MEDICAL GUIDELINES AND DIET INFORMATION
After registration, our team medical representative will contact you for a screening phone call or skype call to cover all medical and diet information and answer any questions regarding guidelines.
For the mass majority of people Ayahuasca is completely safe and very beneficial, there are however rare occasions when it's not so safe due to certain medical conditions and pharmaceutical medications. It is necessary that you agree to disclose, in confidence, any known medical conditions and/or use of any medication, at the time of booking. Certain drugs and medications have been found to be un-compatible with Ayahuasca. Please consult your doctor if you are in any doubt: you certainly should not suddenly stop taking prescribed medications (including antidepressants) without consulting your doctor. If during the booking process we decide it's not safe for you to attend at that time we are more than happy to work with you in the hopes that you can attend another retreat down the road. It's our deeply held belief that any medical diagnosis can be fully healed by taking one step at a time.
It is not safe to work with Ayahuasca if you take the following medications or have any of the following health conditions:
• Any medication that contains Monoamine Oxidase Inhibitors (MAOI’s). These medications are known to cause dangerous side effects when taken in conjunction with Ayahuasca. It is critical that you stop taking these drugs and allow plenty of time for your system to be cleared of these substances.
• Any medication which has an effect on the serotonin system, including Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRIs) (i.e. antidepressants such as Wellbutrin, Prozac, Zoloft, Effexor, etc). Combining these medications with Ayahuasca can induce serotonin syndrome – far more severely than with foods containing tryptophan, and with potentially fatal results. We advise you to stop taking SSRI medications six weeks prior to a workshop to allow the system to clear in time; some of these drugs may cause side effects when you stop taking them, and you should allow plenty of time for these to subside. You should not abruptly stop taking them without discussing the matter with your doctor. Please note that the herbal antidepressant St. John’s Wort (Hypericum Perforatum) also must not be taken directly prior to working with Ayahuasca, although the system can clear this in 2 weeks before commencing a workshop.
• Other medications you must suspend taking are decongestants, cold medications, allergy medications, antihistamines, sedatives, tranquillizers, amphetamines (including Adderall), some hypertensive medications, sympathomimetic amines including pseudoephedrine and ephedrine, carbamazipine, methylphemidate (Ritalin), macromerine, phenelanine, tyrosine, tryptophan, asarone/calamus, asthma inhalers and diet pills.
• Although Ayahuasca has not been found to cause psychosis or other psychiatric disturbances, it can be difficult for those with a very extensive history of psychological problems. Please tell us, in confidence, about any history of mental health problems.
• If you have a heart condition or chronic high blood pressure you cannot be accepted on a workshop.
• It is not safe to drink Ayahuasca when you are pregnant.
• Special note to diabetics: MAOIs may change the amount of insulin or oral anti-diabetic medication that you need. If you are diabetic, unfortunately we are unable to accept you onto the retreat at this time.
Advise on drugs and medications to avoid when working with Ayahuasca:
• This is a comprehensive information page of medical, botanical and nutrition interaction guidelines provided by Ayahuasca Forums.
• In general, from an Amazonian plant healers’ traditional perspective, when a patient or an apprentice is working with medicinal plants, especially Ayahuasca and some other important medicinal plants like chirisanango, huayracaspi, Toé etc., it is preferable to not take any other substances or medicines, as it may cause cutipado, or in other words interfere with the plants energy and provoke unwanted reactions.
These drugs and medications are potentially dangerous with MAOIs:
• Other MAOIs
• SSRI’s (any selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor)
• Antihypertensives (high blood pressure medicine)
• Appetite suppressants (diet pills)
• Medicine for asthma, bronchitis, or other breathing problems; antihistamines, medicines for colds, sinus problems, hay fever, or allergies (Actifed DM, Benadryl, Benylin, Chlor-Trimeton, Compoz. These include Bromarest-DM or -DX, Dimetane-DX cough syrup, Dristan Cold & Flu, Phenergan with Dextromethorphan, Robitussin-DM, Vicks formula 44-D several Tylenol cold, cough, and flu preparations, and many others — any drug with DM or Tuss in its name.)
