What Banisteriopsis Caapi (Ayahuasca Vine) Does To Your Brain
Posted by CHAD H
Banisteriopsis Caapi (Ayahuasca Vine) can elevate brain health in unique ways - from stimulating the growth of new neurons to strengthening the brain’s ability to adapt, heal, and learn. B Caapi allows us to objectively evaluate memories and increases awareness of our own thoughts which enables our brains to override previous traumatic patterns with new insights.
Banisteriopsis Caapi stimulates the growth of new neurons and increases Brain Derived Neurotrophic Factor (BDNF)
Independent of the psychedelic experience brought on by DMT, Banisteriopsis Caapi the pure vine of Ayahuasca, triggers neuroplasticity - the brain’s ability to adapt, heal, and transform. Alkaloids of the B. cappi vine (harmine, harmaline, and tetrahydroharmine) stimulate the growth of new neurons and increase Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor (BDNF).
BDNF is like Miracle-Gro for the brain. It improves the function of neurons, helps them grow, and strengthens/protects them from premature cell death. It binds to receptors at synapses (connections to neighboring neurons), to improve signal strength between neurons. BDNF creates and maintains neural pathways that allow neurotransmitters like dopamine, epinephrine, and serotonin to function.
Alkaloids of Banisteriopsis Caapi, harmine and tetrahydroharmine, increase neuronal development
The Beckley Foundation shared research on the magnitude of Ayahuasca’s impact on brain cell development in the hippocampus. Stem cells from the hippocampus were placed in a petri dish and experienced a significantly increased rate of cell development when harmine and tetrahydroharmine were added. The images below will show you the level of existing neurons (blue), new neurons (green), and mature neurons (red) in a control petri dish, in a petri dish with harmine, and in a petri dish with tetrahydroharmine.
This first image shows the control where saline (salty water) was added to the cell cultures. As you can see, after a few days these stem cells have only developed into a few young neurons.
The second image shows a remarkable increase in both young (green) and mature (red) neurons when harmine is added. Blue is still present because it marks each cell.
In like fashion with harmine, after injection of tetrahydroharmine, the new and mature neural development skyrocketed.
But what does this increase of brain cell development functionally mean for a person? Pubmed reported that the beta-carboline harmine, a main constituent of ayahuasca, “may have neuroprotective and cognitive-enhancing effects, and… prolonged use is associated with better neuropsychological functioning… Harmine is associated with reduced inflammation and oxidative stress and increased brain-derived neurotrophic factor along with memory and learning improvements.
Ayahuasca allows us to objectively evaluate memories and increases awareness of our own thoughts.
Ayahuasca use results in increased activity in areas of the brain implicated in emotional regulation, short term memory, and long term autobiographical memory (a complex blend of memories of single, recurring, and extended events that individuals combine into a story/explanation of themselves).
The frontal polar cortex, which is implicated in increased awareness of an individual’s own thoughts is also stimulated. This suggests that ayahuasca increases the ability that we have to investigate or to see our own thoughts objectively.
Ayahuasca allows the conscious part of the brain to override previous traumatic patterns
Ayahuasca “causes the brain’s neocortex to become hyperactivated. The neocortex is responsible for motor functions, sensory perception, conscious thought and language — in order words, it’s what allows us to know ourselves and to interact with the world. This is where we perceive, reason and make decisions.
Ayahuasca hyperactivates the entire brain region where we store and process emotional memory while simultaneously activating the insula, the part of the brain that links emotional impulses and decision making. This hyperactivation enables the conscious part of the new brain to temporarily override previously entrenched patterns, allowing new connections to be made.”
This process allows memories to be reevaluated and experiences addressed with more distance from the reflexive reactions to previous trauma.
Harmine may alleviate symptoms of Parkinson’s
Many Parkinson’s patients treated with Banisteriopsis caapi experienced an increase in function, so a team of doctors began a study to examine its effects more closely. Dopamine deficiency is characteristic of Parkinson's disease and most treatments aim at elevating levels of dopamine or preventing it’s breakdown through an MAO inhibitor. In their study, they found that extracts of harmine and harmaline, beta-carbolines of Banisteriopsis caapi, caused a “highly significant increase in release of <3H>dopamine from rat striatal slices, as did 200 microM harmine and 6 microM harmaline.”
Although the amount of harmine present couldn’t account for the total activity of the extract, “the ability of harmine and harmaline to stimulate dopamine release is a novel finding. These results give some basis to the reputed usefulness of B. caapi stem extract in the treatment of Parkinson’s Disease.”
More amazing health benefits from harmine
Harmine alkaloids can also decrease systemic arterial blood pressure, act as a vasorelaxant, and serve as a bronchodilator. They produce antidiabetic, antimicrobial, antifungal, and antiparasitic effects while treating some bone diseases by reducing bone loss. Pubmed has also established the usefulness of Banisteriopsis caapi in alleviating symptoms of neurological disorders including Parkinson’s disease.
Can Microdosing Banisteriopsis Caapi Change The Brain or is a Full Ayahuasca Ceremony Necessary?
When it comes to the brain-enhancing elements of Ayahuasca, a full psychedelic ceremony is probably unnecessary. After all, the alkaloids of banisteriopsis cappi, harmine, harmaline, and tetrahydroharmine (which are non-psychoactive) are responsible for most of the neurological changes. Therefore, it stands to reason that by microdosing the pure ayahuasca vine, a person can experience neurological improvements over time.