Preparing for the Ayahuasca Retreat

AyahuascaPreparing yourself for ayahuasca is essential and you should start as early as possible to get teh most benefit from your ayahuasca experience. 

Traditional practices along with recent scientific discoveries have shown that certain foods and substances are contra-indicated for the type of spiritual practice that we will be engaged in. These foods increase the probability of purging, nausea, headache or increased heart rate, and in some cases may also be dangerous for your health. This is due to the chemical composition of ayahuasca which contains mono-amine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs) that cannot be combined with certain other foods. 

Additionally, being clean prior to the ceremony will facilitate a deeper process. Ayahuasca has purgative properties, it helps cleanse you at many levels. If you are clean at the physical level with the help of the diet, it will allow you to go to deeper levels of cleansing at the emotional, psychological, and spiritual level. 

Our guidelines below will help you through your journey prior to arriving at our center. Click the button below to learn about the Spirit Vine Ayahuasca diet.

Preparation For The Ayahuasca Retreat

3 Months Before The Retreat

If you are taking any kind of medications for the heart or for psychological imbalances and disorders, it is important to mention this in your application and discuss with the retreat facilitators regarding your participation in the ayahuasca retreat. If your application is approved, depending on the type of medication and your situation, you will be asked to request authorization to your medical professional to see if you can to slowly stop the medication 3 months prior to the retreat starts.

This is also the time to stop any type of drugs or substances, legal or illegal, that have addictive tendencies. This includes tobacco, alcohol, other plants, drugs, and substances.

There are several reasons we ask for this time span. Many medications suppress symptoms, and stopping them may cause the symptoms to reappear. In this case you have to work with your doctor to find a way to naturally balance your state. If you are unable to do so and you need to resume the medication, you cannot partake in the ayahuasca ceremonies but you can still attend all the other retreat activities. If you are able to maintain a stable balance, we need to be sure you are free of any kinds of withdrawal symptoms, side effects, or dependencies that the medications and substances may have introduced. This way, when you arrive for the retreat you are prepared for the ayahuasca experience.

Our center is an alcohol-tobacco-drug free zone, we request you do not bring any of these substances with you.

Any prescription or other drug use must be discussed with the Spirit Vine facilitator prior to sessions.

If you are taking a medication, substance, or supplement that is not mentioned in the list below, please let us know so we can verify the compatibility with ayahuasca.

Combinations of any of the following and ayahuasca are definitely best avoided:

  • SSRIs and other antidepressants
  • Pharmaceutical or natural MAO-inhibitors
  • Sleeping tablets
  • Blood pressure medication, antihypertensives (high blood pressure medicine)
  • Appetite suppressants (diet pills)
  • Medicine for asthma, bronchitis, or other breathing problems
  • Antihistamines, medicines for colds, sinus problems, hay fever, or allergies
  • Any drug containing dextromethorphan/DXM or with DM, DX or Tuss in its name
  • CNS (central nervous system) depressants (Xanax, ativan, etc)
  • Vasodilators
  • Antipsychotics
  • Barbiturates
  • Alpha- and beta-blockers
  • Cocaine, Amphetamines, Marijuana, MDMA, Opiates, LSD, Psilocybin
  • Alcohol and tobacco

2 Months Before The Retreat

This is a good time to start the diet for ayahuasca. This way your body will be accustomed to the type of food served here and you can avoid a challenging transition.

Moving to a vegan or vegetarian diet is ideal as our meals do not have any type of meat. If you are not accustomed to cooking this type of diet there are ample recipes that can be found online to get you started.

Processed Foods

Most packaged and processed foods contain high levels of chemical additives including preservatives, artificial sweeteners, coloring, sugar and other substances that can be harmful to the body. It is recommended to eat freshly prepared organic food as much as possible to detoxify your body prior to the retreat.

3 Weeks Before The Retreat

This is when you have to start being more careful about what you take into your body. The digestive system can take up to 3 weeks to expel certain foods, so we recommend you to stop the below mentioned items.

