Updated: Nov 7
Ayahuasca, also known as La Madre, is a powerful psychedelic brew used traditionally by indigenous tribes in the Amazon for spiritual and healing purposes. However, before one delves into the profound experiences facilitated by
Ayahuasca, a strict diet is deemed essential. Drawing from the practices of the Shipibo Indians in Peru and other Amazonian cultures, the Ayahuasca diet is seen as a crucial component in preparing the body and mind for the spiritual journey ahead.
The Importance of the Ayahuasca Diet: The dietary restrictions preceding an Ayahuasca ceremony are critical in ensuring a profound and effective experience. While the specifics of the diet may vary from one culture to another, a common consensus prevails regarding the absolute prohibition of alcohol, drugs, any kind of sexual activities, certain medications, pork, red meat, excessive salt, spices, and chocolate, any kind of fermented food. For some indigenous groups, like the Shipibo in Peru, the diet is particularly stringent, fostering a deep connection with the spiritual realm embodied by the Madre.
Based on my personal experience, I have observed instances where individuals who did not adhere to the prescribed diet or had a long history of cannabis use struggled to fully engage in the Ayahuasca experience. Such individuals often spent prolonged hours during the ceremonies feeling nauseous, without experiencing any visual or insightful effects. It seems that the potent energy of the sacred plant was primarily utilized for cleansing and preparation, without the participants being able to initiate the transformative process.
The Challenge of Adherence: For individuals from Western cultures, adhering to the Ayahuasca diet can be challenging. Nonetheless, adhering to the recommended diet for at least 15-30 days prior to the ceremony is strongly advised. In some cases, gradually easing into the dietary restrictions is suggested to mitigate any abrupt changes. Neglecting the diet may impede the plant's effects during the ceremony, leading to a less profound experience or even physical purging of inappropriate foods consumed. The degree to which the diet is rigorously followed directly influences the depth and effectiveness of the experience.
Post-Ceremony Diet: Following the sacred work during the Ayahuasca ceremony, it is crucial to maintain a healthy diet, avoiding alcohol and other substances for a few days. Participants are encouraged to gradually reintroduce their regular diet without excess. Those committed to reaping the full benefits of their experience may choose to extend the diet for 7 to 15 days, thus intensifying the profound impact of the retreat.
Purity and Respect: A significant aspect associated with the Ayahuasca diet is that of purity. Traditionally, shamans and apprentices refrain from consuming spicy, highly seasoned foods, excessive fats, salt, caffeine, acidic foods (such as citrus fruits), and engage in sexual abstinence before and after an Ayahuasca session. Avoiding these foods is considered a means of calming the mind and preserving energy for the spiritual voyage, as well as showing reverence to the Spirit of the Madre.
Approaching the Ceremony with Intention: The attitude and mindset with which one approaches the Ayahuasca ceremony significantly influence its success and benefits. Emphasizing gentleness, tranquility, and meditation is key. However, it is crucial not to fast before the retreat, especially for those who have no prior experience with Ayahuasca.
Respecting the Sacred Diet: Adhering to the Ayahuasca diet entails a strict adherence to the list of prohibited and allowed foods. The avoidance of certain foods, including alcohol, antidepressants, spices, and other listed items, is pivotal due to their potential to interfere with the effects of Ayahuasca. While it may seem peculiar to eliminate foods that are otherwise considered healthy, it is necessary to prevent any adverse reactions during the ceremony. Instead, focus on consuming the permissible foods outlined in the diet.
Adhering to the Ayahuasca Diet For those aiming to strictly follow the Ayahuasca diet, the following foods are recommended (preferably organic and vegetarian):
Vegetables: potatoes, green beans, zucchini, Swiss chard, beets, mushrooms, green salads (except arugula), and moderately ripe avocados.
Fruits: apples, slightly unripe bananas, and plums.
Apple juice and unsweetened applesauce.
Natural, unsweetened, unsalted rice milk.
Nuts: almonds and hazelnuts.
Hard-boiled eggs every 2-3 days.
Cereals: rice, quinoa, plain rice or quinoa cakes (without added salt or sugar).
Legumes: green lentils, red lentils, kidney beans, and split peas.
