My teacher don Roberto Acho is well known as a sananguero — that is, an expert in the use of a group of plants collectively known as sanango. The best known of these plants is chiricsanango (Brunfelsia grandiflora).

In fact, there are two primary Brunfelsia species, B. grandifloria and B. chiricaspi. Both of these plants are called chiricsanango; but the first is also called chuchuhuasha, and the second is also called chiricaspi. Note that chuchuhuasha is a different plant from chuchuhuasi (Maytenus macrocarpa), although understandably their names are sometimes confused. Note that the Quechua term chiric, cold, chills, appears in the name of both chiricsanango and chiricaspi.

Just to add to the confusion, the poet César Calvo distinguishes — on what basis I do not know — between red and white chuchuhuasha.

But wait! There is more confusion. The sanangos include not only chiricsanango but also motelosanango (Abuta grandifolia); a variety of species in the genus Tabernaemontana, called, without much consistency, lobosanango, uchosanango, or yacusanango; a variety of species in the genus Bonafousia, called cocasanango or sanango macho; and a variety of species in the genus Faramea, called caballosanango or, again, yacusanango. Just about any of these species may be called, simply, sanango.

It is not clear to me what these plants have in common. Chiricsanango causes chills and tingling when ingested, and is thus considered a cold plant, used to treat hot conditions — fever, diarrhea, wounds, and inflammations. Motelosanango is a hot plant, which has, as mestizo shaman Manuel Córdova says, “the effect of warming the blood,” and is thus used to treat cold conditions, such as arthritis, rheumatism, and erectile dysfunction. I can detect no overriding physical resemblance among the sanangos; for example, look at a picture of motelosanango on the left, above, and chiricsanango on the right.

I would be very grateful if anyone could straighten this out for me.

Putting all this confusion aside, there is no doubt that chiricsanango is a powerful plant. The medicine is made as a decoction of the leaves or bark, or as an infusion of the roots. The plant contains an alkaloid named scopoletin, but the effects of scopoletin are very different from those of the scopolamine in toé. The effect of ingesting chiricsanango can be dramatic — a tingling and vibrating sensation in the extremities, moving inward toward the head with ever-increasing intensity; periodic waves of cold; tremors, electric vibrations penetrating the chest and back, stomach cramps, nausea, dizziness, vertigo, loss of coordination.

It is thus not at all clear to me whether chiricsanango has an independent psychoactive effect, or whether altered consciousness is a result of its powerful physical effects; scopoletin is not itself known to be psychoactive. But there is no question that chiricsanango is a very powerful ally, a healer, a strong protector, once it has shaken your bones.

1 comment:

  1. My teachings from Valentin, MD., neurosurgeon, psychiatrist and shaman...
    We used chiric sanango foremost as a nerve tonic. I often put this in my ayahuasca and can feel it's calming effects on my nerves. Taken alone, sipped very slowly and stopping the moment you feel the sensations in your lips and fingers, makes for an excellent medication. If you don't stop, it can kill you. This is a plant, as is datura and toe, that is not to be played with. Very powerful and is one of the plants that I always suggest people diet with, but not the first one. It's a master.