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Ayahuasca Analogs and Pharmahuasca
by Christian Rätsch
Originally published in The Encyclopedia of Psychoactive Plants
Citation:   Rätsch C. Encyclopedia of Psychoactive Plants. Park Street Press. 2005. pg. 716-19.
Other Names
Anahuasca, ayahuasca borealis

The effects of the pharmacological principle that was discovered during the investigations of traditional ayahuasca can be imitated with other plants that contain the same constituents (harmaline, harmine, N,N-DMT/5-MeO-DMT). Today, nontraditional combinations of plants with these ingredients are known as ayahuasca analogs or anahuasca. Combinations composed of isolated or synthesized constituents are referred to as pharmahuasca.

The term ayahausca analog appears (to) have been coined by Dennis McKenna. The American ethnobotanist Jeremy Bigwood was probably the first person to test pharmahuasca (100 mg each of harmaline hydrochloride and N,N-DMT) on himself; he reported "DMT-like hallucinations" (Ott 1994, 52). The chemist and chaos theorist Mario Markus used the Heffter technique (self-experimentation) to perform extensive experiments into the optimal proportions for mixing the alakaloids.

For Jonathan Ott, the value of the ayahuasca analogs lies in their entheogenic effects, which can help one attain a more profound spiritual ecology and a mystical perspective. Ayahuasca and its analogs can induce a state of shamanic ecstasy, but only when used at proper dosage.

All recipes must contain an MAO inhibitor as well as a source of DMT. To date, experiments have been conducted only with Banisteriopsis caapi, Banisteriopsis spp., Peganum harmala, and synthetic (pharmaceutical) MAO inhibitors. But there are other MAO inhibitors in nature, such as Tribulus terrestris. The ongoing investigations into St. John's wort (Hypericum perforatum L.) and other Hypericum species as possible MAO-inhibiting admixtures are very interesting. Hypericin, the primary active constituent in Hypericum spp., "has been proven to be a monoamine oxidase inhibitor" (Becker 1994, 48*). Psychotria viridis and Mimosa tennuiflora have been looked at as sources of DMT, but numerous other possibilities also exist. The dosages are determined by the alkaloid concentrations in the various admixtures (DeKorne 1996; Ott 1994).

As with traditional ayahuasca, most ayahuasca analogs have a thoroughly disgusting taste and are therefore generally difficult to force down (because they are forced up again from below). Chewing sliced ginger (Zingiber officianale) can help counteract the often repulsive taste (DeKorne 1994, 98).

The following recipes are formulated to yield a single dose.

Classic Ayahuasca Analog
25 g Psychotria viridis leaves, dried and ground
3 g Peganum harmala seeds, crushed
Juice of one lemon
Enough water to boil all the ingredients (approximately 200-300 ml)

Place all the ingredients in a steel pot. Slowly bring to a boil, then boil rapidly for two to three minutes. Reduce the heat and simmer for approximately five more minutes. Pour off the decoction. Add some water to the herbs remaining in the pot and boil again. Pour the first decoction back into the pot. After a while, pour out the liquid once more. Add fresh water to the remaining herbs and bring to a boil again. Remove the plant remnants and compost them, if possible. Mix together the three extracts. Carefully heat the mixture to reduce the total volume. The tea should be drunk as fresh as possible (allow to cool first), although it can be stored in the refrigerator for a few days. The effects begin about forty-five minutes after ingestion. The visionary phase lasts for about an hour.

Jerumahuasca or Mimosahuasca
Connoisseurs consider this ayahausca analog to be both the most easily tolerated and the most psychoactive preparation.
3 g Peganum harmala seeds, finely ground
9 g Mimosa tenuiflora root cortex
Juice of one lime or lemon

The crushed Syrian rue (P.harmala) seeds may be either swallowed in a gelatin capsule or mixed in water and drunk. The decoction of lemon juice and mimosa root cortex should be drunk fifteen minutes later.

