Ayahuasca Ceremony Medical Guidelines
These guidelines are designed to ensure that participants can safely participate in the ayahuasca ceremony. Keeping to these requirements is imperative to attending our workshop.
We recommend that anyone who is taking prescription medications of any kind to please consult with their doctor with regard to MAO inhibitors and suitability for consuming them (one of the primary ingredients in ayahuasca contains an MAO inhibitor).In most cases, we will ask participants to wean off medications as per the guidelines below. Depending on your situation, we may require a doctor’s approval before attending. In some cases, certain medications are permitted (e.g. birth control). Please don’t voluntarily wean off of prescription medication without your doctor’s approval. We have worked with people from all different backgrounds and medical histories; in virtually all cases, there are ways to meet the medical requirements that satisfy all parties—yourself, your doctor, us, and the medicine!
Also, 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 at workshop.
As part of the registration process, you will be asked to fill out the Liability Waiver and Health Form. It is important to provide us with accurate information on your medical history. This will allow us to be better prepared to work with you safely and holistically during the retreat.
BEFORE THE CEREMONY. PLEASE DISCONTINUE THE FOLLOWING AT LEAST 30 DAYS PRIOR
FOR ANY MEDICATION NOT LISTED ABOVE
1 WEEK PRIOR TO CEREMONY
Discontinue taking any other prescription or over the counter medication
Two exceptions: malaria medication and birth control can be taken up to and during the workshop. Please consult with us upon arrival at La Senda.
3 DAYS PRIOR TO CEREMONY
Discontinue taking any vitamins, minerals, or other health supplements, including protein powders, energy bars, and the like
AFTER THE CEREMONY
Please wait the following before taking:
24 HOURS AFTER YOUR LAST AYAHUASCA CEREMONY
Common headache medicines, vitamins and minerals, anti-acids
3 DAYS AFTER YOUR LAST AYAHUASCA CEREMONY
Ambien, valerian root, 5-HTP, St. John’s Wort, melatonin, protein supplements, prescription pain medications
Refined sugars, and moderate spice use
14 DAYS AFTER YOUR LAST AYAHUASCA CEREMONY
Prescription medications, muscle relaxants, anti-depressants, anti-anxiety/anxiolytics, antipsychotics, mood stabilizers, SSRI’s
And any other medication required to be stopped for 30 days listed above
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. Avoid having Ashwagandha perhaps up to 5 days before ceremony as well.
Although Ayahuasca has not been found to cause psychosis or other psychiatric disturbances, it can be dangerous to those with a 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 please let us know immediately.
Illegal or recreational drugs that are very dangerous to combine with MAOIs:
Cocaine- Amphetamines (meth-, dex-, amphetamine), MDMA (Ecstasy), MDA, MDEA, PMA Dextromethorphan (DXM)
Opiates- Mescaline (any phenethylamine) - Barbiturates
Kratom - Kava
The day of ceremonies please eat a healthy breakfast and lunch. You will need your energy to do the work, so try not to eat after 2pm except water, coconut water or herbal teas. No caffeine.
You can start the dieta earlier than the 3 days recommended.
3 days before ceremony have a light diet, basically avoiding processed foods, unnatural foods, garlic, onions, heavy meats, lots of fats and junk foods.
Avoid 7 days before ceremony all co-active substances such as marijuana or alcohol, ideally one week or longer is better to enhance your experience with the Medicine Grandmother Plant.
If you have any medical conditions, you MUST have authorization from the Shaman.
If you are under any medication, please let us know.
In terms of aiding your comfort level during the ceremony, meals of steamed, or raw vegetables work well to keep your body alkaline. Millet, brown rice, quinoa, and other whole grains, especially sprouted grains, are beneficial. If you digest raw foods well, emphasize salads, raw fruits and vegetables and smoothies. If you digest eggs, chicken, fish, and other white meats well, small amounts of these foods will serve to keep you strengthened while you are dieting. Please be aware about your sources for food, especially meat, as the energy of the animal's life experiences will be readily apparent to you during the dieta and ceremony. Fresh dairy products such as locally-made cultured fresh soft cheeses, yogurt, and cottage cheese are fine to eat.
Important: If you have received the COVID vaccine or are planning to receive it, then make sure that it is at least two weeks prior to the ceremony.
Keep in mind that the aging process of any food is what produces the contra-indicated substance. If you consume Kombucha, simply ask the manufacturer if the Kombucha contains the amino acid Tyramine. If not, consume with pleasure.
A Few Words About Salt and Sodium
Although not contra-indicated on a pharmacological level, salt and sodium are traditionally avoided completely for 10 days prior to the ceremonies and even afterwards. Salt can block the visual component of this medicine work and in our experience the effect of the Ayahuasca is not as deep or satisfying when we have consumed salty or sodium-laden foods.
Interaction with Marijuana
Smoking marijuana before the Ayahuasca session may stupefy and darken the overall experience, blocking the visionary plant to manifest in the fullest way. Given the overall amplified sensitivity of ALL participants during the Ayahuasca session, marijuana negatively affects not just the person who used it, but potentially also other participant’s experiences and the energy level of the medicine circle.
In a few rare individuals, there may be a severe interaction with even small amounts of caffeine. Aside from that, the Grandmother medicine we work with has added medicinal plants and prayers in it specifically for calming and repairing of the nervous system and to heal trauma; to cut out caffeine completely for at least one week prior to the ceremony, will optimize your benefits and reduce anxiety to an amazing degree during the ceremony.
Part of the dieta is also to preserve the sacred life force energy for about 3 days before and after ceremonies.
Be mindful of what you choose to consume on a mental level, what you watch and listen to also contributes to your state of mind.
Important Medical Precautions
Please note that in certain cases working with Ayahuasca can carry health risks: if you have any heart, liver or kidney, or other serious medical problems, you should inform us at the first opportunity, and discuss the issues with a doctor who is aware of the issues Ayahuasca may raise. Our priority is your safety and well-being within ceremonies, guiding you to personal healing and growth. We will provide the most secure environment to work with Ayahuasca we possibly can, and will ensure your welfare as best we can at all times. In return we ask that you behave responsibly and to not endanger yourself or others.