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Transworld Research Network 37/661 (2), Fort P.O. Trivandrum-695 023 Kerala, India
The Ethnopharmacology of Ayahuasca, 2011: 1-21 ISBN: 978-81-7895-526-1 Editor: Rafael Guimarães dos Santos
1. Indigenous and mestizo use of ayahuasca. An overview
Wasiwaska, Research Center for the Study of Psychointegrator Plants Visionary Art and Consciousness, Florianópolis, Brazil
Luis Eduardo Luna
Abstract. Ayahuasca, a psychotropic beverage used by numerous indigenous groups of the Upper Amazon, the Orinoco Basin and the Pacific Lowlands of Colombia and Ecuador, has an important role in their medico-religious, artistic and social lives. Its use was later incorporated in healing ceremonies among the mestizo population of Peru, Ecuador and Colombia. This chapter presents an overview of such uses among some indigenous groups as well as that of contemporary practitioners in the Peruvian Amazon region.
It is my intention to give an overview of indigenous use of ayahuasca, and a discussion on the so-called vegetalismo phenomenon among the mestizo population of the Peruvian Amazon. I will also add a brief commentary about
Correspondence/Reprint request: Dr. Luis Eduardo Luna, Wasiwaska, Research Center for the Study of Psychointegrator Plants, Visionary Art and Consciousness. Florianópolis, Brazil E-mail: email@example.com and www.wasiwaska.org
Luis Eduardo Luna
the so-called “ayahuasca tourism” phenomenon. The part related to the indigenous realm is mostly based on written sources, as my first-hand experience was limited to short stays with few indigenous groups1. The part related to vegetalismo is mostly based on my own fieldwork during 19801988. I was unfortunately not able to fully examine an excellent recent in study on the phenomenon by Beyer.
2. Part I: Indigenous use of ayahuasca
2.1. European perception of sacred plants in the Americas Although Europeans learned very early about the use of psychotropic plants among the indigenous population of the Americas, they ignored their properties, with exception of tobacco. These plants were used in a spiritual/religious context, a realm that in Spain was in the hands of the Catholic Church, which judged them as vehicles of communication with the Devil, a perception that basically has not changed in our contemporary world, in which Amerindian sacred plants have been, with exceptions, criminalized. The first book written in Spanish in the New World (1497-8) was the Chronicle of Catalan friar Ramón Pané’s, at the orders of Columbus, and partially dedicated to the description of the believes and ceremonies of the Taíno, on the island of La Española (now-a-days Haiti and Santo Domingo), an indigenous population originally from the Orinoco region who populated the Antilles, taking with them the use of cohoba (Anadenanthera peregrina). Pané was the first European to describe how their shamans “came out of their minds” to communicate with the cenis or spirits. Juan Cárdenas, a chronicler, wrote on 1591 in reference to peyotl (Lophophora williamsii) that the natives who eat it “lose their senses, see visions of terrifying sights like the devil, and are able to prophesy their future with ‘satanic trickery’”. In a religious manual of 1760 there were questions that equated the eating of peyote with cannibalism.
From the onset I have to point out that my personal experience with indigenous use of ayahuasca is restricted to one session – for me life changing – with Don Apolinar Jacanamijoy, an Ingano “taita” whom I knew since childhood, and his son Roberto Jacanamijoy; one period of a month in the Sibundoy Valley with two Kamsá shamans, Don Salvador Chindoy and Don Miguel Chindoy, father and son; another month in Santa Rosa de Pirococha, a Shipibo small settlement, under the care of Don Basilio Gordon; perhaps half a dozen sessions with Don Benito Arévalo, a Shipibo, and later a few with his son Don Guillermo Arévalo; finally two weeks with a Campa shaman in Rio Palcazú, when I was in isolation doing the diet. The rest of my fieldwork, carried out during 1981-1988, was with mestizo practitioners.
Indigenous and mestizo use of ayahuasca
There was a similar perception by the religious authorities regarding ayahuasca. One of the earliest sources is from Father José Chantre y Herrera in his history of the Jesuit missions from the late seventeen and early eighteen centuries, who speaks about a “diabolic brew”. Missionaries of the Montfortian Congregation, most of them Dutchmen, established in 1914 among the Tukano, Desana, and Pira-Tapuka of the Papurí River immediately prohibited the use of yajé and destroyed most of its ritual paraphernalia. This persecution by the part of religious missionaries comes to our days. In the mid eighties I heard similar stories in the Peruvian Amazon as carried out by members of the Summer Institute of Linguistics, and in the nineties near Manaus, Brazil, a group of Tukanos complained to me that Salesian missionaries prohibit them to take caapi. 2.2. A question of terminology The Quichua term ayahuasca (also spelled ayawaska), from aya = spirit, ancestor and waska = vine, is not precise. In contemporary literature it is used to refer to the concoction of Banisteriopsis caapi plus Psychotria viridis. It is also sometimes used to refer to a beverage – a concoction or a cold infusion – made of B. caapi plus Diplopterys cabrerana (known as chagropanga, chiripanga or other vernacular names), which is locally known as yajé (also spelled yagé). To complicate matters both the term ayahuasca and yajé are used to refer to Banisteriopsis caapi by itself. I propose to use the term ayahuasca, common in Peru, Bolivia, Brazil and parts of Ecuador, when referring to the first preparation. The term yajé will designate the second preparation. We use the term caapi when referring to a preparation made only of Banisteriopsis caapi, as well as to the plant itself. Given that this vine is the essential element, when referring to the whole phenomenon I will talk about the caapi complex. It is relevant to point out that indigenous groups distinguish several “kinds” of vines to refer to what western botanists see as just one species. This means they have a much more refined taxonomy, based not only on the morphology of the plant, but also on its effects, which may differ according to the type of soils it grows, the part of the plant used, the season and the moon in which the vine is harvested, and other factors. Langdon examined yajé classification among the Siona of the Colombian southeast. There hasnot been, as far as I know, any inter-ethnic comprehensive study focusing on the vernacular taxonomy of Banisteriopsis caapi. We have to view the caapi complex in the context of the use of other psychotropic plants, such as tobacco, Anadenanthera and Virola snuffs, as well
Importance of the caapi complex Richard Evans Schultes (1915-2001). They are specialists in the pharmacology of consciousness. in peace and war. or when this might have happened. The point of dispersion of the use of Banisteriopsis caapi is not known. and it is still expanding.13].4 Luis Eduardo Luna as other plants. In the early nineties I heard that natives of Marajó. No fieldwork in this area has been carried out on this subject. villages and tribes. nay. 2. No doubt many Amazonian indigenous groups have a great interest in mindaltering plants. In Brazil religious organizations that use ayahuasca as a sacrament call it either santo daime or vegetal. and I saw it being cultivated for this purpose at an Umbanda center in Porto Velho. overwhelming. A bibliographical investigation in 1986 resulted in references to the use of B. . role”. in hunting and in agriculture. This list is most probably not exhaustive. plays roles not only in health and sickness. It reaches into prenatal life. at home and in travel. operates during earthly existence. Ayahuasca and yajé have many other vernacular names[10. where caapi hallucinogens do not play a vital.3. caapi with or without additives among seventy-two indigenous groups belonging to several linguistic families. 2 For a comprehensive discussion of the botany of ayahuasca see Ott[8. Caapi truly enters into every aspect of living. The origin of its use may forever remain a mystery. with religious/spiritual significance2. summarizes thus the importance of caapi among Indian tribes: “Probably no other New World hallucinogen – even peyote – alters consciousness in ways that have been so deeply and completely evaluated and interpreted. even outside of the Amazon area. to be used for herbal baths. influences life after death. psychotropic or not. caapi has been adopted in later times by some of these groups. Bravec de Mori argues for the relative recent introduction of ayahuasca south of Iquitos. one can name hardly any aspect of living or dying. but in relations between individuals. a pioneer in the study of Amazonian psychoactive plants. in the Brazilian State of Rondônia. wakefulness or sleep. The use of B. In fact.9]. for example among the Guarani of southern Brazil. We have no evidence of indigenous group using ayahuasca outside the Upper Amazon. the large island located at the mouth of the Amazon River (no specific ethnic group was named) sold Banisteriopsis caapi to Umbanda (an Afro-Brazilian religion) centers.
each getting his own kind of yajé. The woman left the maloca while the men were preparing cashiri beer and gave birth to the yajé vine in the form of the a radiant child. Here a highly abbreviated form based on the narratives he collected: It happened in the beginning of time. and losing their senses. caapi. In all cases. the men becoming dizzy. in the daily life of the individual or of the group. in the House of Waters. the first maloca [communal house]. Here two examples. and which was recited in many ceremonies. It would seem. the Master of Yajé. acquires great importance. had come with the men. when Anaconda-Canoe was ascending the rivers to settle mankind. an agriculturist indigenous group that lived in relative isolation when Reichel-Dolmatoff collected it in the late sixties. When Steven White and I were preparing Ayahuasca Reader: Encounter with the Amazon’s Sacred Vine . We did not find any myth referring solely either to Psychotria viridis or Diplopterys cabrerana. whose studies of the Tukano indigenous groups of the Colombian Vaupés threw new light to the role of caapi in those societies. and which give their identity to various groups within the Tukano and the rules by which to live. It is not surprising that the origin of caapi is found in the myths3. by a roaring and foaming fall. 3 . The others grabbed him by his fingers. The woman asked: “Who is the father of this child”? One man had kept a clear head. The first myth is from the Tukano of the Colombian Vaupés territory. and with the sharp edge he cut the umbilical cord. the ancestors of the Tukano. arms and legs. yajé is thought to provide a means of being transported to another dimension of consciousness. a knowledge of aboriginal culture is impossible”. This is interesting given that it is the admixture plants that contain the visionary alkaloid (DMT). a large piece. Yajé woman. which is why yajé comes in the shape of a vine. the blood of childbirth. we noticed that the indigenous myths we found were referring to B. She was impregnated through the eye by the intense yellow light of the Sun Father. the first woman of creation. that without exploring this dimension. seeing red colors. it seems. She then enters the maloca with her child. He took one of his copper earrings and broke it in a half. which.Indigenous and mestizo use of ayahuasca 5 Reichel-Dolmatoff. and from the violent frenzy of warriors to ecstatic religious experiences. then. He said: “I am his father”. tearing him into peaces. wrote the following: “The use to which these hallucinatory trances are put by the different Indian tribes varies from curing rituals to initiation ceremonies. the phallus.
One day the snake people were going to take nishi pai (ayahuasca) and his wife warned him against taking it. took three pieces of fruit and threw them in the water. When he drank the brew he became afraid and cried: “The snakes are swallowing me”. nor was able to sleep. his youngest son. An anaconda rose from the lake and as she left the water turned into a beautiful woman. When Yube went back home he did not eat any of the food his wife had prepared. and as the woman came out he tried to lay her down. his mind on the beautiful woman he had seen. took a genipap fruit in his mouth and threw it to the lake. got hold of his big toe. her body covered by genipap designs. He agreed. his kin rescued him. and he lived there for a whole year hiding from the snakes. but his bones were broken. Yube got used to living with the anacondas. She had him climb on her back and took him to her family in the lake. He slipped into a stream and a snake. He went to the forest where he met the little fish that told him he was in great danger. Yube explained why he had come. The next morning he went to the lake. and his snake wife gulped down his whole body until his armpits. as the snakes were going to kill him. used by indigenous groups to paint their bodies]. but he insisted he would take it. He wanted to know when he was going to die and asked them to bring all sorts of vines and leaves until he . They made love. The woman resisted and transformed into the anaconda. almost suffocating him. gave him food. The woman said that she was looking for a husband. Here in an abridged form. There are several variations on this myth. work for his father-in-law and made three children with her wife. the abode of Father Sun is in ahpikondiá. and lied saying he was single. and the woman squeezed the sap of a leaf in his eyes so that he would not be afraid. and the source from which all life springs and to which the souls of the virtuous return after the body’s death. The snake people were offended and nobody wanted to speak with him any longer. the underworld. While he was hiding a tapir arrived. He went with his father-in-law to collect the vine and the leaves. the ancestor of the Cashinahua. If he wanted to make love to her he had to live with her in the lake. nor gave him food. made love to her. The fish put the juice from a leaf in Yube’s eye and took him to a stream where his previous wife use to go to cry for him since he disappearance three years ago. An underwater origin of nishi pai (ayahuasca) is found among the Cashinawa and other indigenous groups of the Pano linguistic family of the Peruvian and Brazilian Amazon. She recognized him.6 Luis Eduardo Luna Even though at first sight we would have among the Tukano a heavenly origin of caapi. went hunting by a lake not far from a genipap tree [Genipa americana. He cried for help. based on a narrative collected by Lagrou in the Purus River: Yube. He went to the forest to find genipap to paint his newborn child but it rained and the rivers began to rise. Then his oldest daughter swallowed his whole foot. Then a child was born.
reveal huge cultural Here the original Spanish text: “En este pueblo estaba una casa de placer. Numerous geoglyphs in Acre. He was buried and kawa leaves [Psychotria viridis] came out of his eyes and four kinds of vine grew from his limbs. reveal perhaps large human populations. porque es toda vidriada y esmaltada de todas colores y tan vivas que espantan. in the Bolivian Amazon. dentro de la cual había mucha loza de diversas hechuras. which Fray Gaspar de Carvajal in 1513 praised as “the best in the world. His people prepared the drink but did not know the songs. better than those of Malaga”4. but who had listened carefully. huge areas were dedicated to raised agricultural fields. The botanical distribution of Banisteriopsis caapi encompasses a huge area. remember the songs. in the Brazilian Amazon. who learned how to make it. During three nights he sang the songs he had learned from the snake people and then he died. demolishing the theory that the Amazon had not enough protein to sustain large human populations[17. Certainly the astonishing ceramics found along the Amazon River (for example those of Santarem and Marajó). but we have no certainty. así de tinajas como de cántaros muy grandes de más de veinti cinco arrobas. Recent studies are showing that large areas of the Amazon Basin were probably heavily populated. and it is easily cultivated. y demás desto los dibujos y pinturas que en ellas hacen son tan compasados que naturalmente labran y dibujan todo como lo romano”. Extensive areas of the so-called terra preta do indio. as the earliest unequivocal record is from the eighteen century.18]. as exemplify by the use of pildé. reveal habitation – and therefore resources – in areas paradoxically now dedicated to cattle ranching. one of the vernacular names given to the beverage. by indigenous groups of the Pacific lowlands of Colombia and Peru. one of the Brazilian organizations using ayahuasca. In Beni. A variation of this myth was later incorporated as the central myth of the União do Vegetal. Among Záparo and Peruvian mestizo vegetalistas the origin of the two plants involved in the preparation of ayahuasca come from the bones and blood (or simply from the grave) of a human being. as the plant could not have migrated naturally across the Andes Mountains. porque la de Málaga no se iguala con ella. The fact there are such myths may indicate that the caapi complex is probably old. dikes and reservoirs and fishcorralling fences.Indigenous and mestizo use of ayahuasca 7 recognized the right ones to prepare nishi pai. 69) 4 . One of the boys who had not taken the brew with the ancestor. anthropogenic soils of extraordinary quality for intense cultivation. where it must have been introduced. (p. y otras vasijas pequeñas como platos y escudillas y candeleros desta loza de la mejor que se ha visto en el mundo. which is the reason why the Cashinahua know these songs. He gave his people the brew.
the avoidance of sex. They are therefore the recipients of the myths. As far as I know there has been no identification of what drink these ceramics may have contained. Gifted individuals may establish alliances with spiritual forces and interact for the benefit (or detriment) of others.8 Luis Eduardo Luna sophistication. and normally invisible and intelligent forces. such as ayahuasca. and recitations. depends on finding the proper balance in this complex reality. Sacred plants. They are both knowledgeable of their natural environment as the masters of complex normally unseen supernatural realms. fifes and other musical instruments. and spells. songs. which implies dietary restrictions. narratives. accompanied by rattles. interested in plants and animals. They have clear visions when under the influence of sacred plants. These are the shamans or payés.5. The preservation of the individual and the community. 2. They undergo especial training.4. both feared and seek for when the situation thus requires it. weather conditions. between the world of nature and human creation on one side. They are curious. On one hand there are the great collective ceremonies involving one or more exogamic units which involve dancing. or are able to shed light upon the visions and experiences of others. singing. powerful objects. and which emphasizes the divine origin of their social laws. Indigenous spirituality and shamanism Indigenous ayahuasca use can only be understood within the context of indigenous spirituality. natural phenomena and the traditions of his community. They are intellectuals and humanists. sojourns with shamans of neighboring indigenous groups and the acquisition of helping spirits. facilitate the perception of such complexity. also the ceremonies connected with the individuals life cycle such as initiations . What role Banisteriopsis caapi may have had in culturally diverse pre-Columbian Amazon we don’t know. According to its worldview there is an underlying spiritual aspect to everything that exists. They are able to interpret natural phenomenon finding hints that reveal the development of unseen forces that determine human existence. flutes. and therefore human action. an intimate relationship and even dependency between the seen and the unseen. 2. magical arrows and metaphors that help them in their practice. Near Santarem were found beautifully made ceramics with the jaguar and other shamanic motives in which a small drink was used obviously ceremonially. Types of rituals Reichel-Dolmatoff pointed out that among the Tukano there are two kinds of caapi rituals.
referring to the Shuar of the Ecuadorian Amazon. and can only be accessed through the psychedelic experience. and the Pacific lowlands of Colombia. such as healing and divination. This will give us an idea of the range of uses among the indigenous populations of the Amazon and Orinoco Basins. He also indicated that in the Vaupés only Banisteriopsis caapi was used in collective rituals. according to Goldman. with the neurosciences. points out that the true forces behind daily life are in the supernatural realm. the true reality. Banisteriopsis rusbyana (and old name for Diplopterys cabrerana) was also added. and caapi is used primarily to enter into contact with the ancestors. in which “special effects” are desirable. For the Cubeo. taken from indigenous groups belonging to several linguistic families and cultural subdivisions (hunter gatherers. related to ancestor cults. Uses of the caapi complex Many publications have dealt in one way or another with the use of yajé/ayahuasca by indigenous groups. with external influences.Indigenous and mestizo use of ayahuasca 9 and burials. so that differentiation is difficult.7. Harner. while in shamanic séances. I will rather present the main uses. Collective rituals taking place in 1923 were described by Karsten among the Shuar of Ecuador. in the sessions of mestizo ayahuasqueros. Contact with the primordial spiritual realm The main function of ayahuasca/yajé is to enter into contact with the unseen side of reality. and some of them are deeply intertwined. Not all elements are necessarily present in each indigenous group. 2. It is not my intention to summarize here such studies. savanna dwellers. Due to the missionary activity and other western influences. On the other hand the more intimate sessions devoted to shamanic practices. 2.). etc. . Harner calls this modified state of consciousness “shamanic state of consciousness”. Winkelman proposes the term “integrative consciousness” using a highly convincing neurophenomenological approach to shamanism that bridges the realm traditionally found within anthropological and religious studies. particularly those related to victory feasts. and involving just a few individuals. agriculturists. and in 1934 by Goldman among the Cubeo of the Colombian Vaupés region. finding game or learning about the plans of the enemy during warfare. the exaltation of intoxication and frenzied emotional experience is sacred. and above all the ancestor-communication Yuruparí ceremonies. It is the intimate shamanic use that has been preserved and transformed.6. most collective rituals do not exist any longer.
music. Since they insist that they sometimes come to know death while under the influence of the drug. the rupture of the placenta. a common motive found in shamanistic traditions globally. In some cases the shamans may become other great predators. and resurrection. Transformation and communication with the animal and plant world A common motive in shamanism everywhere is transformation into an animal to perform certain tasks. according to Langdon[25. death.26]. the Tukanos take caapi to effect this transport. or an animal or a plant may adopt anthropomorphic features to communicate with humans. The process of entering the other side of reality may be experienced in terms of dismembering. one that presupposes the possibility of perceiving the world from the point of view of a non-human creature. separating him from his mother’s placenta. the Tukanos consider the return to the cosmic uterus as an anticipation of death which permits contact with the divinity or visitation with the source and origin of all things”. In the Amazonian region one of the main shamanic motives is that of jaguar transformation. take the assembly into specific region of their cosmos. especially to attack enemies. smells and colors. the shaman conducting the ritual. These three animals crown the Amazonian trophic pyramid. A related metaphor is found among the Kamsá of the Colombian Putumayo. 2. even though difficult to .8. In the case of the Siona. such as the harpy eagle and the anaconda. Drinking caapi is often interpreted as returning to the ‘cosmic uterus’. Reichel-Dolmatoff writes the following: “Recognizing that the individual must pass from one dimension of existence – or cosmic plane – to another to communicate with the spiritual or invisible world.10 Luis Eduardo Luna Traveling to other dimensions and helping others to undertake without danger journeys to the other side of reality is the specialty of the shaman. rhythms. each characterized by its particular sounds. We are here confronted with a radically different epistemology. After birth the baby’s umbilical chord is severed. yajé is like a new umbilical chord connecting the person to the whole cosmos. The trip represents to them the process of birth and breaking through the wall that separates the two cosmic planes and signifies. something which cannot be rejected as a totally far-fetched way of thinking. according to anthropological studies. The shaman may either transform into an animal. through his songs. According to their view. Referring to the Tukano of the Colombian Vaupés.
protecting his community but at the same time attacking its enemies. whether enemies are planning an attack against them. He then adds the following commentary: “By this kind of divination they try to find out what dangers are threatening the family. seizes whatever arms are at hand. calling out all the while. to find out about relatives in distant places. Given that illness is usually thought as the result of the action of an animated agent. a DMT containing snuff prepared from the sap of Virola species. due to prejudices. It is used to locate animals in the forest. who use vihó. A dialogue of worldviews is needed. one that goes beyond ethnographic curiosity and which accepts that other approaches to reality are indeed possible. where he inflicts violent blows on the ground or the doorposts.Indigenous and mestizo use of ayahuasca 11 comprehend without direct experience of the states of consciousness in which it is based. or through helping spirit animals. Ayahuasca/yajé is used to diagnosis and to look for the deeper cause of illness. Often medicinal plants are collected under certain dietary conditions. bow and arrows. and rushes to the doorway. The shaman has the double role of healer and sorcerer. songs and incantations are usually essential. to know the cause or etiology of illness. Spruce described in 1852 how the person who has taken caapi would “bursts into a perspiration. blowing tobacco smoke over the patient or over the medicinal plants used. or by sending back the illness to the person who sent it. Western science. ‘Thus would I do to mine enemy . either by transforming into a jaguar. Sucking. 2. whether they will be successful in their own undertakings. Sometimes also the patient may take it to contribute to find the etiology of the ailment. and so forth”. is largely totally ignorant about the possibility of acquiring actual information about the natural world in non-ordinary states of consciousness. for example before dawn and without having eaten anything. When Karsten asked the Shuar why they drink natéma. or cutlass. to get to know the plans of the enemies. healing and warfare Getting information from other realms is indeed one of the main functions of the caapi complex. Divination. fighting it is part of the healing process. Some indigenous groups may use it in conjunction with other plants.9. whether evil sorcerers are operating against them. his murucú. he got the following answer: “It is in order that the people may not die away”. Such is the case of the Tukano. as well as after invoking the spirits of the plants or making offerings to them. etc. It seems that among some indigenous groups caapi was used with warfare. and seems possessed with reckless fury.
