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The ayahuasca brew is a dark, thick, bitter liquid used to induce profound psychedelic visions. The main ingredient is the ayahuasca vine, but another plant is needed to produce the psychedelic effects. The vine serves to “activate” another plant that, on its own, is inactive.

It’s unclear how this brew was first created. Mixing two inactive plants doesn’t make much sense without knowing complex chemistry.

When you ask a shaman that works with ayahuasca (called an ayahuasquero), they will likely tell you that “the plants told” their ancestors how to prepare it.


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By now, you’ve probably at least heard of ayahuasca — the powerful psychedelic brew from the Amazon.

The bitter-tasting brew turns two non-psychoactive plants into one of the strongest hallucinogenic compounds on earth. A single cup of ayahuasca tea can transport you into a vivid dream-like state that can last up to 6 hours.

Biohackers, Silicon Valley executives, and spiritual experience-seekers are traveling to the far reaches of the Amazon to try this entheogenic brew for themselves.

Is ayahuasca safe? What are its alleged benefits?

Let’s start at the top. AYAHUASCA BREW


Ayahuasca is an entheogenic preparation of two South American plants — the ayahuasca vine and the Psychotria viridis shrub (or substitute). Buy ayahuasca brew online

Drinking ayahuasca leads to intense visual and auditory hallucinations, introspection, and spiritual experiences. It’s consumed in a group setting and led by a special type of shaman called ayahuasquero. Buy ayahuasca online

Most people who have used ayahuasca claim it had a profound positive impact on their life — even if the experience itself was scary or uncomfortable. Ayahuasca forces you to face fears or confront internal struggles. AYAHUASCA BREW

Many people who visit ayahuasca retreat centers seek spiritual growth, self-development, and treatment for mental health conditions like depression, existential anxiety, or addiction. Patients who recently survived terminal diagnoses or experienced life-threatening events often seek out ayahuasca to answer tough questions around the fear of death. Buy ayahuasca Canada

Ayahuasca changes your perspective of the world, helps you identify flaws in your character, and breaks toxic habits. Buy ayahuasca Australia

The most common reasons people use ayahuasca:

  • Traditional ceremony or sacrament
  • Seeking spiritual experiences
  • Self-growth & development
  • Treating mental health disorders & addictions
  • Facing the fear of death or past traumas


Active Ingredient N,N-Dimethyltryptamine
Level of Risk Low
Other Names Natem, shori, yagé, uni, nixi pãe, caapi, and camarampi
Most Common Side-Effects Anxiety, paranoia, vomiting, diarrhea
Duration of Effects 6 hours
Legality Illegal or decriminalized in most parts of the world
Legal in South America


  1. Learn the four pillars of responsible psychedelic use — set, setting, sitter, & substance. Buy ayahuasca UK
  2. Know the timeline — the effects of ayahuasca are going to last between 8 & 12 hours
  3. Have a tripsitter nearby — you should always do ayahuasca under the watch of an experienced shaman or psychedelic facilitator. AYAHUASCA BREW
  4. Know when to avoid ayahuasca — don’t take ayahuasca if you have underlying heart, neurological, or psychiatric disorders. Buy ayahuasca Switzerland


Ayahuasca requires two components to work — a source of DMT (the psychoactive ingredient in the mix) and an MAO inhibitor to protect the DMT from being broken down too quickly. Buy ayahuasca Sweden

There are a few recipes for ayahuasca, depending on what plants are available locally. The most common is the ayahuasca vine and Psychotria viridis. AYAHUASCA BREW

1. N,N-DMT (Psychoactive Component)

The active ingredient in ayahuasca is DMT (N,N-dimethyltryptamine) — which is one of the strongest psychoactive compounds on earth. DMT is produced in small concentrations in the human brain, where it’s thought to be responsible for producing the dream states we experience while we sleep. AYAHUASCA BREW

DMT works by activating the serotonin receptors. It targets several different types of serotonin receptors, each one offering a different effect on the psyche, mood, and mental health. The main target responsible for producing hallucinations and changes in perception of time and space are the 5-HT2A and 5-HT2C receptors. Order ayahuasca online

There are a few different sources of DMT that can be used in the ayahuasca brew. The most common is Psychotria viridis (chacruna) — which is a member of the coffee family. Buy ayahuaca near me

None of these plants have psychoactive effects when taken on their own. They need the second ingredient (MAO inhibitor) in order to produce any psychoactivity whatsoever. Buy ayahuasca Ireland

DMT sources used to make ayahuasca include:

2. Harmala Alkaloids (MAO Inhibitor)

The second ingredient is the ayahuasca vine (Banisteriopsis caapi) — which is a large, woody vine found growing deep in the Amazon jungle. This component contains a group of compounds called harmala alkaloids. Buy ayahuasca Romania

Harmala alkaloids have a variety of medicinal uses on their own by inhibiting an enzyme known as monoamine oxidase — which is an enzyme used to break down neurotransmitters like dopamine, serotonin, and norepinephrine. AYAHUASCA BREW

This component is important for ayahuasca to work because it prevents the breakdown of DMT.

