Banisteriopsis caapi

Introduction to Caapi

Banistariopsis Caapi, also known as ayahuasca (liana of the dead in Quechua) is vine of the family Malpighiaceae. The plant bark contains 0.05 - 2 % in total alkaloid content, almost uniquely β-carbolines: harmine, tetrahydroharmine, harmaline, harmol, harmalol [1].

Using Caapi

Banisteriopsis Caapi bark is the main ingredient of the beverage ayahuasca, often associated with a DMT source like Psychotria Viridis leaves, or Mimosa Hostilis root bark. Althrough sometimes used alone, B. Caapi bark is often mixed with other plants (Malpighiaceae: Diplopterys Cabrerana, Rubiaceae: chacruna = Psychotria Viridis, and seldom Solanaceae: Brunfelsia grandiflora, or more rarely Brugmansia Salveolens, or tabacum [1]).

Typical beverage contains up to 400 mg of IMAO and 25-40 mg of DMT [1].

Traditional use
Sections of this vine (possessing small pink flowers) are typically washed, scratched and crushed to separate fibers from the wood. The chips are boiled in water for several hours, rarely in cold water.

Ways of administration

B. Caapi must be ingested in order for the MAOI to become active.

Because of the low MAOI content of B. Caapi, it is practically impossible to smoke (for a 100 mg dosage of MAOI, assuming a content of 2 % alkaloids, 5g of B. Caapi bark should be smoked). Moreover, MAOI are likely to decompose upon heating before being vaporized, thus releasing toxic oxidized byproducts.

Effects of Caapi

The effects of B. Caapi are the same as its MAOI alkaloids (see harmaline, tetrahydroharmine and harmine for more info). Ayahuasca intoxication can cause [1] :
- nausea
- vomitting
- dizziness
- hallucinations

Combinations with Caapi

B. Caapi is traditionally combined with a DMT source like Psychotria Viridis leaves, Diplopterys Cabrerana.

Different Uses for Caapi

The dangers of Caapi

The dangers associated with ingestion of B. Caapi are the same as those associated with ingestion of MAOIs.

Phytochemical composition

Banisteriopsis caapi's pharmacologically active substances are mostly β-carbolines. The main compounds being Harmaline, Harmine and Tetrahydroharmine. Their concentration in 32 samples has been determined[2]. The results are given below:

- Harmine Harmaline Tetrahydroharmine
Min. 0.31 0.03 0.05
Max. 8.43 0.83 2.94
Mean 4.83 0.46 1.00
±S.D. 2.06 0.19 0.79

Values are in mg/g of dried plant material.
S.D. means standard deviation.

Growing Caapi

Forms of Caapi

B. Caapi is usually found as shredded or powdered bark. Different varieties can be found: red, yellow wines.

Legal status of Caapi

United Nations




B. Caapi has been classified on schedule IV on the narcotic list. (decree of 04/20/2005, published in Journal Officiel n°0102 on 05/03/2005)

Other Countries

History of Caapi

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