Our yellow Banisteriopsis Caapi (one of the main ingredients of ayahuasca) comes from the land of a Quechua (Kichwa) family in the Rio Napo area in Ecuador. Wouter and Laura met them and they felt a mutual connection. They were invited to their land, which is a few hours from where Wouter and Laura live. This family are the keepers from a long lineage of a sacred ceremonial cave with a waterfall inside. On their ancestral land surrounding the cave the vines are sustainably cultivated and harvested. For each plant that is harvested, they replant over ten vines. The vines are all dried by the sun and had no further treatment.
Master Plant Teacher
Many tribes regard Banisteriopsis caapi also known as Ayahuasca as a plant of the gods. Known as a Master Plant Teacher, this giant woody vine grows in the lush Amazon rainforest of Peru, Ecuador, Colombia and Brazil, with many curious characteristics and properties that has drawn worldwide attention. It belongs to the Malpighiaceae family and has been traditionally used by countless South American tribes inhibiting the Amazon for thousands of years. 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, though arguably one of the most fascinating and culturally rich plants on earth.
The vine possesses a rather distinct appearance, with a circular twisting shape that bears many branches and leaves. It has been recorded to grow on average of 40 ft in height! The leaves of the caapi are opposite, green, oval-shaped, pointed on the end and are smooth. The flowers are petite (12-14mm in diameter and 2.5-3mm long) with a white to pinkish color when in full bloom. They are indeed a special and rare sight to see. Small fan-like seeds are produced that are green in color when fresh and fade to a brown when dried. It thrives in humus-rich and moist soil, with lots of water such as in warm tropical environments.
Properties of Banisteriopsis Caapi
The deep brown stems are filled with various chemical constituents. Harmine, harmaline and tetrahydroharmine are among a few, and are classified as harmala alkaloids and MAOI’s. Scientific analysis has identified the vines to constitute approximately 0.11-0.83% beta-carboline, with the majority being the harmaline and tetrahydroharmaline. The vine also contains several alkaloids.
Traditionally speaking and in some remote areas of the jungle today, a tea of the vine is decocted and used to treat a wide variety of illnesses. The decoction can also be massaged into the skin. Young Waorani boys have the powder blown into the lungs through a bird windpipe, and is said to give the child powerful lungs and the strength to become a great hunter.
As the discovery and exploration of the traditional use of Ayahuasca grew, it became known for its telepathic powers; initially the psychoactive alkaloid was called telepathine, which is now known as harmaline. When this root was used on its own, it produces mood-enhancing and sedative effects. In stronger doses, the harmaline can produce, nausea, vomiting and shivering.