Chiric Sanango (Brunfelsia Grandiflora) is a plant famous for its use in Amazonian plant dietas. It is known as a plant that is somewhat difficult to diet, and is a powerful master teacher plant.
It is one of the Sanangos, along with Uchu Sanango (which is the plant from which liquid Sananga is made – read this article for more info about the Uchu Sanango Dieta). Chiric Sanango and Uchu Sanango are completely unrelated biologically and taxonomically, they are both known as the “Sanangos” because that is a title given to intense healing plants teachers.
“Chiric”, in Quechua, means ‘cold’ (not temperature, but the phenomenon of chills when you are sick), which refers to the chills you feel when you drink it. “Uchu”, in Quechua means “spicy or chili” which refers to the burning sensation of drinking Uchu Sanango / Sananga.
There is also an alternative spelling of “Shiric Sanango” which is the same plant as “Chiric Sanango“.
Our webshop does not sell Chiric Sanango. We are aware of the potential health risks of Chiric Sanango consumption – although we always ensure that our products are labeled as raw botanical samples and absolutely none of our products are sold for human consumption. This is a research article and in no ways intended to be produced for commercial intent.
Introduction to Chiric Sanango
Chiric Sanango (B. Grandiflora) is widely recognized in its use in the upper Amazon for its potent effects. Its identity in western literature has long been obfuscated due to misidentifications and confused reports. The most widely known native names for this plant by natives are “chiricapsi” and “chiric sanango”.
In 1967, the famous ethnobotanist Richard Evans Schultes brought the plant into the spotlight for its possible shamanic ritual and divinatory uses by the Colombian Putumayo peoples. He suggested that in the past the species may have been very widespread in its use – but with the great reduction of native populations its usage and knowledge of the plant died out with the natives.
Chiric Sanango (B. Grandiflora) grows throughout South America in the Amazon, mainly in the North and West sides of the continent. Its range spreads from Venezuela down to Bolivia – through Colombia, Ecuador, Peru and Brazil. However, only those native peoples on the most western side of the continent use it.
There is a subspecies of B. Grandiflora subsp. Schultesii named after Richard Evans Schultes. It was Timothy Plowman who named the species (we reference Plowman again in this article with some fun trivia about him, ayahuasca and Terrance McKenna).
This plant is used for a multitude of purposes. In low doses, it is a medicine and narcotic. In high doses, it can be a poison.
The Chiric Sanango Plant – Brunfelsia Grandiflora
Brunfelsia grandiflora seeds
Brunfelsia grandiflora alkaloids
The alkaloids found in Brunfelsia grandiflora are aesculetin, scopoletin, brunfelsamidine, cuscohygrine, and scopolamine. These alkaloids are found all throughout the plant – in the leaves, stems, roots, and bark.
Brunfelsamidine is specific to these Brunfelsia plants, and is noted for its affects as a convulsant that both can hurt or harm the person consuming it depending on context and dosage. If you read more in the below section about “Brunfelsia Uniflora”, you can read the early chemical history of how Germans and Americans first extracted these Brunfelsia alkaloids from the plant and tested them on humans and animals alike.
These alkaloids are not surprising because the plant is taxonomically classified in the “Solanaceae” family, which are the nightshades. The pyrrolidine alkaloids, such as cuscohygrine, and tropane alkaloids, such as scopolamine (also called hyoscine), are found in other plants in this family such as henbane and datura. This alkaloid is used to treat motion sickness, nausea, and vomiting and has many medicinal applications as anesthesia at low doses. At high doses, it can be harmful and cause delirium in humans. The secret police of Czechoslovakia would use it as a truth serum.
Scopoletin has a history of use in Traditional Chinese Medicine in rheumaticc arthritis therapy, which connects well with the idea of Brunfelsia being a natural treatment for arthritis and joint problems.
Aesculetin is also found in chicory, and is actually fluorescent blue when isolated.
