More about Dry Sananga Root Bark (Tabernaemontana Undulata) from the Katukina Tribe
Our Dry Sananga is produced from the roots and bark of Tabernaemontana undulata, a member of the Apocynaceae family. T.undulata can be found found in Brazil, Colombia, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Guyana, Guyana Francesa, Panamá, Perú, Surinam, Trinidad y Tobago, and Venezuela (Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute). This beautiful dry Sananga comes from the Katukina Tribe in Acre, Brazil.
Tabernaemontana is a genus of 100-110 species of flowering plants in the family Apocynaceae (Dogbane family), with a pan-tropical distribution. They are shrubs and small trees growing to 1-1,5 meter tall. The leaves are evergreen, opposite, 3-25 cm long, with milky sap. The flowers are fragrant, 1-5 cm diameter and consist of five pointed petals. They mostly grow in clusters out of the calyx. The two symmetrical fruits are divided and marked with fairly visible veins.
It is also know as ‘Bechette (pronounced B’-chew-teh) by the Mati & Matses. The Kaxinawa tribe of Acre Brazil use a similar species in the same genus – T.sanaho to make their Sananga. It is not well understood if other species have been or are used and whether the same distinctions made by botanists are observed by native peoples.
Traditional use of Sananga
The word ‘sananga’ refers to a number of different traditional eye drops used in some Amazonian cultures. Amazonian peoples such as the Matsés, Huni Kuin, Yawanawá and Ticuna use eye drops are for their wide-ranging healing properties. They also use them as a source of spiritual exploration.
There are two main kinds of sananga. One uses the root bark from the Tabernaemontana sananho shrub. Another uses the root bark from Tabernaemontana undulata. Both plants have beautiful windmill-like flowers. The two kinds of sananga are usually differentiated; sananga made from T. undulata is called ‘mana heins’ by the Huni Kuin and ‘bechette’ by the Matsés.
Traditionally people often use sananga before a hunt, to enhance the vision of hunters. The eye drops are not only thought to help them spot prey in the forest, but also allow them to hear with greater sensitivity and strike with more force. The tribes men say that the improved power given to hunters after taking sananga can last for several days.
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