Medicine Plants

Some of the medicinal plants that come from the rainforests have become quite popular in the world today. Among them, arguably the most popular of all has become Ayahuasca.

What is Ayahuasca?

Written, Compiled and Edited by Pachamama Church of the Queen of the Forest


For the majority of the people, the desire for healing is the first motivation to drink the tea. Through the Ayahuasca and the means capable of working with this force, people are healed from drug dependency, cancer, emotional traumas and other grave illnesses. A common healing is the purification of fixed ideas and behaviors that are not beneficial to a person. Sometimes the healing is associated to a physical purification, through which the individual purges the tea. This phenomenon demonstrates equally that the human body Will not accept more Ayahuasca than it can utilize.

Ayahuasca (usually pronounced /jəˈwæskə/ or /ˈjəˈwɑːskə/), also commonly called yagé (/jɑːh/), is a brew of various psychoactive infusions or decoctions prepared with the Banisteriopsis caapi vine. It is usually mixed with the leaves of dimethyltryptamine (DMT)-containing species of shrubs from the genus Psychotria. The brew, first described academically in the early 1950s by Harvard ethnobotanist Richard Evans Schultes, who found it employed for divinatory and healing purposes by the native peoples of Amazonian Peru, is known by a number of different names (see below). It has been reported that some effects can be had from consuming the caapi vine alone, but that DMT-containing plants (such as Psychotria) remain inactive when drunk as a brew without a source of monoamine oxidase inhibitor (MAOI) such as B. caapi. How indigenous peoples discovered the synergistic properties of the plants used in the ayahuasca brew remains unclear. While many indigenous Amazonian people say they received the instructions directly from plants and plant spirits, researchers have devised a number of alternative theories to explain its discovery.[1]


Ayahuasca cooking

People who have consumed ayahuasca report having massive spiritual revelations regarding their purpose on earth, the true nature of the universe as well as deep insight as how to be the best person they possibly can.[2] This is viewed by many as a spiritual awakening and what's often described as a rebirth.[3] In addition it is often reported that individuals can gain access to higher spiritual dimensions and make contact with various spiritual or extra dimensional beings who can act as guides or healers.[4] It's nearly always said that people experience profound positive changes in their life subsequent to consuming ayahuasca[5] and it is often viewed as one of the most effective tools of enlightenment.[6]

However, during an ayahuasca experience, people sometimes report nauseadiarrhea, and cold flashes. Additionally, vomiting often follows ayahuasca ingestion; this purging is considered by many shamans and experienced users of ayahuasca to be an essential part of the experience as it represents the release of negative energy and emotions built up over the course of one's life.[7]

Further, it should be noted that the ingestion of ayahuasca can cause significant, but temporary emotional and psychological distress. There are many reports of miraculous physical as well as emotional and spiritual healing resulting from the use of ayahuasca.[8] Long-term negative effects are not known.[9]

Jagube & Rainha

the preparation of the Ayahuasca tea is done by combining the vine ‘Jagube’ (banisteriopis caapi) with the leaves from a bush called ‘Queen’ (Psychotria Viridis). These two ingredients are boiled together for several hours, with the goal of freeing its active substances. While the leaf of the Queen naturally contains the active substance DMT (dimethyltriptimine), the vine of the Jagube contains MAOI (harmine, harmline), which together produce the known spiritual effect. The Jagube is known by xamans as the soul of the tea, the guide to the thread of the experience.


History tells that, during the Spanish invasion in Peru from 1532 to 1534, the prince Ayahuasca introduced this science into the Amazon Forest and expanded it to numerous indigenous tribes. It was only much later THROUGH the constant urbanization in Brazil that the tea came back to the surface of the urban world.

It was thus that in the beginning of the 20th century, a rubber tapper named Raimundo Irineu Serra became friends with Peruvian Xamans who introduced him to the tea, known in the region by the name of Ayahuasca, which in the Quichua language of Inca origin, refers to a sacramental drink produced from the decoction of two native plants from the Amazon Forest: the Banisteriopis caapi vine (mariri or Jagube), which serves as the MAOI and the leaves of the Psychotria Viridis bush (chacruna or queen) which contains the active principle dimetiltriptamine.

