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Ayahuasca: alkaloids, plants & analogs
assembled by Keeper of the Trout
Section 3: Part 1 :
Some Psychotria species

Psychotria alba Ruíz & Pavón


Psychotria alba has been reported with the common names: tupamaqui and yagé.

It is said to be used by the UdV (and others?) for brewing ayahuasca. Chemistry is apparently unexamined outside of human bioassay.
Native Habitat's on-line catalog claims it is 60% as strong as P. viridis. More recently this was questioned based on purported analytical reports (lacking details).

Synonyms:
  • Psychotria albacostata Rusby
  • Psychotria macrophylla subsp. albacostata (Rusby) Steyerm.
  • Mapouria rigida Rusby
  • Uragoga alba (Ruiz & Pav.) Kuntze
    (Considered a synonym of P. carthagenensis by Brako & Zarucchi 1993. Ruíz & Pavon considered them to be separate species.
    It should be asked whether this synonymity versus nonsynonymity is possibly involved in the disparate analytical results published for P. carthagenensis)
Distribution:

P. alba collections have been reported from: Bolivia, Ecuador & Peru (See also under carthagenensis)
Synonyms & distribution information was from MOBOT [http://mobot.mobot.org/W3T/Search/vast.html] (Includes numerous geo-coordinates of field collections)

P. alba herbarium vouchers and collections can be found using the search engine at the NY Botanical Gardens:
http://sciweb.nybg.org/Science2/vii2.asp

See a Psychotria alba photo; with flowers at:
http://www.nativehabitat.com/plants.html


Reported analysis:

No chemical analysis has been located(?!) CHECK Fericgla & hoasca analysis


Psychotria carthagenensis Jacquin


Psychotria carthagenensis (frequently spelled carthaginensis) has been reported with the common names: rami appane, rani appani, sameruca, wy-soo-dö, yagé, and yage-chacruna.

The extent to which this plant is used for brewing ayahuasca is in need of further clarification as conflicting accounts exist.

Synonyms:
  • Psychotria alba Ruiz & Pav. (This is according to Brako & Zarucchi 1993; Ruíz & Pavon considered them to be separate species)
  • Psychotria ficigemma DC.
  • Psychotria fockeana Miq.
  • Psychotria foveolata Ruiz & Pav.
  • Psychotria sagraeana Urb.
  • Mapouria fockeana (Miq.) Brem.
  • Tapiphyllum cinerascens subsp.
  • laevius (K.Schum.) Verdc.
  • Uragoga alba (Ruiz & Pav.) Kuntze
  • Uragoga carthagenensis (Jacq.) Kuntze
  • Uragoga foveolata (Ruiz & Pav.) M.Gómez
  • Vangueria velutina var. laevior K.Schum.


Reported occurrences:

Mexico (Chiapas), Cuba, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua, Panama, Bolivia, Colombia, Ecuador, Paraguay, Peru, Suriname, Venezuela
Synonyms & distribution information was from MOBOT [http://mobot.mobot.org/W3T/Search/vast.html] (Includes numerous geo-coordinates of field collections)

P. viridis herbarium vouchers and collections can be found using the search engine at the NY Botanical Gardens:
http://sciweb.nybg.org/Science2/vii2.asp


Reported analysis:

Some have been found to be potent [highest reported value was 0.65% by dry wt.] while others lacked DMT entirely.

Reported analysis has been variable; mostly negative.

[It is said that one or more small spine-like structures (dolmatia-like) must be present on the underside of the leaf in order for a Psychotria individual to be a useful plant. There are indications that this is not always supported by chemical analysis.]

Psychotria carthaginensis Jacq.

["Rami appani"; Culina Indians, Marcos. Collected 4 September 1968. Vouchers were made.]
0.65% DMT in dry leaf. [99% of 0.66% total alkaloid content by dry weight.]
Their specimens contained more alkaloid than the P. viridis they also analyzed.
"practically all DMT"
Traces of MMT and 2-Methyl-1,2,3,4-tetrahydro-β-carboline as minor alkaloids.
Rivier & Lindgren 1972.

