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How Plant Medicine Brew Ayahuasca is Made (Updated 2024)

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After centuries, if not millennia, of ceremonial use by the Indigenous peoples of the Amazon, Ayahuasca has been gaining worldwide recognition for the past severaldecades [1]. Ayahuasca tourism is boomingand retreat centers are springing up like mushrooms. With thousands of Ayahuasca tourists taking part in healing ceremonies with Amazonian shamans all around the globe, some have begun to wonder: “Can I too make my own Ayahuasca tea?”.

Disclaimer! We do not suggest that you make or serve ayahuasca brew without thorough training and guidance by an experienced shaman or medicine person. This article is meant to assist those who are experienced practitioners and educate those who are interested in learning more about ayahuasca before they take it themselves, or are on the path to becoming a plant medicine facilitator.

Before we delve into the recipe, let’s first take a closer look at what Ayahuasca exactly is and how it is capable of producing such transformative psychological effects.

Ayahuasca is a potent brew that is traditionally made up of two components [2], the Banisteriopsis caapi vine (or ‘Ayahuasca vine’) and the Psychotria viridis leaf (or ‘chacruna’).

Banisteriopsis caapi (B. caapi) is a South American woody vine. Dubbed a plant teacher’, it is internationally considered to be a sacred plant. When used alone, the mysterious vine has mood-enhancing and sedative properties. However, it is also a natural source of Monoamine Oxidase Inhibitors (MAOIs) [3]. And in the case of Ayahuasca, this is needed for the brew’s other main component to have an effect: the Psychotria viridis (P.vridis) leaf.

The p. Virdis leaf  is the most frequently used admixture that is combined with b caapi vine to produce dramatic synergistic effects. The leaf contains high amounts of the psychedelic drug N,N-dimethyltryptamine (DMT), which is revered for its psychotherapeutic properties [4].

The psychoactive substance DMT is the primary hallucinogenic compound found in Ayahuasca. It is known as the ‘spirit molecule’, and it has garnered a lot of attention for its visionary psychedelic properties[5]. (Check out the FAQ section at the end of this article for more information on this facinating molecule).

Now, if the DMT-containing leaves are Ayahuasca’s main hallucinogenic components, then why do we need the Ayahuasca plant itself?

Our bodies contain an enzyme called monoamine oxidase (MAO). Before DMT gets the chance to reach our central nervous system, this MAO enzyme can break it down in the gut [6]. This process renders DMT inactive, and when ingested orally, but taking it in combination with an MAO inhibitor prevent its degradation. This is where the B. caapi vine comes into play.

The vine’s MAOI components temporarily imhibit our body’s MAO enzymes, and the combination of the two Ayahuasca ingredients helps to synergize the psychoactive and hallucinogenic properties that characterize the ayahuasca experience [7]. This in turn leads to the well-known transformative Ayahuasca journey.

The recipe: how to make Ayahuasca tea

Now that you know how Ayahuasca works, let’s take a look at how you can make it.

Preparing an Ayahuasca brew is a time-consuming ritual that requires a lot of patience and care. For those considering making it on their own, here is one Ayahuasca preparation method to give you an idea of what it involves.

Please note! Behold Retreats does not condone any illegal activity, and this recipe is intended for purely hypothetical use and should be used only in places where it is legal to do so.

Do you feel ready to embark on your transformative journey, but would you rather take part in a well-organized Ayahuasca retreat that is specifically catered to your needs? Then apply for a consultation here!



The following recipe is for 1 liter of the psychoactive brew ayahuasca (which amounts to 24-28 doses). The strength of each dose may vary between batches.

  • 160g M. hostilis 
  • 150g b. caapi resin* (*this recipe works with the 30:1 extract version meaning that the resin is much more concentrated than just the dry bark)
  • 3 stainless-steel pots
  • 1 large stainless-steel pot
  • 9L Water (preferably distilled) (3L x 3)
  • 180ml vinegar (optional, softens bark) (60ml x 3) 
  • A lot of patience, time, and care

Disclaimer! Not only do our individual sensitivities to psychoactive substances vary widely, but so can the concentration of psychoactive chemicals found in plant material. In addition, even a single individual can react very differently to the same substance depending on the set and setting.

For this recipe, we chose to combine B. caapi with M. hostilis. If you would like to read more about why, take a look at the FAQ section at the end of this article.

As mentioned above, pharmacologically, there are just two components in the traditional Ayahuasca brew: DMT and MAOI.

In traditional Amazonian Ayahuasca teas, DMT comes from the P. viridis leaves while the B. caapi vine provides the MAOIs.

In traditional Amazonian Ayahuasca teas, DMT is present in the form of the P. viridis leaves while the B. caapi vine serves as an MAOI.

Each of these chemical components can also be found in a variety of other plants. Numerous Ayahuasca analogues exist and virtually every continent has its own native DMT-containing plant, as well as a natural source of an MAOI which can enable the plants’ psychedelic Ayahuasca effects to take place.