I regret being unable to tell what is the peculiar narcotic principle that produces such extraordinary effects. Could it be that the type of diet held has such a direct diverse effect among indigenous populations and more westernized participants? More studies are needed to elucidate this apparent anomaly. 2. in the beginning of the 20th century. paddles. Not keeping dietary prescriptions when hunting. when discussing with a Tukano of the Colombian Vaupés Territory the colorful designs on the exterior of one of the communal 5 It has always puzzled me the rapid reaction in the persons taking caapi described by Spruce. a missionary who worked among the Siona. called “yajé people” (yagé-pai) and who sing and play musical instruments. not paying respect to the spirits when approaching special places in the forest. in the sense that they deal with shamans and/or with experiences in the occult world when dreaming or taking yagé. Such rapids effects are not at all what I have observed throughout the years participating in yajé and ayahuasca rituals. Opium and hemp are its most obvious analogues.12 Luis Eduardo Luna naming him by his name) were were this he!5’” Calavia pointed out that Yaminahua memories of life before the pax branca (the peace imposed by whites). weapons. . “during these hallucinations the shaman and the other participants claim to see large crows of people. but caapi would operate on the nervous system far more rapidly and violently than either”.10. Acquisition of songs and designs In some indigenous groups there seem to be an intimate relationship between the experiences in other realms through yajé/ayahuasca and visual expressions in body painting and the patterns used in the ornamentation of communal houses. When the trance is over the men copy the design motifs of the body paint of these spirit-beings and use them to adorn their own faces”. According to Father Plácido de Calella. while also by reporting that most Siona narratives can be characterized as shamanic. suggest a conception of ayahuasca that might seem strange or perhaps even scandalous in another context: the plant-substance is a bloodthirsty agent associated with war and vengeance that eventually is tempered by the blood of a dead relative. may cause illness. stamping tubes. Langdon later confirmed this idea. having contact with menstruating women or childbearing women. Reichel-Dolmatoff. who wrote: “This is all I have seen and learnt of aya-huasca. It is also the instrument of an aggressive shamanism in which therapy is defense and counter-attack. where usually between half and hour and an hours pass before feeling the effects. ceramics. Songs and dances are also said to derive from experiences on the other side of this reality. and other objects.
maintaining an unseemly interest in sexual adventures. and the songs of the shaman restore their order and beauty. While doing fieldwork in Santa Rosa de Pirococha. Illness is the disruption of the patterns.. According to Reichel-Dolmatoff yajé gave the Tukano their life. This lack of thought manifests itself in such antisocial behavior as fighting with close kinsmen. A second stage would be marked with the onset of figurative representations. Karsten reports that among the . Healing is thus an aesthetic endeavor. The geometrical patterns would only represent the initial stage of neurophysiologic stimulation. the extraordinary designs that cover the ceramics. I asked Don Basilio Gordon. For the Aguaruna. it is not enough simply to know facts. 2. ReichelDolmatoff compared Tukano designs with phosphenes (light patterns originated within the eye and the brain) isolated by Knoll[6.11. “The similarities are such [he concludes] that there can be no doubt left: The decorative patterns of the Tukano are almost whole derived from druginduced inner light experiences”. are inspired by nishi-pai. attempting suicide. literally “without thought”) because they no longer undergo the rigorous training linked to the use of hallucinogenic plants. a shaman. the emotions. Brown[31. the rules by which they should live. their way of life. and the intellect in the epiphanous context of the visionary experience. A subsequent study of the patterns reveled that certain motifs had meaning. received the following explanation: “We see these things when we drink yajé”. Promotion of social order Caapi and other sacred plants are considered among some indigenous groups as promoting social order. He said that it is enough to know the songs of the plants to be able to cure.g. The Shipibo believe their bodies are covered by invisible designs.29]. about the plants he used to heal his patients. almost always phrased in terms of fertility symbolism. one must learn to think well by bringing together the body. skirts. and otherwise affronting traditional morality”. in turn culturally modeled. Among the Shipibo of the Ucayali River (Peru). but that they are often “stupid” (anentáimchau.32] referring to the Aguaruna of Peru writes: “Adults sometimes remark that their children control more knowledge (e. According to Gebhart-Sayer the shaman ascends to higher realms where he listens the melodies from the spirits and sing with them. Those songs have a visual manifestation that the women transmit in their art. and previously other material objects of this culture. the ability to read and write) because they attend school.Indigenous and mestizo use of ayahuasca 13 houses. The plants are needed only if you do not know their song. a Shipibo settlement by the Ucayali River.
made strong and clever for their different occupations and duties. war. the name given to plants with extraordinary properties. by drinking natéma. a vegetalista friend of his. The use of ayahuasca among the mestizo population of the Peruvian Amazon Although there has been missionary activity in the Amazon region since the middle of the 16th century. As an educated Westerner I think I was alone in this quest at that time. from vegetal. for the education of the children. for the care of the domestic animals. now at least one hundred years old. . Practitioners appeared conducting healing rituals in which indigenous Amazonian ideas and the use of ayahuasca (and other plants) were integrated with Andean and Christian beliefs. This is the so-called vegetalismo phenomenon. His teacher was Don Juan Hidalgo Nina. and for other domestic work incumbent on them”. also a mestizo. This took place before the current flux of westerners arriving to Iquitos in search for ayahuasca.14 Luis Eduardo Luna Shuar “both men and women are. such as ayahuasca. as well as their acquisition of knowledge. who lived a few kilometers away. in the south. and was the subject of my doctoral dissertation and several other publications[33. 3. fishing. My main informant and friend was Don Emilio Andrade Gómez. a mestizo vegetalista who lived 12 kilometers from Iquitos. Part II: Mestizo use of ayahuasca 3. Don Emilio took ayahuasca for the first time in 1937 at the age of fourteen. The great demand of rubber caused by the industrial revolution created chaos among indigenous populations. There was also a period of intense biological and cultural mixture of westerners and the indigenous people. many subjected to slavery and moved around to other Amazonian regions.1. I dedicated several years to the study of this tradition in the period between 1981-1988. For the Siona yagé is central to their notions of well being and health. at times (not always) drinking ayahuasca. I became a sort of apprentice. the latter for agriculture. As a mestizo (I was born in the Colombian Amazon. the greatest and most devastating western influence in this region took place during the so-called rubber booms in 1879-1912 and 1945-47. where he received patients Tuesdays and Fridays. of non-Amazonian parents) I was simply part of a tradition.. etc. the men for hunting. by the road that now connects the city with Nauta.34]. who in turn had Don José Benavides Sánchez as his teacher. as well as that of Don José Coral.
a sorcerer. those who learned from big trees in which ayahuasca may climb and grow.3. The bark or other plant of these trees may be added to the ayahuasca when it is being prepared. It is a process of purification that opens the contact to the spirits of the plants. as a result from an illness.2. 3. “o professor dos professors”. “o mestre de todos os ensinos”. catahua (Hura crepitans). a person may go into diet and isolation by himself (I use here the masculine. This term implies not only food restrictions. Initiation In order to learn from the plants it is necessary to dietar (maintain a certain diet). who have great reputation. specialized in the use of perfumes from certain plants in order to heal. Sometimes. and in the process becoming a healer. 6 The idea of ayahuasca as a teacher is present in Brazil among practitioners of Santo Daime. but also sexual segregation (if possible isolation. but there are also cases of female practitioners). It is often said that the initiate is first tempted by spirits to receive certain powers. There are also paleros (specialists in certain large trees.Indigenous and mestizo use of ayahuasca 15 3. Plant teachers For me the greatest discovery was the concept of plant-teachers. Within vegetalistas there are specialists in one or other plant. sugar. for example tabaqueros. or perfumeros. Vomiting is conceived as helping the purification process. the initiate may become a brujo. a little ayahuasquero. or solely in order to make the body strong. and just a little fish from time to time. or palos). plantains. plant-teachers. but there were others with greater powers. If the initiate refuse those powers and continue his training then he becomes a healer. hence the name vegetalista. The shaman is there first of all to protect the initiate. The initiate must abstain salt. plants that give knowledge6. and many others.). Don Emilio called them collectively as vegetales. toeros. clavohuasca (Tynanthus parunensis). Don Emilio use to say that he was only an “ayahuasquerito”. . He called these plants doctores: ojé (Ficus anthelmintica). Basically it should be manioc or rice. toé (Brugmansia sp. These plants can also be taken for medicinal purposes. or at least not having sexual intercourse) and certain ritual procedures. If taken. fruits and fish containing much fat. which refers to a person that has learned from those plants. or may be taken also independently. Don Emilio considered ayahuasca as one of many doctores. not necessarily to learn from them. ayahúman (Courupitas guianensis).
and ceremonies basically consist of a vegetalista singing during several hours his icaros. or in the dreams that follow such ingestion. Icaros must often are learned directly from the plants. A vegetalista may possess dozens of icaros. Illness may be also conceived as the result of soul loss due to fright or sorcery. healing is often associated with defense and counter-attack. the magic phlegm and concepts of illness In this tradition the essence of power and wisdom is in the icaros. often called a virote. etc. yausa or yachay. is part of the tools of the vegetalistas to elicit a psychosomatic response. which may be cause either by the intrusion of a pathogenic object. the songs the spirits of the plants (or other spirits) teach the initiate. or being forgotten due to some sort of sorcery from the part of envious practitioners. the temples. As in other traditions. Through certain songs – as is also the case with .4. They can be stolen from another person. a bundle made of Pariana leaves. in an area where powder often got wet making fire weapons unusable. to heal particular illnesses. often accompanied by a schacapa. Some practitioners may use certain stones. Icaros may have various functions. the top of the head. to give strength or to diminish the effects of ayahuasca. hiding an insect or a small thorn in the mouth and pretending it was extracted from the body of a patient. Protection is then necessary. Icaros. Since illness is conceived as caused by an animate agent – human or supernatural –. They may be invoked for protection. a tradition found among indigenous practitioners such as the Kamsá or Ingano in Colombia. This is said to be planted like a tree. the name given to the arrows Spaniards shot with their crossbows. to travel to specific places. growing inside the initiated to extract the illness from his patients. Sucking and blowing are essential elements in a healing session. their complexity often being an indication of his power.16 Luis Eduardo Luna 3. especially certain areas of the body such as the boca del estómago (solar plexus). to help in the extraction of illness. They may be also learned from other practitioners. either when taking ayahuasca or other plants. An icaro is always sung over the ayahuasca brew before taking it. Vegetalistas are particularly vulnerable during ayahuasca sessions. During initiation the neophyte may receive from his teacher (or from plant-spirits) a magic phlegm called mariri. particularly during the initiation period or when the vegetalista decides to spend time in isolation to replenish his healing energies. It is also possible to harvest those virotes and keep them in the phlegm for later use as a weapon. Icaros are an essential part of the work of a vegetalista. and along arms and legs. called encantos. Stories about practitioners being wounded or killed during such sessions abound. to call certain spirits. It is said that icaros my leave a person all-together to go into another one.
therianthropes. Chinese. The plasticity of Peruvian vegetalismo can be seen in the adoption of modern technology. benevolent or at times threatening. In all situations icaros are essential in the healing process as well as protecting the person from further attacks. etc. trains. or whirlpools may cause the illness. Spirits Seeing beings seems to be a universal feature of ayahuasca intake. animal protectors (Amazonian as well as lions. Don Emilio told me that the first time he took ayahuasca he saw luxurious cars. parabolic antennae.Indigenous and mestizo use of ayahuasca 17 the Shipibo of the Ucayali River – the person may be covered by an arkana.5. English. flying saucers. Spanish. Chileans. war airplanes. Often they communicate telepathically. They may be also animal. . or completely alien and believed to be of extraterrestrial origin or living in other realms within our world. described as some sort of metal shirt covering the body of a person. French. Japanese. It is also normal. Obviously. Unexpected encounters with spirits may cause fevers and even death. Their dresses may seem royal. the interior of the Earth. Spirits may adopt any shape. They may communicate with the language of radio. like described by Chevalier. etc. boats. with gestures or with words (less common). perfumes and certain plants. Whenever a new symbol of power emerges. to invoke Jesus and Mary. 3. thus protecting her from pathogenic darts. For example certain winds or vientos. He describes innovations like telephones. angels with swords. in the forest. their appearance depends on human culture. these doctors were from all places”. Americans. There are also ideas found in other parts of the Americas. The concept of illness may apply also to bad luck in business or in love. huge or small. and the like). and special ceremonies are held to treat those situations that include the use of magnets (to make the person attractive). soldiers with guns. for spiritual operations. as being used by nowadays Yagua “shamans” for communication with spirits. Later he saw “doctores” who came from all over the world: “They all came. syringes etc. or in “computer language” as reported by Beyer. ancient or futuristic. fully visible or composed of appearing and disappearing lights of any colors. as indigenous people or as people from any part of the world. elephants. especially in difficult situations. luminous. helicopters and peoples of all kinds. The adoption of modern technology has been observed by Chaumeil in contemporary Yagua medical practices. the bottom of lakes or rivers. it is easily incorporated in this highly syncretic tradition.
Mermaids may seduce men or pink dolphins may seduce women to take them into their world. areas where only Duroia hirsute grows. Obviously much had happened during this twenty-five year gap in which I had been absent. A comment on ayahuasca tourism I would like to end with a brief commentary on the phenomenon currently known as “ayahuasca tourism”. and the Yakumama or mother of the water. The water realm is especially powerful. Two giant serpents preside those two realms: the Sachamama or mother of the forest. especially around Iquitos. People arriving to Iquitos are empty souls looking for a high. New studies have emerged. the visionary agent present in both Psychotria viridis and Diplopterys cabrerana is an illegal substance. Having done fieldwork (and experiential training) in that area in the early eighties. a small tree that through its chemistry prevents the growth of other plants nearby. most notably those of Dobkin de Rios. If this spirit is offended he may produce dangerous storms or make people sick. They are ambivalent with respect of human beings. never to return. My knowledge of this phenomenon is superficial. I was nearly shocked to see the buses full of people from all over the world going to participate in ceremonies with this or that indigenous or mestizo practitioner. but vegetalistas may establish a rapport with them for the benefit of their patients.39]. In July 2005 I was invited as a speaker to a conference in Iquitos. I see this phenomenon in a different way. It is an occurrence with international repercussions. emanating from 1970 Control Substances Act of the United States of America. while most practitioners meeting the demand simply charlatans looking for profit and taking advantage of female participants[38. who has taken what is in my view an extreme position.18 Luis Eduardo Luna Particular spirits are believed to live in the surrounding forests. she considers this phenomenon as a manifestation of international drug trafficking. due to the continued deforestation and urbanization process. The Chullachaqui is believed to have as its dwelling in what they call supay chacras. rather as a . This was perhaps even more when I was conducting my fieldwork than today. Given that DMT. and which is taking place first of all in the Peruvian Amazon. 4. lakes and rivers. given the number of practitioners of many nationalities emerging from this tradition that are conducting ceremonies in non-Amazonian countries. The Chullachaqui (uneven foot in Quechua) may adopt the shape of a relative or a friend to lure a person walking alone into his forest realm. a city I had not visited for many years.
while people from other countries adopt indigenous ideas about intelligent plant spirits and the like. as well as other sacred plant preparations from the Americas and beyond. I believe ayahuasca/yagé. rather it fosters self transformation while at the same time challenging the participants’ very cultural constructs and basic assumptions about the world”.Indigenous and mestizo use of ayahuasca 19 sort of continuation of the vegetalismo tradition turned international.a global phenomenon. Claudio Naranjo observed in 1967 when doing experiments with harmaline. corroborated by a study by Winkelman that more often than not most of the people taking ayahuasca now-a-days do it with the intention of finding guidance from within. . in a positive way. with positive as well as negative aspects. which I find most welcomed. pointed out that “concern with religious and philosophical questions is frequent”. It is not my intention to examine here such a complex phenomenon. of course. Fotiou sees ayahuasca tourism as a two-way avenue in which indigenous and mestizo ayahuasqueros absorb –once more. for personal growth. Ritual in this context is instrumental but not as something that reproduces social structure. but also present in significant amounts in certain brews. We are now in a phase beyond ayahuasca tourism. She writes: “Through my data I show that the western interest in ayahuasca is much more than a pretext for drug use but rather is often perceived as a pilgrimage and should be looked at in the context of a new paradigm. There is an increasing number of people who for one reason or another decided to conduct rituals in their own settings. such as the Brazilian religious organizations. in sharp contrast to chemical drugs. and with the absorption of a number of therapeutic techniques.certain western ideas and adapt their practices to the expectations of non-Amazonians. have extraordinary potential in the study of consciousness and as cognitive tools. More so. As we have seen earlier. with one of the greatest discoveries of Amazonian people. Ayahuasca is becoming –in a modest scale. a discourse that tackles them as sacraments. or rather a shift in the discourse about plant hallucinogens. or in search of spiritual experiences. exchange of symbols and power metaphors have been an essential part of Amazonian shamanism. I am referring to Evgenia Fotiou’s doctoral dissertation about ayahuasca tourism in Iquitos. a position I also ratify. It is my impression. I rather prefer to point out to a recent study. an alkaloid mostly found in trace amounts. as well as public discussions as how to deal. Shanon has pointed out similar ideas regarding ayahuasca intake among Westerners. More studies should be conducted. with practitioners coming from various traditions. This is not at all something new.
Göttingen-Bern-Wien-Oxford. Columbia University Press. Plants of the Gods – Origins of Hallucinogenic Use. Natural Products CO. Luna. 2. 2010. Chantre y Herrera. Revista Tellus. Hogrefe. Balé. J. The Cubeo. Carvajal. A.L. 18. (Eds. L. Balé and C. White. 1975.. J. Carvajal and A. Ed. J. de Rojas (Eds.C. L. 83.). Santa Fe. Brabec de Mori. Karsten. Park Street Press. 1986. In: Historia del Almirante de las Indias Don Cristóbal Colón – Colección de fuentes para la Historia de América. The University of Illinois Press. Synergetic Press. The Headhunters of Western Amazonas – The Life and Culture of the Jibaro Indians of Eastern Ecuador and Peru.L. R.E. and White. Ott.. Jungaberle and B. Helsinki. Albuquerque. S.. G. their Plant Sources and History. C. 1. . Kennevick. Diálogos (neo)xamânicos: encontros entre os Guarani e a ayahuasca. 16. 1979. 19. 1982. México. and Langdon. Luna and S. Madrid. 13. C. 5. Vegetalismo – Shamanism Among the Mestizo Population of the Peruvian Amazon. In: Time and Complexity in Historical Ecology: Studies in the Neotropical Lowlands. Psychoactive Drugs. W. Rose. (Eds. The Shaman and The Jaguar – A Study of Narcotic Drugs Among the Indians of Colombia.. Langdon. R. B. 1986 [written 1542]. Las clasificaciones del yajé dentro del grupo Siona: etnobotánica. 3. Alfred van der Marck Editions. H. 2000. 14. 2009. Santa Fe. Columbia University Press.. In: The globalization of the uses of Ayahuasca. Almqvist & Wiksell International. 14. 4.E. 2005. Editorial Bakel. 163. etnoquímica e historia. Ayahuasca Reader – Encounters with the Amazon’s Sacred Brew. 1591. Ayahuasca Analogues – Pangaen Entheogens. Historia de las Misiones de la Compañía de Jesús en el Marañón español – 1637-1767. R. 10.. Buenos Aires. 11. W. Time and Complexity in Historical Ecology: Studies in the Neotropical Lowlands. Goldman. I. 1935. 1986. XLVI. and Hofmann. Philadelphia.E.). New York. R. and Erickson.F. Schultes. University of New Mexico Press. L.20 Luis Eduardo Luna References 1.V. In: La aventura del Amazonas. 1993. Lagrou. 7. Indians of Northwest Amazon.J. Temple University Press. 15. Schultes. 1944. F. Madrid. 1994. J. New York. 8. A Guide to Mestizo Shamanism in the Upper Amazon. Erickson (Eds. I.E. Primera Parte des Segretos Maravilosos de las Indias. de Rafael Díaz. Reichel-Dolmatoff. Pané. Synergetic Press. New York. Stockholm. 2000. Beyer. 9. 21. Urbana. 20.S. Colón. In: Ayahuasca Reader – Encounters with the Amazon’s Sacred Vine. Rätsch. 12. The Encyclopedia of Psychoactive Plants – Ethnopharmacology and Its Applications. 18. Natural Products CO. 2005. A. G.L. 205. 1901. Ott. C.E. Pharmacotheon – Entheogenic Drugs. Labate. J.). E. Cárdenas. Singing to the Plants. 2011. 6. J. E.E. América Indígena. Commentationes Humanarum Litterarum VII.. Societas Scientiarum Fennica. Erickson. Luna. 1963. 2005. 17. Kennevick. S. vol.). Rochester.
Dobkin de Rios. Winkelman.. 1983. 2002. 31.E. Beyond the Milky Way. In: The Nature and Status of Ethnobotany. M. 1978. 32. 1992. J. In: Ethnopharmacological Search for Psychoactive Drugs. The Jívaro: People of the Sacred Waterfalls. R. Praeger. University of Michigan. L. Brown. P. 1978. 2011. Bantam Books. Westport Connecticut and London. Ethnopharmacol. Laced with Controversy – Ayahuasca in the Amazon and the United States. Naranjo. Mouton Publishers. Gebhart-Sayer. R. Peru. 73-4. Luna and S. 1. Kin. Langdon. 2010. M. Boletín de Estudios Históricos. Fotiou. 25. 42. North Atlantic Books. 35. Santa Fe. Shamans and Stars. Chaumei.Indigenous and mestizo use of ayahuasca 21 22. A. G. Albuquerque. University of New Mexico Press. Smithsonian Institution Press. of Anthropology.). 40. 37.. The Antipodes of the Mind – Charting the Phenomenology of the Ayahuasca Experience. Brown. 23. Anthropology News. 43. Santa Barbara. M.J. M. Berkeley. Ayahuasca Visions: The Religious Iconography of a Peruvian Shaman. Amazonía Indígena. Langdon. Berkeley. 37.H.). Pouvoir – Le chamanisme chez les Yagua du Nord-Est peruvien.A. M. E. M.). Browman and R. Albuquerque. Calavia. Voir. 1984. 34.). Paris. 41. ABC-CLIO Publishers. 1986.F. 67. Public Health Service Public. 29. Ford (Ed. Efron (Ed. Baer (Eds. 2000. Winkelman.). Washington. Mea Culpa: Drug Tourism and the Anthropologist's Responsibility. and Cult in Eastern Peru. Schwartz (Eds. Shamanism: A Biopsychosocial Paradigm of Consciousness and Healing.M. Washington. D. Epistemologia e saberes da ayahuasca. 36. J.C. P. In: Ayahuasca Reader – Encounters with the Amazon’s Sacred Brew. In: Spirits. Harner. J. Psychoactive Drugs. UCLA Latin American Center. 1967. 1979.J. University of California Press. University of Toronto Press. 27. 28. 1980. Chevalier.E.E. 135. 11. 2010. 26. Civilization and the Stolen Gift: Capital. Éditions de l'École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales. Savoir. . J. From medicine men to day trippers: Shamanic tourism in Iquitos.F. J. 1972. D. Reichel-Dolmatoff. Belém. Synergetic Press. 118. and Amaringo. 2008.B. M. The Way of the Shaman – A Guide to Power and Healing. White (Eds. Luna. J. 2005. 24. Langdon and G. Luna. O. Doctoral dissertation. and Rumrrill. 46. 1991.. Toronto. M. University of Wisconsin-Madison.E. Dept. 49. C. In: Portals of Power: Shamanism in South America.P. J. Michigan. M. Los Angeles. 33. Shanon. 1645. Dobkin de Rios.I. 30. New York. Calella. B. 38. Museum of Anthropology. Oxford University Press. Harner. Tsewa's Gift: Magic and Meaning in an Amazonian Society. 209. Eduepa. No. 39. Anthropological Papers No. 2006. 1982. L. A Hallucinogenic Tea. L. 1935. 1985.
India The Ethnopharmacology of Ayahuasca. Brazil E-mail: sgoular@uol. emphasizing the representations concerning this beverage used in all of them. São Paulo. Brazil Sandra Lucia Goulart Abstract.T Transworld Research Network 37/661 (2). Brazil and researcher in NEIP (Psychoactives Interdisciplinary Study Group). 1. All of them originate in the Brazilian Amazon region and in some cases. Brazil and researcher in NEIP (Psychoactives Interdisciplinary Study Group). This article discusses concepts and practices of healing in Brazilian religions which have in common the use of a psychoactive beverage mainly known by the names of Daime. São Paulo. these processes expand to other parts of Brazil and abroad. The notion of cure in the Brazilian ayahuasca religions Assistant Professor at Cásper Líbero College. Fort P. Sandra Lucia Goulart. Introduction In this article we intend to develop an analysis of the therapeutic concepts present in some religious cults emerged in the Brazilian Amazon region Correspondence/Reprint request: Dr. Trivandrum-695 023 Kerala. Assistant Professor at Cásper Líbero College.com.O. We compare here the ways in which the healing is experienced and explained in these religions.br . São Paulo. The case of these religions points to the complexity of the relation between both scientific and religious medicines. São Paulo. Vegetal and Ayahuasca. 2011: 23-53 ISBN: 978-81-7895-526-1 Editor: Rafael Guimarães dos Santos 2. These religions are elaborated from the same set of cultural traditions which nonetheless unfolds in different ways.
Arawak (Peru). Outside the context of these Brazilian religions. including man himself. Bolivia. The contexts of these practices vary considerably. Thus. the Colombian and Brazilian Amazon. the beverage is mainly consumed in the Pano linguistic trunk groups (Eastern Peru / South Acre). soul. Ecuador and Venezuela. Just to mention some issues. and Tukano (Colombia). a bush. “parra”. All these cults have in common the use of the same psychoactive beverage. but suffer no prohibition. a liana whose scientific name is Banisteriopsis caapi and the leaves of a bush. the whole Northwest of the Amazon. as “the rope of the spirits” or “the rope of the dead” and also as “the liana of the spirits or the dead”. Peru. the term “ayahuasca religions” is also used by many scholars to refer to cults which have arisen in Brazil. However. fish and mammals. The ban involves many intricate and controversial discussions. thus producing its visionary effects. and Wasca means rope. harmine and tetrahydroharmine. Within the indigenous context. considered highly dangerous. The term is quite widespread in Peru and comes from Quechua. Hence. The name is used to designate both the beverage and one of the plants composing it: the liana Banisteriopsis caapi. Although there are extensive and ancient indigenous and mestizo traditions in the use of this beverage. “enredadera”. Aya means persona. throughout the Amazon. precisely. It is also important to remember that since 1971. Psychotria viridis1. there are about seventy indigenous groups making use of this beverage. “liana”. allowing the DMT to activate the central nervous system. “espíritu muerto”.24 Sandra Lucia Goulart starting from 1930. the emergence 1 The liana Banisteriopsis caapi contains three beta-carboline alkaloids: harmaline. Nowadays. the importance of the alkaloids present in the liana. In all of them this beverage also receives different designations. Nowadays. as it is deactivated by an enzyme present in the human digestive tract. has as its active ingredient another alkaloid. in some of them the beverage is named Daime. Therefore ayahuasca can be literally translated to Portuguese. DMT (N. the MAO (monoamine oxidase). it is worth noting that in addition to Psychotria viridis. substance considered as the main responsible for the visionary effect or the hallucinogenic aspect of this beverage. several other species also have certain amounts of DMT. receiving different names in these different contexts. it is known that DMT has no effect when ingested orally. . made by brewing a combination of two plants. the Convention on Psychotropic Substances. The plant species Psychotria viridis.N-dimethyltryptamine). such as some kinds of fungi. signed in Vienna has included the DMT on its top list of forbidden drugs. in others as Vegetal. the term ayahuasca is one of the most known and used for such psychoactive beverage. The main habitat of the Banisteriopsis caapi is the East of the Andes. which has the function to temporarily disable the MAO.
