Ayahuasca is not simply one plant. Rather, it is a tea brewed from a combination of botanicals found in the Amazon. How did it come to be that original people knew which plants to combine? Was it a lucky accident? Sam Woofe recently published this fascinating look into the mysterious origins of ayahuasca. Here are highlights:
Ayahuasca, the hallucinogenic brew, is a combination of two plants native to the Amazon rainforest: the Banisteriopsis caapi vine and the leaves of Psychotria viridis. The caapi vine contains MAOIs which allow the DMT in the leaves of the Psychotria plant species to become orally active in the human body. If DMT-containing plants are taken by themselves, then the body’s store of the enzyme MAO (monoamine oxidase) will quickly break down the DMT. However, by combining DMT-containing plants with MAO inhibiting plants, the DMT becomes orally active and intense psychedelic effects take place. This is an incredible discovery and it is a mystery how the indigenous people of South America figured it out. To put this into perspective, the Amazon basin contains approximately 80,000 plant species, making it one of the most biodiverse regions on Earth. Did the indigenous tribes of South America just stumble upon this unlikely combination by chance?
There is archaeological evidence of ceremonial ayahuasca use dating to 500 BC in Ecuador, although the consumption of ayahuasca may be much older than this. Yet there is no evidence which tells us how ayahuasca was ingeniously invented from the thousands of plant species available. The indigenous people of the Amazon basin, of course, have their own explanation of this discovery which has been passed down as folklore in the form of an oral tradition. Most indigenous populations say they discovered the combination of ayahuasca because they received such instructions directly from the ‘plant spirits’. From a scientific and critical point of view, such an explanation is very dubious. It requires a massive leap of faith – to accept it is to assume that plants not only have consciousness, but that plants have a non-material essence (spirit) and can communicate with humans.
To read the complete original article, please click here.
We very much like the idea that plant spirits communicated with humans in order to create ayahuasca tea. There are several other instances of this happening. In Findhorn, Scotland, plant devas revealed secrets that ended up with lush gardens growing in seemingly impossible conditions. Similarly, the Hopi in the Southwest United States have been able to grow crops for centuries with little or no water because of help they say comes from kachinas. Perhaps if we spent more time listening to plants we would be able to receive even greater benefits.