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 and to allow it to pass into your system.

Ayahuasca acts on the serotonin system and thus any pharmaceutical or herbal substance that acts 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. Please read about Seratonin Syndrome by doing a google search and you will see why it is so important to discontinue these kinds of medications before participating in an Ayahuasca retreat. 

Do not take Ayahuasca if you are pregnant.

San Pedro

San Pedro is a heart opening medicine that has a common side effect of increasing blood flow and heart 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 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 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 or life threatening illness.

Mental Health Issues

In some cases Ayahuasca can worsen the symptoms of disorders (particularly schizophrenia and psychosis). Depression, bi-polar or anxiety respond well to the medicines.

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), marijuana and similar substances

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

  • Cannabis/Marijuana

  • Alcohol

  • Cold/cough medicine and decongestants

  • Sleeping pills and other sedatives or tranquilizers (melatonin is ok because that is a substance your own body makes when it’s time to sleep)

  • Diet pills and appetite suppressants

  • Allergy medicine

  • Barbiturates

  • Opiates
  • Antihistamines

  • Some hypertensive and anti-hypertensive medications

Shamanic medicines work best with your body in its natural state. Please particularly avoid the following herbs:

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


We can 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 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, which means taking a lower dose in increments until stopping altogether. In some cases your medication may be necessary for your health and should not be stopped.

Please make sure to check with your doctor about discontinuing your medications, especially if you have a serious medical condition.

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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