledge about the effects of many plants and may utilize more than one hundred different admixtures in order to achieve the effects they desire.

These traditional preparations are often devoid of N,N-DMT. However, it is precisely those drinks that do contain high concentrations of DMT and that do produce visionary effects that have exerted such a powerful attraction on legions of Western ethnobotanists, psychedelic cognoscenti, artists, New Age tourists, and seekers of the esoteric (Leginger 1981; McKenna 1989; McKenna and McKenna 1994; Perkins 1995). For most outsiders, experiences with Amazonian ayahuasca have tended to be rather disappointing (McKenna 1993). Westerners seeking "highs" or healing experiences are often duped by the pranks of curanderos or self-proclaimed shamans. As early as 1953, William Burroughs reported "...I had been conned by medicine men" (Burroughs and Ginsberg 1963, 15). But there are also examples of more positive experiences (Pinkson 1993; Wolf 1992).

Traditional Ayahausca Admixtures
(from Ayala Flores and Lewis 1978; Bennett 1992; Bianchi and Samorini 1993; Faust and Bianchi 1996, Luna 1984b, 1986; Ott 1993, 269 ff., Ott 1995, Pinkley 1969; Schultes 1972; modified and expanded).

Botanical NameCommon NameActive Constituents

Teliostachys lanceolata var. Crispa Nees
toé negro 

Alternantha lehmannii Hieronymus
picurullana quina, borrachera 
Irisene sp.

Pfaffa iresinoides

Himatanthus sucuuba (Spruce) Woodson
bellaco-caspi, sucuuba, platanotefulvoplumieron
Malouetia tamaquarina (Aubl.) DC.cuchura-caspi, chicleindole alkaloids conessine, dihydrokurchessine, kurchessine, tetramethylholarhimine
Mandevilla scabra Schumann   
Prestonia amazonica (Benth.) Macbride [syn. Haemadyction amazonicum]yajé;Older texts claim that Prestonia contains N,N-DMT; this information is unfortunately incorrect. The common name yajé; probably refers solely to the fact that the plant is used as an ayahuasca admixture (Schultes and Raffauf 1960).
Tabernaemontana sananho Ruz et Pav.tzicta 
Tabernaemontana sp.uchu-sanangoalkaloids
Thevetia sp.cabalonga blancacardiac glycosides

lex guayusa Loes,
guayusa, waiscaffeine

Montrichardia aborescens Schott
ryay balsa, camotillo 

Mansoa alliacea (Lam.) A. Gentry

ajo sacha 
Tabebuia heteropoda (DC.) Sandwith  
Tabebuia incana A. Gentryclavohuasca 
Tabebuia sp.  
Tynanthas panurensis (Burman) Sandwithclavohuasca 

Cavanillesia hylogeiton Ulbrich
puca lupuna, embirana 
Cavanillesia umbellate Ruz et Pav.lupuna, kapok, ceiba  
Ceiba pentandra (L.) Gaertn.  
Chorisia insignis H.B.K.lopuna, yuchán, palo borracho resin
Chorisia speciosa St.-Hilsamohú, ceiba 
Quararibea sp.ishpingo(see espingo)

Tournefortia angustiflora Ruz et Pav.

Epiphyllum sp.
pokere, wamapanako 
Opuntia sp.thaimescaline

Anthodiscus pilosus Ducke

Maytenus ebenifolia Reiss.
Maytenus laevis Reiss.chuchuascacaffeine (?)

Tovomita sp.
chullachaqui caspi 

Ipomoea carnea (cf. Ipomoea spp.)
oé;ergot alkaloids

Carludovia divergens Ducke

Cyperus digitus Roxb.
yperus prolixus H.B.K.  
Cyperus spp.piripiriergot alkaloids

Lomariopsis japurensis (Martius) J. Sm.
shoka, dsuiitetetseperi 

Erythroxylum coca var. ipadú Plowman

Alchornea castaneifolia (Wild.) Just. (cf. Alchornea spp.)
hiporurualkaloids (?)
Croton sp. (?)tipu, tipurumorphine
Euphorbia curo 
Hura crepitans L.catahua, assacupiscidides, lectins