For example, instead of Psychotria viridis some use Mimosa hostilis, Diplopterys cabrerana or Acacia confusa as a DMT source and/or they replace the Banisteriopsis caapi vine with Peganum harmala (Syrian rue).

However, caution is warranted: Ayahuasca is incredibly potent, and partaking in an Ayahuasca ceremony is already an intense experience in itself, capable of filling the mind with powerful visions and transcendent experience of love when done correctly. Creating your own tea by randomly mixing and matching different plant medicines together, however, is not recommended as it is potentially dangerous, both physically and psychologically!

Instructions (how to make Ayahuasca tea)

  1. Bring three liters of water to a simmer.
  1. Reduce to medium heat.
  1. Add 60ml vinegar and mimosa to the water and stir thoroughly.
  1. Cook for three hours stirring every 20-30 minutes. Do not boil!
  1. Pour liquid through (cheese)cloth and strainer to filter the brew. Keep mimosa but squeeze as much liquid as possible from it.
  1. Store the liquid in a (sterilized!) pot and repeat the entire process (steps 1-5) with the same mimosa.
  1. Repeat the process (steps 1-5) a third time.
  1. You now have three pots of mimosa-infused liquid. Combine them into a large pot.
  1. Put the mimosa tea in the fridge and let it cool overnight (optional, but recommended)
  • Tip: While this step is optional, it is better to let the sediment settle overnight in the fridge before doing the reduction.
  1. Make the brew more concentrated by simmering it at medium-low heat for 2 hours or until more than half of the water has evaporated. The important thing is to not let the mixture boil.
  1. This is the important part. Add the B. caapi resin to the mimosa tea reduction and stir until dissolved.  Without this step your brew will not be psychedelic. Leave it for 15-30 minutes on low heat.
  1. Put the Ayahuasca brew in the fridge again and let it cool overnight (optional, but recommended).
  1. Serve the Ayahuasca tea in small amounts. (If you let it cool overnight then heat it first.)
  • Tip! Stir well to make sure all sediments are dissolved in the tea.

Cooking tips

  • The more heat you use, the more there will be a loss of the active ingredients. Never bring the brew to a boil.
  • Always use stainless steel or ceramic pots. Teflon and aluminum are not suitable to make Ayahuasca tea as it is reported to chemically react with the harmala alkaloids in B. Caapi.
  • As it was never traditionally used by indigenous communities, it is possible not to use any acid (vinegar) at all. However, this will increase the extraction time.
  • Some Ayahuasca drinkers recommend using distilled water, but as with the acid, this was never used by indigenous people and it is therefore optional.



How is Ayahuasca traditionally made?

According to traditional Indigenous wisdom traditions, Ayahuasca typically consists of both the b. caapi vine and p. viridis leaf, sometimes with additional psychoactive ingredients.

Nonetheless, from an indigenous Amazonian perspective, the vine is still considered to be ‘Ayahuasca’, whereas the admixture plants are seen as the vine’s helpers. On the other hand, it is said that the Brazilian Santo Daime church, which uses Ayahuasca in its religious ceremonies, sees the brew as a “marriage”: a sacred synergy between the vine and the leaf in which both play an equally important role.

Interesting to know!
This also explains why the brew is called after the name of the vine, namely “Ayahuasca.” Most of the brew’s other native names —like Yage and Caapi — are also names for the vine (and not the DMT-containing admixtures.)

What is an Ayahuasca analogue?

Analogues are plants or chemicals which are used in place of Ayahuasca’s traditional components. Today, various non-traditional Ayahuasca recipes exist, and some of them replace the original compounds with other plants.

Why does this recipe contain B. caapi?

As mentioned above, the Banisteriopsis caapi vine is traditionally considered to be mother Ayahuasca, while the plants are her helpers. While it is possible to replace the vine with something else like Peganum harmala (Syrian rue), this is not recommended as, in addition to it being the plant that is traditionally used, B. caapi also provides a much smoother and safer journey than other substituents.

Why does this recipe contain M. hostilis? Can Psychotria viridis be used instead?

In this recipe we have replaced the traditional Psychotria viridis leaves with Mimosa tenuiflora, also known as Mimosa hostilis or jurema preta. While less common than P. viridis, Mimosa hostilis root bark can still be considered a traditional admixture as it is used in some South American countries. In addition, M. hostilis is also said to be less harsh and easier to find.

If you wish to use P. viridis instead, you can substitute the M. hostilis for fifty grams of P. viridis leaves.

What is DMT?

DMT is the primary hallucinogenic compound found in Ayahuasca. Like other psychedelic drugs, such as Psilocybin (magic mushroom) and LSD, it acts on the serotonin receptors in the brain.

While it is a naturally-occurring compound that can be found in animal tissues, including the human brain, its exact effects on the brain are still not entirely understood. Luckily, more and more research is being conducted with each passing year.

For example, a recent study from 2020 published in Translational Psychiatry, has shown that DMT can potentially play an important role in the activation of neural stem cells and neurogenesis [8]. Adult neurogenesis refers to the brain’s capacity to generate new neurons in certain parts of the brain, even well in adulthood.

