Medical Guidelines

Why does Ayahuasca interact negatively with some foods & Drugs?

The traditional Amazonian shamanic plant medicine are very powerful allies in restoring harmonious balance within your body systems. They want to create aliveness and thus some of them clear any blockages or toxins in very unusual ways. Personally, I have worked with various plants which have literally kicked my butt. I consider myself quite healthy, nevertheless, the plants will clear any potential harmful toxins whether known or unknown. The medicinal plants we use, including but not limited to Ayahuasca are biochemically and energetically very powerful and do not mix well with certain substances. They work with your body holistically to restore health. Holism or holistic treatment involves treating the body as a whole, including the mind and spirit as well as take into account your diet, the lifestyle, the environment and the circumstances in which that body operates. It also recognizes and works with the two-way interaction between the body and its environment. This is why we take great care in asking and understand your journey to minimize any risks to you while you journey with these powerful allies. Everything you ingest may or may not have an interaction with the plant medicine, if unsure, simply ask.

Many pharmaceutical drugs, natural supplements and herbs are not compatible with Ayahuasca and some medical or psychological conditions are also not appropriate for treatment with this medicine. The family of enzymes know as monoamine oxidase (“MAO-A”) breaks down certain neurotransmitters (chemical messengers) in the body such as : serotonin, dopamine, epinephrine, nor-epinephrine, melatonin, and other amines (including tyramine).  The Ayahuasca vine contains the alkaloids harmine, harmaline and tetrahydroharmine. Harmine and harmaline inhibit the action of MAO-A enzymes (preventing the breakdown of the relevant neurotransmitters, causing them to build up) while tetrahydroharmine interferes with the dissipation of serotonin. Therefore, any drugs or foods which increase the concentration of these neurotransmitters in the body (esp. serotonin, dopamine and norepinephrine) or further inhibit MAO-A enzymes should be avoided when drinking Ayahuasca. It is the responsibility of all guests to consult with us and their doctors about the safety of ceasing medication within the time frame required. Also, a full disclosure of medical conditions past and present are mandatory at the time of application for a retreat or ceremony.

Below is a list of SOME medical conditions, pharmaceuticals and supplements that are not compatible with drinking Ayahuasca. Please speak with us and your doctor if your condition is not listed. We highly recommend all participants get a full medical checkup prior to working with powerful plant medicine, including an ECG to screen for any heart function abnormalities as these can be undetected until you test for it. The consequences of not fully disclosing your medical condition can be fatal.

Medical conditions not suitable for treatment with Ayahuasca.

  • Mental illness
  • Schizophrenia
  • Bipolar disorder
  • Other dis-associative conditions including antisocial, suicidal tendencies and mood disorders
  • Serious heart conditions

Pharmaceuticals and Supplements not to be mixed with Ayahuasca

We require all participants to refrain from taking any pharmaceuticals or supplements during their stay unless it has been approved by us on special circumstance. Some medications need to be stopped well in advance (at least 1 month) of drinking Ayahuasca or other Master Plants. Different substances require longer to clear from your system so please speak with us and consult your doctor to establish how long you need to stop taking them and what are the side effects may be when you do so.

These are some of the medications particularly contraindicated with Ayahuasca.

Antidepressants: Recommended washout period is a minimum of 2 weeks with the exception of Fluoxetine/Prozac which requires a minimum of 5 weeks.

Dopamin reuptake inhibitor (DARI)Amineptine, Penmetrazine, Vanoxerine, Modafinil
Norepinephrine-dopamin reuptakeDrugs with Bupropion, Methylenedioxypyrovalerone (MDVP), eg. Wellbutrin, Wellbutrin XL, Wellbutrin SR, Zyban
Norepinephrine reuptake inhibitor (NRI) or (NARI)Atomexetine, Maprotiline, Reboxetine, Viloxazine
Serotonin-norepinephrine-dopamine reuptake inhibitor (SNDRI)Nefazodone, Serzone, Nefadar
Serotonin – norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRI)Duloxetine, Milnacipran, Ventilafaxine
Selective serotinin reuptale inhibitors (SSRI)Alaproclate, Etoperidone, Citalopram, Escitalopram, Fluoxetine (Prozac), Fluvoxamine, Paroxetine, Sertraline, Zimelidine
Selective serotonin reuptake enhancer (SSRE)Tianeptine
Tricyclic antidepressants (“TCAs”)Amitriptyline, Amoxapine, Butriptyline, Clomipramine, Desiparmine, Dibenzepin, Dothiepin, Doxepin, Imipramine, Iprindole, Lofepramine, Melitracen, Nortriptuline, Opipramol, Protriptuline, Trimipramine
Tetracyclic antidepressants (TeCA)Maprotiline, Mianserin, Nefazodone, Trazodone
Noradrenergic and specific serotenergic antidepressant (NaSSA)Mirtazapine, Remeron, Avanza, Zispin

Other MAO inhibitors: Recommended washout period is a minimum of 7 – 10 days.

Other MAO inhibitors (which can be used in the form of antidepressants not listed above)Brofaromine, Moclobemide, Harmaline, Iproclozide, Iproniazid, Isocarboxazid, Nialamide, Phenelzine, Selegiline, Toloxatone, Tranylcypromine

Medication (prescription and non-prescription):  Recommended washout period is a minimum of 2 weeks.

