Medical Guidelines for Ayahuasca & 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. This medicine is in the DMT family.

San Pedro is made from only the San Pedro cactus, also called Huachuma. This medicine is in the mescaline family.

Please see our Ayahuasca Diet guidelines

Ayahuasca is not a substitute for western medicine. Never replace regular western treatments with it. It should be considered complimentary to whatever treatments you are currently taking.

Please Consult With Your Doctor

If there is any question about your specific medication, we are not medical doctors so we would not be allowed to tell you if it is alright or not. We simply don’t know. Please consult your doctor if you are not sure. Better to be safe if you’re not sure!

Ayahuasca & Seratonin

Ayahuasca acts on the serotonin system and thus any substance which acts on serotonin systems must be discontinued at least 4-6 weeks before a retreat. This particularly includes SSRIs and SNRIs (which are both types of common anti-depressants), and any MAOIs.

These are potentially fatal in combination with Ayahuasca. Please read about Seratonin Syndrome. Do a google search and you will see why it is so important to discontinue these kinds of medications before participating in an Ayahuasca retreat.

San Pedro

San Pedro is a heart opening medicine that has a common side effect of increasing blood flow and heart rate. If you have a heart or blood condition we may start you with a lower dose of medicine to see how your body responds. Please continue taking your heart or blood pressure medicines.

Mental Health Issues

Ayahuasca will worsen symptoms of schizophrenia and psychosis. If you’re taking anti-psychotic types of medications, Ayahuasca will not help with these conditions. However, depression, bi-polar or anxiety conditions do respond well to the medicines.

What & When To Stop – Medications

If you are taking any medication for a long term condition or have been taking it for a long time, 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. For instance:

Please CONTINUE Medications For These Conditions:

  • diabetes
  • blood pressure
  • heart
  • thyroid
  • or any other condition that your physical well being and health depends on

Stop 4-6 weeks before and 2 weeks after Ayahuasca Retreat:

You may need to taper for a while, which means you need to start earlier than 4-6 weeks in order to be free of the medication completely for at least a month before the retreat. This means taking a lower dose in increments before stopping altogether. A doctor can advise you on how to do this best.

  • Anti-Depressants – which interact with the serotonin system, MAOIs, SSRIs and SNRIs, and herbal supplements such as St. Johns Wort.

  • Anti-Anxiety
  • Recreational drugs – such as cocaine, amphetamines (including Adderall and Ritalin), MDMA (ecstasy), and similar substances

Stop for at least 1 week before and 1 week after Ayahuasca retreat:

  • Cannabis/Marijuana
  • Alcohol
  • Cold/cough medicine and decongestants
  • Sleeping pills, sedatives, tranquilizers (melatonin is ok, your own body makes it)
  • 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:

  • tell us in advance the care you require
  • let our staff know about your regular protocol
  • bring all your usual items and medications with you
  • bring your medicine and kits to ceremonies in case needed

We will have juice and snacks available if you need them during every ceremony.

Long Term or Terminal Illnesses

If you are going to stop taking a long term medication for a long term or terminal condition, please consult with your doctor.

Think of it as taking a “break” from western medicine with the approval of your doctor, and follow his or her advice about a safe time frame for a break and how to go about it.

You may need to taper for a while before the retreat.  Ask your doctor how long you can safely be without the western medicine or treatment before you begin the process.

Notes on Miraculous Healings

Miraculous Ayahuasca healing experiences and San Pedro healings have been known to happen, but if you believe you have experienced a healing miracle, please get verification from a western doctor. He or she will then be able to advise the best course of action for your continuing health and monitor your progress.

If you have a spontaneous Ayahuasaca healing experience, thank you for being a Miracle Holder and sharing it with us!


Please don’t take Ayahuasca or San Pedro when you are pregnant or lactating. If you are not sure if you’re pregnant, please wait until you know for sure.