Normally, monoamine oxidase in the liver quickly breaks down DMT — blocking the psychoactive effects. AYAHUASCA BREW

The ayahuasca vine blocks MAO in the liver and allows concentrations of DMT in the blood to increase — leading to psychoactive side effects. Buy ayahuasca Ireland

3. Other Additives

The core recipe of ayahuasca includes just two plants — however, some people will add other plants to the brew to enhance its effects. Some of these additives are dangerous and should never be consumed for any reason — such as datura or Brugmansia. AYAHUASCA BREW

Here are some of the most common additives used in traditional ayahuasca brews:


  • Brugmansia stramonium (Datura) — a psychoactive plant species with harmful side-effects. Buy ayahuasca Denmark
  • Calycophyllum spruceanum (Capirona) — added for protection in traditional ayahuasca brews
  • Couroupita guianensis (Ayahuma) — traditionally used to heal “soul loss” due to trauma. Buy ayahuasca Austria
  • Lupuna blanca — one of the largest trees in the Amazon, added for strength and protection. AYAHUASCA BREW
  • Remo caspi (Oar Tree) — added to “remove dark energy” in traditional applications of ayahuasca. Buy ayahuasca Norway


Ayahuasca should not be taken lightly — it’s a powerful entheogenic substance that produces intense, often terrifying hallucinations and experiences. The vulnerable mental state ayahuasca creates can lead to psychological trauma if you’re not careful. A focus on set and setting is especially important with this entheogen. Ayahuasca for sale

We’ll cover the risks of using ayahuasca in more detail later.

For now, let’s cover the alleged health benefits of ayahuasca and explore what the medical research says about this powerful plant medicine. Ayahuasca brew for sale

In summary, the health benefits of ayahuasca include:

  • Treatment for addiction — including alcohol, illicit drugs, and tobacco
  • Treatment for chronic depression
  • Treatment for existential anxiety & other anxiety disorders
  • May offer protective or restorative effects on brain health
  • Useful as a tool for self-growth and exploration of consciousness


One of the most common motivations for using ayahuasca is for treating drug addiction. There are countless user reports and case studies involving ayahuasca to cut cravings, reduce relapse rates, and improve mental health. Buy ayahuasca brew in Europe

Despite how common this application is and the sheer volume of anecdotal reports for this use, there are surprisingly few scientific studies to back this up. One of the main reasons for this is likely the fact that ayahuasca is illegal in most parts of the world. It’s also difficult to quantify the results because every batch of ayahuasca is different. There are many underpinning factors that go into this effect. Buy ayahuasca Australia

There are several theories for how ayahuasca can manage addiction so effectively  — all of which have been difficult to quantify. There’s a lot going on here. AYAHUASCA BREW

The main theory for how ayahuasca is thought to work for addiction involves the interaction of the active ingredient — DMT — in the default mode network (DMN). The DMN is a large-scale brain network responsible for managing our sense of “self” vs. “other,” as well as self-esteem and self-worth. It’s involved with the rumination of thoughts in the brain while we’re in a rested state (the “voice” in your head).


Hyperactivity of the DMN, as shown on brain scans, is correlated with addictive tendencies as well as other mental health conditions such as depression and anxiety.

One of the only clinical studies we have on the effects of ayahuasca for addiction was funded by MAPS Canada. Researchers guiding this study sought to understand the impact of ayahuasca as a treatment for addiction and self-harm thought patterns. AYAHUASCA BREW

The treatment involved a 4-day retreat in Canada. Participants were administered ayahuasca on three separate evenings. After the study, participants were followed up via telephone a total of seven times — the last one at the 6-month mark.

The study concluded that the ayahuasca treatment resulted in a significant improvement in mental health parameters, including “mindfulness, empowerment, hopefulness, and quality of life outlook and meaning.”

The most significant improvement was for cocaine addiction. In this particular study, users treated for marijuana or opiate addiction showed only minor improvements when researchers assessed the frequency of use at the final 6-month follow-up period.


There’s been a mounting pile of evidence supporting the antidepressant effects of psychedelics in the treatment of depression. LSD (acid), psilocybin (from magic mushrooms), and DMT have all been shown to improve depressive symptoms in patients after a single psychoactive dose.

In 2019, a double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical trial explored the effects of ayahuasca on 29 patients with treatment-resistant depression. The study noted a dramatic reduction in depression scores in the treatment group comparable in terms of benefit to earlier studies the group conducted on using ketamine for treatment-resistant depression.

Other studies have shown similar benefits — reporting an 82% reduction in depressive scores after a single dose of ayahuasca. This study showed sustained benefits at the 21-day follow-up survey.

The benefits of ayahuasca for depression is likely the result of a few different mechanisms. The active ingredient in the brew, DMT has been shown to have the ability to “reset” the default mode network. Hyperactivity in this cognitive process has been correlated with the formation of chronic mental health conditions, including depression.

