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Maybe a Warning
B. caapi (leaves)
by brother martin
Citation:   brother martin. "Maybe a Warning: An Experience with B. caapi (leaves) (exp89696)". Dec 7, 2017.

    Cannabis (daily)
      Caffeine (daily)
    leaves smoked Banisteriopsis caapi (daily)


In the late 1990s, a friend and fellow psychonaut gifted me with a b. caapi plant that he had been growing for years. It was threatening to take over his bedroom, and he was at a point in his life where he was scaling back his involvement. I had been reading the Entheogen Review since day one, and was thrilled by his gift. At the time, I was growing psychotria viridis, and working on making extracts from mimosa root bark. I had used Syrian Rue seeds as an MAO inhibitor, but was thrilled to get “the real thing.”

I never did get very good at mimosa root bark extracts. If the aim in this extraction were “pure grain alcohol,” I was coming up with “beer.” However, I discovered that, when smoked with ayahuasca leaf, the combination produced a kind of low-dose mushroom effect that lasted for hours. I certainly enjoy getting blown into another space entirely, as has happened with me on high-dose mushrooms and LSD and real-thing DMT, but I also enjoy the heightened awareness and mental competence that I experience on low doses, or in the afterglow of a high dose. (My experience with LSD has been that it lasts about 36 hours—the twelve intense hours and then 24 hours of afterglow.) I was also drinking mostly light doses of San Pedro tea about 3 times a month. I did all this in the context of a highly ritualized meditation/mantra practice in the Tibetan tradition. (without the knowledge of my lama, believe me!) I have found that these substances have the most profound effect if I sit and be quiet and let them do what they want to do. The same, I find, is true of marijuana, which I also used on a daily basis.

The research available to me at the time seemed to indicate that smoking ayahuasca, because the dosage is so low, would not subject me to the dangers that can occur when it is mixed with caffeine, fermented foods, etc., so I continued to eat and use caffeine as I always had. I smoked a couple of pipefulls of b. caapi leaf daily for most of the aughts
I smoked a couple of pipefulls of b. caapi leaf daily for most of the aughts
, but by 2008 I had developed a serious irregular heartbeat, which led to a heart attack and stroke on the day before my 60th birthday, in mid August. I didn't realize what had happened at the time—the heart attack was not painful and the stroke was fairly minor, just made it hard to read for a few days.

But I knew something was wrong with me. I have long been very conscientious about my diet and overall health—been a no-junk food vegan for decades, got plenty of aerobic and other exercise, took supplements. Through late summer and fall of 2008, I was getting out of breath more and more easily, waking up at night due to sleep apnea, and I seemed to have a lot of excess fluid in my lungs and other tissues. Something was wrong. I finally overcame my aversion to MD's and went to a clinic, where I was diagnosed with severe atrial fibrillation, congestive heart failure, and high blood pressure. They told me to get my ass to the hospital immediately, and so I did. I was in the hospital over Thanksgiving weekend 2008, and while I was there I had a worse stroke, which made me almost completely blind for a month and has left me with about half my eyesight. I think it happened in part because in the hospital I couldn't smoke marijuana, which, I understand, helps prevent strokes—the first stroke happened before I'd had a chance to medicate myself in the morning.

My weekend in the hospital left me with a $30K bill (I'm uninsured) and prescriptions for warfarin and metoprolol. Mixing metoprolol with MAO's is strongly contraindicated, and the time I tried cactus tea after my hospital experience produced very scary fluctuations in heart rate and blood pressure. I've got a greenhouse full of San Pedro, but it's strictly a public service at this point. Damn, I thought it was my old age insurance! I'm grateful for marijuana—its antispasmodic properties help when I have irregular heartbeat episodes, which still happen a few times a month. My doctor says heart muscles are like metal, in a sense—once they have been bent a certain way, it's much easier for them to bend that way again.

I am told I have made a remarkable recovery. I suspect that this may be, at least in part, because my heart problems were self-induced and not due to long-term structural weakness. On the other hand, there is my ancestry. While my father's family tends to be so long-lived that both he and his father died largely because they were tired of living, my mother's father and grandfather both died at 72 from heart problems that started when they were around 60—and my great-grandfather, according to family legend, died while schtupping his wife—which is what I was doing when I had my first heart attack and stroke. Sex to die for, oy veh!

So, perhaps I did induce my heart condition by playing fast and loose with the dietary rules around b. caapi and smoking it so regularly that all those little doses added up. Or maybe it was just the family heart condition, or maybe it was a little of both. Since I was proceeding on the idea that smoking b. caapi was harmless, and I may be evidence that it is not, at least if engaged in daily, I figured I had better share my story.

I have been meaning to do this for a while, but seeing Earth and Fire's presentation at the MAPS conference (online—I wasn't there) spurred me to set this down in hopes that I, and others, will learn something from my life-threatening experience which may, or may not, have been due to my use of b. caapi.

Exp Year: 2008ExpID: 89696
Gender: Male 
Age at time of experience: 60 
Published: Dec 7, 2017Views: 3,738
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Banisteriopsis caapi (169) : Not Applicable (38), Health Problems (27), Retrospective / Summary (11), Combinations (3)

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