The genus “Brunfelsia” and Chiric Sanango’s most famous relatives
The genus Brunfelsia belongs to the alkaloid-rich family of Solanaceae plants. Brunfelsia is a genus which as of the year 1977 contained 42 species of small trees and shrubs. 22 species are in the West Indies, and 20 species are found in South America.
We are going to cover these other Brunfelsias in this article because they have similar properties to B. Grandiflora and we want you to have a comprehensive look at all of these purple flowered beauties in one spot.
The many species of Brunfelsia have been recognized by the native peoples of South America for their healing and medicinal properties. Many of them are cultivated by the natives specifically for their medicinal effects and are household names. The effects of the many plants have been discovered independently by the many different tribes, and its use spreads across many unconnected areas of the South American continent.
To this day, Brunfelsia has been under-researched, and much of their chemical and pharmaceutical composition remains unknown. Research done on these subset of Solanaceae plants could be of much great importance in the future, given that there are so many healing properties in this plant family which also contains plants you must already know, like tomatoes.
In this section, we are going to summarize 5 other close relatives to “Chiric Sanango” (Brunfelsia Grandiflora) and talk about their properties.
Brunfelsia Uniflora (Manacá root)
While Chiric Sanango is by far the most famous Brunfelsia among shamanic plant enthusiasts focused on the western Amazon jungle areas of Peru and Ecuador, the species Brunfelsia Uniflora (called Manacá) might be the most well known member of the family worldwide, due to its popularity in Brazil as a traditional medicine. It has the most history and lore surrounding it, as well.
Manacá root is sold in Brazil in health food and herbal remedy shops, and is a very popular folk medicine.
B. uniflora is the most widely distributed species as well, where it grows across Brazil from Sao Paulo in the south all the way up the coast to Belem do Para. It can also be found in the Andes of south Bolivia and northwestern Argentina, and in Venezuela. The plant is native and most prevalent in Brazil.
In Brazil, the plant was known by many different Tupi names. Tupi was the language family that most natives of eastern Brazil who contacted with the Portuguese spoke, and many Tupi words have made their way into modern English such as “toucan” or “jaguar”. The Tupi word for this species as Manacá, which has a meaning of “the most beautiful girl of the tribe”. In Brazil today however, people may use the name Manacá to refer to any purple flowered Brunfelsia plant, much alike how any Erythrina tree in Brazil is called Mulungu. However, in the pharmaceutical and ethnobotany communities, “manacá” and “manacá root” always refers to B. uniflora specifically. The Portuguese might also called this plant “mercurio vegetal”, meaning “mercury vegetable” in reference to its ability to treat syphilis.
When the Portuguese first came to Brazil, they found the natives using these nice purple Brunfelsia flowers by the medicine men, for both medicinal and divinatory purposes. The natives would use an extract of the root as an arrow poison, which is ironic because that same root extract is used for healing humans.
Manacá was first mentioned in 1648 in a book titled “De Medicina Brasiliensi” by a Dutch physician Willem Piso who travelled to Brazil between 1637 and 1644 with the German Georg Marcgraf. They were working to discover the new healing plants of the Americas, and made botanical drawings and remarked the traditions of how the natives would use the plants medicinally. They specifically noted how the roots would be used as a purgative, to make the drinker vomit. The plant later went on to be formally defined scientifically in 1827 as “Franciscea uniflora” and renamed to “Brunfelsia uniflora” in 1829 by David Don to fit it in with the rest of the Brunfelsia flowers which had already been earlier discovered. In 1843, the following passage was written by a man named “von Martius”, who was an expert on Brazilian plants:
The whole plant, most of all the large root, stimulates the lymphatic system with great efficacy. It melts away the disease-producing parts and eliminates sweat and urine. It is very useful in syphilis and is called ‘vegetable mercury’ by some. The inner bark and all the herbvaceous parts have a nauseating bitterness and are effective for fauces vellicantes. A small dose relaxes the body. A larger dose moves the bowels and the urine, produces abortion and expels the venom and snakebites. An excessive dose acts like a bitter poison.
