This jungle vine is used, along with the other primary ingredient the Psychotria viridis plant, to prepare Ayahuasca, a decoction with a long history of entheogenic uses as a medicine and "plant teacher" among the indigenous peoples of the Amazon Rainforest. It contains alkaloids, present in all parts of the plant.
The naming of B. caapi was actually dedicated to John Banister, a 17th-century English clergyman and naturalist. An earlier name for the genus Banisteriopsis was Banisteria, and the plant is sometimes referred to as Banisteria caapi in everyday usage.
The name Ayahuasca means "vine of the soul" in Quechuan, and the shamans of the indigenous western Amazonian tribes use the plant in religious and healing ceremonies. In addition to its hallucinogenic properties, caapi is used for its healing properties as a purgative, effectively cleansing the body of parasites and helping the digestive tract.