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(see also: DiMethyltryptamine, Psychedelics)

Article by David Claiborne
(C) Copyright 2000  All rights reserved

Ayahuasca (called yagé, or yajé in Columbia, and caapi in Brazil) is a brew prepared from segments of a species of the Banisteriopsis vine, a genus belonging to the Malpighiaceae.  These sections of vine are boiled with a mixture of leaves of various kinds.  The resulting brew contains the hallucinogenic alkaloids harmine, harmaline, d-tetrahydroharmine, and dimethyltryptamine, or DMT.  DMT is very similar to serotonin, and it has been found that DMT is a component of normal mammalian metabolic processes, a hallucinogen which is created by the body.  The chemical structures and effects of the hallucinogens in the brew are very similar to LSD, mescaline or psilocybin.

This brew has been used in the Amazon for thousands of years by shamans for healing, divination and worhsip.  In Quecha, ayahuasca means "the vine of the dead" or "vine of the souls" (aya spirit/ancestor/dead, huasca vine/rope)

The effects of ayahuasca often include an interior sound, which can trigger a spontaneous burst of imitative vocalizations quite unlike any conventional human speech or facial contortions.  The sound, which appears to gain in energy the longer it is sustained, can become visible as if the vibrational wave patterns were in some way affecting light diffraction.  This peculiar wave phenomenon will continue to be generated out of the mouth and nostrils and will be visible in the surrounding air as long as the vocalizations are continued.

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