Gnetum nodiflorum Brongn.
tap-kam', hoo-roo', itua 

Arundo donax
carrizotryptamines, DMT

Clusia sp.
miya, tara 

Heliconia stricta Huber
Heliconia sp.winchu 

Ocimum micranthum Willd.
pichana, abacaessential oil

Couroupita guianensis Aubl.
ayahumaindole alkaloids (couroupitine A, B), stigmasterol, campesterol

Bauhinia guianensis Aubl.
Caesalpinia echinata Lam.cumaseba 
Calliandra angustifolia Spruce ex Benth. bobinsana, quinilla blanca, chiperoalkaloids (harmane)
Calliandra petandra (cf. Calliandra anomala) harmane, DMT (?)
Campsiandra laurifolia Benth.huacapurana 
Cedrelinga catenaeformis Duckehuairacaspi, cedrorana 
Erythrina fusca Lour.amasisa, gachicaerythraline, erythramine, erythratine
Erythrina glauca Willd.amasisa 
Erythrina poeppigiana (Walpers) Cook (cf. Erythrina spp.)amaciza, oropelalkaloids
Pithecellobium laetum Benth.remo caspi, pashaquillo, shimbilloalkaloids
Sclerobium setiferum Duckepalisangre, palisanto 
Vouacapoua americana Aubl.huacapo, hucapù 

Phrygilanthus eugenioides (L.) H.B.K.
miya, ho-ho-ho  
Phrygilanthus eugenioides var. robustus Galz.  
Phtirusa pyrifolia (H.B.K.) Eichlersuelda con suelda 

Banisteriopsis rusbyana (Niedenzu) Morton
oco-yagé;DMT, β-carbolines
Diplopterys cabrerana (Cuatr.) Gatesyaco-ayahuasca, yajé;, yajiDMT
Diplopterys involuta (Turcz.) Niedenzu [syn. Mezia includens (Benth.) Cuatr.]  
Mascagnia psilophylla var. antifebrilis Niedenzu [syn. Cabi paraensis (Juss.) Griseb., syn. Callaeum antifebrile (Grisb.) Johnson]  
Stygmaphyllon fulgens (Lam.) Jussieuki-ria, kairia 

Calathea veitchiana Veitch ex Hook. Fil.

Trichilia tocacheana C. DC.

Abuta grandifolia (Martius) Sandwith
abuta, trompetero, sanangopalmatine

Coussapoa tessmannii Mildbread
Ficus insipida Willd.renaco, hojé;, huito, bamba 
Ficus ruiziana Standl.  
Ficus sp.  

Virola surinamensis (Roland) Warb.
caupuri, cumala blancaneolignans
Virola spp.cumalaDMT

Cabomba aquatica Aubl.
mureru, murere 

Petiveria alliacea L.
muckra, mucura, chanvirocoumarins (nineteen), isoarboriol, trithiolan, trithiolaniacine

Peperomia sp.
tsemtsemessential oil
Piper sp. essential oil

Triplaris surinamensis Chamisso
Triplaris surinamensis var. chamissoana Meissnertangarana 

Pontederia cordata L.
amarrón borrachero 

Calycophyllum spruceanum (Benth.) Hook. Fil.
vapirona negro 
Capirona decorticans Sprucecapirona negro, kashi muna 
Guetarda ferox Standl.garabata 
Psychotria carthaginensis Jacq.yagé;-chacruna, rami appani, samerucaDMT
Psychotria carthaginensis Jacq.yagé;-chacruna, rami appani, samerucaDMT
Psychotria psychotriaefolia (Seem.) Standl.chacrunaDMT
Psychotria viridis Ruz et Pav.chacruna 
Psychotria spp.batsikawa, kawa kui, nai kawa, pishikawa, rami appane 
Rudgea refifolia Standl.  
Sabicea amazonensis Wernhamchà-dê-kê-na, kana, koti-kana-ma 
Uncaria guianensis (Aubl.) Gmelingarabataindoles: angustine, isohynchrophylline, rhynchophylline-N-ozide, dihyrocorynantheine hirsutine, hirsutein
Uncaria tomentosa (?)una de gatoindole alkaloids

Paullinia yoco Schultes et Killip (cf. Paullinia spp.)

