Ayahuasca is a psychedelic brew made from the B. caapi vine and several other plants. The active ingredient in Ayahuasca is usually considered DMT (Dimethyltryptamine) but there is some debate on this due to the complexity of the brew and the various compounds and how they affect each other. The main ingredient in Ayahuasca is the B. caapi vine and then it is brewed with other plants such as the Psychotria viridis (chacruna). The active ingredient in the B. caapi vine is Harmine and the active ingredient in the plants is believed to be DMT. DMT (Dimethyltryptamine) is not active when ingested through the stomich on its own but with Harmine added it alters the human bodies’ chemistry to where the DMT is orally active.
Most commonly it is considered a DMT brew but there is some people that believe it is more of the Harmine that produces the psychedelic affects. The brews vary from Shaman to Shaman they each have their own recipes and the plants can vary from region to region. It is generally agreed upon that the entire cocktail of compounds is a different experience then just DMT and Harmine or each on their own. So there is a lot about the make up of Ayahuasca that we don’t understand.
In South America where Ayahuasca comes from Shamans make it and they believe that it is a sprit that lives in the vine. They go through special rituals when collecting the ingredients and preparing them. They will only collect the ingredients after prayers and different signs they receive when they go out to the jungle to collect these ingredients. They have very complex beliefs and signs that have to do with the weather and animals and insects that live and surround these vines. With the complexity of the Ayahuasca brews and chemical compound it really makes a person wonder if a lot of these signs in nature also are manifested in the constant change in the B. caapi vine chemical make up at that time and if a Shaman sees good signs if this could actually relate to the conditions that create a good chemical make up in the vine.
A lot of these rituals and brewing techniques that the south American shaman use have been passed down for hundreds many be even thousands of years so these rituals that some consider “primitive” are probably in all reality the most advances information there is on Ayahuasca. The western world has only been studying Ayahuasca for less then a century and we don’t really have that much understanding of it.
Over the last couple of decades Ayahuasca tourism has become popular with western spiritual seekers and they can fly to South America and hire a guide that will offer Ayahuasca rituals. This has brought about more interest and study in Ayahuasca in the western cultures. But it seems like a far cry from the knowledge of Ayahuasca that a life long trained shaman deep in the South American jungle brewing the same brew his grandfathers have brewed and taking with the same sprites as his ancestors did.