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What is Psychotria viridis (Chacruna)?

Psychotria viridis is a perennial flowering shrub native to the Amazon rainforest, specifically to regions of Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, and Bolivia. It’s also known by a few local names, including chacruna, chacrona, or chaqruy; as the meaning of these words suggests (they are all ways to say ‘mix’ in Quechuan languages), chacruna’s primary purpose is being an admixture in the sacred Amazonian ayahuasca brew .

The chacruna leaf is added to ayahuasca preparations by indigenous Amazonian curanderos throughout its native range, but is most common in Brazilian, Peruvian and Bolivian brews. Communities that don’t use the chacruna plant typically use chaliponga (Diplopterys cabrerana); the choice is based both on cultural preference and local availability. While the two are chemically quite similar, ayahuasca experiences with either are subtly distinct.

How Do Shamans Use Psychotria viridis?

The use of Psychotria viridis in Amazonian shamanic practices is steeped in tradition and spirituality. Regarded as the guardians of ancient wisdom and healing practices, the curanderos of the jungle have mastered the art of harnessing the potential of the chacruna plant to induce profound spiritual experiences.

Chacruna leaves are traditionally brewed along with the Banisteriopsis caapi vine bark to create ayahuasca. The brew is then consumed ritually, either by the shaman alone as a divinatory or diagnostic tool or by their patient as well, if their affliction is grave enough for the curandero to deem it necessary for their healing. Sometimes, the brew is also drunk in social ceremonies for its detoxifying effects or for marking or preparing for important events in the community.

The healing ceremonies and divination rituals typically take place in the shaman’s home, whereas the social ayahuasca drinking normally happens either in the village maloca (large communal hut) or outside in the common area.

During the ceremonies, the shaman’s role includes performing cleansings, reciting prayers, and singing sacred songs known as icaros, which are believed to be given to them by the plant teachers they commune with. These melodious incantations serve as a medium for communication with the realms beyond and are used to invoke guidance and protection of the natural spirits.


When working with their patients, the curandero is traditionally the only one drinking the brew. They harness the power of the spirit of ayahuasca in order to diagnose the illness and gain insight on the right course of treatment. If the patient’s condition appears like it may have been caused by dark magic, the shaman may decide to administer ayahuasca to them as well.


Shamans also consume ayahuasca for divination. Once they drink, they are able to cross over to the spirit world and receive guidance on important matters concerning their community. This wisdom helps them resolve conflicts and mysteries, locate missing things or individuals, and devise agricultural, hunting, and war strategies.

Social Rituals

In social rituals, ayahuasca is most often drunk by a number of community members in collective purgative sessions — it has antiparasitic and antimicrobial properties, making it an effective means of maintaining communal health. It’s also traditionally consumed in rites of passage and other initiation rituals, for making important tribal decisions, like those involving hunting or declaring war on other communities, and for decompressing after long hunting expeditions.

In these communal ceremonies, the collective experience of the participants is guided by the shaman, whose role is to hold the sacred space and manage the drinkers’ mareación (intoxicating effect).

Psychospiritual Therapy

Since relatively recently in ayahuasca’s long history of use, the brews have been served in group ceremonies to physiologically healthy individuals seeking psychospiritual healing and growth.

The ceremony participants embark on a profound inner journey that can catalyze valuable life insights, powerful emotional catharsis, and ineffable visionary wanderings. Through these experiences, they may receive clarity, guidance, and resolution of deep-seated issues.

Where to Buy Chacruna Leaves Legally?

Here at Maya Ethnobotanicals, we offer a range of traditional medicinal plants which have been used by indigenous peoples for a variety of purposes since ancient times.

Our products are organically grown, sustainably harvested, and sourced through fair trade, and we sell them with the intention to promote ethnobotanical enthusiasm throughout the world.

We do not advocate for the use of any of our products in illegal ways, nor do we ship any of our botanical samples to countries where they are illegal. We strongly advise our customers to inform themselves thoroughly about their local regulations before placing an order.