He. the Custódio Freire colony. shortly before his death that Mestre Irineu had his group notarized as a religious institution.spiritual or Only in 1970. would have clarified that the real name of that beverage was “Daime”. It is during the period in which he works as a rubber tapper. That is when the use of the beverage provides him a set of mystical experiences. In this article this term will be frequently used in order to refer to the religion created by Mestre Irineu. This entity who would later be identified by Mestre Irineu as the Virgin Mary. who would later become known as Mestre Irineu was native from the state of Maranhão. more specifically in Brasiléia. but also begin to develop the principles of worship that would later become known by the names of Alto Santo. the group originally founded by Mestre Irineu is also identified in some situations as “Daime” or “Santo Daime”. in 1930. now called Daime. is an exclusive phenomenon of the Brazilian region. over time and even with the emergence of new groups in this religious tradition. he migrated to the Amazon region. the first of these religions was organized by Raimundo Irineu Serra in the city of Rio Branco.Cure in the Brazilian ayahuasca religions 25 of organized. urban. This explanation of the name Daime. Thus. It indicates that the Daime is assigned a crucial role in obtaining mystical. 2 . the believers would ask: “Give me light”. under the name of CICLU (Centro da Iluminação Cristã Luz Universal – Christian Enlightening Center Universal Light). the church and. in 1945. from the Catholic tradition. As most Northeastern people. already points to the importance that the psychoactive beverage takes in the definition of the religious experience of this cult believers. whose meaning comes from a request or invocation made by those who consume the beverage to the spiritual being who reigns it. Daime or Santo Daime2. He shared this land among his followers and built his church at this site. in some situations. “Give me health” etc. religions based on its consumption. Bolivia and Peru that Mestre Irineu gets in contact with a whole culture of the use of this beverage which would be central in the new religious cult founded by him. Between 1915 and 1918. Mestre Irineu would have not only his first experiences with ayahuasca. The location. the cult itself. still early in the first decade of the twentieth century. “Give Me Love”. Mestre Irineu’s daime Historically. “Give me wisdom”. However. capital of Acre state. Northeast of Brazil. doctrinaire teachings or healing revelations . non-indigenous. which feature the vision of a female entity that gives him the doctrinal basis of the new cult based on the use of the beverage. Previously. to work with the extraction of rubber. located in the rural suburbs of Rio Branco. Mestre Irineu received a property donation. 2. in a border region between Brazil. became known as Alto Santo.
issues related to health. in Rio Branco. At this time. In an interview with me.)” This kind of statement is often repeated among many of those who became disciples of Mestre Irineu in those early days. in that period. in Brasiléia.. As shown in other studies[3-5]. Many of those who sought the guidance of Mestre Irineu. Percília Ribeiro. using the Daime. In her words: “There was no medicine to cure that (. disease and healing problems. as well as several of the first members of his cult.. In the early years that marked the organization of his religious group in Rio Branco. Accordingly. he was established in the district of Vila Ivonete. which had as its main point of practices the consumption of ayahuasca. which were resignified according to this context. reported that her father sought Mestre Irineu in 1934 because he suffered from malaria. with little access to the official medicine. when Mestre Ireneu already lives in Rio Branco. At that time. Mestre Irineu’s guidance. the Centro de Regeneração e Fé (Center for Regeneration and Faith).) Then he went to meet Mestre (. those were typical of diseases from the region and from a social layer of low income. Thereby. the first believers of the group founded by Mestre Irineu were converted. the religious group founded by Mestre Irineu. especially as they felt their misfortunes and ailments were cured or solved. one of the earliest supporters of the cult of Mestre Irineu. brought up requests related to health problems and.. gathering followers in the region. initially as a healing cult. expressed both the material reorganization of former rubber tappers that. Soon he was cured (.. Mestre Ireneu organized along with two fellows from Maranhão: André and Antonio Costa.) It was when he took the Daime. had. This was the case of Antonio Ribeiro (and part of his family). by then. Nevertheless. as the rescue of a group of ancient regional cultural elements. the daimist cult only begins to be effectively organized in 1930.. began to engage in the agriculture activity. to a certain extent. small colonies. housed rubber plants and small agricultural colonies. For them. his daughter. Mestre Irineu performed especially “healing works” with the Daime.. And none of them made him better (.. During this period. Mestre Irineu. was usually preferred and more valued ... It was through this kind of practice that he and his new cult were gradually becoming known.26 Sandra Lucia Goulart material. gained prominence. and could not have it cured through the conventional medical treatments. in most cases.) Dad went only from home to the hospital. whose tenants were mostly former rubber tappers. just taking drugs. the cult founded by Mestre Irineu appears. rural area of the Acre capital which. in a new environment. at that time..
the narratives point to the existence of a distance between the doctors’ speech and the universe of the patient. both as a remedy and a kind of oracle.. which ended up hindering the cure. therefore not being able to “find” the proper medicine needed to cure them.Cure in the Brazilian ayahuasca religions 27 when compared to a medicine considered poor. Percília Ribeiro tells that. perhaps. as Mestre Irineu said.) It was like that. which preceded the formation of Mestre Irineu's cult. The so “revealed” and prescribed remedies could be from teas or herbal compresses to even allopathic pills and tablets. the Daime would appear. In her case however the cure came with the “revelation” of the “right medicine”. Often. this one here is her medication. some expressions and categories of this religious universe refer to the Spanish language. the whole box. meaning the pinnacle of the beverage effects. especially the visual ones.. sometimes the medicine was the Daime. inefficient or even absent. Also accordingly. marking a crucial moment of contact between the believer and the sacred world. Mrs. seems close to a set of concepts sustaining the oldest uses of ayahuasca. even when such access was possible. besides her father. “Miração” is a daimist fundamental category. the use of words in two languages is usual. The idea of “see” the right remedy for a particular disease “through the Daime”. So she tells us: “One day Mestre Irineu told dad: 'look. when not Mestre would see one’s remedy. She’ll take a box and she’ll be better'. revealing the lack of access of a certain population to medical services. the religious cult founded by Mestre Irineu is in its origin. for these believers. and so.)” The term “miração” seems to come from the Spanish verb “mirar” which can be translated into English as “see” or “look”.. In the same statement quoted above. In some statements.. obtained by Mestre Irineu through the use of the Daime. and I finally got better.. which refers to the effects of the Daime. she herself was cured with the use of Daime through Mestre Irineu’s guidelines. In the border regions of Brazil with Spanish-speaking countries such as Peru and Bolivia. through which one could have the “revelation” of the required treatment for a particular case. He would get one’s remedy through the Daime (. in this case Portuguese and Spanish. the interviewees stated similarly to the testimonial above that doctors would not “understand” or “figure out” what were the illnesses which afflicted him. And I took all those pills. It was like that . Bolivia and Peru. This is the case of traditions that were largely formed from the upper Amazon . related to the cultural context of a border region among Brazil.. As seen. and who was with Mestre did not need another doctor (.
These new practices. in poor survival conditions. becomes relevant when compared to its ancient indigenous use. equally fundamental in this religious universe. Yet. there are common points between them. As argued before[3-5] the cult founded by Mestre Irineu in the thirties in Rio Branco resulted in an ambiguous process where some aspects of this vegetalist tradition were abandoned or denied. From all of these. The idea of a symbiosis between man and vegetable species. The concept. the consumption of the ayahuasca in this new context. There are many differences between the Peruvian ayahuasca vegetalism and the Daime cult founded by Mestre Irineu. the ayahuasca started to be configured as a remedy for all kinds of ailments. riverside mestizo populations and mainly rubber tappers. originally drank by the indigenous peoples. locally called as “vegetalists”. the ayahuasca is the most used and most relevant one. were essential elements in the constitution of the new religion created by Mestre Irineu. the new occupant groups of the Amazon region resignified the uses of this beverage. these plants are called “doctors” or “master plants”. Luna studied the shamanic healers from the Peruvian jungle. Mainly for the tappers who started to live in a new and hostile environment. and in the myths about the initiation of Mestre Irineu with the ayahuasca. Also accordingly. Thus. which would be the real teachers of these healing agents. Nunes Pereira called the ayahuasca as “yerba del cauchero” (cauchero’s herb). According to Luis Eduardo Luna it was exactly this cultural exchange among these different groups that allowed the emergence of a new set of practices around the use of the ayahuasca beverage. developed in a different context from the tribes or villages of the indigenous groups. while others were rescued and reinterpreted. Studies such as Luna’s suggest that actually. their experiences drinking it. and started emphasizing the use of the ayahuasca for therapeutic purposes. mainly from Iquitos and Pucallpa.28 Sandra Lucia Goulart watershed as a result of the contact among the indigenous Christianized groups. For this reason. Luna says his informers from the Peruvian region often used to say that the “caucheiros” discovered the ayahuasca. In the daimist cult the idea that the Daime is a plant that teaches. however at the same time. the exegeses of the believers. deeply influenced by a mestizo rubber tapping culture. The “vegetalists” are so called because it is sustained that all their knowledge comes from the spirits of certain plants. expressed in the vegetalist concept that all aspiring shamans should ritually turn into a “spirit plant” and the very notion of “teaching plans”. of the Daime as a crucial agent in the treatment processes as well as of the cure of several . who began to occupy the region from the mid-nineteenth century. is reiterated in the hymns which organize most of the rituals. therefore “teacher” par excellence.
gradually. Therefore the “work of hymnals” originates. The tradition of festivals for Christian saints was followed with enthusiasm by both Mestre Irineu and many of these early believers of the daimist cult. The structure of these “works” involved a few elements. Thereby. to the need for administration of other drugs. working as a drug to treat a specific disease. it is important to highlight that the elements of the traditions of the Peruvian ayahuasca vegetalismo are resignified in the daimist cult. Meetings were made to “take” the Daime and sing with fervor the hymns received by Mestre Irineu and some of his followers. songs that are understood by these followers as a result of the connection with the spiritual world. As mentioned. also having an oracle role when it points. Based on the analysis made by different authors[7. Besides the ayahuasca vegetalism. when Mestre Irineu begins to organize his cult in Rio Branco. led by Mestre Irineu. in the body of the one who ingests it. generally following the Christian calendar. in some cases. strongly disseminated throughout the ancient rural Brazil. Ancient forms of worship. as highlighted in other studies[3. the work of hymnals with their specific dances was being elaborated. especially dates that celebrate some saints. sometimes even unknown. .5]. a Daime ritual calendar was being made and over time.8]. his ceremonies consisted primarily in healing “works” or “sessions” with the Daime. This first group of daimists. some dates that celebrated Christian saints were selected for the times when taking Daime and singing hymns were wanted. which consisted in the gathering of the believers to sing and dance hymnals in a set of specific dates.Cure in the Brazilian ayahuasca religions 29 illnesses is associated with this idea of the Daime as a “plant that teaches”. However. So. it is possible to identify in the organization of the Daime rituals. the ritual structure of this religion becomes more complex. gradually organizes the whole ritual of this religion. Mestre Irineu starts summarizing his experiences with the Daime in hymns. the Daime is a vegetable animated being that teaches and can therefore reveal the presence of a disease. now appearing associated with conceptions and practices of another cultural and religious complex. however. a whole set of elements of the so called popular Brazilian Catholicism was triggered for the formation of the new religion founded by Mestre Irineu in Rio Branco. Gradually. many aspects of the tradition of popular Catholicism saint festivals. the main one being the consumption of the Daime itself done either by the patient as by other participants. Over time. several of the early followers of the cult founded by Mestre Irineu will also express their experiences with the Daime in the same fashion “receiving” their own hymns. Accordingly. such as celebrating a saint’s day with dance and a feast of typical regional food were being associated with the use of the Daime. It can help the healing.
) After a while it started (... Then a lady came (. follows below a piece of an interview I did with a lady who joined the Mestre Irineu’s religious group in Rio Branco in the 1960s. in a fashion. Accordingly.).. These principles gain at this time a more personal sense. finds out that he or she is sick. a very enlightened being. However. the stories describing healings during hymnals are constant. which are not only expressed but. there are frequent reports in which the person. accompanied by some nurses. facilitating the emergence of such processes....) I received this treatment though the Daime…from inside the Daime. said that she decided to convert herself after she got the cure for both stomach and liver diseases that afflicted her at that time.. While these were made for specific cases. she smoked all over me. affirm and strengthen the teaching.30 Sandra Lucia Goulart The meaning of the work with hymnals differs from the healing work with the Daime. the very experience of internalizing and living the doctrinal principles enables these ceremonies.. on an operating table.) I got there. For this reason. cured. experienced and internalized by the believers who participate in these works.. Moreover..) I found myself in a hospital. They mark the meeting of the whole brotherhood.) I told my husband I knew where this place from the dream was.. I thought nothing would happen (. Similarly.) The miração came (…) that was when I got operated (. taking the Daime. Two doctors arrived.)” . the work of hymnals were made for the community of believers... individual diseases. which is his or her illness and in which body part it is located. very light.. during the “miração” at the hymnal work they were operated by spiritual beings and thus. above all.) Then Mestre gave me only a little Daime. A native from Rio Branco. It was all clean. being interpreted by each believer according to their personal stories and experiences. She did this smoking and handed me to those spiritual beings. seeing in the “miração”. the doctrine and morality principles of this religion as well as its mythology and finally of all those elements that are emphasized in the hymns sung during such ceremonies... He was the one who took me there (. In order to illustrate that. that operated on me (. giving visibility to the daimist community itself as well as to the main foundations of this religion. with all the equipment to operate. Only I did not know where the Mestre’s church was (.. this more collective character of the work of hymnals does not stop them from being also related to therapeutic and healing processes. And I’m here today (. “I had a dream about Mestre Irineu’s church. There are several statements where people say that... which marks the original mode of the daimist cult. during the hymnal work. I was kind of scared because I did not know (..
The term is used in different African-Brazilian cults. also understood as organic. on the other hand. According to Montero. as well as practices from Brazilian indigenous traditions. hospitals.are not worshiped.Cure in the Brazilian ayahuasca religions 31 These “spiritual” or “astral operations” testimonials are common among the daimists. José Guilherme Magnani. many authors have pointed to the importance of either healing or its quest aspects. Something that can be noticed in this sort of statement is the presence of metaphors relating to the official medicine and its officials such as doctors or nurses as well as references to their work tools and acting facilities. Umbanda is composed of elements from African religions. Here is observed an ambiguity in these believers’ statements. and of obtaining healing. experienced by those believers. the terms “house” or “center”  can also be used. in a research on the treatment of mental illnesses in Umbanda. the Orishas . That is the finding of Paula Montero in a study about diseases and magic-religious therapeutic practices in the umbandist universe in São Paulo. . Often with a similar sense. Firstly. according to some researchers since the 1920’s. the house.intermediaries between the supreme God (OLORUN) and men who represent the forces of nature . made in terreiros4 from São Paulo. there is a recurrence of the official medicine universe elements in the construction of exegeses on therapeutic processes. Yet the Candomblé started to spread at the end of slavery in 1888. Umbanda has been organized initially in the Southeast of Brazil. there is a distrust regarding the official medicine and its officials. In the Candomblé originally from Iorubá (Nago) which initially spread in Brazil. Regarding the so-called African-Brazilian cults. both the Candomblé and the Umbanda are found all over Brazil. with its yard and all the buildings. different scholars have observed that the desire for a cure or relief for a number of afflictions. In this aspect we can make some analogies between the daimist cult and other religious cults developed in Brazil. as well as a misunderstanding of its logic. e.g. in cities as Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo. also makes a similar statement. although some types of Candomblé are yet stronger in the Northeast. On the one hand. Currently. particularly in the Brazil Northeast. 45% of the interviewees claim to have become umbandists “because of an illness”. 4 Terreiro means the place where all ritual cult activities are performed. is a major cause of accession to these cults. most people who 3 Umbanda and Candomblé are religions formed in Brazil from the intercrossing of different elements from various traditions. as for the presence of the imaginary related to the scientific or official medicine in the experience of the believers of the religions practiced in Brazil. For him. popular Catholicism and the Spiritism developed by Alan Kardec conceptions. such as Umbanda and Candomblé3.
the also white uniforms. especially of Umbanda. is self-referential. fathers or mothers of a saint6 refer to themselves as “doctors” . the apparel used by the followers is generally white. and then widely spread in different regions of the country and among several sectors of the population. 6 The two designations are used to refer to spiritual leaders of African-Brazilian cults. diffuses from the late nineteenth century. it is denominated spiritism due to the belief in the intervention of spirits of the dead driving some phenomena in the world of the living. Accordingly. the frequent use of aspects specific to this medicine. Besides that. Paula Montero tries to show how this process takes place. some of these authors also detect in the speech of African-Brazilian cult followers. religion. . 5 Spiritist center here refers to the Kardecist religion. concluding that the scientific medical speech and practice work either as a counterpoint or as a model for Umbanda healing activities. philosophy and science simultaneously.32 Sandra Lucia Goulart turn not only to Umbanda terreiros. Kardec’s Spiritism included a series of esoteric and spiritual beliefs that circulated in Europe and the United States especially since the late eighteenth century. but also to Candomblé houses and spiritist centers5 do it for the healing of illnesses of the body or the soul. as the theories of magnetism or the psyche. the same ambiguity we found in the case of the daimist cult in the matter of official medicine. At the same time. This was organized by Hippolyte Rivail. are subordinate. of the official medical professionals.similar to those described by the daimists . also known as Allan Kardec. So they build their exercise through a constant reference to the official medicine model. For Montero the ambiguous relationship that Umbanda keeps with the world of official medicine is explained by the fact that the magic-therapeutic practices applied by the first must necessarily take into account the dominant position of the second.either from the soul or spirit . Kardec’s doctrine. a French pedagogue who adopted the pseudonym of Allan Kardec. for example. Montero and many others have often recorded the presence of “spiritual operations” . From the mid-nineteenth century. either in Umbanda or Candomblé.in the healing statements from the umbandists. In Brazil. the popular medicines. In other words. Kardec starts to structure his doctrine which he classified as.and the terreiro is often seen or called as an “emergence room”. official precisely for being dominant and hegemonic. reminding to some extent. while official medicine. primarily among urban upper and middle layers. In the same study mentioned earlier. such as those of Umbanda. The African-Brazilian cult followers would express simultaneously a dissatisfaction regarding the official medicine performance. including a skepticism regarding their therapeutic results and conversely.
as a manifestation of popular medicines or therapies. the so-called Pentecostal services. intuition of the presence of spirits and souls of the dead. or even through incorporation of them in certain believers who are called mediums. comes also in a tense and ambiguous relationship with the scientific. ranging from the African forms of worship (such as Umbanda) to those more Westernized and white (such as the orthodox spiritualism). the constant reference to elements and notions of the official medicine universe does not 7 The mediumistic religions are founded on the notion of “mediunity”. in the early expansion of kardecism in Brazil. there would be in the Brazilian society. being the different types of therapies for major diseases. dreams. Here it is important to clarify that in both ayahuasca cults as in other religions. as the new protestant sects. Liana Trindade. These notions come from the Kardecism.18]. Accordingly. as previously seen. but several religions developed in Brazil would be deeply linked to the demand for the cure of diseases. especially in the worshiping practiced to the saints. also maintains this therapeutic aspect. a mediunic continuum. such as the “magnetic fluid”. Candomblé. In the kardecism. the cult founded by Mestre Irineu continues one of the main forms of expression of the popular religiosity in Brazil which. for example. We can already see it in the classic study of Candido Procópio. Through different perspectives. kardecist notions and ideas. as other authors have already demonstrated[8. since good part of its expansion is given in function of demands for the cure of illnesses and varied misfortunes. however they were widely adopted in the Umbanda environment. It has even made some scholars classify some religious cults such as the Brazilian Umbanda. vision. For this author. Even religions that have grown more recently in Brazil. Kardecism and Pentecostalism as “cults of affliction”[17. in the tradition of the popular Catholicism.14]. hegemonic medicine. the demands related to diseases and the search of their healing are emphasized.Cure in the Brazilian ayahuasca religions 33 It is necessary to record that not only African-Brazilian cults. which is understood as a gift which can express itself in different ways. is strongly linked to the issue of healing. elements in the limiting points of this continuum. through hearing. adapt and blend to the old magictherapeutic beliefs from the lower layers of society.16]. . as the belief in the healing power of the spirits of the dead or their ancestors. examines how. Likewise. the typical mode of manifestation of the spirits of the dead is given through the word[10. Similarly. studies which approach the consolidation and growth of the kardecism in Brazil hold in this matter. Other authors highlight that the peculiarities of the kardecism in Brazil is a more remarkably therapeutic feature. on mediumistic religions7 in Brazil.
As also shown by several studies. the official medicine is seen as capable of treating only the consequences of the diseases. Because there was so much wrong .. and thus start providing them sense and coherence. to surreptitiously deny and overcome this inferiority. In another excerpt of the same statement quoted earlier. which enables the unfortunates to relate their woes to a larger context.not necessarily organic . It is also in this manner that diseases are often viewed as a necessary suffering or. involves a moral transformation of the patient. with my family. Montero shows that in the umbandist speech invariably. That . Accordingly.. my children.) The Daime showed me everything that was wrong in my life .. into the idea of superiority of the religious therapy. From this perspective a complementarity among official medical practices and religious therapeutic practices is established. their answers and solutions are linked to broader ordinations.. the interstices of the official medicine. every healing process in the context of the daimist cult. while the spiritual diseases would be from the religious sphere. we find an example of this kind of logic. “probations” which they must go through in order to transform spiritually. to cosmological explanations. The religious therapies offer an integrating principle. as the daimists say. Instead. “The Daime cured me (. The material illnesses would be related to the official medicine performance. Commonly these believers understand that their diseases are somehow related to other problems . Thus. while the religious sphere should have the role of treating their true causes.. i. many authors state that when aspects of the conventional medicine are used by their believers they start having completely different meanings. despite viewing an inevitable subordination in the therapeutic umbandist practices. Actually. indications of the need for a personal transformation which implies in a change of behavior that concerns the subject’s life as a whole. this brings us to another aspect of the religious therapeutic practices. The umbandist distinction between “material diseases” and “spiritual diseases” would express this simultaneous movement of affirmation and denial of the official medical practices domain. However. The case of the daimist cult is no exception. you know . They are seen therefore as signals. with my husband.34 Sandra Lucia Goulart mean a simple incorporation or reproduction of the biomedical logic. when it regards for example. not only with me.e. also contends that the Umbanda religious medicine acts in the gaps.which afflict them. these practices tend to have a broader purpose other than just treating an organic problem. of the daimist who reports being operated spiritually “through the Daime”. Montero. It is exactly because they have religious foundations. in a general way. the assertion of this complementarity ends up culminating in a second stage.... the African-Brazilian cults.
It was like the being who manifested to me and said at the end of my operation. the Peruvian vegetalism. which included a series of food prohibitions (including alcoholic abstinence). It does not imply. in a second part of the statement the disease is linked to broader situations of her life and her “cure” is thereby the starting point for her conversion to the daimist cult. as for example.e. Although the interviewee reported earlier her disease was an organic state. in more classifications of nature and plant species which led. by making specific dietary requirements during the process where the patient was submitted to a treatment with the vegetalist and the ayahuasca. you’ll be forever cured’”.Cure in the Brazilian ayahuasca religions 35 disease was like a burden. that it was expressed through an imbalance of some of the organs of her body (stomach.. the cure also implied into the respect to the classification of the vegetable species. i. Here.e. say . regarding the ancient traditions of the ayahuasca use. Testimonials of his initiation which occurred yet in the region of Brasiléia. Thus. his initiation involved the implementation of a longer and more strict diet. in the cult founded by Mestre Irineu. Furthermore. the vegetalist. In the specific case of the curator. three days before and after you drink the Daime. In this house. liver). the manifestation of the disease is intrinsically linked to the process of conversion and transformation that it entails. with these teachings. At this point we can identify some changes in the conceptions about illnesses. In the case of the daimist cult. The latter was based on an extensive knowledge of the natural environment in its thorough classification according to a hierarchy that associated and separated the different vegetable species. more generally. has the meaning of a physical “cleaning”. within this Peruvian context. as in the Peruvian vegetalism. It is true that the initiation of Mestre Irineu with the ayahuasca would have required a much longer and more restrictive diet regarding food consumption. the diet set by the Mestre Irineu refers only to the alcoholic and sex abstinence. ‘here is your place. in this case. to a number of other dietary requirements. in addition to sexual abstinence and the constant ingestion of the ayahuasca itself as well as other psychoactive plants. This diet was one of the first ritual precepts established by Mestre Irineu in the formation of his new cult in Rio Branco. there is also the requirement to hold a diet for those who consume the Daime.. an ordeal. Ayahuasca is even called by many as “la purge”. However. i. a suffering that I had to go through to reach the Daime and leave that life I used to lead (. healing and the role of the Daime in the therapeutic processes. emphasizing here its purpose is to detoxify the body.) After that I decided to follow this doctrine and everything has improved in my life. the use of the ayahuasca.