Anything Containing Tyramine

Tyramine is an amino acid found in a variety of foodstuffs and beverages. Your body requires MAO to process tyramine. As mentioned before, the caapi vine, an ingredient in the ayahuasca tea, is an MAO inhibitor. The net result of having large amounts of tyramine in your body at the same time as an MAO inhibitor is that you feel constantly nauseous without ever quite managing to vomit. You may also experience headaches and hypertension as the tyramine reaches toxic levels.

Some of the most common places you will find tyramine include:

  • Pork
  • Red meat
  • Protein powders and many nutritional supplements
  • Alcohol
  • Yoghurt and aged cheeses
  • Fermented foods
  • The artificial sweetener aspartame
  • Chocolate, cocoa
  • Peanuts (if you eat a large enough quantity!)

A Note on Sugar

Sugar is one of the most commonly found substances in foods and beverages. It is also incompatible with the ingestion of ayahuasca. There are many forms of sugar which people consume regularly because it is considered healthy. Sugar causes spikes in energy levels that are followed by a crash and this produces an unstable state. We ask that you cut down on your sugar intake prior to the retreat so that you are balanced and prepared for the ayahuasca ceremonies.

Common items where high amounts of sugar can be found, naturally or artificially:

  • Fruit
  • Chocolate
  • Honey, Agave
  • High-fructose corn syrup is a common ingredient in many processed foods
  • Colas or Soft-drinks, including light or diet drinks that contain aspartame
  • Artificial sweeteners
  • Canned and packaged foods

1-3 Weeks Before The Retreat


Salt is one of the items that is perhaps the most difficult to stop when you are not accustomed to it. Salt interferes with the ayahuasca process because it acts as a protective and grounding agent. It also masks the flavor of the food and other spices – many people are used to tasting salt rather than the food itself. Our intention during the ayahuasca retreats is to be more open to whatever we have to face and to feel the subtleties because many times the insights to our issues are found in very subtle dimensions. Having a salt-free diet enables us to go deeper with this intention and get the most out of the experience.

Our meals are salt-free. We suggest that you start preparing for a salt-free diet before you come for the retreat so you are accustomed to the taste. We use herbs and soft spices in our food to add flavor and our participants generally enjoy the food. If you are not familiar with vegan or vegetarian cooking using spices and herbs, you can look for recipes online. Traveling makes it especially difficult to have a salt-free diet. If you are unable to find such options then it is acceptable to make an exception during your journey here. It is a good idea to arrive a few days before the retreat and stay in the nearby town of Itacare so you can relax and prepare prior to the retreat.

Certain other foods

In an ayahuasca diet, nuts, honey and a wide range of other foodstuffs should also be avoided:

  • Honey
  • Nutritional yeast and brewers yeast
  • Dried fruit, raisins and walnuts
  • Ripe bananas
  • Avocados
  • Dairy products
  • Deep-fried food
  • Broad beans like lima or fava beans


We do not serve coffee during the retreat. Because of the dependency created by caffeine, we suggest you to slowly stop drinking coffee and stop completely at least 14 days before the retreat. This way you can deal with the withdrawal symptoms prior to the retreat.


Our intention during the ayahuasca retreat is to go deeper into our personal journey. This requires having an intact energy field. Sex with a partner is an intense process that leads to a high amount of energy exchange. This exchange can interfere in the ayahuasca process.

The process of orgasm itself expels a large amount of energy and opens up the energy field. This is why it is extremely important to completely restrict all type of sexual activity at least 7 days before and 3 days after the retreat.

Television and Media Consumption

The influence of television, news, and other forms of media has a deep effect on our mental and emotional state, and in some cases physical state. We suggest you restrict or completely stop at least 1 week prior to the retreat and refocus this time on activities such as meditation, yoga, exercise and anything that helps you connect and go deeper within yourself.

Click the button below to learn more about the diet served at the Spirit Vine center and how to continue the journey after the ayahuasca retreat.

Upcoming Retreats

  • Aug  14 — Aug 22
  • Sep  17 — Sep 25
  • Nov  5 — Nov 15
  • Dec  13 — Dec 21
  • Jan  10 — Jan 20

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