Written answers to your most frequently asked questions about Ayahuasca, and answers to questions you never thought to ask.


Question 1: What is Ayahuasca and what is an Ayahuasca healing?

Ayahuasca is many things on many levels. Wikipedia states: “Ayahuasca (usually pronounced /ˌaɪjəˈwæskə/ or /ˌaɪjəˈwaːskə/), also commonly called yagé (/jaːˈheɪ/), is an entheogenic brew made out of Banisteriopsis caapi vine, often in combination with various other plants. It can be mixed with the leaves of Chacruna or Chagropanga, dimethyltryptamine (DMT)-containing plant species.” But you can read this and the rest of the pages of information by yourself. I will try to make it easier: 

Ayahuasca is a brew made by the chacruna leaves, which hold the DMT, and the ayahuasca vine which allows the stomach to absorb it. There are other plants often used to enhance or intensify some effects and in some traditions other sources of DMT are used instead of the chacruna plant and many additional plants, like datura or toé, are added which can be dangerous and are renown for causing chronic anxiety and paranoia. I would recommend only ingesting ayahuasca that contains nothing other than the two primary ingredients. The DiMethylTryptamine, a substance present in many plants and produced naturally by the pineal gland and other organs in primates, is a psychotropic substance, and is responsible for hallucinations and altered states of reality but does not pose an addiction risk. Ayahuasca is a thousands of years old medicine used ritualistically for healing of mental, emotional and physical ailments. The interesting point is that the ayahuasca brew is named after the apparently secondary, non-active ingredient, in every culture that uses it. This is because the ayahuasca potion is much more than just DMT, exhibiting properties beyond the scope of other DMT usage or any other psychotropic experience.

Ayahuasca is special and considered the “queen” of psychotropic medicinal plants for many reasons: To start, it is a highly navigable experience; despite potentially heavy hallucinations it can provide a mind clear enough to do your annual tax returns. She also gives direct access to all your memory banks and she can put you in a direct face to face conversation with your subconscious, among other miracles. She can heal addictions, depression, many mental and emotional issues, provide inspiration, open your heart, restore numb emotions and enthusiasm, and provide a direction in life as well as heal or alleviate a variety of physical ailments. She is also a goddess in the amazon jungle, a stern but caring grandmother, a feminine symbol of nature and much more.

An Ayahuasca healing is first about clarity and information, finding root issues to symptoms, whether mental, emotional or physical. This clarity is both cognitive and emotional, and leads to choices that address or start addressing the root cause of the issue.

Question 2: What are the effects of the Ayahuasca? 

The effects of the Ayahuasca are magical, thus totally unpredictable. You may feel no appreciable effect, you may have a hellish, terrorizing experience, you may be in nirvana, you may experience the Big Bang or future worlds, you may find yourself in other creature´s bodies or other creatures in yours, and a never ending avalanche of unpredictable surprises. Physical  and emotional discomfort as well as supreme ecstasy may alternate during your journey, depending purely on your internal processes. The reason I describe all these effects as magical is because they extend beyond what we can imagine. They are spectacular because she can take you where you could never imagine exploring yourself; in part, because she unlocks your subconscious and everything you are blocked from contemplating, the paths that are almost impossible for you, in your normal state to envision and feel. Like the subconscious and dreams, she uses a highly symbolic language paired with actual words and insights to transmit her replies.

Question 3: What can I expect from an Ayahuasca experience?

Exactly what you want, but not necessarily what you think you want. Exactly what you are afraid of, but not necessarily think or want to acknowledge. Exactly what your heart and soul yearns for, even if it is not necessarily what you think or think you feel. She knows you better than you know yourself, because she has access and connects both your conscious and your unconscious self.

Question 4: How does Ayahuasca work?

Ayahuasca is often used by the indigenous people without chacruna, simply as a powerful purging and cleansing agent. As such, it provides a deep and efficient cleansing of the body, getting rid of all kinds of parasites. That is why it is associated with vomiting and diarrhea, experiences that manage to be unexpectedly pleasurable and desirable under the context of the ceremony. In the context of an ayahuasca ceremony, the purge is directly associated and experienced as a cleansing of foul emotions, foul thoughts and internal “demons”.  Ayahuasca distorts time; sometimes cramming thousands of memories and events into a few minutes, sometimes making a moment seem eternal. As Einstein proved, all matter if accelerated to the speed of light lose their mass and become light; if light is slowed down, it acquires mass and thus physical form. During an ayahuasca ceremony, often everything slows down; the products of our minds, our fleeting thoughts and emotions, the feelings that leave us with a quickly forgotten “what was that?” feeling, the energy world, everything not “physical”, slows down and flows like honey, gaining form. This allows us on a mental and emotional level to examine and process our interior world, but also allows mental states and dreams to become real, to gain mass and interact with us on the physical realm. In this state you can experience strange beings touching you or even entering you and interacting with you. She also breaks the barriers of communication between you and your subconscious, both in symbolic and literal ways. She responds to your will and intention and gives you access, if you sincerely demonstrate a strong intention to overcome your own resistance, to any and every part of what you are.