• CNS (central nervous system) depressants
Illegal or recreational drugs that are very dangerous to combine with MAOIs:
• Amphetamines (meth-, dex-, amphetamine)
• MDMA (Ecstasy)
• Dextromethorphan (DXM)
Illegal or recreational drugs that may be dangerous to combine with MAOIs:
• Mescaline (any phenethylapsychoactiverates
Other psychoactive that should not be combined with MAOIs:
Some specific pharmaceutical drugs that should not be combined with MAOIs (some are mild risks, others serious):
• Albuterol (Proventil, Ventolin)
• Amantadine hydrochloride (Symmetrel)
• Amoxapine (Asendin)
• Benzphetamine (Didrex)
• Bupropion (Wellbutrin)
• Buspirone (BuSpar)
• Carbamazepine (Tegretol, Epitol
• Chlor Trimeton
• Clomipramine (Anafranil)
• Cyclobenzaprine (Flexeril)
• Cyclizine (Marezine)
• Desipramine (Pertofrane, Norpramin)
• Dextroamphetamine (Dexedrine)
• Dextromethorphan (DXM)
• Dienolide kavapyrone desmethoxyyangonin
• Disopyramide (Norpace)
• Disulfiram (Antabuse)
• Dopamine (Intropin)
• Doxepin (Sinequan)
• Epinephrine (Adrenalin)
• Fenfluramine (Pondimin)
• Flavoxate Hydrochloride (Urispas)
• Fluoxetine (Prozac)
• Furazolidone (Furoxone)
• Guanadrel (Hylorel)
• Guanethidine (Ismelin)
• Hydralazine (Apresoline)
• 5 Hydroxytryptophan
• Imipramine (Tofranil)
• Iproniazid (Marsilid, Iprozid, Ipronid, Rivivol, Propilniazida)
• Isocarboxazid (Marplan)
• Isoniazid (Laniazid, Nydrazid)
• Isoniazid rifampin (Rifamate, Rimactane)
• Isoproterenol (Isuprel)
• L dopa (Sinemet)
• Levodopa (Dopar, Larodopa
• Linezolid (Zyvox, Zyvoxid)
• Lithium (Eskalith)
• Loratadine (Claritin)
• Maprotiline (Ludiomil)
• Meperidine (Demerol)
• Metaproterenol (Alupent, Metaprel)
• Metaraminol (Aramine)
• Methamphetamine (Desoxyn)
• Methyldopa (Aidomet)
• Methylphenidate (Ritalin)
• Mirtazapine (Remeron)
• Montelukast (Singulair)
• Norepinephrine (Levophed)
• Nortriptyline (Aventyl)
• Oxybutynin chloride (Ditropan)
• Oxymetazoline (Afrin)
• Orphenadrine (Norflex)
• Pargyline (Eutonyl)
• Paroxetine (Paxil)
• Pemoline (Cylert)
• Pethedine (Demerol)
• Phendimetrazine (Plegiline)
• Phenylephrine (Dimetane, Dristan decongestant, Neo Synephrine)
• Phenylpropanolamine (in many cold medicines)
• Phenelzine (Nardil)
• Procarbazine (Matulane)
• Procainamide (Pronestyl)
• Protriptyline (Vivactil)
• Oxymetazoline (Afrin)
• Quinidine (Quinidex)
• Rasagiline (Azilect)
• Reserpine (Serpasil)
• Selegiline (Eldepryl)
• Sertraline (Zoloft)
• Sumatriptan (Imitrex)
• Terfenadine (Seldane D)
• Theophylline (Theo Dur)
• Tranylcypromine (Parnate)
• Tricyclic antidepressants (Amitriptyline, Elavil)
• Trimipramine (Surmontil)
• Venlafaxine (Effexor)
• Ziprasidone (Geodon)
Also avoid the following herbs 2 weeks prior to your retreat start date:
• St. Johns Wort
• Rhodiola Rosea
• Scotch Broom
• Licorice Root
AYAHUASCA CEREMONY DIETARY GUIDELINES AND FOOD RESTRICTIONS
Ayahuasca ceremony dietary guidelines can vary from place to place, depending on what tradition you are sitting with. In the Amazon, virtually every known Ayahuasca-using culture — including indigenous cultures, mestizo shamans, syncretic churches, and modern drug therapy centers that use Ayahuasca to treat addiction — incorporate some form of the dieta.2
In Western run Ayahuasca retreat centers, the list of foods and things to avoid can seem long and daunting, with many items seemingly more based on folklore than science. In Brazil, while sex and alcohol are a no-no, it seems like nobody really follows any food regimen, because the prevailing attitude seems to be – you can puke over there.