Psychotria carthaginensis Jacquin

Other assays have detected no DMT in this species. Example: McKenna et al. 1984a, who analyzed DMCK #109 "Yage-chacruna" from Tarapoto. As it was sterile, they considered their identification tentative)
&
Leal & Elisabetsky 1996b, who examined vouched Brazilian material using general alkaloid precipitation reagents and reported detecting no alkaloids. They mentioned that unpublished work by others had also detected no alkaloids in specimens collected at several sites in Brazil.


Psychotria horizontalis Swartz


Common name: "tupamaqui"

Reported by Duke as being incorporated in ayahuasca (people, activity, chemistry and a reference to a citation other than Duke were not included with the claim)

Synonyms:
  • Myrstiphyllum horizontalis (Sw.) Millsp.
  • Uragoga horizontalis (Sw.) Kuntze

Reported occurrences:

Psychotria horizontalis has been reported from: Mexico (Jalisco, Nayarit), Cuba, Belize, Costa Rica, Honduras, Nicaragua, Panama, Bolivia, Colombia, Ecuador, Paraguay, Peru, Venezuela.

Synonyms & distribution information was from MOBOT [http://mobot.mobot.org/W3T/Search/vast.html] (Includes numerous geo-coordinates of field collections)

P. horizontalis herbarium vouchers and collections can be found using the search engine at the NY Botanical Gardens:
http://sciweb.nybg.org/Science2/vii2.asp


Images:

Fruiting plant of horizontalis
http://www.csdl.tamu.edu/FLORA/dcs420/cr/hdw18039963s.jpg

Fruit close-up
http://www.csdl.tamu.edu/FLORA/dcs420/cr/hdw18039964s.jpg

Leaf of same:
http://www.csdl.tamu.edu/FLORA/dcs420/cr/hdw18039965s.jpg


Reported analysis:

Apparently no analysis has been reported.


Psychotria marginata Swartz


Common names: "sanaguillo" & "yagé"

Reported by Duke as being incorporated in ayahuasca (people, activity, chemistry and a reference to a citation other than Duke were not included with the claim)

Synonyms:
  • Psychotria marginata Bremek.
  • Psychotria nicaraguensis Benth.
  • Myrstiphyllum marginatum (Sw.) Hitchc.
  • Uragoga marginata (Sw.) Kuntze

Reported occurrences:

(all except those marked [?] have collection data included at mobot.org):

Mexico (Chiapas & Tabasco) [?], Belize, Costa Rica, Guatemala [?], Honduras, Nicaragua, Panama, Bolivia, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru & Venezuela.

Synonyms & distribution information was from MOBOT [http://mobot.mobot.org/W3T/Search/vast.html] (Includes numerous geo-coordinates of field collections)

P. marginata herbarium vouchers and collections can be found using the search engine at the NY Botanical Gardens:
http://sciweb.nybg.org/Science2/vii2.asp


Reported analysis:

Apparently no analysis has been reported.



Psychotria poeppigiana Muell. Arg.


This species has been reported with the common names: bimichëxë, boca pintada, chacruna, devil's ear, hot lips, labios de puta, oreja del diablo & picho e mula.

It is said to be a very potent admixture and is commercially available as an ornamental plant in some areas (such as south Florida).

 Bioassays indicate a strong presence of DMT. Personal communications with an unnamed source who sampled it.

Its flowers are used by both the Créoles and Wayapi (French Guiana) for treating the pain of earache and also as a cough suppresant by the Palikur.


Synonyms:
  • Psychotria tomentosa (Aubl.) Müll. Arg.
  • Cephaelis barcellana (Muell. Arg.) Standl.
  • Cephaelis hirsuta M.Martens & Galeotti
  • Cephaelis tomentosa (Aubl.) Vahl
  • Cephaelis vultusmimi Dwyer
  • Tapogomea tomentosa Aubl.
  • Uragoga tomentosa (Aubl.) K.Schum.
  • Elisabetsky et al 1995

Occurrences:

Belize, Costa Rica, Honduras, Nicaragua, Panama, Bolivia, Colombia, Ecuador, Guyana, Peru, Suriname & Venezuela

This "weedy" & abundant [and highly ornamental] species is very widely distributed (It is known from Colombia to Guyana & Suriname in South America and from Belize & Costa Rica to Bolivia according to the Missouri Botanical Garden website.)

