Ayahuasca, Eternal Life – A Skeptics Viewpoint

by Captain Bill

Guest post by Adrian Walker, “The Snake Whisperer”

During my time in Iquitos I’ve been intrigued by tales of faraway shamans who claim to have discovered the secret of eternal life by combining ayahuasca and other plant medicines. The most extraordinary being the gentleman who was supposed to be over 3000 years of age. Now claims of this nature simply end up in my garbage bin and I’m left with a sense of human gullibility as the teller of the tale obviously is a believer.
As a combination of scientist, folklorist and interested party in native medicine I’ve heard these stories across a few continents and never actually met anyone who has outscored a century or much more and frankly disregard such tales as nonsense.

All of this leads steadily to a bigger story; is ayahuasca all its handful of proponents claim it to be or merely a profitable exercise for those adherents who have cashed in on the western interest in mind altering substance use, one which began years before with marijuana and later LSD.

As a child of the sixties I grew up with these substances and cheerfully admit to trying both, the latter clinically. One frightened whereas the other was a bore so I no longer partake but nor do I state that I didn’t inhale. I don’t need to, I’m not in politics.

Now I’ve read that ayahuasca is a wonder drug, a sacred plant, a cure all of many disorders if correctly administered and many other allegations but my training insists on an evaluation and questions before I make any firm decisions. Firstly I’m aware of many people who work in the ethnobotanical industry, searching the rainforests of the world for new drugs, potential cures. Are they interested in ayahuasca? Not a jot! A South American colleague assures me that trials were dismissed quickly as the plant was found to be a strong purgative with some potential side effects, particularly affecting the mentally ill, and this rendered it as a complete waste of space for any international drug company to touch. She added that there were numerous other plants of more interest. Ayahuasca is occasionally referred to as the “mother of plants”, another myth as B.caapi is a very recent arrival on the Earth’s botanical list. It’s clear that the boiled vine must be mixed with DMT producers such as Psychotria to provide visions or trips as required by many users. Psychotria is a common plant in many parts of the tropics and all species can give a high – or kill you!

It’s obvious that ayahuasca has homeopathic attractions as when you cut a cross section of the vine, you’re left with a reasonable image of the human brain. Doubtless this is part of the mythology surrounding the plant. The roots of a carrot resemble the optic nerve and indeed carotin, an extract from the vegetable, can assist human sight if given in controlled doses. But it doesn’t cure blindness and never will! Similarly, ayahuasca may bear a resemblance to the human brain and does affect its function. But can it cure? Drug companies who could make trillions don’t think so.

As an Australian familiar with rainforest, I also will relate an experience with a native Australian healer with whom I spent countless hours in the deep jungles of the north of that vast continent, a place where the vegetation is remarkably close to the Amazon. He told me that there was only ONE plant that was more effective than “whitefeller medicine” and that one plant is now being synthesized in labs around the world as an antidote to golden staph, the infection that beat penicillin. Native Australians had 45,000 years to sort out their medicinal plants whereas Amazonian Indians are far more recent arrivals so to have discovered the secret to eternal life and the “mother of all plants” in botanical structures that are incredibly alike is a preposterous claim and one which the Incas themselves have never made. Ayahuasca traditionally was only ingested by the curandero him or herself. The brain changing qualities enabled the healer to see the problem and then to treat. That’s widely and well recorded. All of this leads me to one simple conclusion which is that ayahuasca may be a great purgative, may even within a hypnotic ceremonial situation be a great placebo, certainly makes a few people a good living, but the more outrageous claims regarding the vine may safely be dispatched to my western style rubbish bin.

Ayahuasca, Eternal Life – A Skeptics Viewpoint

Hi, this is Bill Grimes reporting from Iquitos Peru. Welcome back for more of the story. Adrian Walker and his family have moved out of our apartment. They are still considering their options to purchase or rent, or build a lodge. Adrian has been kind enough to write this series of articles for my Captain’s Blog and the Iquitos Times. We hope this is Chapter thirteen of his new book, The Road to Iquitos. Click the links below to read chapters 1 – 12. Thank you.

The Road To Iquitos;

The Road To Iquitos, Part 2;

The Road To Iquitos, Part 3;

The Road To Iquitos, Part 4, Ups And Downs In Iquitos;

Bird Watching From Dawn on the Amazon;

Bedbugs And Their Ilk In Iquitos;

King Of The Boulevard, Iquitos Peru;

Iquitos, An Urban Ecology;

A Cautionary Tale From Iquitos;

Giant Anaconda – Fact Or Fiction;

Golfing The Amazon;

The Amazon Toad;

{ 168 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Andy M August 16, 2012 at 2:43 pm

Skeptics. Gotta love ’em. When all else fails, there’s nothing like a good straw man argument! 😉

In ten years of drinking ayahuasca (and several more reading about it), I’ve never come across, or heard of anyone, shaman or otherwise, who claims to have eternal life, or lived several thousand years. I’ve never met a single person who believes that drinking ayahuasca will provide them with eternal life. So god knows where you heard that, and yes it is nonsense. So much so that it doesn’t even deserve commenting on (unless of course you’re a skeptic looking to build a good straw man argument)

What does deserve commenting on (and what the skeptics will usually ignore) is the virtually unlimited amount of incredible testimonials from people who have had their lives positively changed by ayahuasca. People who have healed from life-threatening illnesses, people who have cured life-long addictions, and people who have gotten over severe mental and emotional trauma just from experiencing ayahuasca.

Having an opinion about ayahuasca, without ever having experienced it for yourself, is about the same as having an opinion about a movie you’ve never seen. You’re opinion is utterly worthless, and so is this article. 🙂

2 Adrian Walker August 16, 2012 at 3:20 pm

Hi Andy,
Thanks for taking the time to read a “worthless” article. I’m glad you agree that eternal life is nonsense but somewhat surprised that you haven’t heard these claims as just about everyone else in Iquitos has.
You refer to healing but fail to mention the number of drug related deaths that may be indirectly related to ayahuasca or whatever’s mixed with it by the unscrupulous. Maybe you haven’t heard of these either? As for not having taken the stuff, why would anyone bother when cheap, effective and safe purgatives are available in every pharmacy?

3 Mike Collis August 16, 2012 at 4:51 pm

I have heard about a so called shaman who claims he can heal people thousands of miles away telepathically and can also perform some kind of telepathic surgery while he meditates in an ayahuasca induced trance.
I have also heard it said that this same shaman has told some of his”clients” that a close relative of theirs will contract cancer if they do not pay him $100.

Has anyone else heard this?

4 Kevin Davis August 16, 2012 at 5:22 pm

Ive seen and witnessed remote healing. To put limitations on a plant that we really don’t know its potential…… is pointless. Each time I come to the Amazon I discover more and more plants that can do miraculous things. I think somewhere out there there might even be a plant that can eat radiation. How would we know? You can’t even compare the Amazon to any other biome. There are more species of its kind than anywhere else on the planet. Ayahuasca may not be that plant that gives eternal life. Yet it may be the plant that shows you the plant or plants that will. I try not to put limitations on things I know nothing about.

5 jungle jeannie August 16, 2012 at 6:19 pm

Hi mick, Yes i have heard of the so called sharman that says peoples relatives will die if they dont pay money (i did not hear the amount but thats irrelevant) as someone who modestly has helped people heal im not only appauled by people like that but also very sad that there are people like him that take advantage of other peoples vunerability! As far as aya giving eternal life lmao! am afraid that like andy i have not heard that either & yet have had many conversations with sharmans & drinkers in iquitos and the jungle about aya so i guess either andy & i just havnt listened to such crap or no-one has bothered trying to lie to us like that! As a cancer survivor & a survivor of 8yrs of child abuse i believe that its possible any plant can help people heal IF the person believes it will, IF it is not mixed with dangerous amounts of harmful plants, IF you are accompanied by someone who really cares be that sharman , healer, believer, friend…..and am not an expert about ayahuasca but i have drunk it about half dozen times and funny enough have NEVER PURGED whilst others around me have so adrian i do not think that is the only use for aya (just saying because of your last comment to andy about being able to buy many drugs from chemists that are cheaper & will make you purge , ALSO as a cancer survivor i can GAURANTEE you that those chemist/government approved drugs did me alot more harm than good whereas aya never has done me any harm , possibly because ive been very careful where and with whom i have drunk it) In closeing i will say that for whatever reason a sharman i drank with cple of years ago managed to stop me having a nightmare that i had suffered with for over 20 years….interesting i think….but yes mick unfort there are many people out there abusing the use of aya and straight out lying to people about its benefits so PEOPLE SHOULD RESEARCH before they try it and SEEK A REPUTABLE SHARMAN…….not sure if my opinion counts but thats pretty much it….blessings to all

6 jungle jeannie August 16, 2012 at 6:26 pm

oh ps as a women who speaks to crocodiles/aligators id love to meet the snake whisperer 1 day!!! hint !!

7 David Dolezal August 16, 2012 at 6:43 pm

Hi Adrian, interesting article. Please note the pharma companines do not use the original plants, they simulate them. They cannot patent a plant.

Next, I agree with you that ayahuasca is a “great placebo”. Most pharmaceuticals beat placebos in their studies by only a few percentage points. I prefer the “placebo effect” to any pharma product that doesn’t beat the pharmaceutical by ten points or more. Review most of the pain killer research to verify my statement.

Adrian, do you know what a placebo is? It can be a prayer, a sugar pill, or an ayahuasca ceremony. What makes these placebos? They work without a scientific understanding of how they work, therefore they are relegated to the “placebo effect”. Most so-called scientists and M.D.’s write like the placebo effect is not a good thing. Why? Most placebos do not have side effects. Granted ayahuasca has several side effects, but they are different depending on the consumer. Most people purge, but not all. I didn’t when I drank it.

Yes, it is difficult to describe ayahuasca’s abilities to ‘heal’ in a scientific manner. Science and “modern” medicine, perhaps, is not advanced enough to describe how ayahuasca works for healing. Modern science and medicine can only attest that ayahuasca induces different states of mind or visions.

Only about 200 years ago a common medical practice was to bleed people and more recently medical doctors did not wash their hands after autopsies before performing surgery. We have now found that both of those practices were bad medicine and had bad science to explain why they did or did not work. I remember only about 30 years ago how MD’s used to poo poo on chiropractors. The AMA in not so many words called them charlatans. Now insurance companies have found chiropractic techniques are more effective and less expensive than medical intervention with pharmaceuticals.

I agree with Andy’s point that it is easy to criticize miraculous healing which you do not understand, but vastly more difficult explain why it works. Explaining the cause and effect of different processes is the true definition of science. There are few scientists who can get their research funded or published because their research do not fit within the status quo of the ‘established’ scientific community. The few that do, don’t try to publish the woo woo ‘stuff’ until they are tenured. Check out materials scientist Dr. William Tiller, professor emeritus at Stanford University to see some of the research into the psychic world.

I am an engineer with a master’s degree and now devote my time to helping people with all manner of illnesses. I do not fully understand how I can help people the way I do, but I have a long list of people who testify that what I do worked for them. Many are people who did not believe before and now believe that prayer/intent/meditation that I do, does something to help them. I wish that I could help all people of all ailments, but those abilities I have yet to attain. So, yes there are many people that I am not able to help, yet.

If what I do and what ayahuasca does is considered the ‘placebo effect’, so be it. I just know it works.

8 Adrian Walker August 16, 2012 at 10:38 pm

Hi David,
Thanks for the reasoned and sensible commentary. Yes, I understand the “placebo effect” well and as a matter of interest have a doctorate myself in tropical ecology. Thus I understand a little of tropical botany. My point is that ayahuasca is a potentially helpful drug to some people, yet remains a highly dangerous substance when carelessly mixed with other “natural medicines” by people who have no real knowledge of what impact they may be having on their “patients” Walk the streets of Iquitos any day of the week and you´ll see those who have been deleteriously affected by their experiences. As to what they’ve swallowed or where they´ve been I have no idea but this whole practice should be regulated strictly as it is causing significant problems. That’s a simple matter of observation.
By the way, I´m with you re chiropractic but unregulated, poorly trained practicioners did cause massive problems back when…..

9 Roy August 17, 2012 at 1:39 am

“Walk the streets of Iquitos any day of the week and you´ll see those who have been deleteriously affected by their experiences.”
Adrian where is your prove do you have doctor’s report’s ?,or are you just a fish wife and gossip monger ? I heard it from a friend who heard it from a friend type,,as for Big Pharma and it’s priest’s and all it’s groupie’s,In a study published in the May issue of the American Journal of Preventive Medicine, researchers came to a surprising conclusion: hospitalizations for poisoning by prescription medication has increased by 65 percent from 1999 to 2006. The rates of unintentional poisoning– from prescription opioids, sedatives and tranquilizers (zombie nation)in the U.S. has surpassed motor vehicle crashes as the leading cause of unintentional injury death.
Simply put, this means that poisoning from prescription drugs is now the second leading cause of unintentional injury death in the U.S.

Check out”BAYER EXPOSED ” on you tube for just ONE of their LITTLE crimes this was on main stream TV so it’s no conspiracy the fact’s are there for all to see.give’s you a real cosey feeling inside.NOT,
I know which I would choose, Be Lucky

10 Mike Collis August 17, 2012 at 2:09 am

Hello David Dolezal,

Great response Dave. I have always been a skeptic on these types of cures and remedies but Dave Dolezal treated me in December 2010 and the results were immediate and long lasting. Others too were treated by Dave including the owner of this website, right Bill.

11 Adrian Walker August 17, 2012 at 10:43 am

Fishwife, gossip monger, man of straw! I seem to have peacefully raised a storm with some objective commentary. I do recall though being told by an elderly and wise Chinese professor that people who hurl insults should be disregarded as they tend to use names and phrases that reflect upon their own failings or fears.

12 James Richardson August 17, 2012 at 4:55 pm

Adrian, I found your article bang on with my perspective and experience in a global context. I salute you for having the courage to express your opinion given the many expats and locals here with vested interest. I always adhere to the belief that what works for you is great but ayahuasca has really become a business here and requires regulating.

13 Rebekah August 18, 2012 at 7:15 am

Hi, just another apparently god-forsaken aussie here, BUT, I expect I may be capable of shedding light upon why men who know better, are claiming the secret of, at least longevity, if not eternal livity (to use the Rastafari term for same), can be found in Ayahausca.

I don’t normally partake of psycho-active plants myself, except in that I am a homeopath, but even when I did take psyocibin mushies in youth, the effect was an immediate nil, combined with a rebound days, weeks, months, and years later, such that I am just not inclined any longer. Besides, nothing ever got me hallucinating, so I didn’t get the point, but as indigenous Australian medicine men hasten to remind me, I haven’t actually been allowed any pituri.

OK, to the point of my comment here but, (you all get the honour because I am impressed to find an Aussie snake handler whispering up a storm in a foreign land), . . . one theory of the “new age” and how indigenous folk in many many lands, are dreaming more collectively through those of us who can sustain good intercultural patterns in our collective Dreamtime (and who tend to be Shaman or medicine men, or whatever anybody wants to name us: eg homeopath), goes like this:

BECAUSE we are all fragments of a fallen Angel, therefore, if we know this, we simply attend to the aim of defragging the world population, among any other goal we may have had in life, (a.s.a.p.)

And it turned out, that where one man was an arm and a leg, another was a brain stem that got the deal, and another is a spinal cord, and another gets an eye on the matter, etc etc etc, . . .

I think you will find this idea quite particularly compatible with your local visitor Shaman there in Amazonia, . . . and if anybody is asking how you suddenly already knew, . . . I have a name. Same name indigenous Aussies sing me with.

14 Adrian Walker August 18, 2012 at 9:49 am

Thanks James
The support is welcome and my suspicion is that most intelligent free thinking people in Iquiitos unattached to the ayahuasca trade would agree entirely. I’ve been pleases to receive many compliments on the article from local folk.

15 Gart van Gennip August 23, 2012 at 1:27 pm

As a skeptic myself, I am surprised at your strong opinions about something you have never tried. Especially the so-called claims of eternal life you mention are surprising, and you have yet to answer the question where and from whom you heard such nonsense. You say that “just about everyone else in Iquitos has” heard these claims. Well, that is news to me and I am sure quite a few others here.

