Listening to the Plants
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Chaliponga ~ Chagropanga
(formerly known as Banistriopsis rusbyana)
Family Malpighiaceae (liana family)
D. cabrerana near Iquitos
wild D. cabrerana
D. cabrerana leaves
D. cabrerana closeup of leaf
Indigenous names: yajé-oko (Kofán); oco-yajé (Taiwano); chagropanga (Inga); yajé-oco (Siona)
Distribution: The genus Diplopterys is comprised of twenty species distributed through tropical America. Diplopterys cabrerana is the only species confirmed to contain tryptamine alkaloids.
Principal active biochemicals: the tryptamine alkaloids N, N-dimethyltryptamine (DMT) and 5-methoxy-N,N-dimethyltryptamine (5-meo-DMT). Trace amounts of bufotenine and N-methyltetrahydro-ß-carboline are also present.
In northeastern Perú, eastern Ecuador, and western Colombia the leaves of Diplopterys cabrerana are commonly prepared with ayahuasca (Banisteriopsis caapi) to make the ceremonial visionary healing medicine Ayahuasca, also known as Caapi, Yagé, Natema, and by many other names.
The leaves of either plant are not psychoactive if eaten or smoked due to the relatively low alkaloid content and rapid breakdown of alkaloids by monoamine oxidase, a natural human enzyme. In the Ayahuasca preparation, beta -carbolines present in the harmala alkaloids temporarily inhibit monoamine oxidase function, rendering the tryptamine alkaloids orally active.
References:website design bySchultes, R.E. and R.F. Raffauf. 1995. The Healing Forest: medicinal and toxic plants of the northwest Amazonia, Dioscorides Press, Portland, Or. ISBN 0-931146-14-3
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