Ayahuasca - PsychonautWiki


(Redirected from Pharmahuasca)
Ayahuasca cooking in the Loreto region of Peru
Chemical Nomenclature
Common names Ayahuasca, Aya, Caapi, Cipó, Hoasca, Vegetal, Yagé, Yajé, Natem, Shori
Routes of Administration

WARNING: Always start with lower doses due to differences between individual body weight, tolerance, metabolism, and personal sensitivity. See responsible use section.

Total 5 - 10 hours
Onset 20 - 60 minutes
Peak 1 - 2 hours
Offset 1 - 2 hours
After effects 1 - 8 hours

DISCLAIMER: PW's dosage information is gathered from users and resources for educational purposes only. It is not a recommendation and should be verified with other sources for accuracy.

Summary sheet: Ayahuasca

Ayahuasca (pronounced /eye-uh-WAHS-kuh/ and also known as Yagé) is an umbrella term that refers to a wide variety of traditional and modern brews and infusions of natural plant sources that produce powerful psychoactive or hallucinogenic effects. Of these, it most commonly consists of a DMT-containing plant source in combination with one that contains an MAOI or RIMA (typically sources like B. caapi vine or syrian rue) to produce uniquely potent, sometimes medicinal, psychedelic effects.

The co-consumption of an MAOI agent is necessary for the combination to work, as the DMT molecule (which is a monoamine closely related to serotonin) is rendered almost entirely inactive when digested by itself due to the presence of monoamine oxidase enzymes in the stomach, which rapidly degrades it.[1]

Ayahuasca is used as a traditional spiritual medicine in ceremonies among the Indigenous peoples of Amazonian Peru, many of whom say that they received the instructions in its use directly from the plants and plant spirits themselves. Ayahuasca was first described outside of Indigenous communities in the early 1950s by Harvard ethnobotanist Richard Evans Schultes, who became aware of the Native communities who use it for divinatory and healing purposes.

As is the case with psychedelics in general, ayahuasca is not considered to be dependence-forming or addictive by the research and medical community.[2] Nevertheless, unpredictable adverse reactions such as anxiety, paranoia, delusions and psychotic breaks can still always occur, particularly among those predisposed to psychiatric disorders.[3] While these negative reactions or "bad trips" can often be attributed to factors like the user's inexperience or improper preparation of their set and setting, they have been known to happen spontaneously among even the most experienced of users as well. This is why despite its scientifically-backed reputation for possessing both negligible-to-no physical and neurotoxicity,[4] it is still highly advised to approach this powerful and unpredictable hallucinogenic substance with the proper amount of precaution, and harm reduction practices if one chooses to use it.

History and culture


This History and culture section is a stub.

As a result, it may contain incomplete or wrong information. You can help by expanding it.

A 1000-year-old collection of drug paraphernalia found in a rock shelter in Bolivia features traces of five psychoactive chemicals, including cocaine and components of ayahuasca.[5]

Ayahuasca ceremonies

There have been several documented cases of avoidable deaths caused by frauds pretending to be shamans during "traditional" ayahuasca ceremonies.[6][7] The ingredient known to cause problems is known specifically as brugmansia, which can cause issues when co-administered with an MAOI. An effective ayahuasca brew does not have to be more complicated than a suitable source of DMT (such as mimosa or acacia) and a reversible inhibitor of monoamine oxidase A (RIMA or MAOI). Using other ingredients along with the ayahuasca can potentially be dangerous; any potential interactions should be carefully researched before ingestion.

Another concern of ayahuasca ceremonies is the culture of mysticism and pseudoscience produced from centuries of mythological ritual, leading to a bias following the delusion of a single cultural narrative. There is an irrational belief that ayahuasca should only to be used in the Amazon rainforest in the presence of a shaman. This belief leads many to shun the idea of taking ayahuasca outside of this potentially toxic environment for no logical reason.[8]


Further information: Serotonergic psychedelic

Ayahuasca's psychedelic effects have been confirmed to come from its efficacy at the 5-HT2A receptor as a partial agonist.[9] However, the role of these interactions and how they result in the psychedelic experience continues to remain an object of scientific eludication.

