To the north-west of the River Amazon, beyond the Orinoco, in the Black River, and extending to the water-sheds and slopes of the Andes, in the falls of the Orinoco, in the rivers Uapes, Meta, Zipapo, Caqueta of the upper Purumayo River, the Napo, and, in a word, in all the tributaries of the Amazon, in the huge valley, lying between Colombia, Ecuador, Peru and Brazil, lives the Malpigeacea, the “Banisteria Quitensis” of Prof. Gilg of Berlin.
The Quechuas Indians, who lived between the rivers Apurimac and Pampa, and who from their characteristics, might show direct descent from the first Inca, Manco-Capac, knew the “Banisteria Quitensis” by the generic name of Yage, meaning “blue dream”.
Under the powerful Inca dynasty, during the five centuries from the beginning of their empire to the arrival of the Spaniards, which was announced to the Inca, Husina-Capac in his Tumipampa palace about the year 1515 by a drinker of Yage, this plant was known under different names. The Gibaros Indians called it “La Tema”, the coloured Indians “Nepa”, the Cayapas “Pinde” and the Yekuanas “Kahi”, and it is quite possible that there, Indians used the narcotic plants “Haemadiction Amazonicum” (Lewin) mixed with Yage.
The true origin of the Inca race is hidden in the past. According to some it was created by Aborigines. Others ascribe to it Mogul origin, on the supposition that Incas are descendants of those members of the expedition sent by Khan against the Japanese in the thirteenth century, whose ships were driven by a storm on the coast of Peru. The strangers gained the respect of the native Peruvians by styling themselves “Children of the Sun”.
According to tradition the Inca dynasty also gained its appellation “Daughter of the Sun” because, after the Flood, the first rays of the sun were seen on the banks of lake Titicaca, where it sent its son, Manco-Capac, with its daughter Mama-Ocllo. It gave them a piece of gold with the injunction that they should wander over the land, and fix it where they wished it to be. This was done and the piece of gold became fixed and disappeared in the summit of Huauacari, where they founded their city, the immortal Cuzco.
Mama-Ocllo, golden haired and radiant as the suns rays, was the goddess who officiated at the sacred rites of the Incas, in which Yage played an important part. Its use and consumption was permitted only to officiating priests and elders, who attributed to Yage clairvoyant and telepathic properties, the whole enshrouded in an aura of mysticism worthy of the high level of Inca culture.
Thus it was that a certain priest was able to foretell the fall of the Empire, which reached its greatest glory under Husina- Capac in 1475. He predicted the fratricidal struggles between Husina-Capacs sons, Atahualpa and the eldest, Huascar-Inca, also known as Ant-Cusi-Huallpa, the arrival of the Spaniards at Tumbes, and the putting to death of Atahualpa by Francisco Pizarro after the battles of Cajamarca.
The Spanish Conquerors, and particularly the priest Valverde, were aware of the magic qualities of Yage, and initiated a violent campaign of denunciation to the Inquisitors of all those who took Yage, or assisted at the rites and ceremonies connected with it. (Ref. Letters of Padre Valverde to the Holy Office, Archivo de Indias, Seville.).
Knowledge of Yage thus disappeared for centuries, until the German traveller and naturalist Baron von Humboldt mentions a mysterious plant in his book, Travels in the Equinoctial Regions of the New Continent. He says it is found in the Upper Amazon and from talks with the inhabitants, add that Bolivar was foretold of the victory of Ayacucho by an old Inca priest who drunk the infusion of this plant in his rites.
Thus it is that “Banisteria Quitensis” or Yage became known again to civilization in the middle of the century. It offered itself to increase mens knowledge, transferred from the slopes of the Andes to laboratories where the brain struggles to reveal Natures secrets.
At the same time, in the middle of the nineteenth century, various Yage drinkers were found in Colombia, and especially in Ecuador, drinkers who had taken the habit to excess so that it had become a vice. Medical science has several workers, well- known homoeopathic pharmacists, who on the basis of the telepathic effects of this plant, have published various treatises on their study of it.
Worthy of mention are L. Lewin, author of Phantastica, and Dr. Guillermo Fischer-Cardenas, of Colombia, who has made a study of it from the chemical and pharmaceutical points of view. He discovered in it an element which he called “Telepatina” with inoffensive characteristics similar to hashish. Dr. A. M. Barriga-Villalba, Prof. of Chemistry in the University of Bogota, has published a profound study on the chemical analysis of the alkaloids of Yage, Boletin de la Sociedad Colombiana de Ciencias Naturales. Un Nuevo Alcoloide 1925. (Ref. Bulletin of the Society of Natural Sciences of Colombia. A New Alkaloid 1925.) The work, Yage (Berthelot, Laboratorios Samper-Martinez, Bogota) is also interesting.