Other reports spoke about how consumption of this plant in high doses would use to produce “delirium” in the natives who would consume it. See the following report by Tastevin in 1922:
One kind of manacá has the property of causing intoxication, blindness and retention of urine during the day; but after having drunk the infusion of the root or bark of this tree, a man is always happy in his hunting in fishing.
It is a big “meme” amongst reports on jungle medicines that are sought by foreigners that they aid in one’s ability with hunting and fishing. This is particularly interesting because the common man today does not hunt or fish, and while he sits in the modern world that conceptual “hunting muscle” of the mind is not exercised at all. There could be the idea that a modern western man who goes to the jungle and indulges in hunting medicine plants might be helped with his ability to set and achieve his goals and navigate the world around him where modern life offers little formal training for it.
The roots of manacá are used fresh or dried, and are considered to be the most effective part of the plant – though all parts of the plant are used. Here are a summary of effects for the plant:
- stimulates the endocrine system
- stimulates the lymphatic system
- lowers body temperatures
- increases blood pressure and respiration
- produces parathesiia
- produces muscle tremors and cramps
- produces delirium, vertigo and clouded vision
- activates peristalsis
The leaves of the plant are only ever used fresh, and are less active than the roots. The leaves are used as snake bite remedies. Tinctures of the leaves are given to snake bite victims, and the leaves are placed right on the site of the skin where the snake bit to “draw out the poison”.
It was in the 1880s when American and German scientists first started to study this plant, and attempted to find the alkaloids in the roots that produced the properties. Everyone failed and nobody could figure out what “chemical” in the plant was making all of the action happen. So, naturally, they started to experiment on humans and animals and determined that the plant must be acting on the spinal chord by stimulating and abolishing the activity of motor centers. There was no effects on the brain or senses, just in the spinal-governed nervous-system.
Eventually, scientists were able to extract the alkaloids “manacine” (named after manaca), “franciscein” (named after the orginal classification in the genus “Franciscea”) and “brunfelsine” (of course – named after the genus Brunfelsia). The scientists started injecting these isolate alkaloids into animals at high doses and found intense reactions – giving the animals intense muscle tremors and spinal paralysis which sometimes resulted in death.
Today, manacá root is a famous and revered plant in Brazilian herbal medicine and a very valuable folk remedy across the nation. It has been discredited as a healing herb in the USA for “lack of convincing evidence of usefulness”, but many Brazilians swear by its healings.
Brunfelsia Mire (pronounced “miré” – not like “meyer”) was discovered by westerners in 1921 during an expedition in Bolivia by H. H. Rusby of Columbia University. The first time they saw it, they immediately noted how similar it was to the manaca root which we elaborated on intensely in the previous section. The local indigenous peoples would use it to expel cutaneous parasites. They would boil the roots, and then the person who would drink it would start sweating profusely and all of the parasites within them would die.
Scientists continued to study it, and found once again that it was very active on the spinal cord and could cause paralysis, sweating and muscle spasms on their animal test subjects. Three alkaloids were isolated from the plant. The plant seems to be poisonous to cattle, and will cause a response in them which kills them. This death response does not occur in humans or other animal test subjects.
Brunfelsia Plowmaniana (tribute to Timothy Plowman)
Brunfelsia plowmaniana was first discovered in 2012, is named after the American Ethnobotanist named “Timothy Plowman” (1944-1989). Plowman is very important botanist because he worked extensively in the Amazon on medicine plants, and was the first and only person to do extensive taxonomic work on the Brunfelsia species.
One interesting bit of trivia about Tim Plowman is that he was a friend of the famous Terrance McKenna, and he was the one to select the “perfect specimen” of an Ourinhos/Cielo cultivar of B. Caapi (Ayahuasca) vine that McKenna would go on to propagate around the world. Many credit McKenna for the sourcing of this specific vine that went on to be cloned to be later used in Ayahuasca brews all around the world from USA to the Netherlands to Japan to Australia; but in fact by the time that McKenna arrived in the Amazon jungle Tim Plowman had given him that specific Caapi plant with the intention that McKenna would be the one to help with its perpetuation and cultivation worldwide.
