Ayahuasca Health and Safety Issues

Ayahuasca Health and Safety

Drug Interactions

It is dangerous to use drugs close to the ingestion of ayahuasca. This includes pharmaceutical medication, recreational street drugs, and some herbal medicines such as St. John’s Wort.  When ayahuasca interacts with certain chemicals that effect the body’s natural serotonin production, it can be dangerous. SSRI anti-depressants and amphetamines, for instance are unsafe in interaction with ayahuasca.  We ask that our guests refrain from using any medication for at least 1 week before attending an ayahuasca retreat, throughout their retreat, and for at least 1 week afterwards. This means that ayahuasca is unsafe for use by people who are unable to stop their medication, which may include those with AIDS and Diabetes.  If you use any medication or other drugs regularly please consult us about this when applying for an ayahuasca retreat. We will advise you, based on medical evidence and experience, as to whether ayahuasca use is safe for you or could be safe if you follow restrictions. Detoxifying the body of all foreign chemicals and toxins before ayahuasca therapy is highly recommended for safe practice and optimum benefit.


Heart Conditions

Ayahuasca is not recommended for people with serious heart conditions requiring medication or who have had heart operations. This is because drinking ayahuasca increases the heart rate, which may be dangerous for people with heart conditions.


Mental Health Risks

It is generally not recommended for people with serious psychosis to drink ayahuasca. This is due to the powerful nature of the ayahuasca experience, inducing visions, or “hallucinations”, which could be psychologically detrimental. Yet, ayahuasca therapy has been shown to be effective in the treatment of mental illnesses such as depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder, and OCD. Ayahuasca’s effectiveness in drug addiction treatment centres such as The Takiwasi centre in Peru is also well documented. It appears ayahuasca therapy brings the underlying causes of illnesses such as depression to the surface, so that we are able to liberate ourselves from their symptoms. We therefore welcome people with addiction, depression and other mental health conditions to Chinchelejo Lodge for ayahuasca retreats, but will consult individuals thoroughly through the application process to assess whether ayahuasca therapy will be safe and beneficial for them.


Dietary Restrictions

Following the proper dietary restrictions before and during ayahuasca retreats is essential to ensure your health and safety. These restrictions, as outlined in the Ayahuasca Retreats section of this website, have been followed for thousands of years by indigenous people of the Amazon who believe they were communicated by the spirits of the Master Plants. Recent western research has revealed that certain chemicals in restricted foods present health risks when mixed with ayahuasca. Scientific evidence is accessible through the 'Useful Resources' section of this website.


Women's Safety

Although it is widely believed amongst westerners and amongst some indigenous peoples that ayahuasca use is dangerous for pregnant women, there is no evidence for this. Ayahuasca has been used safely by mestizo women during pregnancy for many years as well as Santo Daime church members who believe it strengthens the spirit of the child. Lili and Luco’s young son Jafari is evidence for this! Lili drank ayahuasca twice during her pregnancy. He was born with no problems and is definitely a strong spirited child. If you are interested in drinking ayahuasca during pregnancy we will consider your health and where you are in your pregnancy. Lili will be able to share her experiences with you and Luco will consult you to ensure it is safe for you and your baby.

Traditionally amongst indigenous Amazonian peoples women do not drink ayahuasca during menstruation. It is believed that women are more open energetically during menstruation and this is potentially dangerous to them and others during ceremony. The exclusion of women during menstruation, and sometimes women in general from ayahuasca ceremonies, is perhaps also a reflection of prejudice. In keeping with contemporary mestizo practice, we allow women to take part in ayahuasca ceremonies during menstruation, but advise that you make us aware. The effect of drinking is often stronger so a smaller amount than usual is usually given according to the Shaman’s and your feelings. The women working at the lodge will be able to explain what is like to undergo ayahuasca ceremonies during menstruation so can speak with you more about this.