Maria Isaura Pereira de Queiroz. are classified as “bad habits” which bind us to the matter preventing the spirit from reaching the “astral”. only the requirements related to alcohol and sex were kept. Indeed. such . such as Galvão. vanity. Moreover. which includes “addictions” and “bad habits” as daimists and several of its hymns lyrics often say. impure or still sinful. for example. Regarding in particular the Amazonian context. alcohol use. It is not just about detoxifying the body. “Matter”. a new religious ethic emerges . it is told that Mestre Irineu acquired the power to communicate with plants and animals. It was this diet and isolation in the forest that led to the revelation of the foundations of the Daime doctrine. In the Daime cult however. “spirit” and “astral” are fundamental categories of the daimist cosmology. made by a female entity to Mestre Irineu. but rather “cleaning the impurities of the matter” so that the spirit can reach the “astral”. they now gain a new meaning. The “matter” encompasses not only the physical body. only saltless manioc and the ayahuasca itself. tried to show how from that moment a more ascetic moral came to dominate the popular Catholic practices that were once deeply marked by the sacralization of the festive aspects. highlight the transformation of traditional religious forms. both the diet related to the use of Daime as the conceptions about diseases and their cures. resulted from a whole magic classification of nature. Throughout his isolation in the forest. either through the transformation of ancient religiosity as also through the emergence of new religions. some authors. Instead of being linked to other dietary rules. The “spirit” opposes to the matter. a higher plan in which the spirit beings and deities live. in the daimist cult.in both urban and rural areas. binds the daimist cult to broader processes that affected and transformed all the Brazilian old popular religious culture. For this. from the 1930s. The presence of some elements of this morality in turn.36 Sandra Lucia Goulart that the Mestre Irineu was isolated inside the forest for several days. pure and free from the “illusions” of the earthly life. Consuming the Daime is seen as a means of approaching the “astral world”. The spirit relates to the “astral” world. consuming in this period. in which aspects seen as mundane or secular are devalued and classified as inferior. these prohibitions refer to other morality. during this period. They are seen as a “cleaning”. in a more general character. several scholars of the subject show that. “Matter” and “spirit” makes up a duality that guides and means the believers’ life and his behavior in this religion. one must move away from the “matter affection” and the “world of illusions”. are related to a more ascetic morality. Accordingly. but the whole sphere of “material earth life” associated in the daimist perspective to a “world of illusions”. This new ethic is expressed in different ways. and attitudes that indicate greed. Sex. pride.
this “divine being”. Cabocla populations have here a more cultural sense. the Daime. as well as a whole concept of reciprocal relationships between men and natural environment.Cure in the Brazilian ayahuasca religions 37 as the beliefs in the Amazonian shamanism (pajelança amazônica)8 that started to merge with Catholic practices or elements of the Kardecism which began to spread at this time precisely. a new generation of vegetalists who incorporate a considerable amount of Christian elements in their ayahuasca sessions (such as prayers and summons to the Virgin Mary and Jesus) will be spread. in the hymns of that religion. which in Brazil express the results of the contact between the indigenous peoples and other groups that occupied the Amazon. the transformation in the Daime beverage is a theme emphasized in the mythical statements surrounding the initiation of Mestre Irineu with the ayahuasca. in spite of these changes. therefore. Luna states that from the early twentieth century. the believer aims precisely at achieving many of these properties of the beverage: “strength”. the idea of “transforming in the Daime” leads the religious experience of the believer in this religion. the Daime . A common notion to this religious world is that “Mestre Irineu” is the Daime itself. moreover.. “light” or “knowledge”. “power”. are common in which 8 It is called Amazonian shamanism a set of practices and conceptions of the cabocla population. By drinking the Daime during a “work”. As attempted to demonstrate earlier[3.the vegetable beverage . It remains. but ultimately. The use of the Daime is not linked to thorough classifications of the natural environment and different vegetable species (as in the vegetalism). Thus. the idea of “conductor plant” in the vegetalist context. the cult created by Mestre Irineu is based on the use of a “spirit plant”. “light”. as the Peruvian vegetalism. Despite the distinctions between the meaning of the daimista diet and the sense of the vegetal diet.has “strength”.5]. Also in the Peruvian region. Testimonials of the “miração” for example. “power”. forests etc. “knowledge”. is understood as a plant that teaches and can heal or disclose the proper remedies for certain diseases. we may record a set of similar transformations in the practices of the ayahuasca vegetalism. . Thus. Simultaneously. This theme is reiterated in the personal experiences of each believer with the beverage. However. the religion of Santo Daime also expresses many continuities in relation to earlier traditions of the ayahuasca use. as emphasized. The Amazonian shamanism encompasses beliefs in spiritual beings (the “enchanted ones”) that inhabit natural places such as rivers. the whole daimist experience with the beverage implies in a process of properties absorption of the latter by those who consume it. As mentioned before.
has in structuring the Daime ritual has its parallel in the vegetalist context. This new shamanism would be more emphatically focused on the 9 Jagube and Rainha are designations created by these believers when referring to the Banisteriopsis caapi liana plantations and the leaves of Psychotria viridis respectively. from the Quichua “ikaray”. However. the daimist hymns are closely related to the healing processes experienced in this religion scope. what is important to emphasize here is that the Santo Daime religion organized by Mestre Irineu in 1930’s in Rio Branco. from about three hundred years. The vegetalist healers. organized their ayahuasca sessions through songs. This. a close relationship between the process of transmission and the use of Daime hymns is established. Likewise. establish a direct link with a shamanic ayahuasca healing. called “icaros”. relates to a broader context of Amazonian traditions. also in the Santo Daime context. Icarus. as shown by Luna. In fact. which also embraces the use of ayahuasca. as well as the sensations caused by its use.mostly insects . the Daime hymns during the rituals guide the experiences of the believers with the Daime. as seen. the concepts of disease and cure acquire new meanings in the daimist context. claim to have become the liana (i.through spell . allowing the internalization of the doctrinaire principles of the religion in ritual moments. Of course. according to Peter Gow. means “blow smoke to heal”.38 Sandra Lucia Goulart those who drink the Daime. First because they are key elements in the structure and meaning of the experiences of the believers with the Daime. sung by the community of believers in specific ceremonies. The meaning of the term itself already points to the healing function of these melodies. especially those expressed through visions. There are other relations between Mestre Irineu’s Santo Daime cult and the practices of the Peruvian ayahuasca vegetalism. . expressed in the cult created by Mestre Irineu. Thus. The main characteristic of the icaros is its healing power. especially in older daimist statements. Just as the icaros. So the great importance that the music in the form of hymns.in the patient's body is common.e. in Banisteriopsis caapi) or being transported to jagube and rainha plantations9. These are magic musical melodies transmitted to the vegetalist through the master plants themselves. Second. the record of stories about illnesses caused by the action of others through acts such as the introduction of magic . In general. as the latter. began to be outlined in some Amazon regions most affected by the transformations generated by the colonial contact and the rubber exploitation international economy. The conceptions related to diseases and therapeutic processes. because there are specific healing hymns.of strange objects or animals . there is equally a continuity regarding the vegetalist beliefs about the appearance of illnesses or misfortunes.
which is also called Daime here. In the UDV the ayahuasca is called Vegetal. being conceived now. and healings. which will be known as Barquinha. was a boat pilot. the beverage is the main source of the doctrinal and cosmological exegesis of this religion. While the Santo Daime and the Barquinha cult have their formation processes related. it seems to be associated with one of the jobs carried out by the founder of the cult who before arriving in Acre. There are different explanations for the term Barquinha. yet it is a religion that has at its core the experience with a vegetable beverage. I recommend reading an article which I published in the magazine Fieldwork in Religion. Barquinha comes from the “boat” and is associated with Mestre Daniels’ followers mission. his experiences with the Daime led to the revelation that he had another “religious mission”. the group created by Daniel Pereira de Mattos (Mestre Daniel) also arises in Rio Branco. On the history and cultural traditions formation that make up the religion of the UDV. is associated with the tea itself. the cure involves a process of conversion to a religious community. the União do Vegetal or UDV10 appears. Porto Velho. The clothes worn in rituals . According to Araújo.22]. many of the psalms sung in ceremonies speak constantly of a “boat”. which would only be fully accomplished with the creation of a new cult around the use of the Daime[5. seen as a teacher plant that heals. This was 10 In 1970. however. not Daime. while the sea. 3. More than that.Beneficent Spiritual Center Vegetable Union (CEBUDV). as a therapeutic agent.called “uniforms” . navigation and the sea. misfortunes. So we also realize that in the religion created by Mestre Irineu. is that in the daimist cult.Cure in the Brazilian ayahuasca religions 39 purpose of healing and the ayahuasca would take a central role in it. founded by José Gabriel da Costa. At first. In 1945. the UDV had a somewhat more autonomous development11. In 1961. and its designation becomes Centro Espírita Beneficente União do Vegetal . in this religion.resemble the sailors’ apparel. The difference related to other ancient Amazon ayahuasca traditions. images and meanings associated to the sea and its sailors are highlighted in this religion. 11 . Mestre Daniel attended Mestre Irineu’s daimist cult for about ten years. the Daime is one of the key elements in the explaining and ordering of diseases. The cure in other ayahuasca religions From the 1940’s other ayahuasca religions will start to appear in the Amazon region. Mestre Gabriel. In addition. above all. in Rondônia. Over time. the UDV is notarized by its founder.
the Daime. such as pretovelhos. Mestre Daniel was locally known as a “praying person” sought to take away “quebranto” from children and “panama”12 from hunters. in Barquinha these As demonstrated by several authors. linked to European pagan and indigenous traditions. referring to the breaking of rules that regulate and labels many social relationships. caboclos.. who were characterized by the knowledge of Catholic and other kinds of prayers as well as magical practices. Some of these people became the first followers of his cult. at the beginning at Daniel’s own residence. “panama” and “quebranto” consist in beliefs of the Amazon culture quite often used to explain the origin of certain types of diseases or misfortunes. As in the case of the Santo Daime cult. the received hymns. Mestre Daniel received his hymns in a process of mystical revelation stimulated by the consumption of the Daime. providing advice and acting to cure their ailments. The prayers.40 Sandra Lucia Goulart gradually being organized. such as “preto-velhos” and “caboclos”.. The “panema” refers exactly to hunters’ bad luck in hunting or fishing[7. and he healed so many people”. while the “quebranto”. Iemanjá. Just as in African-Brazilian religions. particularly affects infants and children. mermaids. they began to involve the singing of hymns. says Antonio Geraldo. it depends on the actions of agents as “healers” or “praying people”. Just as occurred with Mestre Irineu. travelers and rubber tappers who passed through that region. Over time. these various entities. Many entities worshiped in Barquinha groups come from the pantheon of these religions. The ceremonies were also becoming more complex. Today. “preto-velhos” and “caboclos” use the word to communicate with men. but the uniqueness of the umbandist religion is another type of entity.23]. princes or orishas such as Oxun. They are not gods as the Orishas. “People were saying that in this part there was a little old man. such as neighborhood and kinship. “Preto-velhos” are the spirits of former African slaves in Brazil and “caboclos” are the spirits of Native Brazilians.) That’s how his service was approved. there are in Brazil different types of Umbanda and Candomblé. located in a rural forest area in Rio Branco. The use of the Daime was being introduced gradually. In both cases. who prayed very well (. Mestre Daniel allied the consumption of the Daime to their prayers and blessings. who was one of the main leaders of this religion. One of the most remarkable features of the ayahuasca religion founded by Mestre Daniel is its evident approach in practices and beliefs from African-Brazilian religions such as Umbanda. While the latter express their incorporation in the believers only through a kind of gesture and a dance. It is said that initially. made people increasingly seek for Mestre Daniel to be “cured”. 13 12 . charms of the sea. which are purified spirits of the dead. They used this knowledge to cure a whole range of illnesses typical from the old Brazilian rural world. which adopt and merge in varying degrees. which are revered in some kinds of Umbanda and Candomblé13. In the Umbanda some of the Orishas originated in Candomblé are worshiped. Xango.
however the manifestation of these entities implies a certain degree of transformation of the mediums. the mediunic communication can be manifested in different ways. The forms taken by this mediunic communication and the ways which spiritual beings manifest themselves may vary. “Home”. the presence of the entity may be indicated by factors such as changes in the voice tone. In some cases. The “guides” can speak through mediums. in which spiritual entities . these factors indicate that the “apparatus” is to a greater or lesser degree. . as the ability of someone (the medium) to communicate with spiritual beings and feel their presence. However.called “guides” . “apparatus”. in particular their physical expression. especially in Umbanda. at other Barquinha ritual moments. may be synonymous for “terreiro” and “center”. the entities who always incorporate the same “apparatus”. are called “guides”.appear to incorporate the mediums (the “apparatus”) of “the house”14. in Umbanda. or specific guidelines given to those who consult them etc. this disease is being explained as of an “spiritual order” and its healing will imply in a whole 14 “Spin”. Anyway. the medium expresses his mediumship by incorporating spiritual entities. This was in fact the situation of various group leaders from Barquinha. These can be called “apparatus” or “horses”.such as certain apparel or the use of tobacco smoked in a pipe. “house” are all terms used in African-Brazilian cults. in general. Therefore. thus transmitting their messages. not every Barquinha follower is a medium. there are many cases where the entrance into that cult is explained as the result of an “undeveloped mediumship”. This is understood. This development of the believers’ mediunic abilities is indeed intrinsically related to the process of conversion to this religion. there is a dance . the undeveloped mediumship was expressed initially by a disease that could manifest itself through organic imbalances. as seen. expressing traits that are not his but his “guide’s”. a particular facial expression or by the recurrence of certain props and objects . Though of course. In this case. “guides”. who manifests itself somehow possessing his body at that moment. However. which is given through a typical way of dancing. through lectures. The spiritual work highlighted by Mestre Daniel in Barquinha aimed mainly at the mediunic development of the believers.. In some cases. In all these cases.Cure in the Brazilian ayahuasca religions 41 beings express their presence through a mediunic manifestation. the use of certain expressions and a kind of language. In some Barquinha rituals. The “spin” is a ritual session that is shaped like a circle dance in which spiritual entities come (down) the land and incorporate some of the believers.called “dance” or “play’ very similar to the “spins” of the African-Brazilian cults.
So. “He ensured that I was going to be good. Many times. organization and regularization of the relations between the medium and its entities (his “guides”). As she 15 The idea of “baptism of pagan entities” implies in the conception that some beings would be on a lower spiritual level and therefore in order to “evolve spiritually” would need to be “indoctrinated”. that her main medicine at that time was the Daime. but it would take time. Although Francisca Gabriel has not provided us with details about this disease. Mestre Daniel prescribed her a treatment which involved the combined use of “herbal” and “pharmacy medicines”. At the same time. he gave me just a little Daime. Francisca Gabriel who is now a group leader in Barquinha. The work of the medium consists precisely in providing “light” for such entities. “she had already been undeceived by the doctors”. the cure consists in training. the disease can mean the need for “indoctrination” of a soul. an entity. she ensured that on that occasion.approximately three teaspoons . Francisca Gabriel met Mestre Daniel and his cult in 1957. It was a small dose of medicine”. and indicates a great influence in the latter. This “indoctrination” implies in a series of changes in the behavior of the entity and its way of manifesting when incorporated to its “apparatus”. material life. In this sense. In a certain way. Rio Branco. at first. or even the “baptism” of pagan entities15. Francisca Gabriel said. The amount of Daime given to Francisca Gabriel increased as her health improved. These directions were the result of “revelations” received by Mestre Daniel’s sessions with the Daime. She tells Mestre Daniel recommended her small daily doses of Daime . This kind of notion is present in a greater or lesser degree.which she took for several months. in some forms of Umbanda. As I reported in an interview. As shown by several authors. the disease is seen as a sign that the patient is an undeveloped medium. The absence of specific codes for the performance of this medium communication with the entities is what can generate the disease. this way of explaining the disease and its cure is typical of the umbandist universe. and therefore would need spiritual “light”. In all these cases it is considered that these beings are still considerably attached to the earthly.42 Sandra Lucia Goulart ordination of the spirituality of the medium. of kardecism concepts. moreover. . the manifestations linked to the use of material objects such as tobacco smoking or the consumption of alcoholic beverages such as cachaça as well as the recurrence of ritual practices implicating in the deaths of animals are seen as expressions of little evolution. having sought them due to a disease that afflicted her at the time. the change in the dose of Daime seemed to relate to the deepening of her “spiritual work”. Let’s take the example of Mrs. whom different types of spirits attempt to communicate with. Thus. for example. According to her.
As seen. This action always produces negative effects. As explained by a leader of another Barquinha group. leaning (..Cure in the Brazilian ayahuasca religions 43 explained. one feels the symptoms of a disease..) Sometimes a person with encosto showed up (. it is the development and regulation of the mediunic ability of the medium that in many cases. takes medication. His mediunic enhancement leads to the spiritual “indoctrination” of these entities. it is important to clarify that. In order to regularize their mediunic abilities through a series of guidelines. charity”. who was usually bonded to the first. Sometimes it is a ghost of a relative.) Because many times the person disembodies but finds no light. in Barquinha the development of mediumship implies in a healing process for both the medium and the spiritual entities which he works with.. among them a possible disease. can lead to cure a disease. Antonio Geraldo. the medium also does “charity work” for entities which need to evolve spiritually. he or she is in the darkness and then keeps trying to grab those who are in this world (. The notion of “encosto” comes from Umbanda and refers to the action provoked by a spirit of a dead person (a “ghost”) in a person’s life. knowing the entities that I had to work with”. Mr.e. It is possible to notice in this short statement. Until she comes to a center and finds out . Mestre Daniel started to give me more Daime... in both cases we find that the Daime beverage has an important role in treating the disease.. in Barquinha the Daime importance as a therapeutic agent is qualified by many other factors and in particular by the concept of mediumship.. similarities between the processes of healing experienced by the followers of Barquinha and the Santo Daime of Mestre Irineu. In this regard. “When I started to feel stronger. Thus. providing a remedy meaning. procedures and ritual requirements (the “preparo”).. or also functioning as an oracle. The notion of “prepare” in this Barquinha universe refers to the particular process of mediunic development which certain believers (mediums) should go through. and its duration may even be long. “(. They are beings who are asking for help.) It can also be a being who needs indoctrination accompanying that person. so I could develop my “preparo”... In Portuguese it can mean support (“lean on someone”) or touch (“touching someone”) and also having a pejorative sense as “being dependent on or economically exploit someone”.. someone who died of an illness and is there. It is the “prepare” that allows the organization and regularization of relations between a medium and his “guides”. i. as a means of revealing the drugs and procedures necessary for the healing. However. spends money here and there and nothing. 16 . Then the person goes to medicalexamination.) Encosto16 is like this.
In them. the entities serve all who seek for them during private appointments. spiritual guidance and procedures. the Daime also inspires the revelation of hymns. there are other major players in the disease solution process. many times also smoking him or her with his pipe or cigar. Identically to what happens in Umbanda. Thus. natural compresses. As a matter of fact. the entity gives the pass and usually finishes the appointment. “plant-spirit” and “teacher plant” which allows the daimists during their ceremonies. focusing mainly on issues related to diseases and their cures. and usually on these occasions prescribe. They speak through the bodies of mediums. teas. which would enable them to communicate more closely with spiritual entities. The intent is to pass good vibrations to the patient. the concept of mediumship is not set as an important element in defining the relationship between the believers and spiritual beings. similar to what occurs in the Umbanda religion. the Daime also assumes a much more central role with regard to the elaboration of concepts about diseases and their cures. While in Barquinha hymns are understood primarily as the result of a mediunic process. the cult of Barquinha is characterized by a set of rituals in which certain spiritual entities. In the cult founded by Mestre Irineu. These rituals are “charity works”. The very idea of Daime as a remedy or as a revelation channel of the disease and its treatment is much stronger there than in the universe of Barquinha. Even because as seen in Barquinha. to deeper understand the meanings of their hymns. incorporated in the mediums. doctrine as well as “elevating themselves” to the “astral”. a designation that also comes from Umbanda. once these entities are “indoctrinated” they can also start healing those who need and seek their assistance through mediums. passes their hands all over the body of the sufferer or unfortunate. a key role in establishing the contact between the believers and the spiritual world. The Daime assumes then. The idea that some believers would have special attributes is not highlighted. besides prescribing prayers. the therapeutic action of these entities is actually what underlies much of the set of practices and conceptions of Barquinha. herbal baths. in the religion created by Mestre Irineu.44 Sandra Lucia Goulart However. the mediums. for those who are sick. Therefore. The spiritual entities are the ones who broadcast the lyrics and melodies of these songs to mediums. now owned by the entity. the therapeutic . provide guidance and advice to the believers. An essential element of these appointments provided by the entities is the “spiritual pass”. It is the sacred beverage. As such. compared to the Barquinha cult. Whereas in the Santo Daime religion organized by Mestre Irineu. The development of mediumship. eliminating the bad fluids that may be impregnating his or her body and spirit.
attenuating its importance as a therapeutic agent. and also in typical practices of certain regions. contesting their subordinate position when asserting the religious superiority of their explanation opposite to the biomedical explanation on the disease. nurses etc. In this discussion. Furthermore. Thereby. procedures and concepts of the scientific medicine. and the extensive recurrence of herbal knowledge. Thereby. As mentioned. a term used by different authors to refer to the set of concepts and practices. “it ends up that the disease wasn’t actually a disease”. since entering the universe of these religions are submitted to its cosmological order. the therapeutic practices of Umbanda cannot ignore the realm of scientific medicine and therefore absorb many of its elements. it can be observed that the process of curing or treating diseases experienced in both Santo Daime and Barquinha cults imply in the frequent recurrence of expressions. That even makes the theme of Brazilian religions bound to the study of “religious medicines”. from the popular Catholicism to the current Pentecostal sects. 4. they subvert the biomedical logic when resignifying notions of the latter. At the same time. So we see that Montero detects this ambiguity in the umbandist healing practice. Final remarks A first aspect that we wish to emphasize here is that the ayahuasca cults are consistent with a whole way of Brazilian religiosity closely related to the matter of curing diseases. expressed in prescriptions provided by these entities when incorporated in mediums compete with the Daime. tools. as well as in African-Brazilian cults.26] is the existence of an ambiguity in the relations that these religious medicines establish with the scientific medicine. a point highlighted by some authors[11. Conversely. the desire to solve diseases is a major reason for conversion into various religions developed in Brazil.Cure in the Brazilian ayahuasca religions 45 action of spiritual entities. The physical discomfort turns into “mediunic” which needs to be developed. or in an “encosto” which has to be taken away from the “patient” and in an “ordeal” required for a particular process of religious conversion. They end up. That same ambiguous process can be noticed in the ayahuasca religions commented here. as a Barquinha group leader quoted in this article. which is the official one. present in these cults. characters (doctors. in the Kardecism. such as the caboclo Amazonian shamanism. in fact. For the fact that they are in a subaltern and peripheral position. the elements and the logic of biomedicine. therapies developed in these . which is understood by her as a popular religious medicine.). aiming at the relief and explanation of diseases and several problems related to those.
In this sense. explains. Therefore. Thus in both Santo Daime and Barquinha. in “low doses”. also in many of these statements as seen. from the perspective of their believers. say that drinking the Daime cured them or that the Daime was their main remedy. the existence of a disease. that Mestre Irineu often “saw” through the Daime which “pharmacy medicines” patients should consume. process and solve problems and diseases that the scientific medicine is unable to cure. Various statements. discovering and pointing out the procedures and medications needed for each case. for the believers of these cults. a more thorough analysis of these reports shows that the Daime is a remedy for such believes in a very different fashion from the drugs used by the scientific medicine. It is a drug-oracle that reveals. it can heal better than the scientific medicine drugs. It teaches. many come to these cults “undeceived” by the doctors or after having undergone various medical treatments without obtaining relief from their woes. it is worth remembering that after the end of slavery and the inauguration of the Republican regime in Brazil. Both establish a relationship of communication. similarly to the medicines prescribed by doctors. it is said. in accordance with the case. However. It is very much associated with the Daime . i. a remedy that is a “plant-spirit” with “power”. low spiritism. Yet on the relation between religious and scientific medicine drugs. as already seen. in conclusion the Daime relates to the one who consumes it. quoted here. the followers of these cults assert they have often used the Daime. Where the illegal practice of medicine. magic and shamanism are strictly prohibited . whether to prescribe the use of the Daime or the use of “pharmacy medicines”. As seen in the testimonials exposed. shows.e. The Daime emerges then as a remedy of quite different characteristics from the official medicine drugs.the beverage. We notice that the idea of remedy appears frequently in testimonials of these religions followers. for example. Continuing this kind of speech. enlights. A notion that expresses this ambiguous relationship between ayahuasca religions and biomedical logic is the one of the “remedy”. the use of the Daime remedy is similar to the use of modern official medicines. to support explanations about treatments for varied diseases and misfortunes. highlight that idea. magically. Many of these believers. a new penal code would also be established in this country in 1890. and both Mestre Irineu as Mestre Daniel could decide. the Daime is seen as a remedy.46 Sandra Lucia Goulart ayahuasca religions. as well as how to cure it. “light” and “knowledge”. as verified. It is. after all. That is why. which will only occur with the acceptance of new religious therapeutic practices. a drug that can treat and heal an organic disease.
