Ilex Guayusa-The Ecuadorian Wildcrafted Chopped Leaf

Ilex Guayusa is a holy tree found in the upper Amazonian regions of Ecuador, Peru, and Colombia. The extract obtained from the leaves of Ilex Guayusa has a perfect balance of antioxidants, psychedelic stimulants, vitamins, amino acids, etc. Apart from edible products, the extract is also used to make medical CBD salves. Guayusa is easily grown in small fields or its leaves are handpicked by the farmers from the Amazon forest. Its cultivation helps not only in providing incomes to farmers but also in preserving the Amazon forest. 

History of Guayusas

  • The history of Ilex Guayusa plants is quite interesting. The earliest evidence of their cultivation dates 1,500 years back, when people discovered a bundle of Guayusa leaves in a godman’s old cave. The cave existed in the Bolivian Andes mountains that are nowhere near the natural growing environment of the Ilex Guayusa plant, suggesting that people cultivated Guayusa in Bolivia. 
  • The Jivaroans, members of a South American tribe, also consumed the Ilex Guayusa leaves. It was reported by Father Juan Lorenzo Lucero in 1683.
  • There are several accounts from missionaries in Ecuador, Colombia, and Peru, who state that the natives consumed Ilex Guayusa leaves  in the 18th century. It was for the plant’s stimulant effects on the digestive system. Similarly, the Jesuits have also known the health benefits of Ilex Guayusa for ages. 
  • The Quechua people from the Amazon forest belt of South America believe that their ancestors drank the Guayusa tea that helped them in learning how to dream. Some factions of the tribe even say that after drinking Guayusa tea, the hunters could predict whether the hunting expedition would be successful or not. 
  • However, in 1857 an archaeologist named Richard Spruce found a grove in Banos, Ecuador, that had evidence suggesting that people knew about Ilex Guayusa even before Christopher Columbus arrived in America. 

Harvest and Preparation

The leaves are harvested regularly from the trees and hung in the open for sun drying. It is during this time that the strong flavors of the elements inside the leaves develop. 

They get the Guayusa extract after crushing the dried leaves and making a paste. People dilute the paste and then use it to prepare tea, coffee, etc. 

Health Benefits Of Guayusa

It has natural caffeine content that helps in giving energy, just like tea, coffee, etc. However, after drinking Guayusas extracts, one does not feel jittery. Therefore, it is a source of balanced energy that does not cause a sudden spurt in body parameters like heart rate, blood pressure, breathing rate, etc. It gives out controlled energy because it releases caffeine slowly and gently during digestion inside the body. As a result, people consume it for developing mental strength and focus.

CBD creams are also made out of the extract that can nourish the skin with antioxidants and essential vitamins. 

Hunters and night watchmen of the tribes consume Guayusa tea to remain attentive during the night. In general, the Guayusa extracts sharpen the senses after consumption. 

Part of Tradition

It is part of the tradition and culture of the Amazonian people. They wake up at 3 a.m. every day and sit around a fireplace to drink Guayusa tea. The villagers sing folk songs and play bamboo flutes. They discuss interesting things like the dreams from the previous night, ancestral myths, hunting techniques, etc.