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Ayahuasca: Spirit Vine
The word “Ayahuasca” refers to a medicinal brew with the main
ingredient being the ayahuasca vine (banisteriopsis caapi). The vine is
cooked, usually in combination with at least one other admixture
plant, to produce a brown liquid that is consumed in healing
ceremonies led by Amazon healers, called ayahuasqueros
(curanderos). The effects of the brew vary greatly depending on which
admixture plants are used in its preparation, how the curandero runs
the healing ceremony, and a number of more complex aspects that
are a bit of a mystery.
Over 90 different indigenous tribes in the Amazon Rainforest have developed healing traditions based
on the use of ayahuasca. This number becomes even more impressive when one considers the fact that
many of these tribes live thousands of miles apart and would appear to have never had contact with
each other. Within the philosophy of each tribe, one point remains consistent, which is that they
originally learned about ayahuasca and the science of plant medicine from the plants themselves.
The admixture plants most often used are the leaves of chacruna (Psychotria viridis) and yagé; also
known as chaliponga, chagraponga, and huambisa (Diplopterys cabrerana). Ayahuasca is known and
used throughout Perú, Ecuador, Colombia, Bolivia, and western Brazil. The use of ayahuasca is rapidly
gaining awareness and acceptance throughout the world thanks to retreat programs and organized
religious movements such as Santo Daime and the União do Vegetal (UDV), who won a supreme court
decision for the right of members to use the sacred medicine in ceremonies in the United States.
Ayahuasca has been used in the Peruvian Amazon for millenia, long before the Spanish came to Peru,
before the Incan Empire was formed, before history. The oldest known object related to the use of
ayahuasca is a ceremonial cup which dates to a culture that ended in the year 50 A.D. Hewn out of stone
with engraved ornamentation, it was discovered in Ecuador and currently rests at the Ethnological
Museum of the Central University (Quito, Ecuador). In the Peruvian Amazon, its use dates back much
Chemically speaking, he medicine usually contains both beta-carboline and tryptamine alkaloids.
However, some indigenous Amazonian cultures, like the Yahua, prepare their ceremonial brew using
only the ayahuasca vine. The ayahuasca vine contains the beta-carbolines (harmine, harmaline, and
tetrahydroharmine). Harmine and harmaline are visionary at high levels, but at a modest dosage
typically produce mainly tranquility and nausea. Tetrahydroharmine is present in significant levels in
ayahuasca, which may be responsible for some of its more profound effects.
EFFECTS OF AYAHUASCA
For millenia, a science of healing has been evolving in the Amazon, passed on orally from generation to
generation, and through the plants themselves. The sacred medicine is primarily used to heal, and
patients often feel the following effects:
HEALING THE BODY
Nearly everyone describes a physical cleansing or purification process, often involving vomiting or
purging. Another name for the brew is ‘la purga’ because of its powerful purgative effects. It is not
necessary to throw up, however, and the curandero rarely throws up when leading a ceremony.
HEALING THE MIND
It is not uncommon to experience a regression back to the situation or source of a problem or trauma.
To relive the experience is to gain new understanding and insights enabling resolution or closure.
Dream-like scenes where personal messages from spirits are received cause ceremony participants to
re-evaluate their life course with a deeper understanding of why they are here, and what it is they need
to do to fulfill their purpose.
The Ayahuasca Foundation works only with Shipibo curanderos. The Shipibo tradition is widely regarded
as the most intact and profound of the indigenous traditions that use ayahuasca. While there are
certainly numerous complexities within the philosophy and methodology of the tradition, there is one
underlying principle that pervades the entire practice: cleanliness. The basic understanding is that
within every living being, every cell, is an innate movement towards wholeness and harmony. This
motivating principle is a conscious force that acts on its own, and forms the root of all life as we know it.
It is an intelligent directive towards health and it works from micro to macro levels of existence. From
cells repairing themselves to planetary and galactic movement, this mysterious energy constantly strives
to maintain balance, to achieve optimum health. This intelligent motivating principle that pervades all
things, this divine directive at the root of all life, can be called God.
The Ayahuasca Foundation
The Ayahuasca Foundation was conceived in the spring of 2008 by Carlos Tanner, an American and
student of curanderismo. After living and studying with a curandero for over four years, Carlos worked
to provide a safe and effective way for people to not only receive treatment in the healing tradition of
the Amazon but also to study the tradition, the way he had with his maestro. The idea for the Ayahuasca
Foundation was born from a desire to spread the science of plant medicine back into the world. The
Foundation supports the preservation of indigenous wisdom and culture, offering healing retreats and
educational courses, and conducting research focused on the ayahuasca healing tradition used for
millennia by indigenous healers of the Peruvian Amazon.
Phone: 011-51-954-064-553, 954-064-553