The responsible use of indigenous medicine from the traditions that we learn from and work with in South America require careful consideration of pre-existing medical conditions. It is required that you agree to disclose, in confidence, any known medical conditions and/or use of medications, at the time of booking. Please read these medical guidelines carefully and with due consideration to claim responsible participation.
* These medical requirements do not pertain to our meditation and wisdom healing retreats but are specific to the retreats that we host in South America and include the master plant Ayahuasca.
We provide a good deal of information on our pages. And it is always good to do your own research.
If you are navigating a medical condition listed in our Medical Guidelines, please inquire about it using our contact form prior to completing your registration process. By attending one of our retreats, all participants agree that they are participating at their own risk and that Prajna O’Hara does not accept liability for any accident or injury to their person. The advice provided by Prajna O’Hara is based upon our experienced understanding of the use of plant medicine and potential health complications, but please consult your doctor or other medical professional for questions regarding medical conditions and medications. It is important to use your doctor’s advice when coming off medications, especially antidepressants. All decisions on whether your health is suitable for inclusion in our retreats are made strictly with your safety in mind.
People navigating borderline disorders, bipolar disorders, psychosis, and schizophrenia (including drug-induced) are at psychological risk if they use Ayahuasca. At this time, serious borderline and bipolar cases, psychosis cases, and schizophrenia would exclude your participation from a retreat hosted by Prajna O’Hara and the Shipibo medicine carriers she works with. If you’re navigating a minor borderline or bipolar disorder and would like to discuss your specific case with us, please do so prior to booking a retreat. In general, Ayahuasca has been shown to have positive general psychological effects on participants. If you’re navigating depression, stress, OCD, or anxiety, please contact us about the specifics of your condition, including any prescribed medications.
POLICY REGARDING MEDICATIONS
All medications taken within the past year must be disclosed in confidence to Prajna O’Hara during the registration process. Failure to do so will put you and your health at risk. In general, one should not be taking any other substances or medications, including herbal medicines, when taking Ayahuasca or dieting other medicinal plants, both for your safety and to not interfere with the efficacy of the plants or their energies. All prescription medications, certain supplements, and illegal drugs should be ceased at least 2 to 8 weeks prior to drinking Ayahuasca depending on the specific type of medication or supplement. Synthetic hormones taken for hypothyroidism are an exception. You may continue to take your hypothyroid medication during your course of ayahuasca, but are still required to inform Prajna O’Hara that you are taking the medication. Many over the counter medications, such as antihistamines, require only 48 hours of non-use prior to Ayahuasca, although we still recommend ceasing them 2 weeks in advance. Specific medications, such as MAOIs and SSRIs, pose substantial health complications in conjunction with Ayahuasca and therefore require a longer cessation period. Please consult the comprehensive list below for detailed descriptions of specific medications and the recommended cessation period. And remember, always consult your doctor when ceasing any prescription medication. Some medications have moderate to serious withdrawal effects, so added time might be necessary to safely ween yourself off your medication(s). When consulting your doctor, please inform him or her that you will be taking a reversible MAOI.
MONOAMINE OXIDASE INHIBITORS (MAOIS): CEASE 4 to 6 WEEKS PRIOR
Ayahuasca is a very potent natural MAOI and should not be used in combination with other MAOIs. Combining MAOIs can lead to complications in the regulation of neurotransmitters and digestion, such as hypertensive crisis, convulsive seizures, fever, delirium, coma, and circulatory collapse. Withdrawal symptoms are possible when ceasing prescription MAOIs, so it is important to consult a doctor as to how to taper off one’s dosage. Why? Monoamine oxidase is an enzyme responsible for clearing certain neurotransmitter chemicals from the brain. When the activity of this enzyme is inhibited, the brain has more norepinephrine, serotonin, and dopamine available to send important messages and regulate mood states. This enzyme is also important in the digestive process. Medications: Marplan (isocarboxazid), Nardil (phenelzine), Emsam, Eldepryl, and Zelapar (selegiline), Parnate (tranylcypromine), Aurorix and Manerix (moclobemide), Pirazidol (pirlindole).
SELECTIVE SEROTONIN REUPTAKE INHIBITORS (SSRIS): CEASE 6 OR 8 WEEKS PRIOR. ABSTAIN 4 WEEKS AFTER
The combination of Ayahuasca (an MAOI) and SSRIs is potentially life-threatening. Any medication which has an effect on the serotonin system, such as SSRIs can induce serotonin syndrome in conjunction with Ayahuasca. It is extremely important that you give the medication enough time to leave your system and give yourself time to adjust to not being on your medication as side effects from stopping your medication may arise. Prozac requires stoppage 8 weeks prior to drinking Ayahuasca due to its longer half-life. All other SSRIs require 6 weeks. Do not stop taking your medication without consulting your doctor first. Why? Ayahuasca is an MAOI which allows for certain neurotransmitters, such as serotonin, to become more available in the brain. SSRIs inhibit the re-uptake of serotonin. The combination of these two substances will cause an excess and/or overload of serotonergic activity in the central nervous system and peripheral serotonin receptors. Medications: Celexa (citalopram), Lexapro and Cipralex (escitalopram), Luvox (fluvoxamine), Paxil and Seroxat (paroxetine), Prozac (fluoxetine), Zoloft and Lustral (sertraline). Other Anti-Depressants: Cease 6 weeks prior. Abstain 4 weeks after.