Question 5: Are there any side effects from Ayahuasca usage?

There are side effects to everything that we do, since we live in a completely and pervasively interconnected world.  Ayahuasca´s physical side effects include blood pressure and pulse increases, so it is not recommended for people with a pre-existing serious heart condition, and there are all kinds of effects such as cold-hot flashes, which are not side effects but integral parts of an holistic experience that affects every single layer of our functionality. The most serious “side” effect” is that it may cause you to change your life, often dramatically.

Question 6: Is Ayahuasca dangerous, and what are the risks involved?

The Ayahuasca brew has been used for thousands of years with no danger, health problems or deaths until recently. However, like anything including aspirin, it requires proper use and avoidance of counter indications. To start with, Ayahuasca, like rollercoasters and horror movies, raises blood pressure and pulse rate, so it is naturally not indicated for people with serious heart conditions. Foods with tyramine have been known to accentuate this effect and may cause hypertension, and are to be avoided and reduced for 20 to 30 days before a retreat. Tyramine is found in fermented foods such as cheese, yoghurt, spoiled meats, many fruits, nuts and many other sources. You do not need to eliminate them altogether, just reduce them. A more serious counter indication is any kind of drug, alcohol or anti-depressant. In general, it is better to start a retreat as pure and cleansed as possible, without fanatic exaggeration, because in general the dangers are minimal. Wikipedia confirms: “Long-term negative effects are not known.  However, very few deaths due to participation in the consumption of ayahuasca have been reported. The deaths may be due to preexisting heart conditions, as ayahuasca may increase pulse rates and blood pressure, or interaction with other medicines taken, such as antidepressants, and in some cases possibly a result of the addition of toé in the brew.”

The very small numbers of recent deaths, counted on the fingers of one hand or two, are less than deaths from slipping on banana peels, but are an indication of misuse of Ayahuasca: unguided and unattended people, combination with other drugs, unsafe environment, unqualified and inexperienced supervision that can create panic in the individual, in combination with some of the above factors. Two of the deaths were due to intense suggestibility, in a satanic ceremony. Ayahuasca taken in a traditional, protected  ceremony environment and context with proper guidance and support is absolutely safe.

Question 7: Many people say that Ayahuasca changed their lives, is that possible?

Not only is it possible, but it happens on many occasions. I, for one, was a divorced, clinically depressed, suicidal and insomniac workaholic textile executive with two children who I theoretically loved but was unable to connect or interact with them in a healthy way. I was a “successful” over achiever, hungry for social recognition, which was never enough to counterbalance my ingrained self-hatred, well hidden insecurity (or so I thought), self-judgment and self-doubt. I lived my life in anger, constantly feeling guilty and at the same time a victim.

I could see no purpose or direction in my life, just choosing to pursue more of the same, more money, more social acceptance, more recognition, although each high from an achievement lasted very little before I re immersed myself in a life where I was constantly trying to convince myself that I should be happy because I had more of all of that than most people around me. Today, I am happy every day, all the time, inspired and blown away by the beauty, excitement and completeness of my life and have managed to have a truly loving and easy relationship. Because life is supposed to be easy!

Ayahuasca can break down the walls of arbitrary preconceptions and beliefs that do not allow us to see possible beautiful, inspiring and fulfilling lives, paths and destinies that are obscured from us. It can remove blocks that use fear to stop us from embodying our full potential as human beings. Can Ayahuasca change lives? Oh Yeah! You betcha! And I personally know of more examples than I can remember!

Question 8: Can Ayahuasca heal depression and serious mental problems such as: bipolar, schizophrenia, split or multiple personality disorders and other?

Ayahuasca is a tool, and its effectiveness depends on how it is used. It is not a magical stick that by itself will heal all. Used with intention, proper and systematic guidance and with the full intention of the participant, ALL of the above can be healed extremely effectively within the context of an organized workshop, within a few days. Often serious conditions that have been declared unsolvable  by western science and are treated with psychotherapy and suppression drugs, just to keep people functional in society, are resolved within days. But an Ayahuasca healing needs to be accompanied by a life path; changes in lifestyle, habits, employment of specific and religiously observed practices and avoidance of “toxic” environments and situations, in order to avoid regression. Most of us are perversely attached to our ailments and suffering, and it is very easy to roll back, because we have an affinity for the particular condition. As in any kind of surgery, there is a regime of recovery to be followed, sometimes for years. If the question is “can an Ayahuasca ceremony heal by itself serious conditions such as the ones above?” the answer would have to be no.

