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Vine of the Soul

voorbereiden ayahuasca dieet banisteriopsis caapi harmaline

Ayahuasca Diet & Contra-Indications 

General about contraindications and nutrition

Working with plant medicines like Ayahuasca is not without risks. In some mental or physical conditions, it is not wise or even dangerous to drink the medicinal drink. Moreover, Ayahuasca contains certain substances that inhibit the action of MAO enzymes. There are contraindications for combining these MAO inhibitors with certain medications, herbal preparations and drugs.

Ayahuasca & MAO(-inhibition)

Ayahuasca ceremonies generally involve the use of at least two herbal master plants. As a base, Banisteriopsis caapi (Ayahuasca) or Peganum harmala (Syrian rue) are used. These plants contain the so-called harmala alkaloids, namely: harmine, harmaline and tetrahydroharmine (ayahuasca). Besides having a mild psychoactive, sedative and healing effect, they inhibit the action of MAO enzymes.

More explanation on the exact effects of MAOI follows at deze pagina.

MAOIs: caution should be exercised

Due to the presence of MAOIs in Ayahuasca or analogues, the simultaneous use of certain medications, drugs, herbs and foods can become risky and have an attenuating, enhancing or disruptive effect on the experience of your journey. In combination with these MAOIs, some medications and certain drugs can have dangerous and even life-threatening consequences. So always prepare well in advance: follow a tyramine-free diet (for more info, see here) and be honest with us, including when filling in the application form, especially if you use any of the drugs on the list below!

ayahuasca contraindications

"It is health that is real wealth and not pieces of gold and silver.” ~ Mahatma Gandhi ~


We advise all our participants to inform themselves well in advance, and research the possible risks and contraindications associated with working with Ayahuasca.

Below you can find more information on precautions & contraindications (such as lists of specific pharmacuticals and medications, recreational drugs and other preparations).

Precaution in general

It is very important to do some soul-searching and reflect on why you want to work with this plant medicine. Do you feel willing to travel deep within and go on a self-exploration journey? What motivates you? What do you want to get out of it? And what goal do you have in mind, what intention?

Contra Indications general
  1. Mental

    If you have a history of psychosis*, schizophrenia or borderline, we advise against participating in an Ayahuasca ceremony.

  2. Physical

    If you have a history of having physical complaints such as cardiovascular disease, severe kidney problems, strokes, brain infarcts, severe neurological disorders, or epilepsy, we advise against participating in an Ayahuasca ceremony with.

  3. Medicines, recreational & psychoactive drugs and herbs/herbal preparations

    Life-threatening situations can arise from combining Ayahuasca with: virtually all antidepressants (such as SSRIs) and stimulants, common migraine medications, certain herbs and most cold medications (including decongestants, antihistamines, and cough syrups). The same goes for certain recreational drugs.

    The MAOIs in Ayahuasca have reversible or reversible effects, and are therefore also called 'Reversible Inhibitors of Monoamino oxidase A' or RIMAs for short. Although safer than irreversible or irreversible MAOIs, the RIMAs present in Ayahuasca can still have very dangerous and sometimes fatal interactions with many common drugs. In particular, they can cause serotonin syndrome or hypertensive crisis when combined with the above drugs - for more specifications, see the lists below.

    Therefore, be honest and inform yourself and us well before participating in any ceremony!
Medications with contra-indications
  • Other MAOIs
  • Antidepressants such as: SSRIs (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor), SNRIs (selective serotonin and noradrenaline reuptake inhibitors), TCAs (Tricyclic antidepressants)
  • Anti-psychotics
  • Central nervous system (CNS) medication to suppress or sedate such as: barbiturates, benzodiazepines, most sleeping pills, opioids
  • Sympaticomimetics & Amphetamines: such as adhd medication among others
  • Antihypertensives (high blood pressure medication)
  • Some medications for asthma, bronchitis or other respiratory problems (specially when used in large quantities.
  • Antihistamines, medication against colds, sinus problems, hay fever or allergies (Actifed DM, Benadryl, Benylin, Chlor-Trimeton, Compoz, etc)
  • Hunger suppressants (diet pills)
  • Anaesthetics
List of specific pharmaceutical drugs and herbs
  • Antidepressants

