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How To Make Your Own Ayahuasca At Home

Patrick Smith · January 11th, 2017

Disclaimer: ayahuasca is a potentially illegal substance, and we do not encourage or condone the use of this substance where it is against the law. However, we accept that illegal drug use occurs, and believe that offering responsible harm reduction information is imperative to keeping people safe. For that reason, this guide is designed to ensure the safety of those who decide to use the substance. We do not encourage using this drug outside of a legal or traditional context.

Ayahuasca is an ancient psychoactive brew, intertwined in numerous South American cultures and traditions. Experienced shamans can dedicate days to producing a batch of ayahuasca, adhering to various traditional preparation methods and rituals. The resulting brew is drunk in ceremonies under the supervision of a shaman – after an initial purging (most commonly vomiting), ayahuasca induces a prolonged psychedelic experience that can be traumatic, joyful, healing, and usually all three!

If you are interested in experiencing ayahuasca but don’t want to travel to the Amazon or join an ayahuasca church, your other option is to create some at home. Here we’ll run you through the best ways of creating an ayahuasca-like brew in your kitchen.

TRADITIONAL AYAHUASCA BREWS

Ayahuasca means something like “Vine of the Soul” – named after the Banisteriopsis caapi vine. Interestingly though, the B. caapi vine isn’t the main psychoactive component of the brew – it just prevents your stomach from destroying the most powerful psychoactive component, Psychotria Viridis. Without the monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs) contained in B. caapi, the psychoactive dimethyltryptamine (DMT) molecule in P. viridiswould be destroyed by your stomach.

It’s amazing that this brew must have been created by chance thousands of years ago, to create the perfect chemical conditions for a psychedelic medicine.

Traditionally there are many different ways to brew ayahuasca, but typically the B. caapi vine is stripped of its leaves and branches, mulched into a fibre, and brewed in boiling water. Then, leaves of P. viridis, which are traditionally picked in the morning, are added (in both fresh and dried form) to the ayahuasca brew. This chemical soup of DMT and MAOIs is complete once the mixture has been reduced, sometimes repeatedly for several days.

Although you won’t be able to make genuine ayahuasca at home – this would require a shaman, readily available fresh plant materials and many days of brewing – it’s possible to make ayahuasca-like brews from a number of different plants. Also known as ‘pharmahuasca,’ this ayahuasca that you can make at home only requires a source of DMT and a source of MAOIs.

It’s amazing that this brew must have been created by chance thousands of years ago, to create the perfect chemical conditions for a psychedelic medicine.

A NOTE ON CULTURAL SENSITIVITY

Ayahuasca is, without a doubt, a sacred plant. Its origins are firmly planted in the various indigenous peoples of the Amazon, where it is revered as more than a drug, but as a link to ancient intelligence and divine ancestry. In creating this guide, we do not intend to diminish the rich history of ayahuasca or the sacred journeys it can produce.

We ask all our readers to exercise cultural sensitivity if choosing to make ayahuasca or, more correctly, ‘pharmahuasca’ at home. Keep in mind the difference between taking a DMT/MAOI cocktail in your kitchen, and taking part in a genuine shaman-led ayahuasca ceremony in the Amazon.

Please keep in mind the exploitation that indigenous peoples are becoming victims to as the popularity of ayahuasca grows in the Western world. It’s our responsibility to treat ayahuasca with respect and care.

OBTAINING YOUR INGREDIENTS

There are many options for ingredients containing DMT and MAOIs. You don’t have to rely on the traditional ingredients, B. caapi and P. viridis:

MAOIS

Although you won’t be making ‘ayahuasca’ if you leave out B. caapi – since that’s the sacred vine it’s named after – it’s arguable that you can substitute any MAOI to achieve the same effects. Even though the B. caapi vine has a subtle psychoactive effect on its own, all we have to go on are anecdotal reports, and it’s likely that most of the psychedelic experience is dictated by the presence of DMT.

If you are determined to stick to B. caapi, it can be found for sale through various online vendors (Europe) (US/Canada). Due to country-specific restrictions on B. caapi, it may not be available to you through these vendors. If you have patience, an alternative is to buy B. caapi seeds, which are often not subject to the same regulations as the vine itself.