Question 9: Can Ayahuasca heal addictions and which ones?

The answer is yes, all of them, and it does. But again, as in any healing,  in the context of a properly guided workshop, with serious intention on behalf of the addict, the willingness for serious life changes,  and a strictly followed recovery and protection regime afterwards. Habits of the body, the mind and the soul require time to eradicate and replace with habits that serve us. Each and every addiction is constructed on a set of toxic beliefs that, like damaging habits need to be replaced by beliefs that serve us, and these new habits and beliefs need to be practiced and engraved until they become automatic and require no further effort.

Question 10: What about Ayahuasca healing physical ailments?

A great part of physical ailments are psychosomatic, and thus can be effectively healed. Another big part are due to some malfunction of our own immune system that can also be healed. The rest are subject to the well proven, universally recognized  and researched placebo effect, which on average helps on a third of all cases. For the rest, such as having no legs or a paralyzed spinal column, for example, it can alleviate discomforts and help people come to terms with their conditions and live happy, inspired lives. For terminal illnesses and deadly viruses and infections, it can bring peace, serenity, happiness and contentment. The Ayahuasca heals our internal world and stops our subconscious self-destructiveness. Physical healings are bonuses, and they happen to some degree on the majority of cases. They are not the direct objective of the Ayahuasca, and should not be treated as such. The biggest and only really significant gifts, among the multitudes that she provides, are happiness, direction, open heart, inspiration, destiny, pride for who we are as individuals and as the human race and oneness.

Question 11: I am a 73yr old male & have a serious body load when I drink Ayahuasca & it distracts me from the experience. Is this typical for older people who don't have a lifetime's experience with the medicine? (Q11 is answered below with Q12)

Question 12 : Witch are the ``tools`` for fighting against the terror and very big fear? it happens to me at last ayahuasca session and i was alone,without no one tool for getting me out of terror i will have a new ayahuasca experience and i have this obsession,that i will have another experience like the last one.thank you!

If you are in good health, you could be 83 and still have no problems with the aya. Definitely  aya is not "a young man's game". I have seen 79 year old ladies doing fine and young athletic men crumble. Ayahuasca connects with your subconscious, and the body load is there as an intention builder so your subconscious is absolutely sure that you want to be shown memories and insights that it has been told by you it does not want to know. You do not need many ceremonies, 3 to 6 good ones, pursued with intention and purpose and good guides to help you are enough to go really deep and affect real life changes that will enhance and transform your life and your perception. The Ayahuasca is an amazing tool if used correctly, navigating it for specific purposes, but if taken without proper intention, proper guidance and expert decoding after the experience (the aya sends many symbolic messages, like dreams, besides the more obvious insights), it just leaves you either with a short lived ecstatic feeling or with confusion and abstract wonderment. If you actually have an intention to find out something important that you are blocked from seeing, due to trauma or paradox, but do not know how to break through your internal resistance, you get what you got: overwhelming physical discomfort and weirdness. Regarding fear and terror, these are also tools that the subconscious uses to block access to painful memories or truths. Never do Ayahuasca alone, outside of a guided ceremony with both traditional shamans and experienced western guides to take care of you and very specific, focused intentions.

Question 12:  Is there any emergency, physicians on site? I have a loved one going to Peru, I'm very worried. He is on Wellbutrin (not sure how to spell it) and is trying to wing himself off of it. I have read that if not out of your system (Wellbutrin) with ayahuasca can cause seizures - are there doctors on site if something bad was to happen, heart attack etc...

If you are asking whether there are physicians on site in Ayahuasca centres, the answer is no, there might be an exception, but some centres may have a qualified nurse or people with training with first and emergency aid. Some centres may be close to a hospital or physician, and others may be very far or only have river or on foot access, making the trip variably difficult depending on weather conditions. For example, in the dry season some centres may be cut off at low water, and others cut off because of mud. The most important thing, however, is that the guides of the retreats and the shamans are experienced in Ayahuasca related issues and to know what to do in any situation, to be able to take people out of the trip, to communicate with them and assist them in any problem, combined with a proficient knowledge in first aid and emergency aid. To speak of TierraMitica, our center, although we are in a magical high jungle forest 40kms away from Tarapoto, we are connected to it by road, so we are no more than 50-90 minutes away from major hospitals depending on conditions, we have a qualified nurse at the moment but also we have many years’ experience under any conditions and situations and we have many experienced people to deal with them and we have never had an issue we could not solved and have never ever needed to take a person to the doctor. So, we are confident, but your loved one should absolutely be off any drugs at least three weeks before taking Ayahuasca. We receive many people who want to solve addictions, some of them severe, and we advise them, inspire them and help them wean themselves off drugs before they ever get here through email or skype, but we would never give psychotropics to anyone not willing to stop for 3-4 weeks, because they are not demonstrating true intention to solve the issue and because it is dangerous for their health.  