Harmala alkaloids are classed as MAO-inhibiting beta-carbolines. The three most studied harmala alkaloids in the B. caapi vine are harmine, harmaline and tetrahydroharmine. Harmine and harmaline are selective and reversible inhibitors of monoamine oxidase A (MAO-A), while tetrahydroharmine is a weak serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SRI).[10]

This inhibition of MAO-A allows DMT to diffuse unmetabolized past the membranes in the stomach and small intestine, eventually crossing the blood–brain barrier (which, by itself, requires no MAO-A inhibition) to activate receptor sites in the brain. Without RIMAs or MAOIs of MAO-A, DMT would be oxidized (and thus rendered biologically inactive) by monoamine oxidase enzymes in the digestive tract.[11]

Subjective effects

Disclaimer: The effects listed below cite the Subjective Effect Index (SEI), an open research literature based on anecdotal user reports and the personal analyses of PsychonautWiki contributors. As a result, they should be viewed with a healthy degree of skepticism.

It is also worth noting that these effects will not necessarily occur in a predictable or reliable manner, although higher doses are more liable to induce the full spectrum of effects. Likewise, adverse effects become increasingly likely with higher doses and may include addiction, severe injury, or death ☠.

Physical effects

Visual effects

Cognitive effects

Multi-sensory effects

Transpersonal effects

Experience reports

Anecdotal reports which describe the effects of this compound within our experience index include:

Additional experience reports can be found here:

Natural plant sources



Traditional ayahuasca is made by brewing the MAOI-containing Banisteriopsis caapi vine with a DMT-containing plant, such as Psychotria viridis. Pharmahuasca refers to a similar combination that uses a pharmaceutical MAOI instead of a plant. There are two types of MAOIs, reversible and irreversible. It is important to note that irreversible MAOIs remain active for two weeks rather than a matter of hours. This is particularly noteworthy because in addition to drug interactions, there is co-interaction with tyramine-rich foods and potential to cause a hypertensive crisis. For this reason, it is strongly advised to use a reversible inhibitor of monoamine oxidase A, or RIMA, rather than an irreversible MAOI. In addition, reversible MAOIs are pharmacologically closer to the Harmala alkaloid used in traditional ayahuasca.


Main article: Changa

Changa (pronounced /tʃɑːngɑː/) is a DMT-infused smoking blend. Typically, extracts from DMT-containing plants are combined with a blend of different herbs and ayahuasca vine and/or leaf to create a mix that is 20–50% DMT, akin to a smokeable ayahuasca.


For pharmahuasca, 50 mg N,N-DMT and 100 mg harmaline is usually the recommended dosage per person. However, combinations of 50 mg harmaline, 50 mg harmine, and 50 mg, N,N-DMT have been tested with success. As a rule, the fewer the β-carbolines, the less nausea there is; the more DMT, the more spectacular the visions. The constituents are put into separate gelatin capsules. The capsules with harmaline/harmine are swallowed first and then the capsule containing the DMT is taken 15 to 20 minutes later. The purely synthetic MAO inhibitor isocarboxazid (Marplan) is suitable in place of harmaline and harmine, although caution should be taken as this is an irreversible MAOI, marking several drug-drug and drug-food interactions.[15]

Recipes and preparation methods

Potential therapeutic applications

Potential antidepressant effects

A 2015 preliminary report has found a significant reduction of up to 82% in depressive scores following ayahuasca administration.[16] The report concludes that "these results suggest that [ayahuasca] has fast-acting anxiolytic and antidepressant effects in patients with a depressive disorder." Its acute and fast-acting effects show promise for the treatment of depression as common antidepressants, such as fluoxetine (Prozac), take weeks to show significant effects and are simply ineffective for many users.

A 2016 placebo randomized controlled trial evaluated the rapid antidepressant effects of the psychedelic ayahuasca in treatment-resistant depression with positive outcome.[17][18]

The mechanism by which ayahuasca produces antidepressant effects is not well known, but studies have hypothesized that the MAO-inhibitor and weak serotonin reuptake inhibitor effects of ayahuasca alkaloids may be of relevance. Research on the antidepressant potential of psilocin suggests that the subjective effects of 5-HT2A agonism also contribute to antidepressant effects, but further research is required to understand the effects of psychedelic drugs on depressive disorders.

