Medical Contraindications with Ayahuasca
Our priority is your safety and well being, and to guide you to personal healing and growth. During the booking process you will be asked to fill out a medical questionnaire. Please be as forthcoming as possible when answering the questions. If any potential medical contraindications are present, we will inquire further to ensure your safety.
By registering for a program, you are declaring that you are in physical and mental condition appropriate to the activities described in the workshop program, 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 behave responsibly and do not endanger yourself or others.
General Medical Precautions
Working with ayahuasca can carry health risks; it is necessary that you disclose any known heart, liver, kidney, pancreatic, or other serious medical condition, and/or use of any medication at the time of booking. Those with diabetes or a hepatic conditions must first consult with the Temple and provide more information about the condition. If you have a heart condition or chronic high blood pressure you cannot be accepted for a program. People with tuberculosis must not take ayahuasca. It is not considered safe to drink ayahuasca when you are pregnant. Please contact us before making a reservation to discuss your particular case.
Although ayahuasca has not been found to cause psychosis or other psychiatric disturbances, it can be dangerous to those with a history of psychological conditions. Please inform us of any history of mental health problems in the past. It is important to suspend any kind of psycho-pharmaceutical and depression treatments 14 to 35 days before drinking ayahuasca. We will provide more specific advice on how to proceed under the supervision of your doctor once we receive details of a particular medication in question.
From an Amazonian plant healer’s perspective, when a patient or apprentice is working with a medicinal plant, it is preferable to not take any other substances or medicines. This may cause cutipado or, in other words, interfere with the plant’s energy and provoke unwanted reactions.
Certain drugs and medications have been found to not be compatible with ayahuasca. It is essential to stop taking the substances listed in this document and give your system sufficient time to remove them from the body before you begin a program. We will provide advice on how to proceed during your booking process. 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
Please notify us of any herbal or natural medicines you are taking, as well as any supplements. The following herbal medicines should not be combined with ayahuasca and must be stopped at least two weeks prior to working with ayahuasca (5):
St. Johns Wort
Note about interaction with cannabis:
Smoking marijuana before the ayahuasca session may stupefy and darken the overall experience, acting as a blockage for the visionary 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 medicine circle. It is important that it is clear from your system before attending a workshop.
PLEASE NOTE: The above list is by no means complete. We will review any herbal medicines or supplements you are taking before we confirm your booking.
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 (1, 2). 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 (4). Some of these drugs may cause side effects when you stop taking them so you should allow plenty of time for these to subside and always consult your physician before changing your medical schedule.
PLEASE NOTE: The following list is by no means complete. We will review any medications or supplements you are taking before we confirm your booking.
Contraindicated Drugs (3, 5):
SSRI’s (any selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors)
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
CNS (central nervous system) depressants
Sympathomimetic amines (including pseudo ephedrine and ephedrine)
Mescaline (any phenethylamine)
Specific Contraindicated Drugs:
Albuterol (Proventil, Ventolin)
Amantadine hydrochloride (Symmetrel)
Bromarest-DM or -DX
Carbamazepine (T egretol, Epitol)
Chlor T rimeton
Desipramine (Pertofrane, Norpramin)
Dienolide kavapyrone desmethoxyyangonin
Dristan Cold & Flu
Flavoxate Hydrochloride (Urispas)
Imipramine (T ofranil)
Iproniazid (Marsilid, Iprozid, Ipronid, Rivivol, Propilniazida)
Isoniazid (Laniazid, Nydrazid)
Isoniazid rifampin (Rifamate, Rimactane)
L dopa (Sinemet)
Levodopa (Dopar, Larodopa
Linezolid (Zyvox, Zyvoxid)
Metaproterenol (Alupent, Metaprel)
Oxybutynin chloride (Ditropan)
Phenylephrine (Dimetane, Dristan decongestant, Neo Synephrine)
Phenylpropanolamine (in many cold medicines)
T erfenadine (Seldane D)
Theophylline (Theo Dur)
Tricyclic antidepressants (Amitriptyline, Elavil)
T rimipramine (Surmontil)
Vicks Formula 44-D
Using stimulants with MAO-Is is particularly dangerous and can be potentially fatal. Using cocaine, amphetamines or MDMA (Ecstasy) with MAO-Is may cause a severe increase in blood pressure, increasing the chances for stroke and cerebral hemorrhage and making it possible to overdose on a relatively small amount of cocaine. (A fatality has been recorded involving combining Peganum harmala and cocaine. Fatalities resulting from combining amphetamines with pharmaceutical MAO-Is are recorded in medical literature.)
