How to Make Ayahuasca (and 1 Reason to Think Twice)

How to Make Ayahuasca at a Glance

Ayahuasca (also known as yage, iowaska and banisteriopsis caapi) is an entheogenic brew that combines an monoamine oxidase inhibitor (MAOI) with dimethyltryptamine (DMT).

Indigenous people of south America learned how to make ayahuasca at least 5,000 years ago according to archaeological evidence [1].

The traditions of these people have survived in numerous communities like the Yawanawa tribe of Brazil.

For people who do not have the financial capabilities to visit a trained shaman and experience ayahuasca, it is possible to learn how to make ayahuasca at home.

We desire to empower anyone who is willing to take responsibility and sovereignty for themselves, however…

The value of ayahuasca in a ceremonial setting with a guide is far greater than the ayahuasca alone.

In this guide, we will provide how to instructions that are simple to follow, but explain why guided, safe ayahuasca journeys may be better.

Collecting Ayahuasca Ingredients

MAOI – Ayahuasca Vine

Creating ayahuasca first requires gathering the ayahuasca vine. In almost all preparations, the ayahuasca vine is the most important part.

The ayahuasca vine acts as a MAOI so that the DMT from other ingredients is not immediately broken down.

Ayahuasca has other purposes beyond the MAOI alone. One reason people are microdosing ayahuasca is due to alkaloids harmine and harmaline.

Scientists studying harmine discovered that the compound increased neuron cell growth by up to 71.5% [2]. Another showed increased short-term memory [3].

Finally, the alkaloids were implicated in numerous neuroprotective effects suggesting the ayahuasca vine has plenty of unique benefits beyond simply the MAOI [4].

DMT – Chacruna leaves (many others)

The admixture alongside the ayahuasca vine is usually the chacruna leaves. This is the most common admixture, which creates N,N-DMT.

However, there are other admixtures as well. Some of them also product N,N-DMT with other properties while some of them create 5-MEO-DMT [5].

Plants like chaliponga or wambisa have 5-MEO-DMT, which may not be a good starting point for someone learning how to make ayahuasca.

The correct ingredients are imperative for making a safe and effective ayahuasca brew. Here is a list of DMT containing plants though we recommend sticking to chacruna.

Here is a video of Hamilton Morris (from Hamilton’s Pharmacopeia) where he is collecting ingredients and is told to get the wrong one (starts at 12:35):

How to Brew Ayahuasca

The process of brewing ayahuasca is relatively simple though there are many ways to do it incorrectly.

We suggest starting with learning how to make ayahuasca as simply as possible.

A common recipe suggests 50 grams of fresh ayahuasca vine and 85 grams of chacruna leaves per person.

  • Crush the ayahuasca vine (or MAOI) and place them into a large pot
  • Add the chacruna leaves (DMT)
  • Start boiling the mixture in a large quantity of water for 3 – 6 hours
  • Remove the liquid and replace with new water
  • Start boiling the mixture in a large quantity of water for 3 – 6 hours (second batch)
  • Discard the plant matter
  • Reduce the brew over gentle heat

The process looks a lot different when it follows ceremonial protocol.

The work that I do with a shaman is made from the Santo Daime, which is a church that uses ayahuasca as a sacrament [6].

To understand how to make ayahuasca in the traditional way, watch this 10 minute video and learn all the ritual and intention that goes into the process [7]:

If the method we explained to make your own ayahuasca seems incomplete, you are correct. It is challenging to provide explicit instructions without knowing the doses and other factors.

This is yet another reason why we are proponents of attending a retreat with a trusted guide as opposed to making your own if that is within your means.

How to Make Ayahuasca Taste Better

After learning how to make the brew, one common complaint is the taste. Although the taste may not be bad after one serving, it can grow worse over time.

The ayahuasca taste may have as much to do with the psychological component of the brew than the actual flavor.

Sure, there are alkaloids that may taste unpleasurable, but with such an intense experience that comes from ayahuasca, it is possible the brain associates the flavor with the sensations.

In my and many other peoples’ experiences, the taste gets worse over time rather than better depending on how recent the experience.

The Ayahuasca Dosage Will Vary

There is lots of variation in the dose of ayahuasca depending on the plant and the length of time it is brewed.

A traditional ayahuasca dosage might have 25 mg of DMT and 20 – 150 mg of MAOI. It is best to start small when brewing ayahuasca for yourself.

There is a lot of guesswork here because of many different variables:

  • The quantity of MAOI / DMT in the plants
  • The duration of brewing (and the impact that has on the MAOI / DMT)
  • The personal sensitivity to the substances

These are all unknown variables, which is why it is so valuable to find a trustworthy source or guide that has access to trustworthy and reliable ayahuasca.

Safety and Brewing Ayahuasca

The MAOI from ayahuasca may be valuable in the context of personal growth, spiritual connectedness, and the experience of this entheogen…

…but it can be dangerous when combined with the wrong things.

MAOIs are contraindicated with other foods and especially drugs and medications. Some foods to avoid in the 5 – 7 days before ayahuasca include aged cheeses, beer, wine, chicken liver, yeast, large quantities of coffee, citrus fruits, and chocolate.

Drug medications are even more important as considerations. Anyone taking SSRIs should wait at least a month after their last dose before using ayahuasca.

There is a full list of prescription drugs to avoid when taking an MAOI.

For these reasons, we again reiterate how valuable it is to find a trusted source of ayahuasca that can also act as a guide on these recommendations.

Not only is ayahuasca potentially illegal, but it can be harmful if used in the incorrect way. We know some readers will be responsible with their use, but it is better safe than sorry.

A Note on Ayahuasca for Sale

In a few words: we recommend against purchasing ayahuasca.

Even more risky than buying the raw ingredients and making it yourself is finding ayahuasca for sale and trusting the source.

It may seem easier than brewing ayahuasca and there may be many sources, but unless it is a friend who you trust who can simply make and give some to you, we suggest avoiding this altogether.

The Truth About Homemade Ayahuasca

For those who do not have the means to use ayahuasca in a ceremonial setting, learning how to make it can be helpful.

Using all the same ingredients sourced from similar locations may not create the same experience as if indigenous people made it.

There are many rituals and ceremonies that are associated with making ayahuasca. Many of these are ritualistic in nature.

For example, the villagers will say prayers and intentions while they are crushing the vine. It is hard to scientifically prove that this has an impact, but there is some evidence it does.

A study separated two plants where one was bullied verbally and the other was given positive reinforcement by humans. The results were astounding:

how to make ayahuasca

It is not outside the realm of possibilities that intense prayer and intentions from members of the indigenous tribes could impact the ayahuasca brew.

Whatever the scientific research suggests, there is a more comfortable, safe, and ceremonial setting that accompanies working with a guide.

Given the long history of ayahuasca use in south America, we do believe the ceremony and ritual play a vital role in creating an experience.

One reason we are such proponents of the cacao ceremony is because we believe ceremony and ritual alone has so much value.

We also understand that some people prefer to be self-sufficient and responsible when it comes to use of entheogens like ayahuasca, san pedro cactus, or peyote.

This is one reason we have developed this guide in addition to teaching how to grow magic mushrooms. We believe in empowering you.

The experiences that you can have with a well-trained guide can be more profound than anything on your own, however.

This is why we have organized partnerships with legal, trusted plant medicine organizations around the world as part of Schema.