Intrigued, though skeptical, I have tried ayahuasca several times. It was never a spiritual experience for me (yet), but I did come away from one session feeling younger, healthier, happier, stronger, fitter and more optimistic. This effect lasted for several months. Maybe you can tell me which brand of over the counter purgative can do this for me, as I would love to feel that way again.

I used to dismiss ayahuasca experiences as “your brain on drugs”, but, like Andy points out, there are so many amazing testimonies and experiences people have had that you can not explain away as “your brain on drugs” (group experiences come to mind, where every participant experiences the same thing) that it leaves me curious and interested in finding out what is really going on.

Since you are already such an experienced user of mind-altering substances, what has kept you from actualy trying ayahuasca? You yourself say that your “training insists on an evaluation and questions before I make any firm decisions. ” I guess that does not apply to forming opinions.

16 Adrian Walker August 23, 2012 at 4:48 pm

Hi Gert,
I didn ‘t say “experienced user” but merely commented that I’d smoked a small amount of marijuana in my youth and had one clinically administered LSD experience as a guinea pig. I doubt that constitutes experience. I have no doubts whatsoever that ayahuasca can have a placebo effect in some people but so can sugar pills! My concern is the absolute lack of regulation within the industry, the lack of ethics displayed by some practicioners, the downright lies spread by some vested interests. All of these piled into a neat little stack will keep me away from the stuff for the rest of my days.

17 Shawn Paulson August 25, 2012 at 8:40 am

I don’t believe the superstitious claims of uneducated country folk. I also know that a person can still be very intelligent even if he/she grew up away from the city and didn’t attend an ivy league school.

I’m a skeptic of sorts. I’m a bit educated, I’m a war veteran, and I’ve also consumed copious amounts of psychedelic drugs in my time. I know what psychedelics can and can’t do… for the most part.

I had already been struggling with life long depression when I came back from the war in Afghanistan, and when I came back I had some weighty issues that really needed processing.

I went to Peru because I had always wanted to go there. I drank ayahuasca because I was interested in trying it. I had no expectations. What happened? I was taken to the verge of insanity by being shown everything that was wrong with me psychologically. In one single purging event all of that came out of me in the abstract form of a rotting black bird (in vision). I was shown things in vision that I really needed to see. My ego was overpowered, and I could not look away as my visions were of firsthand accounts of suffering throughout the world. I was thousands of people in many places and varied situations. One scenario after another, after another… and some of them very very horrible.

This was a harrowing experience for me, but it was also a healing experience. I saw the source of my depression, and that it wasn’t a part of me like I had always thought. I literally vomited out the source of my depression and saw that there really are things that I can do to make my own life better as well as the lives of others in the process.

Since then, the dark cloud of depression that has followed me around for years has not come back. Nor can it as I can identify exactly what it was and deal with it’s causes externally rather than mistakenly identifying them as an inherent part of my self that I would never be rid of (as I did in the past).

The ayahuasca brew that I drank was the basic cielo vine mixed with some chacruna. It was a bit on the strong side as some of the experiences lasted 10 hours instead of 5 or 6.

Anyway… I know the changes that have taken place in my own mind and life as a result of my ayahuasca experiences. I know full well that results may vary, but that doesn’t change the fact that I was cured of a rather deep and long-lasting psychological malaise. And yes, I did have access to mental health care in the military. Their strategy was to give me some pills and say that I had such and such disorder. That did not help at all. And the pills (SSRIs)? Though not placebos they might as well have been if compared with ayahuasca.

I don’t fully know how ayahuasca works, or under what circumstances it works the best. I know a few things about set and setting… that’s about it. I also know it’s not for everyone, and that some people are just too…. fragile… for this kind of a medicine.

There’s no doubt a lot of superstition in the mix, and charlatans abound, but some of the maestros out there actually know a thing or two that the drug companies and western doctors either don’t know, or don’t want to know.

I think the free use of ayahuasca in Peru may be a bit of a two edged sword because, despite the charlatans, there are people who are carrying on a valuable tradition that’s an integral part of their culture. There are maestros who are serious about plant medicines and know how to use ayahuasca.

But…. yes, there are the charlatans, the devils in disguise. I can’t imagine what would have happened if I was not in a safe place and if I was in the hands of some sadistic brujo instead of the very skilled maestros who helped me through the ceremonies.

What can be done about this? The value of ayahuasca as a medicine needs to be preserved. Wouldn’t too much regulation destroy something important about it?

I don’t think everyone will have a life altering catharsis like I did, but at the very least ayahuasca (as most powerful psychedelics) is incredibly useful as a tool for developing deep personal insight into the make up and nature of one’s own mind. I hope that the problems and issues involved are sorted out…

18 Mike Collis August 25, 2012 at 3:45 pm

Hello Shawn,
I want to thank you so much for opening your heart to us on this forum.
I als0 want to thank all of you that have contributed to this debate.
Also a BIG Thank You to Adrian Walker for having the guts to bring this problem out into the open so that we all can benefit.

19 Scott Humfeld August 28, 2012 at 11:36 am

Shawn’s post is by far the best so far and, in fact, should replace Adrian’s article. While I’m sure Adrian was being quite sincere, he made the rookie mistake all newcomers to Iquitos make – believing what you hear and making bad assumptions from that. The truth is an elusive beast in Iquitos.

20 Shawn Paulson August 30, 2012 at 3:52 am

Thanks Mike. So much good can come from the proper use of ayahuasca and the rainbow of related medicines. I don’t currently live in the United States, but I am a citizen of the U.S. I feel a bit baffeled at times that more is not done with psychedelics in medicine, and saddened that people like me are made out to be criminals for using them for the purpose of improving quality of life.

I understand that they don’t work for everyone. But for those of us who benefit from the use of these medicines, they can be life savers. That’s saying nothing about the deep sense of spirituality and self knowledge which also can arise from their use.

When I read things like Adrian Walkers article, I feel like I should say something because what he said in the article is very misleading. If I didn’t know what ayahuasca can do when employed by a skilled and competent healer, I would think that anyone who uses it is probably superstitious and crazy. That simply isn’t so. Sure, maybe some superstitious and crazy people use ayahuasca, but that in no way means that ayahuasca is useless as a medicine or that some people cannot benefit immensely from it’s use.

Let the buyer beware.

21 Adrian Walker August 31, 2012 at 11:01 am

Firstly I’d like to correct the comment that the Amazon has the highest botanical biodiversity on Earth. Wrong, it’s way down the list. Secondly, I’m accused of coming to Iquitos and believing all that I hear? Very curious as the story clearly starts with what I’d heard and not believed a word of. What I wrote was based on conversations with trained colleagues who know what they’re talking about as they work in the ethnobotanical industry. Lastly, thanks Shawn and others for sharing their, at times, harrowing stories. It’s worth being mindful that you folk came looking for healing which is often half the battle to good health. Ayahuasca is a placebo, nothing more, nothing less, and has been stringently analysed and found to lack any “magical” properties whatsoever unless of course the faires at the bottom of the Amazonian garden hid them from the research teams.

22 Shawn Paulson September 2, 2012 at 2:19 am

Adrian, I have to respectfully disagree with your unqualified claims that ayahuasca is a placebo. I’m sure it can not do the magical things that you say others have claimed that it can. I do, however, know some of the things that ayahuasca can do, and it is most certainly not a placebo.

Set and setting are key to making use of substances like ayahuasca, but knowledge of how to use them does not make them placebos. I can understand how people can be made to believe that ayahuasca has magical properties, or that they are cured of things that ayahuasca cannot really help with, but this has more to do with the person’s susceptibility to suggestion moreso than it does with ayahuasca’s genuine usefulness. For people like myself, it works very effectively as a catalyst for suppressing the ego and allowing the deeper territories of the mind to be accessed.

For me, ayahuasca in a ceremonial setting acted as the catalyst for a visionary and life-changing catharsis that simultaneously revealed the source of a years-long bout of depression, purged it from my mind, and showed me how I can keep it from returning by dealing with the issues in the world around me that I previously had been overwhelmed by.

You can try to invalidate my claims of ayahuasca being a real catalyst for deep psychological healing and change by continuing to claim that my experience was an example of the placebo effect. I can guarantee you that drinking alcohol, an SSRI, or caffeine in a ceremony would not have triggered anything like the profound effects of ayahuasca. My mood and expectations (conscious or unconscious) played a role in the outcome of events, and ceremony gave the proper setting, but the set and setting alone weren’t enough. It was the ayahuasca that had the biggest effect.

In the way that it works, ayahuasca is very powerful medicine. I’m thinking of this in comparison to SSRIs like Zoloft and Prozac. Those are the sorts of drugs that you give to the person if you want to keep stringing that person along, session after session, bill after bill, to milk him for as much money as you can get; as if the patient is a drug addict who thinks he needs the fix and the therapists learned advice. If, on the other hand, you are a genuine healer out to help your patient get to the heart of the matter so that that he cannot look away from it or deny the core issues, with nowhere to run, no one to fight, and nowhere to hide, then ayahuasca is the way to go.

Such experiences are harrowing. Why are they harrowing? Because they force us to face up to the things that we spend our lives defensively trying to avoid, often to the point of fight or flight. The term “combative ignorance” here comes to mind.

Not all ayahuasca batches are the same. Maybe some are so weak that they can only be classified as a placebo. I can assure you that what I had was not of such batches. It was very strong, and in seven ceremonies I only purged once. Your claims that it only acts as a purgative are misinformed.

Maybe pure compounds in measured doses would be more effective in repeating the sorts of experiences that I had in the people who can benefit most from having such experiences. I don’t know. I don’t think that the drug companies should have a monopoly on the world’s botanicals though. If people want to use plants instead of pure compounds, then by all means let them. It’s their choice.

What it all comes down to, from my perspective at least, is that ayahuasca can be used as a very powerful medicine that does specific things that specific people genuinely need and can deeply benefit from. It probably won’t do any good to give someone penicilin for a headache caused by dehydration. If ayahuasca is going to be used as a medicine, it should be used for what it actually works for. In my case, it worked for dealing directly with deep issues of psychological trauma.

It was not magic. There were mythical elements to the visions, but this goes with the territory and this is not a bad thing. Developing a sense of peaceful spirituality is good for mental health, and this is another thing that ayahuasca can act as a catalyst for.

I challenge you to find someone who is known for being a benevolent healer and for making the strongest ayahuasca (with only ayahuasca vine and chacruna). Have him make you a batch of his strongest ayahuasca, and then take a very BIG dose of the foul tasting brew in a ceremonial setting. I would say alone, but I am not that irresponsible to give such dangerous advice. You need some experienced people on hand to make sure you don’t go wandering, out into the jungle or onto the road, in a disoriented and frightened state.

Do this, Adrian, and tell us if ayahuasca is a placebo that cannot do the things that I say it can. You might not have a deeply healing experience like I had, but you should be able to understand what I am talking about a bit more. When used properly, it’s the perfect medicine for personalities like my own.

If you will say to this that you don’t need to experience strong ayahuasca in a ceremonial setting to know that it is a placebo, then stop saying that it’s a placebo. You don’t have the qualifications to make such claims. Talk is cheap.

23 Adrian Walker September 2, 2012 at 12:11 pm

I wasn’t in a foxhole in Vietnam and consider myself to be mentally stable and healthy, nor am I looking for any form of cure. On those grounds along I’ll decline your offer. It strikes me reading your response that you’re busily defending ayahuasca as a placebo on one hand but denying it on the other. I find this puzzling. Yes, set and setting are important and elevate the placebo effect. I agree with you that Prozac et al are unsatisfactory solutions to highly complex problems but that seem to be the best we have. What you refer to as chacruna I assume to be Psychotria sp. an unsafe hallucinogen, unsafe simply because it has the potential to kill is incorrectly administered. And why administer it anyway? Isn’t the world sufficiently full of escapist routes without adding a few more for the lost, the junkies, the tragic, the curious……

24 Scott Humfeld September 2, 2012 at 6:25 pm

Adrian, with all due respect, anyone who has any real knowledge of ayahuasca knows it is not a placebo. If you are going to continue this ridiculous claim let’s see you back it up by telling us the qualifications of your alleged “trained colleagues who know what they are talking about” and citations from peer-reviewed journals that have “stringently analysed and found to lack any “magical” properties”.
There are a number of unqualified people administering ayahuasca in the Iquitos area, to be sure, and there are also many who come here who are the “lost, the junkies, the tragic, the curious……” (how melodramatic), but there are also a number of very experienced, skilled healers and there are many people who come here seriously seeking spiritual cleansing/healing. To deny the powers of ayahuasca, when administered correctly, in such an unqualified way is of great disservice and unfair.

25 Captain Bill September 3, 2012 at 9:25 am

Hello Scott, I am going to reveal the name of Adrian’s “trained colleagues who know what they are talking about”. I submit for your amusement none other than Michael Collis.

26 Adrian Walker September 3, 2012 at 9:58 am

The people I spoke with are actively working in the ethnobotanical industry in South America. Two have doctorates and the 3rd is working on hers. They are not dummies or vested interests but trained, skilled objective people.
Your request for a “citation from peer-reviewed journals” would suggest a little looseness of thinking on your part as such journals aren’t interested in superstition.

27 Scott Humfeld September 3, 2012 at 11:40 am

Having a doctorate does not automatically qualify one as an expert. So what field do these people have doctorates in? Have they specifically studied ayahuasca? The drug ayahuasca is not a superstition and has been studied.
You claim to be a scientist yourself, I think, so any “looseness of thinking” would be more on your part for not doing any adequate research on this subject.
I think we are to a point where you have demonstrated you have no credibility when it comes to talking about ayahuasca (you haven’t even bothered to search out the people in Iquitos who are experts!) so I’m done here.

Bill, if Adrian’s source was our friend Mike Collis, then I take back everything I’ve said. (I love sarcasm.)

28 Adrian Walker September 5, 2012 at 3:20 pm

Scott, you’re seriously wrong about talking to people in the “industry” locally. I did and the majority of them didn’t wish to talk at all. However after the article was published an elderly curandero from Brazil sought me out to congratulate on exposing the truth. I found his medicinal boatnical knowledge far in excess of anyone in Iquitos. He remarked that ayahuasca was “a tool only for the shaman” and that “people who claim to have been healed are healed by their own minds” He had quite a bit more to say and unlike the “industry” here in iquitos, it all made sense.

29 Scott Humfeld September 6, 2012 at 7:56 am

Let’s see if I have this right… first you say “has been stringently analysed” (but can’t back that up with references), then you say “such [peer reviewed] journals aren’t interested in superstition”. Then you say “Ayahuasca is a placebo” and follow that with a Brazilian curandero (who reads this blog?) who says “ayahuasca was a tool only for the shaman” and that he “sought you out” to “congratulate on exposing the truth”. The truth being that what this shaman uses is a placebo and a superstition?
Then we have “I found his medicinal boatnical (sic) knowledge far in excess of anyone in Iquitos.” So you have spoken to everyone in Iquitos who has medical botanical knowledge (?), but you also say “the majority of them didn’t wish to talk at all”.
Have you even ever heard of Richard Evans Schultes?

30 Adrian Walker September 6, 2012 at 9:19 am

Can you assure readers of this blog that your religious fervour in defence of the indefensible is based solely on your belief in ayahuasca being a wonder cure or do you have financial interests in the vine?
And thanks for restoring my credibility by rejoining the discussion.

31 Scott Humfeld September 6, 2012 at 11:51 am

1. I have no religious anything. Well, baseball.
2. I am not defending anything.
3. I do not believe ayahuasca is a “wonder cure”and have never said that.
4. I have no financial interest in anything to do with ayahusaca.
5. You have no credibility.
You are a recent arrival to a very, very mysterious place that takes bi-lingual, bi-cultural people years to begin to decipher (while lulling many a gringo ex-pat into thinking he/she actually knows something about the region) and thus I have asked you for further info, only to be greeted by aggressive dissembling.
I just have a problem with people showing up here and pretending to be an expert in something they know absolutely nothing about.