You can read a paper by Tim Plowman about Brunfelsia at this link. This article here today would not be possible without Plowman’s work.
This new species differs from all other species of Brunfelsia at several nucleotide positions in the plastid ndhF gene and in the nuclear internal transcribed spacer region.
The B. Plowmaniana plant grows in the cloud forests of the Bolivian and Argentinian Andes. It has a very limited range compared to other Brunfelsias and exists only in a narrow range of about 800km long. The plant is threatened to becoming endangered due to deforestation, grazing and fires in the region. It grows at altitudes of over 1500-3200m.
The plant grows a base trunk with 14cm of diameter, and can grow up to 10m in height. It has the characteristic purple flowers and immense lovely fragrance. The flowers turn white when the plant grows to old age. The fruit is obovoid, coriaceous and capsular and reaches about 1 cm in diameter. It is probably green, and perhaps turning dark purple or black when ripe. There are ca. 9 ovoid seeds of about 6 mm in length. There are no observations on fully mature fruits or dispersal of the seeds. Herbarium specimens with ripe or nearly ripe fruits always show them splitting neatly from the top about 1/3 of the way to the base into two equal valves.
There is yet to be any studies or evidence of human consumption of this species.
This species B. Chiricaspi was defined by Timothy Plowman while he was doing ethnobotanical research in the jungle in 1968. It is thought to be the most potent and most powerful of the Brunfelsias. It occurs only in the wild from the Colombian Putumayo down to the Riio Coca in Ecuador.
The local tribes who use this plant are very secretive due to past abuses and attacked from industrialized society, and they are very suspicious of strangers. They are protective of their medicinal plant lore and have a history of playing dumb when field botanists try to come ask them details about how they use their plants.
Timothy Plowman eventually managed to convince a local shaman to administer his travel companion a brew of this B. Chiricaspi and he had a very intense experience. Within 10 minutes of drinking a cup, he slowly experienced a creeping tingling sensation that spread all throughout his body, feeling as if it was all “falling asleep” pins and needles. His entire body was vibrating, his spinal cord and nervous system was totally taken over by the plant spirit. After one hour of numbness the feeling creeped up his spine into the base of his skull and he started foaming at the mouth – but was completely mentally lucid despite his numbness and cold sweats.
Plowman’s conclusion was that clearly this was not a recreational activity to consume this plant, but rather it was meant for seriously medicinal purposes only. There was nothing really “fun” about drinking it.
Chiric Sanango Health Benefits and Traditional Uses
Chiric Sanango as a medicine
Those who consume this plant will feel the effects of a cold with chills, which is referenced in its name “chiric”. However, these effects are felt as the plant goes through its “healing process” on the body, which is largely effective for rheumatism. Additionally, it can be an aid for fevers, which cancel out the chills felt by the fever in the user.
The plant is also widely used as a snakebite remedy, however it is not widely documented which snakes it would help neutralize the venom from.
There are many vague claims about its use, where native peoples of the Amazon basin generically told field researchers that its “a medicine” and “good for you”. There are many generic and vague claims about its effectiveness, yet it is sworn by and an essential tool in the arsenal of a shaman of the western Amazon rainforest.
In the region around Iquitos, Peru the plant is predominantly famous for its effectiveness for helping fight rheumatism and arthritis. The lowland Quechuas on the Rio Napo in Ecuador also use Chiric Sanango as a remedy for rheumatism.
They take it if they have a burning in the lower part of their back. They place their hands in the area of the kidneys. Upon making a drink from the leaves in hot water, they become extremely chilled after drinking. (Quote from Richard Evans Schultes, 1966)
The Siona people of the Colombian Putumayo similarly use the plant as an analgesic to alleviate pain, noting the strong numbing effect. It allows them to walk long distances without experiencing any foot pain. The Chama people of Peru use the roots of Chiric Sanango as an aphrodisiac. The way they ingest it is unknown, and we must also wonder the dosage – are they engaging in sexual activity while experiencing the numbness and chills in their bodies?