Using other serotonin agonists or precursors with an MAO-I can lead to serotonin syndrome. The main symptom of serotonin symptom may be a severe and long- lasting headache (the same symptom as MAO-I tryptamine interaction) and/or fever (as high as 40 °C / 104 °F or more) Other symptoms of serotonin syndrome may include rapid heartbeat, shivering, sweating, dilated pupils, intermittent tremor or twitching, overactive or over-responsive reflexes, hyperactive bowel sounds, high blood pressure. Severe serotonin syndrome may lead to shock, agitated delirium, muscular rigidity and high muscular tension. renal failure, seizures, and can be life- threatening.
Using Tricyclic antidepressants within two weeks of taking MAO-Is may cause serious side effects including sudden fever, extremely high blood pressure, convulsions, and death.
Using Fluoxetine (Prozac) within five weeks of taking MAO-Is may cause high fever, rigidity, high blood pressure, mental changes, confusion and hypomania.
Using Benzedrine, Benzphetamine, Desipramine, Desoxyn, Dexedrine, Dopamine, Ephedrine (contained in Marax, Quadrinal, and other asthma drugs), Epinephrine,
Guanadrel, Guanethidine, Hydralazine, Isoproterenol, L-dopa, Metaraminol, Methyldopa, Mirtazamine, Norepinephrine Oxymetazoline, Phendimetrazine, Phentermine, Phenylephrine, Phenylpropanolamine, Pseudoephedrine, Ritalin, or Venlafaxine with MAO-Is may cause a hypertensive crisis (severe spike in blood pressure).
Using Adderall with MAO-Is can result in high body temperature, seizure, and in some cases coma.
Using Bupropion (Wellbutrin) within two weeks of taking MAO-Is may cause serious side effects such as seizures.
Using Buspirone (Buspar) with MAO-Is may cause high blood pressure and increased sedative effects.
Using Carbamazepine (Tegretol) with MAO-Is may result in fever and may increase seizures, especially in epileptics.
Using Clomipramine with MAO-Is may cause high fever (hyperpyrexic crisis) and seizures.
Using CNS depressants with MAO-Is may increase the depressant effects.
Using Desipramine (Norpramin, Pertofrane) with MAO-Is may result in hypertensive
Using Dextromethorphan with MAO-Is may cause excitement, high blood pressure,
and fever, or brief episodes of psychosis.
Using Fenfluramine with MAO-Is may result in fever (hyperpyrexic crisis).
Using Lithium with MAO-Is may cause fever and serotonin syndrome.
Using Meperidine (Demerol) with pharmaceutical MAO-Is has resulted in deaths from
a single dose.
Using Metaproterenol or other beta-adrenergic bronchodilators with MAO-Is may
cause blood pressure elevation and rapid heartbeat.
Using Mirtazapine (Remeron) with MAO-Is may result in hypertensive crisis.
Using Nefazodone (Serzone) may result in high fever.
Using Temaril with MAO-Is may increase chance of side effects.
Using Terfenadine with MAO-Is may cause an increase in MAO-I blood levels.
Using Theophylline with MAO-Is may cause rapid heartbeat and anxiety.
Using Trazodone (Desyrel) with MAO-Is may result in high fever.
Using Tryptophan or L-tryptophan with MAO-Is may cause disorientation, confusion,
amnesia, delirium agitation, memory impairment, hypomanic signs, shivering.
Using Venlafaxine (Effexor) with MAO-Is may result in hypertensive crisis.
Using Ziprasidone (Geodon) with MAO-Is may cause serotonin syndrome.
Using alcohol with MAO-Is may cause side effects like angina (chest pain) or
headaches. The headache may mask or be mistaken for hypertensive crisis caused
by MAO-I interaction. MAO-Is can also increase the sedative effect of alcohol.
Using opiates with MAO-Is carries a risk of respiratory depression.
Using diuretics with MAO-Is may cause a greater drop in blood pressure than normal
and increase in MAO-I blood levels.
Using anesthetics with MAO-Is may potentiate the anesthetic effect.
Using sleeping pills, tranquilizers (major or minor), or barbiturates with MAO-Is may
increase the sedative effect.
1. Hales RE, Yudolfsky SC, Talbott JA (Editors) (1994). American Psychiatric Press Textbook of Psychiatry. Washington, D.C.: American Psychiatric Press, Inc. 940-3.
2. McCabe BJ (1986). Dietary tyramine and other pressor amines in MAO-I regimes: A review. Journal of The American Dietetic Association. 86:8:1059-64.
3. Savinelli, Alfred, and John H. Halpern. “MAO-I Contraindications.” Newsletter of the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies MAPS 6.1 (1995). 58.
4. Sternbach H (1991). The Serotonin Syndrome. American Journal of Psychiatry. 148:705-13
(Letter to the Editor). American Journal of Psychiatry. 149:3:411-2. Physicians' Desk Reference (48th edition, 1994). Montvale, NJ: Medical Economics Data.
5. “What Food and Drugs Need to Be Avoided?” ayahuasca.com N.p., 28 Feb. 2008. Web. 29 Dec. 2014.