What Is Yopo And How To Use It
3 min

What Is Yopo And How To Use It

3 min
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For at least 4000 years, yopo has been used by shaman in South America to induce altered states of consciousness. Preparing and using yopo at home lets you explore these ancient realms. Learn the what and how of yopo in this Zamnesia guide.


Yopo is a large legume tree native to the Caribbean and South America. Anadenanthera peregrina grows to twenty metres and produces copious amounts of seed pods. Importantly, within each pod are between three and ten flat beans or seeds. When prepared and dried, these seeds become a potent psychedelic. The shamanic use and history of yopo, jopo, cohoba, parica, or calcium tree disappears into the mists of time. Europeans first described its use in 1571, and contemporary archeology dates yopo paraphenalia from Argentina at 4000 years old.

The DMT family star as the primary active ingredients in yopo - 5-MeO-DMT, 2,9-dimethyltryptoline, and DMT-oxide to name a few - but they are not the only alkaloids present in the seeds. There are a number of other active ingredients in the fruit and bark of the yopo tree, such as bufotenin, catechol, methyltryptamine, and saponarentin.

Yopo is of particular interest because it contains monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs) and bufotenin. However, it is unclear if the bufotenin is active or chemically “locked” and unavailable.


What Are The Effects Of Yopo?

Yopo initiates a short, intense trip similar in many ways to DMT. Intense visuals of geometric patterns, visions of death and rebirth, and dissolution of the ego are all common themes.

Traditionally (and most effectively), the yopo preparation is insufflated or snorted. Most often, a fellow traveller blows yopo deep into the acolyte’s nostrils. Trying to snort the yopo powder without assistance is quite the physical challenge. The powder is caustic and irritating, and one usually gives up before enough has been consumed to achieve the full effect.

An assistant guarantees a correct yet uncomfortable dose all at once. It pays not to swallow any secretions that leak down the back of the throat. The risk of nausea and vomiting is already high; swallowing this alkaline slime will guarantee a nasty-tasting purge.

Once you have given your ticket to the hyperdimensional conductor, effects can be first felt within 5-10 minutes. Full effects come on between 10-20 minutes and peak after 20-30 minutes. A 10-20 minute come-down, followed by an hour or two of pleasant after-effects can be experienced as well.

HISTORY of yopo

History Of Yopo

For thousands of years, South American shaman have used yopo as a psychedelic snuff. Indigenous cultures have allowed it to help shape their spiritual landscape. The earliest evidence of yopo use was in Inca Cueva, Argentina. The puma bone pipes and Anadenanthera peregrina seeds were radiocarbon dated at 2130 BC, indicating yopo use spanning over 4000 years. Similarly, snuff trays and pipes were uncovered on the central Peruvian coast that dated back to 1200 BC.

There was significant use of this psychedelic throughout South America. It was used by indigenous tribes of the Orinoco basin in Columbia, Venezuela and the southern Brazilian Amazon. Further north in the Caribbean, Puerto Rico and La Española tribes also used yopo for ceremonial and medical purposes.

Today, the modern psychonaut is finding yopo to be another tool for experimentations with consciousness. Yopo is readily available in smart shops and is quite legal. Legality makes this well-respected and ancient plant medicine a great alternative to substances that might get you jail time. With some simple home preparations, it is possible to journey into the realms of ancient lore.


Preparation Of Yopo

Like so many alkaloids, yopo is not as appealing to the taste buds as one would like it to be - quite the contrary. It seems like anything that contains DMT is nasty. It must be the nature of alkaloids to be uncomfortable to snort, drink, or smoke. It is nature's great joke that this amazing compound doesn’t taste like double chocolate chip brownies.

What you will need:

  • Yopo seeds
  • Food grade lime (calcium hydroxide)
  • Baking soda
  • Frying pan
  • Mortar and pestle (coffee grinder or food processor)
  • Water


  1. Gently roast the yopo seeds in the fry pan until they split or pop open. This can take half an hour.
  2. Remove the kernels and continue to roast them until crunchy.
  3. Process the dried kernels into a fine powder, the finer the better.
  4. Add lime at half the amount of your crushed yopo powder.
  5. Add baking soda at half the amount of crushed yopo powder.
  6. Add a few drops of water and combine into a thick paste.
  7. Leave paste to dry thoroughly or gently dry in fry pan (don’t burn it; it is just dreadful when burnt or singed).
  8. When dry, process into a fine powder.
  9. Consume as a snuff.


Yopo Dosage & Advice

The more yopo you use, the more intense the experience will be. The duration of effects is the same, only you will go deeper down the rabbit hole. Yopo is effective at a minimum dose of 1-2 seeds, providing a mild experience. 2-3 seeds gives a moderate intensity, and 4 seeds or more induces a heavy experience.

It is wise to start off small and work up to larger doses. As with all psychedelic experimentation, pinpoint your tolerance first. DMT can really rattle some people, so easy does it for first timers.

For full effects, get someone to blow the powder into your nose. The unpleasant feeling of snorting yopo on your own might end with you not getting the desired dose. Having someone use a straw or thin pipe to force the powder into both nostrils is the most effective method.

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During the early onset, yopo can induce nausea, headaches, dizziness, and sometimes vomiting at higher doses. To make the experience more pleasant, it helps to have an empty stomach. You don’t necessarily need to fast, but plan to not eat for a few hours before your journey.

Set and setting, mindframe, and mood play an important part in any psychedelic exploration. Meditating, doing yoga, or deep breathing beforehand helps prepare and calm the mind for a positive experience. Be warned. Yopo is an intense psychedelic. Start off with the smallest dose to avoid an uncomfortable first trip.

Yopo is a legal way to venture into the dream world explored by ancient indigenous people for thousands of years. Whether you want to be a serious envelope-pushing psychonaut or just want to trip balls, yopo is an interesting and powerful additive to any psychedelic pharmacopoeia.

Electric Wombat

Written by: Grant Robinson
Artist and Writer, Grant Robinson is a pro gardener with a big love for the outdoors. When not growing, he tends to be working on art, enjoying nature with his dog, or even making his own clothes!

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