Some common alternatives for the MAOI component are Syrian Rue (Peganum harmala) and various plants of the passion flower (Passiflora) genus. Others are listed here. Just be aware that some may have negative side effects for you, so it’s vital to do your research.

NOTE: MAOIs can be fatal when combined with other drugs/foods. Jump to our safety section for the full list of risk factors.

DMT is an illegal drug in most countries, so obtaining DMT-containing plants is not entirely straightforward. Thankfully, DMT is widespread in nature, so it’s just a case of finding a DMT-containing plant that is available to be ordered to your country.

The P. viridis plant used in traditional ayahuasca brews is available to purchase in some countries, unfortunately only in Europe. If you’re in the US/Canada, you can purchase P. viridis seeds if you’re patient enough to grow your own plants.

Alternatives to P. viridis include Chaliponga (Europe only), Bundleflower Root Bark, and Jurema.

Yopo seeds are thought to contain DMT, and can be purchased in the US/Canada.

If you are patient, you can order Reed Canary Grass seeds to grow your own DMT-containing plant.

The DMT-containing plant market is always changing, so keep an eye out for new appearances. Here is a list of dozens of plants that contain DMT, many of which could be available through online vendors to your country. As with the alternative MAOIs, some alternative sources of DMT may have negative side effects for you. Always do your research before trying a new substance.

SAFETY

MAOIs can be fatal when combined with other drugs or foods! This means it’s really important to be careful with your diet around an ayahuasca experience and avoid taking other drugs or medications.

Because MAOIs interact with naturally occurring tyramines found in your diet, they can affect your cardiovascular system and cause a dangerous blood pressure rise. Therefore you should avoid ingesting foods that contain tyramines, including aged cheese, beer, wine, pickled herring, chicken liver, yeast, large amounts of coffee, citrus fruits, canned figs, broad beans, chocolate or cream, in the days before and after your ayahuasca experience.

MAOIs will intensify the effects of other psychoactive drugs, including tryptamines (i.e. LSD and psilocybin), antihistamines, sedatives (including alcohol) and amphetamines. It’s safest to not take any other drug while taking part in an ayahuasca experience.

If you are on a course of SSRIs, you should wait at least three weeks after your last dose before taking an MAOI.

Other prescription drugs that are dangerous to combine with MAOIs include Prozac, allergy medicines, migraine medicines, cold medicines, sleeping pills and ephedrine.

Here is a full list of things to avoid when you take MAOIs.

CALCULATING YOUR DOSE

Depending on the plants you’ve obtained, they will contain different levels of MAOIs and DMT, some of which are unknown. Measurements of typical traditional doses of ayahuasca show that a single dose contains about 25mg of DMT and 20-150mg of MAOIs, with lots of variation. For this reason, it’s probably best to start small for a first experience.

A recipe that circulates on the internet, probably derived from Ecuadorian or Peruvian tradition, suggests starting with 50g of fresh B. caapi vine and 85g fresh P. viridis leaf per person.

These should just be taken as a rough guide; due to the variable nature of the components of ayahuasca brew and the required strength and sensitivity of individuals, it’s important to do your own research to arrive at a safe dosage. We recommend starting out with a very small dose to test the brewing process and your own sensitivity.

MAKING YOUR BREW

Once you’ve managed to find a source of MAOIs and a source of DMT, and calculated your dose, it’s simply a case of drawing them out of their plants in the most efficient way.

There are various suggestions for brewing ayahuasca, some a lot more complicated than others. We recommend one of the most straightforward methods, at least for your first time. It’s simply a case of crushing your B. caapi vines (or MAOI source), placing them in a large pot with P. viridisleaves (or DMT source), and boiling in a large quantity of water for 4 hours. This liquid is then collected and set aside, while another batch of water is added to the plant matter and boiled again in the same way. You can then discard your plant matter, and combine both batches of water (which should now contain your MAOIs and DMT).

This brew is then reduced over a gentle heat until it is a manageable (i.e. drinkable) quantity per dose. It’s important not to over-reduce your brew, as it may become too thick and the active ingredients could be destroyed. Some people recommend preparing two doses per person, in case the purge makes you throw up the first one!

