Medical Concerns & Contraindications
Amazon Healing Journey
Ayahuasca has been used for centuries by traditional healers as a sacred plant medicine and in religious ceremonies.
While the decision to take any drug is a personal one and should be made thoughtfully, working with Ayahuasca in a small group under the guidance of a skilled and experienced shaman using high quality plant medicine and held in the sacred can be a profound and transformative experience that can facilitate deep healing on all levels of your being – physical, mental, emotional and spiritual.
We have been working with our shaman, Don Guido, a respected ayahuascaro of the Shipibo Tribe, for many years and trust him implicitly. His brew is gentle but powerful. Each evening ceremony begins with Don Guido checking the energy and taking your pulse, before determining the amount of plant medicine that's right for you.
Although physical effects such as nausea and vomiting, headaches and rapid heartbeat can occur in some individuals, these effects can be mitigated by properly preparing mentally and physically, and following the recommended dietary protocol prior to and during the trip.
Some pharmaceutical drugs and medications (including over the counter drugs) and herbal supplements are contraindicated when taking Ayahuasca. We offer some guidelines below, but It is your responsibility to consult with your medical practitioner if you are taking certain medications, particularly several types of anti-depressants. (It is recommended that you stop taking all anti-depressant medication at least 6 weeks prior to the trip, but you should only do so in consultation with your physician.)
Medical Contraindications with Ayahuasca
Our priority is your safety and wellbeing, and to guide you to personal healing and growth.
By registering for a program, you are declaring that you are in physical and mental condition appropriate to the activities described, that you agree to participate at your own risk, and that we cannot accept liability for any accident or injury. We will provide the most secure environment to work with ayahuasca as possible and ensure your welfare to the best of our abilities, at all times. In return, we ask that you follow these guidelines so as not to endanger yourself or others.
General Medical Precautions
Working with ayahuasca is generally safe, but can pose health risks for some; it is important that you share any known heart, liver, kidney, pancreatic, or other serious medical conditions, and/or use of any medication at the time of registration via the required Traveler Information Form. Please be as thorough and forthcoming as possible when answering the questions. If any potential medical contraindications are present, we will follow up with you privately.
It is generally advised that anyone with diabetes, hepatitis, chronic liver disease, chronic severe high blood pressure, heart conditions, a history of epilepsy or seizures, or tuberculosis should not take ayahuasca. It is also not considered safe to drink ayahuasca while pregnant. Please contact us if you have any concerns about any of the above.
Ayahuasca can also be dangerous to those with a history of psychological conditions.
Please let us of know of any history of mental health issues. It is important and generally recommended to suspend any kind of psycho-pharmaceutical and depression treatments a minimum of 4-6 weeks prior to the trip, but you should only do so in consultation with your physician It is your responsibility to consult with your medical practitioner if you are taking certain medications, particularly several types of anti-depressants (see Contraindications: Drugs and Medications section below). Be sure to specifically tell your doctor you will be taking a reversible MAOI.
From an Amazonian plant healer’s perspective, when a client or apprentice is working with a medicinal plant, it is preferable to not take any other substances or medicines, as it can interfere with the plant’s energy and provoke unwanted reactions.
Certain drugs and medications, including some over-the-counter and non-prescription drugs and medication, have been found to not be compatible with ayahuasca. It is essential to stop taking the substances listed below and give your system sufficient time to remove them from the body before you begin a program. (Please consult your doctor if you are in any doubt. You should not stop taking prescribed medications without consulting your doctor.)
Contraindications: Herbal Medicine and Supplements
It is advised that the following herbs and herbal medicines and supplements not be combined with ayahuasca and should be stopped at least two weeks prior to working with ayahuasca:
• St. Johns Wort
• Yerba Mate
• Rhodiola Rosea
• Licorice Root
• Scotch Broom
Note about interaction with cannabis:
Smoking or otherwise ingesting marijuana before the ayahuasca session may stupefy and darken the overall experience, acting as a blockage for the plant to manifest in the fullest way. Given the general amplified sensitivity of all participants of ayahuasca session, marijuana negatively affects not just the person who used it, but potentially other participants’ experiences as well as the overall energy of the group. It is important that it is clear from your system before joining the trip.
Contraindications: Drugs and Medications
Any medication that contains MAO inhibitors (MAO-Is) are known to cause dangerous side effects when taken in conjunction with ayahuasca and should be suspended.
Any medication that has an effect on the serotonin system, including Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRIs), can induce serotonin syndrome, with potentially fatal results when combined with ayahuasca. We advise that SSRI medications be suspended six weeks prior to a workshop to allow the system to clear in time.
Many over the counter medications, such as antihistamines, require only 48 hours of non-use prior to Ayahuasca, although we still recommend ceasing them 2 weeks in advance. All prescription medications, certain supplements, and illegal drugs should be ceased at least 2-8 weeks prior to and one week after drinking Ayahuasca. (In addition, using cocaine, amphetamines or MDMA (Ecstasy) in conjunction with ayahuasca is considered dangerous and may be potentially fatal.)
NOTE: Some of these drugs may cause side effects when you stop taking them. Please allow plenty of time for these to subside and always consult your physician before changing your medical schedule.)
• Other MAO-Is
• SSRI’s (any selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors)
• Asthma inhalers
• Antihypertensives (high blood pressure medicine)
• Appetite suppressants (diet pills)
• Medications for asthma, bronchitis, or other breathing problems
• Antihistamines, medicines for colds, sinus problems, hay fever, or allergies (any cold, cough, or flu preparations, and any drug with DM, DX or -tuss in its name.)
• CNS (central nervous system) depressants
• Sympathomimetic amines (including pseudo ephedrine and ephedrine)
• Mescaline (any phenethylamine)
Specific Common Contraindicated Drugs & Medications (*partial list)
• Albuterol (Proventil, Ventolin)
• Dextroamphetamine (Dexedrine)
• Dopamine (Intropin)
• Dristan Cold & Flu
• Epinephrine (Adrenalin)
• Fluoxetine (Prozac)
• Lithium (Eskalith)
• Loratadine (Claritin)
• Meperidine (Demerol)
• Methylphenidate (Ritalin)
• Mirtazapine (Remeron)
• Montelukast (Singulair)
• Nortriptyline (Aventyl)
• Oxymetazoline (Afrin)
• Paroxetine (Paxil)
• Pethedine (Demerol)
• Phenylephrine (Dimetane, Dristan decongestant, NeoSynephrine)
• Phenylpropanolamine (in many cold medicines)
• Phenelzine (Nardil)
• Oxymetazoline (Afrin)
• Sertraline (Zoloft)
• Sumatriptan (Imitrex)
• Terfenadine (Seldane D)
• Tricyclic antidepressants (Amitriptyline, Elavil)
• Vicks Formula 44-D
* This is a partial list only. Please refer to this document for a more complete, although not necessarily exhaustive, list.