The medicinal part of the plant is the bark.
Flower and Fruit
The inflorescence is multi-flowered. The flowers are 10 to 15 mm wide with pale pink petals. Their structures are arranged in fives. The fruit, which resembles that of the maple, is up to 4 mm long and 0.4 mm wide. Each of the 3 schizocarps has an 18 to 42 mm long and 8 to 22 mm wide wing.
Leaves and Stem
Banisteriopsis caapi is a hardy tree. The leaves are opposite, 8 to 18 cm long, 3.5 to 8 cm wide, ovate, and entire. The stem is woody with a brown, smooth bark.
The plant is native to jungle areas of the Amazon basin.
Yagé bark is the dried or fresh trunk bark of Banisteriopsis caapi.
Ayahuasca, Vine of the Souls
Actions & Pharmacology
Indole alkaloids (beta-carboline type): particularly harmine (0.5 to 5.9%), harmaline (0.5 to 3.8%), tetrahydroharmine (0.3 to 3.3%), harmol (0.05 to 1.2%), harmalol (up to 0.4%)
Pyridine alkaloids: shinunine, dihydroshinunine
The alkaloid-containing drug is psychotropic and hallucinogenic in effect, due to the harmine and harmaline it contains (pronounced MAO-inhibition in vitro and in animal experiments). Lower dosages bring on euphoric states in humans, while higher dosages have hallucinogenic effects.
Indications & Usage
The plant contains psychoactive substances, which intensify dreams and experiences.
Precautions & Adverse Reactions
The drug is not in medicinal use. Extracts of the drug (ayahuasca, 5 mg alkaloids/mL), ingested orally in low doses, have hallucinogenic and euphoric effects. These effects are primarily due to monoamine oxidase inhibition; later the effect becomes sedative.
The intake of higher dosages (corresponding to levels starting at approximately 0.3 g alkaloids) leads to vomiting, nausea, ringing of the ears and tendency to collapse.
Mode of Administration
Fresh or dried herb powder and liquid preparations for internal use.
The fresh or dried cut bark is macerated for several hours resulting in a bitter syrup, which is then consumed in small amounts. In addition, some of the bark is pulverized, mixed with water and then consumed in larger amounts. The juice can be kept for up to 6 months in tightly sealed containers.