Mapacho 13/07/2020

Nicotiana rustica, also known as Mapacho, is the original medicine of South America, where it has been part of shamanic rituals for centuries. It is considered a sacred plant teacher who is able to heal a man on all levels. It is therefore treated with the utmost respect and its use in various ceremonies is highly structured and conscious.


The ritual use of Mapacho tobacco dates back to far history. It is generally said that native Americans have known this plant for over 8,000 years. It can be assumed that it was one of the first used plants of the South American continent. Its use is deeply rooted in the culture of indigenous tribes such as Shipibo-conibo, Ashaninka, Kichua, Kaxinawa, Nu-nu, Yawanawa and Katukina.


This potent tobacco variety contains up to ten times more nicotine than conventional commercial varieties of Nicotiana tabacum.

Mapacho also contains a high proportion of harmala alkaloids – harmane and norharmane. Similar alkaloids are also found in the Amazon vine Banisteriopsis caapi, the main ingredient of the traditional hallucinogenic Ayahuasca drink. They are MAO inhibitors that help increase the amount of serotonin in the brain. The presence of these alkaloids confirms the antidepressant effects of this tobacco.


Mapacho is known for its ability to change the user’s consciousness. The shamans used them to evoke various visionary experiences in which they were able to communicate with nature and deepen the spiritual dimension of their lives. Visionary experiences were also the basis of their creative activities. The original sacred chants and paintings of the natives were born from inspirations in altered states of consciousness.

Original users also believed that tobacco had strong therapeutic properties and was thus used to treat humans on all levels. Thanks to its presence of MAO inhibitors, tobacco has also antidepressant effects and helps to relieve mental and physical tension.

The effects of Mapacho are unique in the way that it can relax and induce a state of pleasant relaxation, while gently stimulates the body. The nicotine contained in tobacco increases the blood flow in the brain, and this causes its stimulating effects. After use, the activity of the nervous system increases – attention, concentration, and sharpening of all the senses. Because of its combination of relaxing effects on the body and stimulating effects on the brain, Mapacho has been used as a tool for meditation.



In our Western society, many fatal diseases are associated with tobacco use. Similarly, tobacco is considered to be one of the most dangerous and addictive substances.

From this point of view, it is not easy to understand the plant in the way that the original inhabitants of South America understand it as a very powerful medicine.

Indigenous users believe that in a controlled ritual environment this tobacco is only a medicine, not a poison.

Nicotine may indeed become a highly addictive substance, and tobacco is linked to many health problems. Original users argue that this is only because the plant is misused. This powerful tool should be treated with respect – as a medicine that can heal, and not as a means of escaping problems.

This tobacco is in its tradition used in a highly structured and ceremonial way and anyone interested in working with this plant should take the same attitude.


We store in a dark environment. Tobacco needs to breathe, so air needs to be secured. It is suitable to wrap it in a paper bag. It can be stored at room temperature, ideally in a refrigerator.




The shamans use Mapacho as a protection against evil spirits, using tobacco smoke to cleanse the ceremonial space.

Internal use – Rapé, leach, smoking

Tobacco is used as a major component of the sacred medicine Rapé.

Mapacho leaves can also be leached in water and the subsequent leach can be applied nasally. The leachate strength depends on the ratio of water to leaves. Most often, the leach is prepared in such a ratio that the water is just enough so that all tobacco is submerged. Tobacco used in this way has the ability to treat cavities and colds.

Mapacho can also be smoked in a pipe or wrapped in a cigarette just like regular tobacco.

This text is for information purposes only, based primarily on the statements of indigenous people. Although they have been working with the plant for centuries, the information is not scientifically verified and thus cannot be considered as an official recommendation.