Ayahuasca Shamans and the Healing Plants of the Amazon Rainforest of Peru

Artidoro Aro Cardenas

We have worked with Maestro Artidoro on our previous Amazon Retreats, and again we were greatly impressed with his knowledge of medicinal and power plants, and his compassion and support for the participants. Although Artidoro is Mestizo he has lived amongst the Ashaninka Indians for many years, and has learned their languages which result in that many of his chants come from a variety of indigenous groups including the Ashaninka, Cashibo, and Capanaua .He has started his own centre near Iquitos.

Javier Arevalo
We have worked with Javier since the late ’90s on our Retreats, we also brought him to the UK for a special Amazonian Medicine camp in 2002. We are greatly impressed and moved by his dedication, and his commitment to the demanding rigours of an Amazonian shaman.It is fair to say that everybody who has worked with Javier has been touched by his kindness, compassion , humour, and spirit.

The Plants


Chiric in Quechua, means tickling or itching feeling, or like a nervous cold you feel when afraid. It has many properties, for example fishermen and loggers use it because they spend time in contact with water. Thus they suffer arthritis for which this plant is very effective. Not too much though, because it makes your mouth go numb and can make you giddy. It can also be used in emplasts for the sight and swollen eyes. If you carry things a lot, sweat can trickle into the eyes and irritate. It has the effect of warming up the body physically, and also opens up the heart emotionally.

It can be prepared in water, in aguardiente or made into syrup. It can be raw or cooked – better to penetrate to the bones – or take as syrup if the person is very unwell and in pain. It is good for deep chills in the body or serious arthritis, and after operations and hernias.

For use as a teacher plant in the context of a ‘diet’, it is best taken in water. It opens the mind and the heart, and the pores so you transpire alot. It makes you active, so it is best followed up with a bath. It is not recommended if you have kidney problems as it heats you. You can extract the starch for making ointments for massage. The flowers can be used in floral baths and are white or brown. Mocapari is the Ashaninka name.


Introduced into the nose, it warms the area locally, and it is effective for curing sinusitis. It also helps eyesight which is also deteriorated by the cold in this case. You eliminate a lot of mucus and this gives relief. The fruit when ripe is normally eaten peeled or roasted, and is a little like the aguaje fruit, but for medicinal uses it must be green. It is also good for tired feet in an emplast.
Taken orally it is useful for the liver when struggling with the digestion of fat, it is also a treatment for gases. Fungal spores in the nose can cause itching, rhinitis or allergy and Sachamangua is effective for this too. Athlete’s foot can also be treated with the dry powder, like talcum powder, prepared from this fruit.


Most commonly, it is used in floral baths for changing ‘luck’. You can find after a couple of weeks, things have changed, you find a job or whatever. It is also cooked in water and taken orally for interior fevers. In aguardiente it stops hair loss, if applied to the scalp directly. Taken macerated in alcohol, it can help one to find tranquillity when agitated and irritable.

Pinon colorado

Like Mocura, can be used in floral baths for undoing sorcery and harm. Also used in steam baths when you can see the phlegm appearing on the skin. Cooked in water it can be a purgative for parasites in the stomach and intestines. Two seed are crushed for a child, six for an adult.
The crushed leaves are good for cleaning the anus when it is itchy.
It is also a teacher plant to be ‘dieted’. If the rules are not respected it can work against you and make you worse! There are three varieties, white, black and red.

Good for skin problems and wounds… and therefore used after cuts have been deliberately made to make blood brothers. Splinters of chonta are used to do this. Not only does it heal but the scars recover the colour of normal skin. All the shamans of the Rio Napo do this, to speed up their apprenticeships by transmitting the wisdom from an older generation. The scares are made to take the form of an armadillo (protection). You can fall from high branches of trees, suffer burns and recover quickly.


It comes in two varieties, a high tree with a thick trunk and a small slim tree with little leaves. It is the same tree as tornillo which is good timber. The branch can be bent double without breaking, and is good for doing yoga and for flexibility in general.

It is good for prolepses, chronic diarrhoea, hepatitis, arthritis, broken bones, and cold in the body. As a teacher plant it is good for disorientation, and sense of being lost.
After drinking you need to take a shower as it makes you sweat out all the toxins.

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