The drink is also known as yage, caapi, nixi honi xuma, hoasca, vegatal, daime, kahi, natema, pinde, dapa, mihi, wine of the soul, teacher of all teachers, little death, among others. The more known name Ayahuasca means “liana (vine) of the spirits.

Used by the Incas and by at least seventy two different indigenous tribes from the Amazon. It is used in countries such as Peru, Ecuador, Colombia, Bolivia and Brazil.

Its use grew and expanded in South America and other parts of the world with the growth of the organized religious movements, the most significant ones being the Santo Daime, the UDV, and Barquinha along with independent dissidences from those groups which also consecrate the medicine in their rituals.


The use of natural substances that potentialize perception is a millenary practice that is present in many cultures.

Historically, it is known that the use of plants of power always had the goal of altering the mundane way of understanding life and the things in it, of understanding things and of establishing a bridge between man and their divinities.

Several records confirm this. Studies indicated that the Essenes already utilized power plants in their rituals of initiation. North American and Mexican Indians used the peyote cactus. The oldest records indicate that the Vedas, 3100 ac already practiced rituals where a drink known as Soma was used. In South America, we have the use of Ayahuasca, coming from the Incas. In Brazil, Ayahuasca has been used for thousands of years by the indigenous peoples of the rainforest region and recently by the UDV and the Santo Daime people.

The basic premise of these groups is to attain self-knowledge through the mystic-spiritual esoteric experiences it promotes, where through visions and states of expanded consciousness; one arrives to a place of total integration with the cosmos, with nature and with creator.


What is an entheogen – From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

An entheogen ("generating the divine within")[4] is a psychoactive substance used in a religiousshamanic, or spiritual context.[5] Entheogens can supplement many diverse practices for transcendence, and revelation, including meditationpsychonauticspsychedelic and visionary artpsychedelic therapy, and magic.

Entheogens have been used in a ritualized context for thousands of years; their religious significance is well established in anthropological and modern evidences. Examples of traditional entheogens include: peyotepsilocybin mushrooms, uncured tobaccocannabisayahuascaSalvia divinorumTabernanthe ibogaIpomoea tricolor, and Amanita muscaria. With the advent of organic chemistry, there now exist many synthetic substances with similar psychoactive properties, many derived from these plants. Many pure active compounds with psychoactive properties have been isolated from these organisms and chemically synthesized, including mescaline,psilocybinDMTsalvinorin Aibogaineergotamine, and muscimol, respectively. Semi-synthetic (e.g. LSD derived usually derived from ergotamine) and synthetic substances (e.g. DPT used by the Temple of the True Inner Light and 2C-B used by the Sangoma) have also been developed.[6] Entheogens may be compounded through the work of a shaman or apothecary in a tea, admixture, or potion like ayahuasca or bhang.

More broadly, the term entheogen is used to refer to any psychoactive substances when used for their religious or spiritual effects, whether or not in a formal religious or traditional structure. This terminology is often chosen to contrast with recreational use of the same substances. Studies such as the Marsh Chapel Experiment have documented reports of spiritual experiences from participants who were administered psychoactive substances in controlled trials.[7] Ongoing research is limited due to widespread drug prohibition, however some countries have legislation that allows for traditional entheogen use.

The neologism entheogen was coined in 1979 by a group of ethnobotanists and scholars of mythology (Carl A. P. Ruck, Jeremy Bigwood, Danny Staples, Richard Evans SchultesJonathan Ott and R. Gordon Wasson). The term is derived from two words of ancient Greek, ἔνθεος (entheos) and γενέσθαι (genesthai). The adjective entheos translates to English as "full of the god, inspired, possessed," and is the root of the English word "enthusiasm." The Greeks used it as a term of praise for poets and other artists. Genesthai means "to come into being." Thus, an entheogen is a substance that causes one to become inspired or to experience feelings of inspiration, often in a religious or "spiritual" manner.[8]

Entheogen was coined as a replacement for the terms hallucinogen and psychedelic. Hallucinogen was popularized by Aldous Huxley's experiences with mescaline, which were published as The Doors of Perception in 1954. Psychedelic, in contrast, is a Greek neologism for "mind manifest", and was coined by psychiatrist Humphry Osmond; Huxley was a volunteer in experiments Osmond was conducting on mescaline.