    SSRI's: Citalopram (Cipramil®), Escitalopram (Lexapro®), Fuoxetine (Prozac®), Fluvoxamine (Fevarin®), Paroxetine (Paxil, Seroxat), Sertraline (Zoloft)
    SNRI's: Venlafaxine (Efexor XR), Duloxetine (Cymbalta), Nefazodon (Dutonin)
    TCA’s: Amitriptyline (Tryptizol) Sarotex), Clomipramine (Anafranil), Dosulepine (Prothiaden), Imipramine (Tofranil), Maprotiline (Ludiomil), Nortriptyline (Nortrilen)
    Andere hier niet genoemde antidepressants
    (and herbs such as Kanna and St John's wort and preparations such as L-Tryptophan & 5HTP)

  • ADHD medication: 
    Methylfenidaat (known under the brand names Ritalin®, Concerta®, Equasym®, Kinecteen® en Medikinet®), Dexamfetaminesulfaat (FNA, Amfexa, Tentin), Atomoxetine (merknaam Strattera®) 

  • Other medications and herbal preparations: 
    Amantadine hydrochloride (Symmetrel), Amoxapine (Asendin), Benadryl, Benylin, Bupropion (Wellbutrin), Buspiron (BuSpar), Carbamazepine (Tegretol, Epitol), Chlor-Trimeton, Clomipramine (Anafranil), Cyclobenzaprine (Flexeril), Cyclizine (Marezine), Desipramine (Petrofrane), Dextromethorfan (DXM), Disopyramide (Norpace), Doxepin (Sinequan), Flavoxaat hydrochloride (Urispas), Imipramine (Tofranil), Isocarboxazid (Marplan), Levodopa (Dopar , Larodopa), Loratadine (Claritine), Maprotiline (Ludiomil), Meperidine (Demerol), Nortriptyline (Aventyl), Oxybutynine chloride (Ditropan), Orfenadrine (Norflex), Parnate, Phenergen, Fenelzine (Nardil), Procaïnamide (Pronestyl), Protriptyline (Vivactil), Quinidine (Quinidex), Salbutemol, Salmeterol, Selegiline (Eldepryl), Sibutramine, Sinicuichi, Tegretol, Temaril, Tranylcypromine (Parnate), Trimipramine (Surmontil)

    Ephedra, Efedrine & Pseudo-efedrine, Ginseng, Kava, Kratom, Saint John’s Wort, Yohimbine

  • Please note this list is not complete!
    If you take any kind of prescription medication, always inform yourself well and if in doubt (especially if they are not mentioned above), contact a professional such as your GP or a therapist, specialist or pharmacist. You can also contact us, although we are not medical experts!

List of specific drugs & psychoactive substances
  • 2c-t-x – MAO-B inhibitors can increase the potency and duration of phenethylamines unpredictably, which could be dangerous given the unpredictability of the 2C-T-x series
  • 2c-x – MAO-B inhibitors can increase the potency and duration of phenethylamines unpredictably
  • dox – MAO-B inhibitors can increase the potency and duration of phenethylamines unpredictably
  • ketamine – MAO-B inhibitors appear to increase the potency of Ketamine. MAO-A inhbitors have some negative reports associated with the combination but there isn’t much information available
  • mescaline - (San Pedro of Peyote cacti)
  • lsd
  • psilocibine mushrooms or truffels
  • marihuana en hashish - stop preferably at least one week before the ceremony, cause it might influence the intensity, It can have a dampening effect, of the experience. 
  • nbomes – MAO-B inhibitors can increase the potency and duration of phenethylamines unpredictably
  • opiaten – zoals: oxycodon, tramadol, morphine, heroïne
    Coadministration of monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs) with certain opioids has been associated with rare reports of severe and fatal adverse reactions. There appear to be two types of interaction, an excitatory and a depressive one. Symptoms of the excitatory reaction may include agitation, headache, diaphoresis, hyperpyrexia, flushing, shivering, myoclonus, rigidity, tremor, diarrhea, hypertension, tachycardia, seizures, and coma. Death has occurred in some cases.
  • alcohol (preferably at least 3 days before the ceremony) – Tyramine found in many alcoholic beverages can have dangerous reactions with MAOIs, causing an increase in blood pressure.
  • mxe – MAO-B inhibitors appear to increase the potency of MXE. MAO-A inhbitors have some negative reports associated with the combination but there isn’t much information available
  • 5-meo-xxt
  • Tryptamines
  • amphetamines – speed, crystal meth
    MAO-B inhibitors can increase the potency and duration of phenethylamines unpredictably. MAO-A inhibitors with amphetamine can lead to hypertensive crises.
  • amt – aMT is an MAOI on its own. Using enzyme inhibitors can greatly reduce predictability of effects.
  • cocaïne
  • dxm – High risk of serotonin syndrome
  • mdma – MAO-B inhibitors can increase the potency and duration of phenethylamines unpredictably. MAO-A inhibitors with MDMA will lead to hypertensive crises.
  • pcp – This combination is very poorly explored

If you do use any of these substances you should stop taking them at least 2 weeks before the ceremony.

