This brew, commonly called yage, or yaje, in Colombia, ayahuasca in Ecuador and Peru (Inca "vine of the dead, vine of the souls," aya means in Quechua "spirit," "ancestor," "dead person," while huasca means "vine," "rope") caapi in Brazil, is prepared from segments of a species of the vine Banisteriopsis, a genus belonging to the Malpighiaceae from which an alkaloid called "telepathine" was isolated in the 1920s (later found to be the already known harmine).

Sections of vine are boiled with leaves from any of a large number of potential admixture plants (some of the main ones being Psychotria, Justicia, and Tetrapteris, which all contain DMT) resulting in a tea that contains the powerful hallucinogenic alkaloids harmaline, harmine, d-tetrahydroharmine, and usually dimethyltryptamine (DMT). Dimethyltryptamine closely resembles 5-HT and has been discovered to be a component of normal mammallian metabolism, an endogenous hallucinogen. These compounds have chemical structures and effects similar, but not identical to cactus derived mescaline, and the fungi metabolite psilocybin. This medicine has been used for millenia in order to enter the sacred supernatural world, to heal, divine, and worship. The spirit of the banisteriopsis plant is supposed to act as a guide for the spirits of the additive plants and potentiate their effects. Different admixture plants are used for different purposes: soul travel, telepathy, healing, communicating with spirits, visions, divination, or learning spirit songs.

"With Ayahuasca, an interior sound is commonly heard, which quite often triggers a spontaneous burst of imitative vocalizings, markedly unlike any conventional human speech or facial contortions. The tryptamines can apparently trigger a kind of rippling of facial muscles, which results in the production of a vocally modulated pressure wave. What is more startling is that the sound, which gains in energy the longer it issustained, can actually become visible - as if the vibrational wave patterns were shifting into the visible spectrum or inducing a vibrational excitation of the air in such a way as to affect light diffraction. These observations suggest that although the wave is produced with sound, it may possess an electromagnetic component. This peculiar wave phenomenon will continue to be generated out of the mouth and nostrils and will be visible in the surrounding air as long as the vocalizations are continued."
Terence McKenna

Normally DMT is not active when taken orally - it has to be smoked (and there are several other snuffs and smoking mixtures in jungle sorcery that do contain only DMT). But it's been found that harmaline prevents the breakdown of DMT by the digestive system and allows it to enter the bloodstream when one drinks Ayahuasca. Harmaline also extends DMT's visionary effects for up to 6 hours, and has actually been used by sorcerers in the Amazon for thousands of years.

In Europe and the Middle East, there are also plants which contain harmaline and DMT: Syrian Rue and the Giant River Reed.

Seeds of Syrian Rue are made into a red dye which is used by Middle Eastern carpet weavers for coloring Persian rugs. It has been said that the hallucinogenic properties of a brew made from these seeds may be responsible for the legends about flying carpets. Perhaps the red dye doubled as a beverage, and the patterns on the carpets were actually maps into a magical world.

The Giant River Reed is significant as well; it's considered the best reed to use for musical instruments, and is the reed traditionally used in the construction of pan-pipes.


Jim DeKorne (Loompanics Unlimited) uses Phalaris arundinacea, a grass which is very easy to grow and you don't have to kill the plant to harvest - just trim the stalks and leaves.

He's taken a Phalaris extract in an ayahuasca-type potion on several occasions, and has given this mix to others, and if there are any other nasty chemicals in Phalaris, they haven't caused any immediately noticable bad effects.

He says he discovered that you could make a smokable extract by accident, after leaving an extract intended for ayahuesque use out where the alcohol evaporated, leaving "a gummy tar" which he "on a sudden whim" decided to smoke.

"I took one inhalation of this essence and found my mind immediately blasted into a cerebral hurricane of rapidly pulsing white light. Fortunately, I already knew what a DMT flash is like, so I was not totally taken by surprise."

His idea of extraction is this:

He was smoking 50mg of this goo at a shot.

NB: he tried similar stuff with Arundo donax and got some really nasty reactions from whatever other crud was in the plant.

DMT extraction from Phalaris grass

The latest info from Jim DeKorne's The Entheogen Review is that one can avoid chemical extraction altogether, and use a wheatgrass juicer. DeKorne warns readers to exercise caution when using extracts from Phalaris until more is known about it, but here is a transcript:

"The latest scoop is that you don't even have to use chemical extractions anymore - run several handfuls of grass through a wheatgrass juicer (sold in most health food stores) and you'll wind up with a glass or so of incredibly potent liquid. One teaspoon (with MAO inhibition, of course), is a standard dose with strong grass. Only two teaspoons proved very challenging to one of my correspondents - an OD! The juice can be dried and smoked in a bong - two tokes will usually do it."