Ruck et al. argued that the term hallucinogen was inappropriate owing to its etymological relationship to words relating to delirium and insanity. The term psychedelic was also seen as problematic, owing to the similarity in sound to words pertaining to psychosis and also due to the fact that it had become irreversibly associated with various connotations of 1960s pop culture. In modern usage entheogen may be used synonymously with these terms, or it may be chosen to contrast with recreational use of the same substances. The meanings of the term entheogen were formally defined by Ruck et al.:

In a strict sense, only those vision-producing drugs that can be shown to have figured in shamanic or religious rites would be designated entheogens, but in a looser sense, the term could also be applied to other drugs, both natural and artificial, that induce alterations of consciousness similar to those documented for ritual ingestion of traditional entheogens.

At a first glance this tea is usually classified by society as a drug or hallucinogen. This must not at all compromise or devalue the Ayahuasca or the people that use it. It would be better for us to clarify that according to the international naming convention, anything or substance of natural origin, vegetal or mineral that, once introduced to a living organism, produces physiological alterations is called a ‘drug’. In this way, we can classify as a drug things such as: coffee, sugar, certain herbal teas and so on and so forth. We must remember however that many ‘drugs’ are used to save lives.

However, as socially the word ‘drug’ is commonly associated with destructive substances that cause chemical or physical dependency, provoking social imbalance, it is necessary to clarify in an emphatic way that the Ayahuasca cannot be classified as such because its use does not cause imbalance, it does not cause dependency or addiction, nor does it destroy. Much the opposite, people who make use of it are people who generally attempt to improve themselves continuously through self-knowledge, spiritual evolution, they preach world peace, harmony among the peoples of the world, respect and honor towards nature, etc., goals that one can only achieve if in the plenitude of their physical and mental faculties. Those who classify Ayahuasca as a hallucinogen also commit conceptual impropriety, according to American anthropologist Gordon Wasson, in an interview to the Oglobo Brazilian news agency. He distinguishes these altered states of consciousness or ‘hallucinations’ to ‘states of enhanced consciousness’ – those being reached with the ingestion of the Ayahuasca in a religious context, under the supervision of a competent supervisor.

To some researchers, the classification of Ayahuasca as a “hallucinogen” is an imprecision, because the same does not cause a state of loss of contact with reality – as the term “hallucinogen” implies. But instead it produces a degree of heightened perception which allows the comprehension of that reality with more clarity and transcendence. Therefore, researchers of ethno botanic background have proposed the classification of Ayahuasca as a “Entheogen”, or a substance that causes an experience of “Contact with the Divine”, causing a generalized sensation of proximity to the Sacred, facilitating self-knowledge and the improvement of the human being.

Up until now, no one has been able to demonstrate any negative affirmation against the ritualistic use of the Ayahuasca or anything that contradicts what we have always affirmed, that the Ayahuasca, used in the religious context is beneficial to the physical and spiritual health of the initiate. There are no accounts of people who making use of the tea in a religious ritual, under the orientation of experienced people have suffered any harm.

What happens is exactly the opposite, that is, numerous cases of people who have re-structure their familial and professional lives, stemming from the use of Ayahuasca in the religious context.


Legal status

Internationally, DMT is a Schedule I drug under the Convention on Psychotropic Substances. The Commentary on the Convention on Psychotropic Substances notes, however, that the plants containing it are not subject to international control:[56]

The cultivation of plants from which psychotropic substances are obtained is not controlled by the Vienna Convention. . . . Neither the crown (fruit, mescal button) of the Peyote cactus nor the roots of the plant Mimosa hostilis nor Psilocybe mushrooms themselves are included in Schedule 1, but only their respective principles, mescaline, DMT and psilocin.