Toxicity and harm potential

Ayahuasca is non-addictive, is not known to cause brain damage, and has extremely low toxicity relative to dose. Similar to other psychedelic drugs, there are relatively few physical side effects associated with ayahuasca. Various studies have shown that it presents no negative cognitive, psychiatric or toxic physical consequences of any sort when taken in reasonable doses and a careful context.[19][20]

Lethal dosage

The only available study that tried to estimate the lethal dose (LD50) of ayahuasca in rats failed to do so due to the enormous amount of brew necessary for the procedure. The authors estimated, however, that ayahuasca's LD50 is around 50 times a regular dose. This speaks for the physical safety of ayahuasca usage.[21]

It is strongly recommended that one use harm reduction practices when using this substance.

Tolerance and addiction potential

Ayahuasca is not habit-forming, and the desire to use it can actually decrease with use. It is most often self-regulating.

Similar to DMT, tolerance to the effects of ayahuasca does not build up with repeated usage, and this compound can, therefore, be used repeatedly to any extent. Ayahuasca does not present a cross-tolerance with other psychedelics, meaning that after the consumption of ayahuasca psychedelics will not have a reduced effect.

Dangerous interactions

As a result of its MAOI effects, ayahuasca is more likely to induce serotonin syndrome or general neurotransmitter overload (especially at high dosages) than other serotonergic psychedelics. This makes it dangerous to combine it with other MAOIs, stimulants and certain substances which releases neurotransmitters such as serotonin or dopamine. These substances include but are not limited to:

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:[22]

"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 principals, mescaline, DMT, and psilocin."

"No plants (natural materials) containing DMT are at present controlled under the 1971 Convention on Psychotropic Substances. 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. -- International Narcotics Control Board (INCB), United Nations"[23]

By country

  • Brazil: The religious (but not therapeutic or recreational) use of ayahuasca is legal.[24]
  • Peru: The traditional use of ayahuasca for therapeutic purposes ("vegetalismo") is legal.[citation needed]
  • United States:
    • Louisiana: Except for ornamental purposes, growing, selling or possessing of these ayahuasca plants are prohibited by Louisiana State Act 159:[25]