Anti-depressants other than SSRIs, such as serotonin-norepinephrine inhibitors (SNRIs), serotonin antagonist and re-uptake inhibitors (SARIs), norepinephrine inhibitors (NRIs), norepinephrine-dopamine re-uptake inhibitors (NDRIs), tricyclic antidepressants (TCAs), tetracyclic antidepressants (TeCAs), noradrenergic and specific serotonergic antidepressants (NaSSAs), and serotonin modulator and stimulators (SMSs) can pose serious complications in conjunction with drinking Ayahuasca. If combined with an MAOI, one can have an overload of the neurotransmitter leading to serious health complications. It is extremely important that you give the medication enough time to leave your system and give yourself time to adjust to not being on your medication as side effects from stopping your medication may arise. Do not stop taking your medication without consulting your doctor first. Why? Ayahuasca is an MAOI which allows for certain neurotransmitters to be more available in the brain. Other anti-depressants also alter brain neurochemistry leading to possible serious health complications when combined. Medications: SNRIs: Pristiq (desvenlafaxine), Cymbalta (duloxetine), Fetzima (levomilnacipran), Ixel and Savella (milnacipran), Effexor (venlafaxine), SARIs: Axiomin and Etonin (etoperidone), Serzone and Nefadar (nefazodone), YM-992, YM-35,995 (lubazodone), Desyrel (trazodone), NRIs: Strattera (atomoxetine), Edronax (reboxetine), Vivalan (viloxazine), NDRIs: Wellbutrin and Zyban (bupropion), TCAs: Elavil and Endep (amitriptyline), Evadene (butriptyline), Anafril (clomipramine), Norpramin and Pertofrane (desipramine), Prothiaden (dosulepin, dothiepin), Adapin and Sinequan (doxepin), Tofranil (imipramine), Prondol (iprindole), Feprapax, Gamanil, Lomont (lofepramine), Pamelor (nortriptyline), Insidon (opipramol), Vavactil (protriptyline), Surmontil (trimipramine), TeCAs and NaSSAs: Asendin (amoxapine), Ludiomil (maprotiline), Lumin, Bolvidon, Norval, Tolvon (mianserin), Remeron (mirtazapine), SMSs: Viibryd (vilazodone), Brintellix (vortioxetine) Anti-depressant or other drug containing MAO inhibitors or SSRIs, i.e. Prozac, Seroxat, Zoloft, Effexor, Paxil, Welbutrin (bupropion) also sold as Zyban as aid therapy to the urge to smoke – or similar medication. Anti-stress medication such as Valium, Xanax and similar. Antibiotic therapy may cause potentially adverse reactions with the use of Ayahuasca. Discontinue the use of this medication and any of the following for at least 1 week before and until 1 week after taking the Ayahuasca medicine: Phenylalanine, non-prescription drugs like antihistamines, systemic vase-constrictors or decongestants both natural (ephedrine) and synthetic formulations (Pseudo-ephedrine and similar) normally used in case of cold & flu, asthma inhalers, or drugs with high content of caffeine. Narcotics, sedatives, tranquilizers, antihypertensive agents (used to treat high blood pressure ñ only in chronic cases), analgesics like meperidine, antiparkinson drugs like Levopoda, drugs used to treat heart conditions, like Dopamine (brand name: Intropin), neurological prescriptions like Carbamazipine (a drug that eliminates seizures), and sympathomimetic drugs (substances that mimic the effects of the hormones adrenaline and noradrenaline) like amphetamine and tyrosine. Marijuana, cocaine, heroine, crack, mescaline or Phenethylamines (homologues of Amphetamines).
CENTRAL NERVOUS SYSTEM (CNS) DEPRESSANTS (AND SLEEPING PILLS): CEASE 3 TO 4 WEEKS PRIOR
Other Anti-Depressants: Cease 6 weeks prior. Discontinue 4 weeks after.
CNS depressants, such as certain anti-anxiety medications and sleeping aids, should not be used in conjunction with Ayahuasca due to serious health risk. The use of Ayahuasca can increase the depressant effects of CNS depressants leading to slower brain activity, heart rhythm, and respiration. CNS depressants include benzodiazepines, sleep medications, and barbiturates. CNS depressants have a shorter half-life and therefore can be ceased 3 weeks prior to drinking Ayahuasca. Dependency on CNS depressants can arise easily, so withdrawal symptoms may arise when ceasing your medication. Please consult your doctor for help. Medications: Benzodiazepines: Valium (diazepam), Xanax (alpazolam), Halcion (triazolam), ProSom (estazolam), Non-benzodiazepine sleep medications: Ambien (zolpidem), Lunesta (eszopiclone), Sonata (zalepon), Barbiturates: Mebaral (mephobarbital), Luminal Sodium (phenobarbital), Nembutal (pentobarbital), and any other barbiturate. Anti-hypertensives (blood pressure medications): Cease 2 to 6 weeks prior, depending on medication.