Synonyms & distribution information was from MOBOT [http://mobot.mobot.org/W3T/Search/vast.html] (Includes numerous geo-coordinates of field collections and images) and also http://www.mobot.org/MOBOT/Staff/Research/taylor/cephaeli.html

P. poeppigiana herbarium vouchers and collections can be found using the search engine at the NY Botanical Gardens:
http://sciweb.nybg.org/Science2/vii2.asp


Images:

See a photo of its showy flowers are at: http://www.mobot.org/MOBOT/Staff/Research/taylor/cephaeli.html

[Larger picture: See http://www.mobot.org/MOBOT/Staff/Research/taylor/cmt_11.jpg]
http://www.mobot.org/MOBOT/Plantmap/Hotlips.html

[Larger picture: See http://www.mobot.org/MOBOT/Plantmap/Psypoepb.jpg]
It appears to entirely lack published analysis.


Psychotria psychotriaefolia (Seem.) Standley


DMT was reported in the leaf along with two non-indolic alkaloids by Der Marderosian et al. 1969. However, this material was later determined to have actually been P. viridis which had been erroneously misidentified.


Psychotria stenostachya Standley


Common names "rumo sacha" & "yagé"

Reported by Duke as being incorporated in ayahuasca (people, activity, chemistry and a reference to a citation other than Duke were not included with the claim)


Distribution:

Occurrences has been reported from Bolivia, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru

Synonyms & distribution information was from MOBOT [http://mobot.mobot.org/W3T/Search/vast.html] (Includes numerous geo-coordinates of field collections)

P. stenostachya herbarium vouchers and collections can be found using the search engine at the NY Botanical Gardens: http://sciweb.nybg.org/Science2/vii2.asp


Reported analysis:

Apparently no analysis has been reported.


Psychotria viridis Ruíz & Pavón


Psychotria viridis has been reported with the common names: amiruca panga, amurucapanga (Ecuador), chacruna (Peru), kawa, kawa kui (a recognized variety), o-pri-to, rami appane, sami ruca, suija, tupamaqui, and yagé.The Matsigenka call it irorovampashi pijuri: ("Psychotria of the Bat") and yakomamamshi: (Anaconda leaf) according to Shepard 1998.

The Kofán of eastern Ecuador add its leaves and young shoots to yáje. This species is said to have a wide distribution from Central America to Bolivia. Described as a small tree or shrub which ccurs in lowlands that are flooded for part of the year or else in primary forests a short distance from streams or small rivers. (Pinkley 1969)

Psychotria viridis is considered to be dangerous and used only by witches according to the Peruvian Matsigenka. (Shepard 1998)


Synonyms:
  • Palicourea viridis (Ruiz & Pav.) Roem. & Schult.
  • Uragoga viridis (Ruiz & Pav.) Kuntze

Distribution:

Psychotria viridis has been collected from: Cuba, Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Panama, Bolivia, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru.

Synonyms & distribution information was from MOBOT [http://mobot.mobot.org/W3T/Search/vast.html] (Includes numerous geo-coordinates of field collections)

P. viridis herbarium vouchers and collections can be found using the search engine at the NY Botanical Gardens:
http://sciweb.nybg.org/Science2/vii2.asp

P. viridis photo, with flowers, can be found at:
http://www.nativehabitat.com/plants.html


Published analysis:

Most are fairly potent [reported values of 0.10-0.34% by dry wt.; i.e 100 to 340 mg of DMT per 100 grams of dry leaf.] but some entirely lack DMT. Some contain 2-Methyl-1,2,3,4-tetrahydro-β-carboline, some contain MMT. Individuals have been found with 1, 2 or all three.