The Siona tribe of the Putumayo refer to B. grandiflora as “huha hai”. They do not cultivate the plants themselves, but rather collect and scavenge it from the forest. They grate the stem and drink the juice that comes up. They sometimes drink it before they drink ayahuasca. They describe the effects of something that will bring on extreme cold, and dull all pains of the body. They emphasize how it will make you shiver.
Chiric Sanango as an ayahuasca admixture
Chiric Sanango has a long history of rumors that it has hallucinogenic properties. Many reports throughout history talk about how the plant is a “borrachera”, meaning an intoxicant.
Given that consciousness is “embodied” and we now know extensively that Brunfelsias affect the spinal cord nervous system of the individual, someone who has a “rewired” spinal chord nervous system would perceive the world in a different way than someone who did not get that experience from the plant. This would make anyone who consumed Chiric Sanango in somewhat of a permanently different altered state of consciousness.
Another indication of its would-be psychoactive properties is that the plant is known as being an ayahuasca admixture, meaning that it is frequently used as an ingredient in ayahuasca brews. Ayahuasca brews in the jungle can contain many countless different types of herbs that are both psychoactive and non-psychoactive, to tweak subtle different properties about them. That being said, some ayahuasca ingredients are added in spontaneously, such as flower petals from a tree that is blooming near where the mixing of the brew is happening – so we cannot depend on this simply to be an indication that the plant would be psychoactive in any way.
The Kachinaua Amazonian tribe would brew Chiric Sanango into a brew that they would call “keya-honi”. The following paragraph is a reference to a report about its use:
The juice of this plant plunges them [the Indians] into a kind of intoxication or stupefaction which lasts a little more than a quarter of an hour from which they acquire magical powers, enabling them to heal all sorts of diseases through incantations. While the effects of the drink act on their brains, they are unable to fall asleep. They believe they see all kinds of fantastic animals: dragons, tigers, wild boars, which attack them and tear them to bits, etc. This action of honi lasts four or five hours depending on the quantity ingested.
This is an interesting account – but honestly it just does not add up with any of the accounts of people consuming Chiric Sanango in the modern world. Why would it be that none of the westerners who travel to South America to work with this plant in dietas ever reported having a visionary experience before with it? One might suggest that the author (a man named Tastevin in 1928) was actually writing about an ayahuasca ceremony and got his plants mixed up. Nobody who drinks chiric sanango ever reports an experience like is described above except for this one guy. One hypothesis is that he noticed that Chiric Sanango was added to the brew during the cooking of this batch of ayahuasca, and just assumed that this was the primary psychoactive ingredient which was causing the feelings of force and visions to occur.
Other reports say that the reason that Chiric Sanango is added into ayahuasca brews (specifically around the Iquitos, Peru area) is to “add strength”. Whatever that means, likely to intensify the experience. It reputedly makes a sound “like rain in the ears”.
Likewise, the Jivaro people of Ecuador and Peru are famous for their consumption of ayahuasca (which they call “natema”) where they include Chiric Sanango as a primary ingredient. Their ayahuasca brews consist of three ingredients: 1. the caapi (ayahuasca vine), 2. chiricaspi (B. gradiflora/ chiric sanango) and 3. an unidentified liana which they call “hiaji”. They cut up the ingredients and boil them all together for 14 hours until there is a thick muddy liquid to drink. This is a very interesting recipe because it does not specifically contain any DMT at all, which would cause the visions to happen in the “popular” ayahuasca brews that are desired by westerners for their entertaining visuals caused by the inclusion of plants like Chacruna and Chaliponga in the brew. The tribe don’t mention anything about visionary pictures in their accounts – but rather focus on how the drink will cause the “melting away of disease” and benefits the drinker against arthritis, intestinal parasites, tuberculosis, and poor vision.
The ayahuasca vine is often seen in Amazonian medicine as a carrier of other plant energies throughout the body. This would mean that if the tribe acknowledged a plant to be beneficial for health, they would believe that if you mix it in with an ayahuasca brew it would seep deeper into your being to affect you more dramatically. When Chiric Sanango is then mixed with the vine without any DMT plants, we can see that the tribe is desiring a plant brew that is focused on the resolution of deep spinal, joint and neurological healing.