32 Murilo Reis September 12, 2012 at 12:53 pm

Hi you all,
First my apologys for not been english native ( dont think the spanish speaking do care much aboout it ) so my writing myght be confusing and maybe not understandble ragther rude to some…
I grew up with a curuandera ( my grandmother ) and she used ayahusca but not the patiente. Also ive learned the medicinal property of plants and that there are infinitive numbers of cures out there in the jungle or even in our garden. There is no doubt about his, I think wee agree all about it.
But I cant not agree with some factor that I see here in Iquitos and seems that only the Ayahusca business related ( healers , reatreats, PRs , etc ) do not see it.
And even heard a retreat PR say : ” Ayahusca mayde the Amazon famous ” What a bunch of bullshit. Im sorry but Amazon is famous for its nature , for its people , for its maginitude. not for Ayahusca.
Lets go to the facts that i think I´m the only one that sees it.
There is no where a place where one can go and informe about Ayahusca as a product to be comercialized, though it is openly comercialized I think even Rex ( the king of Boulevard)sells ayahusca. So anyone can be a shammam ( and what is to be a shammam, just lead Ayahusca Cerimony ?)
The numbers of Lunatics walking half naked around the town abandoned by the ” healers” after their ” retreats” .
The quality of higiene is discusting no toillet (well people vomit and shit )
The mumber of females that get abused and as bad, ill people that get misslead , abandon their treatment convinced that ayahusca is the cure.
The countless number of people that get convinced to help healers and healing center, help to buy property, build etc.
And the number of ET that land in Iquitos and after couple of Ayahusca “cerimonys” call themselvs Shammam.

I just wish it was regulated, controled and not abused as it is, we have the example of Tabaco that once upon a time was only used for healling, by native americans, than a ” western ” saw it, taste it, and sayied “wow that is cooooool I want feel this and I want to comercialize this “, today tabaco kills more than healls.
Not mentioning the numbers of Adictic rounding around the plaza de armas looking fro promoting the Ayahusaca so they can have a free cerimony peretending that they are just healling from somenthing….wright… we are all grown up and we all deeply know what is all about.
I belive Ayahusca has like many other plants its medicinal property ( purge is good some time ) but has to be manipulated with care, not like it is here in iquitos.
Who haven hearded this frases ” wow the ceriony was intense ” Uau the medicine was stroooong ” oh the shamma was very powerfull “, maybe im just another Skeptics .

33 James Richardson September 12, 2012 at 3:49 pm

You are absolutely correct Murilo with respect to regulating Ayahusaca! I have explored most parts of the jungle from here to Ecuador, Columbia, Bolivia and Brazil sinnce my first trip in 1992 and I have lived here for numerous years.. I share your perspective and that of Adrian.

34 Adrian Walker September 12, 2012 at 5:35 pm

Thanks James and Murilo for your intelligent responses and calls for regulation. I strongly support something along the Brazilian line being introduced. Scott, could you advise us of just which secondhand shop you purchased your own DMT fried credibility?

35 Adrian Walker September 12, 2012 at 7:04 pm

You’re close to the mark about Rex, King of the Boulevard selling his own brand. He actually calls it ayawoofsca and apparently extracts it solely from the bark.

36 Mike Collis September 13, 2012 at 8:35 am

Great comment Murilo, Very Well said, everything true.
On the peruvian national TV at 7.00 a.m. this morning there was a report of a young tourist called Kyle ?????? whose body was found in the garden of a shaman in Puerto Maldonodo
The report said this tourist had gone missing and his family came to search for him. apparently they claim that their son had drunk ayahuasca with the shaman after which he died. It is alledged that when the tourist died the shaman buried him in his garden.

Like I have said I saw this today on national TV (peruvian) has anyone else heard about this.

37 Adrian Walker September 14, 2012 at 8:31 am

Yes Mike, that case has become worldwide news and serves to illustrate once more that regulation is essential and must be strictly enforced. Just how many deaths have there been in iquitos alone this year? We’ll probably never know and the actions of this particular shaman clearly underline how uncaring some of these folk truly are.
It’s noteworthy that Mike’s post has sat here for a day or so yet none of those who were so quick to condemn my article have responded to Mike and the news. Guilty memories in more instances than one?

38 Mike Collis September 15, 2012 at 11:46 am

LIMA , Peru – An 18-year-old missing American died after eating a hallucinogenic plant during a spiritual ritual in Peru.

Police in Peru say a shaman has been arrested after confessing to burying the U.S. citizen who died after eating the plant during a ritual.

Two other men have also been arrested for allegedly helping shaman Jose Manuel Pineda bury the young man who died at a spiritual retreat in Puerto Maldonado in the Madre de Dios jungle region.

Authorities said Wednesday that the shaman, who calls himself “Maestro Mancoluto,” told them that Kyle Nolan died after exceeding the dosage of a medicinal plant called Ayahuasca on Aug. 22.

Nolan arrived in the city about 860 kilometers (530 miles) east of Lima on Aug. 17 and was reported missing on Aug. 27 when he didn’t return to the U.S.

39 Adrian Walker September 15, 2012 at 7:33 pm

Thanks for the update on this tragic event Mike. Still no comment from the critics and just where do they stand on regulation? Obviously the fast buck brigade would oppose it tooth and claw but surely it’s time to follow Brazil, make ayahuasca legal only as a church delivered sacrament, ensure proper training for all shamen prior to allowing them to practice and just take the whole forbidden fruit sexiness out of the stuff and see what happens then. My prediction is that a lot of greedy, unscrupulous ratbags would just take their operations away and leave iquitos a far better place for it. There’s room enough for them in that place where they send a fair few of the suckers who deal with them!

40 Adrian Walker September 16, 2012 at 9:16 am

To fill the deafening silence let’s analyse the situation that has occurred in Puerto Maldonaldo and doubtless elsewhere. Take on shaman selling snake oil by making outrageous, unsubstantiated claims re his ability to cure the incurable, treat addiction etc, add one very gullible 18YO boy with a drug problem and $1200 spare to throw at the snake oil salesman for a single, private session. The kid dies, the snake oil sham man and his assistants take fright and bury the body in the garden! Deaths are never good for business although the kid’s addiction was permanently cured. The police turn up, the sham man lies to them initially then breaks down and confesses. So we have a fraud, a gullible young addict with some money, a clever website designed like a spiderweb to catch just such prey and an inevitable death. Is it murder or manslaughter? I’d suggest the latter as well as the obvious illegal disposal of a body. And incredibly some people are in fact lamenting the fact that this snake oil selling sham man has been closed down as it will disrupt the flow of addicts and those suffering incurable disease to his tender loving care! If that’s the kind of hyprocrisy that ayahuasca breeds, I’m very comfortable to avoid it and advise others to do the same.

41 Gart van Gennip September 16, 2012 at 7:16 pm

Well, well, Adrian, you are on a roll, aren´t you? You seem to be getting giddier by the post, as if reading your own clever wordings get you high. No drugs needed! You probably also love the sound of your own voice, don´t you?

Of course you are letting your fantasy run wild. You accuse shamans of making outrageous, unsubstantiated claims, but you yourself do the same thing. You have to resort to unfounded claims that people have died from using ayahuasca, right here in Iquitos?! I am sorry, but that is simply ridiculous, and for me it underscores that you are not interested in truth, but rather in sticking with a shaky argument you started and which now comes to bite you on the butt!

So you and Mike heard on Peruvian TV that a tourist in Puerto Maldonado died from drinking ayahuasca and was buried in the shaman´s garden. Peruvian TV, now, then it must be true! Ha! Some reliable source! Or the newspapers for that matter. And, according to you, this is worldwide news. I have yet to read a single word about it online, anywhere.

And what proof do you have that this tourist -if dead at all- didn´t die from a host of other possible causes? And where are all the dead tourists of Iquitos buried?

If even one single tourist here died from drinking ayahuasca – and not from anything else, like sometimes happens- then I am sure it would be huge news here. People die all the time. People die on planes. That doesn´t mean that flying is bad for your health!

Adrian, you made an argument here and you lost it. Man up to that fact and let it go.

42 James Richardson September 17, 2012 at 6:25 am

Well the young American´s death certainly was reported extensively in the Peruvian press and online. If you wish to see one of the on line reports check it here http://www.peruthisweek.com/news/!! In terms of local deaths there have been..check with the French embassy for the most recent!

43 Adrian Walker September 17, 2012 at 8:02 am

James, thanks for the succinct and accurate reply to Gart’s load of bollocks.

44 Michael Collis September 17, 2012 at 10:53 am

Come on Gart you know there have ayahuasca related deaths here in Iquitos. Gary Thomsod an american died on the carraterra in February.

Some girl was found dead in July in Tamshiyacu in an ayahuasca retreat.

You just cannot say that this ayahuasca death (Kyle Nolan) was a false report. Even Alan Shoemaker sent his condolences to Kyles family in Sebastapol, USA.

What about the polish guy who is brain damaged after drinking ayahuasca.

I am not against ayahuasca or shamaism in general I think in light of all of these deaths etc. it should be controlled, preferably Self Regulation

Mike Collis

45 Gart van Gennip September 17, 2012 at 11:33 am

“Load of bollocks”? Really Adrian? That is a pretty pathetic reply, don´t you think? I´m afraid you just disqualified yourself as a serious debater.

Although your original post was about a different matter, whether ayahuasca was actually a placebo, we are now talking about people dying from ayahuasca. Yes, there have been ayahuasca-related deaths, which you can count on the fingers of one hand, but nobody dies from drinking ayahuasca.

The lethal factor is always something else; combinations with drugs or alcohol, or simply abuse of ayahuasca. When used properly and responsibly, ayahuasca does NOT kill. This is true for most products we consume; you can overdose and die from drinking water! In fact, there is only one -legal- product that kills when used properly: sigarettes!

Mind you, I am in favor of regulation (not of SELF regulation, Mike!), in fact, I was the first one to make the case for regulation right here on this blog.

46 alan shoemaker September 17, 2012 at 1:59 pm

Adrian, exactly what natural medicine would be dangerous with ayahuasca.
It’s both a placebo and a natural medicina as well. I’ve personally seen it’s effectiveness.
Mike, there was no body of Gary Thomson, that was a lie most likely perpetrated by the US Embassy. We checked it out at the morgue.
I’ve never heard of a girl being found dead in Tamshiyacu. I don’t think that happened.
The Polilsh guy isn’t brain dead but he did lose several IQ points. It was from ayahuasca, it was from having passed out under the influence of aya with a heavy dose of datura. He vomited after he passed out alone in his room, aspirated his vomit… luckly his passengers discovered him and gave him CPR.
This said, there have been two deaths at Espiritude de Anaconada. Both were because they had very contra indicated meds in their system when they took the ayahuasca.
Ayahuasca does not kill, it cures.
The boy in Madre de Dios? The curandero finally told the police that he died from an overdose of ayahuasca and he buried the body. You can not overdose on ayahuasca, you’d just throw the excess up. So an autopsy is being done now and we should have the answers in a day or so.
Most likely? The boy was left alone in his tambo while under the influence of ayahusaca… He too could have fainted and aspirated his vomit and no one was around to assist/watch over him. Or? Could be a lethal dose of datura in the brew.

47 alan shoemaker September 17, 2012 at 5:24 pm

And the $1200 dollars he paid was for a 10 day program, everything included.

48 Randall Sexton September 17, 2012 at 7:35 pm

I’m a Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner who prescribes dangerous drugs, some which work sometimes, or not. I’ve also made 3 trips to the Amazon and drank ayahuasca. I think it has benefits but there does need to be some kind of regulation, just as there are here in regards to prescribing. Just like shamans who veer off the path, we also have allopathic physicians who do the same, especially those who prescribe excessive stimulants and pain meds.

There has been quite a lot of research on ayahuasca. Just put “Ayahuasca Scientific Literature Overview” in your search engine. It was put together by José Carlos Bouso for The International Center for Ethnobotanical Education, Research & Service.

49 Adrian Walker September 17, 2012 at 9:16 pm

Alan, there have been 3 documented ayahuasca related deaths at Tamshiyacu this year alone. Whilst none of these may have been directly caused by intake, the suspicion remains that DMT, which can kill as easily as datura has been implicated. Ayahuasca is harmless on its own, a placebo, as has been the point of argument, and unless an individual has a rare allergy, won’t kill on its own. It’s the shit that uneducated, unregulated money hungry uncaring rogues mix with a placebo that cries out for strict regulation. Gart, I’m behind you 100% and agree that self regulation is futile in an industry such as this one.

50 Johan September 18, 2012 at 4:04 am

Wherever did you get the idea that DMT is as dangerous as datura, I am beginning to suspect that people are trying to see exactly how gullible you are.

51 Adrian Walker September 18, 2012 at 9:26 am

Alan, that must be a nice, snug cocoon you live in. The girl from Tamshiyacu’ s death was front page in the local newspaper for a day or two. Also accusing the American Embassy of lying seems childish at best, stupid at worst or maybe just conspiracy theory? Who are they in league with and why Alan? The CIA or those naughty Jewish bankers? And Johan, thanks for your comment and please enlighten us as to your biochemistry credentials before making such statements.
DMT is an illegal and scheduled substance throughout most of the world with good reason as it’s a dangerous psychotropic.

52 Johan September 18, 2012 at 9:58 am

Well it was you that made a very odd statement, something I have never heard mentioned not even by the most vehement anti drug people. So maybe it is you that should, if not supply me with your bio chemistry credentials, at least elaborate a bit on how it is “as dangerous as datura”, which really is a plant that is quite toxic?

I am not trying to pick a fight with you, just curious, so there is no need for hostility.

53 alan shoemaker September 18, 2012 at 11:40 am

Adrian, it’s the betacarbolines (harmine and harmala) in the vine that could be dangerous and cause a hypertensive crisis if it’s taken when you have the presence of SSRI’s in your system. Those synthetic meds are what people with a bi-polar disorder take. The dmt in the leaves of either admixture to the vine (chacruna or huambisa/chaliponga) is what occurs naturally in your spinal column and hypothalamus and it has no contraindications and is not addictive as well.
Did anyone else here see the article about a woman in Tamshiyacu passing away from ayahuasca? Don’t think so.
It’s obvious to me and most everyone reading this blog that you have no clue about what your writing about.
Sorry, don’t mean to rile you but you should get your facts straight before you put forward statements like that.
And, there’s not been a single death in Tamshiyacu from ayahuasca as well.

cheers `

54 D.M.W. September 18, 2012 at 12:55 pm

There have been reports of some three or four deaths to date of people who supposedly died from use of ayahuasca.
In these only well documented provable cases, in two of them, the deaths were attributable to mega doses of nicotine.
Which is not an ingredient of Ayahuasca; tobacco juice not meant for ingestion had been erroneously added to the mix by an incomptent ‘shaman’.
Common is to add a single leaf or two leaves of the Nicotiana Rustica tobacco-plant to THE WHOLE POT which contains many doses, so completely safe..
The other two cases were due to an inordinate amount of tropane alkaloids from Brugmansia plants which were added to the mix in massive amounts. Brugmansia is not a common ingredient, as it is considered to be ‘brujeria’ (black magic, sorcery) and is normally only used by very experienced shamans.

Ayahuasca is completely safe for 99.9% of users who keep to the diet for MAOi use. And with that, is a medicine which is many times safer than even common aspirine. And more effective.

It is irritating when people who obviously have no clue about what Ayahuasca is and who have a very negative, arrogant prejudice against traditional medicine and shamanism in general, pretend to have knowledge of the medicine and attempt to give it a bad name.
VEry unscientific and ignorant.

55 D.M.W. September 18, 2012 at 1:06 pm

LD 50 is lethal dose for 50 % of test subjects.
Here you can clearly see that DMT is less toxic than cafeine.
To reach a lethal dose of DMT you have to consume massive amounts of the plants which contain it or liters of the brew Ayahusca.
DMT is many many times less toxic than Datura. Saying it can kill as easily as datura is a further sign of complete incompetence and uninformed bias.

