Huasca Brew (Syrian Rue & A. confusa)
Citation: mindbody. "Formosahuasca: An Experience with Huasca Brew (Syrian Rue & A. confusa) (exp85507)". Erowid.org. Apr 5, 2012. erowid.org/exp/85507
Since moving to China a few month ago, I've been intrigued by the prospects of brewing ayahuasca analogs based on Chinese medicinal herbs. My attempts to prepare more traditional ayahuasca from Banisteriopsis caapi and Mimosa hostilis purchased from European herbal shops have never resulted in more than marginal psychedelia. I have therefore been looking for local, inexpensive, easily obtainable herbs that can be purchased in bulk and used as ayahuasca analogs in multiple trials with carefully gauged doses.
My attention has been drawn to Acacia confusa, also known as Taiwan acacia, or Formosa acacia (i.e., the beautiful acacia), presumably after Ilha Formosa (i.e., the beautiful island, the original Portuguese name for Taiwan), as the source of DMT. There have been online reports of people in Taiwan brewing acacia-based ayahuasca using the bark of this tree. I have followed their steps. To my surprise, I've discovered that the root bark of Acacia confusa is orally active by itself, without any admixtures (though at doses about 3 times greater than the ayahuasca doses featured in this report). A description of this horrifyingly strong, yet short-lasting experience has been submitted in a separate report entitled Formosa surprise
. In the present write-up, I intend to describe my later experiment with an ayahuasca analog prepared from Acacia confusa and Peganum harmala (Syrian rue).
Acacia confusa is a medium-sized tree native to Taiwan, Philipinnes and Southern China. It has spread to many Pacific regions and is invasive in Hawaii. In Taiwan, the tree is considered medicinal (though its use is limited), and its local name is hsiang-si-shu, the `thinking-of-each-other tree'. Fresh root has been purchased from one of the numerous herbal shops next to Longshan temple in Taipei. The root bark has been separated and dried.
Peganum harmala, the Syrian rue, is well-known to the psychedelic community as a source MAO-inhibiting alkaloids. Though most common to the Middle East, the plant finds medicinal use in the (Muslim) north-west of China (Xinjiang), and its Chinese name is luotuo-peng-zi. Dried whole seeds have been purchased from an online Xinjiang-based vendor.
The dried acacia root bark has been ground into a (fibrous) powder. 3 tablespoons of the powder have been steeped in 3 washes of boiling water (no traditional ayahuasca-style cooking, and no evaporation). The liquid was filtered, the residual plant material was discarded.
ONLY 1/2 of the brew was consumed, resulting in an extremely strong experience. This corresponds to roughly 1.5 tablespoons of the ground root bark. PLEASE BE CAREFUL WITH THE DOSES!
(Note: previously, a brew made from 5 tablespoons of the root bark powder has been consumed without any additives, which resulted in a horrifyingly strong, short experience. This has been described in my report entitled `Formosa surprise'. In combination with Syrian rue, less than 1/3 of that dose of acacia produced a nearly as strong and considerably more prolonged effect.)
SYRIAN RUE PREPARATION
About 1/2 tablespoon of whole dried rue seeds have been ground to coarse powder and steeped in 3 washes of boiling water (no cooking, no evaporation). The liquid was filtered, the residual plant material was discarded.
(Note: in a previous trial, around 1 tablespoon from the same batch of rue seeds was consumed as a brew without any additives. The result was a distinctive dreamy state marked by strong lassitude and uncomfortably strong nausea.)
The rue tea was ingested first. About 30 minutes later, around 1/3 of the acacia tea was ingested. About 30 more minutes later, a few more gulps of the acacia tea were ingested. (Overall, about 1/2 of the prepared acacia was consumed, which corresponds to roughly 1.5 tablespoons of the ground root bark.)
Shortly thereafter, a horrifying descent into a tumultuous sea of consciousness followed, and it felt like dying many times over. In the process, every notion or belief I hold seemed to be questioned, as:
-why do I think that acacia is not poisonous?
-why do I think that acacia can be used in an ayahuasca analog?
-why do I think that people do not die from ayahuasca? (oh, I read it online and in books...)
-why should I believe anything written in books?
-if I die, would it really make a difference?
-if I go insane, would it really make a difference, or it's just a change of habits?
-how do I know I was born? (oh, people told me about that...)
-why should I believe anything that people say?
-how do I know that I am human?
-can the world be one big conspiracy?
