Ayahuasca and Baru

Hey everyone! We all know the baru tree is a very old species. But did you know shamanic ayahuasca ceremonies have been using the tree for thousands of years?

That’s right. Many indigenous groups in Bolivia consider the baru tree a “teacher” or “master” plant . They use its many parts as medicine, and add the baru bark in their brewing of ayahuasca for guidance. Baru thus plays an important role in their shamanic mythology.

Ayahuasca-ceremonies-Bolivia

An Ese’Ejja shaman and his daughter.

Even though baru is a savanna tree, it exists in Cerrado patches bordering the Amazon rainforest. This means the tree can be found in many places within walking distance to its Amazonian Dipteryx relatives, which are also considered “teacher” plants.

There the baru tree is known by names such as almendrillo, and as shihuahuaco and mawi by the Ese’Ejja people, for example. The Ese’Ejja are one of the tribes that take ayahuasca whenever an important decision has to be made by the group, and even the children drink it.

For those unfamiliar with it, ayahuasca or yagé is a brew made with a combination of a specific Amazonian vine and a leafy plant called chacruna. Shamanic ceremonies use the brew as a gateway to the spiritual world, and can have other plants added to the mix depending on the required guidance.

Ayahuasca has recently surfaced in the Western world as a potential treatment for chemical addiction and PTSD. Currently, several academic institutions research its therapeutic uses around the world.

Resources

Traditional knowledge hiding in plain sight – twenty-first century ethnobotany of the Chácobo in Beni, Bolivia

Cultura (cosmovision) y salud entre los Ese’Ejja

Ethnobotany of the Ese Eja: Plants, Change and Health in an Amazonian Society

Etnobotánica Cuantitativa de la Comunidad Nativa Infierno, Madre de Dios – Perú

Inventario de Recursos Curativos en Centros de Expendio Formales e Informales: Puerto Maldonado