We recommend starting out with a very small dose to test the brewing process and your own sensitivity.

MENTAL PREPARATION

Before you begin the brewing process, you should make sure you have prepared your mind and environment. As always, it’s useful to adhere to this guide on the 6 Ss of psychedelic use.

The most important aspects of an ayahuasca experience are the physical preparations (a diet that does not cause MAOI toxicity) and the presence of a guide. Traditional ayahuasca ceremonies are always performed in the presence of a trained shaman, and this is considered a crucial part of the healing potential of the ritual. If you don’t have access to a shaman (and presumably most of us don’t), then don’t just go it alone. It’s important to have other people with you, and ideally at least one of them should stay sober. Having a guide in any psychedelic experience can help you make the most out of it, and this is especially true with such an intense drug like ayahuasca.

Once you have a sitter organised, and you’ve adhered to the recommended diet, it’s simply a case of preparing your mind and environment. Environment is easy; arrange to trip in a comfortable, familiar place, and prepare your surroundings to be comforting and safe. Preparing your mind is a little trickier; the ayahuasca experience may show you painful and traumatic things, but can also be healing and joyful. Be prepared to lose control, and think about the important things in your life that you may be forced to address during the experience.

THE EXPERIENCE ITSELF

Purging (vomiting and more rarely diarrhea) is a common initial effect of ayahuasca, beginning within the first hour. Although unpleasant, this is considered by many to be a necessary step to begin experiencing the healing power of ayahuasca. Don’t fight the purge, and allow it to bring you to the next phase of the experience.

Within an hour or two, you should begin to experience the psychedelic effects of the brew. You may find yourself leaving your body, losing your sense of self, visiting incredible parallel realities, and fighting your own internal struggles. It will probably not be pleasant, but there may be aspects of beauty and joy that will be highlights of the experience.

Although the experience may be traumatic, being able to see life in a new perspective almost always has a healing effect, whether it’s on your own personal vices, or on the way you see yourself. It’s important to anticipate an unpleasant journey, but this is part of the reason why ayahuasca is so powerful and therapeutic.

Ayahuasca will have psychedelic effects for several hours after ingestion, lasting usually no more than 8-10 hours in total. You may feel permanent changes from the experience, so don’t be surprised if you need some time to integrate yourself, especially if you took a large dose. It’s recommended to take a day after the experience to reflect on your journey.

USER REPORTS

We managed to find both plants and brewed them for 12 hours until we were left with a thick, almost syrupy tea. […] I threw up into the bucket, and the air seemed to be filled with golden strands of light, like a cobweb trying to entice me in.

I threw up again, red fractals into the bucket. […] I was just myself, my pure self like a little core of light I gave up, I was all hers. She had destroyed me, wiped me clean and turned me into a blank page. No memories, no concept of self except that little burning light. True ego death. […] She [ayahuasca] told me what I was made for. My reason for being here, my purpose in life.

She told me what my place was in the universe and the answer was so obvious I was astounded. […] Satisfied that I had finally listened she slowly left me and I came out of the dark space of the other side of the universe back into this one. Sitting on the floor, covered in spit and bile and tears and vomit. But clean. – Full experience

It’s true what they say about how truly nothing will prepare you for your experience and if you’re committed, prepare to enjoy the ride. Ayahuasca has turned me into a vulnerable, sensitive, raw and exposed sham. Ayahuasca is also responsible for allowing me to recognize profound beauty, truth, and happiness when I come to notice it.

I battled with quite a few demons inside for what seemed like hours, then when I felt like I had nothing left to give the happiness began to return. Following the ceremony, I tossed and turned for a bit then went into a deep/refreshing sleep for a few hours. My real breakthrough came the next day though, during integration therapy. When I was discussing my experience and emotions I arrived on a realization of my true source of anxiety and once I encountered this it felt like the weight of a million worlds was lifted from me, really the most incredible thing I’ve ever felt. It was sincerely like 100 hours of therapy lived in one moment.

Making ayahuasca at home is simple! Here we guide you through the steps to obtaining your materials and brewing your own ayahuasca in your kitchen.