There are many classes of antihypertensives, which lower blood pressure by different means; among the most important and most widely used are thiazide diuretics, ACE inhibitors, calcium channel blockers, beta blockers, and angiotensin II receptor antagonists. Always ask your doctor about coming off your medication, and please inform him that you will be taking a reversible MAOI. Beta Blockers: atenolol, metoprolol, nadolol, nebivolol, oxprenolol, pindolol, propanolol, timolol, Alpha Blockers: doxazosin, phentolamine, indoramin, phenoxybenzamine, prazosin, terazosin, tolazoline, Mixed Alpha & Beta Blockers: bucindolol, carvedilol, labetalol, Calcium Channel Blockers: amlodipine, clinidipine, felodipine, isradipine, lercanidipine, levamlodipine, nicardipine, nifedipine, nimodipine, nitrendipine, diltiazem, verapamil, ACE Inhibitors: captopril, enalapril, fosinopril, lisinopril, perindopril, quinapril, ramipril, trandolapril, benazepril, Angiotensin II Receptor Antagonists: candesartan, eprosartan, irbesartan, losartan, olmesartan, telmisartan, valsartan. Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRIs): Cease 6 or 8 weeks prior. Abstain 4 weeks after.
If you are navigating a particular medical condition that is not covered below, please send us a contact request prior to booking a retreat. Although Ayahuasca use under supervised conditions is generally considered safe, some medical conditions can have moderate to very serious complications in regards to the use of Ayahuasca. If you have any kidney, liver, heart, other serious medical condition or if you or an immediate family member has a history of seizures, you must inform us prior to booking a retreat to discuss your particular situation. In every medical case, always discuss the use of a reversible MAOI with your doctor prior to booking.
If you or an immediate family member has a history of epilepsy and/or seizures, you MUST inform Prajna O’Hara prior to booking a retreat. Use of ayahuasca, if not properly managed and monitored, can induce a seizure if you have a prior family history of epilepsy.
People with diabetes have extra risk involved with the consumption of Ayahuasca. The use of the MAOIs present in Ayahuasca can alter blood sugar levels through hypoglycemic effects. MAOIs may change the amount of insulin or oral antidiabetic medication that you need. People with severe unstable diabetes should not take Ayahuasca because of this risk. People with less severe diabetes should contact us prior to booking a retreat to discuss the particulars of the case including the possibility of a modified dieta.
If you have any chronic heart condition or high blood pressure it is not advisable to participate in the drinking of Ayahuasca. The use of Ayahuasca can elevate the blood pressure and can pose serious and/or fatal risk to those with serious heart conditions or high blood pressure. Having such serious conditions would exclude you from participation in one of our Ayahuasca retreats. Prospective guests with minor heart conditions are welcome to discuss the matter prior to booking a retreat.
LIVER AND KIDNEY CONDITIONS
The use of Ayahuasca can be stressful for the liver and kidneys. The liver and the kidneys play essential roles in the metabolism of exogenous and endogenous chemicals. Ayahuasca contains harmine and related alkaloids, which act as inhibitors of monoamine oxidase. This inhibition activity occurs in the liver and gastrointestinal tract. If a participant has various monoamines still present in their system from diet, environmental exposure, medical condition, or use of pharmaceutical or illicit drugs, these would accumulate in the presence of an MAOI and would add further stress for the liver and kidneys.
If you have a hypothyroidism condition, it is generally safe to partake in the use of ayahausca; however, you MUST inform The Way Inn of your condition, so that we can closely monitor your dosage during your course of ayahausca. You also may continue using your hypothyroid medication (synthetic hormones, such as synthroid) during your retreat experience without complication.
ILLEGAL OR RECREATIONAL DRUGS
Stimulatants, Depressants, and Psychoactives (Discontinue 2 weeks prior). The following illegal or recreational drugs should under no circumstances be combined with Ayahuasca: Cocaine, Amphetamines and derivatives of amphetamines, MDMA (Ecstasy), MDA or its derivatives, Dextromethorphan (DXM). The following pose a lesser risk but should NOT be combined with Ayahuasca: Opiates, Mescaline (any phenethylamine), Barbiturates, and other psychoactives.
HERBAL MEDICINES AND SUPPLEMENTS
Herbal Medicines and Supplements: 48 hours prior (except St. John’s Wort) Includes: Betel, Boswellia, Carrot Seed, Curcumin, Dill seed, Ephedra, Fennel Seed, Fo-Ti, Ginseng, Horny Goat Weed, Kanna, Kava, Kratom, Licorice Root, Nutmeg, Parsley Seed, Rhodiola Rosea, Scotch Broom, Siberian Ginseng, Sinicuichi, Tumeric, Yerba Mate, Yohimbe.
Thank you for taking the time to read these guidelines. If it is your time to take this journey we are happy to support you. Prajna also offers post retreat integration session. See Meetings.