Other ingredients in the brew, such as the harmala alkaloids, have also been shown to offer independent antidepressant effects. Harmala alkaloids are potent MAO inhibitors. This is a common target for pharmaceutical antidepressants such as Marplan and Nardil.


Ayahuasca is thought to improve symptoms of post-traumatic stress syndrome through the effects of the SiIGMAR1 gene.

This interaction is very complex, involving epigenetic changes and reconsolidation of past traumatic memories. Researchers are still seeking to understand how this interaction works as a form of treatment for mental health disorders.


Ayahuasca was shown to stimulate neuroprotective mechanisms such as BDNF (brain-derived neurotrophic factor). The active ingredient for this effect are the harmala alkaloids from the banisteriopsis plant.

The increase in BDNF after taking ayahuasca was also shown to improve memory and learning in several animal studies. This study looked at the long-term use of ayahuasca — rather than single-dose treatment. This is one of the potential benefits that come from microdosing ayahuasca.

Other studies have shown protective benefits from the harmine alkaloids through the ability to stimulate the growth of neural progenitor cells. An animal study showed a 70% increase in progenitor cell growth. Neural progenitor cells significantly impact brain health through their ability to differentiate into a variety of important neuronal and glial cells.


Several studies have shown ayahuasca has the ability to increase mindfulness and acceptance-related capacities. These benefits are thought to provide various benefits for mental health and wellbeing over long periods. Both of these studies noted sustained benefits throughout the follow-up period several weeks after the ayahuasca session. AYAHUASCA BREW

Therapies for improving mindfulness and acceptance are common approaches to supporting overall mental health and wellbeing. It can take weeks, months, or even years to accomplish what ayahuasca has been shown to offer in a matter of just 1 to 4 sessions.


While ayahuasca is generally considered safe — there are some potential risks to be aware of before you consider giving it a try yourself.

One of the most dangerous parts about ayahuasca isn’t the brew itself. This concoction is best used in the presence of a shaman. To get this treatment, you’ll need to travel to a retreat center in Peru or Brazil.

These retreat centers are usually located in the middle of nowhere. You’d be lucky to have any cell service at all out here, and there’s a lot of poverty and desperation. It’s not uncommon to find yourself in danger when visiting these parts of the world, especially if you don’t know what you’re getting into.

Secondly, fraud shamans are also common. Sometimes these shamans even add toxic psychoactive compounds like Brugmansia to the mix to “enhance the visions”. This plant is not safe to use and can lead to psychosis, traumatic experience, or death.


Virtually everybody who uses ayahuasca experiences bouts of vomiting during the session. This is not only an expected side effect; it’s also considered a key part of the experience itself.

The vomiting is referred to as “purging” as it’s thought to be a purging of negative thoughts and energy during the ceremony. During the session, the vomiting feels therapeutic, and few people consider this aspect a “side effect” after the ceremony is complete.

Vomiting usually begins around an hour or an hour and a half and continues for 1 – 2 hours on and off.

Other “side effects” revolve around the experience itself, which can be both terrifying and painful. Anxiety, panic, and fear are all common experiences. It’s important to learn how to “let go” and accept the path ayahuasca takes you to avoid staying in a negative space for very long. The more you resist the effects of ayahuasca, the stronger these side effects become.

The side effects of ayahuasca include:

  • Vomiting or diarrhea
  • Feelings of euphoria
  • Visual and auditory hallucinations
  • Fear and paranoia


Ayahuasca isn’t safe for everyone. Certain drugs or medications may interact negatively with ayahuasca, and various underlying health conditions can make ayahuasca unsafe.

Potential drug interactions with ayahuasca include:

  • Blood pressure medications
  • Weight loss medications
  • Stimulant drugs
  • Antidepressants
  • Antipsychotics

Avoid ayahuasca if you have any of the following health conditions:

  • Heart disease
  • Psychosis or schizophrenia
  • Parkinson’s disease
The spirit of ayahuasca is often illustrated as an anaconda.


Ayahuasca has been used for at least a thousand years by various cultures living in the Amazon basin. An ethnobotanist named Richard Evans Schultes was the first person to document its use outside local indigenous communities back in the mid-1950s.

In his early reports about the origins of the divine concoction, the indigenous Peruvians he visited claimed instructions for the brew were given to them from the rainforest and plant spirits contained within.

The name ayahuasca is the Hispanic spelling of the brew, but the original work is Quechuan. Aya- means “spirit” or “soul,” and huasca means “rope” or “vine.” The word essentially translates to “vine of the soul.” But others might argue the translation is closer to “rope of death.”

Within various indigenous cultures scattered across the Amazon, the use of the brew remains fairly consistent. A trained shaman, called ayahuasquero or curandero, administers the brew to members of his community who are sick or need guidance. It’s given to women as they’re giving birth and to the elderly as they lie on their deathbed.

In some cultures, the shaman would take ayahuasca to connect with the forest to find food or receive information and guidance for the rest of the community.