The German medico-pharmaceutical press also treats of the plant in Chemisches Zentralblatt, 1925, II, 1176. It is treated by Professors Perrot and Ramond Amet in their Comptes rendus de lAcademie des Sciences, Tome 184, p. 1266. Mention is given to it in the Bulletin de Sciences Pharmacologiques, 1927, Tome, 34, pp. 337, 417, 500.
The German firm of E. Merck gives an account of the writers Wolfes and Rumpf (Archiv der Pharmazie, 1928, Tome 266, p. 188). These men isolated a chloride of this alkaloid, which, on being analysed, gave a formula which corresponded to the chemical formula obtained by the German investigator Fritsche (Annalen der Chemie und Pharmazie, 1847, Tome 64, p. 365) for the Russian steppe plant called “Peganum Harmala” containing the Harmin alkaloid. According to W.H. Perkin, Robinson, and their collaborators, the constitutional formula of Harmin, and therefore that of Yage, is.
The neurologist Beringer of Heidelberg has a very extensive study of this plant in E. Mercks Jahresbericht, XLII, 1928, based on experiments on test animals set apart for this purpose. The study concludes: “Finally I can give an assurance that, with the chemical equality of Harmin and Yage established, I have been unable to discover symptoms which would denote a therapeutic value in this plant”.
When all the allopathic doctors, including well-known chemists and pharmacologists, had pronounced the Yage plant useless to allopathic therapeutics, I was the first to take it seriously. In 1923, I began to study the problem in the Berlin Pharmacological Institute together with Dr. Joachimoglou, then Professor of Pharmacology in Berlin University. We had both realized the uselessness, from the scientific point of view, of pharmacology to modern therapeutics.
We were in effect able to perceive the series of toxic symptoms, already published by other writers, appearing in test animals such as rats, dogs, cats, rabbits, monkeys, etc. These provided the rapid and classic symptoms, whilst the precious mental symptoms which homoeopathy offers remained unnoticed. It is because this scientific fact was realized that the German Government in August of 1934 declared forbidden the practice of any kind of vivisection on animals and human beings.
With the use of Yage discountenanced in Germany –my own country– by the most outstanding allopaths, I undertook alone the study of the pathogenesis of this plant, the German Homoeopathic Spagyrika Society coming forward to help me. Thus it is that for the first time in the history of German homoeopathy, a medicament such as Yage has been offered for conscientious and profound examination in all its aspects.
In effect, more than 500 samples of Yage were distributed to doctors in all the German speaking countries, Austria, Bohemia, Switzerland, Danzig, etc., so that each one might observe, in a state of perfect health, the symptoms produced by Yage taken internally. Three years of untiring labour were necessary to elucidate the pathogenesis of Yage, which is as follows:.
The patient sees a thick blue mist, imagines himself threatened and persecuted by shades of the dead, carried through the air, and is full of fears. He perspires abundantly. There is a profound and pricking pain in the forehead which spreads along the felt temple to the occiput. He feels great uneasiness and moves about excitedly from side to side. His face reddens, eyes gleam, mouth becomes dry and thirst intense. Heat makes him worse. He talks heatedly, without knowing what he is saying, and gesticulates, mainly with the right arm, the movements of the left being slower and sluggish. He begins to jump and dance, with the sensation of walking on air, and the excessive physical exercise does not tire him.
There comes then a paralysis of the right side, particularly of the extremities, which are dragged on the ground. The patient feels head tremors which revolve rapidly from right to left. He stutters and it is a great effort for him to speak. In this state, there is an abundant secretion from the sublingual glands, producing sickness and vomiting. There is a shivering round the spine, and a heavy feeling in the lumbar region. The peristalsis increases, giving rise to abundant defaecation of normal colour and formation.
The secretion of urine increases considerably, and is of a blue fluorescent colour, with an odour of Moschus. In the liver, the patient feels intense pricking pains which grow worse at night, and with increased heat. There is a bitter bilious vomiting, which alternates with a taste of myrrh. In women, particularly in those inclined to hysteria, this produces symptoms of well-being which calms them. Sexual desire increases. The scrotum of men aged over 50 relaxes and contracts. There are supportable pains in the prostate and testicles. Women, on the other hand, suffer intense pain in the right ovary.
There is a general sapping of vitality, and loss of memory to such an extent that the patient cannot remember acts committed five minutes previously. His gaze is fixed in space, and from his open mouth flow thin streams of saliva. The tongue is paralysed, and sounds emitted are guttural and inarticulate. There comes a complete loss of consciousness. Children kick and stamp, are very fidgety, digest badly, and complain of severe headaches, going from the middle of the forehead to the left side. The patient feels himself pursued by unreal beings.
