Brugmansia spp.

Alistair Hay, one of the authors of the truly exquisite book Huanduj: Brugmansia, affirms that “the Incan people were relative newcomers to the Peruvian scene, bringing diverse Indigenous groups under their domination, and they came late in their history to embrace the sacred plants which had long been a central part of the religious cultures of those they conquered: the hallucinogenic brugmansias were among the most important to them.”

He goes on to say that brugmansias “are without question the elite South American entheogens, usually reserved for the ultimate in shamanic training, the most difficult cases of divination and healing, for the fiercest of warriors and the most courageous and skilled of shamans.”

Confirming this idea, anthropologist Glenn H. Shepard, Jr. maintains that, according to what he has observed in the Peruvian Amazon, “A larger, vision-inducing dose of Brugmansia infusion may be given orally as a last resort to treat people with incurable illnesses, witchcraft or severe accidents. This preparation is considered to be the most intoxicating (kepigari) and strongest of all medicines…Brugmansia is the open-heart surgery of the Matsigenka—a final resort to the highest medical authority, reserved only for the most drastic cases.”

In an article by Arteaga de García from the specialized academic research publication Revista Colombiana de Ciencias Químico-Farmaceúticas on Brugmansias as a promising species for the production of tropane alkaloids, especially scopolamine and atropine, which are used in anticholinergic drugs to treat chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder and overactive bladder as well as to alleviate the nausea associated with motion sickness and chemotherapy treatments, the leaves and flowers of Brugmansia sanguinea were found to have especially high concentrations of these compounds. 

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