Lygodium venustum Swartz
tchai del monte, rami 

Scoparia dulcis L.
 amellin, triterpenes. 6-methoxybenzoxo-zolinone

Brugmansia insignis
toa-toe, sacha-toe, danta borracheratropane alkaloids
Brugmansia suaveolens(flor de) toe. Tsuak, borrachero, floripondiotropane alkaloids
Brunfelsia chiricaspi Plowmanchiricaspi, chiricsanangoscopoletin
Brunfelsia grandiflora d. Donchiricaspi, chiricsanangoscopoletin
Brunfelsia grandiflora sp. schultesii Plowman (cf. Brunfelsia spp.)sanango, chiricsanangoscopoletin
Capsicum sp.catsi, ajicapsaicin
Iochroma fuchsioides (H.B.K.) MiersBorrachero, guatillo, paguando, campanitasalkaloids (tropane derivatives)
Juanulloa ochracea Cuatreayahuasca, bi-ti-ka-oo-k, na-ka-te-pêparquine (?)
Markea formicarium Dammerree-ko-pascopoletin (?)
Nicotiana rustica L.tabaconicotine
Nicotiana tobacum L.mapachonicotine

Herrania sp.
kushibiapalkaloids (?)

Cornutia odorata (P. et Endlicher) Poeppig Vitex triflora vehl.
shunguarana, ulape, tal, tahuari, taruma 

Rinorea viridiflora Rusby
chacruna, amanga, capinuri, ayahuasca 

References #
  1. Ayala Flores F, Lewis WH. "Al Ayahuasca y el Curandero Shipibo-Conibo del Ucayali (Perú)". America Indigena. 1978;46(1):147-61.
  2. Bennett BC. "Hallucinogenic Plants of the Shuar and Related Indigenous Groups in Amazonian Ecuador and Peru". Brittonia. 1992;44:483-93.
  3. Bianchi A, Samorini G. "Plants in Association With Ayahuasca". Yearbook for Ethnomedicine and the Study of Consciousness. 1993;2:21-42.
  4. Bristol ML. Sibundoy Ethnobotany. PhD diss. Harvard University. 1965.
  5. Burroughs W, Ginsberg A. The Yage Letters. City Lights Books. 1963.
  6. Faust and Bianchi, 1996 [(?) no reference source provided in Rätsch's book]
  7. Leginger T. Urwald: Eine Reise zu den Schamanen des Amazonas. Triokont-dianus. 1981.
  8. Luna LE. "The Healing Practices of a Peruvian Shaman". Journal of Ethnopharmacology. 1984;11(2):123-33.
  9. Luna LE. Vegetalismo: Shamanism Among the Mestizo Population of the Peruvian Amazon. Almqvist und Wiskell International. 1986.
  10. McKenna TK. Wahre Halluznationen. Sphinx. 1989.
  11. McKenna TK. "Bei den Ayahuasqueros". In Das Tor zu Inneren Raumen, ed. C. Rtsch, 105-39. Verlag Bruno Martin. 1993.
  12. McKenna DJ, McKenna TK. The Invisible Lanscape; Mind, Hallucinogens, and the I Ching. HarperSanFrancisco. 1994.
  13. Ott J. Pharmacotheon. Natural Products Co. 1993.
  14. Ott J. "Ayahuasca; Ethnobotany, Phytochemistry and Human Pharmacology". Integration. 1995;5:73-97.
  15. Perkins J. Und der Traum Wird Welt: Schamanische Impulse zur Aussohnung mit der Natur. Integral Volkar-Magnum. 1995.
  16. Pinkley HV. "Plant Admixtures to Ayahuasca, the South American Hallucinogenic Drink". Lloydia 1969;32(3):305-14.
  17. Pinkson T. "Amazonian Shamanism: The Ayahuasca Experience". Psychedelic Monographs and Essays. 1993;6:12-19.
  18. Schultes RE. "De Plantis Toxicariis e Mundo Novo Tropicale Commentationes X: New Data on the Malpighiaceous Narcotics of South America". Botanical Museum Leaflets. 1972.23(3):137-147.
  19. Wolf FA. The Eagle's Quest.A Touchstone Book (Simon & Schuster). 1992.
Revision History #
  • 1.0 - 2005 - Rätsch - Published in The Encyclopedia of Psychoactive Plants.
  • 1.0 - Apr 24, 2008 - Erowid - Transcribed by Justin Case, html'd and published on