LD50s for Various Substances
(with ratios regarding relative safety/toxicity)

Substance LD50 route animal Typical
Human Dose
Alcohol (Ethyl) 10.6 g/kg o young rats
7.06 g/kg o old rats
AMT 38 mg/kg3 ip mouse
22 mg/kg3 o rat
Caffeine 127 mg/Kg o mice (male) 100-200 mg o
192 mg/Kg o rat
260 mg/Kg ip rat
105 mg/Kg iv rat
137 mg/Kg o mice (female)
230 mg/Kg o hamster(male)
249 mg/Kg o hamster(female)
355 mg/Kg o rat(male)
247 mg/Kg o rat(female)
246 mg/Kg o rabbit(male)
227 mg/Kg o rabbit(female)
140 mg/Kg o dog
Cocaine 95.1 mg/kg4 ip mouse
DET 28 mg/kg iv mouse 60 mg im/po
DIPT 26 mg/kg iv mouse 30 mg o
DMT 110 mg/kg im mouse 60 mg im
5-MeO-DMT 115 mg/kg ip mouse 6 mg p
DPT 20 mg/kg iv mouse 60 mg po
Sodium-GHB 2,000 mg/kg ip male rats
1,650 mg/kg ip female rats
Ibogaine 82 mg/kg2 ip guinea pig
145 mg/kg2 ip rat
Ketamine 77 mg/kg iv mouse
400 mg / kg ip mouse
LSD 46 mg/Kg iv mice 0.25 mg o
16.5 mg/Kg iv rats
.3 mg/Kg iv rabbits
MDA 92 mg/kg5 ip mouse
MDMA 350 mg/kg5 oral rats
106 mg/kg5 ip mouse
Mescaline 370 mg/kg o rats
Nicotine 230 mg/Kg o mice
50 mg/Kg o rats
9.5 mg/Kg ip mice .7 mg(smoked)
.3 mg/Kg iv mice
Psilocybin 285 mg/Kg iv mice 12-20 mg o
280 mg/Kg iv rats
12.5 mg/Kg iv rabbit
THC 1270 mg/Kg o rats(male) 20 mg o
730 mg/Kg o rats(female) 20 mg o
105.7 mg/Kg iv rats 5 mg(smoked)
42 mg/Kg (inhalation) rats 5 mg(smoked)
Aspirin 1100 mg/Kg o mice 325 mg o
1500 mg/Kg o rats
Acetaminophen/paracetamol 338 mg/Kg o mice 500 mg o
500 mg/Kg ip mice
Vitamin A 2570 mg/Kg o mice 10-20 mg o
1510 mg/Kg ip mice
Strychnine .96 mg/Kg iv rats

Succinyl Choline .45 mg/Kg iv
VX (nerve gas) .0154 mg/Kg iv rabbits 0 mg

56 Adrian Walker September 18, 2012 at 3:38 pm

DMT production in the hypothalamus is speculative and widely disregarded. The theory that it may be naturally produced in the pineal is also out there but likewise remains unproven.
There have been 3 deaths in Tamshiyacu this year, related to ayahuasca in that all the deceased either died during ceremonies or shortly after consuming the drug.
Alan, of all people, you should know very well that death can occur from careless, unregulated use of a scheduled drug such as DMT, and so your casual defence and denials amount to no more than what Andy Metcalf referred to as straw arguments.
The simple fact remains and has been ignored by all participants in this discussion, and that is that DMT was synthesised nearly 80 years ago, yet drug companies have no financial interest in any ayahuasca compound. Were any of the outrageous claims that have appeared over the past decade or two regarding the substance conatained a grain of truth, those same drug companies would have moved to take the massive profits available to them. Instead the profits, somewhat smaller, have been made by sham men and snake oil salesmen, and they do abound here in iquitos!

57 alan shoemaker September 18, 2012 at 4:07 pm

Sorry Adrian, but I’ve checked with my contacts and there’s been no deaths in Tamshiyacu.
DMT is not deadly, even injected. As I pointed out to you before, it is the MAOI’s that can be potentially dangerous if you have SSRI’s in your system.
There would be no reason for a pharmaceutical company to patent DMT, Adrian and the betacarbolines are already patented as they were once used to treat manic depressives… and still are.
Why do you expend so much emotional energy on a subject you really no little about? Why don’t you go hit some golf balls or something and make yourself useful. Your 15 minutes are up ~

58 Flabbergasted September 18, 2012 at 4:26 pm

“why would anyone bother [taking ayahuasca] when cheap, effective and safe purgatives are available in every pharmacy?”

This has to be the single most stupidest thing I have ever seen anyone write or say in my life. I am speechless….
How people with such fantastic blindness, closed-mindedness and inability to perform the slightest amount of thinking skills survive a single day without accidentally walking into traffic or drinking a gallon of bleach is truly a mystery to me.

Holy crap… I just looked at the comments by this author. It’s truly astounding how gullible some people are. If you told this author Santa Claws was not only real but funding Al Qaeda she would write an article about warning the world. Reading this I have just gotten enough vapidity to last me at least year.

I’m actually starting to feel bad for saying mean things because this author might actually be severely mentally handicapped. But just in case they are not and actually do represent the pinnacles of ignorance and lazy-mindedness, I leave what wrote.

59 Peter Gorman September 18, 2012 at 5:08 pm

Hello: I’ve been asked to comment here. Not sure what to say. The initial article was essentially a somewhat naive blog post–as evidenced by the longevity claim that in 30 years I’ve never heard and I get to hear an awful lot down in that part of the world. But somehow that little piece of fluff and fun has taken a serious turn–I think because of the suggestions that a number of people are dying from ayahuasca use. Which does tend to give a conversation a serious turn.
I think ayahuasca is very serious medicine, and I’ve always treated it that way–well, I’m sure I fell down on the job a few times, but mostly treated it that way. And I think it’s wonderful medicine. Anyone who has ever purged know you are not vomiting food; you’re vomiting the wretched things in your life that you no longer need to carry around with you. Things we all carry, but can’t always explain or even know we carry: Nearly all of us were breastfed, but one day your mother took that away, and left you feeling, though you couldn’t put it into words because you had none, abandoned. In truth it may have been that you’d gotten a tooth and it hurt her. Nonetheless, you felt cut off. And you’ve carried that pain around from that day forward. Now imagine reliving that and throwing it away–how much freer you would be! Or the lies you told your girlfriends or boyfriends over the course of your life: You don’t need them. Throw them up and out. Not the memory: Retain that and remember not to do those rotten things to people you say you love anymore. But throw the pain and guilt away.
That’s just the beginning of the purge.
Now I think it’s a very good medicine for a lot of things. I don’t think anyone would make the claim that it cures this or that malady or illness. The curative is when the curandero–if he/she is a real plant doctor–sees what is wrong with you and comes up with a plant decoction that will treat that ailment. That “seeing” is what occurs to the curandero during the session; his or her knowledge of plants that can treat those things are what is key to the healing.
Is everyone who serves ayahuasca a genuine medicinal plant doctor? Absolutely not. Are some? Absolutely. The trick, in a place like Iquitos, is finding someone who really knows the local plants, knows physical illnesses, understands emotional imbalance and such. And the further trick is getting to drink with them on one of their good days–because even wonderful doctors have bad days.
But any discussion of ayahuasca must include this: These people, the curanderos, were the healers in their tribes, and later, they were the healers on the rivers on which they lived. People’s lives depended on them. A healer whose patients died of the grippe or snakebite wouldn’t last too long.
So these men and women had extraordinary understanding of their part of the jungle and of the medicinal plants therein. And their access, according to them, to the spirits of those plants, was through their ayahuasca use. And that’s vital: anybody can boil a carrot, but not everybody can get the best out of it. That best is, just to name it, what curanderos call the “spirit” of that plant.
I’m getting on too deeply here. Just to stay focused, because I could go on, lord knows, the curanderos are healers who traditionally have attributed a great deal of their plant medicine knowledge to what they have learned while under the influence of ayahuasca. That not everyone serving ayahuasca has that knowledge is a given. That no one does is a genuine disrespect for many of the people who have kept the people of the Amazon alive and healthy for hundreds, perhaps thousands of years.
As to the deaths: I have never heard of a case that was authenticated as being from an overdose of ayahuasca. I’ve heard of people dying who were bitten by snakes after they drank ayahuasca, and I can imagine someone choking on his/her vomit if there were not a good curandero with helpers looking after people; and I can imagine a hypertensive crisis resulting from the bad mix of SSRI’s with ayahuasca. Or someone drowning, or climbing a tree and falling. But I’ve certainly never heard of anyone just dying from ayahuasca by the time the autopsy was done.

60 James Richardson September 18, 2012 at 5:33 pm

I previously commented that I personally adhere to the belief that what works for you is great but that ayahuasca has really become a business here and requires regulating. That is what I read behind Adrian´s post. I am sure the intent is not to deprive those, who have commented on here and who have a vested interest, of their income stream. Let the regulations set the tone based on documented facts and get away from the rhetoric precipitated by emotion brought on by the threat of a disruption in possible personal revenue stream or that of a friend.

61 alan shoemaker September 18, 2012 at 7:17 pm

Thanks Peter.

Adrian, the deaths up river?
and the natural medicines that would be dangerous to have in your system when drinking aya?
And your body doesn’t have dmt being manufactured in it? Oh..wait, your’s probabaly doesn’t.. LOL

We’ve already got three curanderos on the Board of Directors for the Union of Curanderos, just as they have already in Colombia and Ecuador. We’re looking for two more. Once we have those, other curanderos will go before them… kind of like you do to get your dissertation accepted.

cheers ~
Adrian, really would like to see some hard copy on those deaths you’ve mentioned.


62 alan shoemaker September 18, 2012 at 7:40 pm

in the meantime ~
here’s something to think about:

As of September 2010, this question of whether DMT is produced in the brain does not have a simple yes or no answer. It has not yet been conclusively demonstrated that DMT is produced in the living human brain, but there are strong reasons to believe that it might be, as well as technical issues that make the theory difficult to verify.

The presence of DMT in human blood and urine has been conclusively reported in a number of papers (Riceberg and van Vunakis, 1978). For many years, its presence in urine was tied to people with schizophrenia and psychosis (Jacobs and Presti, 2005). There is no question that DMT is naturally produced in the human body.

The enzymes necessary to produce DMT from tryptamine and serotonin–N-methyltransferase (NMT) and indolethylamine N-methyltransferase (INMT)–as well as the mRNA necessary to produce the enzymes have been shown to exist in human tissues outside the brain. While found in the spinal cord, these were not identified in the brain itself (Thompson et al., 1999). However, it remains quite possible that they are present in areas of the brain other than those studied by Thompson et al., or that they are present in amounts too small to have been detected, or that the necessary genes are only expressed (and the mRNA produced) under certain conditions.

In one key study looking at this issue from 1971, Mandell and Morgan flooded extracted brain tissue with tryptamine in vitro (in petri dishes) and measured the DMT that was produced. However, they did not show that this actually happens in living tissue with normal amounts of tryptophan.

DMT is so readily broken down by the MAO enzyme that one researcher, Nicholas Cozzi, co-author of a 2009 paper on the topic published in Science, speculates that the problem might simply be one of detection: “DMT itself is so fleeting, that it seems one might have to take ‘heroic’ measures such as obtaining fresh brain tissue from a patient on MAO inhibitors or freezing brain tissue immediately upon collection to prevent the disappearance of any DMT. We know that DMT can be detected in rat brain tissue from animals pretreated with an MAO inhibitor (this was elegantly demonstrated in the Saavedra/Axelrod work), but as far as I know, this hasn’t been done with human tissue.” (Cozzi, personal communication, 2010)

While it has been established that DMT is produced in the human body, it is not yet possible to say definitively that it is produced in the human brain. With some conflicting evidence, signs point to DMT being produced in the brain in small quantities at a limited number of (as yet unidentified) sites.

To answer the second part of your question, taking an MAOI and eating a candy bar will not have effects similar to smoking DMT or taking ayahuasca. Many people have been prescribed long-acting, very powerful MAOIs and have not reported that kind of effect.

– earth

For a discussion of whether DMT is specifically formed in the human pineal gland, see DMT and the Pineal: Fact or Fiction? (Hanna, 2010).

Selected quotes from related papers:

“DMT can be produced by enzymes in mammalian lung (11) and in rodent brain (12). DMT has been found in human urine, blood, and cerebrospinal fluid (9, 13). Although there are no conclusive quantitative studies measuring the abundance of endogenous DMT because of its rapid metabolism (14), DMT concentrations can be localized and elevated in certain instances. Evidence suggests that DMT can be locally sequestered into brain neurotransmitter storage vesicles and that DMT production increases in rodent brain under environmental stress (8).” (Fontanilla et al., 2009)

In a review article that summarizes the results of previous research evidence for endogenous production of DMT (and other hallucinogens) in humans, Rosengarten and Friedhoff report that enzymes necessary to produce DMT have clearly been shown to be present in living tissue, “Tryptamine, or NMT, can be enzymatically converted to DMT by a SAM-dependent enzyme or enzymes shown to be highly active in lung or adrenal, particularly of the rabbit. This enzyme system can be demonstrated in brain, but its activity is very low. Similar findings have been made with regard to the formation of bufotenine from serotonin.” (Rosengarten and Friedhoff, 1976)

“We have recently demonstrated the presence of this enzyme in the brain of rat, with the highest specific activity in the brain stem and the lowest in cortical areas. In addition, we have evidence of the presence of this enzyme in infant parietal and adult frontal cortical tissue taken incidentally from man during neurosurgical procedures.” (Morgan and Mandell, 1969)

“More controversial is the presence of DMT in brain. Some researchers posit that the synthesis of DMT in brain is not physiologically significant (Thompson et al., 1999; however, consider the arguments of Jones, 1983; Reader et al., 1988). Other researchers propose that DMT levels increase in the mammalian brain during stress, whereupon DMT may act as an endogenous anxiolytic (for discussion, see Jacob and Presti, 2005).” (Burchett, 2006)

“The potent hallucinogenic effects of pure DMT in humans were first reported by Szara [7] in 1956. Then, in 1965, DMT, tryptamine and 5-hydroxy-N,N-dimethyltryptamine (bufotenine) were reported as normal constituents of human urine and blood [8] […] We have reviewed the current research on INMT and AADC activity, illustrating that their participation in DMT biosynthesis is biochemically very reasonable. We have also proposed a major role for DMT in the trace amine system. This proposal offers a neurochemical explanation for heretofore ill-understood aspects of DMT pharmacology, especially at low doses. Our proposed scenario also includes the hypothesis that increased DMT or tryptamine production could suppress psychotic activity, rather than aggravate it.” (Jacob and Presti, 2005)

63 Adrian Walker September 19, 2012 at 7:33 am

Alan, nice to see you’ve been reading the biochemical material. Pity you don’t pay attention to the newspapers or you’d know about at least one of the verified 3 deaths at Tamshiyacu this year.

64 Scott Humfeld September 19, 2012 at 7:54 am

Really? The only source you are willing to cite throughout this whole thing is one of Iquitos’ notoriously inaccurate newspapers? Thanks for starting my day with a good laugh, although I nearly spilled my coffee. You’ve got A LOT to learn. Welcome to Iquitos.

65 Andy M September 19, 2012 at 8:11 am

Adrian said: “Whilst none of these may have been directly caused by intake, the suspicion remains that DMT, which can kill as easily as datura has been implicated. ”

Adrian, I challenge you to find any evidence that DMT is deadly. What you just said is another of your totally untrue bullshit opinions based on nothing that could be called objective and again clearly shows how little you know about what you’re debating about.

I’ve just spent well over an hour researching the known dangers of DMT and it’s potential to kill. I can’t find a single source of information that says that DMT can be deadly.

I went to several sites that provide information about the known harmful effects of the majority of drugs, and none of them said anything about DMT being potentially lethal.

Here are a few references for you to look over (and please do, you might actually learn something for a change).

http://www.drugfree.org “The Partnership at Drugfree.org is a drug abuse prevention, intervention, treatment and recovery resource, existing to help parents and caregivers effectively address alcohol and drug abuse with their teens and young adults.”

This is pretty much all it says about DMT – “Hallucinogenic effects last for about 45 to 60 minutes. Because the effects last only about an hour, the experience was called a “businessman’s trip.” – http://www.drugfree.org/drug-guide/dmt

talktofrank.com (UK based drug education site)

“- DMT could have serious implications for somebody who has a history of mental health problems. It may also be responsible for triggering such a problem in someone predisposed but unaware of this.

– People have been known to harm themselves during a bad trip from using hallucinogens – so it is probably best to avoid taking DMT if you’re in a bad or anxious mood.

-Some people report unpleasant emotional effects lasting for days after taking DMT.

-DMT can also raise blood pressure and heart rate and may harm those with a pre-existing heart condition.”



