What is Banisteriopsis Caapi?

Banisteriopsis caapi is the main ingredient in Ayahuasca brew. Brews always contain b. caapi aka the Ayahuasca vine with a combination of other ingredients; commonly including Chacruna (Psychotria Viridis), Chaliponga (Diplopterys Cabrerana), and Datura (toe).

It contains harmine, harmaline, and tetrahydro harmine, all of which are both beta-carboline harmala alkaloids and MAOIs.

  • Family: Malpighiaceae
  • Genus: Banisteriopsis
  • Species: Caapi
  • Aka: B. caapi, ayahuasca, aya, yaje, boa vine, vine of the soul, vine of the dead, ayahuasca vine

The MAOI’s found in Banisteriopsis caapi are what make the DMT found in Chacruna (Psychotria Viridis) to become orally active in the brew and allow its effects to be felt for hours, rather than just a few minutes that smoking DMT produces.


B. Caapi is a vine that grows up adjacent trees to reach sunlight. It has white and pink flowers, however, they rarely bloom in the tropics.

The fruits of the ayahuasca vine are 3-winged and maple-like which appear between March and August. The vine grows in a twisted double helix pattern and can grow quite thick.

It grows best in the rich moist soil. When the vine is cut, the cross-sections reveal what resembles a flower or brain in its bark. Jewelry is often made of cross cuts from young Banisteriopsis caapi vines.


Banisteriopsis caapi can be made into a brew alone, which is said to produce calming effects, but it is most commonly used with a combination of other ingredients to activate its vision producing effects.

It has been used traditionally by the people of the Amazonian area for healing and spiritual contentedness for at least centuries; artifacts have been discovered that suggests its use as a component of stuff up to 4,000 years ago.

Ayahuasca use is the primary means of diagnosing and treating malaise in communities of indigenous regions of Central and South America.

It is used for direct communication with the spirit realm, and gives leaders of villages/communities guidance and directly impacts the cultures of these societies.

The architecture, drawings, masks, jewelry, weapons, and pottery are all adorned in fashions influenced by experiences with ayahuasca. Even songs and dance are based on visions from ayahuasca use.


*This article was originally published at newlifeayahuasca.com.