1921 – French Anthropologist P. Reinburg Reports on His Personal Experimentation with Ayahuasca
In 1921, French anthropologist P. Reinburg reported on his personal experimentation with ayahuasca in the Peruvian Amazon, prepared for him by someone from an unspecified indigenous group.
In an article entitled “Contribution to the study of the toxic beverages of the Indians of the North-West Amazon,” Reinburg reported feeling poisoned, and after several hours he did everything he could to return to normalcy by drinking coffee and sniffing ether. His conclusion was that the overall experience was comparable to strychnine poisoning.
This negative experience, when considered in contrast to the many other descriptions of ayahuasca, highlights the wide potential that ayahuasca experience can elicit in drinkers depending on their beliefs, expectations, and biology or health conditions.
Reinburg’s work was incredibly deepened by anthropological research that arrived in the mid-to-late 20th century. This includes Gerardo Reichel-Dolmatoff’s ethnographic research on Tukano ayahuasca shamanism, Michael Harner’s diverse work on ayahuasca drinking cultures, Marlene Dobkin de Rios’ analysis of urban ayahuasca healers in Peru, and Luis Eduardo Luna’s research on ayahuasca “plant teachers” and visions, and Michael Taussig’s genre-bending work on ayahuasca and colonialism, to name just a few.
Reinberg, P, (1921), Contribution à l’étude des boissons toxiques des indiens du Nord-ouest de l’Amazon, l’ayahuasca, le yagé, le huanto, Journal de la Societé des Américanistes, vol 13 n°1, 1921. pp. 25-54.