Overview

Brief Summary

Banisteriopsis caapi is an enormous South American liana (woody vine) in the plant family Malpighiaceae with tiny pink flowers and a 3-winged maple-like fruit (samara). A hallucinogenic drink made from the bark of this and the related B. inebrians has long been widely used by Indians in the western Amazon (Brazil, Colombia, Peru, Ecuador, and Bolivia). The drink is intensely bitter and nauseating. Some tribes add other plants to the mix as well (e.g., B. rusbyana, Datura suaveolens, Brunfelsia sp., and especially Psychotria viridis) and in some parts of the Orinoco region the bark is simply chewed. In some areas, the plant may be used as a component in a snuff (e.g., Rodd 2002). Both B. caapi and the concocted drink may be referred to by the Quechua name "ayahuasca", among other names, but for clarity many authors use this name to refer only to the concoction. (Schultes 1976)

According to Schultes (1976), the effects of drinking ayahuasca range from a pleasant intoxication to violent reactions with sickening lingering effects, depending on the preparation and the person taking the drug mixture. Usually there are visual hallucinations and with larger doses there may be nightmarish visions and a sense of reckless abandon. Ayahuasca is taken by traditional healers in some tribes to help them diagnose and treat illnesses; it may also be taken as part of religious ceremonies or as part of a ceremony initiating boys into manhood.

Ayahuasca is a rich source of harmine, tetrahydroharmine (THH), and, to a lesser extent, harmaline. Some of the plants often added in addition to B. caapi, notably Psychotria viridis, contribute dimethyltryptamine (DMT) to the mix. Importantly, the harmala alkaloids in B. caapi are short-acting reversible monoamine oxidase (MAO) inhibitors, which prevent DMT from being metabolized before reaching the brain (potential users of MAO inhibitors [MAOIs] should be aware that these have potentially dangerous interactions with other drugs and some foods; McCabe-Sellers 2006 et al.; Grady and Stahl 2012). In some areas, B. caapi is used alone, without adding any DMT-containing plants (Rodd 2008). The alkaloid profiles of ayahuasca from different sources are highly variable (Rivier and Lindgren 1973; Callahan 2005).

Dobkin De Ríos (1970) investigated the use of ayahuasca for both purposes of healing and witchcraft by the urban poor in an Amazon city slum iin Iquitos, Peru, in the mid-20th century. The religious ceremonial use of ayahuasca remains common today not only in Amazonian indigenous cultures, but also in urban areas throughout much of South America (Callaway 2005). In recent years ayahuasca use has become increasingly common in Europe and North America as well (Tupper 2009). Harris and Gurel (2012) studied the subjective experiences of ayahuasca users in North America. The global spread of ayahuasca’s use has led to a number of legal cases pitting religious freedom against national drug control laws. Members of some religious groups use ayahuasca at least twice a month (Bouso et al. 2012). Various legal, religious, philosophical, and policy issues arising from the global spread of ayahuasca use are discussed by Tupper (2008).

Bouso et al. (2012) found no evidence of psychological maladjustment, mental health deterioration, or cognitive impairment among a group of regular users of ayahuasca, although they acknowledge possible weaknesses in their study, most notably the possibility that their ayahuasca-using group (which was limited to long-term users) was self-selected to include only individuals who had positive experiences with ayahuasca since others would have abandoned its use long ago.

With a nod to a group of researchers who in 1951 published a defense in the journal Science of the right of the Native American Church to use peyote in its religious rites, Anderson et al. (2012) published an editorial supporting the right to use ayahuasca in religious practices.

Rivier and Lindgren provide a fascinating account of the traditional use of ayahuasca in the Peruvian Amazon, as well as their own experiences with it (Rivier and Lindgren 1972). Flores and Lewis (1978) offer another personal account.

