Identification of N,N-dimethyltryptamine and beta-carbolines in psychotropic ayahuasca beverage


Recently many people have shown great interest in traditional indigenous practices and popular medicine, involving the ingestion of natural psychotropic drugs. We received a request to analyze and determine the nature of a dark green liquid with a dark brown plant sediment, which the police had seized at an airport and inside the home of a person belonging to the ‘Santo Daime’ religious movement. Gas chromatography/mass spectrometry analysis of the extract identified N,N-dimethyltryptamine, a potent hallucinogen, and the β-carboline alkaloids harmine and harmaline, revealing monoamine oxidase A-inhibiting properties. These substances are typical components of Ayahuasca, a South American psychotropic beverage obtained by boiling the bark of the liana Banisteriopsis caapi together with the leaves of various admixture plants, principally Psychotria viridis.

Gambelunghe, C., Aroni, K., Rossi, R., Moretti, L., & Bacci, M. (2008). Identification of N, N‐dimethyltryptamine and β‐carbolines in psychotropic ayahuasca beverage. Biomedical Chromatography, 22(10), 1056-1059. 10.1002/bmc.1023
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