Banisteriopsis Caapi & Psychotria Viridis
Active ingredients - β-carboline (MAOI) & Di methyl Tryptamine (active)
Ayahuasca is among the oldest and most recognized sacred plant medicines in the world. It is an entheogenic brew or tea made from the Banisteriopsis caapi vine and the Psychotria viridis leaf. It is most often used in traditional ceremonies among the indigenous tribes of Amazonia (Southern America).
Psychotria virdris contains Di Methyl Tryptamine (DMT), a powerful psychedelic substance that interestingly is also endogenously produced in the human brain. DMT can be found in several different forms, from a powder extracted out of certain DMT-rich plants, to vaporizer cartridges that offer unparalleled ease of use, to the leaves of P. Viridis. An important factor to note is that DMT has very low oral bioavailability, which means that if you consume DMT orally it will have little to no effects (which is why DMT powder must be smoked or vaporized, and even then has a short duration).
Banisteriopsis caapi is the workaround to DMT's low bioavailability that, according to legend, was shown to native shamans by respective cultural deities. B. Caapi contains monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs), most notably β-carboline, which inhibit the activity of monoamine oxidase enzymes -- the enzymes your body produces which nullify the effects of DMT. When both substances are taken simultaneously (Ayahuasca brew), the MAOI's in B. Caapi not only allow the effects of DMT to be felt, but also greatly lengthen the duration of the experience. Smoked or vaporized DMT typically lasts for between 15-20 minutes, while an Ayahuasca experience can last up to 12 hours.
Traditional ayahuasca healing ceremonies have recently become more popular among Westerners and Europeans alike, leading to an increase in the appearance of ayahuasca retreats. While it is of great importance to any psychedelic experience, the importance of set and setting during an ayahuasca experience cannot be overstated. This is one of the primary reasons most people choose to attend an Ayahuasca retreat, rather than simply try the experience for themselves (like one would with psilocybin or LSD). These retreats allow people far-removed from traditional lifestyle an opportunity to receive the healing benefits of Ayahuasca in a safe and (relatively) controlled manner.
Various studies have shown that ayahuasca therapy may be effective in the treatment of depression and addiction, as well as effective in healing psychological trauma like that experienced by individuals who suffer from PTSD. It should be noted that the Ayahuasca experience is not a "fun" or recreational undertaking, and it should be reserved for those who actually need psychological healing -- as the experience often comes with a bout of severe sickness (including vomiting and sometimes even involuntary defacation), and can put you face to face with your deepest and most intimate fears.