Today, the tradition of ayahuasca lives on in the rainforest, as well as satellite groups living in the United States and Europe. Government regulators have granted two groups — the União do Vegetal and Santo Daime (both from Brazil) access to use the brew for religious purposes. Both of these groups take a Christian spin on how ayahuasca is used.


The most common way of using ayahuasca is at a retreat center. Taking ayahuasca shouldn’t be done over the course of a single afternoon like other psychedelics. It’s exceptionally powerful and requires some preparation, both mentally and physically.

The majority of retreat centers can be found in Peru, Ecuador, or Brazil, where the brew originates. These regions have access to the herbs, the shamans, and the rainforest — which is considered a major component of the spiritual aspect of drinking ayahuasca.

You can also find retreat centers in North America, Europe, and Australia. From a traditional perspective, these should be avoided, especially if the intention for using ayahuasca is for spiritual purposes. It’s important that ayahuasca is consumed in the rainforest.

However, if the spiritual side isn’t important to you, the chemical components of ayahuasca are the same whether you’re in the jungle or in Europe.


Here’s a breakdown of what the usual experience of traveling to an ayahuasca retreat center is like. Every experience can vary; this is just a sample from the centers I’ve visited so far.


The first day you arrive, you’ll be tired from traveling. Most retreat centers are in remote parts of the rainforest. Once you land, you’ll often need to drive an hour or more outside the city to get to the retreat.

The first day is usually very relaxed. You may have a meet and greet with the rest of the group or simply hang around the center to get a feel for the place.


Retreats are usually only a few days long, so most places will start preparing you for the ceremony almost immediately, starting the following day.

You may receive information about the ceremony, meet the shaman, or partake in a preparatory ceremony involving a herb called mapacho (sacred tobacco). Mapacho is administered in a liquid form, which gives you an intense buzz to start with (as though you smoked about four cigarettes in a row), followed by the undeniable urge to vomit.

This herb is used to purge the body in preparation for the ceremony. One of the core aspects of ayahuasca is purging. The idea is that getting a lot of this out of the way before taking ayahuasca can make the ceremony much less difficult.


The first ceremony usually begins on either the third or fourth night (depending on how long you’re staying at the retreat). These ceremonies always start in the evening, right as the sun starts to set.

Everybody in the group enters a round building called a malloka. Inside are pads or mattresses laid out in a circle around the center of the room. Each guest is instructed to take a spot where they’ll remain for the rest of the night.

The ceremony begins as the shaman pours each guest a cup of ayahuasca individually. It has a strong, chalky, bitter flavor, but you’re expected to drink the whole cup.

Once everyone has had their fill, the room goes quiet. You can meditate or lay back on your mat and wait for ayahuasca to do its thing.

The effects begin around 30 or 60 minutes later and intensify from there. The shaman is also drinking ayahuasca, so once the effects start to kick in, they’ll begin circling the room singing traditional songs in Spanish or another language. These songs are meant to guide the spirit of ayahuasca and assist patrons through the journey.

The session ends when the ayahuasca wears off. Some people will remain in the malloka for the rest of the night until the sun comes up — pondering the wild experience they just went through.


The following morning, the group meets again to discuss what happened. Each patron will highlight their experience, and the shaman may offer some feedback about what you may have experienced.

Most retreats will allow one day in between ceremonies — others do sessions every night. It can also help to use other plant medicines like mescaline or psilocybin on the off days to help process the information and find new insight into some of your more challenging visions.

The process is repeated until it’s time to go home.


Most retreat centers provide a list of steps to take to prepare for your ayahuasca journey. It’s important to follow these steps to get the most out of your experience and to further reduce your chances of having a particularly challenging experience.

Preparing for the trip should be done several weeks in advance. Some of the steps require abstinence for at least two weeks prior to the trip, if not sooner. So it’s best to look at your recommendations early.

Here are some of the most important steps to prepare for an ayahuasca journey:

  • Avoid foods high in tyramine (pork, red meat, fermented food, aspartame, alcohol)
  • Medications (with permission from your doctor)
  • Street drugs (including marijuana and other psychedelics)
  • Sex (most centers ask you to abstain from sex for at least two weeks prior to the trip)
Banisteriopsis caapi cross-section


The basic recipe of ayahuasca is a combination of an MAO inhibitor and a source of DMT. Aside from the traditional ingredients, there are a variety of other plants that can be combined together that could produce similar effects (in theory).

We don’t recommend attempting to make ayahuasca at home, let alone other untested combinations of plants. This section is provided merely for interest’s sake.

MAO Inhibitor Alternatives

Plant-Based DMT Sources:


Pharmahuasca (pharmaceutical ayahuasca) is a combination of illicit N,N-DMT, and a pharmaceutical MAO inhibitor such as isocarboxazid or synthetic harmaline. The usual dose is around 50 mg N,N-DMT, and 100 mg harmaline. In general, the less harmaline you take, the less nausea and vomiting that result.