Psychotria viridis Ruiz & Pavon
DMT in leaf
Der Marderosian et al. 1970

Psychotria viridis R. and P. ["Rami appani"; Culina Indians, Zapote. Collected 22 July 1968.]
0.34% DMT in dry leaf [99% of 0.34% total alkaloid content by dry weight.]

Traces of MMT and 2-Methyl-1,2,3,4-tetrahydro-β-carboline as minor alkaloids. [DMT was absent from another specimen of this species.]
Rivier & Lindgren 1972

DMT in leaf in "substantial amounts"

Co-occurring with traces of MMT and 2-Methyl-1,2,3,4-tetrahydro-β-carboline.
Rivier & Lindgren 1972

Psychotria viridis [DMCK #21; Iquitos "Chacruna"]
0.16% DMT; 1.58 mg per gm dry weight (SD ± 0.3) in leaf. [Sole base.]
McKenna et al. 1984a

Psychotria viridis [DMCK #108; Tarapoto, "Suija"]
0.10% DMT; 1.02 mg per gm dry weight (SD ± 0.04) in leaf. [Sole base.]
McKenna et al. 1984a

Psychotria viridis [DMCK #139; Pucallpa, "Chacruna"]
0.12% DMT; 1.2 mg per gm dry weight (SD ± 0.17) in leaf. [Traces of 2-Methyl-1,2,3,4-tetrahydro-β-carboline also present.]
McKenna et al. 1984a

Psychotria viridis (leaf):
0.19-0.35% total alkaloid

DMT was the major alkaloid; co-occurring with traces of MTHC and DMT-N-oxide; MMT could not be detected in any sample)
Pomilio et al. 1999

Psychotria viridis: (tentative ID by R.E. Schultes)

Known as chacruna by the Shibipo on the upper and middle Ucayali and town dewellers in Iquitos.

Analysis of the dried leaves showed the presence of 0.24% total crude bases, of which DMT was the major alkaloid. Percent isolated and the identity of other components were not determined.

Said to be distinguishable from the "false chacruna" based on its profile of unidentified minor bases but the details were not included.

Urzúa et al. 1972



Other Psychotria species


Psychotria leiocarpa or P. carthagenensis are thought to be used but this has been suggested to be a misidentification of species by McKenna et al. 1998 This conclusion might be premature (or should at least wait until an analysis of P. leiocarpa is actually performed.) See also comments under P. alba & P. carthagenensis.

P. carthagenensis is said to produce less intense visuals than P. viridis whereas P. leiocarpa is said to be more similar to P. viridis in its effects.
- Pomilio et al. 1999 cited Aranha et al. 1991

Machiguenga utilize 10-15 species of Psychotria, including P. viridis, for various psychoactive purposes. Russo et al. 1996-1997

An unidentified Psychotria sp. they use as a DMT containing admixture is called Urubambashi.
- Russo et al. 1996-1997

They were introduced to this as an admixture in the 1960s by neighboring Matsigenka.
- Shepard 1998

Psychotria rubra is used in Oriental medicine but no analysis has been located.

Psychotria punctata is said by Native Habitat to be used by African healers.

Numerous other Psychotria species worldwide are used for medicine [1], considered toxic [2] and/or prized as ornamentals.

Not all contain alkaloids. For example:

Rivier & Lindgren reported the leaves of Psychotria bacteriophila Lausanne, Psychotria emetica Borneo-Paris and Psychotria undulata Borneo-Paris to have no detectable alkaloids.

Leal & Elisabetsky 1996b similarly could detect no alkaloid in P. carthaginensis, but interestingly they reported bioactivity.

Interestingly, Elisabetsky et al. 1995 determined a strong opioid analgesic activity in alkaloids present in both flowers and leaves of Psychotria colorata (Willd. ex R.& S.) Muell. Arg.

Flowers were found to be 4X stronger than leaves. This activity was reversed by administration of Naloxone.

