The Ayahuasca Foundation only uses two plants in its preparation of ayahuasca, the ayahuasca vine (banisteriopsis caapi) and chacruna leaves (psychotria viridis). We also only use Cielo Ayahuasca. We do not use any admixture plants at all. Our ayahuasca is made at our school for plant medicine, surrounded by medicinal plants and overseen by our curanderos and their family members. We do not buy brewed ayahuasca.
HOW IS OUR AYAHUASCA MADE?
The first step is to clean the vine segments of moss or other plant matter that is not ayahuasca. This can be done by washing the vine segments or by scraping the bark with a knife to ensure that nothing other than the ayahuasca vine will be going into the brew. Making ayahuasca is a long process, so sometimes the vines are cut and cleaned one day and prepared the next. Fasting is often practiced during the preparation of the sacred medicine to maintain energetic purity.
Once the vine segments are clean they are then mashed with a wooden mallet or hammer. This breaks the vine into thinner strands, increasing their surface area and allowing more extraction of their medicinal essence. The vines are hard, so it is important to strike them well but not so hard as to pulverize the segments. Sometimes, the curanderos sing icaros during this process to communicate their intentions with the spirit of the vine and make the effects stronger.
Once the vine segments are mashed into thin strands, they are placed in the pot along with the chacruna leaves, which are torn into small pieces. Then, water is poured in until it just covers the plant material entirely. The pot is put over a fire and brought to a boil. Cooking times vary greatly as do cooking temperatures, controlled by the size of the fire, but the goal is the same: to reduce the water in the pot while absorbing the medicinal essences of the plants being cooked.
When the curandero feels the brew has cooked long enough, the water is removed from the pot and saved, leaving the plant material. This is called the first ‘wash.’ More water is then added to the plant material and the boiling process is repeated. This procedure may be done several times with the same plant material. Each reduction increases the strength of the final brew because more medicine is extracted each time and more liquid is produced for the last reduction, which is done without plant material.
Once all the reductions are done, just the liquid is combined and put back on the fire to reduce it further. The reduction is the final step in the cooking process and determines the strength of each dose. Therefore, the curanderos watch carefully as the liquid is reduced, making sure that it is at the strength he/she desires. The curandero stays with the brew the entire time during its preparation.
When the brew if finally done cooking, it is taken off the fire to cool. Dozens of liters of water are reduced into one or two liters of prepared medicine. The final step, when the brew has cooled, is to filter the medicine to remove any remaining plant material. This is often done with a fine cloth. The curandero then says a final prayer over the medicine to bless it. The brown liquid is then put into a bottle to save for the ceremony.