See also

External links




  1. Mhaske, S. B., Argade, N. P. (16 October 2006). "The chemistry of recently isolated naturally occurring quinazolinone alkaloids". Tetrahedron. 62 (42): 9787–9826. doi:10.1016/j.tet.2006.07.098. ISSN 0040-4020. 
  2. Lüscher, C., Ungless, M. A. (14 November 2006). "The Mechanistic Classification of Addictive Drugs". PLoS Medicine. 3 (11): e437. doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.0030437. ISSN 1549-1676. 
  3. Strassman, R. J. (October 1984). "ADVERSE REACTIONS TO PSYCHEDELIC DRUGS. A REVIEW OF THE LITERATURE:". The Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease. 172 (10): 577–595. doi:10.1097/00005053-198410000-00001. ISSN 0022-3018. 
  4. Nichols, D. E. (April 2016). Barker, E. L., ed. "Psychedelics". Pharmacological Reviews. 68 (2): 264–355. doi:10.1124/pr.115.011478. ISSN 0031-6997. 
  5. Miller, M. J., Albarracin-Jordan, J., Moore, C., Capriles, J. M. (4 June 2019). "Chemical evidence for the use of multiple psychotropic plants in a 1,000-year-old ritual bundle from South America". Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. 116 (23): 11207–11212. doi:10.1073/pnas.1902174116. ISSN 0027-8424. 
  6. McVeigh, T. (2014), British backpacker dies after taking hallucinogenic brew in Colombia 
  7. Kiwi traveller dies after Amazon drug ritual 
  8. Frontier, P. (2014), Are Entities and Plant Spirits Real? 
  9. The Visual Effects of Ayahuasca in Humans: The First Study to Employ a Ketanserin Blockade, 2016 
  10. Callaway, J. C., McKenna, D. J., Grob, C. S., Brito, G. S., Raymon, L. P., Poland, R. E., Andrade, E. N., Andrade, E. O., Mash, D. C. (1 June 1999). "Pharmacokinetics of Hoasca alkaloids in healthy humans". Journal of Ethnopharmacology. 65 (3): 243–256. doi:10.1016/S0378-8741(98)00168-8. ISSN 0378-8741. 
  11. Riba, J. (2003). "Human pharmacology of ayahuasca" (PDF). 
  12. Campos, D. J., Roman, A., Overton, G. (2011). The shaman & ayahuasca: journeys to sacred realms. Divine Arts. ISBN 9781611250039. }}
  13. Andritzky, W. (1 January 1989). "Sociopsychotherapeutic Functions of Ayahuasca Healing in Amazonia". Journal of Psychoactive Drugs. 21 (1): 77–89. doi:10.1080/02791072.1989.10472145. ISSN 0279-1072. 
  14. Hassan, I. (1 July 1967). "Some folk uses ofPeganum harmala in India and Pakistan". Economic Botany. 21 (3): 284–284. doi:10.1007/BF02860378. ISSN 1874-9364. 
  15. Ott, J. (1994). Ayahuasca analogues: Pangæan entheogens (1st ed. ed.). Natural Products Co. ISBN 9780961423445. 
  16. Osório, F. de L., Sanches, R. F., Macedo, L. R., Santos, R. G. dos, Maia-de-Oliveira, J. P., Wichert-Ana, L., Araujo, D. B. de, Riba, J., Crippa, J. A., Hallak, J. E. (March 2015). "Antidepressant effects of a single dose of ayahuasca in patients with recurrent depression: a preliminary report". Brazilian Journal of Psychiatry. 37: 13–20. doi:10.1590/1516-4446-2014-1496. ISSN 1516-4446. 
  17. Palhano-Fontes, F; Barreto, D; Onias, H; Andrade, KC; Novaes, MM; Pessoa, JA; Mota-Rolim, SA; Osório, FL; Sanches, R; Dos Santos, RG; Tófoli, LF; de Oliveira Silveira, G; Yonamine, M; Riba, J; Santos, FR; Silva-Junior, AA; Alchieri, JC; Galvão-Coelho, NL; Lobão-Soares, B; Hallak, JEC; Arcoverde, E; Maia-de-Oliveira, JP; Araújo, DB (March 2019). "Rapid antidepressant effects of the psychedelic ayahuasca in treatment-resistant depression: a randomized placebo-controlled trial". Psychological medicine. 49 (4): 655–663. doi:10.1017/S0033291718001356. PMID 29903051. 
  18. "Antidepressant Effects of Ayahuasca: a Randomized Placebo Controlled Trial in Treatment Resistant Depression - Full Text View - ClinicalTrials.gov". clinicaltrials.gov (in English). 
  19. Santos, R. G. dos (March 2013). "Safety and side effects of ayahuasca in humans--an overview focusing on developmental toxicology". Journal of Psychoactive Drugs. 45 (1): 68–78. doi:10.1080/02791072.2013.763564. ISSN 0279-1072. 
  20. Barbosa, P. C. R., Mizumoto, S., Bogenschutz, M. P., Strassman, R. J. (August 2012). "Health status of ayahuasca users". Drug Testing and Analysis. 4 (7–8): 601–609. doi:10.1002/dta.1383. ISSN 1942-7611. 
  21. Pic-Taylor, A., Motta, L. G. da, Morais, J. A. de, Junior, W. M., Santos, A. de F. A., Campos, L. A., Mortari, M. R., Zuben, M. V. von, Caldas, E. D. (September 2015). "Behavioural and neurotoxic effects of ayahuasca infusion (Banisteriopsis caapi and Psychotria viridis) in female Wistar rat". Behavioural Processes. 118: 102–110. doi:10.1016/j.beproc.2015.05.004. ISSN 1872-8308. 
  22. DMT – UN report, MAPS, 2001-03-31, archived from the original on January 21, 2012, retrieved 2012-01-14 
  23. Labate, B. C., Jungaberle, H., eds. (2011). The internationalization of ayahuasca. Performanzen, interkulturelle Studien zu Ritual, Speil and Theater ; Performances, intercultural studies on ritual, play and theatre. Lit. ISBN 9783643901484. 
  24. Erowid Ayahuasca Vault : Notes on Brazilian Ayahuasca Law 
  25. Louisiana Laws - Louisiana State Legislature