Yopo - A Sacred Medicine of South America

Yopo is a powder made of Anadenanthera peregrina seeds . The Anadenanthera peregrina is a perennial tree growing in the Caribbean and South America . In size it can reach up to 20 m.


yopo tree


The Yopo is known to the Europeans since Colombus second voyage , when in 1496 he reached the shores of Haiti . Friar Ramon Pane , a participant in the expedition describes :

“The shaman takes a certain powder called cohoba snuffing it up his nose, which intoxicates them so they do not know what they do…” 


Cohoba is one of the many names the sacred powder has . Depending on the region it is also called  Jopo , Mopo , Nopo and Paric 


The Yopo is made by toasting the seeds of the plant . It is a vital part of the ceremonies and the sacred rituals of the South American tribes for centuries . There are evidences that Yopo has been used for more than 4000 years . The oldest know definitive evidence is dated 2130 BC . It is a puma-bone smoking pipe found in Peru , containing traces of DMT . Snuff trays and tubes also found in Peru , dated back to 1200 BC , are another proof of its long history .


yopo shamanic ritual


The DMT is one of the psycho-active compounds in Yopo . It also contains Bufotenin and 5-MeO-DMT . All of these provide  strong psychedelic effects .


Special tubes are used for snuffing the Yopo . For achieving maximum effect and letting more powder enter the nose , a person blows it to another person’s nostrils using the tube . The tubes are usually made of bamboo or bird bones . It can be with single straight tube or Y , V-shaped such .  It isn’t an easy task to handle these tubes however . To properly use it a person requires preparation and experience .


yopo seeds , tube and powder


When sniffed Yopo may cause nausea and vomiting , but in just a few minutes the person taking it will fall in state beyond the reach of words .


The effects of the Yopo are similar to these of Ayahuasca . The psychedelic experience last for up to three hours . The sacred plant provides vivid visions and a portal to other dimensions . It invokes the healing energies in the human's body . The Yopo is part of the South American culture from time immemorial and it holds deep ritual significance . The intake of the powder causes quite a pain , but allows the participants in the ceremony to enter other realms of existence and to communicate with the spirits .


yopo visions


The Yopo is considered sacred by many indigenous tribes .


It is a medicine that helps them strengthen their mind and body . It is used as remedy for treating variety of deceases , but most importantly it is a tool . Tool that improves their relation with the spiritual realm and enhances their liaison with the nature . It is a teacher that helped them developing a deep understanding of the world that surrounds them . It is the divine hand of mother nature itself . A gentle hand that guides these who want to learn , these who want to live in peace and harmony with all existence .  


Related Literature

Anadenanthera : Visionary Plant of Ancient South America

by Constantino M Torres , David B Repke


Psychedelics Encyclopedia

by Peter Stafford


The Harvard Psychedelic Club

by Don Lattin


Plants of The Gods Their Sacred, Healing, and Hallucinogenic Powers

by Albert Hofmann , Richard Evans Schultes , Christian Rätsch

The Cosmic Serpent : DNA and the Origins of Knowledge

by Jeremy Narby


The Jaguar Within : Shamanic Trance in Ancient Central and South American Art

by Rebecca R. Stone