Ayahuasca Ceremony in Peru

Ayahuasca in the  Amazon - Peru

ayahuasca ceremony-ayahausca in peruSince the discovery of America and the attempt of conquest of its peoples, started a constant negation of the New World´s cultural contributions which could go against the religious beliefs and interests that were the Occidental humanity´s center of attention back then.
Thanks to its isolation from the modern world and in many cases, to the governments´ indifference, the Peruvian Amazon managed to maintain alive its tradition of the adequate use of its resources.
Today, some of us are looking at the Amazon with the sufficient understanding so as to value it. Perhaps, we are interested to know why, through the ingestion of a beverage prepared in the middle of the jungle, it is possible to heal a disease or simply, improve our quality of life.
We must recognize that humanity´s future lies in great part within our hands and in this case, it greatly depends on how much time we´ll manage to preserve the Amazon in its original state, so that we might continue having access to it and might learn to wisely take advantage of what it has to offer.
At present, the world can have access to the Amazonian Traditional Medicine which is an adequate method to interpret and use this apparently chaotic green tangle which, in reality, works as a natural laboratory without margin for error.

Ayahuasca is used largely as a religious sacrament. Users of ayahuasca in non-traditional contexts often align themselves with the philosophies and cosmologies associated with ayahuasca shamanism, as practiced among indigenous peoples like the Urarina of Peruvian Amazonia. While non-native users know of the spiritual applications of ayahuasca, a less well-known traditional usage focuses on the medicinal properties of ayahuasca. Its purgative properties are important (known as la purga or "the purge"). The intense vomiting and occasional diarrhea it induces can clear the body of worms and other tropical parasites, and harmala alkaloids themselves have been shown to be anthelmintic Thus, this action is twofold; a direct action on the parasites by these harmala alkaloids (particularly harmine in ayahuasca) works to kill the parasites, and parasites are expelled through the increased intestinal motility that is caused by these alkaloids.


Urarina shaman, 1988Dietary taboos are often associated with the use of ayahuasca. In the rainforest, these tend towards the purification of one's self - abstaining from spicy and heavily-seasoned foods, excess fat, salt, caffeine, acidic foods (such as citrus) and sex before, after, or both before and after a ceremony. A diet low in foods containing tyramine has been recommended, as the speculative interaction of tyramine and MAOIs could lead to a hypertensive crisis. However, evidence indicates that harmala alkaloids act only on MAO-A, in a reversible way similar to moclobemide (an antidepressant that does not require dietary restrictions). Psychonautic experiments and the absence of dietary restrictions in the highly urban Brazilian ayahuasca church União do Vegetal also suggest that the risk is much lower than perceived, and probably non-existent.

The name 'ayahuasca' specifically refers to a botanical decoction that contains Banisteriopsis caapi. A synthetic version, known as pharmahuasca is a combination of an appropriate MAOI and typically DMT. In this usage, the DMT is generally considered the main psychoactive active ingredient, while the MAOI merely preserves the psychoactivity of orally ingested DMT, which would otherwise be destroyed in the gut before it could be absorbed in the body. Thus, ayahuasqueros and most others working with the brew maintain that the B. caapi vine is the defining ingredient, and that this beverage is not ayahuasca unless B. caapi is in the brew. The vine is considered to be the "spirit" of ayahuasca, the gatekeeper and guide to the otherworldly realms.

In some areas, it is even said that the chakruna or chaliponga admixtures are added only to make the brew taste sweeter. This is a strong indicator of the often wildly divergent intentions and cultural differences between the native ayahuasca-using cultures and psychedelics enthusiasts in other countries.

In modern Europe and North America, ayahuasca analogues are often prepared using non-traditional plants which contain the same alkaloids. For example, seeds of the Syrian rue plant can be used as a substitute for the ayahuasca vine, and the DMT-rich Mimosa hostilis is used in place of chakruna. Australia has several indigenous plants which are popular among modern ayahuasqueros there, such as various DMT-rich species of Acacia.

A visitor who wishes to become a "dietero" or "dietera", that is, a male or female apprentice-shaman learning the way of the teacher plants, undergoes a rigorous initiation. This can involve spending up to a year or more in the jungle. This initiation challenges and trains the initiate through extreme circumstances involving a special diet and numerous different plant medicines to complement the ayahuasca, the lack of western food and conveniences, the harsh environmental conditions of heavy rains, storms, intense heat, insects, and poisonous animals. The initiate is also tested for their unwavering commitment to ayahuasca and the shaman who oversees the training.