Medical Guidelines for Ayahuasca Ceremonies & San Pedro Ceremonies

Ayahuasca & San Pedro Medical Guidelines

The Ayahuasca brew contains two plants: the Ayahuasca vine, which contains a Mono-Amine Oxidase Inhibitor (MAOI) and Chakruna leaf, which contains DMT. The vine, among other things, acts to prolong the effects of the DMT found in the leaf.

Ayahuasca acts on the serotonin system and thus any other medications that act on the serotonin system must be discontinued at least 6 weeks before coming to a retreat. This particularly includes SSRIs and SNRIs (which are both types of common anti-depressants), and any other MAOIs. These are potentially fatal in combination with Ayahuasca.

If you arrive here and have not discontinued these medicines, we will not serve you the medicine.

We require a full disclosure of all medications and medical conditions when you book a retreat. If you have any questions about medications that you are on, please email us at gaiastaff@umsonline.org prior to booking so that we can confirm that we are able to welcome you here, and that this medicine is right for you. For some conditions, we may require that you consult and obtain clearance from your doctor to participate in the retreat.

San Pedro is a heart opening medicine that has a common side effect of increasing blood flow and heat rate. This can be dangerous in combination with certain heart medications and chronic high blood pressure; if you are taking any medication of this type or have a heart or blood condition we need to know, and reserve the right to not serve you the medicine. We may start you with a lower dose of medicine to see how your body responds.

Please see the list below for an idea of what substances need to be discontinued before participating in an Ayahuasca or San Pedro ceremony, please email us at gaiastaff@umsonline.org if you have a specific query about the medication that you are taking.

You must disclose all conditions and medication that you are on when you book a retreat and we will check these against our reference list.

Please also see our ayahuasca diet guidelines for more information about foods that are safe and what to avoid. 

We also ask that you discontinue any other pharmaceuticals or herbal supplements at least one week prior to your retreat, unless they are necessary for a medical condition. In this case we need to know what drugs you are taking so that we can check their interaction with Ayahuasca and San Pedro.

People with a history of mental health issues, or with family history of mental health issues should check with us before booking. In some cases ayahuasca can worsen the symptoms of disorders (particularly schitzophrenia, certain types of Bipolar disorder, and some other psychiatric disorders) and we need to check your specific circumstances before giving you a place on one of our retreats. You must disclose to us if you have these or any other mental health conditions or issues.

We do not allow people to attend our retreats who are pregnant.

Do NOT take the following substances for at least 6 weeks before an Ayahuasca or San Pedro ceremony, and for at least 2 weeks afterwards:

  • Any pharmaceuticals that interact with the serotonin system including but not limited to MAOIs, SSRIs and SNRIs, and herbal supplements that act on the serotonin system such as St. Johns Wort.

  • Antipsychotics

  • Recreational drugs such as cocaine, amphetamines (including methamphetamine, Adderall and Ritalin), MDMA (ecstasy) and similar substances

Don’t take the following substances for at least one week before a retreat, and for one week afterwards:

  • All pharmaceuticals, except those needed for high blood pressure, heart issues, and diabetes

  • Cannabis/Marijuana

  • Alcohol

  • Cold and cough medicine and decongestants

  • Respiratory medicines for asthma or respiratory medicines of any kind

  • Sleeping pills and other sedatives or tranquilizers

  • Diet pills and appetite suppressants

  • Allergy medicine

  • Barbiturates

  • High blood pressure medicine

  • Some antihistamines

  • Some hypertensive and anti-hypertensive medications

  • Opiates

Don’t take ANYTHING for three days prior to drinking Ayahuasca or San Pedro, including herbs and even vitamins, unless you have discussed it with us and we have approved it. These medicines work best with your body in its natural state and it they can be deadly in combination with certain substances. Please particularly avoid the following herbs:

  • Kava
  • Kratom
  • Ephedra
  • Ginseng
  • Yohimbe
  • Sinicuichi
  • Rhodiola Rosea
  • Kanna
  • Boswellia
  • Nutmeg
  • Scotch Broom
  • Licorice Root

NEVER enter an Ayahuasca Ceremony or San Pedro Ceremony with any recreational substances in your system.

Diabetes

We can usually accommodate diabetics in our retreats, but we need to know in advance what care you require. Please bring all your usual items with you and let our staff know about your regular protocol. We will start you with a lower dose of medicine to see how your body responds, and we will have juice and snacks available if you need them.

Long term or terminal illnesses and conditions

If you are taking any medication for a long term condition, please consult with your doctor before stopping it. Some medications require tapering as withdrawing treatment in one go can be dangerous, and in some cases your medication may be necessary for your health and should not be stopped.

After you return home from a retreat, consult with your doctor about your health and medications. We cannot advise you what is the best course of action for you and your health.

Do NOT quit your medications and treatments without checking with your doctor first.

Disclaimer Note: Never replace regular western medicines or treatments with Ayahuasca. Ayahuasca is not a substitute for western medicine, and should be considered complimentary to whatever treatments you are currently taking. Only take a ‘break’ from western medicine with the approval of your doctor, and follow their advice and guidelines about a safe time frame for a break. We suggest you ask your doctor how long you can safely be without the medicine or treatment before you begin the process.

Notes on Miraculous Healings

Miraculous healings with Ayahuasca and San Pedro Ceremonies have been known to happen, but if you believe you have had a miraculous healing experience, please go and get verification from a western doctor. They will then be able to advise the best course of action for your continuing health.

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