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Safety

Please take the information below very seriously.

 

In the event of an emergency, please be aware that our center is located approximately 40 minutes away from Iquitos, accessible via a combination of road and boat transportation. While emergencies are rare, we are well-prepared to handle any unforeseen circumstances. To ensure your safety during your stay, we kindly ask that you complete the medical questionnaire honestly when submitting your application. Our shamans will work closely with you to ensure your well-being throughout your time with us.

  • While Ayahuasca is generally considered safe, there are certain individuals who should refrain from taking it. We discourage individuals with heart disease (heart failure, recent heart attack, angina, valve disease, arrhythmia, uncontrolled hypertension), kidney disease, or schizophrenia from partaking in Ayahuasca ceremonies. Consuming Ayahuasca can induce a highly stimulating experience, potentially increasing blood pressure and heart rate, and temporarily disrupting electrolyte balance. Moreover, it may trigger psychosis in individuals with schizophrenia.

 

  • The physical stress induced by this medicine is generally manageable for individuals in good health. However, it could pose significant risks, including fatality, for individuals with pre-existing conditions related to blood pressure, heart, or kidneys. Therefore, we kindly request that individuals over the age of 40 (or those who have fully recovered from a past heart attack and are currently healthy) undergo a medical screening by their doctor. This screening should include blood pressure measurement, an electrocardiogram, and blood work to assess liver and kidney function. By adhering to these precautions, you assume full responsibility for any potential harm or adverse effects resulting from consuming Ayahuasca, including the risk of death. In the event that you discover you are not in suitable health to work with this medicine and need to cancel your retreat, we will refund your deposit.

 

  • Individuals with active prostate cancer should refrain from consuming Ayahuasca, as it can exacerbate the condition by inflaming the prostate.

 

  • We also ask that you wait 6 months to drink ayahuasca if you have had any surgery that required general anesthesia.

 

  • A note about menstruation. When women drink Ayahuasca while menstruating, it can intensify PMS symptoms like cramping and heavier flow. The energy of menstruation is also very strong in ceremony space and in some cases can cross the energies of the other Pasajeros in the space affecting their process – especially those who are at the center to participate in Master Plant Diets. We ask that all women who are menstruating during a retreat, please communicate this with the Maestro - while you are bleeding, the Maestros can not give you your personal healing, however, you are more than welcome in the ceremonies. We also ask that you take extra time to be in more solitude during this time and do not approach or enter anyone’s personal space who is at the center for a Master Plant Diet. It is a special experience to bleed while working with the medicine, however, it is strong. Taking time to be alone with your cycle can be extremely profound and deepen your intentions – so we invite you to take advantage of that opportunity by bringing yourself into a deeper ceremony and exploring your own energy in your cabin. Some women love this opportunity and even request food to be delivered to them to really maintain the energy of solitude. We can accommodate this if this feels good for you. 

 

  • About sex. Ayahuasca Retreats and Master Plant Dietas involve fairly strict pre, present, and post-diet requirements. While you are in retreat or dieta, you will be limited to certain foods that keep your body as clean as possible. This helps you to be sensitive and open to the subtleties of the medicine. Some foods, including salt and sugar, can block the effects of this work. The same is especially true for sex. Any kind of sexual activity, including masturbation, should be strictly discontinued during this time. Controlling your mind is not always easy, but you should also do your best to redirect any sexual thoughts you might have toward the work you are here to do. If you do participate in any of these things within your required time restrictions, please let the Maestros know so they can realign your work.


If you are committing to a Master Plant Dieta we ask that you really take this information seriously as it can have grave consequences for the overall health of your life. This is not an experience to take lightly and so we ask that you come to this work with respect and commitment to yourself and to your plants.

 

List of Medications to Avoid When Drinking Ayahuasca

  • Antihypertensives/high blood pressure medicine  - stop 4 weeks prior to retreat and resume the day you get home. Ayahuasca will impact your blood pressure. Therefore, you must be able to control your blood pressure (120 systolic and below) through diet, healthy living, and exercise for the month leading up to your retreat. To do this, we recommend regular meditation, a raw diet with no added sugar or salt and no caffeine or tobacco. If your blood pressure is found to be elevated at the retreat, you will not be able to drink that day.

  • MAOIs (monoamine oxidase inhibitors) - stop 4 weeks prior to retreat

  • SSRIs (any selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor) - stop 6 weeks prior to retreat, resume 4 weeks after

  • Antibiotics - stop 72 hours prior to retreat

  • Appetite suppressants (diet pills) - stop at least 4 weeks prior to retreat

  • Antihistamines, medicines for colds, sinus problems, hay fever, or allergies - stop 2 weeks prior to retreat

  • Any drug containing dextromethorphan/ DXM or with DM, DX, or Tuss in its name - stop 2 weeks prior to retreat

  • CNS depressants (Xanax, Ativan, etc) - stop 4 weeks prior to retreat

  • Vasodilators - discuss with us prior to reserving a retreat. You likely have a medical condition that is not safe with ayahuasca

  • Antipsychotics - discuss with shaman prior to reserving a retreat

  • Medicine for asthma, bronchitis, or other breathing problems - (may use, but should discuss with shaman)

  • Foods containing  tyramine (aged cheese, cured meats, and pickled foods) - stop 2 weeks prior

Vaccines

Please wait at least 2 weeks after receiving tetanus to start ayahuasca. All other vaccines do not require a wait time.

Antimalarials

Selva Madre does not tend to have a lot of mosquitoes, but most governments recommend prophylaxis for the general area and you will likely not be at the center 100% of the time. The shamans understand this and have said that you may take antimalarial medication if you wish, but please let them know you are on it so that they can make modifications if necessary. Malarone seems to be the least problematic with ayahuasca.

Illegal or recreational drugs that are VERY dangerous to combine with MAOIs. You must be honest about any use:

  • Amphetamines, ephedrine, MDMA (Ecstasy), MDA, MDEA, PMA - stop 4 weeks prior to retreat

  • Opiates (heroin, morphine, codeine, kratom and especially opium) - stop 4 weeks prior to retreat

  • Dextromethorphan (DXM) - stop 4 weeks prior to retreat

  • Mescaline (any phenethylamine) - stop 4 weeks prior to retreat

  • Cocaine - stop 4 weeks prior to retreat

  • Barbiturates - stop 4 weeks prior to retreat

  • Kava - stop 4 weeks prior to retreat

 

Cannabis use is not dangerous, but it significantly alters the anticipated effects of ayahuasca and can interfere with the work of the shamans on retreat, especially if you are a heavy user. The shamans thus feel that it is very important for you to stop using 4 weeks prior to the retreat. We respect Cannabis itself as a Master Plant and its use ceremonially in places where it is legal; however, it is illegal in Peru and therefore should also not be brought to Selva Madre. 

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