Pharmahuasca is not recommended for anybody. It may provide similar psychoactive effects as ayahuasca, but it feels very different. This combination can also be very dangerous. Taking too much of an MAO inhibitor (especially irreversible MAO inhibitors) can be deadly or result in significant long-term side effects.


Prarihuasca is a combination of North American prairie herbs such as the Illinois bundle flower (DMT source) and passionflower (MAOI source). This brew is made the same way as ayahuasca — by decocting the active ingredients one by one until the volume of the liquid is reduced by half.

This concoction isn’t nearly as strong as ayahuasca, and has a very different effect profile. This formula is not recommended due to a lack of both modern scientific and traditional evidence regarding safety.


Ayahuasca is a big topic, and there are a lot of facets to consider. While this article covers many aspects of this traditional brew, there are a lot of questions we didn’t quite cover. Here are some of the most common questions we’ve received after publishing this guide.

1. Is Ayahuasca a Stimulant or a Sedative?

Ayahuasca is neither stimulant nor sedative — but it will exaggerate your current feeling. In a dark, quiet setting, ayahuasca can feel very relaxing. However, in a loud or bright room, or while agitated or anxious, ayahuasca can charge these effects and become more stimulating.

2. What Are Some of the Common Names For Ayahuasca?

Ayahuasca has well over 42 names. Just a few examples include natem (Ecuador), shori (Peru), yagé, uni, nixi pãe, caapi, and camarampi.

3. Why Does Ayahuasca Make People Vomit? Can it be Prevented?

The main ingredient that causes vomiting is the ayahuasca vine. The active harmine alkaloids stimulate the stomach and digestive tract — causing them to contract.

There is no good way to avoid vomiting from ayahuasca, aside from taking a much smaller dose.

This aspect of the ritual can seem undesirable, but it actually provides a great deal of therapeutic value in the moment. Trust me.

4. What’s the Best Ayahuasca Retreat Center?

There are a lot of retreats, and we’ve only experienced a small percentage of them, so it’s hard to point you to the “best” retreat there is.

However, my personal favorite is the Hummingbird Healing Center in Iquitos, Peru.

5. What Are Machine Elves?

DMT machine elves are a common experience among people who drink ayahuasca or use other forms of DMT. These “beings” are thought to be sentient, benevolent, and all-knowing.

There are many theories about what these creatures are, or if they even exist at all — the likely truth is that we’ll never know for sure.

6. What Type of DMT is in Ayahuasca?

There are several different types of DMT. In ayahuasca, the primary form is N,N,DMT, but it’s possible for some brews to contain 5-MeO-DMT as well, depending on what species of plants are being used.

Other forms of DMT not found in ayahuasca includes 4-OH-DMT (psilocin from magic mushrooms), 4-AcO-DMT (synthetic prodrug of psilocin), and 5-Bromo-DMT (SpongeBob DMT).


The traditional method of brewing ayahuasca involves decocting (boiling) the ayahuasca vine (Banisteriopsis caapi) and chacruna (Psychotria viridis) together for several hours.

After several hours of boiling, you’re left with the thick, bitter liquid that is ayahuasca.

While it’s best to leave ayahuasca production up to the professionals, it’s relatively simple to make at home.

Ayahuasca basically consists of three parts:

  1. A Source of DMT  —  Located throughout nature, many plants naturally contain DMT. Knowing which ones to choose and how much to use is the trick.
  2. A Source of Monoamine Oxidase Enzyme Inhibitors (MAOIs)  —  MAOs exist throughout nature, but the most common sources are the ayahuasca vine and Syrian rue.
  3. Water — water is used as the solvent to extract the active ingredients from both plants.

Once you’ve gathered your ingredients, you’ll need to understand how to put them together without destroying any of the crucial components.

Here, we’ll cover two recipes for ayahuasca (one traditional and another that’s more accessible outside of South America). We’ll also explain how the brew works and answer some common questions about ayahuasca. Ayahuasca Retreat


The basic recipe for ayahuasca is [DMT] + [Harmala alkaloids].

The brew is made by mixing these plants together and gently boiling them in water for several hours — topping them up with more plant material and water when the water level starts to get low.

Let’s take a closer look at the individual components and what options are available.

1. A Source of DMT (Dimethyltryptamine)

The most common source of DMT (dimethyltryptamine) used in traditional ayahuasca is either chacruna (Psychotria viridis) or mimosa (Mimosa hostilis) — but many other plants can be used too.

DMT is surprisingly common in nature — even in a few innocuous locations such as acacia trees or common reeds.

What is DMT?

In addition to the places in nature where you can find DMT, many also believe it to be produced in very small quantities in the human body. While scientists are not yet sure why DMT is in the body, some common theories are that it induces consciousness at birth, transitions us to the afterlife at death, or generates dreams.

Taken as a drug, DMT is one of the strongest psychedelics in the world, if not the strongest.

What Does DMT Do?

Most people take pure DMT by either smoking it or vaping it. DMT is not active orally without the presence of an MAO inhibitor.

