FAMILY: Solanaceae (Nightshade)
COMMON NAMES: Bella Union, Borrachero, Chacruco, Chipiritsontinbaka, Chiricaspi Salvaje, Chiric-Sanango, Huha Hay, Kiss-me-quick, Manaka Root, Sanango, Picudo, Royal Purple Brunfelsia, Uhahai.
Brunfelsia Grandiflora is a tree-like shrub indigenous to the tropical regions of South America, ranging from Venezuela to Bolivia and it is especially abundant in Brazil and on the Caribbean Islands. In the wild this plant can grow up to 10 feet (3 meters) tall, and produces many dark green long oval leaves that will grow up to 12 inches (30cm) long. This shrub produces many small ornamental flowers and has long been cultivated for its aesthetic beauty. The flowers are thin trumpet-like and will grow up to 4 inch long, producing five petals and varying in color from lavender, dark blue and violet to light purple and white. View more images of Brunfelsia Grandiflora flowers HERE.
The plantís psychoactive compounds are found in the leaves, stems and in the roots and root bark. The roots are especially abundant in active alkaloids like Aesculetine, Cuscohygrine, Manaceine, Manacine, Scopoletin. Recent research has shown that the bark and roots of this plant contains as much as .08 percent Manacine.
TRADITIONAL USE: The indigenous Indians of the Amazon have used Chiricaspi for ritual healing ceremonies, and in magical and religious observances. The shaman of the Kofan Indian tribe drink a tea made from the roots and root bark of the plant to see into an ill patient, the plant allows them to understand the nature of their ailment and to help heal the patient. Many tribes throughout the Amazonian River basin add Brunfelsia Grandiflora leaves, roots and root bark into their Ayahuasca brews, to produce a brew that was blessed by the plant and animal spirits.
TRADITIONAL PREPARATION: There are several different preparation methods used by the Amazonian Indians, but the most common method was to make a tea from the roots and bark of the plant. The Shuar Indians made a potent tea using the leaves, roots and bark and then straining out the plant materials. Other Indian tribes use a cold water extraction, by shaving the bark from the roots and stems and then allowing them to soak in cold water until much of the active alkaloids are leeched into the water. Another common preparation used by the Indians was to extract the active compounds into an alcohol mixture. They used about 2 ounces (50 grams) of the root, macerated it and allowed it to soak in 34 ounces (1 liter) of cane juice alcohol. The Jibaro make a version of Ayahuasca, boiling Banisteriopsis Caapi vines, Brunfelsia Grandiflora roots and another vine only known as Hiaji. The Banisteriopsis vines are boiled for 14 hours, after which all the other ingredients were added and boiled until only the thick dark residue remained. In the Yabarana tribe, the leaves were routinely dried, crushed, mixed with tobacco and smoked.
MEDICINAL USES: The Amazonian tribes used this magical plant to treat many different ailments: to treat fevers, symptoms of syphilis, snake bites, yellow fever, and arthritis. They even made a topical rub used to heal minor skin rashes and insect bites. Although it is not widely used in modern Western Medicine, the main active alkaloid in Brunfelsia Grandiflora is Scopoletin; it has been shown to help regulate blood pressure, and has anti-inflammatory properties that are beneficial to those suffering from asthma and other bronchial disorders. Recent research has shown that Scopoletin may also help balance serotonin levels, and this can be very useful for people suffering from depression and various anxiety disorders.
TRADITIONAL EFFECTS: According to early reports, the effects of consuming Manaka Root are not very appealing. The effects include dizziness, exhaustions, nausea, uncountable salivation, muscle weakness, lethargy, facial paralysis, mouth pains, swollen tongue, numbness in the extremities, tingling sensations, tremors, feeling of unbearable cold and blurred vision. At higher does, there are reports of delirium, sustained mental confusion, and possible blindness. Modern reports liken then experience to an overdose of nicotine for non-smokers. Jonathon Ott has commented on his personal Brunfelsia experience stating that his self experiments with Brunfelsia nearly killed him.
Gilman, Edward. 1999. Brunfelsia Grandiflora. University of Florida. PDF.
Rain Tree Nutrition. 2007. Manaca (Brunfelsia uniflora). Rain-tree.com
Ratsch, Christian. 2005. The Encyclopedia of Psychoactive Plants: Ethnopharmacology and Its Applications. Park Street Press; Rochester, VT.
Schultes, Richard E; Hofmann, Albert; Ratsch, Christian. 2001. Plants of the Gods: Their Sacred, Healing and Hallucinogenic Powers. Healing Arts Press; Rochester, VT.