Desfontainia spinosa (Chilean Holly, Michay, Chapico, Taique)
Desfontainia spinosa is a small holly-like evergreen shrub native to South America and used for medicinal and ornamental purposes. In Chile, it is known as Taique, in Colombia as borrachero ("intoxicator"). Colombian shamans of the Kamsa tribe take a tea of the leaves to diagnose disease or enter non-ordinary reality. Reportedly these practitioners would go crazy and shake all over. (Schultes & Raffauf, 1990). It is also reported that smoking it produces a relaxing dream-like state; others report a state similar to smoking salvia.
Little is as yet known of the chemical constituents; however, recently, spinosides A and B, two cytotoxic cucurbitacin glycosides have been identified from Desfontainia spinosa (Reddy et al, 1988).
Hollistic healers claim the essence of the plant eases emotional fear of unknown things allowing freer exploration of new states and phases of consciousness. Breakthrough to new levels is possible, with increased spiritual strength and discipline. It also engenders mental stability after shock and trauma and aids in creating a positive outlook.