There is a horror of reading. The patient usually says, “Doctor, each time I read, or look at figures, my mind becomes more confused.” If the patient is at all sensitive to noise, this produces in him a state of excessive general nervousness. The cardiac function is accelerated, and there is oedema of the heart, as of the feet and legs. The patient gets worse chiefly at the change of the moon, during the new and the full phases. He is afraid of being alone at night and utters desperate cries without reason.
He detests his greatest friends with a fierce hate, whilst those for whom he formerly felt antipathy are now most dear to him. His condition corresponds in general to the Lycopodium and Nux vomica types, with paralysis agitans in the right arm, and when he has to concentrate his imagination, his trembling increases. The right leg is paralysed and is moved with difficulty. The pupils are the eyes do not react to light, but the patellar reflexes remain intact.
The patient becomes faint, loses consciousness, and falls to the ground with strong convulsions at the extremities, foams at the mouth and bites his tongue. This continued for a few minutes, until the convulsion begins slowly to pass off, and the patient falls into a deep sleep.
In the symptomatic description of Yage, symptomatic totality must always be taken into account to achieve a perfect administration of remedies. The following case provides an interesting example of the totality. A patient, aged 36, living at Lankwitz, Berlin, called me for a consultation. His clinical diagnosis was: a fat man, sanguine, who spoke with difficulty. He had a splitting headache and would not allow me to touch him, nor to approach him as he lay in bed (Belladonna), because the slightest movement made the feeling of pain more intense. The pupils of his eyes were contracted and did not react to light.
The right leg and arm were completely paralysed (Yage). Muscular atrophy was observable. He was constantly seeing visions, and the spirits of his dead parents. He saw a blue mist, like tobacco smoke, in his room. He was very excited, and had an access of fury in my presence, his limbs contracting and kicking, crying out at the top of his voice and gnashing his teeth. A quarter of an hour later he fell into a profound stupor and slept soundly.
This case shows symptoms very similar to those produced by Yage, which cured the patient. He had first to be given its complement, which is Belladonna. One single dose of Bell. m. was sufficient. Four weeks later, he came from Lankwitz to my consulting room in Berlin, where I gave him Yage 200. This was necessary so as to effect a radical cure. From this case one can note that the homoeopath, when prescribing Yage either hypodermically or internally, must always take into account then symptomatic totality above indicated.
It is to Hahnemann to whom we owe the pleasant system of prescribing pure homoeopath, that is, by administering one single medicament corresponding to the pathologic symptom for each illness. The Master taught us to obtain these medicaments from the vegetable, animal and mineral kingdoms. The technique, so simple as it was, consisted in making a tincture of vegetable origin and a maceration of the plant in alcohol, called the “Mother Tincture” by Hahnemann and made duly potent, which was in this form drunk by the healthy patient who was to control objectively and subjectively the symptoms capable of being produced in the organism by any plant.
From the time of Hahnemann to the present day physical chemistry and biology have made rapid progress, on a level with medicine. By virtue of the steps forward from the scientific point of view, which have crowded on each other since the middle of last century, homoeopathy has equally advanced further and further in the direction of scientific perfection, clearly defined.
These advances noted in the field of chemistry, such as the discovery of vitamins, hormones, etc., have obliged German homoeopaths to resuscitate the great treasures left by their illustrious fighting teacher, doctor, and philosopher, Teophrastus Bombastus Paracelsus von Hohenheim, in his Ars Spagyrika. He it was who detailed for us a method whereby the tinctures and dilutions of vegetable origin give their purest and clearest pathogenesis.
We all know that medicinal plant often contains alkaloids, enzymes, albuminoids, vitamins, etc. The homoeopath, in making him prescription, should not forget these elements along with the specific nature of the plant. We also know that the unifier, Alcohol, will destroy, or lessen by half, when in other bodies, those innate elements of the plant which we wish to administer. Therefore, to obtain from a plant its maximum effect, we must prepare these elements according to the methods described by Paracelsus in his Ars Spagyrika.
For these reasons of a chemico-biological nature, I affirm that the pathogenesis of the Spagyrika tinctures are richer, more profound, active, and efficacious; the pathogenesis of the Hahnemannian tinctures, on the other hand, are diffuse and partial. A parallel examination of Spagyrika and Hahnemannian medicaments will amply justify this assertion, based, as it is, on clinical practice, and not the other way round, as is the custom and tradition in allopathic medicine. These Paracelsian Spagyrika medicines can be obtained by any homoeopath from the Iso-Work Factory, Regensburg, Germany.
For the perfect use of Yage the following table is to indicate the complementary and similar medicaments, which antecede or follow Yage.
Period of Aggravation.
Half a day and one night.
Remedies that follow well.
60 to 100 days.
The object has been, therefore to provide homoeopathic therapeutics with a new medicament, unknown before, of which the efficacious qualities will help both doctor and patient. Thus, we have here further proof of the postulate of pure medicine, “Similia Similibus Curentur”.
Madrid, September 1933.
(Translation from German: T. C. Oldfield).