This compound produces strong out-of-body effects and other-worldly experiences and is used to explore the mind and the self. Traditionally, it was used for healing the soul, obtaining information from beyond the physical world, or as a tool for divination.

The effects of smoking DMT last only around 15–30 minutes, but many people experience time-dilation — the experience feels like it lasts much longer than it actually does.

Plants That Contain DMT

As we noted above, DMT is readily available throughout nature and in trace amounts in the body, but it can also be made synthetically.

Some notable plants that contain DMT include:

  • Psychotria viridis — This is the most common plant ayahuasqueros use to make ayahuasca. This plant contains around 0.6% N,N,DMT by dried weight. In Ecuador, the related plant, Psychotria carthaginensis, is typically used instead.
  • Mimosa hostillis — A bushy tree containing 1% DMT in the bark — which puts it on par with Psychotria viridis. This plant is typically the favorite of anyone looking to make ayahuasca or DMT at home because it’s widely available and easy to grow outside the Amazon rainforest.
  • Anadenanthera peregrina (Yopo) — The seeds of this tree contain N,N,DMT, 5-MeO-DMT, and bufotenine. Historically, cultures would roast, crush, and snort these seeds for their effect.
  • Acacias — Various species of this genus contain levels of DMT ranging from 1-2%.
The acacia tree is a natural source of DMT

2. A Source of MAO Inhibitors (Harmala Alkaloids)

The most common source of MAO inhibitors in nature is a group of indole alkaloids called the “harmala alkaloids”. This includes harmaline, harmine, harmalol, and tetrahydroharmine.

There are also synthetic MAO inhibitors. A preparation called pharmahuasca uses these pharmaceutical MAO inhibitors, and either synthetic DMT or DMT-rich plant extracts to produce a similar ayahuasca experience.

What Do MAO Inhibitors Do?

MAO inhibitors bind to monoamine oxidase and prevent it from doing its job — breaking down monoamine neurotransmitters such as serotonin, norepinephrine, dopamine, and, of course, DMT.

By temporarily blocking this enzyme, DMT is absorbed into the bloodstream and travels to the brain, where it exerts its effects. Once the MAO inhibitors wear off, the DMT is broken down and deactivated.

Doctors prescribe pharmaceutical monoamine oxidase inhibitors for treatment-resistant depression. The idea is that by blocking this enzyme, the drug causes an increase in serotonin. Unfortunately, these strong pharmaceutical MAOIs have a long list of side effects.

Even in ayahuasca, the MAO inhibitor causes the purging that is characteristic of the experience.

This purging is viewed as an important part of the healing process.

What Plants Contain MAOIs?

Harmala alkaloids are less abundant than DMT in nature, but there are a few notable sources that can be used to make ayahuasca:

Some examples of plants that include harmala alkaloids (MAO inhibitors) [6]:

  1. Ayahuasca vine (Banisteriopsis caapi) — The ayahuasca vine contains three main harmala alkaloids, harmine, tetrahydroharmine, and harmaline.
  2. Syrian Rue (Peganum harmala— This plant has a long history of use as an MAOI in the Middle East and Asia. Some have used these seeds to “ward off evil spirits,” as a potent red dye, or as an MAOI.
  3. Passionflower (Passiflora incarnata) — This beautiful flower contains over 600 species of tropical plants. These are mostly in South and Central America and have a history of indigenous use for potentiating DMT, psilocybin, and others.
  4. Ginkgo biloba: Though less well-known or used, ginkgo contains carbolines with MAOI activity.
Syrian rue contains harmala alkaloids which act as MAO inhibitors

What Else is Monamine Oxidase Used For?

It’s important to understand that monoamine oxidase enzymes are an important part of every person’s digestive system, in addition to metabolizing DMT.

In addition to DMT, the monamine oxidase enzyme breaks down the following neurotransmitters:

  • Norepinephrine — This is the chemical responsible for your “fight or flight” reflexes. High levels left by the resistance to degradation may lead to an elevated heart rate.
  • Serotonin — A complex and vital neurotransmitter within the brain. Too much serotonin, however, can lead to the hazardous condition of “serotonin syndrome.” This condition causes fever, chills, diarrhea, muscle rigidity, seizures, and even death if not treated.
  • Dopamine — This is the “feel good” chemical, and the resistance to it breaking down is likely a large part of the mechanism of action for the antidepressant effects of MAOIs.

All of these transmitters go into the antidepressant effects of MAOIs. The elevated norepinephrine raises the heart rate and mood a bit, along with increasing the two chemicals responsible for happiness — serotonin and dopamine.

The main problem comes from a compound called tyramine. This neurotransmitter helps control blood pressure; eating foods like cheese or cured meats that are high in tyramine and block the enzyme that breaks it down can cause problems.

This is part of the reason why it’s important to follow dietary restrictions for a few weeks while preparing for an ayahuasca session.

