An ayahuasca diet is a specific set of dietary modifications and lifestyle guidelines that best prepare you to receive the greatest benefit from your journey with ayahuasca in a single ceremony or on an extended retreat.
Painting with broader strokes, diet is essentially a way of life.
The ayahuasca diet is a way of preparing you for a life change. The degree to which we consider the dietary guidelines will have a corresponding influence on our sacred plant medicine journey. Certain aspects of the diet are essential in order to work safely with ayahuasca. Other aspects of the diet, for example lifestyle suggestions, are optional. Both will have an impact on your ayahuasca journey as well as influence your capacity to integrate your experience for long lasting change.
An appropriate diet prepares the physical and mental bodies to receive this medicine so healing can take place and insights can be received. Throughout time, indigenous healers have obtained the wisdom about dietary practices in order to experience a safe and beneficial journey with entheogenic plants.
A quick note: the ayahuasca diet is not to be confused with a plant medicine dieta. A plant medicine dieta is usually given under the direction of a curandero (healer). When accepted as an apprentice you receive guidance from your teacher on the diet protocol. You might diet with one specific plant or tree in isolation for an extended period of time (anywhere from eight days to a year). This has been part of traditional training to become a healer, shaman, or curandero(a) in many indigenous traditions. Plant medicine dietas will be covered in an upcoming blog.
Why the Ayahuasca Diet Is So Important
I think of preparing for an ayahuasca journey like planting a garden.
Preparing the soil properly makes it easier for healthy plant roots to grow.
The garden is your life. Your body is the soil.
The ayahuasca diet is one of the best ways to prepare your ‘soil’ and ensure that you reap a bountiful harvest from your ayahuasca experience.
4 Ways the Ayahuasca Diet Supports You
- Preparing the Physical and Mental Bodies
As with other spiritual practices like yoga or meditation, what you put into (or do) with your body has a massive impact on what you get from your practice.
Try eating a double pepperoni pizza then doing a quick vinyasa flow and you’ll see what I mean.
Lightening the body and the mind are essential for opening ourselves up to the healing energies of Ayahuasca.
Clearing your body and mind of toxins, depressants and stimulants (alcohol, caffeine, etc.) makes it much easier medicine to penetrate to the depths of our body-mind to do the deepest work.
- Not Disturbing the Energetic Medicine Field
There are certain substances, including other medicines, that disturb the healing field through which ayahuasca works.
Certain energies can have the effect of holding the spirit of ayahuasca down or conflicting with the energy healing field. This prevents the medicine from lifting or rising so it can penetrate or operate on the participants. Similar to an engine that is not able to kick into gear.
For example, marijuana ingested by itself can be a very powerful medicine for certain people for a multiplicity of reasons. But, these two medicines have different frequencies or properties that do not harmonize when they interact together.
Marijuana and other substances become an obstacle for ayahuasca to move, lift, clear and teach.
This doesn’t just affect you, but everyone taking part in the ceremony! This can make for a very difficult and chaotic ceremony for everyone. Likewise, proper preparation lifts and opens the healing field for everyone in the ceremonial space.
It’s important to do your research and receive guidance from a qualified professional to be sure you do not have anything in your body that is contraindicated with ayahuasca.
- Post-Ceremony Integration
What you do after a ceremony is just as important as what you do before.
Depending on how you attend to your garden, ayahuasca has the possibility of staying in your system two weeks or longer. Taking good care of yourself, slowing down, sticking to your diet and following guidelines for integration practices for two to three weeks after a ceremony supports a renewed relationship with yourself and how you engage with life.
By taking a couple of weeks to re-enter your life and maintaining a clean diet after a retreat or ceremony gives you space to reflect on what may have been revealed or communicated from this plant teacher. You will feel inspired and empowered to integrate what you have received and to not pick back up what doesn’t serve you.
The post-retreat space is a great opportunity for old habits to fall away and for new ways of living to emerge, anchor and solidify.