Thus. labeled as “low spiritism”. but the recurrence to a variety of other plants for medicinal purposes aggravated the identification of the cult as “faith healing”. “faith healing” and “quackery”. In the case of Barquinha mainly. certain religions such as the African-Brazilian. after the promulgation of the 1890 Criminal Code. were related to the association between use of the Daime and “faith healing” or “quackery” activities. which arise more or less at the same time as Umbanda. any occasional persecution and stigma suffered by Santo Daime and Barquinha cults in Rio Branco. This would directly affect the practices of African-Brazilian cults early in their formation.27]. among others. Article 157 of the Penal Code established penalties for those who practiced the “spiritualism.. would be more appropriate to the progress aspirations of this emerging Brazilian society of the first decades of the twentieth century. generally. The ayahuasca religions were not immune to the impact of the new Penal Code. magic spells and their charms (. we can extend it to the ayahuasca religions. on the other hand stimulated the labeling of its rituals as “low spiritism” or “voodoo”. inculcate cures for curable or incurable diseases.Cure in the Brazilian ayahuasca religions 47 institutionalizing the repression of these activities and classifying them.) to arouse feelings of hate or love. especially in the period within the thirties and the fifties. suffered severe persecution at the time of its appearance. not just the use of the Daime. as quackery17. As argued by authors such as Maggie and Negrão. according to the author. see also article by Edward MacRae. Although these authors’ analyses are restricted to the AfricanBrazilian cults. . The penalty was 1-6 months in a prison cell.. when several of its practices involved healing and phytotherapy issues. It is the case of Umbanda which as shown by several authors [9. The evident approach of Barquinha with African-Brazilian cults such as Umbanda. That is the conclusion of Renato Ortiz on the process that led to the formation of Umbanda and its adoption of aspects of the Kardecism which. “rational” and “modern” new Brazilian society18. despite being in another region of the country19. 19 18 17 I developed this thought more thoroughly in another work. were stigmatized as involving the presence of a set of common therapeutic practices whose struggle was of interest for the consolidation of an official scientific medicine.11. and finally to dazzle and overwhelm the public credulity”. It is also worth mentioning that these practices started to be seen as signs of a “delayed” mentality and as an obstacle to the consolidation of a more “white”. On the analogy between the processes of repression of the African-Brazilian and ayahuasca cults. even in the twenties of the last century.
maybe we can verify in this ayahuasca religion when compared to the other two commented here. may be related at least in part. the União do Vegetal. e. as in attitudes and assumptions of its followers.g. changed significantly.e. concepts such as “science”.practices fulfilled the role of signaling a link to this ideal of scientificity[28. the book Hoasca . the low spiritism. for example. In this. It is explicitly stated that the UDV does not proclaim “the curative properties of the tea” and “does not practice or spread faith healing actions”. examined this process also showing how this period marks a growth of Umbanda in Brazil. i. it is noteworthy that the social image of the religious cults previously associated to these practices. on the other hand. the “body”. the presence of a number of elements in this cult indicates continuity with the logic that reigned the recurrence to those practices. which appears in a later period.g. a major effort regarding a distance from a set of therapeutic practices. On the one hand.Fundamentos e Objetivos establishes a complete distinction between body and spiritual healings. in terms of numbers of believers and religious communities. However. this kind of scientistic speech marks a distance from these practices. the sixties. or the artifacts. Negrão. This is a scientificity ideal. also expressing a more positive impact of this religion and its practices in the national press. understood as “quackery”.48 Sandra Lucia Goulart Also. according to Ortiz. to the process by which certain popular religious practices are being suppressed when categorized as “faith healing” and both are associated to a delayed mentality. the UDV relation with healing practices connected to a phytotherapic knowledge is ambiguous. In a way. “evolution” of a “more conscious mediumship”. in Porto Velho. 21 20 . this attitude is largely explained due to the existence of affection to a science speech in the UDV21. as shown in some investigations. magic and shamanism remains. emphasizing that this institution is characterized by the use of the Vegetable only for spiritual healing not to cure the material. Rondônia. This is evidenced both in some ritual practices of the UDV. In the first official UDV publication. As I mentioned in an earlier work. the African-Brazilian ones. very similar to the one which according to Renato Ortiz guided the consolidation and dissemination of the Kardecism in Brazil. the current ban on illegal medical practice. alcoholic beverages or tobacco by spiritual entities who were demonstrating . as well as less material and spell . and especially in the pronouncements of its leaders as well as texts and documents20 prepared by them and eventually addressed to an outside audience. One aspect that points to this change is a greater membership of people from middle and upper classes to Umbanda and Candomblé.32]. the use of herbs for healing. Although in the Brazilian Penal Code.e. from the seventies.
they begin to be analyzed by the Brazilian media in an extremely negative way. The CEFLURIS is present in countries such as Argentina. do not coincide with the outline of a positive social image of them. Today CEFLURIS is run by his sons. involves new aspects. Not all ayahuasca religions are involved with this movement of expansion and diversification of the profile of its followers. he appeared as one of his possible successors. expansion and growth are given after cults such as Umbanda. they start being embraced by individuals from higher social classes who express a very different lifestyle from those believers connected to the origin of these religions. despite this fact. who was known by his followers as “Padrinho Sebastião” and died in 1990. when they become more visible. In this regard. being no longer restricted to the Amazon region. France. which is a division of the cult of Mestre Irineu’s Santo Daime that emerged in Rio Branco. When they reach the South and Southeast regions of the country. Switzerland and Germany23. 23 Alberto Groisman asserts that by 1996 there were twenty-eight groups associated with CEFLURIS in Europe and around five hundred people between followers and occasional attendees of their rituals. . Portugal. The UDV has followers in the United States and Spain. since its emergence. The UDV and CEFLURIS (Centro Eclético da Fluente Luz Universal Raimundo Irineu Serra). Italy. Wales. Acre. as in the case of the African-Brazilian cults. With his decease. the association of religion with the drug issue in the contemporary society is highlighted. Moreover. its spread to other regions of Brazil besides the Amazon. England. The fact that the ayahuasca cults embrace today believers of different social strata brings new elements to the question on relations between subaltern religious therapeutic practices and an official and hegemonic scientific medicine. Spain. the spread of the ayahuasca religions also imply in a change of their believers’ sociocultural profile. However. Belgium. Holland. However. are the most related to this movement. Both the UDV and CEFLURIS have today groups in several other countries. Sebastião Mota de Melo breaks with them and creates his own Daime center in Rio Branco. Sebastião Mota de Melo was born in Amazonas state and was part of the group created and led by Mestre Irineu. we consider important to highlight that the marginalization of some of the practices of these cults is sustained despite the 22 The CEFLURIS was created by Sebastião Mota de Melo. United States. Instead. The expansion of these ayahuasca religions and their greater visibility in the Brazilian society. in 197822. Among these.Cure in the Brazilian ayahuasca religions 49 The case of the ayahuasca religions is a little different. after a series of conflicts and disputes concerning the successor of Mestre Irineu in the group originally created. Japan. Greece.
Finally. At this point it is worth clarifying that in Brazil. As mentioned by other authors. in the more comprehensive society. The author showed that an intersection between the uses and meanings of these alternative therapies and the daimist spiritual therapies occurs. it is important to emphasize that the religious medicine expressed through the cults discussed in this article is deeply marked by the use of the psychoactive beverage called Daime or Vegetal in the different groups. Rose.50 Sandra Lucia Goulart change in the socioeconomic profile of their believers. the great difference between official medical practices and magic-religious medicines is that the latter offer principles and integrating responses to the misfortunes and illnesses experienced by the subjects. the use of the ayahuasca has been under threat of a legal ban in several occasions. As we can see by what has been stated here. No. In 1985. but only for religious and ritual purposes. making them more meaningful and bearable. however. 17 from January 26. The religious medicine expresses a holistic view of the disease. to the use of a drug or hallucinogen. In 1987. mainly from the expansion process of these religions. studied a group linked to CEFLURIS located in Minas Gerais which has as one of its peculiarities. the official medicine therapies act from a logic of specialization that separates. .35]. and the ayahuasca was on a list of psychotropic substances prohibited for a period of almost one year. page 58. the use of the beverage was liberated again. This occurs due to different factors. Instead. Regarding the recurrence of therapeutic activities it is possible to identify those generally called alternative therapies in relation to biomedicine. a strong presence of believers in the health and medicine area who also work with this kind of therapy. for the believers of these cults the referred beverage ranges through a variety of meanings that infer and does not remit necessarily to its psychoactive or pharmacological characteristics. they are now identified. The recurrence of these alternative therapeutic approaches occurs relatively frequently in these ayahuasca religion groups that express an expansion and diversification motion of their socio-cultural followers. not only determined by economic conditions. divides and classifies the sick body. nevertheless. was 24 This resolution was published in the Diário Oficial da União (Federal Official Gazette). for example. January 2010/CONAD)24. in contemporary complex societies we can identify a great heterogeneity of behavioral patterns. In particular. understood as just a biological entity[12. The last document approved by the Brazilian government on this issue in January 2010 (Resolution No 01. However. 2010. it was even suspended. according to different situations and historical moments. after a long survey conducted by a team of specialists from different scientific areas. which have a larger or smaller acceptance.
with a strict religious sense.which is in charge of the drugs policy in Brazil. by admitting that the therapeutic practices exercised in their contexts have a strictly religious meaning. implying both in a phytotherapic experimentalism as in spiritual explanations CONAD is the regulatory agency of the Sistema Nacional de Políticas Públicas sobre Drogas (National System of Public Policies on Drugs) . are not allowed. Furthermore. the CONAD document establishes that first. In this aspect the rules of CONAD continues the logic characterized by the ayahuasca cults. a right therefore guaranteed by the Brazilian constitution. the document contains a set of principles that constitute in recommendations for the appropriate use of the beverage. based on the principle that assures the right to free exercise any cult or faith. The preparation of the document resulted from discussions and assessments developed by a working group composed of experts on the subject.Cure in the Brazilian ayahuasca religions 51 prepared by CONAD (Conselho Nacional de Políticas sobre Drogas National Drug Council)25. Both were created in 1998 to replace other agencies with a similar function. However. Secondly. especially in biomedicine but also in humanities and counted also with the participation of representatives of major groups of these religions.SISNAD . This document regulates the use of the ayahuasca in Brazil. Concerning the therapeutic use of the ayahuasca. which should be followed by all ayahuasca cults. The document clarifies that the use of the ayahuasca for this other purpose can only be made under confirmation of scientific research undertaken at academic institutions. As we tried to show throughout this article. It is true that the latest Brazilian government regulations on the use of the ayahuasca partly continue the arguments of the ayahuasca cult believers. providing continuity to a logic characterized by these cults. established in the Brazilian constitution. the CONAD regulation determines that the use of the ayahuasca for therapeutic purposes other than those strictly religious aiming at health or cure. the therapeutic activities of these cults merge different conceptions and practices. The CONAD document legally sanctions the religious use of the beverage. remembering that it was also elaborated from the considerations of the representatives of these cults’ perspective. Its function is to provide guidance. the so-called healing activities practiced in these cults consist of an “act of faith”. The CONAD is linked to the Presidential Institutional Security Office and consists of members who participate in government institutions as well as NGOs. the logic and mindset that support these practices differ considerably from the fundamentals that guide governmental decisions and opinions. advice and recommendations on the drugs subject 25 . and on which the state cannot intervene.
Campinas. 1991. 3rd ed. 1955.C. In: O Uso Ritual das Plantas de Poder. 15. Cacciatore. (Eds. C..C. 4. S. 2005. P. M. L. 2004.G. no estado do Maranhão. Stocolm. Os Homens de Deus: um estudo dos santos e das festas no catolicismo popular.). O Mundo Invisível: cosmologia. 2002. Dicionário de Cultos Afro-Brasileiros.L. Goulart. 397. FFLCH. Luna. 2002. A. O.L. 1985. São Paulo. but also stands as a counterpoint to this one. Contrastes e continuidades em uma tradição amazônica: as religiões da ayahuasca. UNICAMP. Procópio. 40/41. to be contributing to the reflection between the possible relations between religious and scientific medicines. 12. B. 1996. express and consolidate a therapeutic knowledge that is not only from a different order (religion) from that one perpetuated by biomedicine. Santos e Visagens. by moving from a logic and from quite distinct elements. Rio de Janeiro. Rio de Janeiro. Vozes. Construções Míticas e História: estudo sobre as representações simbólicas e relações raciais em São Paulo do século XVIII à atualidade. The Brazilian ayahuasca cults. Montero.52 Sandra Lucia Goulart of diseases and also in the recurrence to scientific medicine procedures. Vegetalismo: shamanism among the mestizo population of the peruvian Amazon. 1983. sistema ritual e noção de pessoa no espiritismo.). Goulart. 1983.L.G. Goulart. With the present discussion we believe therefore. As Raízes Culturais do Santo Daime. 10. 7. Sena Araújo.E. References 1. accordingly. 9. 14. IFCH. In: O Uso Ritual da Ayahuasca. . S.C. Livraria Pioneira Editora. Mercado de Letras. L. Rio de Janeiro. FFLCH. Companhia Editora Nacional. 3. Goulart. Almqvist and Wiksell International.V. 5. Universidade de São Paulo.L. Labate and W. 313. Da Doença à Desordem: a magia na Umbanda. 2nd ed. Revista do Programa de Pós-graduação em Ciências Sociais. when part of the set of ayahuasca cult practices are reinterpreted by them and submitted to their cosmology. São Paulo.. EDUSP. B. Petrópolis. 13. 1979 (1947). Negrão. Forense Universitária. B. L. Zaluar. São Paulo. M. A Casa das Minas: contribuição ao estudo das sobrevivências do culto dos voduns do panteão daomeano. J. Kardecismo e Umbanda. E. 6. Galvão. Pereira Nunes. 11. São Paulo. Trindade. we saw that the elements of the scientific medicine. 2.L. 1961. Labate and S. Campinas. Graal. Magnani. S. 1986. Mercado de Letras.d. At the same time. Zahar.C. Cavalcanti. Labate. 1996. Campinas. 1988. Entre a cruz e a encruzilhada: formação do campo umbandista em São Paulo. Universidade de São Paulo. Rio de Janeiro. Zahar. São Paulo. (Eds. 8.
21. Salvador.. Canesqui. Arquivo Nacional. Thomas and C. 251. 1996. et al. Salvador. 1981. 90. E. Panema: uma tentativa de análise estrutural. Sociedade Rural. Debate e Crítica. 34. Groisman. 1992.L. W. Mestre Antonio Geraldo e o Santo Daime. C. 1999. Labate. CEBUDV. 6. Editora da Unicamp/Centro de Memória. Vozes. 1978. Petrópolis. 17. Goulart. Centro de Ciências Humanas Universidade Federal de Santa Catarina. Ortiz. da Universidade Federal da Bahia. 22. Centro Espírita Daniel Pereira de Matos “Barquinha”. Araújo. S. Duas respostas à aflição: umbanda e pentecostalismo. Gow. da Universidade Federal da Bahia. Ateliê Editorial. Sena Araújo. Figueiredo. 33. 31. Vozes. Ed. Brumana. 1991. Magnani. 1980. P. I. Fry. In: Drogas e Cultura: novas perspectivas. Campinas. Howe. 47. R. J. São Paulo. Campinas. 19. Marginália Sagrada. N. 32. 29. 286. Ortiz. 2. A. R. 2002. London. 2003. University of London. 8.M. B. B. (Eds). 1996. Santo Daime in the Netherlands: an anthropological study of a new world religion in a european setting. L. Das Ervas Medicinais à Fitoterapia. 30. (Eds). Unicamp. (Eds). 1977. MacRae. 1975.M. and E. M. integração de uma religião numa sociedade de classes. Ciencia e Saúde Coletiva. 1989. 2005. Rose. 289.P. and N. São Paulo. da Unicamp. History and the State. . Religious Matrices of the União do Vegetal. R. 1973. 20. Vozes: Petrópolis.G.. Petrópolis. Martínez. In: Shamanism.C.C. Espiritualidade. A morte branca do feiticeiro negro: umbanda.A. Ann Harbor. Ed. Goulart. Florianopolis. In: Drogas e Cultura: novas perspectivas. F. Terapia e Cura: um estudo sobre a expressão da experiência no Santo Daime. S. Hoasca: Fundamentos e objetivos. Sacerdotes de Viola: rituais religiosos do catolicismo popular em São Paulo e Minas Gerais. P. Medo do feitiço: relações entre magia e poder no Brasil. Doença e Cura na Religião Umbandista.. 23. 2008. 28.d. A. E.d.R. Sociedade Urbana no Brasil.I. S. Rio de Janeiro. Rio Branco. EDUSP. M. Ed. Brasil. 24. 26. Ensaios de Antropologia Estrutural. 18. et al. cosmologia e ritual da Barquinha. Da Matta. 1978. Brasília. 2008. Fieldwork in Religion. 27. 35. Cultura. Queiroz.G. The University of Michigan Press.Cure in the Brazilian ayahuasca religions 53 16.G. Campinas. Sede Geral. Brandão. Navegando sobre as ondas do Daime: história. Religião e Sociedade. et al. Maggie. 25. 1. Y. Humphrey. Labate. 2000. PhD in Antropologia Social. 2006.
E-mail: JRiba@santpau. Spain. Researchers have gathered data on the physiological impact of ayahuasca administration to humans and have assessed the consequences of long term regular use. For the first time. Jordi Riba.cat . Trivandrum-695 023 Kerala.T Transworld Research Network 37/661 (2).O. This fascinating psychotropic plant tea has attracted the attention of biomedical and psychological scientists. the modification of vital signs. Also. Institut d’Investigacions Biomèdiques Sant Pau (IIB-Sant Pau). Barcelona. An overview of the literature on the pharmacology and neuropsychiatric long term effects of ayahuasca Human Experimental Neuropsychopharmacology and Centre d’Investigació de Medicaments (CIM-Sant Pau). neuroimaging techniques have shown us which brain areas “light up” during the most intense phases of the ayahuasca experience. The last two decades have seen a steady increase in the number of publications devoted to ayahuasca. India The Ethnopharmacology of Ayahuasca. the popularization of ayahuasca has raised concerns that its regular use may cause neuropsychiatric and addiction-related problems for Correspondence/Reprint request: Dr. Institut d’Investigacions Biomèdiques Sant Pau (IIB-Sant Pau). 2011: 55-63 ISBN: 978-81-7895-526-1 Editor: Rafael Guimarães dos Santos 3. Human Experimental Neuropsychopharmacology and Centre d’Investigació de Medicaments (CIM-Sant Pau). Barcelona. Fort P. Spain José Carlos Bouso and Jordi Riba Abstract. neuroendocrine and immunological parameters and neurophysiological variables. Acute administration studies have provided information on the fate of the alkaloids in the organism.
56 José Carlos Bouso & Jordi Riba users. Affect. measuring visual. with the intensity of the experience falling on “the mild end of the spectrum when contrasted to the highly potent. and. In the study a 2 ml/kg dose of ayahuasca was given to a group of 15 long-term members of a Brazilian ayahuasca church known as União do Vegetal. Perception. is greatly advanced by the study of these substances in the only species that can accurately report on the diverse facets of the psychedelicinduced experience. The authors also assessed various physiological parameters and the pharmacokinetic profile of ayahuasca alkaloids. This pioneering study found measurable plasma levels of the four main alkaloids (DMT. Volition. The human pharmacology of ayahuasca By temporarily modifying serotonergic neurotransmission. human beings. described their pattern of variation with time and how this related with timedependent modifications which for the most part reached a maximum . Scores on the six subscales showed that at the administered dose ayahuasca was able to induce distinct psychedelic effects. gustatory. and aimed to assess the subjective and physiological impact of acute ayahuasca administration in regular users. The clinical investigation of ayahuasca was initiated by a field study conducted in the early 1990s by Callaway.e. harmaline and tetrahydroharmine [THH]). which reflects the strength of the overall experience. Intensity. reflecting somatic effects. indicating the volunteer’s degree of incapacitation. finally. 1. Subjective effects were measured with the Hallucinogen Rating Scale (HRS. describing modifications in thought processes or content. Scientific inquiry into the workings of ayahuasca. shortacting intravenous DMT”.. By administering these compounds in known dosages to carefully selected individuals valuable information has been obtained on their impact on the human body and psyche. These neurochemical modifications constitute the basis of the unique experience reported by users. i. ayahuasca exerts a powerful action on the central nervous system. auditory. and all psychoactive drugs in general. Grob. harmine. The HRS measurements provided information on six different spheres of the psychedelic-induced experience: Somaesthesia. and olfactory experiences. Cognition. An increasing number of studies have tried to address these concerns. an instrument originally developed by Strassman and colleagues to assess the effects of intravenous dimethyltryptamine [DMT]). McKenna and colleagues. In the present chapter we aim to give an overview of the available literature on the human pharmacology of acute ayahuasca intake and on the neuropsychiatric and psychosocial consequences of its long-term use. sensitive to emotional and affective responses.
as well as on the pharmacology of repeated ayahuasca intake. research has been conducted by Riba and coworkers at the Hospital de Sant Pau in Barcelona. This is suggestive of intense metabolism and also indicative that. This was the case for physiological (cardiovascular). a simple method to assess subjective effects of drugs consisting of 100-mm horizontal lines with different labels as “any effect”. DMT plasma concentrations reached their peak coinciding with the maximum intensity of the subjective effects. More recently. from which safe and pharmacologically effective doses were selected for subsequent studies involving a larger number of volunteers. another rating scale to assess subjective effects of drugs. An unexpected result was the very low levels of harmine found in plasma for the majority of participants. the subjective and cardiovascular effects of different doses of ayahuasca. Since 1999 this team has performed a series of studies which have tried to better characterize the neuropharmacological profile of ayahuasca. that subjects must mark depending on the intensity of a given effect as experienced while under the effects of the drug). at least in some people. Several of these studies are still pending publication. A review of their studies and findings between 1999 and 2004 can be found in Riba and Barbanoj (2005). In these studies. These initial efforts were followed by a series of clinical trials which have provided information on the pharmacokinetics. with the ARCI – Addiction Research Centre Inventory. “visions”. In the last five years the same group has conducted additional studies on the sleep. A pilot study was then undertaken to assess the tolerability of ayahuasca within a range of dosages. etc. A method to determine ayahuasca alkaloids in plasma was perfected to now include several metabolites which had not been measured previously in humans. Ayahuasca induced cardiovascular effects.Pharmacology and neuropsychiatry of ayahuasca 57 between one and two hours and had disappeared at 24 hours after ayahuasca ingestion. the contribution of harmine to the overall central effects of ayahuasca would be small. The group started by analyzing the psychometric characteristics of the HRS and obtaining subjective ratings of ayahuasca. basically consisting of elevations of . pharmacokinetic and psychological variables (assessed with the HRS. neuroendocrine and immunological effects of ayahuasca. the neuroimaging study conducted by this team identified the brain areas specifically involved in the genesis of ayahuasca effects. and various psychophysiological measures[8-11]. “good effects”. when administered in a clinical setting and carefully controlling for expectancy (blind designs) ayahuasca was found to act in a dose-dependent manner. “liking”. As would be expected from conventional drugs and somewhat in contrast to popular belief.. and with VAS – Visual Analogue Scales. For the first time in the centuries-long history of ayahuasca use.
shifting the energy distribution in the electroencephalogram (EEG). caution should be exerted by people who have elevated blood pressure or other cardiovascular problems. towards the higher end of the power spectrum. the increment induced by ayahuasca being higher. This effect appears to be non-specific as both ayahuasca and amphetamine induce similar time-dependent modifications on lymphocyte subpopulations: the percentages of CD4 and CD3 cells decrease. Differences in neurochemical mechanism are also evidenced by ayahuasca. this activation is unique to psychedelics and different from that induced by traditional psychostimulants.. This is even more relevant considering recent reports in the media concerning the unexplained deaths of people participating in ayahuasca rituals[15-17]. Using the neuroimaging technique SPECT (single photon emission tomography) researchers found that ayahuasca acts almost exclusively on the cerebral cortex without acting on subcortical areas. While this effect can be interpreted as reflecting enhanced Central Nervous System (CNS) activity. At the psychophysiological level ayahuasca induces significant effects. both ayahuasca and d-AMPH induce a stress-like reaction increasing cortisol levels. No studies have yet assessed the possible impact of these acute physiological modifications on the health of long term ayahuasca users. with greater intensity in the right .58 José Carlos Bouso & Jordi Riba diastolic blood pressure. These changes reach a maximum at around 2 hours postadministration and return to baseline levels at 24 hours. significantly increasing prolactin levels (a hormone whose release is enhanced by serotonergic drugs and inhibited by dopaminergic drugs). while the percentage of NK cells increase. While these increases were moderate. but not d-AMPH. It should be noted that the clinical data which has been published to date is from young healthy volunteers. Another interesting finding is that ayahuasca is able to modulate the cell immune system. i. Unpublished data from a study comparing ayahuasca with d-amphetamine (d-AMPH). Despite these differences. the spontaneous electrical activity of the brain. Ayahuasca increases the activity of the anterior insula bilaterally. This shift towards the so-called faster frequencies of the EEG can be measured as an increase in the relative power of the EEG beta band. Perhaps the most interesting finding from the mentioned clinical trials is the identification of the brain areas where ayahuasca acts. Safety results might be different in older people or individuals with pre-existing conditions. show that d-AMPH has no effect whatsoever on relative beta power. such as increasing pupillary diameter and elevating blood pressure. Whereas both drugs share some sympathomimetic effects. the distinct effects of ayahuasca on the EEG would relate to its specific serotonergic mechanism.e. a classical psychostimulant enhancing dopaminergic and noradrenergic neurotransmission.
Pharmacology and neuropsychiatry of ayahuasca 59 hemisphere. Additional increases were observed in the left amygdala/parahippocampal gyrus. It also hyperactivates the anterior cingulate/frontomedial cortex of the right hemisphere. all these addiction problems resolved after they began their regular use of ayahuasca. A typical problem with this kind of studies lies in the interpretation of results. the processing of emotional information and emotional arousal. According to the authors. One preliminary study led by Charles Grob assessed personality and neuropsychological function using the TPQ (Tridimensional Personality Questionnaire) and the WHO-UCLA Auditory Verbal Learning Test. The questionnaires were administered to a sample of 15 regular users with more than 10 years of experience with ayahuasca and to a comparison group of 15 non-users. The data available is limited and would need replication in larger samples. structures also involved in emotional arousal and the processing of memories. No personality alterations or neuropsychological deficits were found in the ayahuasca-using subjects. It is difficult to establish whether the scores obtained with the TPQ reflect the impact of ayahuasca use or rather pre-use personality. areas previously known to be implicated in somatic awareness. subjective feeling states. psychopathological status and neuropsychological functions in long term ayahuasca users is essential to ascertain whether regular ayahuasca use has some impact on mental health. which the authors did not interpret as pathological. and 8 of the 11 subjects who had a history of alcohol and other drug use and misuse were addicted to nicotine at the time of their first ayahuasca session. Four subjects also reported previous use of other drugs of abuse. Neuropsychiatric long term effects of ayahuasca Since personality and neuropsychological function are to a great extent regulated by the prefrontal cortex. 2. Five of them reported episodes of associated violent behavior and a diagnosis of alcohol abuse disorder prior to their involvement with an ayahuasca church. though there were personality differences between groups. In the study by Grob and coworkers the authors also used the structured psychiatric interview known as CIDI (Composite International Diagnostic Interview) and found that 11 out of the 15 participants had a history of moderate to severe past alcohol use. No information was given as to whether the scores fell within the normal range according to normative data. Ayahuasca participants did not meet diagnostic criteria either for . the study of personality. including cocaine and amphetamines. A few studies have been conducted assessing the consequences of regular ayahuasca use in the long term.