-can I be the author of this conspiracy who has just forgotten what he has cooked up?
-am I the only one out there?
and so on and so on and so on. A more emotionally restrained version of this could count as a Buddhist contemplation of the illusory nature of human existence, or form a few passages in Wittgenstein's On Certainty
, but what I was going through was desperate and too far from being restrained.
In the end, I reached a point where my human life and memories were viewed in a way quite similar to how a wakeful person would view a vaguely remembered dream: maybe it did happen, maybe it did not, maybe it's important, maybe it's not. I was lying on my bed, exhausted, with all of my body perceptions distorted, at times a very strange and exaggerated sense of breathing (oh, I should breathe to keep that body alive!), half-incarnate into a somewhat reptilian creature with elongated hypersensitive fingers and tongue (a memory of this sensation is retained in a kind of shamanic gesture with my fingers stretched as much as possible and bending slightly backwards, the palm so composed performing gliding and trembling movements), my speech organs on the brink of engaging into bird-like vocalizations.
Then everything started to quiet down, a brief surge of warm and steamy erotic imagination followed, after which I reached a peaceful state of harmony and bliss. At this point, ordinary awareness started to gradually return to me. With my eyes open, the surrounding space still had a kind of crystalline consistency to it, and I felt a bit as if stuck in this crystal (despite my movements, though jittery, were not greatly impaired anymore... walking, or holding my bowl with ginger tea was not so easy at the peak of the trip). When I finally looked at the clock (it didn't make much sense to look at it during the experience), it was around 3.5 hours after I first ingested the acacia tea.
Overall, the trip was slightly milder (as horrifying as it was) than my earlier experiment with (a much larger dose of) the acacia taken orally without additives. But it was obviously much more prolonged due to the MAOI effects of the rue. Open-eye visual distortions have been quite limited, and the limb tremor was much milder than in the preceding acacia-only trip. However, psychologically and sensually, there have been a great deal of resemblance between the two trips. (The onset felt more gradual with MAOI, and I do associate open eye visuals with the disorientation of the nervous system produced by sharp rises of drug concentrations in the blood... I also think that they are a relatively undesirable feature of the psychedelic experience, as spectacular as they may be at times. Fireworks tend to produce a lot of smoke!)
I could sleep a few hours after the return to the usual awareness (it was quite late already). The next day, I felt rather depressed, jittery and mentally unsteady, with occasional flashbacks (a sort of post-traumatic feeling). Likewise, the second night's sleep was strongly disturbed and often seemed retracing my acacia experience in a milder form. The day after that felt much more normal and cheerful, and sleeping was reasonably sound, though still a little disturbed. Following which, the usual daily routine returned.
I have not observed any notable disturbances in body functions after the peak phase of the experience was over.
Looking back, it amuses me how much more vividly I remember the horrifying entry phase, and how much more indirectly, the concluding blissful phase. And yet I know that the blissful state was there and that it has been profound. It will amaze me for a long while, how for a few hours (which felt more like a lifetime) I could be trapped in a state of hyper-excited consciousness which, nonetheless, retained very few features of my ordinary human mind. But the bleak horror by way of which this extra-human state has been reached will tone down my enthusiasm about repeating the experiment.
As I edit this write-up, five days after my acacia experience, I feel extremely alert, and I have to admit that some very good things happened to me in the few days that have passed. I will not indulge in speculations on the healing and magical properties of ayahuasca, but I'll keep my private observations in mind.
No doubt, Acacia confusa is a powerful plant. The reported alkaloid contents in the root bark surpasses the famed Mimosa hostilis, and, subjectively, my experiences confirm this reputation, with mind-shattering psychedelic responses elicited by small amounts of the plant material.
It would be good to establish firmer safety guidelines for this little-researched plant. A thorough search for potentially toxic compounds in the root bark could be helpful. The traditional use of the acacia root in Taiwanese herbal medicine is somewhat reassuring with regard to safety.
I intend to return to formosahuasca after an appropriate recuperation break: the deep and traumatic experience that I've been through requires a thorough digestion. My doses will be smaller henceforth. It is my view that, in planning the psychedelic experience, we should aim at retaining the stronghold of the ordinary human consciousness while attempting to reach as far as we can in the multitudinous spaces of the altered states of mind. Why should we burn our house and run away in the jungle? Better explore the far outposts with diligence and dedication, while keeping our feet firmly on the ground. And then we'll hopefully know where to go from here...
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