Prairie Ayahuasca
This blend is especially popular in North America. Predominantly pleasant experiences have been reports (ott 1994, 63; cf. DeKorne 1994, 97).
3-4 g Peganum harmala seeds, finely ground
30 g Desmanthus illinoensis root cortex (prairie mimosa, Illinois bundleweed,
   Illinois bundleflower)
Juice of one lemon or lime
Prepare in the same manner as jerumahuasca (above).

This blend is especially popular in Australia and has been used with good success.
3 g Peganum harmala seeds, finely ground
20 g Acacia phlebophylla leaves, ground (cf. Acacia spp.)
Juice of one lemon or lime

Prepare in the same manner as jerumahuasa (above).

In Europe, various combinations of Phalaris arundinacea or Phalaris aquatica (see Phalaris spp.) and Peganum harmala have been investigated. Unfortunately, the experiments have been met with little success to date as far as pleasant visionary experiences are concerned. Because of the toxic alkaloid (gramine) that occurs in the reed grasses, these preparations can be very dangerous (Festi and Samorini 1994).

This preparation is a combination of Peganum harmala and Lophophora williamsii. It may be pharmacologically very dangerous.

San Pedro Ayahuasca
The following amounts and ingredients have been reported to produce pleasant effects (in Entheogene 5 [1995]. 53).
1-3 g Syrian rue (Peganum harmala)
20-25 g San Pedro cactus powder (see Trichocereus pachanoi)

This blend may be pharmacologically dangerous.

This mixture, which is also known as mushroom ayahuasca or soma ayahuasca consists of:
3 g Peganum harmala and 3 g mushrooms (Psilocybe cubensis)
2 g Peganum harmala and 1.5 g Psilocybe semilanceata in sage tea

Because the effects of these blends can be extremely unpleasant, people are generally warned against using them (Kent 1995; Malima 1995).

LSA/Desmanthus Ayahuasca
Although the report (in Entheogene 5 [1995]:40 f.) spoke of quite pleasant experiences, this mixture appears to be potentially dangerous.
3 g Peganum harmala
1 Argyreia nervosa seed
3-4 g Desmanthus illinoensis root cortex

For several years there has been considerable speculation that the pre-Columbian Maya may have used a psychoactive ritual drink that was an ayahuasca analog. It has been conjectured that the Mayans used a Banisteriopsis species that grows in the Mesoamerican lowlands in combination with a source of DMT to make "mayahuasca" (Hyman 1994). It is entirely possible that Banisteriopsis miricata was used for this purpose, as its stems contain harmine and its leaves DMT. In other words, it is possible that an ayahuasca analog was made from just one plant.

For pharmahuasca, 100 mg N,N-DMT and 50 mg harmaline is usually the recommended dosage per person. However, combinations of 50 mg harmaline, 50 mg harmine, and 50 mg, N,N-DMT have also been tested with success. As a rule, the fewer the β-carbolines, the less the nausea; the more DMT, the more spectacular the visions. The constituents are put into separate gelatin capsules. The capsules with harmaline/harmine is swallowed first and the capsule containing the DMT is taken some fifteen to twenty minutes later. The purely synthetic MAO inhibitor Marplan is also suitable in place of harmaline and harmine (Ott 1996, 34).

The pharmacologist James Callaway has hypothesized that under certain circumstances a kind of pharmahuasca (which he calls endohuasca) is produced in the brain when both endogenous β-carbolines and endogenous DMT are excreted. This endohuasca produces dreams in a neurochemical manner (Callaway 1995; cf. also Ott 1996).

Plants That Contain MAO-Inhibiting β-Carbolines and May Be Useful for Ayahuasca Analogs
(from Ott 1994; also Fleurentin and Pelt 1982; Schultes and Farnsworth 1982; Shulgin 1996; expanded)1


Coriolus maximus (Mont.) Murrill

Amsonia tabernaemontana Walt.
harmine and others
Apocynum cannabinnum L.harmalol
Ochrosia nakaiana Koidzharmane

Pinellia pedatisecta

Newbouldoia laevis Benth. Et Hook f.

