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What Are the Medical Uses of Psychotria Viridis?

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  • Written By: Dee S.
  • Edited By: Jenn Walker
  • Last Modified Date: 21 November 2016
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Psychotria viridis is a small-sized tree species that is often referred to as "chacruna" or "the visionary vine." It originated in Central and South America and is often used in medicinal treatments by the local people in those regions. Although it is believed to treat migraine headaches and cleanse the intestines, it is typically used by people for its hallucinogenic effects. Since a chemical found in the leaves of Psychotria viridis is a controlled substance according to the laws of the United States and in many European countries, it may be illegal to use this plant in some areas around the globe unless it is prescribed by a medical doctor.

People in Central and South America countries, such as Brazil, Ecuador, Peru, and Colombia, have been using Psychotria viridis for centuries. The leaves of the plant are often used in religious rituals. In addition, drinking a concoction made from the leaves is believed to help one foresee the future, prevent witchcraft, and perform miracles. In addition, it is also thought to treat migraine headaches and to purge the stomach, thereby cleansing the intestines.

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Many who use Psychotria viridis use it as a hallucinogen. South and Central American tribal people claim that drinking a brew made from the plant will let them see animals in the thick Amazonian jungle where their normal vision will fail them. In North America and Europe, some individuals attempt to use Psychotria viridis as a recreational drug, mixing it with other plants to create an even more dramatic effect.

Psychotria viridis contains a substance called dimethyltryptamine (DMT). In fact, the plant contains a relatively high amount of the chemical, especially compared to other hallucinogenic plants. As a result, Psychotria viridis is not sold in plant nurseries or greenhouses in the United States or in many European countries. In addition, a person in possession of Psychotria viridis leaves may face criminal charges in some jurisdictions, as the leaves do contain large amounts of DMT, which is a controlled substance in many places.

Besides the fact that it is illegal in many countries, there are side effects associated with using this plant for medicinal purposes. Since it is commonly mixed with a monoamine oxidase inhibitor (MAOI), the concoction may create dangerously high blood pressure levels. In addition, it can interfere with other pharmaceutical drugs. In some cases, its use may cause depression and convulsions as well. Also, since it often works as a purgative, it could cause the user to vomit or have diarrhea for extended periods of time.

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