All algae, including spirulina and Klamath in tablet form.
Herbal teas: maté, rosemary, chamomile, and verbena only.
Use raw olive oil as a seasoning for dishes.
Cook food by boiling, steaming, baking, or sautéing without oil.
Use organic hygiene products such as toothpaste, shower gel, shampoo, shaving foam, and deodorant.
Listen to relaxing and inspiring music and spend time in nature.
For individuals finding it challenging to adhere strictly to the prescribed diet, the following foods may be added in moderation at the beginning of the diet:
Vegetables: sweet potatoes, carrots, and seasonal vegetables (excluding arugula and overly ripe avocados).
Fruits: pears, peaches, grapes, pomegranates, figs, blueberries, and blackberries.
Oat, spelt, or hazelnut milk, unsweetened and unsalted.
Walnuts (avoid other types of nuts).
Cereals: spelt, barley, and buckwheat.
Fresh herbs: basil, oregano, and parsley.
Herbal teas: thyme, nettle, fumitory, milk thistle, moringa, and rooibos.
Fish: Occasionally, a small amount of steamed cod (NO TUNA!).
Suggested Ayahuasca Dietary Guidelines:
Foods and Medications to Avoid : When adhering to this specific dietary plan, it is crucial to abstain from consuming foods that contain the amino acid tyramine. Amino acids are typically broken down by the monoamine oxidase (MAO) enzyme. Ayahuasca acts as an MAO-inhibitor, temporarily impeding the body's ability to process tyramine. Consequently, elevated levels of this amino acid can accumulate, potentially leading to severe health issues such as headaches or hypertension.
3 months before the ceremony:
Cease the usage of all SSRIs and antidepressant medications.
This precaution is essential, as it may lead to a potentially life-threatening condition known as serotonin syndrome.
1-2 month before and after the ceremony:
Refrain from using marijuana and all recreational drugs.
Avoid pork and all types of red meats.
Stop alcohol and anything hard on the liver.
Unplugging through a Digital Detox: Steering Clear of Social Media, News, and TV Shows
2-4 weeks before the ceremony:
Exercise caution with prescription drugs (unless authorized by the healing center or shaman; please seek consultation).
Eliminate salt, pepper, hot spices, refined sugars, alcohol, caffeine, cacao, dairy products, vinegar, onions, garlic, citrus fruits, oils and fats (except for minimal use of coconut or olive oil in cooking), soft drinks, fermented foods (Tyramine), overripe or bruised fruits, protein extracts and supplements, and yeast or yeast extracts.
Cease all intake of medications and supplements.
Minimize exposure to fluoride toothpaste, synthetic soaps, perfumes, and toiletries.
Understanding Tyramine and Its Implications with Ayahuasca: Tyramine, a monoamine present in certain protein-rich foods, undergoes an increase in concentration as these foods age, especially in fermented products. The combination of high-tyramine foods with Ayahuasca should be avoided to prevent a hypertensive crisis, characterized by symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, sweating, increased heart rate, and dilated pupils.
Foods high in tyramine include:
Dried or overripe fruits such as raisins, prunes, bananas, or avocados.
Aged cheeses like Cheddar, Swiss, Parmesan, blue cheeses, and Camembert.
Aged or processed meats, including dry sausages, bacon, or smoked fish.
Canned or fermented foods like sauerkraut, kimchi, or pickles.
Certain sauces like soy sauce, miso, or teriyaki sauce.
Alcohol and caffeinated beverages.
For seasoning, consider using fresh herbs such as basil, oregano, thyme, sage, or dill, along with milder spices like cumin, coriander, and turmeric.
In conclusion, the Ayahuasca diet serves as a crucial preparatory regimen, guiding participants to approach the sacred ceremony with reverence, purity, and clear intentions. While adherence to the dietary restrictions may pose challenges, the commitment to following the diet is a vital step towards unlocking the profound spiritual experience facilitated by the Madre.
If you are looking for a safe, holistic, and transformative Ayahuasca retreat where you can experience the full potential of this ancient plant medicine in a sacred, ceremonial setting, we welcome you to our Inner evolution retreat at Holistika Center, in Europe.
By Ritshi Zenati, Speaker & Life Coach at Holistika Center.
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