M.B. Leal, E. Elisabetsky /Journal gf Ethnopharmacology 54 (1996) 37 40
in Colombia, and inBrazil as
Caapi, Santo Daime
The significance of including
speciesin this beverage has been elucidated from thechemical and psychopharmacological points ofview.
contains 13-carbolines (in particularharmine, harmaline, and tetrahydroharmine),while the beverage also contains N,N-dimethyl-tryptamine (DMT). DMT, as well as othertryptamine derivatives, is a potent hallucinogenoften found in several indigenous snuffs (Holmst-edt and Lindgren, 1979). Nevertheless, DMT isinactive orally due to degradation by peripheralmonoamine oxidase (MAO). The [3-carbolines,however, have been shown to be highly activereversible inhibitors of MAO, as well as hallucino-genic when ingested in significant amounts. More-over, these [3-carbolines may protect DMT fromperipheral MAO deamination, meriting DMTpresence in a beverage prepared for oral use(McKenna et al., 1984; Schultes and Rauffauf,1990). According to Rivier and Lindgren (1972),the analysis of leaves of both
revealed substantial amounts ofDMT and traces of N-monomethyltryptamine(MMT) and 2-methyl- 1,2,3,4-tetrahydro-13-carboline (MTHC); the analysis of
re-vealed [3-carbolines (harmine, harmaline and te-trahydroharmine) and, in addition, harmol and6-methoxytryptamine (6-MeO-T).McKenna et al. (1984) reported an interestingaspect of
folk taxonomy. Most
identify the 'proper'
(ver-nacular term for
suitable for inclusionin the mixture, as those possessing
(spines),tiny spine-like extensions of the mid-rib on theabaxial surface of the leaf. These appear to beslightly swollen glandular structures which may beequivalent to the 'dolmatia' found in some
spp. These tiny dolmatia-like structures werepointed out by the
interviewed asthe key taxonomic feature used to differentiate
the latter considered of novalue for the beverage. Accordingly in their analy-sis, all of the
samples that pos-sessed these structures contained DMT. The singlespecimen which lacked these structures did notcontain tryptamines, nor other alkaloids.McKenna et al. (1984) suggested that this specimenmay correspond to
al-though the collection was sterile and the identifica-tion therefore tentative.This study provides additional chemical andpharmacological data on
that may be useful in clarifying the long lastingdebate concerning its chemical profile and use inthe hallucinogenic beverage
2. Materials and methods
2.1. Plant materialP. carthagenensis
Jacq. (Rubiaceae) was col-lected in Pedro Os6rio (RS, Brazil) and identifiedby Mr E.A. Salazar. A voucher specimen (ICN98863) has been deposited at the herbarium of theBotany Department, University Federal do RioGrande do Sul, Porto Alegre.
2.2. Preparation of extract
Dried (30°C) milled leaves (10 g) were extractedby reflux with 80% ethanol for 60 min and filteredthrough a Bfichner funnel. The procedure wasrepeated, the resulting filtrates combined and con-centrated under reduced pressure (40°C). The driedethanol extract (2.9 g) was screened for alkaloidsby precipitation tests with Draggendorf's,Bertrand's, Bouchadart's and Mayer's reagents(Costa, 1972: Matos, 1980).
2.3. Pharmacological evaluation
Male adult Swiss mice, 25-30 g (food and water'ad libitum'), were used throughout the study.
2.3.1. Hypothermic effect
Protocols were based on Dalmmeier and Car-lini (1981). Groups of four mice were treated (i.p.)with saline, Tween, or extract (100, 350 and 500mg/kg). Body temperature, measured by insertingthe sensor probe of a digital thermometer into therectum (1 cm), was recorded before drug treat-ment (time 0) and 15, 30, 60 and 120 rain afterdrug administration. Room temperature was