CustomsTraditional Remedies

Mapacho, Our Traditional Tobacco

Mapacho is a potent species of natural tobacco without artificial chemicals. We see it as distinct from cigarettes since for us it does not cause cancer, rather it is used by our Andean and Amazonian shamans as an indispensable ingredient for wachuma and ayahuasca ceremonies. Also known as nicotina rústica, or wild tobacco, it is considered a master /teacher plant since its use has come down to us through the generations.

In the Imperial City of Cusco, you can find mapacho in the traditional markets of San Pedro or Cascaparo in the section of medicinal plants or of natural medicines. The caseras, the vendors, sell it in packages or loose and ground by weight. The package costs 5 soles and for that you receive 100 mapachos, already rolled for you to smoke. If you buy according to weight then your minimum purchase is around 2 soles.

Mapacho a Natural Tabacco (Walter Coraza Morveli)
Mapacho a Natural Tabacco (Walter CoraMapacho a Natural Tabacco (Walter Coraza Morveli)

We do not see wild tobacco as having the chemicals that Brand name cigarettes contain, such as tar, acetone, phenols, or hydrocyanic acid. It is a better option for habitual smoker. It seems tars are the principal substance that is responsible for cancers since when you smoke it sticks to the sides of the mouth, the pharynx, and the bronchial tubes.

In our mystical city, wild tobacco is associated with the sacred and the divine, according to our healers. It is never connected with illness. I remember on many occasions I have seen Andean and Amazonian shamans carry out their healings with their patients by blowing smoke of mapacho on them. They smoke the tobacco and blow it on the body of their patients to cleanse their energies and drive away the heavy spirits.

Mapacho comes to our city from the Amazonian jungle. Merchants supply it to the caseras. They have brought it from Pucallpa or Puerto Maldonado. According to the casera Isabel, the strongest mapacho comes from Pucallpa. Some masters and some tourists prefer the stronger product, because they say that in ceremonies the smell calms and harmonizes the ambience of the place. They also buy it to put together offerings and dispatches for the Pachamama.

Mapacho is a good option to help you quit smoking brand name cigaretters. Remember that its dosage can either make it a medicine or a poison.

A Shaman Smoking Natural Mapacho
A Shaman Smoking Natural Mapacho

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