– Possible immediate effects include intense open-eye visuals, radical shifts in perspective, profound life-changing spiritual experiences, change in perception of time, auditory hallucinations, overly-intense experiences, overwhelming fear and difficulty integrating experiences. Users have described seeing the face of God, visiting other worlds and having conversations with aliens.

Long term:
Possible long-term effects include triggering of underlying psychological problems.


“The risks associated with psychedelic drugs are mostly psychological, not physical. For most psychedelic drugs, including the most commonly used ones such as LSD and psyilocybin mushrooms, there has never been a recorded overdose. Reviews of the clinical literature suggest that chronic problematic effects, when they do occur, are most often linked to psychological instability present prior to use. Comprehensive reviews of psychedelics used in research settings during the 1950s and 60s have consistently found extremely low incidences of acute and chronic problems among individuals lacking pre-existing severe psychopathology.”



“Side effects

Similar to other psychedelic drugs, there are relatively few physical side effects associated with DMT acute exposure. When inhaled, its vapor has been described as “very harsh.”[101] According to a “Dose-response study of N,N-dimethyltryptamine in humans” by Rick Strassman, “Dimethyltryptamine dose slightly elevated blood pressure, heart rate, pupil diameter, and rectal temperature, in addition to elevating blood concentrations of beta-endorphin, corticotropin, cortisol, and prolactin. Growth hormone blood levels rose equally in response to all doses of DMT, and melatonin levels were unaffected.”
Psychologically, the DMT experience can be overly-intense, potentially causing overwhelming fear and difficulty integrating experiences if one is not mentally prepared. Furthermore, due to the intense nature of the experience, DMT is generally considered to have no addiction potential.[citation needed] Just as with all psychedelics, there is a chance for an onset of paranoia, or a ‘bad trip’. This risk is more prevalent with DMT, as DMT is more intense than normal psychedelics. Close attention should be paid to dose, set and setting. Also one should note that despite the lack of physical side effects, the intensity of the DMT experience could trigger latent mental illnesses in those who may have a genetic predisposition to such diseases.[8]

Not a single one of these sources say anything about DMT being deadly. Nor can I find any other source that says DMT can be deadly.

Please either retract your statement that DMT is deadly, or else provide a credible source of information to back up your claim.

66 Adrian Walker September 19, 2012 at 8:27 am

Those “notoriously inaccurate” newspapers also ran a front page pic of some detectives carrying a body bag. Are you suggesting that it contained something other than the body of the Russian woman who died at Tamshiyacu in one of the 3 ayahuasca related deaths there this year.
Scott, some sources prefer not to be named for a range of reasons and I respect that right. A refusal to be named however, does not diminish their credibility one iota.

67 Andy M September 19, 2012 at 8:59 am

Adrian, you constantly mispresent things to suit your own agenda. The death in Tamshiyacu that you’re referring to was the suicide of a Russian woman. Yes she was involved in Ayahuasca, but nobody (as far as I’m aware) knows that Ayahuasca had anything to do with the reason she killed herself. To call this an ayahuasca related death is just conjecture.

You can read about this at http://www.tuteve.tv/noticia/actualidad/85452/2012/07/21/sitemap



and incidently, neither of those news reports mention ayahuasca.

That is only one death. The other two, I’m pretty sure only happened in your imagination.

68 Andy M September 19, 2012 at 9:09 am

Apologies, I’m mistaken. The first news report does mention ayahuasca, but also says the woman had just had a big fight with her husband a few days before he left to return to Russia.

I still stand by my statement that to call this an ayahuasca related death is just conjecture. None of us know the mental state of this woman. We don’t know whether she had a history of mental illness, depression or had sucidal thoughts before she even started drinking ayahuasca.

69 Andy M September 19, 2012 at 9:12 am

fyi, I have 2 comments awaiting moderation (due to the inclusion of links) previous to my last one.

70 Adrian Walker September 19, 2012 at 9:34 am

Andy, whether the Russian woman had a fight with her husband prior to his leaving Peru had no impact on the fact that she did not commit suicide, but in all probability was murdered and raped by a party who had become mentally unstable after heavy ayahuasca use.

71 Andy M September 19, 2012 at 10:23 am

Adrian blathered “Your request for a “citation from peer-reviewed journals” would suggest a little looseness of thinking on your part as such journals aren’t interested in superstition.”

Again, more nonsense from you Adrian. While these journals may well not be interested in superstition, science definitely is interested in researching the highly beneficial and healing properties of psychedelic substances. The only reason that a great deal of research hasn’t been done to date is because the illegality of these substances.

One of the few Americans to research DMT in the last 30 years is Dr Rick Strassman, and he had to jump through a lot of hoops to get permission. He wrote an entire book about his research called DMT: The Spirit Molecule. http://www.rickstrassman.com/

You can read na interview with him at http://www.examiner.com/article/dr-rick-strassman-interview-dmt-and-near-death-experiences-shed-light-on-spirit-brain-relationship

In the last few years more scientific researchers have obtained permission to research psychedelics. I would suggest reading the following articles (and I could send you many many more as this is just a small sample). Again, you might actually learn something your pompous brain didn’t already know.

“Prof Roland Griffiths at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine in Baltimore Maryland recently published a study of 36 healthy volunteers who were given psilocybin and then observed in the lab. The participants’ ages ranged from 24 to 64 and none had taken hallucinogens before. When the group were interviewed again 14 months later 58% said they rated the experience as being among the five most personally meaningful of their lives, 67% said it was in their top five spiritual experiences, and 64% said it had increased their well-being or life satisfaction.”


“….There are many other applications of psychedelic psychotherapy, such as ibogaine, or ayahuasca for the treatment of substance abuse. Large numbers of people could benefit from the use of psychedelics as entheogens, introducing people to spiritual experiences, reducing pain and suffering due to isolation, by the irresistible realisation that each of us is a small part of something much greater than any of us, that separateness is an illusion, there is nothing to fear, and love is accessible, shame can be left permanently behind. Rites of passage, responsibly organised, could benefit everyone.

Despite prohibition, people have often asked me to attend their own psychedelic experiments, to keep them safe, to guide them towards liberation, the end of automatic habit patterns, kneejerk reactions, towards heartfelt responses, love, acceptance and forgiveness. After one session with MDMA, people were able to sustain insights gained, without further assistance from the drug. Psychotherapy proceeded faster and deeper than before: the debilitating effects of shame have been annulled, heavily defended hearts opened, and stayed open, and people acquired the ability to enjoy the sacrament of every living moment without distraction by past regrets or future worries. No small gains!

After three LSD sessions, a patient emerged from what was labelled chronic psychotic depression (she had attempted suicide three times, had been hospitalised, and given several courses of ECT, major antipsychotics and antidepressants), and was able to hold a job, derive pleasure from her days, and look forward to cultivating a varied garden of delights. She moved from cursing me for not letting her die to blessing me for the surprising freedom that opened up for her as a result of her LSD experiences. Psychotherapy, without LSD, would not have been enough, I’m afraid.”


“Mind-altering psychedelics, or hallucinogens, are back in the research labs, where their therapeutic applications — rather than the illegal use — are being explored. Studies are looking at psychedelics to treat a number of otherwise intractable psychiatric disorders, including chronic depression, posttraumatic stress disorder, and drug or alcohol dependency.

The past 15 years have seen a quiet resurgence of psychedelic drug research as scientists have come to recognize the long-underappreciated potential of these drugs. In the past few years, a growing number of studies using human volunteers have begun to explore the possible therapeutic benefits of drugs such as LSD, psilocybin, DMT, MDMA, ibogaine and ketamine.

Much remains unclear about the precise neural mechanisms governing how these drugs produce their mind-bending results, but they often produce somewhat similar psychoactive effects that make them potential therapeutic tools. Though still in their preliminary stages, studies in humans suggest that the day when people can schedule a psychedelic session with their therapist to overcome a serious psychiatric problem may not be that far off.”


“Using unusually rigorous scientific conditions and measures, Johns Hopkins researchers have shown that the active agent in “sacred mushrooms” can induce mystical/spiritual experiences descriptively identical to spontaneous ones people have reported for centuries.

The resulting experiences apparently prompt positive changes in behavior and attitude that last several months, at least.

The agent, a plant alkaloid called psilocybin, mimics the effect of serotonin on brain receptors-as do some other hallucinogens-but precisely where in the brain and in what manner are unknown.

An account of the study, accompanied by an editorial and four experts’ commentaries, appears online today in the journal Psychopharmacology.

Cited as “landmark” in the commentary by former National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) director, Charles Schuster, the research marks a new systematic approach to studying certain hallucinogenic compounds that, in the 1950s, showed signs of therapeutic potential or value in research into the nature of consciousness and sensory perception. “Human consciousness…is a function of the ebb and flow of neural impulses in various regions of the brain-the very substrate that drugs such as psilocybin act upon,” Schuster says. “Understanding what mediates these effects is clearly within the realm of neuroscience and deserves investigation.”


Once again Adrian, I’ve have shown that you are full nothing but hot air. Please, in future, try and get something of a clue about what you’re talking about before you wade into a debate. It really does help and makes you look far less of a fool! 🙂

72 Andy M September 19, 2012 at 10:30 am

“but in all probability was murdered and raped by a party who had become mentally unstable after heavy ayahuasca use.”

‘In all probability’? Wow, how scientific and objective you are Adrian. So you’re a criminal profile expert now are you? You do seem to know everything about everything! How amazing you are. Should we all bow down before your brilliant mind that has it all figured out?

73 Andy M September 19, 2012 at 10:34 am

And how the feck do you know the fight she had with her husband had no impact on her commiting suicide? Did you speak to her? Were you her shrink or something? Have you personally spoken to her husband?

You really do know how to pull stuff out of your ass!

74 Adrian Walker September 19, 2012 at 11:12 am

Andy, grow up a little if at all possible. The autopsy revealed rape and murder. Full stop! Suicide was mentioned in one or two of the early reports, but totally discounted by the autopsy results.

75 Adrian Walker September 19, 2012 at 2:09 pm

During the past few days I’ve had the pleasure of meeting a number of people who are here for the Raft Race. Now I don’t pretend to be a water sports person but I do have great admiration for endurance athletes and these guys surely fill that category. They’ll confront their physical and mental demons out there on the river without the aid of any recreational drugs or states of altered consciousness. And in most cases, they’ll triumph over those demons and for that I applaud them all. This is the kind of positive good news story that Iquitos needs, not drug deaths, child sex tourism and the like. So let’s just call a truce to hostilities on this forum for a few days, celebrate a great Iquitos event in the Great Amazon Raft Race, celebrate the brave competitors and give them the kudos they deserve.

76 Andy M September 19, 2012 at 5:21 pm

It’s very sad and also intellectually dishonest to use a couple of very rare and isolated cases to try and portray ayahuasca in such a negative light and claim that a huge problem exists. It’s even worse to try and lump it in the same category as child sex tourism.

There’s no way of knowing exactly how many people come to Peru each year to experience ayahuasca. I would make a very conservative guess that every night of the week there are between 100 and 200 non-Peruvians sat in ayahuasca ceremonies all around Peru. On some nights of the week I’m sure that number is at least 2 to 4 times higher. But let’s average it at 150 people per night, which leads to a number of well over 50,000 people in ceremonies each year, and the real figure could be twice that. Obviously that number doesn’t represent individual people as most people will take part in several ceremonies during their stay in Peru. I would conservatively estimate that the number of individual people experiencing ayahuasca, just in Peru, each year is about 10,000 and may even be double that.

It’s extremely rare that in a single year there will be more than 2 or 3 ayahuasca related deaths in Peru, and as several people have pointed out, it is almost always because of combining ayahuasca with contra indicated medications, or because they had a bad heart condition and suffered a heart attack (ayahuasca certainly can raise your heart rate and therefore should not be taken by people with heart conditions).

So by my calculations the odds of dying from taking ayahuasca is something in the region of 1 in 5,000! Could be even much much higher if you were to consider the number of people who take part in ayahuasca ceremonies globally each year. Could be 1 in 20,000! The odds are far more in favour of you dying in a car accident on your way to the airport!

You are also more likely to die from taking prescription drugs. In 2010 there were over 82,000 recorded accidental deaths caused by prescription drugs in the USA alone – http://www.drugwarfacts.org/cms/Causes_of_Death

So I don’t think that any reasonable minded person, who looks at the evidence without any bias, can realistically claim that taking ayahuasca is particularly dangerous. And this is an ‘industry’ that is currently unregulated!!

On the subject of regulation, I’m not opposed to it, however I see it as being currently fairly unworkable in a country like Peru.

You claimed that ayahuasca should be “tightly regulated”. That’s quite an hilarious statement when you consider that we’re in Peru. I have to say that if you wish to live in a safe anally retentive place where everything is tightly regulated to your liking then you’re living in completely the wrong country. I can hardly think of anything in Peru that is tightly regulated other than commercial air travel.

You live in Iquitos Adrian. Haven’t you noticed by now? Have you not noticed huge potholes in the middle of the roads that kill far more people every year than ayahuasca ever will. If the local government can’t even be bothered to regulate simple things like road safety that affects hundreds of thousands of people on a daily basis, how effective do you think they will be with ayahuasca?

And who do you think is going to enforce regulations? The police? I hate to break this to you Adrian, but in Iquitos, the main difference between the cops and the crooks is their uniform! I guess you haven’t realised that yet. If you were robbed at gun point tonight, and then reported it to the police, I assure you they will do very little.

In Iquitos the only thing that talks is money, and you can get away with pretty much anything if you pay enough money to the right people (and often it doesn’t need to be a lot of money).

Another thing for you to consider is that regulation never ever stops unscrupulous people doing what they want (and that’s true in almost any part of the world!). It is completely illegal to sell cocaine in Peru, and cocaine is infinitely more harmful than ayahuasca, yet if you walk down the Iquitos Boulevard on any given night you would probably find at least 3 people who will sell you cocaine if you know who to ask! Harmful and illegal drugs are extremely easy to aqcuire in Iquitos (and pretty much every city in the world) yet I don’t see the police making much effort to curtail the problem.

What scares me the most is that interfering busy bodies like yourself, who obviously have no desire to understand ayahuasca, may keep on kicking up such a fuss over nothing that eventually ayahuasca may even be made illegal. And that will make what tiny problem there is now far far worse, because making it illegal would never make ayahuasca disappear, it will just push it further underground and controlled by unscrupulous people who have no interest in people’s health and safety. And THAT is when the problems will start piling up. So you have to be very careful about what you wish for.

I think that all the well known, reputable ayahuasca centers such as Blue Morpho, Temple of the Way of Light, Ayahuasa Satsangha (the organisation I’m a part of) and several others already do a very good job of keeping their guests safe. All these organisations rely heavily on word of mouth and guest testimonials to fill their retreats, so it’s always in their best interests to make sure that all guests are well looked after and have a very positive experience. I doubt that regulation (unless it was truly stiffling) would change the way these centers already operate.

What’s needed, in my opinion, is better education for people coming to Peru, so they can make better informed decisions. As I stated in an article I wrote for this blog last year, the people most at risk are the backpackers and jungle tourists who are just passing through Iquitos, and usually know very little about ayahuasca, or what they’re getting themselves into. These are the people who are far more likely to end up with frauds and charalatans, or not know about medications they shouldn’t mix with ayahuasca etc. But I think the vast majority of people coming to Peru to experience ayahuasca have researched the subject online, have researched several centers, they have a good idea what they’re getting themselves into, and will almost certainly be well looked after and safe.

I think some of Gart’s ideas for an independant organisation that educates people about the best places and warns about which people/centers to avoid is probably the most workable solution I’ve heard.

But no solution will be perfect. Rare and isolated incidents will always occur no matter how much regulation is in place. Air travel is probably one of the most tightly regulated industries in the world, and is generally considered very safe, yet accidents still happen, and every year people will continue to die in flying accidents. You can’t regulate against everything! Shit will always happen no matter how many regulations are in place, and given that such an incredibly small amount of people are having bad experiences or dying, I really don’t see that there’s a huge problem that needs to be solved!

And let’s not forget that unscrupulous, uncaring people will always continue to operate no matter what the laws or regulations are, and in a place like Iquitos, where even the police don’t care too much about the law, they will operate very easily and with little risk of being arrested, particularly if they have money to pay a small bribe.