Ayahuasca

Banisteriopsis caapi

Family: Malpighiaceae
Genus: Banisteriopsis (banis-ter-ee-OP-sis) (Info)
Species: caapi
Category:

Vines and Climbers

Water Requirements:

Requires consistently moist soil; do not let dry out between waterings

Sun Exposure:

Sun to Partial Shade

Foliage:
Foliage Color:
Height:

over 40 ft. (12 m)

Spacing:
Hardiness:

USDA Zone 10a: to -1.1 °C (30 °F)

USDA Zone 10b: to 1.7 °C (35 °F)

USDA Zone 11: above 4.5 °C (40 °F)

Where to Grow:

Can be grown as an annual

Suitable for growing in containers

Danger:

Parts of plant are poisonous if ingested

Bloom Color:
Bloom Characteristics:
Bloom Size:
Bloom Time:

Late Winter/Early Spring

Other details:
Soil pH requirements:

5.6 to 6.0 (acidic)

6.1 to 6.5 (mildly acidic)

Patent Information:
Propagation Methods:

From herbaceous stem cuttings

From seed; sow indoors before last frost

Seed Collecting:

Bag seedheads to capture ripening seed

Allow seedheads to dry on plants; remove and collect seeds

Seed does not store well; sow as soon as possible

Regional

This plant is said to grow outdoors in the following regions:

Orange Springs, Florida

Palm Bay, Florida

Saint Petersburg, Florida

Baton Rouge, Louisiana

Ravenel, South Carolina

Gardeners’ Notes:

On Apr 27, 2020, blessedclones from Salamonia, IN wrote:

was looking around for decent selected clones of this plant but could find it anywhere. finnaly found website called clonebay.us where you can find local growers and buy directly from them!

On May 6, 2019, Jbz711 from Austin, TX (Zone 8b) wrote:

I was gifted a small cutting over a year ago, and once it was warm enough I planted it in the ground next to a wooden fence, in medium shade. All summer it hardly put on any growth, until I cut back some of the branches shading it. In the winter, I expected it to die back, but the most of the leaves stuck around until March of this year before falling off in the third hard freeze it had endured. I expected it to not have made it, because it appeared never to have gone dormant, and I eventually cut the vine back to the ground to harvest its material. Just now I’ve observed fresh shoots coming from the stump, so it is cold hardy in the ground in 8b Austin given sufficient protection. Very excited to establish additional specimens. I should mention that I have a pond in the backyard tha. read more t may help with humidity or temperature, but the pond is not near the B. Caapi, so it’s a limited effect.

On Oct 20, 2015, TCortese from Elmhurst, PA wrote:

I’ve been growing Banisteriopsis and Alicia for over a decade in PA with great success indoors. The two genera and every specie included that I’ve been able to find are all very simple plants to grow. They make wonderful houseplants and is of course a must have for any entheogenic garden. Thought I might add my experience.

Seeds must be fresh. Germination can take as long as six months, this is more true with Alicia than Banisteriopsis, but I’ve had stubborn Banisteriopsis’ that take four to five months to pop up (rusbyana comes to mind). Germination is best handled in coarse sand kept moist with bottom heat and very high humidity, gladware containers are great. Vermiculite can be used but is more prone to cobweb which is easily handled via the usual methods (H2O2/H2O 1:5). read more , seeds should be soaked for 15 minutes in a dilute H2O2 before sowing. Drying the seeds thoroughly and putting them in the fridge for a week or so might encourage some difficult seeds to sprout. Established seedlings are moved to slightly acidic, well draining soil while maintaining humidity.

Cuttings can also be rooted in sand, vermiculite, soil, or simply in a glass of water. Personally I wrap the piece in a paper towel and place in a ziplock. They benefit only slightly from added auxin. I’ve tried IAA, IBA, and NAA, the only truly noticeable difference in strike rates came from placing the cuttings in a glass along with a piece of willow. Small woody pieces root easiest, a piece about as thick as a pencil with two nodes is the perfect size in my experience, but this varies with certain species. Strike rates for me are around 60%, don’t give up on a cutting until after six months. Propagation on culture medium is obviously preferable if available.