Since the subjects in this study were not compared with matched non-users. personality and spirituality. A recent study on 32 regular ayahuasca users belonging to the Igreja do Santo Daime in Oregon. the findings should be interpreted with caution. In sum. Still in another study. all in a naturalistic context. In one study of first-time users of ayahuasca in the ritual context of the Brazilian churches of the Santo Daime (19 subjects) and the União do Vegetal (nine subjects). and a comparison group of 40 matched non-users. No statistical differences were found in psychopathology scores or in measures of neuropsychological function.60 José Carlos Bouso & Jordi Riba addiction or for any other psychiatric disorder at the moment of the assessment. Additional studies Several studies have assessed the impact of acute ayahuasca on psychological traits and measures. significant reductions of minor psychiatric symptoms and positive changes in behavior were found in the four days following ayahuasca use. USA. This was interpreted again as a direct benefit of participating in the Santo Daime ceremonies. Another study found reductions in the scores of panic and hopelessness one hour after ayahuasca ingestion. Each study involved 40 adolescents with a two-year history of ayahuasca use. due to the small number of studies conducted on regular ayahuasca users the potential impact of sustained ayahuasca use on mental health remains an open question. though many subjects experienced spiritual themes according to the qualitative data obtained. two papers have been published regarding the long term psychopathological and neuropsychological effects of regular ayahuasca in adolescents. As occurred in the study by Grob and colleagues. psychopathology. One study did a six-month follow-up of participants who had consumed ayahuasca for the first time in the context of a Brazilian ayahuasca church (Santo Daime and União do Vegetal). The study found a general improvement in several . while no deletereous effects have been demonstrated. did not find psychiatric alterations as measured by a series of rating scales and compared to normative US data. 3. which at the time of the assessment was not present. 49 participants without previous experience with ayahuasca attended different ayahuasca ceremonies after which quantitative and qualitative assessments of spiritual experiences were conducted. most of the ayahuasca users had shown some psychiatric disorder or some drug or alcohol abuse disorder in the past. as compared to baseline. The rating scales measuring changes in spirituality were not significantly modified after the sessions. Finally.
and especially not to ayahuasca-naive individuals.e. Final remarks Though no serious adverse events were attributed either to acute or chronic ayahuasca use in the published studies reviewed. Drug and Alcohol Use. although only one subject in the clinical trials suffered an episode of disorientation. the authors found positive correlations between ayahuasca use and positive psychological attitudes. The ASI was administered to two different samples of regular ayahuasca users. Antipsychotic . The conclusions cannot be extrapolated to the general population. as assessed with the ASI in currently active users. Ayahuasca has shown to moderately increase several cardiovascular parameters and such increases could have deletereous effects on people with cardiovascular conditions. The clinical trials cited in this chapter were performed in healthy young volunteers who had extensive experience in psychedelic drug use and did not present any sequelae derived from this use. i. These users belonged to two different ayahuasca churches – the Santo Daime and the Barquinha – and they were assessed in two different settings – jungle and urban-based. Additionally. a total of 112 regular ayahuasca users. Assessments were repeated one year later as a follow-up. This study assessed the largest sample studied to date. They had a 15-year history of use and they were compared with 115 matched controls. Finally. The ASI is a semi-structured interview designed to assess the impact of drug use in a multi-dimensional fashion. 4.Pharmacology and neuropsychiatry of ayahuasca 61 psychological measures at the end of the study. The study concluded that “the ritual use of ayahuasca. One recently published study used the Addiction Severity Index (ASI) as a measurement instrument. Most of the subjects continued to consume ayahuasca after the six-month study period. It assesses the participant’s Medical Status. a naturalistic study found that ayahuasca alters binocular rivalry. and Psychiatric Status. respectively. Furthermore. Ayahuasca use did not appear to cause any adverse effects. does not seem to be associated with the psychosocial problems that other drugs of abuse typically cause”. a perceptual measure of cognitive processing.. and provides general information on the participant’s current condition and his/her level of deterioration. Employment/Support. a note of caution should be made regarding ayahuasca safety. Legal Status. a case report describes a patient who presented a psychotic breakdown after acute ayahuasca intake. This research group recently presented a conference paper reporting that they did not find evidence of neuropsychological deficits or personality and psychiatric disorders in their sample. Family/Social Relationships.
Rodríguez-Fornells. Brito... S.C. Grob. Poland. J. Ethnopharmacol. D..... Exp.J. 271. J.. 184.J. Psychiatry. Ortuño. Castillo. 154.. B. M. A.C. and Barbanoj. Yritia.S. and Mash. R. Valle. Other cases of psychiatric adverse psychiatric reactions. Urbano. Barbanoj. 4. E. 18. 196. J. Antonijoan. J. Callaway. Alfaro..J. G.B. Ment. A. and Barbanoj.. and Barbanoj. Subject experiencing adverse consequences might have given up ayahuasca use altogether and would consequently not be accessible to researchers.. A.. 2001. J.. M.. This would mean that the assessed individuals may have been those who did not experience any negative neuropsychiatric consequences derived from their maintained ayahuasca use. A. 243. 779. E.E. Psychopharmacology (Berl). Psychopharmacology (Berl). Regarding the studies of long term effects. including psychotic disorders... Gen.. Brito. J. 7. Chromatogr. Raymon. C. and the same individual suffered a second psychotic crisis after subsequent ayahuasca use.. G. McKenna. M. Callaway. D. J.N. and Boone. D.S..J. J. 85..O. M.. C. Strassman. 306. Oberlaender..C.. Andrade. Morte. 165. M. 9. . 62.P. It is necessary to take into account the anecdotal evidence available on its potential dangers in order to get a complete picture of the possible negative psychiatric consequences. Ramirez.. E. 1996. Clos.. M... A. References 1. Giménez.C. J. Tacla...... Uhlenhuth... C. 86. and Barbanoj. 315. 1994. R.L. Strassman.J. R. Ther. G.. Arch. have been reported following acute ayahuasca ingestion. the scientific investigation of ayahuasca has only found a moderate risk associated to acute ayahuasca administration and has even reported psychological improvements after long-term use. A. M. 2002.. To conclude. J. J. 65. Saide. J.S.. C.. Drug Alcohol Depend. 2001. Strassman. Riba. Pharmacol.. R. 3. R. E. Callaway.. 2003. E. Riba. J. and Barbanoj.. C....R.. Riba.J. 51. Urbano. E.. S. O. 1999. Future investigation into the neuropsychiatric safety of regular ayahuasca use should ideally also include people who used ayahuasca regularly in the past but decided to discontinue its use.. 6. Riba. M. Rodríguez-Fornells... G.S.62 José Carlos Bouso & Jordi Riba medication was needed until its remission. Nerv.J. Psychopharmacology (Berl).. 73. Neves. and Romero. A. Y. 2002.J.. Labigalini. Dis. S. 8.S. de la Torre.. McKenna. Riba..J. J. Rodríguez-Fornells. K. G..J. R. L. Morte. M. R.J. 2. Miranda.H. 2008. Yritia.T. Riba. Grasa. and Kellner.. Qualls. M. it should be noted that the participant samples studied in the reviewed papers may have suffered from a self-selection bias.. 5. Andrade. Montero. 98. Grob. 215.
. Klimo. M. Migueli.C. Psychiatry (Online). Anderer... J. San Jose. 613. E. 41. 25.. Fábregas.. Riba. Bouso. and Barbanoj. Vera. F... Lopez. November 18. G. Riba... A encruzilhada do Daime. 41. Lima. Grob. Grasa. Nomdedéu. February 05..X.J. 28. and Strassman.. I..M... [See the final article in the present book] 29. Tacla. Landeira-Fernandez. M. J. A. B. 193. 23.J. Doering-Silveira.A. Alcázar-Córcoles. 2009.. J. and Da Silveira. I. 2002. Long Term Effects on Mental Health of Ayahuasca Ritual Use.H. J.. 123.P. T. Fondevila.. 11..G.. M. 20. Br. M. and Barbanoj. 2011.K. 2004.. Alonso. Psychoactive Drugs. 2008... [Submitted] 15.K. 37. Barbosa P. 50. 2005. S. Neto... J...J. Motta. R. C. J. Psychedelic Science in the 21st Century. 22. Psiquiatr.. C. Saletu. P..C. Saletu. 257.G. 3 December. SR15. Giglio.H. 111. J... Psychopharmacology (Berl). 24.C. McIlhenny. 13. de Rios. M. Halpern. and Barbanoj. Psychoactive Drugs 37. Brito. 173.. M. Isto É. González.... Riba. Polícia de Goiás investiga morte de universitário após tomar chá do Santo Daime. J. P. 2009..J. 24. Strassman. M...C. J.J. K.. E. P.. 93.. 53. P.C. 14. 186. M. Jané. Anderer. Gomes.. 205.Pharmacology and neuropsychiatry of ayahuasca 63 10. Frecska. C.. 2010. E. R. 2002. Barbanoj.S.X.. R. J. M. April 16-18. 2010. A. Urbano. Romero. 12. 2006. Tacla. and Doering-Silveira. E. H. 26. R. and Krippner.C.H. Blackwell. 2005. Alonso. Morte. 21.R.. White. 219. Mena. E. November 16. S..J. . Barbanoj. de Rios.. 2.A. R. E.J. Da Silveira. L. Drug Alcohol Depend. Pharmacol.. 2004.. El Espacio. J. Bertolucci.. Br. X. J. Santos... F. Santos.. M. 2010. D. E. murió tomando yagé. 37. Psychoactive Drugs. and Ruttenber. Naves. J. A. J. J.F. V. Psychopharmacology (Berl). R. O Globo.. J. Rev. L. J. K. 27. I..J. Psychoactive Drugs.. 18. Neuropsychobiology..D. Rodríguez-Espinosa. 112. 2005.. Passie.H. C. A. G. et cols. M. Valle. Cazorla.. suppl. Lopez. G. P. J. Grob. and Bouso. Clin. E. B.M.. 129... P. D.. Sci. S. Motta. J. J. D. and Luna. and Strassman. J. Shirakawa... Barbosa. 2005. Jané. Santos. 2009.. Psychoactive Drugs.. Barbosa. S. Barker.. L.J.E. J. Cutchet. 89..G.D. and Dalgalarrondo.M. and Cruz. Riba. 121. Giglio J. Monit. 19. 17. Carrió. M. Bras. Ethnopharmacol. J. Trichter... CA...S. Med. and Riba. 2008. J. 507..S. and Barbanoj. 16. Fernández. J. Sherwood.. F.. 14.. J Psychoactive Drugs.D. J..S. MAPS. Fábregas. 79. 2007. Riba. 37. J. Hombre que quería “arreglar su matrimonio”.. S.S.
Correspondence/Reprint request: Dr. Bahia.T Transworld Research Network 37/661 (2).O. India The Ethnopharmacology of Ayahuasca. as a rule. dangerous. Ilhéus.com. The expansion of religious use of the psychedelic drink ayahuasca in Brazil and elsewhere has been increasing interest in the investigation of ostensible therapeutic properties which are attributed to this drink by its users. Bahia. Adjunct professor and member of the Mental Health Research Group. Methods: Case study. Paulo César Ribeiro Barbosa. in which in-depth interview techniques were used to elicit the parameters and meaning of first experiences with ayahuasca in Santo Daime (CEFLURIS branch) and its behavioral consequences in the following week. State University of Santa Cruz. Therapeutic perspectives on the acute and post-acute effects of ritual experience with ayahuasca: A case study Adjunct professor and member of the Mental Health Research Group State University of Santa Cruz.br . which are currently considered to lack medical efficacy and to be. Introduction: Psychedelics. Fort P. Trivandrum-695 023 Kerala. Brazil E-mail: pcesarr@yahoo. Objectives: To explore the therapeutic potential of first experiences with ayahuasca. Brazil Paulo César Ribeiro Barbosa Abstract. 2011: 65-74 ISBN: 978-81-7895-526-1 Editor: Rafael Guimarães dos Santos 4. Ilhéus. were once used as therapeutic adjuncts in the so-called psycholytic and psychedelic therapies of the years between 1950 and 1970.
Paulo César Ribeiro Barbosa
Conclusions: The states of consciousness induced by first experiences with ayahuasca point to therapeutic potential because, according to the subject’s selfreport, they stimulated processes of self-knowledge and insight about aspects of the subject’s biography. It was noteworthy that, unlike psycholytic and psychedelic therapies, this insight occurred in association with feelings of peace and in the absence of the visionary experiences typical of psychedelics. The tranquilizing properties of ayahuasca, as well as aspects of the ritual and environmental setting, contribute to the elaboration of interpretive hypotheses about the experience.
Ayahuasca is a hallucinogenic drink made from the decoction of the root bark and, sometimes, the outer layer of stems of the vine Banisteriopsis caapi (which contains the harmala alkaloids harmine, harmaline, and tetrahydroharmine), together with the leaves of the Psychotria viridis bush, which contains the alkaloid N,N-dimethytryptamine. The hallucinogenic properties of this combination of alkaloids have been explained as a function of their particular means of affecting the serotonergic system. Ethnographic data have detailed the ritual use of the drink for magicoreligious purposes in the western Amazon basin by Amerindian and mestizo populations[3-5]. Throughout the 20th century, emigrants from northeastern Brazil who went to Amazonia assimilated Amerindian / Amazonian mestizo religious use of ayahuasca to their existing religious beliefs. This cultural process resulted in the advent of several modern urban religions, such as the Centro Eclético Fluente Luz Universal Raimundo Irineu Serra [Raimundo Irineu Serra Eclectic Center of the Universal Flowing Light] (also known as CEFLURIS or Santo Daime), the União do Vegetal (also known as the UDV), and the Barquinha, which are characterized by a combination of Christian, Afro-Brazilian, reincarnationist Spiritism, and the use of ayahuasca as means to spiritual development[6-10]. Over the last three decades, UDV and Santo Daime temples spread beyond the Amazonian region to the large cities in every region of Brazil. This process made the ritual-religious use of ayahuasca accessible to a large number of people whose predominant cultural background did not include the religious use of hallucinogens. Reactions to the use of ayahuasca among mental health professionals have been polarized. On one side are those, supported by the currently dominant perspective of mental health, who express concern about adverse physical and mental effects resulting from the use of the drink[11,12]. On the other side are those who consider the possible therapeutic uses of this
Therapeutic perspectives on ayahuasca
substance, supported by encouraging results in observational studies of long-term users of ayahuasca[13,14] and by the programs of psycholytic and psychedelic therapies based on the use of hallucinogenic substances. These programs, in vogue at the end of the 1950s and the start of the 1960s, proposed that positive transformations of daily behavior could result from the insights produced by hallucinogens in therapeutic settings. The psycholytic paradigm was dominant in Europe. This approach relied on psychodynamic theories, advocated moderate doses of hallucinogens to help reduce psychological defenses, and emphasized the imagistic effects of the substances as symbolic resources to achieve insight. The psychedelic paradigm, which was predominant in North America, argued that the use of high doses of hallucinogens could induce an intense, powerfully transformative mystico-religious experience, and that this potential should be used in psychotherapy[15,17]. This paper seeks to explore the therapeutic possibilities of ayahuasca through a detailed report of a young woman’s first ritual experience with ayahuasca in the CEFLURIS branch of Santo Daime in the city of São Paulo, Brazil.
In 2005, we reported a study that evaluated the psychological effects of first-time ayahuasca use in twenty-eight subjects. In that study, information was collected about aspects of the set (prior individual attitudes toward the experience with ayahuasca), the acute effects of the drink experienced during the ritual, and the post-acute effects experienced in the week following the ritual. This work develops little-explored aspects of that project through a detailed description of the case of Tanya (a pseudonym), one of the subjects in that sample. Tanya is 37 years old, single, white, educated, and professionally successful. She was born in the city of São Paulo and currently lives in one of its upper-middle class neighborhoods. Tanya was evaluated two days before her first experience with ayahuasca and seven days after it. Semi-structured interviews were used for data collection. At T0 Tanya’s motivations and expectations for the imminent experience with ayahuasca were elicited, as well as her emotional state and her attitudes along various psychosocial dimensions (family, professional and financial, interpersonal, self-esteem, stressor events, and perceptions of her physical wellbeing. At T1, the state of mood and attitudes were again elicited, as well as dimensions of the ritual experience with ayahuasca: affectivity, thought process and content, sense of identity, exteroception, enteroception, volition / control, and
Paulo César Ribeiro Barbosa
spatiotemporal sense. The analysis consisted in the identification of themes that link each of the experiential dimensions in the three phases covered by the investigation: prior to the experience with ayahuasca, the acute effects (that is, experiences during the ritual), and the short-term, post-acute effects (that is, during the week following the experience). All novices to Santo Daime must go through a prior interview, conducted by the religion’s acolytes, aimed at evaluating the candidate and giving guidance about the procedures to be adopted during the ritual. Tanya’s recruitment for the study took place within an agreement with the CEFLURIS church that was to organize the ritual within which she would have her first experience with ayahuasca. The person responsible for the interview was to send the novice for evaluation. As happens with the majority of novices, Tanya tried ayahuasca in a CEFLURIS church, in a wooded area on the outskirts of São Paulo. The ritual began at 9:30 p.m. and ended at 9:30 a.m. the next morning. Tanya ingested four doses of the drink throughout the ritual, which, like the other rituals in this denomination, was marked by constant singing of songs, called hymns, in praise of God, Christian saints, nature, and moral virtues, and was accompanied by the synchronized movement of all the participants (called the bailado, or “dance”).
3.1. Set: Motives for trying Daime and attitudes prior to the experience
“I am going to try Daime to see if... It is a search for self-knowledge (...) to understand why I fight with people who have nothing to do with my problems.” This was Tanya’s response when asked about her motives for trying ayahuasca. Next, she related the situation that currently leads to her fighting with people who have nothing to do with her problems. There had been a recent romantic breakup, which involved a financial debt, incurred during the relationship, that her ex-boyfriend owed her. Her ex-boyfriend’s “run-around” in resolving the debt, and constant arguments about the situation, constituted a source of much irritation and frustration for Tanya, who could not bring the matter to a conclusion. This particular situation was linked with feelings of low self-esteem, as for some time she had been unable to bring about changes in her habits, such as dieting and stopping smoking.
’ And suddenly.” “I didn’t think about my life outside at all. The only thing I had was that I felt very. what I thought was right. It was like I was having a conversation with myself the whole night. Two aspects stand out in this phase: 1. Absolutely nothing. about the money my exboyfriend owes me.. dancing with them. 2.” “I became very calm and I could examine a series of attitudes I had. always very painful. I got weirded out. at first. ‘What am I doing here? This here doesn’t.. there I was. singing all the hymns and feeling good about it. I didn’t have any of that.). The sudden subsequent change. all the things I did and all the relationships I’ve had (.1.. States of consciousness induced by the ritual use of ayahuasca 3. during the whole ‘work’ I felt very tranquil almost the whole time (.Therapeutic perspectives on ayahuasca 69 3. characterized by a sense of familiarity with the environment and with ritual behaviors. So I thought it was strange because. 3.2. But not that I felt I was living through it again..) there was no kind of hallucination..” “I thought a lot about my whole life. you know? Later I was fine. Perplexity toward the apparent nonsense of going to an environment that seems to have no relation to her way of life.. I was just thinking.. things like that. So I . what was wrong.) from about seventeen years old..this has nothing to do with me. of things that I had done in my life. That has always been a tough area for me. Stabilization of the state of consciousness induced by the ritual use of ayahuasca “I was feeling very good..2.. kept going like I had always been a part of that. no hearing things. I became quite calm during the whole ceremony .2.2. work. I was there. I calmed down. I thought about all the relationships I’ve had. Normal memories (. There were no visions. very tranquil. Transition to the states of consciousness induced by the ritual use of ayahuasca “At the beginning I looked around there and I thought.” This statement reveals that the initial phase of Tanya’s ritual experience with ayahuasca was marked by a sense of transition between the ordinary state of consciousness in which she found herself in the everyday and the special consciousness experienced during the ritual. nothing. like.
. I’m wrong about some things. otherwise I’m not happy..) I thought about this a lot all week.’ I have very good friendships. like. since I can’t put myself across in romantic relationships like this. ‘no.2. which is something that always bothered me (. for example. it can’t be that thing like. 3) Memories of all her previous romantic relationships since adolescence. voices—which she had previously been told were typical effects of ayahuasca. It was the same conversation I’d had. I don’t think you can be so radical. ‘no. 3. in all the relationships that I’ve had. I’d get irritated and in a bad mood. this thing of saying. Return to the everyday “(Throughout the week) I felt well in relation to this because I saw that I am not like this.. With my friends. It was. I found a good feeling to be able to assess all of that. Things have to be the way I want.’” In these passages from Tanya’s interview an experience of stabilization in a new state of consciousness is seen to follow the transition phase.. tranquil. The stabilization is marked by three inter-related dimensions: 1) A state of peace lasting throughout the ritual. did something happen to you?’ I said. and the recognition of the pattern’s error. He even thought it was weird. I don’t have this. I had that conversation with the guy [she refers to a conversation with her exboyfriend about his debt to her].. 2) Cessation of everyday worries.70 Paulo César Ribeiro Barbosa thought about that.’ I appeared as a very authoritarian and demanding person. with my friendships.) And all of a sudden I began to evaluate the things I did and I saw that they were all similar. I like my friends a lot. ‘are you alright?’ I said. I start a fight. calm. wait a second.3. ‘no. ‘I’m great. A kind of patterned behavior (. Every time it was a fight. I don’t have this authoritarianism. about why it’s like that. the ex-boyfriend’s debt being the most dominant one at the time..’ He said. I always put that into every relationship.’” . you know. He even said. it has to be my way. 4) Insight resulting from the discovery of an authoritarian behavioral pattern in all her relationships. I didn’t get irritated so easily with things. To be able to see that I was wrong about a bunch of things. The interview further emphasizes the negation of exteroceptive experiences—visions. ‘man.” “This week I felt much calmer. I didn’t fight. ‘I know it all.you know. So.
Discussion Tanya’s case raises intriguing questions about the use of psychedelics in general. raises new interpretive possibilities about the therapeutic potentials of the ritual use of ayahuasca. The central role played by the state of peace in configuring Tanya’s experience dovetails with growing evidence that one of the key effects of ayahuasca may be the induction of states tending toward the anxiolytic spectrum. The presence of insight associated with states of peace and. CNS-depressing properties. as therapeutic resources. On one side. and learning about. with the absence of phenomena considered typical of psychedelics. substituting serenity for ire. comparing them with her behavior with friends. anguish. the state of calm established by the experience reconfigured the earlier state of “immersion” in the conflicted situation. turning the potent N. 4.16]. and of ayahuasca in particular. and explaining the . However. these properties have been obscured by the surprising discovery that betacarbolines inhibit the activity of the enzyme monoamine oxidase.N-dimethyltryptamine (DMT) orally active. these experiences are very far from the psycholytic and psychedelic models. Tanya’s experiences during the ritual and her behavior in the following week corroborate proposals for the use of psychedelics as therapeutic adjuncts based on their capacity to facilitate associative and mnemonic processes. cited in the introduction. 2) Change in attitude in dealing with the problem of the ex-boyfriend’s debt. her behavior in romantic relationships. Throughout the history of research into the functioning of ayahuasca’s alkaloids. However. at the same time.Therapeutic perspectives on ayahuasca 71 Two dimensions stand out in Tanya’s narrative about her return to daily life: 1) Assimilation and continuity of insights about her behavior in romantic relationships. including the arousal of states of serenity and attenuating the effects of panic signals. and anxiety. Rather. which advocate visionary and mystical experiences induced by hallucinogens as catalysts of insight and behavioral change[15. Tanya emphasized the absence of any extraordinary visual phenomena throughout her experience with ayahuasca. Feelings of anguish and ire were substituted by a state of critical emotional distancing that allowed rational consideration of. and nowhere in her report is there any reference to numinous experiences or mystical ecstasies. scholars have found harmine and harmaline to have sedative.
the function of the beta-carbolines in ayahuasca psychoactivity has been reconsidered. Charles Tart offers an explanatory model of the dynamics of changing states of consciousness that considers the question of environmental and behavioral influences. in which they performed the basic function of MAO inhibition to permit the action of what came to be considered the central psychoactive substance in ayahuasca. there is a constant feedback loop between the maintenance of a given configuration of states of consciousness and environmental demands. Therefore. might the latter have a key modulating function in the drink. followed by a rapid. The expression semi-arbitrary signals the fact that consciousness. in Tanya’s experience. softening the effects of the DMT and contributing to the emergence of insights? Aspects of the ritual setting and environment also seem to have a decisive influence on the configuration of Tanya’s experience. which select. from among the multiplicity of possible experiential configurations in the field of consciousness. Tanya’s movement from her habitual environment to a strange one may have contributed to the change in configuration of her state of . According to this model. those which are adapted to the performance of socially constructed and sanctioned roles. DMT. In recent years. Thus. radical change to a sense of familiarity and adoption of ritual behaviors. Might it not be useful to ask whether.72 Paulo César Ribeiro Barbosa reason for the powerful visionary effects that ayahuasca frequently provokes. the stabilization of a given state depends on a semi-arbitrary adaptation to environmental demands. and her consequent stabilization in a pattern of calm and reflection on her life are meaningful indications of how changes in environment and behavior may influence the configuration of states of consciousness. may oppose and modify the violent visionary and dissociative effects typical of pure DMT use. the role of the beta-carbolines in the subjective effects of the drink was relegated to a secondary plane. It has been suggested that the role of IMAO of the beta-carbolines in ayahuasca. if it must on the one hand respond appropriately to certain unavoidable environmental discomforts—no one of sound mind questions the consequences of a jump from a 50-meter cliff—on the other hand. In States of Consciousness. however. according to Tart. Thus. it is constituted through the specific demands of our socio-cultural milieu. allowing greater insight into the experience. Her initial perplexity before the absurdity of finding herself in an environment with no relationship to her life. by increasing the bioavailability of serotonin in the CNS. the activation of associative and mnemonic processes in combination with states of peace may have occurred as a function of the combination of the psychedelic qualities of DMT with the tranquilizing properties of the beta-carbolines? As sedatives.