Calycanthus occidentalis Hook. Et Arnot

Hammada leptoclada (Pop) Iljin
tetrahydroharmane and others
Kochia scoparia (L.) Schrad. [syn, Bassia scoparia (L.) A.J. Scott]harmine, harmane, triterpene glycosides
K. scoparia var. childsii Kraus 
K. scoparia var. trichophylla (Voss) Boom 

Guiera senegalensis Lam.
harmane and others

Carex brevicollis DC.
harmine and others

Elaeagnus angustifolia L.
harmane and others
Elaeagnus hortensis M.B. tetrahydroharmane and others
Elaeagnus orientates L.tetrahydroharmane
Elaeagnus spinosa L.tetrahydroharmane
Hippophae rhamnoides L.harmane and others
Shepherdia argentea Nutt.tetrahydroharmol
Shepherdia Canadensis Nutt.tetrahydroharmol

Arundo donax L.
tetrahydroharmane and others
Festuca arundinaceae Schreberharmane and others
Lolium perenne L.harmane and others

Acacia baileyanna
F. v. Muell
Acacia complanata A. Cunn.tetrahydroharmane
Burkea africana Hook.harmane and others
Calliandra petandratetrahydroharmine
Desmodium pulchellum Benth. Ex Bak.harmane and others
Mucuna pruriens DC.6-methoxyharmane
Petalostylis labicheoides R. Browntetrahydroharmane
Petalostylis labicheoides var. cassioidestetrahydroharmane, N,N-DMT
Prosopis nigra (Griseb.) Heironymusharmane and others

Strychnos usambarensis Gilg. (cf. Strychnos spp.)

Banisteriopsis spp.
Cabi paraensis Ducke [syn. Callaeum antifebrile (Griseb.) Johnson]harmine

Virola cuspidate (Benth.) warb.

Passiflora actinea Hook.
Passiflora alata Aitonharmane
Passiflora alba Link et Ottoharmane
Passiflora bryonoides H.B.K.harmane
Passiflora caerulea L.harmane
Passiflora capsularis L.harmane
Passiflora decaisneana Nicholharmane
Passiflora edulis L.harmane, harmol, harmaline, harmine
Passiflora eichleriana Mast.harmane
Passiflora foetida L.harmane
Passiflora incarnata L.harmane, harmine, harmaline
Passiflora involucrate (Mast.) Gentryharmane
Passiflora quadrangularis L.harmane
Passiflora aff. ruberosaharmane
Passiflora subpeltata Ortegaharmane
Passiflora warmingii Mast. (cf. Passiflora spp.)harmane

Calligonum minimum Lipski
harmane and others

Leptactinia densiflora Hook. Fil.
tetrahydroharmine (= leptaflorin)
Nauclea diderrichiiharmane and others
Ophiorrhiza japonica Blume harmane
Pauridiantha callicarpoides Bremekharmane
Pauridiantha dewevrei Bremekharmane
Pauridiantha lyalli Bremekharmane
Pauridiantha viridiflora Hepperharmane
Simira klugii Standl.harmane
Simira rubra K. Schum.harmane
Uncaria attenuata Korth.harmane
Uncaria canescens Korth.harmane

Chrysophyllum lacourtianum De Wild.
norharmane and others

Symplocos racemosus Roxb.

Fagonia cretica L.
Fagonia indica Burm.harmine
Peganum harmala L.harmine, tetrahydroharmane, dihydroharmane, harmane, isoharmine, tetrahydroharmol, harmalol, harmol, norharmine, harmalicin, tetrahydroharmine, harmaline
Tribulus terrestris L.harmine and others
Zygophyllum fabago L.harmine and others

Plants That Contain DMT and May Be Used for Making Ayahuasca Analogs
(from Montgomery, pers. Comm..; Ott 1993, 1994; supplemented)2

Stock PlantPart(s) UsedTryptamine

Arundo donax L.
Phalaris arundinaceae L.grass, rootDMT
Phalaris tuberosa L. (Italian race)leafDMT
Phalaris tuberosa L. (Italian race)leafDMT
Phragmites australis (Cav.) Tr. Ex St.rhizomeDMT, 5-MeO-DMT