So in summary, I don’t think regulation is a terrible thing or completely unnecessary. I just really don’t see how it will hardly change anything in a place like Iquitos. And too much regulation could actually make what is currently a relatively small problem far worse – because it could end up making ayahuasca centers far too expensive for some people to operate legally and they will just shut down and be replaced by people who won’t think twice about operating outside the law (and I’m afraid there’s no shortage of those types of people in Iquitos).

That’s my 2 cents on regulation.

77 alan shoemaker September 19, 2012 at 6:43 pm

I don’t believe you Adrian. What’s the Russian woman’s name, I’ll get a copy of the autopsy report.

78 Andy M September 19, 2012 at 7:53 pm

Alan, her name is Daria Dyuzhaya

79 alan shoemaker September 19, 2012 at 8:36 pm

Thanks, I’ll look into that tomorrow and get back.
In the meantime, I’d like to correct your sources on smoking dm t.. it’s was known as the businessman’s high because the effect was only 15 to 20 minutes.
ah… Adrian, where’s your references about people taking natural medicines and that they could die while drinking ayahausca?

80 alan shoemaker September 19, 2012 at 9:09 pm

Reading between the lines,… it looks like that you and your cronies would like to set up some sort of control over ayahausca use here, giving control to the very people (like you) that have no idea what is going one. And I believe this is the object of this absurd conversation.
However, I can tell you this, the curanderos will not be hijacked. We’re already working on this.

81 Mike Collis September 20, 2012 at 7:28 am

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again.

Regulation is needed but NOT State Regulation but Self Regulation.

By the way a french man died in June or July this year in a retreat, he was 39 and suffering from some illness or other.

When questioned the shaman said he had not administered any ayahuasca but had given his patient Jungle garlic.

82 alan shoemaker September 20, 2012 at 8:06 pm

Yes, correct Mike. That’s the reason why we’re forming the Union of Curanderos here just like Ecuador and Colombia has, we don’t want government regulating this.
The frenchman was a very famous trapeze artist from France, had an accident and put him in a wheel chair forever. Came with lots of meds, contraindicated ones to boot.

83 alan shoemaker September 21, 2012 at 9:57 am

Andy, Mark Twain said, “Never argue with a stupid person. They’ll drag you down to their level then beat you with experience.”

84 James Richardson September 21, 2012 at 11:08 am

Adrian, cudos to you for expressing your perspective and enduring the wrath of the vested interest group who should embrace regulation for the safety of those wanting to partake in ayahuasca. Perhaps their fear of regulation is rooted in the fear that Gringos could be excluded from the money tree. From my perspective, any type of mind altering drug should and must be regulated.

85 Andy M September 21, 2012 at 5:24 pm

James, I think you’ve completely misread what’s been said in this discussion. Nobody has said that there shouldn’t be regulation, the question is how it would work in a place like Iquitos. Have you ever even been to Iquitos? It’s a whole different world! Also any wrath directed at Adrian has absolutely nothing to do with his views on regulation, but the fact that he clearly has absolutely no idea what he’s talking about. I feel it’s important when entering a debate that you have some idea what it is you’re debating. Adrian is as clueless as they come, and almost everything he’s said can be easily refuted! THAT is what has made people annoyed!

86 alan September 22, 2012 at 4:42 pm

You need to think a bit.
do you drink coffee? If not, obviously you think others shouldn’t as caffiene es one of the most addicting drugs there is.
Do you drink a beer from time to time, any alcohol at all?
What about smoking? Is that you?
And to make it really clear, according to you chocolate should be illegal too.

I do hear what you’re saying, James, and I totally disagree 100%, however, what any adult chooses to do to their own body is their business completely and no government anywhere should have a right to enact any laws to prevent that. If you don’t understand that, you’re not of the people, you’re of the sheeple. Stand up and be counted, James. Make your voice stand for something besides a small mind.

87 James Richardson September 23, 2012 at 5:28 pm

¨What any adult chooses to do with their own body is their business completely and no government anywhere should enact any laws to prevent that.¨ Wow..you said it all Alan. This mind- set of people like you involved in the ¨trade¨ is precisely why ayahuasca must be regulated.

88 Adrian Walker September 23, 2012 at 5:46 pm

Thanks James, Took the words out of my mouth. Andy and Alan, ayahuasca doesn’t seem to be doing either of you any good. Andy’s foot in mouth disease just gets worse and Alan’s paranoia re “reading between the lines” is totally laughable yet sad for him.
However, after standing in the rain and watching the close of the raft race i do have a positive suggestion to put forward! Peru is blessed with many talented paddlers yet none appear at Olympic level. Let’s argue for a tax of say 40% per night on ayahuasca users and use the revenue to develop an Institute of Sport where the talented local paddlers and soccer players could receive proper training. The ultimate result of an Olympic medal for Peru would be cause for national pride abd of course delight the profiteering lodges who can afford to outlay some of their gains and channel into a healthy pursuit. All in favour …..

89 Andy M September 23, 2012 at 9:20 pm

Adrian, I think you ought to drop the word ‘whisperer’ from your name. The result will be far more apt. I’ve refuted almost everything you’ve said in this discussion with reliable sources which you’ve conveniently ignored. And I could go a lot lot further. But why bother? You’re obviously not the slightest bit interested in learning anything about this subject. It’s pure intellectual arrogance and it stinks. I’m outta here!

90 alan shoemaker September 24, 2012 at 1:46 pm

Andy, Adrian is obviously suffering from delusions of grandeur.

91 Eva Z September 25, 2012 at 1:39 am

Apart from a few bright sparks (like Andy M and a few others), this debate seemed a little depressing to me. So many poor deluded people calling for (external) “regulation” of the use of this plant, not realizing that this is part of a push by misguided Christians (the missionary type) and other staunch adherents of the more limiting mainstream world religions as well as NWO Big Pharma to rip the natives’ culture from them and stop people in the (warmongering) ‘civilized’ world from broadening their horizons. The beauty of such helper-plants is also to a great extent in the way they work when people open their hearts and connect – through their help – with each other and the universe. This goes beyond the limited analyses of the 3D religion of science as it is taught by the establishment and reaches into the realms of the spiritual – and what gives these scientists the right then to claim that their world-view (based on their preference for certain religions -including that of modern-day science) is better than that of the indigenous population whose religious practices “need to be regulated” (in the opinion of said advocates of “regulation” of all kinds) in order to protect those foolish thrill-seeking tourists who are inclined to approach the whole ayahuasca ritual as something akin to bungee jumping. Yes, there have been one or two fatalities, born of a lack of respect for the plant and all that stands behind the ritual, but as one reader with clarity pointed out: these few isolated incidents will never come anywhere near the staggering amount of deaths caused on a daily basis by the profit-oriented machine of big pharma. As I understand it, Ayahuasca is something for genuine seekers to explore and I would hate to see the day it would ever be “regulated” by those who seek only the cosy comfort of the officially “known”, amply backed by our culture of profits. Such a day would spell death for the exploring human mind indeed.

92 Adrian Walker September 25, 2012 at 8:07 am

Paranoia, irrational comments, frenzied attacks, denial. Interesting combo that could result from DMT overdose?
And Andy, refutation is evidence based, not opinion and hearsay or something you read in Wikipedia.

93 Mike Collis September 25, 2012 at 9:23 am

Eva I’m not a bible bouncer , I hate these hypocritical missionaries that come here contaminating the locals.
But I am sick of hearing about deaths, rapes, suicides and comas related to ayahusaca and its ceremonies. If you people who support the curanderos don’t do something to control the charlatans in your midst then the government will.
I know of many good shamans, gringo shamas too, but you must root out the con artists before someone else does, whilst at the same time not throwing out the baby with bath water.
All it needs is to get a group of older, respected and much experienced shamans together and set up a website of recommended ayahuasca related practitioners. Any malpractice by any shaman would bring exclusion from the list.

94 Scott Humfeld September 25, 2012 at 9:42 am

Ah, come on, Adrian, give it up. Your lame, unsupported opinions have been blown out of the water by various people who know much more than you on this subject. Man up and let it go.

95 Andy M September 25, 2012 at 5:36 pm

well look what was published today, in The Telegraph (UK based newspaper)

Can LSD cure depression?

**Controversial research suggests that LSD and other psychedelic drugs could have vital medical uses.**

Until recently, prescribing Ecstasy, mescaline or magic mushrooms has been a guaranteed way for a psychiatrist to lose his research funding, his job or even his liberty. But now, scientists are beginning to suspect that such illegal drugs may be the key to treating a range of intractable illnesses, from post-traumatic stress disorder to depression.

These chemicals – which include the psychedelic drugs psilocybin, derived from magic mushrooms, and LSD, as well as ecstasy – affect the way we think and behave, as well as causing hallucinations and mystical experiences. Yet a series of studies performed in Britain and the US is beginning to tease out their potential benefits. One, into the effects of Ecstasy, is featured in the controversial Channel 4 documentary, Drugs Live, tomorrow night.

“People become very emotionally tender on Ecstasy, which makes you more responsive to psychotherapy,” explains Dr Robin Carhart-Harris, one of the experts involved. In the televised study, either a dose of ecstasy or a placebo was given to 26 volunteers, including the writer Lionel Shriver and the former Lib Dem MP Dr Evan Harris. They were then put through a brain scanner by scientists at Imperial College London to see precisely where these drugs have an effect.

It was found that, in the volunteers given the proper drug, the area of their brain involved in positive memories became more active, while another processing negative memories was damped down. “We think this would make it easier for patients to revisit a traumatic memory and overwrite or control it,” says Carhart-Harris. Earlier studies have made surprising discoveries about what psilocybin, a class-A drug in Britain, was doing in the brain. These in turn could lead to new treatments for depression and agonising cluster headaches.

This may all sound radical, or even dangerous – yet half a century ago, research into the effects of psychedelic drugs was widespread and respectable. More than 1,000 papers were published looking at ways that psychiatrists could help patients with hallucinogenic chemicals. But then the walls descended, as a new anti-drug culture took hold, particularly in the United States. In the 1970s, the Food and Drug Administration banned the use of LSD and related chemicals. Since then, research in the field has been effectively frozen, with recent years seeing a tentative thaw.

Full article: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/science/9565026/Can-LSD-cure-depression.html

These latest studies into the medicinal benefits of psychedelic substances are showing without any doubt that there is something other than a placebo effect happening. Yet more scientific evidence that Adrian keeps talking out of his ass. But of course with an ego the size of Adrians, he’ll never in a thousand years admit that he might be wrong, no matter how much scientific evidence you lay out.

96 Andy M September 25, 2012 at 5:46 pm

Here’s the abstract from a recent Ayahuasca study.

Personality, Psychopathology, Life Attitudes and Neuropsychological Performance among Ritual Users of Ayahuasca: A Longitudinal Study

Ayahuasca is an Amazonian psychoactive plant beverage containing the serotonergic 5-HT2A agonist N,N-dimethyltryptamine (DMT) and monoamine oxidase-inhibiting alkaloids (harmine, harmaline and tetrahydroharmine) that render it orally active. Ayahuasca ingestion is a central feature in several Brazilian syncretic churches that have expanded their activities to urban Brazil, Europe and North America. Members of these groups typically ingest ayahuasca at least twice per month. Prior research has shown that acute ayahuasca increases blood flow in prefrontal and temporal brain regions and that it elicits intense modifications in thought processes, perception and emotion. However, regular ayahuasca use does not seem to induce the pattern of addiction-related problems that characterize drugs of abuse. To study the impact of repeated ayahuasca use on general psychological well-being, mental health and cognition, here we assessed personality, psychopathology, life attitudes and neuropsychological performance in regular ayahuasca users (n = 127) and controls (n = 115) at baseline and 1 year later. Controls were actively participating in non-ayahuasca religions. Users showed higher Reward Dependence and Self-Transcendence and lower Harm Avoidance and Self-Directedness. They scored significantly lower on all psychopathology measures, showed better performance on the Stroop test, the Wisconsin Card Sorting Test and the Letter-Number Sequencing task from the WAIS-III, and better scores on the Frontal Systems Behavior Scale. Analysis of life attitudes showed higher scores on the Spiritual Orientation Inventory, the Purpose in Life Test and the Psychosocial Well-Being test. Despite the lower number of participants available at follow-up, overall differences with controls were maintained one year later. In conclusion, we found no evidence of psychological maladjustment, mental health deterioration or cognitive impairment in the ayahuasca-using group.



I’ll repeat that last bit again, in case Adrian missed it

“In conclusion, we found no evidence of psychological maladjustment, mental health deterioration or cognitive impairment in the ayahuasca-using group.”

97 Andy M September 25, 2012 at 5:53 pm

And here’s another recent study (well it’s more an evaluation of previous studies):


Health Status of Ayahuasca Users.

Ayahuasca is a psychedelic brew originally used for magico-religious purposes by Amerindian populations of the western Amazon Basin. Throughout the last four decades, the use of ayahuasca spread towards major cities in all regions of Brazil and abroad. This trend has raised concerns that regular use of this N,N-dimethyltryptamine- and harmala-alkaloid-containing tea may lead to mental and physical health problems associated typically with drug abuse. To further elucidate the mental and physical health of ayahuasca users, we conducted a literature search in the international medical PubMed database. Inclusion criteria were evaluation of any related effect of ayahuasca use that occurred after the resolution of acute effects of the brew. Fifteen publications were related to emotional, cognitive, and physical health of ayahuasca users. The accumulated data suggest that ayahuasca use is safe and may even be, under certain conditions, beneficial. However, methodological bias of the reviewed studies might have contributed to the preponderance of beneficial effects and to the few adverse effects reported. The data up to now do not appear to allow for definitive conclusions to be drawn on the effects of ayahuasca use on mental and physical health, but some studies point in the direction of beneficial effects. Additional studies are suggested to provide further clarification. Copyright © 2012 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.



It doesn’t provide any definite conclusions, but it strongly leans towards finding that ‘ayahuasca use is safe and may even be, under certain conditions, beneficial.’

98 Andy M September 25, 2012 at 6:01 pm

So don’t accuse me of not providing evidence Adrian!

How about you either man up and admit you’re very mistaken about a lot of what you’ve said, OR – provide some evidence to back up anything you’ve said in this discussion.

Please provide some sources that provide credible evidence for your statements:

– Ayahuasca (and I assume you also mean other psychedelics) is nothing more than a placebo.

– DMT is deadly or highly dangerous

I’ll be waiting……………..(a long time I expect!)

99 Andy M September 25, 2012 at 6:16 pm

and while we’re on the topic of safety. When I was in Iquitos a couple of months back, I couldn’t help but notice that Adrian enjoys keeping himself tanked up on beer pretty much every evening (I saw him starting in the afternoon several times as well).

It’s funny how people who speak out against things like ayahuasca are very often in love with another drug (alcohol) which has almost no health benefits whatsoever, and furthermore is highly destructive to our society.

On one of the drug prevention sites I cited in a previous comment, it lists alcohols effects as:

Effects on body:

Possible short term effects include relaxation of the muscles, dilation of the blood vessels in the skin, diuretic properties, decreased pain sensitivity, flushed skin, difficulty focusing eyes, decreased vision, taste and smell, changed (often increased) response to sexual stimuli, sexual dysfunction, dizziness, nausea, vomiting, difficulty talking and moving correctly, sleepiness, hangover (headache, nausea and vomiting the next day, lasting 12-36 hours), loss of motor control, blackouts and memory loss, loss of consciousness, coma and death.

Possible long term effects include damage to the brain, liver (cirrhosis), heart, and other organs, resulting in serious physical problems, reduction of convulsions, disruption of REM sleep/deep sleep, damage to the digestive system, central nervous system and peripheral nervous system (neurological problems, damage to peripheral nerves) vitamin deficiencies, menstrual dysfunctions. Throat, mouth, liver and breast cancer have all been linked to alcohol use.

Effects on behaviour:

Possible short term effects include relaxation, happiness, talkativeness, lowered inhibitions, drowsiness, sleepiness, changes in aesthetic appreciation (ugly things seem beautiful and vice versa), decreased coordination, bad judgment (can lead to unwanted and negative encounters), emotional volatility, memory loss with high doses.

Long term effects can include depression, damage to families and relationships, alcoholic dementia.

Addiction: Alcohol is highly addictive, both physically and psychologically

Source: http://not4me.org/drug_facts/alcohol.html

A few other statistics found:

It is estimated that the cost of alcohol-related harm to the NHS in England is £2.7 billion in 2006/07 prices.

