The Visionary Vine
Psychotria viridis, native to South and Central America, is a shrub belonging to the Rubiaceae family along with other known plants such as coffee that is primarily found in the Amazon rainforest region. Also known as Chacruna or Visionary Vine, it is one of the herbs, along with Banisteriopsis caapi, that composes a sacred brew called Ayahuasca.
Its therapeutic properties are deeply appreciated across countries like Brazil, Peru, Colombia, and Ecuador, as well as a possible hallucinogenic effect caused by a chemical called dimethyltryptamine (DMT), which can induce visions and widen the reach of the mind’s eye. Shamans and indigenous folk credit this plant’s properties with performing miracles of healing and even with the prevention of witchraft, in addition to helping with migraines and cleansing of the intestines.
Compounds like beta-carboline (which can influence brain function and offer antioxidant and neuroprotective effects that can help safeguard cells from the damage caused by free radicals, preventing cognitive loss and even cancer) and N-methyltryptamine (that works directly on epinephrine and norepinephrine receptors, mimicking the effects of adrenaline on the body) are also present in the composition of Chacruna.
The Shipibo-Conibo People
The Shipibo-Conibo-Shetebo (or Shipibo-Konibo) are an indigenous ethnic group spread across the Peruvian Amazon Forest, occupying the region spanning from Huánco, Madre de Dios, Loreto, and Ucayali, especially around the margins of the rivers that cleave these areas. Their artisanal handicraft and artwork are widely appreciated by collectors and admirers across the world, especially the works involving ceramic articles.
They are part of the Pano linguistic group, their culture rich with shamanism and their peoples divided into five smaller communities, whose dialects are particularly unique and distinct. Like most other communities that originate from the Pano group, the Shipibo-Conibo’s shamanism revolves around the consumption of Ayahuasca, a poly-herbal brew that allows for practitioners of sacred, natural medicine to receive healing and cleansing offered by spirits and ancestors during ceremonies lead by Pajés (shamanic healers) and knowledgeable folk.
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Maya works alongside members and representatives of the Shipibo-Conibo community to offer sustainably planted and carefully harvested Chacruna. The leaves of this sacred and powerful plant are left to dry naturally under cool shade, which is a process that helps preserve plant components suh as flavonoids, tannins, anthocyanins, and antioxidant activity.