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Banisteriopsis caapi, also known as caapi or yajé, is a jungle vine native to the Amazon rainforest which is commonly used for its MAO-inhibiting properties as the basis of ayahuasca. Banisteriopsis caapi is a tropical vine which contains harmine and other harmala alkaloids in its stems.
Monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs)
MAOIs inhibit naturally occurring enzymes (MAOs) in the human body. This inhibition leads to increased levels of chemicals such as the neurotransmitters serotonin and dopamine. By slowing their metabolism, MAOIs also allow chemicals such as N,N-DMT, to become active when taken orally. In terms of pharmacology, ayahuasca combines DMT with a MAOI in order to achieve its effects.
Effects of Banisteriopsis caapi
Caapi alone is certainly psychoactive, and sometimes moderately visual on its own, but does not offer the classic notion of a 'trip' - MAOI's tend to be dreamy, sleepy, trancey, etc. If you desire more of a psychedelic effect, that's when you add DMT or plants containing such.
How to use Banisteriopsis caapi
Ayahuasca is made in the form of a drink or potion. When used in an ayahuasca like brew that also contains DMT, common dosages are 50 to 100 grams in the lower dose range and 100 to 150 grams in the higher dose range.
The shredded vine goes in a pan with water and is brought to boil. Once boiling, it sits on a low fire anywhere between 4 and 12 hours, depending on the person who makes the infusion. Usually water is added throughout the process, to make sure there is enough water to dissolve all the active ingredients. Once the process has finished, the plant material is filtered out and the infusion is boiled down to a drinkable volume.
If it is protected from fermenting or spoiling, it will last for quite a while. In ceremonies performed by experienced guides and shamans, people will often drink the brew repeatedly during the evening, especially after vomiting.
Some people use Caapi combined with other psychedelics like magic mushrooms. According to some this prolongs and intensifies the effects of the mushrooms, and alters the general direction of the experience.
Higher doses will likely make you vomit, or purge. For some people that is reason enough to never touch it, for others that is a reason to pursue it. The MAOIs are infamous for their numerous drug interactions, so always use them with care.
Read more about MAOIs on Erowid »