Recipe #1: How to Make Ayahuasca Using Syrian Rue

Syrian rue is a better source of harmala alkaloids for people living outside the Amazon rainforest. The ayahuasca vine only grows in the rainforest, and overharvesting for export is already becoming a major problem. On the other hand, Syrian rue can be grown just about anywhere and is therefore readily available.

For Syrian rue-based ayahuasca, mix the seeds of the plant with either Mimosa hostilisPsychotria viridis, or another plant that contains DMT. Gently boil the mixture in water, reducing it by about half.

You can avoid the boiling process by crushing the seeds and swallowing them with a bit of water. Follow this about 20 minutes later with tea or capsules containing a DMT-rich plant.

To make this direct ayahuasca analog, you’ll need the following ingredients:

  1. 3–4 g Syrian rue seeds It’s important to note that there is no benefit in going over this amount; in fact, doing so may cause the trip to have unpleasant side effects.
  2. 25 g Psychotria viridis leaves. You will need to dry and crush these if you have them fresh.
  3. One lemon, juiced.
  4. Water. Just enough to boil it all together.


Once you have your ingredients, here’s a recipe for brewing ayahuasca using Syrian rue:

  1. Place all ingredients together in a small pot.
  2. Bring the pot to a boil, then reduce the heat to simmer for about five minutes.
  3. Strain the material from the liquid and add it to a fresh pot of water to repeat the process two more times.
  4. Strain and discard the plant material.
  5. Place all three extracts together and carefully heat the mixture to a slow boil until you’re left with half the amount of liquid you started with.
  6. After boiling your concoction down to the desired level, let it cool. Refrigerate until ready to use.

The lower the water level you’re left with, the worse the flavor will be (but the flavor is never very good). For this reason, many choose to boil the water down to about the level of a shot glass. This concoction will taste horrible, but it’s over quickly.

Take this with a shot of grapefruit juice or something with a similar level of citrus and overpowering flavor.

Recipe #2: Traditional Ayahuasca Recipe

In his book, The Encyclopedia of Psychoactive Plants, Christian Rätsch documents the preparation methods of several cultures. Below is the recipe he wrote down for the Ecuadorian shamans:

The bark of the Banisteriopsis caapi liana is peeled off and placed beneath a certain tree in the forest. The bare stems are then split into four to six strips and boiled together with fresh or dried Psychotria viridis leaves. One dose is a piece of liana approximately 180 cm long with forty Psychotria leaves, although a piece of the stem just 40 cm long and 3 cm thick is also said to be sufficient. Generally, the less vine you use, the easier the ayahuasca is on the stomach.

Depending on the culture, the amount of water (and, therefore, the amount of time it takes to boil it down) differs greatly.

Some people add other plants and mixtures depending on what grows locally or what the shaman prefers to include. Sometimes they’re psychoactive too (such as datura); other times, they’re non-psychoactive but offer other healing benefits.

There truly is no one-size-fits-all approach to ayahuasca preparation.

Many will argue that anything other than a mixture of the caapi vine is not considered ayahuasca. I prefer a more inclusive use of the term that helps encourage the use of other MAOI sources.


When people refer to “ayahuasca,” they’re talking about the psychedelic brew, a combination of the ayahuasca vine mixed with another plant.

Ayahuasca the Vine

Banisteriopsis caapi is the vine many cultures refer to as “ayahuasca” — or “vine of souls” — on its own.

While this vine is a key ingredient in ayahuasca, it is not actually psychedelic on its own. It may have certain anti-depressive and neurogenic properties, but it won’t make you “trip.”

The active ingredients in the ayahuasca vine include harmine, tetrahydroharmine, and harmaline — all of which are potent monoamine oxidase inhibitors.

Ayahuasca the Brew

The ayahuasca brew is a dark, thick, bitter liquid used to induce profound psychedelic visions. The main ingredient is the ayahuasca vine, but another plant is needed to produce the psychedelic effects. The vine serves to “activate” another plant that, on its own, is inactive.

It’s unclear how this brew was first created. Mixing two inactive plants doesn’t make much sense without knowing complex chemistry.

When you ask a shaman that works with ayahuasca (called an ayahuasquero), they will likely tell you that “the plants told” their ancestors how to prepare it.


This depends on who you ask. Some argue that changing the ingredients changes the spirit of the journey. With the complexities surrounding the sacred plants, it seems hard to justify using the traditional ones when the result could be so catastrophic.

While all elements of the rainforest are complicated right now by the rapidly evolving problems of global warming, this one faces the additional challenge of increased interest. It’s a wonderful thing that more and more people are coming to understand the benefits of these plants, but it’s important to respect them and their place in nature.

As we’ve seen above, there is no singular recipe for “ayahuasca.” The spirit of the brew has always been centered around love and respect for nature. I’d argue that adjusting the plants we used based on what’s less harmful is right in line with that.

That’s not to say there is any issue with going the traditional route for an ayahuasca experience. Several choose to do this, which isn’t necessarily a problem, but we suggest you consider the options before pulling the trigger.

