Ayahuasca the hallucinogenic plant brew originated in the Amazon basin. It is the indigenous tribes of that area that have discovered the formula for the medicine, which in itself is already a mystery. Ayahuasca is made from two different plant species: the leaves of the chacruna bush (Psychotria viridis) and the stems of a vine (Banisteriopsis caapi). Only the combination of these two plants, cooked for hours, unlocks the psychedelic and visionary qualities of the brew. The vine provides alkaloids that inhibit the destruction of DMT, the actual psychoactive chemical which is found in the leaf, in the human gut, making it accessible for absportion into the bloodstream and ultimately the brain.
How did these tribes know which plants to combine when there are some 40,000 different plant species found in the Amazon rainforest and how did they know, that they needed to be cooked for hours in order to achieve a psychedelic effect in the human body? It is a mystery to western science. The indigenous of course know that they received the instructions from the plants themselves. And we should take them serious. Indigenous cultures are oral cultures, they don’t have a written history nor a western style science. But the time it takes to become a shaman and the rigorous practices connected to it can be likened to the time a doctor spends in school and university. The healing work of a shaman and the work with plants in indigenous cultures are very similar to processes in science. They are based on experience, re-evaluation and best practice. Science creates objective knowledge based on trials and assumptions, that are tested to see if they are reproduceable, and if not, correctable. In this way we can achieve and open exchange of objective information. The indigenous traditionally don’t have laboratories nor books but their methods are scientific and interpersonally verifiable.
For the Huni Kuin people Ayahuasca plays a central role in their culture, even their creation myth speaks of how the knowledge of Ayahuasca came to them through the mythical first shaman, Yube. Yube fell in love with an anaconda women and went with her to the bottom of a lake, where she taught him all the secrets of the sacred plant medicines. After having children with the anaconda woman Yube returns a few years later to his old village and brings with him the knowledge of the sacred plant medicines.
A western person who wants to know more about the Ayahuasca medicine is well advised to make the journey into the Amazon and learn with the indigenous plant medicine and healing experts.
Txana Ixã Huni Kuin is a Pajé or a traditional plant healer as well as a political and cultural authority of the Huni Kuin People, in Altamira village, Tarauacá River, Acre, Brazil.
He speaks about the healing qualities of Ayahuasca, the necessity of plant diets and why western people who want to drink Ayahuasca should come to the Amazon.