ADHD / anti-narcoleptic medication / amphetamines (which can be used in the form of antidepressants not listed above)Drugs with dextroamphetamine, pemoline, listexamfetamine, levoamphetamine, methamphetamine, eg. Adderall, Adderall XR,  Dexedrine, ProCentra, Dextrostat, Ritalin, Concerta, Vyvanse, Focalin, Stratera
Alcoholism medicationDrugs with dislfiram, eg. Antabuse
Antibiotics (strong)Drugs with linezolid, eg. Zyvox Also certain antimalaria medication containing doxycycline or mefloquinine hydrochloride (eg Lariam)
AntipsychoticsVarious, eg. drugs with levomepromazine
Anxiety medication / sedatives / benzodiazepinesAny sedative or benzodiazepine, for example: diazepam (Valium), tomazepam
Appetite suppressants / diet pillsDrugs with sibutramine, phendimetrazine, pseudoephedrine, phenylephrine, phenylpropanolamine, phentermine, ephedrine, amfepramone, benzphetamine, eg. Sibutramine, Phendimetrazine, Reductil, Meridia, Sibutrex
Asthma drugsInhalants which contain albuterol (Proventil, Ventolin), metaproterenol (Alupent, Meraprel), or other beta-adrenergic bronchodilators Drugs with theophylline (Theo-Dur) and Ephedrine, a bronchodilator contained in Maras, Quadrinal
Blood Pressure medication / anti-hypertensives / beta-blockers / diuretics / calcium-channel blockersHigh blood pressure meds eg. guanadrel (found in Hylorel), guanethidine (ismelin), hydralazine (Apresoline), methyldopa (Aldomet), reserpine (Serpasil) Low blood pressure meds such as: sympathomimetic amines including: dopamin (found in Intropin), epinephrine (Adrenalin), isoproterenol (Isuprel), metaraminol (Aramine), Methyidopa (Aidomer), norepinephrine (Levophed)
Cold / flu / sinus / allergy medication / antihistaminesDrugs containing  pseudoephedrine, ephedrine, dextromethorpan, propylhexedrine, pheiramine, chlorphenamine, brompheniramine, levomethamphetamine, eg. Robitussin, Dimetall, Vicks, nasal sprays.
Diabetes medicationOral hypoglycemic agents and insulin – may result in a drop in blood sugar
Heart medicationVarious, eg. drugs containing quinidine
Muscle-relaxantsDrugs with cyclobenzaprine, eg. Flexeril, Amrix, Fexmid
Pain-killer / headache medication / opioidsDrugs with cyclobenzaprine, eg. Flexeril, Amrix, Fexmid
Parkinson’s disease medicationDrugs with L-DOPA
Seizure medicationDrugs with carbamazipine, clonazepam (Ayahuasca may also result in a drop in the blood levels of drugs used to control seizures, thereby increasing the chance of a seizure)
Sleep medication / benzodiazepinesVarious, eg. drugs from benzodiazepine family, Valium, Stillnox

Recreational drugs:  Recommended washout period is a minimum of 2 weeks (although for some drugs the washout period is shorter, eg. cannabis, caffeine).

AmphetaminesAmphetamine, MDMA / ecstasy, Dextroamphetamine, Metampheramine, DOM, 2-CB
Dissociative anaestheticsPhencyclidine / PCP, Ketamine / K, Dextromethorphan / DXM
LysergamidesErgilines / LSA, LSD / acid
OpiatesHeroin, opium, methadone
StimulantsMethylenedioxypyrovalerone (MDPV), cocaine, cannabis, caffeine (in large amounts)
TryptaminesDMT, Psilocin/Psilocybin / shrooms

Alcohol:  Recommended washout period is a minimum of 12 hours.

Herbs & Lifestyle supplements:  Recommended washout period is a minimum of 24 hours (Keep in mind that any herbs or supplements that fall into one of the categories outline in the table of medications above is probably contraindicated with Ayahuasca).

Blood pressure supplementL-Theanine
Energy boostersRhodiola rosea, other supplements containing excessive amounts of caffeing or affecting ephedrine, serotonin or dopamine levels, eg. Kava, Ephedra, Ginseng, Yohimbe, Sinicuichi
Mood boostersHypericum perforatum (known as “St-John’s Wort”), inositol, rhodolia rosea, s-adenosyl-l-methionine (known as “SANe”), L-Theanine, Kava, Ephedra
Protein / exercise supplementsMost protein powder containing tyramine and tryptophan
Sleep aids5-HTP, L-DOPA (used to treat Parkinson’s disease), L-Phenylalanine, L-Tryptophan, L-Tyrosine

“Because here is the sober psychedelic fact of the matter. While some visions experienced in the throes of ayahuasca, peyote, mushrooms, San Pedro and other agents are in fact prescient, insightful, revelatory and wise, other visions are mere head salad. If you are going to journey with the aid of psychoactive substances, you must learn to discern the difference between manna from the gods and mental cole slaw. The former may set you on a new, luminous life path. The latter may send you down a rabbit hole.” Chris Kilham – the Medicine Hunter