fax from the Secretary of the International Narcotics Control Board to the Netherlands Ministry of Public Health sent in 2001 goes on to state that "Consequently, preparations (e.g. decoctions) made of these plants, including ayahuasca, are not under international control and, therefore, not subject to any of the articles of the 1971 Convention."[57]

The legal status in the United States of DMT-containing plants is somewhat questionable. Ayahuasca plants and preparations are legal, as they contain no scheduled chemicals. However, brews made using DMT containing plants are illegal since DMT is a Schedule I drug. That said, some people are challenging this, using arguments similar to those used by peyotist religious sects, such as the Native American Church. A court case allowing the União do Vegetal to import and use the tea for religious purposes in the United States, Gonzales v. O Centro Espirita Beneficente Uniao do Vegetal, was heard by the U.S. Supreme Court on November 1, 2005; the decision, released February 21, 2006, allows the UDV to use the tea in its ceremonies pursuant to the Religious Freedom Restoration Act. In a similar case an Ashland, Oregon based Santo Daime church sued for their right to import and consume ayahuasca tea. In March 2009, U.S. District Court Judge Panner ruled in favor of the Santo Daime, acknowledging its protection from prosecution under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act.[58]

Religious use in Brazil was legalized after two official inquiries into the tea in the mid-1980s, which concluded that ayahuasca is not a recreational drug and has valid spiritual uses.[59]

In France, Santo Daime won a court case allowing them to use the tea in early 2005; however, they were not allowed an exception for religious purposes, but rather for the simple reason that they did not perform chemical extractions to end up with pure DMT and harmala and the plants used were not scheduled.[60] Four months after the court victory, the common ingredients of ayahuasca as well as harmala were declared stupéfiants, or narcotic schedule I substances, making the tea and its ingredients illegal to use or possess.[61]

[edit]Other legal issues

Ayahuasca has also stirred debate regarding intellectual property protection of traditional knowledge. In 1986 the US Patent and Trademarks Office allowed the granting of a patent on the ayahuasca vine B. Caapi. It allowed this patent based on the assumption that ayahuasca's properties had not been previously described in writing. Several public interest groups, including the Coordinating Body of Indigenous Organizations of the Amazon Basin (COICA) and the Coalition for Amazonian Peoples and Their Environment (Amazon Coalition) objected. In 1999 they brought a legal challenge to this patent which had granted a private US citizen "ownership" of the knowledge of a plant that is well-known and sacred to many indigenous peoples of the Amazon, and used by them in religious and healing ceremonies.[62] Later that year the PTO issued a decision rejecting the patent, on the basis that the petitioners' arguments that the plant was not "distinctive or novel" were valid. However, the decision did not acknowledge the argument that the plant's religious or cultural values prohibited a patent. In 2001, after an appeal by the patent holder, the US Patent Office reinstated the patent. The law at the time did not allow a third party such as COICA to participate in that part of the reexamination process. The patent, held by US entrepreneur Loren Miller, expired in 2003.[63]


An icaro (or ikaro) is a song sung in Shipibo healing ceremonies.[1][2] or vegetalistas[3] The word icaro is believed to be derived from the Quechua verb ikaray, which means "to blow smoke in order to heal".[3]

Shipibo shamans say that spirits, particularly plant spirits, teach them the icaros. They are used to bring on mareación (the visionary effects of the ayahuasca), take mareación away, call in different plant spirits, call in the spirits of others or the deceased, take away dark spirits and dark energies, for protection and to manage the ceremony. Experienced shamans can recite hundreds of icaros.[4]

Icaros are either whistled or sung, and can be expressed in any language. The shamans generally sing in a spirit dialect that is a mixture of their native language (i.e. Quechua, Shipibo-Conibo, Asháninka, etc.), Spanish, and different evocative sounds or vocables. Icaros represent a system of communication between the shaman and the spirits, and the shaman and the participants in the ceremony. The shamans believe that every living thing has an icaro and that these icaros can be learned.

The singing of icaros is sometimes accompanied by the chakapa, rattle of bundled leaves that is used to carry the rhythm of the ceremony. The shaman will use his chakapa to direct energy and the icaros, as well as send away dark or unwanted energies.