While the study was done on mice, the results look promising. According to José Ángel Morales, one of the researchers of the study, “This capacity to modulate brain plasticity suggests that it [DMT] has great therapeutic potential for a wide range of psychiatric and neurological disorders, including neurodegenerative diseases.”

Interesting to know!

In addition, the authors of the study have also previously shown that β-carboline harmala alkaloids, which are the three main alkaloids present in B. caapi, are key regulators when it comes to adult neural stem cell activity.

Is this safe?

Creating your own Ayahuasca tea can potentially be dangerous.

As mentioned above, DMT affects the brain's serotonin receptors. Due to this, Ayahuasca should never be consumed while also taking selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs). This combination is thought to produce excess serotonin in the brain and can lead to a potentially life-threatening condition called serotonin syndrome.

In addition, a too high dosage of MAOI can be fatal which is why Ayahuasca should never be mixed with MAOI medications.

Ayahuasca can also be extremely dangerous when combined with certain food or substances that contain a lot of tyramine as this can lead to hypertensive crises. Think of strong or aged cheeses, meat, fermented food, soybeans, overripe fruits, and alcohol.

The reason why consuming too much tyramine is dangerous is because monoamine oxidase breaks down excess tyramine in the body. But due to B. caapi’s MAOI compounds, less monoamine oxidase is present in the body, which in turn means that excess tyramine is no longer broken down in time [10].

Finally, individuals with a personal or family history of any psychotic illness or nonpsychotic mania should also avoid consuming psychedelics, including Ayahuasca.

Will I experience the same things as during an Ayahuasca session on retreat?

What your Ayahuasca experiences will be like can’t be said for sure in advance, and it will certainly feel different to being in the presence of healers and other retreat participants going through the healing process. This depends on numerous factors, and in addition to the Ayahuasca tea itself, your set and setting play a vitally important role. Make sure you set an intention before taking the medicine so that your experience can be one of deep healing, if that is what you desire.  Practices such as meditation, yoga, and cultivating gratitude are all ways to set the stage for an optimal experience with this plant medicine.

Do you want to begin your Ayahuasca healing journey, but would you rather participate in a well-organized and individually-curated ceremony where you get to experience psychedelics? Then apply for a consultation here!




[1] Sánchez, C., & Bouso, J. C. (2015). Ayahuasca: From the Amazon to the global village. Amsterdam, Netherlands: Transnational Institute.

[2] Domínguez-Clavé, E., Soler, J., Elices, M., Pascual, J. C., Álvarez, E., de la Fuente Revenga, M., ... & Riba, J. (2016). Ayahuasca: Pharmacology, neuroscience and therapeutic potential. Brain research bulletin, 126, 89-101.

[3] Morales-García, J. A., De la Fuente Revenga, M., Alonso-Gil, S., Rodríguez-Franco, M. I., Feilding, A., Perez-Castillo, A., & Riba, J. (2017). The alkaloids of Banisteriopsis caapi, the plant source of the Amazonian hallucinogen Ayahuasca, stimulate adult neurogenesis in vitro. Scientific reports, 7(1), 5309.

[4] Barker, S. A. (2022). Administration of N, N-dimethyltryptamine (DMT) in psychedelic therapeutics and research and the study of endogenous DMT. Psychopharmacology, 239(6), 1749-1763.

[5] Strassman, R. (2000). DMT: The spirit molecule: A doctor's revolutionary research into the biology of near-death and mystical experiences. Simon and Schuster.

[6] Ott, J. (1999). Pharmahuasca: human pharmacology of oral DMT plus harmine. Journal of psychoactive drugs, 31(2), 171-177.

[7] Berlowitz, I., Egger, K., & Cumming, P. (2022). Monoamine Oxidase Inhibition by Plant-Derived β-Carbolines; Implications for the Psychopharmacology of Tobacco and Ayahuasca. Frontiers in Pharmacology, 13, 886408.

[8] Morales-Garcia, J. A., Calleja-Conde, J., Lopez-Moreno, J. A., Alonso-Gil, S., Sanz-SanCristobal, M., Riba, J., & Perez-Castillo, A. (2020). N, N-dimethyltryptamine compound found in the hallucinogenic tea ayahuasca, regulates adult neurogenesis in vitro and in vivo. Translational Psychiatry, 10(1), 331.

[9] Morales-García, J. A., De la Fuente Revenga, M., Alonso-Gil, S., Rodríguez-Franco, M. I., Feilding, A., Perez-Castillo, A., & Riba, J. (2017). The alkaloids of Banisteriopsis caapi, the plant source of the Amazonian hallucinogen Ayahuasca, stimulate adult neurogenesis in vitro. Scientific reports, 7(1), 5309.

[10] Guimarães dos Santos, R. (2013). Safety and side effects of ayahuasca in humans—an overview focusing on developmental toxicology. Journal of psychoactive drugs, 45(1), 68-78.

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