  • Anderson, B.T., B.C. Labate, M. Meyer, et al. 2012. Editorial: Statement on ayahuasca. International Journal of Drug Policy 23: 173-175.
  • Bouso J.C., D. González, S. Fondevila, M. Cutchet M, X. Fernández, et al. 2012. Personality, Psychopathology, Life Attitudes and Neuropsychological Performance among Ritual Users of Ayahuasca: A Longitudinal Study. PLoS ONE 7(8): e42421. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0042421
  • Callaway, J.C. 2005. Various Alkaloid Profiles in Decoctions of Banisteriopsis caapi. Journal of Psychoactive Drugs 37(2): 151-155.
  • Dobkin de Ríos, M. 1970. Banisteriopsis in Witchcraft and Healing Activities in Iquitos, Peru. Economic Botany 24(3): 296-230.
  • Flores, F.A. and W;H. Lewis. 1978. Drinking the South American Hallucinogenic Ayahuasca. Economic Botany 32: 154-156.
  • Grady, M.M. and S.M. Stahl. 2012. Practical guide for prescribing MAOIs: debunking myths and removing barriers. CNS Spectrums 17: 2-10.
  • Harris, R. and L. Gurel. 2012. A Study of Ayahuasca Use in North America. Journal of Psychoactive Drugs, 44(3): 209-215.
  • McCabe-Sellers, B.J., C.G. Staggs, and M.L. Bogle. 2006. Tyramine in foods and monoamine oxidase inhibitor drugs: A crossroad where medicine, nutrition, pharmacy, and food industry converge. Journal of Food Composition and Analysis19: S58-S65.
  • Rivier, L. and J.E. Lindgren. 1972. "Ayahuasca," the South American Hallucinogenic Drink: an Ethnobotanical and Chemical Investigation. Economic Botany 26 (2): 101-129.
  • Rodd, R.. 2002. Snuff synergy: Preparation, use and pharmacology of Yopo and Banisteriopsis caapi among the Piaroa of southern Venezuela. Journal of Psychoactive Drugs 34(3): 273-279.
  • Rodd, R. 2008. Reassessing the Cultural and Psychopharmacological Significance of Banisteriopsis caapi: preparation, classification, and use among the Piaroa of southern Venezuela. Journal of Psychoactive Drugs 40(3): 301-307.
  • Schultes, R.E. 1976. Hallucinogenic Plants. Western Publishing Company, Racine, Wisconsin.
  • Tupper, K.W. 2008.The globalization of ayahuasca: Harm reduction or benefit maximization? International Journal of Drug Policy 19: 297-303.
  • Tupper, K.W. 2009. Ayahuasca healing beyond the Amazon: the globalization of a traditional indigenous entheogenic practice. Global Networks 9(1): 117-136.
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Distribution

Localities documented in Tropicos sources

Banisteriopsis inebrians C.V. Morton:
Colombia (South America)

Note: This information is based on publications available through Tropicos and may not represent the entire distribution. Tropicos does not categorize distributions as native or non-native.
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Localities documented in Tropicos sources

Banisteria inebrians Morton sensu J. F. Macbride:
Colombia (South America)

Note: This information is based on publications available through Tropicos and may not represent the entire distribution. Tropicos does not categorize distributions as native or non-native.
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Localities documented in Tropicos sources

Banisteriopsis caapi (Spruce ex Griseb.) C.V. Morton:
Bolivia (South America)
Brazil (South America)
Colombia (South America)
Ecuador (South America)
Peru (South America)
Venezuela (South America)

Note: This information is based on publications available through Tropicos and may not represent the entire distribution. Tropicos does not categorize distributions as native or non-native.
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Localities documented in Tropicos sources

Banisteria quitensis Nied.:
Ecuador (South America)
Peru (South America)

Note: This information is based on publications available through Tropicos and may not represent the entire distribution. Tropicos does not categorize distributions as native or non-native.
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Localities documented in Tropicos sources

Banisteria caapi Spruce ex Griseb.:
Brazil (South America)
Colombia (South America)
Ecuador (South America)
Peru (South America)

Note: This information is based on publications available through Tropicos and may not represent the entire distribution. Tropicos does not categorize distributions as native or non-native.
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Physical Description

Type Information

Isotype for Banisteriopsis inebrians C.V. Morton
Catalog Number: US 1830419
Collection: Smithsonian Institution, National Museum of Natural History, Department of Botany
Verification Degree: Original publication and alleged type specimen examined
Preparation: Pressed specimen
Collector(s): G. Klug
Year Collected: 1931
Locality: Umbria., Putumayo, Colombia, South America
Elevation (m): 325 to 325
  • Isotype: Morton, C. V. 1931. J. Wash. Acad. Sci. 21: 485.
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Holotype for Banisteriopsis inebrians C.V. Morton
Catalog Number: US 1517293
Collection: Smithsonian Institution, National Museum of Natural History, Department of Botany
Verification Degree: Original publication and alleged type specimen examined
Preparation: Pressed specimen
Collector(s): G. Klug
Year Collected: 1931
Locality: Umbria., Putumayo, Colombia, South America
Elevation (m): 325 to 325
  • Holotype: Morton, C. V. 1931. J. Wash. Acad. Sci. 21: 485.
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Molecular Biology and Genetics

Molecular Biology

Statistics of barcoding coverage: Banisteriopsis caapi cf.