The Santo Daime Church -


Ayahuasca Wasi - (a lot of medicine music available here)

Religion of the Forest by Alex Polari –

What is Ayahuasca -

Healing the Luminous Body – The Way of the Shaman - DVD

Other Documentary Films Portraying the Ayahuasca Brew

  • Shamans of the Amazon (2001), directed by Dean Jefferys.
  • "Jungle Trip" (2001), directed by Gavin Searle. In this episode of To the Ends of the Earth, an English amateur botanist seeks personal transformation from the indigenous peoples of the Amazon.
  • Night of the Liana (2002), directed by Glenn Switkes.
  • L'Ayahuasca, le serpent et moi (2003), directed by Armand Bernardi.
  • D'autres mondes (2004), directed by Jan Kounen. Canadian anthropologist Jeremy NarbyShipibo curandero Guillermo Arévalo, and others talk about the value and the mystery of ayahuasca.
  • Sacha Runa: Spirits of the Rainforest (2005), directed by Sean Adair and Miguel Kavlin.
  • The Man Who Drank the Universe (2005), directed by Gary Reich and Alistair Appleton. English television-presenter Alistair Appleton travels to Brazil to try ayahuasca.
  • An episode of Extreme Celebrity Detox (2005) featured British celebrities Mina AnwarJo Guest and Tony Wilson visiting the Amazon to partake in the ceremony.
  • Die Letzte Droge (2006), directed by Stefan Kluge.
  • Woven Songs of the Amazon (2006), directed by Anna Stevens.
  • Heaven Earth (2008), directed by Rudolf Amaral and Harald Scherz. A look at the ayahuasqueros of Peru, and the people whom they help.
  • "Amazonas" (2009), directed by Tuomas Milonoff. In this, the series-three premiere of MadventuresRiku Rantala and Tuomas Milonoff journey to the Amazon to drink ayahuasca with a shaman.
  • Ayahuasca Diary (2009), directed by Christian Moran.
  • Metamorphosis (2009), directed by Keith Aronowitz. Hamilton Souther, an American man from California, trains with Don Alberto to learn the ways of the ayahuasquero.
  • Vine of the Soul: Encounters with Ayahuasca (2010), directed by Richard Meech.
  • DMT: The Spirit Molecule (2010), Director: Mitch Schultz. An investigation into the long-obscured mystery of dimethyltryptamine (DMT), a molecule found in nearly every living organism and considered the most potent psychedelic on Earth.
  • Stepping into the Fire (2011), directed by Ross Evison and Roberto Velez. Roberto Velez, an affluent American businessman, feels that his professional life and values are harming his family. His ayahuasca experience inspires him to build a shamanic retreat center in the Peruvian Amazon, and catalyzes a shift in his family members' lives.
  • Eye of the Needle: An Ayahuasca Journey (2012), Short documentary directed by Daniel LeMunyan. A first hand exploration of an ayahuasca retreat in the Peruvian rain forest.
  • "2012: Time For Change" (2010), directed by Joao G. Amorim
  • "Story of Ani Nii Shobo" (2013), directed by Matej Kubicar

Recommended Ayahuasca Reading:

Forest of Visions: Ayahuasca, Amazonian …

 Alex Polari de Alverga

4.1 out of 5 stars (7)


The Shaman & Ayahuasca: Journeys to Sacred …

Don Jose Campos

4.9 out of 5 stars (23)



The Shamanic Wisdom of the Huichol: Medicine …

 Tom Soloway Pinkson

4.4 out of 5 stars (11)



Sacred Vine of Spirits: Ayahuasca

Ralph Metzner

4.5 out of 5 stars (4)



Rainforest Treasures

The Rainforest has infinite treasures to give us. From its unbelievably rich bio diversity to hundreds of different cultures of people who  have inhabited it and some that still inhabit it today. Most pharmaceutical medicines we know today are originally from species of plants from the rainforests. We have so much to understand and to gain from this fertile environment of life and abundance.

In this section we will share our stories, photos and resources to take you on a journey through this magical and infinite realm of nature and all it offers us.