Acacia meidenii F. v. Muel.
barkDMT (0.36%)
Acacia phlebophylla F. v. Muel. leafDMT (0.3%)
Acacia simplicifolia Druceleaf, barkDMT (0.81%)
Anadenanthera peregrina (L.) Speg.barkDMT, 5-MeO-DMT
Desmanthus illinoensis (Michx.) MacM. (Illinois bundleflower; cf. Kindscher 1992, 239-40)root cortexDMT
Desmanthus leptolobusroot cortexDMT
Desmodium pulchellum Benth. Ex Baker [syn. Phyllodium pulchellum] (Iodrum)root cortexDMT
Desmodium adscendens (SW.) DC. Var. adscendens (cf. N'Gouemo et al. 1996) DMT (?)
Lespedeza capitata Michx. (cf. Kindscher 1992, 257 f.)?DMT
Mimosa scabrella Benth.barkDMT
Mimosa tenuiflora (Willd.) Poir.root cortexDMT (0.57%)

Diplopterys cabrerana (Cuatr.) Gates
leafDMT, 5-MeO-DMT

Virola sebifera Aubl.
Virola theidora (Spruce ex Benth.) Warb.flowerDMT (0.44%)
Virola spp.Bark/resinDMT, 5-MeO-DMT

Psychotria carthaginensis Jacquin
Psychotria poeppigiana Muell. Arg.leafDMT
Psychotria viridisleafDMT

Dictyoloma incanescens DC.
bark5-MeO-DMT (0.04%)
Limonia acidissima L. DMT (traces)
Melicope leptococca (Baillon) Guillauminleaf/branchDMT (0.21%)
Pilocarpus organensis Rizzini et Occhioni alkaloids (1.06%), primarily 5-MeO-DMT
Vepris ampody H. Perr.leaf/branchDMT (0.22%)
Zanthoxylum arborescens Rose DMT (traces)

References #
  1. Becker SR. "Das Johanniskraut (Hypericum perforatum) -- Antidepressivum aus der Natur: Moglichkeiten einer Theraie leichter bis mittelschwerer Depressionen". Schweizerische Zeitschrift fur Ganzheitsmedizin. 1994;1:46-49; 2:92-94.
  2. Callaway J. "Pharmahuasca and contemporary ethnopharmacology". Curare. 1995;18(2):395-98.
  3. DeKorne J. Psychedelic Shamanism. Loompanics Unlimited. 1994.
  4. DeKorne J. Ayahuasca Analogs and Plant-Based Tryptamines; E.R. Monograph Series, no. 1.. The Entheogen Review. 1996.
  5. Festi F, Samorini S. "'Ayahuasca-Like' Effects Obtained with ItalianPlants". Lecture at the II Congrés Internacional per a l'Estudio dels Estats Modificats de Consciencis, October 3-7, 1994, Llèida, Catalonia (manuscript).
  6. Kent J. "Mushroom Ayahuasca". Psychedelic Illuminations. 1995;5:6-12.
  7. Malima. "Psilocybin und Harmala -- Psilohuasca". Entheogene. 1970;13(3):105-8.
  8. Ott J. Ayahuasca Analogues: Pangaen Entheogens. Natural Products Co.. 1994.
  9. Ott J. Enteobobotanica: Embriagantes Chamanicos. Unpublished manuscript.
Notes #
  1. For more information, see "Ayahuasca: MAOI Source Plants" in Ayahuasca: alkaloids, plants & analogs by Keeper of the Trout.
  2. For more information, see "Ayahuasca admixtures & analogs" in Ayahuasca: alkaloids, plants & analogs by Keeper of the Trout.
Revision History #
  • 1.0 - 2005 - Rätsch - Originally published in The Encyclopedia of Psychoactive Plants.
  • 1.1 - Apr 24, 2008 - Erowid - Transcribed by Justin Case, html'd and published on