Guayusa - Drink Secrets


Excellent Pain Reliever and Stimulant, Guayusa


The Amazon has many secrets to tell the world if we only open our eyes and ears. One such secret that has been neglected is the guayusa tree. In the humid mountains of Ecuador, where indigenous tribes people reside, the guayusa grows freely. Its leaves are deep spring green and fairly thick, only a couple of inches wide at its widest and several inches long. But the point of interest in this tree is in the bark, not the leaves. Local peoples seek out this tree and strip it of its bark in order to make a traditional concoction that is deeply embedded in their local culture. There is even a popular folk song about the "agua de guayusa." Since the late 1600's, the Western world has known of this plant, but has ignored it. It is possible that the decision not to cultivate the plant or ship samples of its bark back home besides expense and difficulty is due to the reports that missionaries sent back home. The early reports included descriptions of rituals in which tobacco, some narcotic plants and guayusa were infused in water to make a black sort of tea which had unpeaceful effects on the drinker. The herbs were described as "evil," although the guayusa by itself was noted to be integral to the general health of the local people.


The bark of this plant is usually stripped and infused in water to make a smooth and sweet tea that is imbibed every morning as a social ritual, much like having a morning coffee. However, the guayusa tree has more caffiene than coffee at saturations between 1.7% and 5.7%, depending on the region. The local people avoid the regions with higher levels of some compounds due to the toxic effects that may occur, but overall rely on the drink to wake them up and provide plenty of youthful energy throughout the day.


Will the guayusa ever see a global market? It may never replace coffee or tobacco in the arena of stimulants, but the plant is well-armed for the fight. Smooth and sweet in a warm form of tea, it is a refreshing pick-me-up that is used to treat upset stomach, general aches and pains, and fatigue. Who knows, but that sounds like it would sell great!


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