Established plants do not require much light, but will thrive if given full sun. This can actually become an issue as I had a B. muricata (one of the more interesting species of banisteriopsis as the leaves contain significant amounts of The Light) that went from 3ft to over 7ft within one summer! Pot bound plants die very quickly, make sure it has plenty of room. Don’t overfeed, off the shelf plant food at half strength once a month is fine. Established plants can also be acclimated to less humid conditions, but growth tends to slow. They can tolerate some cold, but a frost will quickly kill them.

Amazing house plant, I highly recommend it!

Itheus: There is nothing even REMOTELY “recreational” about the beverage and one doesn’t need a shaman to bring something meaningful back from the experience. I don’t know of anyone who “abuses” ayahuasca, it is very difficult to abuse any hallucinogen due to the rapid, short lived tolerance they cause.

It sounds like you have ready access to the plant, why not consume some before speaking against it out of ignorance? Even without a source of DMT, caapi is QUITE active by itself and worth trying. If not, I recommend you hold your tongue in the future before a teen/someone who has no respect for the plant finds your post and orders some off the internet only to hurt themselves or others thinking that it is a “drug” worth abusing. This sort of narrow mindedness really upsets me.

On Jun 22, 2015, Ted_B from Birmingham, AL (Zone 8a) wrote:

This rainforest climber thrives in partial sunlight, heat, and high humidity in a consistently moist medium. It can be container grown and overwintered indoors in temperate climates, and will continue to grow so long as it is given a large pot, a well lit location in a warm spot with humidity >50%. When conditions become dry, it behaves as if it is going dormant, and will defoliate to retain moisture. Give it a daily “rain” by thoroughly spraying with water, and new growth soon appears. Frequent pruning of the tips will control height and encourage lateral growth. It survives as a houseplant when in a suitably large container and given the space and height to sprawl.

On Apr 22, 2012, Parageo from Baton Rouge, LA wrote:

I have three types (based on what I ordered not through some sort of verification.. I need to look more into that). They are just rooted cuttings but beginning to grow in container up the little stakes I have in the containers. I give them full shade most of the time but occasionally put them out in the full sun for a few hours when I have time to make sure it won’t dry out. I am in Louisiana so the humidity is strong and warm but being in full sunlight would dry them out fast over the coarse of the day.

I do have a question those who have had success growing this plant to a large size how long does it take before the vines get fairly thick in circumference? At this point they are still very thin with the original stalk being about the size of a pencil and the new vines not. read more much larger than a coffee stir.

On Apr 17, 2011, SaintJoan wrote:

Is it possible to grow B. caapi as a houseplant in places with severe winter frosts and, therefore, central heating?

On Jun 11, 2010, Kalpavriksha from Sarasota, FL wrote:

Remember reading on cold medications, “Do not take if you’re on a MAO inhibitor.” This is a MAO inhibitor. This plant is combined with Psychotria viridis and various other entheogens and taken by shamans. This is the one time the doctor takes the medications to cure the patient!
A very specific died must be followed when shamans take this.
Makes beautiful vine pieces. I have one 8 ft section 3″ in diamater that looks like it’d be Gandalf’s staff. The mature vine sections are woody and also make great dried arrangement foundations. They have vertical grooves.

On May 21, 2009, Itheus from Portland, ME wrote:

I’ve also had good success indoors, but have heard first hand accounts of well established B. caapi vines surviving frosts overnight; nonetheless I agree, it’s probably not wise to let it get too cold.

Also, it’s worth noting the value of this houseplant OUTSIDE the realm of it’s role in the shamanic tradition. It’s a fast growing, enjoyable foliage plant, and need not be abused for it’s alkaloid content. When taken in combination with any DMT containing plant, like P. viridis, but without a shaman, it’s nothing more than a necessary counterpart to a recreational drug.

On Feb 27, 2006, Michaelp from Piney Flats, TN (Zone 7a) wrote:

Also known as YAGE, The principal ingredient in the drink Ayahuasca, used by South American Shaman. The other plant used is Psychotria virdis, The vine can grow very large and reach to the top of the rain forest trees. The Picture I uploaded is of a plant growing in my greenhouse, I don’t supose it would be cold tolerant enough to grow outside here. It has taken 4 years for the plant to reach the size pictured.

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