Natural Products Co. 1989. consequently. 21: 91. J. Psychoactive Drugs. however.). that as one would expect in using case studies. Labate and W. 1994. It should be taken into account. on the ability to make inferences about the impact of the ritual experience of ayahuasca on her life. The urban locus of the feedback which maintained quarrelsome attitudes and feelings of anguish and low selfesteem were left behind. 5. . and an unequivocal experience of insight involving awareness of problematic aspects of her own behavior. Her initial perplexity may reflect disorientation stemming from the mismatch of configuration of her state of consciousness to a completely novel environment. Kennewick. The novelty consisted in the fact that these experiences occurred in association with a mood state marked by serenity.C. and symbolic characteristics propounded by the psychedelic and psycholytic therapeutic projects. Ayahuasca Analogues. which. the objective of this report was the exploration of new phenomena and associations.. Ott. Conclusions A notable limitation of this study is the fact that Tanya’s evaluation was restricted to a one-week period. Mercado de Letras. 1999. in this study. 2002. 5. 37. G. Araújo (Eds. This fact points toward the systematic exploration of “extra-hallucinogenic” aspects to the therapeutic possibilities stemming from the ritual use of ayahuasca: the sedative properties of the drink and the environmental and ritual setting. 2. J. 3. In: O Uso Ritual da Ayahuasca. at least temporarily. meant the exploration of new associations involving the possibilities for therapeutic use of ayahuasca. with a prior dysfunctional state. which imposed restrictions on the breadth of the biographical points raised and. References 1. Callaway. Luz. 4.S. 250. In this way the study revealed that Tanya’s experience with ayahuasca represented an unequivocal rupture. opening the way for the reconfiguration of a state marked by serenity and self-reflection. J. mystical.). P. nature and a ritual marked by expressions of praise for moral elevation mitigated those conditions. Philadelphia. Consciousness and the Spirit of Nature. M. 1975. Reichel-Dolmatoff. B. The Shaman and the Jaguar: A Study of Narcotic Drugs Among the Indians of Colombia. R. Temple University Press.C. Dobkin de Rios. Metzner (Ed. In their place. Campinas. New York. Thunder’s Mouth Press. and in the absence of the visionary.Therapeutic perspectives on ayahuasca 73 consciousness. In: Ayahuasca: Hallucinogens.
1975. 98.J. Melechi. 19..L. 1994. Brito.J. 19.. 1995.. G. Bull. Psiquiatr. 1992. 1997. Universidade Federal de Santa Catarina. 2005. O. W. Bravo. 507.P. and Bakalar. Psychiatry. Giglio.S. P. R.S. 183. 27. Strassman.. 11.C. London. Cazenave. Sandison. 32.T. Psychedelic Drugs Reconsidered.C. Guiado Pela Lua: Xamanismo e Uso Ritual da Ayahuasca no Culto do Santo Daime. Tart. 1991. E. Psychoactive Drugs. 2th ed. and Dunn.M. Ver. J.74 Paulo César Ribeiro Barbosa 6.R. R.R... and Dalgalarrondo. S. A Estrela do Norte Iluminando até o Sul: Uma Etnografia da União do Vegetal em um Contexto Urbano. Nerv. Oberlaender. J. and Araújo. C. Nerv. Grob. Groisman. 1999.. 2000.. 10. Discursos Sediciosos 2. Editora da Unicamp. P. Campinas. Clín. Labigalini. 1979. 112.G. R. 1989. Navegando Sobre as Ondas do Daime: História. 16... 13. Mckenna. 9. 1999. 7. Qualls. E.H. 15. Sá. Strassman. Psychiatr. Eu Venho da Floresta: Ecletismo e Práxis Xamânica no Céu do Mapiá.. . R. and Kellner. J. Neves. Dis. R.B.. Motta.S.S. Arch. D.C. Cosmologia e Ritual da Barquinha. S. MacRae. Callaway. 2004. J. 21. 12..J. J..B. Labate. 20. New York. E. Santos. D. C.. and Grob.B. Miranda.. Ethnopharmacol. C. and Boone. E.. J. Campinas. and Cruz... Psychoactive Drugs 21. Turnaround.C. 127. G. 51. J. L.T. C. B. Museu Nacional/Universidade Federal do Rio de Janeiro. Dutton.. A. A. O uso ritual da ayahuasca. (Ed. 1996. 22.G. New York. Tacla. Araújo.O.S. 53. R..J. J. Saide.. 313.S. Gen. 86. Dis. 184. 14. W. Barbosa. Basic Books. 17. Grinspoon. G. J. 37.).S. 145. Ment. Landeira-Fernandez. 8. Labigalini Jr. K. Ment. Brasiliense... 123.. 2007. E. Brissac. 193. A.S. R. Strassman. Uhlenhuth. C. Strassman. V.J. C. States of Consciousness. 1996. 1995. Mercado de Letras. J. 18. Masters Dissertation. São Paulo.. Psychedelia Britannica.S..
br . The high prevalence and the socio-functional impairment associated with depressive disorders. Trivandrum-695 023 Kerala. an alkaloid belonging to the group of -carbolines and present in Ayahuasca (AYA). Joel Porfírio Pinto1.fmrp. University of São Paulo. The therapeutic potential of harmine and ayahuasca in depression: Evidence from exploratory animal and human studies Flávia de Lima Osório1.2 João Paulo Machado de Sousa1. 2011: 75-85 ISBN: 978-81-7895-526-1 Editor: Rafael Guimarães dos Santos 5. Brazil 3 Laboratory of Neurosciences. SC.O.2. justify the search for novel pharmacological strategies for the management of depression.usp.2. 2National Institute for Translational Medicine (INCT-TM).2 and Jaime Eduardo C. This chapter presents the major results of animal and human studies conducted by a group of Brazilian researchers concerning the antidepressant potential of harmine. CNPq . Department of Neurosciences and Behavior Ribeirão Preto Medical School.T Transworld Research Network 37/661 (2). University of São Paulo.2 João Quevedo2. India The Ethnopharmacology of Ayahuasca. Hallak. Ribeirão Preto Medical School. Health Sciences Unit. Postgraduate Program in Health Sciences. Fort P. added to the limitations of currently available treatments. a tea with hallucinogenic properties used for religious and medicinal purposes Correspondence/Reprint request: Dr. Ligia Ribeiro Horta de Macedo1.2 1 Department of Neurosciences and Behavior. Brazil. E-mail: jechallak@rnp. Jaime Eduardo C. Brazil Abstract. Hallak1.3. University of Southern Santa Catarina. 88806-000 Criciúma. José Alexandre de Souza Crippa1.
or fulfill the criteria for a mixed episode (episode in which the diagnostic criteria for both depression and mania are simultaneously satisfied). moderate. few or no additional criteria besides those necessary for diagnosis are fulfilled and functional impairment is minor. both the number of symptoms and the ensuing functional impairment lie on an intermediate level between the two former categories 3 . accompanied by at least four of the following symptoms: significant weight loss or gain (5% of body weight). Clinically. and thoughts of death and suicide ideation or attempt. pointing out the possibility of the therapeutic use of AYA in humans. depressive disorders are divided into single episode (if only one episode has occurred in life). In mild episodes. within a ten-year period.76 Flávia de Lima Osório et al. being twice as prevalent among women as compared with men. in severe episodes a variety of symptoms are present. . concentrate or make decisions. According to a study of the World Health Organization (WHO). insomnia or hypersomnia. high morbidity rates. In terms of severity. it might rank second among the disorders affecting productive life 1 . low self-esteem or inappropriate feelings of guilt. The results obtained thus far suggest that harmine and other substances present in AYA might have antidepressant-like effects in the central nervous system of animals and human patients. It is a recurring condition and around 20-25% of patients become chronically ill 1 . Depressive disorders – Clinical aspects Depression is a highly frequent psychiatric disorder with a lifetime prevalence of 17%. and increased mortality 2 . but the disorder can affect individuals at any age. and chronic (if an episode lasts for two years or more) 3 . According to the current Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders published by the American Psychiatric Association (DSM-IV) 3 . The symptoms must be associated with significant suffering and/or impairment in social. and severe. recurring (when at least two episodes occurred). cannot be caused by a general medical condition or substance use. 1. difficulties to think. Onset usually occurs in the third decade of life. depressive episodes are divided into mild. depression is currently the fourth leading cause of morbidity and. in moderate episodes. psychomotor agitation or retardation. with significant functional impairment and possible association with psychotic symptoms. Depressive disorders are associated with intense suffering. by peoples from the Amazon. the diagnosis of a depressive episode requires the presence of depressed mood and/or anhedonia for a minimum of two weeks. fatigue or diminished energy. occupational or other functional areas.
Noradrenergic neurons project from the locus coeruleus. personality traits. The activation of pre-synaptic 5-HT1A receptors in the raphe nuclei normally leads to decreased serotonin release. reserpine (depleting monoamines and causing depressive symptoms). Many antidepressant drugs act primarily by increasing extracellular concentrations of serotonin. family and personal history of depression. imipramine (inhibiting neuronal reuptake of noradrenaline and serotonin). the comprehension of the action of three substances on the central nervous system (CNS). eating and sexual behavior. which leads to alterations in many receptors. whereas serotonergic neurons project from the raphe nuclei 4 . serotonin mediates such diverse aspects as mood. which are involved in the pharmacology of antidepressants. Antidepressant drugs that act by inhibiting the reuptake of serotonin cause the desensitization of these receptors. project from nuclei located in the brain stem onto wide areas in the midbrain. and amphetamine (releasing noradrenalin and inhibiting its neuronal reuptake. and others 6 . The serotonergic and noradrenergic systems. Added to this. namely. childhood history of traumatic events. which were accidentally discovered in the 1950s during the development of antihistamine (imipramine tricyclic antidepressant) and antituberculosis (iproniazid monoamine oxidase (MAO) inhibitor) drugs. ayahuasca and depression 77 2. Together with other neurotransmitters. Fourteen serotonin receptors. causing euphoria) led to the proposition. of the classic monoamine theory of depression. and genetic factors 1 . thus stimulating the release of serotonin by neurons and increasing the serotonergic neurotransmission. body temperature. sleep. One of the main hypotheses to explain the neurobiology of depression was proposed following the discovery of the mechanisms of action of early antidepressant agents. with similar mechanisms of action but better side-effect profiles and easier management. resulting in therapeutic effects secondary to late neurochemical alterations. This hypothesis would explain the time . recent traumatic events. according to which the disorder would be caused by decreased availability of noradrenaline and serotonin in the brain 4 . These discoveries were followed by the development of new antidepressants. gastrointestinal motility. have been identified to date. such as serotonin and noradrenaline selective reuptake inhibitors 5 . divided into seven classes. which are widely used in today’s practice.Harmine. Etiologic factors and neurobiology of depression The vulnerability to develop depression is connected with environmental factors such as early parental loss. anxiety. in the 1960s.
Among these are the selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs: fluoxetine. orthostatic hypotension.2 adrenergic effects that may cause undesirable reactions such as urinary retention. electroconvulsive therapy. it is clear that the discovery of antidepressants in the 1950s brought about a revolution in the treatment of depression. duloxetine). which is responsible for their therapeutic effects. their action on MAO or on their chemical structure. required for antidepressant drugs to present their therapeutic effects. and MAOIs via inhibition of the metabolism of these neurotransmitters 7 . Additionally. Currently. they are still present in more recently developed psychopharmacological agents 3 . such as mirtazapine. psychotherapy. presenting antimuscarinic. paroxetine).7 . their main adverse effect is the risk of hypertension crises triggered by the intake of food containing tyramine. and other antidepressants with multiple mechanisms of action. Tricyclic antidepressants (TCA) and MAO inhibitors (MAOI) are known as “first generation” or “classic” antidepressants. Both these groups act by increasing the extracellular availability of monoamines – TCAs via inhibition of serotonin and noradrenaline reuptake. and somnolence. selective noradrenaline reuptake inhibitors (reboxetine). TCAs block the sodium channels. different classes of antidepressant agents are available. and nefazodone. and anti. . Although the side-effects of these drugs are not as significant as those of earlier antidepressants. encompassing antidepressant drugs. Newer antidepressants have been designed to be more selective.78 Flávia de Lima Osório et al. standing out among the other therapies available 2 . which acts both by inhibiting the reuptake of serotonin and noradrenaline and by antagonizing 2 and 5-HT receptors 7 . a sympathomimetic amine occurring in large quantities in certain foods and which is metabolized by MAO 4 . constipation. which are classified according to their effects on the neuronal synapse. 3. minalcipran. Concerning MAOIs. Treatment of depression A number of alternatives are available today to treat depression. TCAs act upon many other receptors. which acts as a pre-synaptic 2-noradrenergic antagonist and as an antagonist of serotonin receptors (5-HT2 e 5-HT3). and other somatic treatments. interfering on nervous transmission and being potentially arrhythmogenic 4. weight gain. since these are dependent on neurochemical adaptations 6 . serotonin-noradrenaline reuptake inhibitors (venlafaxine. antihistaminic. Besides the action described above. In respect to the pharmacological management of the disorder.
and although around 80% of the patients respond to the treatment with antidepressants. Peripheral inhibition of MAO allows the proper levels of DMT in the beverage to reach the CNS. which act upon MAO 9. The species of these plants most commonly used in the preparation are Banisteriopsis caapi and Psychotria viridis 10 . specifically harmine and harmaline. and time required until therapeutic effects are attained. causing intense – however short-lasting – perceptual. vivid images (visible even when the eyes are closed). tetrahydroharmine (THH) and. The main of such alterations are a predominant sensation of well-being.13-15 . particularly on 5-HT2A and 5-HT2C receptors 10. Differently from what happens with other hallucinogenic substances.12. cognitive. Thus. and an altered sense of touch. only 50% present full remission 5 . the limitations associated with the currently available pharmacological treatments of depression are: low response rates. ayahuasca and depression 79 The efficacy of newer antidepressants is not different from the efficacy of compounds developed earlier. The hallucinogenic effect of AYA derives from the potent serotonergic action of DMT in the CNS. all of which belong to the group of -carbolines.12 . the repeated administration of DMT is .16 . In summary. whereas Psychotria viridis supplies the hallucinogenic substances tryptamine N. and movement of objects. and there is evidence of its use since antiquity 9 . harmaline.10. novel pharmacological strategies. sideeffects. the second most concentrated -carboline in AYA. markedly in the Amazon. Ayahuasca is made from sections of the Banisteriopsis spp. Ayahuasca Ayahuasca (AYA) is a beverage with hallucinogenic properties used for religious and medicinal purposes by peoples of South America. Banisteriopsis caapi contains the alkaloids harmine. and affect alterations. especially those with acute effects. novel experiences about one’s identity. complex thoughts. The psychoactive effects of AYA are thus mediated by the action of -carbolines. in a lower quantity. a fleeting feeling of apprehension. 4. Tetrahydroharmine (THH).Harmine. These subjective effects start 35-40 minutes after the ingestion of the tea. acts as a weak serotonin reuptake and MAO inhibitor 10 . visual alterations of color. shape. vine usually boiled with other plants.Ndimethyltryptamine (DMT) 10-12 . reaching maximal intensity between 90 and 120 minutes and ending after 4 hours 11. would have an important impact on the treatment of depression 8 . a sensation of having a clearer perception of sound.
the -carboline with the highest concentration in AYA. The forced swimming test is performed using a cylindrical water tank in which the animal is placed and behavioral parameters are measured (immobility. antidiabetic.1. and antigenotoxic activity. and antiplatelet properties 19 . and there is no desensitization of 5-HT2A receptors 13. but its wide pharmacological spectrum also includes antiplasmodial.80 Flávia de Lima Osório et al. . Investigations involving members of the União do Vegetal (Vegetal Union) religious group underscored the high prevalence of psychiatric disorders prior to the beginning of the ritual use of the beverage. and antioxidative. and hopelessness. but also depression and social phobia. panic. interacts with distinct systems: in the CNS. Antidepressant-like effects of -carbolines and serotonergic agonists Harmine. 2. comprising particularly alcohol and substance abuse and dependence. Nevertheless. Together. One study investigated the acute effects of the ingestion of AYA in members of the Santo Daime (Holy Daime) religion using measures of anxiety. not associated with the development of tolerance to its psychotomimetic effects. Scientific investigations on AYA from the perspective of its interest to pharmacology and mental health began in the 1970s.17 . 5-HT2A and imidazoline receptors (I1 and I2 sites). with reports of remission following the beginning of the use of the tea. It is important to highlight that there were no reports of recurrent substance use since the beginning of tea intake (for periods over 10 years) and that there are no reports of AYA abstinence 10. these reports encourage the investigation of the possible therapeutic applications of AYA in humans. harmine actions have been reported on MAO-A. and swimming time). and 5).11 . antimutagenic. Figure 1 shows that acute treatments with harmine and imipramine were associated with decreased immobility time and increased swimming and climbing. climbing. Animal studies conducted by Brazilian researchers investigated the antidepressant-like effects of harmine. there are no reports of members presenting with current psychiatric disorders at the time of evaluation. Ayahuasca and depression 5. Fortunato and colleagues 20 used the depression-inducing forced swimming test in rodents to compare the behavioral and molecular effects of acute harmine administration with imipramine and placebo. 5. and cyclin-dependent kinases (CDK1. The authors found that those participants who were under the effects of AYA had lower ratings of these symptoms compared with participants receiving placebo 18 .
Harmine. which indicates a specific action of both compounds on the behavioral parameters related to depression in the forced swimming test. The acute treatment with harmine. This model is believed to induce anhedonia (loss of interest or pleasure). the rats were submitted to the open-field test. number of crossings (d). was also associated with increased levels of brain derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) . swimming time (b). ayahuasca and depression 81 Figure 1. climbing time (c). 2009). reflected by the decreased intake of sucrose by rats. forced . number of rearings (e) and BDFN levels (f) in the hippocampus of rats subjected to the openfield test (adapted from Fortunato et al. Another study. but not imipramine. Since these findings could reflect a general increase in spontaneous locomotor activity. was aimed at assessing the antidepressant properties of harmine using an animal model known as chronic mild stress (CMS).in the rat hippocampus.which has an antidepressant action in the brain . a major feature of depression. the animals were submitted to the following stressors: food and water deprivation. Effects of acute administration of harmine and imipramine on immobility time (a). and harmine and imipramine were not found to provoke increased spontaneous locomotion. During a 40-day period. also conducted by Fortunato and colleagues 19 .
Figure 2 shows that the test was successful in inducing anhedonia. swimming. isolation. 2010). Figure 2. and cold. and BDNF levels in hippocampus (F) in rats chronically treated with harmine or saline(adapted from Fortunato et al. adrenal gland weight (D). Effects of the CMS procedure on sweet food consumption (A). . The findings of these studies lend support to the view that harmine is an important candidate for the pharmacological management of depression and encourage new studies involving the use of this compound in humans.82 Flávia de Lima Osório et al. adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH) (E). physical restraint. The administration of harmine was associated with reversal of all these effects. in addition to increasing adrenal gland weight and ACTH and BDNF levels. flashing light. number of crossings (B). rearings (C).
Figure 3. 10 minutes prior to AYA administration and 40. 14. 2. 140. . including the Hamilton Depression Scale (HAM-D). ayahuasca and depression 83 5. as well as on days 1. studies with humans are currently underway to investigate their therapeutic potential in people with depression. An exploratory study was conducted involving three female participants with a clinical diagnosis of recurring depressive disorder and current mild/severe depressive episode without psychotic symptoms. starting at 40 minutes after intake. A sustained reduction in the scores of depressive symptoms is observed from day 1 (of around 79% in relation to baseline) to day 14 (around 66% below baseline). pointing out a reduction in depressive symptoms regardless of episode severity. Therapeutic trials with AYA in humans Taking into account the positive findings concerning the antidepressantlike effects of harmine in animal studies and the components and mechanisms of action of AYA in the CNS. The participants’ mental state was assessed by means of psychiatric scales. and 180 minutes after intake.Harmine. Effects of AYA intake on the final score of the HAM-D. 7. A significant decrease in the scores over time can be seen. when an expressive increase in depressive symptoms is seen towards baseline levels.2. and 28 after drinking the tea. The subjects had not been in treatment with antidepressants for two weeks and received an oral dose of 2ml/Kg of AYA. 80. The distribution of the subjects’ scores in the HAM-D is shown in Figure 3.
E. Textbook of Psychopharmacology. and Monteggia. Nestler. A. 215.. and Boone.B.. Psychedelic Res. 184. guilt feelings. Mckenna.. Neuron. 2006. 65.J.. 11.P. D. 7. Affect.. Psychiatry. J. Gen. J. 4.. M.J. 2006. Brito. C..J. Gold. 4th ed.. Graeff... D. Barrot. difficulties at work activities. Lancet. Editora Atheneu. The data of the latter study suggest that AYA has antidepressant properties .B. and Kendler. Singh... J.. Ebmeier. D. 1996. Effects associated with psychotic experiences..B. Donaghey. O. Ment. Callaway.C. D. American Psychiatric Publishing... and genital symptoms.T.. Future investigations involving larger samples and control groups are warranted in order to further our current knowledge on the therapeutic potential of AYA and its side-effect and action profiles over a larger time span. Callaway. Stahl. 34. P. Callaway. R. 2002. Neuron. Carlson.). Fundamentos de Psicofarmacologia.. L. Brutsche.M.J. Tacla. J.K.. Labigalini. they were not spontaneously reported by the participants during the evaluation period. 1. J. E. 2000. 29.. Nerv.F. 9. E. Fava.J. 2000. DiLeone. 10. References 1. C. However. L. were punctual and short-lived. Grob. Brito.84 Flávia de Lima Osório et al. G.. and Nemeroff.. 1998. Grob. 8.S. Saide. and Steele. 153. J. signalizing the safety and good tolerability of AYA mentioned by some authors 9-12.mediated by its action on serotonergic pathways .. American Psychiatric Association.S. 63.S. Neves. F. although adverse effects associated with AYA were not systematically evaluated. 2004. E.C.16 .J. J.. Eisch.C. Andrade. Schatzberg. G.A. H. Raymon... .G.S. K. S. 2000. Ethnopharmacol.. 2. Miranda. 86.. C. A.. D. Andrade. 6. 65. Luckenbaugh. C. C. psychic anxiety. Arch.J..A.J... Poland. Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders. D. A.. Dis.E.C... Heffter Rev. (Eds. Disord. 856. related to thought and sensory-perceptual alterations. 13.. D.N. and Grob. K. C. and Manji. C. 335. 243.. 51. Zarate. and Guimarães. K. N. S. J. The items suffering the greatest variations over the duration of the experiment were those related to depressed mood. McKenna. R. McKenna.S. this evidence must be considered with caution because of the intrinsic limitations of exploratory studies involving small samples. 5.S. Oberlaender...S. E. Charney.O. E. 1999..that seem to have an acute profile. suicidal ideation. São Paulo. Washington.. Rezvan. Strassman.. M.. It is important to mention that. Arlington. 367. 3. 3th ed.. C.M. G. and Mash.S. F.P. 1998.L.S.
. Fortunato.A. A. R.. M. Hallak. 306. and Berg. A. J.. 16.B.. Fantegrossi.. J.S. C..Z. G.. A. 81. J.E.. Coop..A.. Neuro-Psychopharmacol. Fortunato.M. Stringari. 2002. L.. R.. and Quevedo. J.. F. A. A. Callaway. 39. 1998.R. 13.S. A. Pharmacol.. 271. Hallak. 14. J. Urbano. Kiessel.. 33. Biol.P.A.R. Yritia. R. R. and Barbanoj. T. Ther.R.. Riba. J.Z. Antonijoan. G. B. J.M. L. and Barbanoj. Montero.. R.. J. Psychiatry. Rabin.. Réus. Brain. Kapczinski. Behav..J. J.. R. MJ.J. Biochem.. Landeira-Fernandez... Strassman.J...C. Smith.W... G.. 85. 323.. G. R. Motta. Rice.W. ayahuasca and depression 85 12. F. J. Santos. R. Pharmacol.. Ramirez..E. G.E. Prog... Alfaro. Riba... and Woods.. J. Morte. T.. Exp. 491.. M. 2010.L. Kapczinski... Stertz.J. J. M. and Quevedo. J. Urbano.C. J.Harmine. A. Qualls. 61. 779. 19. Ethnopharmacol.P. V. H. J.R. J. Barret. and Barbanoj. Eckler. Kirsch. Rodríguez-Fornells... A. Fries. Crippa. Kirsch. A.. 1425. de la Torre.. Valle.W. Yritia... K.L.G. 73. Biol. Crippa. Riba. Castillo. 784. Harrington. J. J. Strassman.R.H. 2006. Pinto. 1996.. Psychiatry. Zuardi. J. Biochem. M. Canton. A.. 112. R... J. 2010. Pharmacol.. Res. Y.J.. Chromatogr. Behav. R. 20. J.. . Morte. 2007..J.. Bull. 83. Ortuno. 15.. 2001. W. Stringari. and Cruz. and Sanders-Bush. E.... Psychopharmacology (Berl). C.B. Réus. 17. 18. 54. M. 122. M.C. Zuardi. 2003. 507. Winter..
