Monday, 24 October 2011

Quo Vadis? Vadis Viridis et Caapi!

There are reports of people long suffering from chronic abuse of heavy drugs abandoning their addiction helped by plants that apparently, together, do miracles. These utterly impressive detoxifying effect is of such a miraculous nature that people courageously jump to drinking an infusion of these, generally after approaching a religious cult that introduces them to this millenarian practice. Reports I found throughout the web state that a very successful percentage of people with history of severe and chronic drug (e.g., alcohol and crack) abuse have managed to stop consuming their habitual doses to start detoxifying only based on the aspects of their new faith and the miraculous tea associated to it.

What plant am I talking about and what religious cult is this?

No, it is not Tabernanthe Iboga, the one plant I have presented to the audience of The Toxicologist Today on the 28th of February this here (find it here). The plant I am revealing today and that came to my knowledge after I read a Brazilian article in a popular Brazilian web newspaper (find the article here) is named Cha do Daime (Daime's Tea, in English), also known as Saint Daime's Tea, Yaje, Caapi or even also shortnamed to Ayahuasca's Tea (see figures 1 to 3).

Figure 1 - Psichotria viridis. A plant that contains an alucinogenic substance named DMT (dimethyl tryptamine).
Source: [1].

The article states that most of the people who ingested this tea got very successfully rid of a drugs addiction that was lasting for decades. Two of these "patients" were taken to an Ayahuasca ritual after indicated by psychiatrists who also follow and practice amongst this religious cult. "People that ingress in these groups quit drinking after 30 to 40 years of alcoholism) said psychiatrist Dartiu Xavier da Silveira (Orientation and Support Program for Dependents). This doctor does not drive or advise their patients towards this "magical potion" and considers that "...despite the religious context that protects these people from drugs [...] there is probably a chemical effect in all that" [2].

Just to understand how this new trend is still very blur and incomprehensible even for the specialists, Joao Ernesto de Carvalho, a doctorate in Pharmacology and Coordinator of the Pharmacology and Toxicology Division in the Centre for Multidisciplinary Chemical, Biological and Pharmacological Research, hasn't found an adequate explanation for this matter. Dr. Carvalho said, and I quote from the webpaper "Under the pharmacological point of view, a person would have to take several daily doses of this tea, as if it was an antidepressant, something that it is not happening in these cases". Apparently, rituals occur only twice a month.

There are numerous reports and citations all over the web directly extracted from events where previously severe addicts explain how the need for drugs vanished from their minds as soon as this tea entered their lives. In other instance, specialists are worried that instead of cleansing the body this tea might just generate a much stronger addiction or produce long term side-effects (diarrhoea, vomiting, nausea, numbness, etc.) as opined by Dr. Arthur Guerra (Psychiatrist - Coordinator of the drugs and alcohol research group in the Faculty of Medicine of the University of Sao Paulo, Brazil).

Figure 2  and 3:
2) Caapi, contains harmaline, a psychoactive indole alkaloyd capable of reversibly inhibit L-Monoamine Oxidase, an enzyme responsible for the metabolism of DMT in the human organism. 
3) Yopo seeds that are usually transformed to some type of dust to be inhaled.
Source: [1].

A brief overview on the Ayahuasca [1]

- Aya means in the Quechua idiom, spirit or ancestor, whereas huasca stands for wine or tea.

- Ayahuasca tea is a mixture of Banisteriposis caapi and Psychotria viridis.

- This mixture is used as a tea from 2000 AC and reportedly started being used in the pre-historical Amazon.

- Growth in consumption happened recently in the American and the European Continents, and is reportedly involved in a "drug tourism" revenue advertised by the cult all over the world.

A video narrated by William S. Burroughs on the use of Ayahuasca

Once Again Bruce Parry plays his part

Further Advised Reading:

Blackledge, R. D.; Taylor, C. M. (2003). "Psychoria viridis - A botanical source of dimethyltryptamine (DMT)". Microgram Journal, 1(1-2), pp. 18-22.

McKenna, D. J.; Callaway, J. C.; Grob, C. S. (1998). "The scientific investigation of Ayahuasca". The Heffter Review of Psychadelic Research, Volume 1

It's all for now mates, hope you've enjoyed today's article on The Toxicologist Today. I will wait for more and more people  to visit, find this blog and, if possible, comment it. For this matter I believe this is definitely the case of fighting fire with fire, fat with fat... and probably addiction with addiction, however, further reading and research is a must. 

[1] - Cha do Santo Daime, Equipe Alcool e Drogas sem distorcao,, last visited on the 24th of October 2011, last update unknown. 

[2] - Dependentes usam cha do daime para se livrar do vicio, Folha de Sao Paulo,, last visited on the 24th of October 2011, last update on the 24th of October 2011.

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