Returning to old patterns and habits may be tempting, but, if you follow the guidelines given, the impact of ayahuasca will stay with you. All you need to do is go slow, avoid unnecessary distractions, so you can listen and follow the insights and teachings you have received.
- Staying Safe — Avoiding Contraindications
Certain substances and medical conditions are contra-indicated and could be quite dangerous.
For example, Monoamine Oxidase Inhibitors (MAOIs) or Selective Serotonin Re-uptake Inhibitors (SSRIs; including anti-depressants) are known to cause dangerous side effects, and can potentially be fatal, when used in conjunction with ayahuasca.
For a comprehensive explanation of MAOI (monoamine oxidase inhibitor) safety and a full list of dietary restrictions and medications to avoid with Ayahuasca, see this guide from the Temple of the Way of Light.
The Diet: What and How
Taking care of what you put into your body and what you do with it are very helpful for emptying yourself so you are ready to receive the sacred sacrament of ayahuasca.
The basic requirement is a super-duper healthy diet that is close to the earth: fruit, veggies, whole grains, legumes, chicken, fish, eggs, nuts, seeds, fresh herbs, Ezekiel or spelt breads, fine grade oils as well as good hydration.
In addition, it’s recommended to abstain from the following for at least one week, preferably two before, during and after the ceremony/retreat:
- Salt: go lightly with salt (only every three days if needed) and abstain three days prior to the ceremony
- Spice: avoid strong, spicy foods such as chili, cayenne, black pepper (onion and garlic are OK in small quantities, abstain two days prior)
- Dairy, processed, deep-fried and greasy foods
- Fermented foods
- Carbonated beverages
- Refined sugar (pure honey and maple syrup are OK)
- Red meat (no pork for three weeks before and after)
- Marijuana, mushrooms (psilocybin), alcohol, medications or recreational substances
- All sexual activity with self and others (including films)
- Violent or disturbing media/news (images that are disturbing and get absorbed in your energy body)
Abstaining from caffeine for a few days before the retreat, is a good idea but this is a personal choice. If you do choose to come off caffeine you will need to give your system time to go through caffeine withdrawals so you do not arrive with massive headaches. There are many alternatives to caffeine that you can check out. It is good to allow your body to relax as much as possible to receive ayahuasca.
Preparing the Soil for Silence
Alongside ingesting an abundance of healthy food it is helpful to prepare the soil of your garden in other ways.
Some of my favourites are:
- Journaling: giving your voice, insights, hopes and dreams a place on paper
- Contemplation: reflecting on your intention for working with medicine
- Meditation: taking a bit of time each day to relax and be nourished by your still quiet presence
- Movement: getting into your body with yoga, dance, walking, jogging and other forms of gentle movement
- Art: such as painting, drawing, working with clay and other creative endeavors
- Quiet time in nature
- Supportive company: surrounding yourself with people that have similar interests and support your healing journey. They will come in handy post-ceremony
- Gardening: getting your hands in the soil, pulling weeds, planting seeds, cultivating a space for new growth
Anything that helps you relax and opens you to the silence between thoughts.
These practices bring awareness to the ways in which we doubt, hold onto anxious and fearful thoughts, suppress our emotions, hinder ourselves with conditioned patterns, and hold back our authentic expression. Giving time for an introspective practice that is not analytic yet compassionate helps us soften the way in which we resist and to clarify what we are willing to change.
They awaken us to the moment and serve to uncover the next step of our spiritual journey. In this process, we already begin to weed out the aspects of our life that do not serve our highest potential – the who, how, and what we deem worthy of our time.
Allow yourself to dig deep and get messy. Explore the depths of yourself to prepare to receive the seeds of healing and bountiful fruit that follow.
A healing diet of food and emptying of behaviours that do not serve will put you in the best possible place to receive the potency of plant medicines. You will open yourself to receive and will have no regrets!