Possible risks and interactions of the consumption of ayahuasca and cannabis in humans PhD candidate in Pharmacology at the Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona. Institut d’Investigacions Biomèdiques Sant Pau (IIB-Sant Pau).O.T Transworld Research Network 37/661 (2). so here it is reported a brief theoretical scientific overview of the possible interactions and risks between those two substances in humans. India The Ethnopharmacology of Ayahuasca. E-mail: banisteria@gmail. except for some anthropological research.com . Trivandrum-695 023 Kerala. One specific Brazilian religious group had used both substances as sacraments in the past. Spain. Nevertheless. Spain. and also psychotic reactions. Correspondence/Reprint request: Rafael Guimarães dos Santos. PhD candidate in Pharmacology at the Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona. Spain Rafael Guimarães dos Santos Abstract. There is not much literature regarding the possible effects and interactions of the pan-Amazonian hallucinogenic brew ayahuasca and cannabis. Fort P. The main risks were found to be associated with the possible occurrence of cardiac problems. Barcelona. Barcelona. 2011: 87-95 ISBN: 978-81-7895-526-1 Editor: Rafael Guimarães dos Santos 6. Human Experimental Neuropsychopharmacology and Centre d’Investigació de Medicaments (CIM-Sant Pau). Institut d’Investigacions Biomèdiques Sant Pau (IIB-Sant Pau). some “positive” and neutral interactions are also commented. Spain Human Experimental Neuropsychopharmacology and Centre d’Investigació de Medicaments (CIM-Sant Pau). anxiety and panic reactions.
5]. The consumption of cannabis after ayahuasca in the CEFLURIS context have been described to “lead to a felling of ‘unblockedge’” and act as a “soother in moments of difficulty”. cannabis extract. however. or with panic. It is also possible to speculate that the consumption of cannabis could alleviate some possible anxiety produced by some kinds of ayahuasca experiences[9. In this specific religious group. Mescaline. LSD and DMT have similar mechanism of action. since cannabis can produce relaxation[11. it is possible to speculate that a lack of cross-tolerance would also happen between ayahuasca and cannabis. since both substances can produce these kinds of effects[4.88 Rafael Guimarães dos Santos 1. Nevertheless. but not exclusively. mescaline and lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD-25 or LSD). The use of Santa Maria. . It is possible. according to one of its leaders. 2. Introduction Ayahuasca and cannabis are psychoactive substances that have been used for therapeutic and ritual objectives by different human groups. consumption of ayahuasca and cannabis have been considered by members of CEFLURIS to produce “very good effects”. especially.10]. there is lack of cross-tolerance between THC and LSD. it is important to say that. the consumption of both substances could produce cases where people would feel extremely anxious. Nevertheless. This branch. and cannabis represents the female energy of the Virgin. called CEFLURIS. used to call cannabis as Santa Maria (Saint Mary or Holly Mary). is officially forbidden within the rituals of this group since the 1980s in Brazil. psychiatric and neuropsychological interactions Up to this moment. according to them. Possible psychological. cannabis had been used ritually by one branch of the Santo Daime religion. and. Also. there is lack of cross-tolerance between 9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). In fact. Finally. a Brazilian ayahuasca religious group[1-3].12]. it should be noted. there are limited studies about the possible risks or “positive” interactions between ayahuasca and cannabis. to consider some characteristics of each substance. or even with psychotic symptoms. One possibility is that the effects of cannabis would potentiate the psychoactive properties of ayahuasca. in pre-clinical studies. the consumption of cannabis after ayahuasca would propitiate “visions”. ayahuasca works with the spiritual male energy of Christ. in clinical studies. According to these data. because in this country cannabis is illegal. producing an experience with more hallucinogenic properties.
especially in people with predispositions or in novice consumers.N-dimethyltryptamine (5-MeODMT) and 2.25-32]. the incidence of psychopathology seems to be rare. 13 to 24 cases (0. there are several studies that suggest that the most common adverse reactions to hallucinogens are anxiety episodes. or even experiences with psychotic symptoms. The consumption of ayahuasca in combination with cannabis could produce. First. In the case of ayahuasca. studies with adults or even with adolescents did not found any neuropsychological deficit[19. which have a mechanism of action similar to DMT. the authors even suggested that this kind of drugs could be effective in the treatment of THC-induced memory deficits.1% in the total population). Third. from three Brazilian cities.5-dimethoxy-4-iodoamphetamine (DOI). there is one case report where the consumption of ayahuasca and cannabis produced a psychotic episode. even in a controlled setting[9.052-0. and other studies speculate that the chronic use of cannabis can even produce psychosis.10]. no ill effects at all. a Brazilian ayahuasca religious group registered. for example. or even panic episodes and. From a neuropsychological perspective. where 7 cases were psychotic reactions (0. and registered 20 psychiatric events (2. in rare cases. the adult study showed that ayahuasca consumers produced better results than the controls in one of the memory tests. in some people. Like with other hallucinogens. In fact. act as a “neuroprotetor” against the effects of cannabis. the chronic consumption of cannabis can produce some subtle deficits. prolonged psychotic reactions[13-18]. Second. Other study reported that in a period of five years. other studies showed that ayahuasca can produce. anxiety and feelings of “suspiciousness” and “threat”. Of .21] showed data from 951 ayahuasca consumers.73% in the total population). panic. some investigations suggest that cannabis can also produce acute episodes of anxiety. those episodes seem to be rare and can be controlled without the necessity of medical intervention. there is evidence that the hallucinogens 5-methoxy-N. In fact. Lima and collaborators[20. although a causal relations is still controversial[4. attenuated the THC-induced impairment of spatial memory. In the case of ayahuasca. and ayahuasca could. maybe.34-36. Nevertheless. Finally. Moreover.37].096%) where ayahuasca might have contributed in a psychotic episode. on the period from 1995 to 2000. This hypothesis is based on several arguments. in adults or even in adolescents[19-24].].Ayahuasca and cannabis risks and interactions 89 those with genetic or psychological predisposition. especially in memory[31. in an estimated 25000 ayahuasca doses.
Rafael Guimarães dos Santos
course, this is just a hypothesis, and further studies are urgent needed to clarify this topic. Finally, regarding the potential to produce a dependence syndrome, there is no evidence that ayahuasca can produce it. In fact, there is some limited evidence that ayahuasca can be used to treat dependence[2,19]. In the case of cannabis, it is suggested that about 10% of its users will became dependent on it[28,31]. Considering these factors, there is no apparent reason to assume that ayahuasca might enhance the dependence potential of cannabis. On the other hand, the ritual use of ayahuasca might, maybe, protect against the dependence potential of cannabis. Of course, further studies are needed to better explore this topic.
3. Possible physiological interactions
On the clinical level, one obvious possibility is that the antiemetic properties of cannabis[12,40,41] would alleviate or even eliminate the nausea and the emetic properties of ayahuasca[5,42]. In Colombia ayahuasca is known as la purga (“the purge”). Still on a clinical level, Riba et al. assessed the effects of ayahuasca in a single-blind placebo-controlled clinical study in which three increasing doses of encapsulated freeze-dried ayahuasca (0.5, 0.75, and 1 mg DMT/kg body weight) were administered to six healthy male volunteers with prior experience in the use of the brew. The laboratory analyses conducted after each session did not find any clinically relevant alterations in hematological indices or biochemical indicators of liver function or other standard analytical parameters (cellular counting, plasmatic bilirubin, and hepatic enzymes). Another clinical evaluation did not show any clinically relevant findings among long-term (at least 10 years) consumers of ayahuasca in all organic systems evaluated: neurosensory, endocrine, circulatory (cardiac/respiratory), gastrointestinal (digestive), hepatic and renal, suggesting the absence of any injurious effect induced or caused by long-term ritual use of ayahuasca. Compared to the controls, there were no significant differences in the blood analysis in several parameters tested – hemoglobin, hematocrit, total leukocytes, glycemia (during fasting), creatinine, sodium, potassium, calcium, bilirubin (total, direct and indirect), alkaline phosphatase, glutamic oxalacetic transaminase (GOT), glutamic piruvic transaminase (GPT), lactate dehydrogenase (LDH) and cholesterol (total and HDL fraction) – except for the platelets, which, although significantly higher in the control group (359.000/mm3 compared to 271.000/mm3; p<0.05), were all inside the normality limit.
Ayahuasca and cannabis risks and interactions
In this same study, seven electrocardiographic alterations were found in the ayahuasca group: one case of right branch bundle block, one of left branch bundle block, one of diffuse ventricular repolarization disturbance, and four of sinusal bradycardia. Among the controls, there was only a case of sinusal bradycardia. Although these alterations were not clinically relevant, and even considering the possibility that the cases of right and left branch bundle block could be attributed to other factors not evaluated in the study (such as Chagas’ disease), more studies are needed to better clarify these findings. Riba and Barbanoj reported that in their pilot and final study combined [10,45], two volunteers showed systolic blood pressure values above 140 mm Hg at some point and four showed diastolic blood pressure values above 90 mm Hg, the diagnostic criteria for hypertension. One volunteer showed heart rate values above 100 bpm, the diagnostic criterion of tachycardia. The maximum values recorded at any time point were 146 mm Hg for systolic blood pressure, 96 mm Hg for diastolic blood pressure and 101 bpm for heart rate. Other study also showed that the acute cardiac effects of ayahuasca are moderate, although in this study there were also values of diastolic blood pressure above 90 mm Hg. Riba and Barbanoj concluded in view of the moderate cardiovascular effects found in their studies that ayahuasca seems relatively safe from a cardiovascular point of view, but they also reported that the results refer only to single dose administrations in young healthy volunteers and recorded in the absence of any physical exercise. They suggested that the cardiovascular picture could be different following repeated dose administration, while performing physical exercise such as dancing, if ayahuasca were ingested by older individuals or by those with cardiovascular conditions/dysfunctions. Repeated administration, dancing, and older people taking ayahuasca is a very common practice in ayahuasca religions. Nevertheless, there is no published data on clinically relevant cardiovascular alterations associated with acute or even long-term ayahuasca consumption. Indeed, the evidence available suggests its safety in long-term adult use. In the case of cannabis, the consumption of this substance, even in a chronic way, does not seem to commonly produce clinically relevant alterations[12,28,31,40]. Nevertheless, the act of smoking cannabis produces an acute, rapid, and consistent rise of 20-100% in heart rate, which begins around 10 minutes after smoking and lasts for two to three hours[28,47,48]. After repeated use, there is the development of tolerance for this effect, although it disappears rapidly after stop smoking[28,31,47]. Cardiac alterations of clinical value are not common among cannabis consumers;
Rafael Guimarães dos Santos
although there are some rare cases where serious cardiac problems were documented[31,47]. Taking into consideration these data, it is possible to speculate that the cardiac effects of cannabis could potentiate the moderate cardiac effects of ayahuasca. This effect could be even more intense considering that in some ayahuasca rituals there is dancing for several hours. Finally, it must be considered that there are some adverse reactions that can potentially happen when people present some health conditions that are not indicated when consuming a monoamine oxidase inhibitor (IMAO): severe damage to the liver or kidneys, hypertension, cardiac problems, and brain pathologies. Some of these same preoccupations also can be applied to cannabis consumption, and, of course, for the consumption of both substances together.
Even considering the positive descriptions of some users of ayahuasca and cannabis, these cases and studies are very limited in number and do not present hard evidence, from a scientific point of view. Also, the majority of interactions described here were not investigated rigorously, so the evidence points only to speculative potential risks of the combination of ayahuasca with cannabis. The main risks appear to be the production of anxiety reactions, panic attacks, psychotic episodes, and cardiac problems. Nevertheless, except for the case of a psychotic episode, where there is a case report published, all the other risks are only hypothetical. It would be wise to advise people with predisposition to psychotic symptoms not to consume ayahuasca with cannabis. It is also important to note that the ayahuasca religious have their own guidelines to prevent people with psychological/psychiatric problems to consume the brew[20,21,50]. Finally, it must be acknowledged that some of the people who consume ayahuasca with Santa Maria also enjoy this combination.
1. 2. 3. MacRae, E. 1998, Int. J. Drug Policy, 9, 325. Labate, B.C., Santos, R.G., Anderson, B., Mercante, M., and Barbosa, P.C.R. 2010, In: Ayahuasca, ritual and religion in Brazil, B.C. Labate, and E. MacRae (Eds.), Equinox, London/ Oakville, 205. Groisman, A. 2000, Santo Daime in the Netherlands: An anthropological study of a new world religion in a European setting, University of London.
A. M. R.. Psychoactive Drugs. Psychopharmacol. 229. 101. F. 2007. R.. Grob. 25. Dis.).E. 7. H. 9...W. 85. Riba. Spinella.. vol. Malleson. Halpern.Ayahuasca and cannabis risks and interactions 93 4.. 39.. 332.. Morte. Saide. Antance.. G. 130.C. Alonso. Psychiatry Clin..R.. T. M. Crippa. D. 69. 18... Monit. and Ranganathan. Med... 2004. 131. Moore.). 2001. 135. and Potvin. Strassman. L. A. and Bateman. A. Brito. . Psychopharmacologia. A. 413.). 13.. G... K. Teresa. Neves.. (Ed. Crippa. Grob. S.. Peris.W.. Jones. Strassman. R. Neurosci. A. Callaway. W.. P. J. brain and behavior. 26.. G. 24. 21. 2008. 115. Callaway. Westport/London.. M. Zammit. M. Da Silveira. Smart. J. A.. Psychopharmacology (Berl).J. R.... Richards. Psychiatry.S.X. 2007. M. FUNPEC.... Zuardi.J.B..L. Nerv. 2007. Silva. 1998. 1960. Eur. E. G. 14..W.A.M. Sewell. 321. Madrid. M. São Paulo. E. 6. Médica Panamericana.A. 1971. G. M. and Korte. Motta. M. 11.S. Nerv.. C. J. Psiquiatr.)..B. 2008. Tratado SET de Transtornos Adictivos. 1967. J. S.T.K. Madrid. 102. London. R... Lima. Labigalini. E.. M. 129. 14.R. Valladolid (Eds. 118. and Doering-Silveira. SR15.S. 27. Lopez. Johnson. C.. Antonijoan. R. Rev. Human Pharmacology of Ayahuasca. C. M. Claussen. 1996.R. M. G. et. and Barbanoj. 1969. Roberts (Eds. Ther.C. and Barbanoj.. D’Souza.. J. and T.. Lingford-Hughes. 13. 16. 603. Addiction.. 2006.A. 2005.. 24 (2 Suppl. and Zuardi. Sociedad Española de Investigación en Cannabinoides (SEIC).C. and Griffiths. Carlini. Dis. 10.. Lancet 370. J.. Ben Amar. R.. 97. D. A. Urbano. Blackwell. T. Migueli. Zurián.R.J. and Ruttenber.. 1968. Barnes. 15. Naves. 154. Br.. XVI Congresso Brasileiro de Psiquiatria. Winkelman. F. 22. C.C.R. 22.. 172. Ment. K. Riba. J.R. J. 20. Monteiro. J. 2001. J.S. Gable. J. Brito.. Psychopharmacologia. 14.B. In: Cannabis e saúde mental: uma revisão sobre a droga de abuso e o medicamento.J.J.A. G. 1214. Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona. et cols.C. 131. Passie. J. J. and F. Aspectos psiquiátricos del consumo de Cannabis. J.. Martínez.. Ment.. 30.S.. J. J. cols. and G. Pharmacol. 2002. Burke. C. Dis. J. D. Riba.. Ed. 23.). 8. D. Psychoactive Drugs.J.. J. M.. U... A. 184.S. Dobkin de Rios. Motta.. Brito. 2009. Bras. 2003. K.A. N. 12. Tacla. 319. 37. E. McKenna. E. The MIT Press. C.J. 17. 2008. Cohen.A.. Nerv. T.G.. 259. Praeger.. Rodrigues-Fornells. Guimarães (Eds. 5. Ment. 19. J. and Lewis. In: Psychedelic Medicine: new evidence for hallucinogenic substances as treatments. 1984.C. J. 2007. Tacla. The psychopharmacology of herbal medicine: plant drugs that alter mind. J. E. Isbell. Lima. O. 86. and Boone. Sherwood.H.. Miranda. Oberlaender. 1. Frecska.. Nichols. Migueli.C. S. M. 577.. 24. F. D.H. A. J. São Paulo.J. Arch. and Jasinski. Naves. Sci.
Patel.. Mercado de Letras. E. Mason. M. Ethnopharmacol. A. and Barbanoj.. 58S.J.C. and Battisti. N. 159. R. London. 43. Hallak. Grob.A. 2008. Shirakawa. FUNPEC.K. M. Raymon. R. Westport/London. 2008. Parti. Zuardi. and Zuardi.C..H. Riba. 38.. Gonzalez.. 39..N. 257. A. 2008.. Egashira. Med. Andrade. C.M. M. P.. 2003.X.S. E. Patel.. E. 31. Oxford University Press. Santos. Barkus. S.. K. 41. J. Valle. Psychoactive Drugs.W..A.J. and W. Fábregas.94 Rafael Guimarães dos Santos 28. Lopez. 37. M. 2006. L. H. In: O uso ritual da ayahuasca. Solowij.C. E. 2008. G. Fernández.. São Paulo. Andrade.. 38. and Curran. Bertolucci. Zuardi. C. Grob. J.. Riba. D. Sci. Reuter. 1. Psychol. Cavalcante. Honório. Hall. The Global Cannabis Commission Report – Cannabis policy: moving beyond stalemate. 2010. and Fujiwara. 951..G. [See the next article in the present book] 34. Br. J. and Barbanoj. Guimarães (Eds.. 42 (11 Suppl. 42. J. Morte. 2007. G. Bressan. L. and Callaway. 2005. 73. Lacerda.. G. M. Urbano. R.. J. Jones.. Campinas. Doering-Silveira... Drug Alcohol Depend. 2th ed. González.... 37.. Barbanoj. and Feilding. 306. N.. S.I. Morgan. M. Barbosa. 1999. Exp.. C. Curr.O. Dhiman. 2004... 37.. W.. A.. Lenton.).O. L. J. 111. In: Psychedelic Medicine: new evidence for hallucinogenic substances as treatments. Quím.S. ....E. R.C. S.. Grob. São Paulo. A. In: Cannabis e saúde mental: uma revisão sobre a droga de abuso e o medicamento. The Antipodes of the Mind: charting the phenomenology of the ayahuasca experience. R. Brito. and Bouso. Oxford.S.S. Andrade... Koushi.. 33..T. D. Shanon. M. Clin. Drug Abuse Rev. J. Psychol. J. 219.. J. 39.. 2008. 29.J. R. 81. 671. 2009. E.). The Beckley Foundation.). Roberts (Eds. S.P.. 29..A.. Praeger. K. X. 679. 35.I. J. R. 105. M..A. Med. J. Psychiatry (Online). J.A. 123. E. Home Office. B. C. 40.R.N. A. Abrams. and Mash.. 2003.. Grant. T..J. Yritia. and Bressan.. Pharmacol. 36.B. M. 2008. and T. Callaway.L.. Psychoactive Drugs. A. J. P. and Strassman.S. 191. J...K. Dobkin de Rios.. D. 46.. McKenna.. Pharmacol. 2008. FUNPEC.). New York. In: Cannabis e saúde mental: uma revisão sobre a droga de abuso e o medicamento. N. Guimarães (Eds. and Lewis.B.. Andrade.. Tacla...S. Riba.. D.A. L.V. J. M. K. J. Pharmacol. Iwasaki. Ther. C. and da Silva.. Mishima. 32. 3 December.. Araújo (Eds. 65.S. D. Crippa. 44.W. 2002.. E. Cannabis: classification and public health. Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs (ACMD). 45. I. and F. D.W. McKenna.A. Arroio.N. 243.J. A. 318.. Alcázar-Córles.. A.W. and Da Silveira. E.E. Natarajan. A. 361. 2002.. 47. 30. Carey..F. Room. M. P. Oishi. Fondevila. J. I. and Wolfson. A. Crippa. B.. R.J. 9. Neves. O. Crippa. vol..S.C... J. 1267.. Brito. 2007.).. R. B. Labate.. Fischer. R. J.C. J. Alonso.S.. and F.M. Poland.. Cutchet.J.. Winkelman. E. 2005. Nova. 1.L. 73. Okimura. C. Novaes.
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New Mexico. nor his parents had a history of psychosis. Active ingredients include the tryptamine hallucinogen DMT. Ayahuasca and psychosis PhD candidate in Pharmacology at the Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona. Spain. PhD candidate in Pharmacology at the Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona. India The Ethnopharmacology of Ayahuasca. Neither the subject. Spain. Taos. therapeutic and recreational use also occur. religious use of ayahuasca has spread from South America to the United States and Europe. Mr. 2011: 97-99 ISBN: 978-81-7895-526-1 Editor: Rafael Guimarães dos Santos 7. Institut d’Investigacions Biomèdiques Sant Pau (IIB-Sant Pau). Barcelona. A.T Transworld Research Network 37/661 (2). who experienced two psychotic paranoid episodes – separated by one year – during and after participation in ayahuasca rituals.com . its use occurs also within syncretic religious organizations and its religious consumption is protected by law. Human Experimental Neuropsychopharmacology and Centre d’Investigació de Medicaments (CIM-Sant Pau).O. He had consumed other hallucinogens (LSD and psilocybin) on multiple occasions. University of New Mexico School of Medicine and Cottonwood Research Foundation. In these new environments. Correspondence/Reprint request: Rafael Guimarães dos Santos. Institut d’Investigacions Biomèdiques Sant Pau (IIB-Sant Pau). Fort P. Strassman2 Ayahuasca is a botanical hallucinogenic beverage used by indigenous groups throughout the Northwestern Amazon. In Brazil. 21 years old at the time of his first episode. In the last decades. E-mail: banisteria@gmail. Spain 2 Department of Psychiatry. and beta-carboline monoamine oxidase inhibitors which allow for oral activity of DMT. Barcelona. USA 1 Rafael Guimarães dos Santos1 and Rick J. Trivandrum-695 023 Kerala. Here we report the case of a young adult male. Spain Human Experimental Neuropsychopharmacology and Centre d’Investigació de Medicaments (CIM-Sant Pau).
which persisted for another two to three weeks. without incident. while not using concurrent marijuana. These were reported from a cumulative estimated 25. 6 mg daily. Symptoms persisted for two to three weeks and resolved after treatment with risperidone. he had already used ayahuasca “more or less twice per month. This is comparable to the incidence of transient psychoses reported by Cohen in his 1960 survey of researchers who had administered LSD in a controlled environment. Given the low incidence of. After discontinuing risperidone. During the third of these subsequent sessions. transient drug-induced psychosis. during which time he did not use any psychoactives. J. 2008. At the time.000 ayahuasca sessions. During one particular ayahuasca ritual. R.98 Rafael Guimarães dos Santos & Rick J. Br..1% (0. he again experienced similar paranoid and suicidal ideation. he resumed participation in ayahuasca rituals.rcpsych.G.J. Available at http://bjp. he again combined its use with marijuana and experienced very intense paranoid and suicidal ideas – “these people are going to kill me in order to make me a human sacrifice. gradually being reduced to 0. 3 December. for about two years.052-0. he was obtaining graduate training in a Brazilian university.” “I should kill myself right now before they do.096%). Treatment lasted approximately one year. Before the first episode. but potentially high morbidity associated with. both research and religious use of ayahuasca should be contraindicated in people with a history of psychosis.5 mg daily.” “I will be operated upon and they will open my body. Regular use of ayahuasca in research and naturalistic settings has not been routinely associated with psychopathological reactions. Acknowledgement The editor is grateful to the British Journal of Psychiatry for the authorization for the reprint of this text in the present book. . Strassman and had been a nearly-daily marijuana smoker for the preceding six years with no significant adverse effects.” These feelings were so intense that he superficially cut himself with a sharp-edged ceremonial item during the ayahuasca ritual.” sometimes using marijuana concurrently. One literature review reported that over a five-year period there were documented between 13 and 24 cases in which ayahuasca may have contributed to an undefined psychotic incident. and remained free of paranoid symptoms. The original citation for this text is: Santos. which again responded well to a similar course of risperidone maintained for the next year. R.org/cgi/eletters/190/1/81-a#22556. and represent a rate less than 0. Psychiatry (Online). and Strassman.” “I have sinned and the spirits are persecuting me.
Ment. 2007.. 2004. R. 130. 102. Mercado de Letras. 102. J. McKenna.G. Psychoactive Drugs. 2. Dis. R. 4. D. Pharmacol. Labate. B. 30. 2008. Nerv. . and Grob. I. 111. M.J. 5. S. 1969. Rose.. and Santos.. Addiction. Religiões ayahuasqueiras: um balanço bibliográfico. 3.Ayahuasca and psychosis 99 References 1. C. 37. (Eds. Ther. 24.).S.S..S.. Campinas. 2005. J. Dobkin de Rios. Gable. Cohen..C.
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