In England in 2008, there were 6,769 deaths directly related to alcohol. An increase of 24 per cent from 2001. Of these alcohol related deaths, the majority (4,400) died from alcoholic liver disease.


Looking at those really nasty effects, you have to wonder why would an apparently intelligent individual, who seems so concerned about everyone’s safety, spend so much of his own time drinking a substance that is well known to extremely harmful.

What a strange world we live in!

100 Adrian Walker September 25, 2012 at 8:27 pm

Andy, It’s nice to see you back so quickly. Just as every village needs an idiot so does every forum. And Eva, my skepticism runs to religious beliefs equally- Andy and Alan, answer the crux question which is why big pharmacy, whom by the way I consider as unethical as the ayahuasca profiteers, disregard the stuff 100%? It’s a question all proponents have ignored entirely.

101 Mike Collis September 26, 2012 at 8:44 am

Here’s another little story for you;
2 years ago 3 girls from the USA came to buy kit from me for their jungle trip. 4 days later they returned very, very distressed. They told me they had gone to one of those cheaper jungle lodges for 4 days 3 nights and had taken the option to do a shamanic ceremony at the lodge for the final night. The 3 girls and the shaman drank ayahuasca and when they were under its influence 3 of the lodge’s guides came in a raped the 3 girls. The girls said that they knew what was going on but could not defend themselves due to the influence of ayahuasca. I told them to go to the police immediately.
The 3 guides ran off into the jungle but 2 came back after a week and went with a lawyer to the police. They claimed the girls consented to having sex with them. The charges against these 2 were dropped by the police. The 3rd guide hid in the jungle for more than a year and returned to Iquitos earlier this year. He is currently languishing in the Iquitos Prison on a 10 year sentence.

102 Adrian Walker September 26, 2012 at 8:50 am

Exactly Mike, and just one more compelling reason for proper regulation and controls. I don’t support prohibition in any way whatsoever, just a clear, well managed regulatory system, and as suggested before, Brazil already has an excellent one.

103 Andy M September 27, 2012 at 11:20 am

“Andy, It’s nice to see you back so quickly. Just as every village needs an idiot so does every forum. ”

Yes Adrian, and no forum would be complete without a troll, or a blathering old snake (often the same thing).

“Andy and Alan, answer the crux question which is why big pharmacy, whom by the way I consider as unethical as the ayahuasca profiteers, disregard the stuff 100%? It’s a question all proponents have ignored entirely.”

Adrian, there are two answers to this question and they’re so fecking obvious a young child could see it, and if you had a clue about *anything at all* you’d already know the answers. But seeing as though you clearly enjoy playing the role of the clueless old fool, I’ll explain it to you in simple terms, that hopefully you might understand.

First of all, Adrian. You have to understand something very important about BP, and that is that they are not interested in truly healing people. A healthy person is not good for their business, I’m sure even you can understand that (but then again, maybe not). Therefore BP only really cares about creating drugs that suppress symptoms. Then their customers have to keep taking the drugs for a long time (sometimes for a lifetime).

I suggest you watch the following video, and again you might actually learn something http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UIm8fHxqUAM

But I know the Iquitos internet is not good for videos, so I’ll give you the introduction It features a woman speaking called Gwen Olsen, who spent 15 years working as a rep for Big Pharma. She also wrote a book about what she knows called ‘Confessions of an Rx Drug Pusher’ – http://www.amazon.com/Confessions-Drug-Pusher-Gwen-Olsen/dp/1935278592/

Here’s how she starts her video.

“…I’m a fifteen year veteran of the pharmaceutical industry and what I would like to do today is that I would like to dispel the myth that the pharmaceutical industry is in the business of health and healing, because in fact what the pharmaceutical industry is in the business of doing is disease maintenance and symptoms management. They are not in the business to cure cancer, or heart disease etc because if they were, they would be in the business of putting themselves out of business, and that doesn’t make any sense.

I don’t want people thinking I’m a conspiracy theorist because in fact there is no theory behind what I’m telling you, it’s all provable and what I’m saying is provable is that the pharmaceutical industry doesn’t want to cure people, you need to understand specifically when we’re talking about psychiatric drugs in particular, that these are drugs that encourage people to remain customers of the pharmaceutical industry, in fact you will be told if you’re given a drug such as an anti-depressant, or an anti-psychotic drug that you may be on the drug for the rest of your life….”

Are things starting to make sense now Adrian? Perhaps there’s a lightbulb going off in that creaky old brain of yours! BP does not want to cure people! Ayahuasca is not something that can be turned into some kind of symptom suppressing pill that can be prescribed for a lifetime! That’s reason number 1 that BP is not interested in Ayahuasca.

The second reason why BP is not (currently) particularly interested in ayahuasca or psychedelic healing in general, is that they don’t understand it. Psychedelic healing, particularly ayahuasca, works in a very different way to any kind of drug healing. It is not the molecules contained within the substance that actually heal – it is the psychedelic effects on the mind that cause the healing. I guess in a sense you could argue that ayahuasca is a placebo, because you could perhaps argue that it is not the ayahuasca itself that heals, but the persons mind. However, for the healing to take place, the person needs to be able to enter the intense psychedelic space that ayahuasca opens up. So it’s definitely not a placebo in the sense that people could get the same kind of healing from taking a sugar pill.

Psychedelic substances allow the mind to open up and work in a completely different way to how the conscious mind normally works. Words can’t adequately describe what happens to the mind while experiencing ayahuasca, but essentially what happens is that people go on visionary journey into the deepest recesses of their psyche, and that journey, through processes that nobody truly understands yet, can bring about remarkable healing, particularly to deep seated emotional issues. Ayahuasca helps you get to the root of any issue that you have. As you probably know, often the only way to kill a plant, is to pull it up by the roots so that nothing is left. Ayahuasca does the same thing to mental/emotional issues. It takes you to the root of the problem and allows you to pull it out. And this is why it also works very well for physical ailments, because ultimately most (some would argue ALL) physical ailments are physical manifestations of problems that lie deep in the mind.

Big Pharma does not want to acknowledge that kind of thing. It does not want to acknowledge that people can truly be *cured* from almost anything by going on a psychedelic journey into their own mind.

That is why BP is not interested in ayahuasca!

Does that make sense to you Adrian, or are you going to keep on playing clueless??

104 Adrian Walker September 27, 2012 at 8:30 pm

Andy, the recreational drugs aren¿t helping your limited brain in the least. No one reads past paragraph 2 and even less are interested in the tripe you’re peddling so I would politely suggest you take your own advice and get out of here. Your depth level has been exceeded significantly and even though I hate to remove an evening topic of
mirth in Iquitos (Andy’s posted again!) it’s time you stopped making a complete fool of yourself and tried to find a sensible life.

105 Andy M September 27, 2012 at 9:59 pm

Adrian, if you think it’s ok to insult people you don’t agree with then, you need to be able to take as good as you can give. You just referred to me as the village idiot. You don’t think that’s insulting? So don’t turn into a big crybaby just because I sent it back at ya.

And how can I possibly be making a fool of my self when I’m the only person here that’s posting information that’s actually backed up by credible sources or real scientific evidence, or actual knowledge I’ve attained in the 17 years I’ve been learning about this subject.

You on the other hand, haven’t backed up anything you’ve said with one single credible source, or anything that could be considered even remotely scientific. Virtually everything you’ve said in discussion can be (and has been) easily refuted. You’ve only used one debating tactic in this discussion and that’s to ridicule either the person or the statement being made.

“All truth passes through three stages. First, it is ridiculed. Second, it is violently opposed. Third, it is accepted as being self-evident.” – Arthur Schopenhauer

You’re a very lazy thinker and a small minded person Adrian. It is very obvious to everyone reading this discussion that your natural instinct is to ridicule new ideas that you don’t agree with. If men like you had always controlled the world we’d still be living in the dark ages. You think you’re scientific, but actually you’re just the opposite of scientific. Progress is only made by thinking the unthinkable and challenging existing paradigms. Had you been alive at the time of Galileo, you would, no doubt, have been one of the useless idiots laughing at his suggestion that Earth was not the center of the universe.

“If you are only skeptical, then no new ideas make it through to you. You become a crotchety old person convinced that nonsense is ruling the world. (There is, of course, much data to support you.) But every now and then, a new idea turns out to be on the mark, valid and wonderful. If you are too much in the habit of being skeptical about everything, you are going to miss or resent it, and either way you will be standing in the way of understanding and progress. ” – Carl Sagan

And aren’t you just that crotchety old person standing in the way of progress, Adrian?

You started this entire discussion with a pathetic straw man argument that any one could see through (and everyone did), and then you continued to make one ridiculous untrue statement after the other. You had no solid foundation to build any of your arguments on because you had no understanding of what you were talking about.

There’s only one person here who looks like a fool, and it certainly isn’t me. Only a fool attempts to debate a subject they have zero understanding of, and only a fool resorts to nothing but ridicule and put downs when confronted with credible information that proves him wrong.

106 alan shoemaker September 27, 2012 at 10:23 pm

what andy said.. LOL
and said it perfectly.
Adrian is a fool, that is obvious.
he’s not stupid, just an idiot.
sorry Adrian, your foot is so deep now, …
all that said, I’m sure Bill has had a good time with all the comments and interest in this discussion. I have had as well. But let’s stop whipping the horse and move on to something you know about. What could that be?

107 James Richardson September 28, 2012 at 6:40 am

I would prefer to have an FDA like regulatory environment for mind altering drugs. Canada recently banned bath salts , a highly addicted drug containing mephedrone and methylone. An individual high on this drug recently bit off a man´s face. One of the vested interest individuals advocating the uncontrolled use of ayahuasca stated on this blog that, ¨what any adult chooses to do with their own body is their business completely and no government anywhere should enact any laws to prevent that¨. The fact that these individuals cause collateral damage to others, to property or to themselves is of no consequence.

Not having the ideal conditions and properly trained people administering mind altering drugs is similar to stepping into a perfectly functioning fighter aircraft without wearing a parachute.

108 Scott Humfeld September 28, 2012 at 6:47 am

Alan and Andy have used their years of experience seriously studying ayahuasca, backed up by cited references, to show that Adrian doesn’t have a clue and can only make personal attacks on people who don’t agree with him. Truly a case of a battle of wits against an unarmed opponent.

109 Andy M September 28, 2012 at 8:43 am

This is something I saw posted on Facebook today, and is something I fully agree with and support.


To the global ayahuasca community: We are a diverse group of people from around the world, woven together by a deep connection with the plant medicine ayahuasca, and we offer our most heartfelt condolences for the Nolan family on the tragic loss of their son, Kyle. http://newsfeed.time.com/2012/09/14/u-s-teen-dies-after-taking-hallucinogenic-drug-ayahuasca-in-peru/

We, the undersigned, people who had direct experience with Shimbre, or have concern over what has transpired, believe Kyle was not given this medicine in a safe or supportive traditional environment. Ayahuasca powerfully impacts both the body and spirit, and while a purgative, is non-toxic. It must be facilitated in a ceremony by a person with extensive experience in all aspects of plant medicine, one who has studied for many years to understand the cultural traditions associated with ayahuasca as well as the myriad physical and psychological effects this plant teacher will have on the seeker. The facilitator, whether shaman, ayahuasquero or curandero, gringo or indigenous, should closely monitor and tends to the seekers’ spiritual, physical and emotional needs throughout the ceremony. The responsibility does not end there. The experience can be powerful, and at times disturbing, requiring support from the practitioner to help the seeker integrate the experience post-ceremony.

During the Shimbre ‘incident’ we believe this sacred medicine was administered by an irresponsible practitioner who did not follow the ancient traditional practice of staying with the seeker or student to insure physical and spiritual safety. Instead, in an affront to traditional practice, he sent his charges off alone into the jungle to fend for themselves following a superficial “ceremony”.

After the very first Shimbre (then called Chimbre) retreat in April, 2010, Rob Velez, the founder and funder of Shimbre was counseled both verbally and in writing by a number of concerned individuals that “Maestro Mancoluto’s” practices were not in keeping with the sacred traditions–and were in fact, very dangerous. In addition, Velez was warned the ayahuasca and huachuma (San Pedro) served by Mancoluto contained potentially dangerous admixtures of other plants. This counsel was not received in the spirit of deep concern and caring from which it was offered. Instead, it was regarded as an unfounded personal attack on Mancoluto and Velez’s business. Friendships and business relationships were destroyed as a result of these warnings.

Ayahuasca is legal in Peru as are retreat centers. A ‘bad scene’, operated ineptly by unqualified people, is not a crime. Still, many people who were concerned about the lack of duty of care and quality of ceremonies at Shimbre made their concerns known in the only medium left open to them at that time–the ayahuasca community. This same global community is now striving to learn from this tragedy, and facilitate a ‘Code of Ethics’ to self-regulate the business of shamanism as it spreads in the West, and as ayahuasca is administered in Peru.

We believe that this is an issue that goes beyond any one lodge or practitioner, and represents a turning point in the western shamanic re-integration. It is not something easily legislated against or decided for others. The questions it raises for the ayahuasca community in Peru and in the West, the tug of war between spirit and consumerism, remains. What do we do, if anything? We move forward. We build some type of foundation that can be used by our global community to have more dialogue, more informed awareness, and more solidarity and cohesion. Thus we encourage all interested parties to engage in discussion on the best ways to move forward, for the greatest good of all.

Sincerely and with deep sadness,


Dennis McKenna PhD
Marine on St. Croix, Minnesota, USA

Richard Meech
Toronto, Canada

Eion Bailey, USA

Rafael Monserrate
Los Angeles, California

Michael Maki,
Olympia, Washington

Howard Lawler
Iquitos, Peru

Rak Razam
Mullumbimby, NSW, Australia

Susan Blumenthal
Placitas, New Mexico, USA

Becca Dakini
Byron Bay, Australia

110 Adrian Walker September 28, 2012 at 9:02 am

Andy and Alan,
Insult me to your heart’s content as it doesn’t bother me in the slightest to be ridiculed by vested interests and the brain dead in Andy’s case. Simply claiming to have refuted and equally claiming to have shown evidence when all that’s been presented has been a tissue of commentary from the minority who agree with you both, is laughable and pathetic in the extreme.
The clear fact is that you’re both deeply concerned that well put arguments may hasten regulation and in so doing reduce your profits or, horror of horrors, oblige Alan to return to the USA!

111 Andy M September 28, 2012 at 9:45 am

I’m brain dead? Adrian why don’t you remind everyone again, which one of us keeps himself tanked up with beer every single evening. Do I need to point out the known effects of alcohol on the brain?

“People who have been drinking large amounts of alcohol for long periods of time run the risk of developing serious and persistent changes in the brain. Damage may be a result of the direct effects of alcohol on the brain or may result indirectly, from a poor general health status or from severe liver disease.” http://pubs.niaaa.nih.gov/publications/aa63/aa63.htm

I think it’s pretty obvious to everyone whose brain must be seriously impaired.

Also, as usual, you continue to misrepresent everything that’s been said by everyone you don’t agree with. Nowhere have I spoken out against regulation. What I actually questioned, was how regulation would work, and whether it would really make much of a difference, particularly in a place like Iquitos. I made a lot of valid points earlier that nobody even bothered to respond to.

Please answer the following hypothetical question Adrian.

Let’s suppose the local (or national government) do bring a whole load of new rules and regulations that anyone providing ayahuasca ceremonies are supposed to follow. Then let’s suppose you finally get the lodge you’ve been looking for. Let’s suppose this lodge is 100 miles away from the city, fairly deep in the jungle like any good lodge should be. Then let’s suppose you decide to offer ayahuasca ceremonies to your guests using a local shaman (and don’t tell me that would never happen – I KNOW THAT – this is hypothetical). Then let’s suppose that for some reason you wanted to ignore most of the rules and regulations.

My question to you Adrian. is what could possibly stop you ignoring regulations. Except

a) your own conscience
b) your fear of getting caught.

Then ask yourself. Do you think every lodge owner in the Amazon,

a) Has an ethical conscience
b) is scared of getting caught (particularly when police are so easily bribed)

Now please explain to everyone here, how you think regulation would actually change anything.

