The Banisteriopsis muricata (Red Vine) is a mysterious sacred vine that is very hard to find. It took us over a year of searching, asking around and praying before we were introduced to a Shuar community in the Ecuadorian Amazon who allowed us to share this healing plant. Since then, we are proud to sustainably harvest the Red vine in cooperation with learned Shuar healers.
Traditionally, the Banisteriopsis muricata vine is harvested and shredded by pounding small sections with a stone. Other than drying, the vine does not go through any additional treatment.
Among indigenous peoples of the Amazon, Banisteriopsis muricata is called ‘Ayahuasca de los brujos’ or ‘Ayahuasca of the sorcerers’. In Kichwa, the word Ayahuasca means ‘Vine of the Soul’.
Many tribes native to the Amazon region regard Banisteriopsis muricata
as a ‘plant of the gods’
. Known as a Master Plant Teacher, this giant woody vine grows in the lush Amazon rainforest of Perú, Ecuador, Colombia and Brazil. Known most commonly for its healing power, this vine is richly steeped in cultural mythology and tradition. Although it is revered internationally, it is still considered to be a very mysterious plant. It is arguably one of the most fascinating and culturally rich plants on earth.
Shamans of the Amazon claim they can achieve altered states of consciousness just by using this single plant. There are approximately 70+ tribes who have traditionally used this vine for various purposes, including healing, spiritual sight, foretelling the future and divination. People praise it for its deep cleansing effect on the body as a purgative. It also cleanses the mind, heart and recharges the energy field of the user. This emblematic vine speaks of the breadth of botanical knowledge held by these tribal people.
The vine grows plentifully in the Amazon rainforest in Ecuador, close to the border with Perú. The root grows well in a rich, moist soil, with partial shade to full sun. The plant twines on other trees for support. Its leaves are broad and have little hairs on the underside that gives them an ethereal, silvery appearance. Flowers are white or pale pink but the plant is seldom seen in bloom. The rich red color it produces when harvested gives the plant its name, Red Ayahuasca. The leaves are also slightly different: the B. muricata leaves are smaller and have a slightly different structure. Interestingly, another characteristic that sets these two species of vines apart is that there are two different types of ants who inhabit each vine.
Banisteriopsis muricata is one of the main ingredients of Ayahuasca, a mixture used for thousands of years by various tribes of the Amazon. This brew has a long history of use as an entheogen and as a remedy.
Native Amazonian peoples have identified more than 20 varieties of Banisteriopsis
caapi , B. muricata
being closely related to them. B. muricata
has very similar effects to the Banisteriopsis caapi,
or Yellow vine
. The difference is that B. muricata
is considered to be stronger and more purgative.
The stem of the vine contains various chemical components such as harmine, harmaline and tetrahydroharmine. These components are classified as MAOIs, or monoamine oxidase inhibitors. Scientific research reports the vines to have approximately 0.11-0.83% beta-carboline, the majority of which is harmaline and tetrahydroharmine.