Please note:
These lists are not exhaustive! If you use any form of prescription or recreational drugs, always inform yourself well and if in doubt, contact a professional such as your family doctor or a therapist, specialist or pharmacist. You can also contact us, although we are not medical experts!

"There are things known and there are things unknown, and in between are the doors of perception”
~ Aldous Huxley ~

Preparing Diet

When you start drinking a tea of a master teacher plant like Ayahuasca, it is important to follow a certain diet beforehand. By following La Dieta, you lay the most traditional foundation for a journey with the master plants. In any case, we strongly recommend following a low tyramine, or even tyramine-free diet.

The traditional Ayahuasca diet (La Dieta)

Following La Dieta, the traditional Ayahuasca diet, is not mandated, but it does help lay a solid foundation for a journey with the Ayahuasca Plant Medicine. The goal of this diet is not deprivation (ceremonies can be long, and fasting can lead to fatigue); the goal is to make your body an environment in which the medicine has the best chance to penetrate properly and reach those very areas that need relief and healing.

Practising these disciplines shows respect for your body, the plant medicine and the process. It is believed to lead to greater insight and fewer difficulties during ceremonies.

In general, we encourage everyone to eat whole foods, and limit processed and spicy foods, foods high in spices, salt, sugar, oil and animal fats as much as possible. Please note that this is advice and not an obligation!

A diet as an example:

1 week (or longer) before the start of a ceremony:

  • Try to eat plant-based food as much as possible.
  • Use no or as little pepper, salt and spicy herbs as possible.
  • Avoid onions and garlic.
  • Eat as few sweets, added and refined sugars as possible.
  • Avoid dairy products (milk, cheese, yoghurt, etc.).
  • Avoid alcohol at least three days but preferably a week before starting a ceremony.
  • Do not drink coffee, black or green tea, due to caffeine.
  • Do not eat large amounts of cocoa, dark chocolate in particular.

Avoid sexual acts and intercourse at least three days before the start of a ceremony. (General: at least 3 days). Start the tyramine-free diet at least 2 days before a ceremony

The tyramine-free diet

For your own sake, at least avoid large amounts of tyramine-rich food at least 48 hours before the ceremony. The amino acid tyramine is not broken down sufficiently due to the MAO-inhibiting effect (see more info at the top of this page) of the plant medicine Ayahuasca and can therefore cause side effects such as headache, excessive sweating, enlarged pupils, stiff neck, palpitations, high blood pressure.

List of foods and drinks containing large amounts of tyramine:
  • Dried or overripe fruit (sultanas or plums, bananas or avocados).
  • Strong or mature cheeses (aged Cheddar, Swiss and Parmesan cheeses; blue cheeses such as Stilton and Gorgonzola; and Camembert).
  • Aged meat (treated with salt and nitrate or nitrite, liver, dry sausage, pepperoni and salami)
  • Smoked or processed meat (hot dogs, mortadella, bacon, corned beef) or smoked fish.
  • Canned or fermented foods (sauerkraut, kimchi, caviar, tofu or pickles).
  • Fermented sauces (soy sauce, shrimp sauce, fish sauce, miso and teriyaki sauce).
  • Large quantities of nuts.
  • Soy and soy products, broad beans and pods thereof.
  • Meat tenderisers or meat prepared with meat tenderisers.
  • Yeast-based spreads (Marmite, brewer's yeast or sourdough bread).
  • Alcoholic beverages (beer, red wine, sherry and spirits).
  • Improperly stored or spoiled food.

Basic rules for working effectively with Plant Medicines

ayahuasca diet restrictions

Preparation Set

Good preparation is a must. Reading up on the subject and preparing well on both physical and mental levels will, affect the course of your journey.

banisteriopsis caapi ayahuasca diet restrictions

Safe Setting

It is important that the journey is made in a setting that feels safe, in the presence of competent and experienced facilitators, who will provide support and help navigate if needed.

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However intense the experience, the real work starts after the journey. Grounding well afterwards and integrating your experiences and the insights gained, is perhaps the most important part of working with the plants.

Are you ready to journey with us?