Besides Elisabetsky et al. 1995, this species was also analyzed by Verotta et al. 1998 who similarly reported an analgesic activity for the flowers. This species is traditionally used as a treatment for both earache and for abdominal pain. Its common name is Perpétua do mato)

Leal & Elizabetsky 1996a reported the same activity for Psychotria brachypoda (Muell. Arg.) Britton. Both of these species are used as painkillers in ethnomedicine.

Psychotria griffithii is also employed for pain (in Malaya)


Psychotria species "nai kawa" (Cashinahua)

DMT isolated from authenticated material.
- Der Marderosian et al. 1969

0.16-0.22% in leaf
- Der Marderosian et al. 1970


Psychotria species: (probable ID by R.E. Schultes)

Known as "falsa chacruna" (false chacruna) by the Shibipo on the upper and middle Ucayali and town dewellers in Iquitos.

Analysis of the dried leaves showed the presence of 0.8% total crude bases, of which DMT was the major alkaloid. Percentage of DMT and the identity of other components were not determined.

Said to be distinguishable from chacruna based on its profile of unidentified minor bases not present in chacruna but the details were not included.
- Urzúa et al. 1972

It might be noted that falsa chacruna is frequently used to refer to Psychotria species lacking espinas on the underside of their leaves. These are said to be unsuitable for use as an ayahuasca admixture and chemical analysis by McKenna appeared to support this. [See McKenna et al. 1984a]

In light of the work of Urzua and the conflicting reports indicating both the presence and absence of DMT in P. carthagenensis, this is apparently an area in great need of further work.

While it may indeed prove that mistaken identities have played a role in the confusion this cannot be automatically assumed to be the case without further study as many of the conflicting accounts have involved material identified & properly vouchered by professional botanists.


Notes #
  1. A partial listing:

      Colombia: Psychotria pinularis

      Fiji: Psychotria archboldiana, Psychotria macrocalyx and Psychotria tephrosantha

      French Guiana: Psychotria platypoda & Psychotria ulviformis

      Indonesia: Psychotria viridiflora and an indeterminate Psychotria species known as "kaju badja."

      Philippine Islands: Psychotria cuernosensis, Psychotria luzoniensis, Psychotria manillensis, Psychotria merrittii, Psychotria membranifolia and the indeterminate species known by the common names of "Penubulen Jayn", "Tangkuluran" and "Tubalan-ulangan" respectively.

      Polynesia: Psychotria insularum

      Sierra Leon: Psychotria rufipilis

      Solomon Islands: Psychotria olivacea, Psychotria schmielei and an indeterminate species.

      Also a species known in Hawaii as "kopiko"

      Additionally, the fruit of Psychotria elmeri is eaten in northern Borneo.

      References: von Reis Altschul 1975, Ott 1996 & Elisabetsky et al. 1995. The Machiguenga apply the leaf juice of a Psychotria sp. they call "Sampakatishi" to their eyes to sharpen senses or relieve headache. Russo et al. 1996-1997

      Psychotria alboviridula is used to treat fire ant bites by the Tikuna according to Schultes & Raffauf 1990

  2. The Brazilian species, Psychotria barbiflora and Psychotria pinularis are both known as "Herva de Rato"; a name commonly applied to plants used as rat poisons. Both species are considered to be poisonous; the latter is said to kill cattle if it is eaten and water taken.

      von Reis Altschul 1975.

    The fruits of Psychotria carthaginensis Jaquin, Psychotria involucrata Swartz. and Psychotria nudiceps are considered toxic (in Colombia and/or neighboring regions) Schultes 1969a.

    Polyindolines have been reported from Psychotria beccaroides, Psychotria forsteriana and Psychotria oleoides.

    Alkaloids have also been reported from Psychotria expansa, Psychotria hirta, and Psychotria rostrata. Ott 1996.

    An unidentified physiologically active substance, decreasing spontaneous locomotion, and believed to be nonalkaloidal, was observed in the leaves of P. carthaginensis by Leal & Elisabetsky 1996b

    Emetine (fatal at the 1 gram level in humans & cumulatively toxic) or similar compounds have been reported from Psychotria beccaroides, Psychotria emetica, Psychotria forsteriana, Psychotria granadensis & Psychotria oleoides.