Barcode of Life Data Systems (BOLDS) Stats
Public Records: 0
Specimens with Barcodes: 2
Species With Barcodes: 1
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Wikipedia

Banisteriopsis caapi

Banisteriopsis caapi, also known as ayahuasca, caapi or yajé, is a South American jungle vine of the family Malpighiaceae. It is used to prepare ayahuasca, a decoction with a long history of entheogenic uses as a medicine and "plant teacher" among the indigenous peoples of the Amazon Rainforest. It contains harmine, harmaline, and tetrahydroharmine, all of which are both beta-carboline harmala alkaloids and MAOIs. The MAOIs in B. caapi allow the primary psychoactive compound, DMT (which is introduced from the other primary ingredient in ayahausca, the Psychotria viridis plant), to be orally active. The stems contain 0.11-0.83% beta-carbolines, with harmine and tetrahydroharmine as the major components.[2] Alkaloids are present in all parts of the plant.[3]

According to The CRC World Dictionary of Plant Names by Umberto Quattrocchi, the naming of B. caapi was actually dedicated to John Banister, a 17th-century English clergyman and naturalist. An earlier name for the genus Banisteriopsis was Banisteria, and the plant is sometimes referred to as Banisteria caapi in everyday usage.

The name ayahuasca means "vine of the soul" in Quechuan, and the shamans of the indigenous western Amazonian tribes use the plant in religious and healing ceremonies. In addition to its hypnotic effect, caapi is used for its healing properties as a purgative, effectively cleansing the body of parasites and helping the digestive tract.

Legal issues[edit]

Legality[edit]

Banisteriopis caapi flowers

In the United States, caapi is not specifically regulated. A recent court case involving caapi-containing ayahuasca (which also contains other plants containing the controlled substance DMT, introduced from the Psychotria viridis plant), Gonzales v. O Centro Espirita Beneficente Uniao do Vegetal, was found in favor of the União do Vegetal, a Brazilian religious sect using the tea in their ceremonies and having around 130 members in the United States.

In Australia, the harmala alkaloids are scheduled substances, including Harmine and harmaline, but the living vine, or other source plants are not in most states. On the State of Queensland as of March 2008 [4] this distinction is now uncertain. In all states the dried herb may or may not be considered a scheduled substance, dependent on court rulings.

In Canada, harmala is listed under the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act as a schedule III substance. The vine and the ayahuasca brew are legal ambiguities, since nowhere in the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act is it stated that natural material containing a scheduled substance is illegal, a position supported by the United Nations International Narcotics Control Board.[5]

Caapi, as well as a range of harmala alkaloids, were recently scheduled in France, following a court victory by the Santo Daime religious sect allowing use of the tea due to it not being a chemical extraction and the fact that the plants used were not scheduled. Religious exceptions to narcotics laws are not allowed under French law, effectively making any use or possession of the tea illegal.

For more legal information, see Ayahuasca.

Patent issues[edit]

The caapi vine itself has been the subject of a dispute between U.S. entrepreneur Loren Miller and the Coordinating Body of Indigenous Organizations of the Amazon Basin (COICA). In 1986, Miller obtained a US patent on a variety of B. caapi.[6] COICA argued the patent was invalid because Miller's variety had been previously described in the University of Michigan Herbarium, and was therefore neither new nor distinct.[7] The patent was overturned in 1999; however, in 2001, the United States Patent Office reinstated the patent because the law at the time the patent was granted did not allow a third party such as COICA standing to object. The Miller patent expired in 2003. B. caapi is now being cultivated commercially in Hawaii.

Alkaloids[edit]

See also[edit]

Cultural references[edit]

The 2011 novel, Plant Teacher, explores how the use of caapi transforms the life of one narcotourist. [8]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Banisteriopsis caapi information from NPGS/GRIN". www.ars-grin.gov. Retrieved 2008-05-04. 
  2. ^ a b c d Callaway, J. C.; Brito, Glacus S.; Neves, Edison S. (June 2005). "Phytochemical analyses of Banisteriopsis caapi and Psychotria viridis". Journal of Psychoactive Drugs 37 (2): 145–150. doi:10.1080/02791072.2005.10399795. PMID 16149327.  Closed access [1]
  3. ^ Ayahuasca: alkaloids, plants & analogs
  4. ^ http://www.legislation.qld.gov.au/LEGISLTN/ACTS/2008/08AC004.pdf
  5. ^ https://www.erowid.org/chemicals/ayahuasca/images/archive/ayahuasca_law_undcp_fax1.jpg
  6. ^ U.S. Patent PP5,751
  7. ^ "Situation of the patent for Ayahuasca". 7 July 2003. Retrieved 10 June 2011. 
  8. ^ Alethia, Caroline. Plant Teacher. Viator. United States. (2011) ISBN 1468138391. ASIN B006QAECNO.
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