Ritualistic use of the holly Ilex guayusa by Amazonian Jivaro Indians

W. H. Lewis, E. J. Kennelly, G. N. Bass, H. J. Wedner, M. P. Elvin-Lewis, D. Fast W.

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33 Scopus citations


In Amazonian Peru and Ecuador leaf decoctions of the rainforest holly Ilex guayusa with high caffeine concentrations are used as a morning stimulant. After daily ingestion, ritualistic vomiting by male Achuar Indians, better known as Jivaros, reduces excessive caffeine intake, so that blood levels of caffeine and biotransformed dimethylxanthines do not cause undesirable CNS and other effects. Emesis is learned and apparently not due to emetic compounds.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)25-30
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Ethnopharmacology
Issue number1-2
StatePublished - 1991


  • Jivaro
  • emesis
  • holly
  • stimulant
  • upper Amazon


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