Yopo, or yopo nut, is a psychedelic snuff used by Indians in Columbia, Venezuela, and possibly in the southern Brazilian Amazon. The plant itself is a tree, called the Cohoba tree; the active component of the tree are small, black nuts. The psychoactive ingredients are bufotenine, N,N-DMT, and 5-MeO-DMT.
The natives of South America use the plant by grinding it into a powder, then mixing it with ash or calcified shells. The resulting mixture is then placed into a bamboo tube, which is blown into the nostrils of the recipient by an available companion. I have seen pictures of this process, and the resulting cloud of yopo powder and ash is most impressive.
Historically, the first recorded instance of Yopo use was noted by the explorer A. von Humboldt among the Maypure Indians of Orinoco in 1801. The botanist Richard Spruce made an in-depth report 50 years later, which, unfortunately, was not published until 57 years after it was written.
Our current knowledge of the snuff has progressed little from these studies made over a century ago. It is largely unknown in North America, and very few studies have been done on it. One of the few recent studies showed that some South American shamans combine yopo snuff with Banisteriopsis caapi, one of the components of ayahuasca, rather than merely using it alone. This finding is significant, as the addition of B. caapi would notably change the experience of the substance by greatly increasing the effects of the DMT related substances. In layman's terms, this means that it would make it 'trippier'. Unfortunately, studies of the psychoactive snuffs used by South Americans are very sparse indeed, and little more information is available on this.
A freelance user has reported the possibility that the plant may contain pyrrolizidine alkaloids, the same toxic components that are present in the comfrey plant (especially the root). This possibility, however, has not been verified by any scientific tests, making it merely an unsubstantiated theory. Just to cut down on the danger level of using a largely unknown substance, however, any experimenters with a history of liver problems or current liver problems should avoid this plant. Also, any potential experimenter should research how to recognize and treat pyrrolizidine alkaloid toxicity, or better yet, be in the presence of a sitter with said knowledge. The safest route, however, is to simply not use the substance.
I have tried yopo once or twice. We crushed the nut and smoked it, and the effects of this administration would best be described as a short, powerful stimulant rush, almost like the adrenaline rush one gets from being startled, lasting roughly fifteen to thirty seconds. This effect led to me referring to it as 'acorn crack' when I was later unable to remember the name of the plant. I noticed no particularly psychedelic effects, although the short-lived euphoria was extremely interesting. This stuff is powerful, however, as the intensity of the effects were comparable to several well-known synthetic substances. I was a bit surprised and unprepared for the intensity of the experience. It should be noted here that the effects of DMT-like substances can be very terrifying to some people, and appropriate care for this should be taken. Again, the safest route here is abstinence, and any experimentation should be undertaken in an extremely cautious manner.
Like any psychoactive substance, the use of yopo could be harmful, dangerous, or even fatal. Act accordingly.