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AYAHUASCA

TRADITIONAL MEDICINAL

The Amazon - Peru


Ancestral knowledge in tribal communities of the Peruvian Amazon about how to use medicinal plants currently opens up new curing alternatives for the whole world.

Since the discovery of the American continent and the attempt to conquer its peoples, there began a constant denial of the New World's cultural contributions that might have gone against established religious beliefs of the day.

In the case of the Peruvian Amazon, difficult access and a wild geography frustrated contact with some groups by those eager to enslave the natives.

Although they were not free from abuse and exploitation during a period of their history, finally some natives managed to disperse in small groups deep into the jungle to avoid unwanted contact with foreigners.

Thanks to isolation from the modern world and in many cases due to governmental indifference, the Peruvian Amazon has managed to keep the traditional use of its resources.

Nowadays, contact is being established with a broader vision.

Today some of us are looking at the Amazon with sufficient understanding to value it. Perhaps because we are interested in learning why the intake of a beverage prepared in the middle of the jungle can cure a disease or simply improve our quality of life.

We have to recognise that the future of humanity is to a large extent in our hands, and in this case it depends on how long we can preserve the Amazon in its original state so that we may access its secrets and products.

The Amazon, besides being one of the largest oxygen sources of the Earth, is a botanical emporium where we find countless medicinal plants that may be the possible cure to diseases and epidemics that we have not encountered yet, but one day may have to face.

Currently the world can have access to traditional Amazon medicine, a proper method to interpret and use that apparently chaotic and entangled green world, but which really works as a natural laboratory without any room for errors.

Ayahuasca, Banisteriopsis caapi, is a liana which herbal medicinal plant doctors traditionally define as their master plant par excellence.

Ayahuasca is combined with another plant, the Chacruna, Psychotria viridiris, to form a drink or "chicha", as Ayahuasca users call it, which is named Ayahuasca.

This chicha works as a physical purifier, it facilitates meditation, balances energies and awakens intuition.

The "Ese ejas", an ethnic group who live on the margins of Tambopata River in Madre de Dios department, use this chicha to cure.

In Ese eja dialect the liana is known as "jono pase" or "death's rope". When translated into the Quechua language, rope = huasca and death = aya, it gave as a result the term by which it is traditionally known: "Ayahuasca".

he "Rope's mother" is the Chacruna, a female spirit which shows the herbalist the cause of diseases and the plants he must use to cure them.

This has a scientific interpretation:

An ancestral discovery of the Amazon natives, the mixture of both plants shows deep and fine knowledge, because the Ayahuasca liana is rich in carbolines (harmine, harmaline, and tetrahydroharmine) that inhibit the action of monoaminooxydase enzyme (MAO), which is naturally found in the digestive tube and the liver. This enzyme destroys dymethyltriptamine (DMT), a substance contained by the Chacruna plant, which competes with ser6tonin for 5-HT 1 and 2 receptors. When MAO is blocked, endogenous catecholamines and the levels of serotonin increase, while DMT is not destroyed and it can reach the brain where it produces an intense psychotropic effect. (Rosa Glove, The Dead's Liana comes to the Rescue of Life, 2002, 24-25).

The intake of Ayahuasca without Chacruna only has emetic effects. However, the master plant par excellence for herbal healers is the Ayahuasca.

How they reached this conclusion without the painstaking laboratory studies that would have been indispensable for any scientist is a question we will leave momentarily unanswered.

According to Amazon tradition, master plants are the ones which, properly consumed, can generate knowledge through dreams, visions, perceptions and intuitions about their healing properties and the healing properties of other plants. Besides, due to their endogenous properties, they also give us an introspective vision of ourselves and of life in general. They thus help us interpret events or actions that have influenced the course of our life.

Tribal societies in many parts of the world have accessed these master plants as a source of knowledge and wisdom. Such is the case in Northern Mexico, where they still use --Peyote today, and the ancient Mochicas in Peru with a cactus known as "San Pedro".

An important part of the treatment of body and soul with Ayahuasca is diet. Depending on the level of purification we want to reach, diets can vary from the most permissible, where we avoid consuming some types of food that do not help Ayahuasca to have the desired effect; to diets that include a retreat in the jungle to eat from the hands of an Ayahuasquero a master plant such as tobacco for an initial purge, austere nourishment, no salt or sugar, only being allowed to eat boiled green bananas, oatmeal or rice. In this case, the person on the diet isolates himself or herself from other people except for the traditional healer, shaman or "Ayahuasquero", as we shall from now on call the man who deals with Ayahuasca.

In the Amazon jungle there is a shamanic tradition; but shamans properly as such do not exist. During the diet, we are isolated from personal relations but not from our senses, because nature is always present in the jungle, the birds' songs, the crickets, the glitter of fire-flies at night, the vegetation, the sound of the river, that living world which is present in the Amazon.

Austere nourishment leads to meditation, and it is through meditation that Ayahuasqueros learn how to cure. The patient's diet also facilitates contact between him or her and the Ayahuasquero. In those levels of purification, the Ayahuasquero manages to hear sounds emitted by nature. These sounds are reproduced by the Ayahuasquero during the Ayahuasca intake sessions. They are the so-called "Ikaros", melodious songs that lead the participants to a state of absolute relaxation.

The traditional use of the so-called diet has always been to cure diverse physical diseases, such as rheumatism, bone trauma and infections. Through the empirical work of traditional healers, the efficacy of this treatment for psychogenous diseases has been proven, since they aid the recall of events or past situations not metabolized by the individual. A space without time or worries is dedicated to introspection, and we retake harmonious contact with nature. (Jacques Mabit, Report of the Second Interamerican Forum about Indigenous Spirituality, 2001, 60).

It is worthwhile mentioning that there are several persons who have written about Ayahuasca. One of the first readings that made me understand that using Ayahuasca is not an exclusive reality of the original ethnic groups of the Amazon was "The Cosmic Serpent" by Jeremy Narbi. There I was able to understand that cement is more foreign to human beings than the forest is, and that Ayahuasca exists to teach "humanity".

For that reason, in this treatise draft I will include an essay about the book. See more...

Patricia Burgos

Visions of
an Amazonic
Painter,
Gladys Zevallos
Icaros - Chants of
Mother Ayahuasca
 
AYAHUASCA INTRODUCTION
Essay about the Book
"The Cosmic
Serpent" of Jeremy
Narby by Patricia
Burgos
First Chapter:
  "The Jungle TV"
Second Chapter:
  "Anthropologists
   and Shamans"
Third Chapter:
  "Tobacco's Mother
   a Serpent"
Fourth Chapter:
  "Fulfilment in Rio"
Fifth Chapter:
  "Stereograms"
Sixth Chapter:
  "Correspondences"
Seventh Chapter:
  "Myths and
   Molecules"
Eighth Chapter:
  "The Eyes of the
   Ant"
Ninth Chapter:
  "Receptors and
   Emitters"
Tenth Chapter:
  "The Biological
   Dead Angle"
The use of
Ayahuasca and other
medicinal plants in
the treatment of drug addicts:
Personal Experience
 
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