Why You Shouldn’t Make Ayahuasca At Home With Banisteriopsis Vine

While this is the traditional source found in shamanic rituals, it’s not the best from an ecological standpoint.

That isn’t to say it shouldn’t be a part of traditional ayahuasca ceremonies. Rather, we should leave it for those circumstances — especially when other options that work just as well are readily available.

Workers have to harvest the caapi vine from a living plant that’s at least five years old. Regardless of harvesting practices, it’s a recipe for disaster.

Mixing indigenous use with western interests means there may not be enough caapi to go around. That’s why some people choose to go with alternatives and allow the tools other cultures rely on to remain available.

As an alternative, use Syrian rue seeds, which grow abundantly in young plants. Harvesting the seeds from living plants is easy, and only 2–5 g are necessary, making this a more ecological option.

Not only that, but they’re extremely cost-effective to buy and easy to find online.


Making ayahuasca is complicated and leaves a lot of room for interpretation. Here are some of the questions people frequently wind up asking during the process.

1. Is Ayahuasca a Plant?

Ayahuasca is both the mixture of ingredients in the psychedelic brew and the colloquial term for the Banisteriopsis caapi vine. The latter is an ingredient in the former, which can make the term confusing.

On its own, ayahuasca from the vine is not intoxicating and acts only as an inhibitor of the MAO enzyme. Its crucial role in inhibiting this enzyme is why the DMT from the second source is orally active in the ayahuasca brew.

2. Why Isn’t DMT Orally-Active?

DMT isn’t active orally because of a digestive enzyme present in our digestive systems called monoamine oxidase. This enzyme immediately metabolizes and disables the effects of DMT.

This is why a substance that blocks the effects of this enzyme is essential for DMT to offer any psychedelic effects when consumed orally. AYAHUASCA BREW

3. How do MAOIs Affect Tyramine?

Tyramine is a neurotransmitter that helps to regulate blood pressure. Excess tyramine in the system can lead to an elevated heart rate or, in extreme cases, a heart attack or failure.

When deciding to take an MAOI, follow a strict diet to reduce the amount of tyramine in your system. While the body creates the neurotransmitter on its own, it’s also abundantly found in the following foods: AYAHUASCA BREW

  • Firstly, Alcohol — Especially beer and red wine
  • Secondly, Aged Cheeses
  • Thirdly, Soybeans
  • Smoked/processed meats
  • Cured meats
  • Lastly, Spoiled and leftover food — Only eat fresh, non-processed food

It’s best to avoid these foods for at least 24 hours before you partake. If you’re planning to take ayahuasca in a traditional ceremony, they typically ask you to fast for at least as long.

In addition to giving your belly less food to throw up, this keeps you from any possibility of an adverse reaction from tyramine.

4. Is Ayahuasca Different When Made at Home?

Set and setting are essential elements of any psychedelic experience, so it likely will be different. It’s hard to see an experience from your couch equivalent to a ritual in the rainforest, but some argue a familiar environment is better.

While there may be a lot to gain from tripping in an unfamiliar environment surrounded by nature, it’s not where you live your everyday life. According to some, having the experience in your usual surroundings can make the change more profound. AYAHUASCA BREW

Additionally, many indigenous cultures do not celebrate the tourism industry of ayahuasca ceremonies. The decision to attend one of these ceremonies or create one from the comfort of their home is up to each person. AYAHUASCA BREW

There’s no reason to anticipate one to be inherently better or worse than the other. If you decide to trip at home, this expectation alone may be enough to influence the trip to fulfill it.

5. Is Ayahuasca Safe?

In discussing the safety of psychedelics, risk factors are split into two categories: physical and mental. Physical concerns about ayahuasca are rather slim, but the mental and emotional risks can be substantial. AYAHUASCA BREW

With the inhibition of MAO enzymes comes a risk for heart problems, and you shouldn’t take ayahuasca if you have a history of these. Especially without careful consideration of diet, the increased levels of tyramine can send the heart rate spiking.

For most, this isn’t a big deal, but it can be deadly serious for anyone with underlying conditions. MAOIs may also interfere with other medications, particularly those that mimic or influence serotonin and dopamine.

Mentally, the risks mostly revolve around what can come from a bad trip. During an ayahuasca experience, frightening and dark visuals can pop up at any moment. In extreme cases, these can even be enough to leave users with PTSD.

Having a trip sitter nearby to help deal with any negative emotions that may arise is best practice. If you’re alone and find dark thoughts coming up, do your best to acknowledge them and face them head-on. AYAHUASCA BREW

Users often find that doing so enables them to teach the lesson they’re there for and resolve the emotion or memory.



Interest in ayahuasca has been growing steadily over the past decade and shows no signs of slowing down.

There’s a whole industry these days around psychotourism — which involves traveling for the sake of taking psychedelic compounds for self-growth and spiritual development.

As public opinion and regulations continue to evolve around psychedelics, it’s very likely we’ll see an increase in the number of ayahuasca retreat centers in places like North America, Australia, and Europe as well.



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