Shamans of the Lama tribe in north Peru consider Chiric Sanango to be their spiritual guide.
In the Putuomayo region of Southern Colombia, Chiric Sanango once again is a common ingredient in ayahuasca brews – specifically for the tribes of the “Siona”, “Kofan” and “Inga” peoples. They use many different cultivars and species of purple flowered Brunfelsias in their ayahuasca brews. They have localized strains and subspecies that they can differentiate, however these have not been formally taxonomically distinguished by ethnobotanists.
Timothy Plowman suggests that the reason that Chiric Sanango is added to ayahuasca despite not having any visionary qualities is that it offers the very unique experience of working with the spinal cord, nervous system, and numbness factor of the body. It could potentiate the entire experience by allowing the body to settle down and not “resist” the onset of any other effects that come from different admixture plants that contain visionary alkaloids like DMT in the chacruna or chaliponga. The natives could then also experience incredible tactice hallucinations, and they could travel in their minds through the visionary realms while their physical bodies lay numb so as to not distract them or keep them tethered to the physical world, such that they could fly infinitely into the astral realm and not even notice that they still had physical bodies.
Although each admixture plant is used for specific effects, their use in combination with each other is realized practically only by the native shamans through centuries of experimentation. Skilled practitioners know exactly why they are including to invoke specific effects on the body and mind to navigate their astral travels.
Chiric Sanango Risks and Side Effects
Chiric Sanango is known to be poison at high doses. It can cause chills and uncomfortable feelings that many people are not ready to endure when used at low doses.
This plant is the absolute most poisonous to cattle. When cows eat this plant, they die. When humans or other animals consume Chiric Sanango in low doses, they are fine but may experience its other physiological effects. When humans or other animals consume this plant in high doses, it could also be a dangerous poison.
The studies on the Brunfelsia family indicate that the method of action on the human relies in the nervous system tied to the spine. This means that the effects will not be altering your mind and brain, but rather affect your consciousness through the embodiment of your nervous system as it is connected to the spine. This indicates that the side effects will all pertain to muscle spasms and numbness of the body. Just like how someone with a spinal injury could become a paraplegic or quadriplegic, but not lose their vision per se, one could also see that the effects of the plant on their body would be similar to that.
Pregnant women should absolutely not consume. There is rumors about some species of Brunfelsia inducing abortion when consumed in large doses. While Chiric Sanango itself does not have that legend around it, it is highly possible it could have the same effects.
The Chiric Sanango Dieta
How is Chiric Sanango Consumed?
How to prepare Chiric Sanango
A native from the “Kokama tribe” of the Rio Ucayali provided the following recipe for preparing Chiric Sanango in the year 1969:
The root is scraped and placed in cold water or chica de maiz. This is then taken in wineglassful doses. To increase the dose, the bark of other trees may be added, including remocaspi, chuchuhuasi, and huacapurana. The root of chiric sanango may also be prepared with aguardiente (cane alcohol). About 50g of scraped root and bark and added to one liter of alcohol. A small glass is then drunk before meals until four liters have been consumed.
Here is a passage from a guide by Tina in 1969 who notes how the leaves are prepared as a remedy for bronchitis in the year 1996:
Twelve fresh leaves of chiric sanango are crushed up, then squeezed and the juice mixed with a little water. A spoonful is drunk twice a day, in the morning and at evening during three days.
The leaves do not cause nausea, though the root and bark do.
Chiric Sanango Dosage
A traditional healer from the Ingano group said that if three stems are used, the drinker would become as intoxicated as they would from drinking ayahuasca and their entire body would become cold.
Chiric Sanango Tea
Chiric Sanango Tincture
Chiric Sanango Flower Essence
Chiric Sanango Powder
Chiric Sanango Music
Chiric Sanango Icaros
Chiric Sanango Contemporary Music
More Video Content about Chiric Sanango