Question 13: Recipe for Caapi Extract & Chacruna Powder Hey there, how shall i cook my brew with caapi extract and chacruna powder? And is it possible to just drink the caapi extract and then drink the brew, made of the chacruna powder? Namaste.

You should not be cooking Ayahuasca on your own, you should not drink it without guidance, support and the magical Icaros. If you treat Ayahuasca like an entertainment drug, she will bite you back. Please make the choice to give the grandmother the respect she deserves, research, plan, save, travel, drink her only in the jungle or in luscious nature, drink her only in guided ceremony and then you will have a chance to receive her gifts. 

Question 14: Can Ayahuasca heal serious traumas from your childhood forever?

Ayahuasca alone may heal serious traumas forever, but it is not very likely, and very rare. As part of a serious workshop or retreat with expert guidance however, it can do more than heal trauma; it can help you transcend it altogether so it is no longer perceived as trauma. In our own heavy duty transformational workshop, the Mythic Voyage we actually guarantee results to anyone who does not quit the effort for ten days.


Question 15: I would like to know where I can find trustful and non-profit places (in Peru?) where I could join an Ayahuasca ceremony. Furthermore, I would like to know if any drugs experience is recommended? I'm familiar with Cannabis, and last weekend I have tried pure MDMA for the first time. I used it at home with a good friend, and it was a very fun, but most of all spiritual journey (no one before told me it could be spiritual!). However, reading and feeling "called" by Ayahuasca for about a year now, I wonder if any experience is useful, since it's a pretty heavy experience. Kind regards, Bo van Alst

Hello Bo, to start with you should not be looking for one, stray Ayahuasca experience but a set of 3 to 6 ceremonies, in a safe place with full guidance and support by experienced people, to get anything useful for your life rather than a drug experience. You do not need to have drug experience before, actually it is better if you do not, and the experience is not only useful, but can be the best thing that has ever happened to you in your entire life. As for nonprofit places, what does that mean? The guides, the shamans, the people cooking for you, the people supporting you need to eat, wear clothes and go to the doctor like you, so money is needed. A lot of people work to support and keep safe an Ayahuasca workshop or retreat, how will these people eat and feed their children?



Question 15: A few years ago I drank Ayahuasca with a shaman and I put the intention of "instant enlightenment" into the tea. I had a very brain focused trip and later I became psychotic from it – when I don't take my medicament now, I'm re-experiencing again how my consciousness gets stretched out of my body, which is very fearful. The medicament is NOT contraindicated with MAOIs, but is it be wise for psychotic persons like me to take Ayahuasca again with a shaman and ask for healing? Can Ayahuasca heal such kind of psychosis? (Q15 is answered below together with Q16)

Question 16: Speaking of setting an intention for any given ayahuasca ceremony, I' m wondering whether having a successful kundalini awakening can be an rightful intention or not. I had multiple incomplete awakenings and one out-of-the-body experience. I cannot curb my carving for having a stable and complete awakening.

Again, I must point out that Ayahuasca alone not only cannot help, but can also cause confusion, fear and discomfort. The intention of "instant enlightenment" will bring confusion because A. Do you have any idea what enlightenment is? And B. Why instant? If enlightenment is the highest gift, is it only worth something to you if it is instant, effortless? So, your question is connected to your psychosis, and doing Ayahuasca only with a traditional shaman to help you that has no conception of western mentalities and issues is bound to fail. The same applies to “kundalini awakening”, successful kundalini awakening etc. You cannot define it, let alone being able to declare that it is complete,  that is why you cannot find it with Ayahuasca. She cannot show you something that you do not know what it is and is just an abstract, undefined, fuzzy concept in your mind. I suggest you watch the video………. To get answers both to what is enlightenment so you know what you are looking for and what it takes to achieve it.

Question 17: Are there reputable Ayahuasca retreats in the Brazilian Amazon? I have found some in Bahia but hoping to get one that is accessed from Manaus. (Q17 is answered below together with Q18)

Question 18:  Is this type of ceremony offer anywhere in South Florida?

We cannot recommend any center, it is for you to research and decide, and we do not recommend drinking outside her natural habitat, the wider Amazon basin. Ayahuasca can be a life saver and going on a pilgrimage where you can have the best, most guided, safe and respectful experience enhances the benefits, demonstrating symbolically powerful intention, rather than trying to find the most convenient or the cheapest solution. Ayahuasca can change lives and resolve many blocks, addictions and problems, if taken seriously.

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