However, the common denominator of the traditional Ayahuasca dieta is flavorless food (no salt, sugar or spices, especially hot peppers, onions, and garlic), no sexual stimulation, no alcohol. And no pork.
Why Avoiding Foods Containing Tyramines Will Improve Your Ayahuasca Trip
Ayahuasca (banisteriopsis caapi) is an MAO-inhibitor, which means it temporarily inhibits the activation of the monoamine oxidase (MAO). This enzyme is essential to process the amino acid tyramine, so it’s important to refrain from eating foods high in this amino acid, otherwise your body won’t be able to process it.
This can lead to headaches, hypertension, or just hours and hours of subthreshold nausea where you feel like vomiting, but can’t. And that feeling dominates your entire ayahuasca ritual, so that instead of having beautiful, celestial visions, and divine downloads, you are crouched over a bucket trying to purge.
Foods that contain tyramine include:
Fermented foods like soy sauce, fermented tofu, and sauerkraut
Nutritional supplements like protein powders
Chocolate (in large amounts)
Peanuts (in large amounts)
Many online warnings about tyramine interaction tend to sound very serious, because they are adapted from warnings about interactions with pharmaceutical MAOIs. There are nearly 100 fatalities on record from food interactions with pharmaceutical MAOIs.
However, food interaction with ayahuasca is frankly not as serious a matter as it is with pharmaceutical MAOIs, because ayahuasca is a reversible (short-acting) MAOI, or RIMA. There are no fatalities on record from food interactions with ayahuasca.3
Why Avoid Salty, Sugary, & Spicy Foods?
From a shamanic healing perspective, intensely-flavored food creates the cutipado effect that obstructs the energy of the plant medicine. Spicy foods are less likely to offend the gods and more likely to offend your throat, sinuses and butthole as they come out. Salt and sugar tend to also come back out in a noticeably concentrated way, so that the honey sweetened tea you drank earlier, and ice cream you ate hours before that (which you are now so clear it has been pumped full of artificial flavors), appear to be regurgitating as a sickly-sweet, condensed syrupy vomit.
Why Avoid Animal Products?
These days, animal products are chock full of chemicals – from antibiotics, to hormones – and are raised and slaughtered in inhumane ways. Unless you are consuming organic, free range poultry, or wild game from the jungle, it’s best to avoid any industrialized animal products. One of the things I’ve noticed time and time again during ayahuasca ceremony, is that we consume not only the substance of our food, but the energy of it. So if you consume an animal that was pumped full of chemicals, spent the entirety of its life miserably crammed in a pen, only to finally be slaughtered, en masse, in a mechanized way, you also ingest the energy of that animal’s experience.
Why Consider Avoiding Rice, Lentils, Couscous & Other Granulated Foods?
You can eat these things, but it’s not fun to have rice grains stuck in your sinuses from a bout of projectile vomiting. Just sayin’.
Will Juice Fasting Before Ceremony Help?
While juice fasting might seem like an obvious way to cleanse before your ayahuasca ritual, it may set you up for a suboptimal experience. Firstly, juice, even veggie juice, can contain a lot of sugar, which is something to avoid pre-ceremony. Also, an ayahuasca journey can be an physically, emotionally, and spiritually taxing experience. I personally find that having solid food several hours before the ceremony begins allows me to have the energy to sustain the ride. Finally, if you have no food in your system, you might find yourself really hungry in the middle of the ceremony, which can be distracting.
Thank you for taking the time to throughly read everything!