I’m all for a code of ethics as outlined in the message I just posted earlier today, and I’ve no doubt at all that the Ayahuasca center I work with will follow that code. In fact I strongly doubt that a new code will change how we already operate, because we already work in a very responsible way. As I said before (another point that was ignored by everyone), almost all the major ayahuasca centers I’m aware of operate in a very responsible way, and it’s imperative they do because, as I said, word of mouth and testimonials are very important to our business. If people left our retreats feeling they were not looked after, or feeling that we were using unsafe practices, then word would soon travel fast, and that would harm our business faster than anything else.

But please do answer the question Adrian, and please explain how, in a place like Iquitos, you think regulation will prevent unscrupulous people from doing whatever they want to do.

112 James Richardson September 28, 2012 at 12:33 pm

I confess to being an aging jock, of not knowing Adrian,not having any medical training, no training in clinical psychology or physciatry and of not being an expert in ayahuasca. I did spearhead a project in Bolivia in 1992 during my consulting days whereby I dealt directly with the Vice President of the country who was an Aymara Indian and a well educated man. He was concerned about the life expectancy of the indigenous peoples and saw the amalgamation of western and traditional medicines as a way of increasing life expectancy. In his mind and the mind of the equivalent college of physicians, life expectancy would increase with western medicines but he wanted to also protect the cultural aspect of natural medicines. He also wanted to amalgamate indigenous languages and Spanish in the school system. Again, to preserve the culture but also to ensure commerce prevailed as Spanish was the language of commerce in Bolivia.

I would prefer to have an FDA like regulatory environment for mind altering drugs. Canada recently banned bath salts , a highly addicted drug containing mephedrone and methylone. An individual high on this drug recently bit off a man´s face. One of the vested interest individuals advocating the uncontrolled use of ayahuasca stated on this blog that, ¨what any adult chooses to do with their own body is their business completely and no government anywhere should enact any laws to prevent that¨. The fact that these individuals cause collateral damage to others, to property or to themselves is of no consequence. Sorry, but this should never occur in a civilized society.

Not having the ideal conditions and properly trained people administering mind altering drugs is similar to stepping into a perfectly functioning fighter aircraft without wearing a parachute. which I never did during my air force days. Albeit, alot riskier given the desire to make a dollar out of the ¨trade¨ and the unqualified people involved in the business!!

Alright..I am outa here. Wait! I can´t say that if I plan on returning!!!

113 Andy M September 28, 2012 at 1:07 pm

“Not having the ideal conditions and properly trained people administering mind altering drugs is similar to stepping into a perfectly functioning fighter aircraft without wearing a parachute.”

I don’t disagree with you James. I would never recommend that someone take part in an Ayahuasca ceremony that wasn’t being led by a highly experienced and knowledgeable shaman/curandero. Or at least not unless they were already experienced ayahuasca drinkers themselves.

Due to the intense nature of the experience, it’s important that someone is there to help guide them through it should things get a little frightening or uncomfortable.

However, this is not an area where qualifications exist, nor are they ever likely to exist. To think that there could be some kind of shaman school where budding shamans go to study and get qualifications is to completely misunderstand what shamanism is.

This is knowledge that has been passed down for thousands of years. It is taught by master to apprentice until the master says the apprentice ready. To become a fully fledged curandero takes a minimum 6 years apprenticeship, but there will never be a certificate or qualification at the end of it. It just doesn’t work like that, nor will it ever work like that.

So given that nobody will ever likely have a little piece of paper that ‘qualifies’ them as an ayahuasca shaman. How can you or anyone say who is properly trained to administer ayahuasca?

114 Adrian Walker September 28, 2012 at 2:42 pm

I’m getting a little weary of this nonsense so intend to take a brief leave myself. First of all though I’d like to respond to the Galileo reference. I’d prefer to think I’d have been on his side as he had good science behind him first of all and secondly he doubted the first lie, which was that of the church and creationism. Ayahuasca, like pyramid power and a host of other new age concepts are based on that first lie, not the one of creationism, but their own version. Ayahuasca heals! Pyramids promote independent energy etc etc. It’s all rubbish and all promoted by those who can obtain status or make money from it. None of it has the slightest bit of scientific credence.
Andy, I’m near to acquiring the land for that lodge and ayahuasca ceremonies just won’t be happening there as they won’t be offered. Hopefully that answers your question. I would say that if a client asked for one I would simply suggest they went elsewhere and send them off without a recommendation other than to take extreme care.
Finally, somone said to me today that Andy’s eyes are like looking into “pissholes in the snow” by which it was taken that a sense of emptiness lay behind them, perhaps because of years of drug abuse. Andy and Alan, you both have my pity.

115 Andy M September 28, 2012 at 3:06 pm

Adrian, it’s very clear from your response that you’re not properly reading what people are writing in this discussion, and that probably explains why you’re completely unable to learn anything. You obviously think you know better than everyone else therefore you don’t even need to read what people are saying. Your attitude stinks.

You didn’t even remotely answer the question I asked. I made it very clear I knew you won’t be offering ceremonies, and that wasn’t what the question was about. I was asking a hypothetical question that was tied in to the issue of regulation.

My question (and this could be asked of any lodge owner) is, even if regulations were brought in. What could possibly stop you, on a lodge miles from anywhere, from ignoring every regulation that’s made? Go back and read the original question!

You keep blathering on about regulation, but you have yet to make one sensible suggestion about how regulation would realistically work in a place like the Amazon rainforest, and who would enforce that regulation.

As usual, you avoid answering the difficult questions. And as usual you respond with ridicule and derision.

I suggest you leave serious debates to the adults and go play with your snakes.

116 Andy M September 28, 2012 at 3:12 pm

“perhaps because of years of drug abuse. ”

Well that’s rich coming from a man who soaks his brain in alcohol every single day!

117 Andy M September 28, 2012 at 3:29 pm

And I suspect at your age that brain is rather pickled by now, which would explain rather a lot! You know, Ayahuasca might actually help you Adrian, you should give it a whirl sometime before your brain shuts down completely.

118 Andy M September 28, 2012 at 3:59 pm

And on the subject of my eyes. Well everyone sees what they see, and that’s something that’s purely subjective. But to be honest I’ve actually had a lot of comments made about my eyes, and until today, every single one of those comments has been positive. I suppose I can live with 1 negative comment who I suspect was made by someone as drunk as you are.

But I’ll let other people make their mind up. Here’s a picture of me and one of my favourite shaman’s Don Lucho:


119 James Richardson September 28, 2012 at 4:19 pm

One further comment re my Bolivian experience mentioned earlier…His excellency, Víctor Hugo Cárdenas Conde, was an intersting man who lived in two worlds. His culture and the elite spanish Bolivian culture. He sent me up the Rio Beni with guides to visit various tribes to gain an appreciation for the cultural dimension and the lifestyle in general. When I returned he asked me if I learned anything about the ltribes to which I responded a little. He the proceeded to point out that you could never understand a culture and its practices unless you were fluent in the local tribal language. This is why I have to admit a certain bias against gringo shamans practicing ayahuasca ceremonies here.

In terms of regulation, I believe that the local tribes should practice thier cultural beliefs like ayahuasca unabatted. Much as the US Govt did with the Navajo and their use of peyote. Local tribesmen administering to gringos must adhere to a regulatory regime. This would include training in how to deal with severe allergies or reactions to a drug. Gringos involved in the trade would have to adhere to the same regime but would have to speak the local indigenous language and undergo an interpol background check.

120 Andy M September 28, 2012 at 6:25 pm

Hi James

Your suggestions are fairly sensible although I don’t think the shamans themselves necessarily need extra training, but I would certainly support regulation that states that dedicated retreat centers should employ at least 1 person fully trained in first aid – and of course no-one should ever be left unattended during an ayahuasca ceremony like what happened at Shimbre – that was a disaster waiting to happen, and sadly it did.

Pretty much all the retreat centers that I’m aware of educate people on their websites about health conditions that should not be mixed with ayahuasca, and also contra-indicated drugs, and they almost always ask people who book on the retreats to specify any medication they are currently taking.

On our guest contract we state:

“For your safety, people with the following health conditions will not be able to visit Ayahuasca Satsangha and should not drink ayahuasca:

-High blood pressure
-Diabetes including “low blood sugar” and “hypoglycemia”
-Schizophrenic disorder
-Heart disease or any current/past issues relating to heart problems
-Epilepsy and other seizure related conditions
-Infectious or contagious disease
-Suicidal ideation
-Someone taking MAO inhibitors or anti psychotic medication
-Mental Illness”

We also clearly state on our guest contract that “Ayahuasca Satsangha is not a medical facility and no health care is practiced under its direction. Its owners, and employees are not health care professionals and do not practice health care of any form.” http://ayahuascasatsangha.org/our-retreats/ayahuasca-satsangha-guest-contract/

So, I certainly don’t think a few sensible regulations that ensure additional safety of guests would be a bad thing (although mark my words, I guarantee many people in Iquitos would ignore the regulations – and they will easily get away with it.)

I have to say though, I’m also a huge believer in personal responsibility. I really detest the fact that countries like UK, USA, Canada and Australia have turned into huge nanny states where everything is tightly regulated and controlled. And they’ve also developed into huge cultures of blame. Very few people take responsibility for themselves any more, and if something bad happens you can be sure that there’s always somebody else to blame for it (and a lawyer on-hand who will help you sue them – no matter how trivial the matter).

One of the things I actually like about Peru is that you are almost totally responsible for your own health and safety here. If you trip over a pothole in the street and break your leg, forget about suing the local council. That just isn’t possible – it’s tough luck, you should have looked where you were going!!

Now I imagine that sounds pretty horrible and scary to someone who has grown up in a highly regulated culture of blame all their lives, but that’s how I like things, and if people don’t want to take full responsibility for their lives, then perhaps they ought to think twice about coming to a country like Peru to drink ayahuasca.

However, that’s definitely not to say that people, coming to a professionally run retreat, shouldn’t expect to be safe and looked after properly. Of course they should, and for the most part, they already are, even without regulations in place.

And, as I’ve said (and with enough credible research to back up my claims), drinking ayahuasca is exceptionally safe (assuming you’re in reasonable health). As I said earlier, you’re far more likely to die in a car crash on your way to the airport than have anything seriously bad happen while drinking ayahuasca . Anyone who does a bit of careful research and checks out the reputable professionally run retreat centers will almost certainly have a very safe and positive experience.

I’m afraid there’s always going to be charlatans and con men looking to take advantage of the unprepared and the unknowledgable (and unfortunately there will always be people who are unprepared and unknowledgable about what they’re getting themselves into). It’s sad, but you just can’t regulate or legislate against that, particularly in a place like Iquitos which, in some ways, has more in common with the wild west than it does western civilization.

121 James Richardson September 29, 2012 at 6:45 am

Cut and paste quotes and research by Timothy Leary like gurus just does not cut it for me in terms of the safety of mind altering drugs. The fact is there has been no research on the long term impact of the use of these drugs by individuals.

Call me old fashion..but if it is illegal in North America and Europe..then an activity involving drugs by gringos should also be illegal here. My past business and military experience and my MBA academic background has taught me to assess risk and be a risk taker. When it comes to drugs or mind altering chemicals, I prefer to play it safe. Let the locals who practiced this in cultural ceremonies continue to do so if they wish. Albeit, many of their cultural practices contribute to their shorter life expectancy but it is their perogative as they were here first!

122 Andy M September 29, 2012 at 9:00 am

Actually James, if you were to spend time researching this subject in depth, as I have, you would come to realise there’s only one conclusion with regards to Ayahuasca and that’s that there are no negative long term impacts of ayahuasca usage. In fact it’s just the opposite.

I’m not saying that all pyschedelics are 100% safe. I wouldn’t say the same thing about LSD for example, as there are a lot of LSD casualties around, and I believe that long-term LSD usage certainly can have negative impacts.

However Ayahuasca is very different to LSD. It is not a recreational drug, because first and foremost it is a medicine and has always been a medicine.

In Brazil there are two churches that use Ayahuasca as a sacrament. One is the UDV, and in the nineties, several of it’s members were studied (against a test group) and the study found that long-term ayahuasca users were actually more healthy than non-users.

Here is part of the report that was written about the study:

“The individuals who are attracted to the UDV seem to belong to a slightly more professional socio-economic class than those who join the Santo Daime. Of the approximately 7000 members of the UDV in Brasil, perhaps 5 – 10 % are medical professionals, among them physicians, psychiatrists, psychologists, chiropracters, and homeopathic physicians. Most of these individuals are fully aware of the psychologically beneficial aspects of the practice, and evince a great interest in the scientific study of hoasca , including its botany, chemistry, and pharmacology. The medically educated members can discuss all of these aspects with a sophistication equal to that of any U.S.-trained physician, or other medical professional. At the same time they do have a genuine spiritual reverence for the hoasca tea and the experiences it evokes. The UDV places a high value on the search for scientific truth, and sees no conflict between science and religion; most members of the UDV express a strong interest in learning as much as possible about how the tea acts on the body and brain. As a result of this unique circumstance, the UDV presents an ideal context in which to conduct a biomedical investigation of the acute and long-term effects of hoasca /ayahuasca.

Due to a fortunate combination of circumstances, we were invited to conduct such a biomedical investigation of long-term hoasca drinkers by the Medical Studies section of the UDV (Centro de Estudos Medicos). This study, which was conducted by an international consortium of scientists from Brasil, the United States, and Finland, was financed through private donations to various non-profit sponsoring groups, notably Botanical Dimensions, which provided major funding, the Heffter Research Institute, and MAPS, (Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies). Botanical Dimensions is a non-profit organization dedicated to the study and preservation of ethnomedically significant plants, and MAPS and the Heffter Research Institute are non-profit organizations dedicated to the investigation of the medical and therapeutic uses of psychedelic agents. The field phase of the study was conducted during the summer of 1993 at one of the oldest UDV temples, the Nucleo Caupari located in the Amazonian city of Manaus, Brasil. Subsequent laboratory investigations took place at the respective academic institutions of some of the principle investigators, including the Department of Psychiatry, Harbor UCLA Medical Center, the Department of Neurology, University of Miami School of Medicine, the Department of Psychiatry, University of Rio de Janeiro, Department of Internal Medicine, University of Amazonas Medical School, Manaus, and the Department of Pharmaceutical Chemistry, University of Kuopio, Finland.

Since this study was the first of its kind, there was virtually no pre-existing data on the objective measurement of the physical and psychological effects of ayahuasca in human subjects. As a result, this study was in some respects a pilot study; its primary objectives were modest, representing an effort to collect a basic body of data, without attempting to relate the findings to either possible detrimental effects of ayahuasca, or to possible therapeutic effects. The study had four major objectives:

– Assessment of Acute Psychological and Physiological Effects of Hoasca in Human Subjects
– Assessment of Serotonergic Functions in Long-term Users of Hoasca Tea
– Quantitative Determination of Active Constituents of Hoasca Teas in Plasma
– Quantitative Determination of Active Constituents of Hoasca Teas

Most of these objectives were achieved, and the results have been published in various peer-reviewed scientific journals (Grob, et al., 1996; Callaway, et al., 1994; Callaway, et al., 1996;. Callaway, et al., 1997) Some key findings are summarized briefly below.

Assessment of Acute and Long-term Psychological Effects of Hoasca Teas (Grob, et al., 1996)

The subjects in all of the studies consisted of a group of fifteen healthy, male volunteers, all of whom had belonged to the UDV for a minimum of ten years, and who ingested hoasca on average of once every two weeks, in the context of the UDV ritual. None of the subjects actively used tobacco, alcohol, or any drugs other than hoasca. For some comparative aspects of the study, a control group of fifteen age-matched males was also used; these individuals were recruited from among the friends and siblings of the volunteer subjects, and like them were local residents of Manaus having similar diets and socio-economic status. None of the control subjects were members of the UDV, and none had ever ingested hoasca tea.

The psychological assessments, administered to both groups, consisted of structured psychiatric diagnostic interviews, personality testing, and neuropsychological reviewuations. Measures administered to the UDV hoasca drinkers, but not to the hoasca-niave group, included semistructured and open-ended life story interviews, and a phenomenological assessment of the altered state elicited by hoasca, was quantified using the Hallucinogen Rating Scale developed by Dr. Rick Strassman in his work with DMT and psilocybin in human subjects (Strassman, et al., 1994).

The UDV volunteers showed significant differences from the hoasca-naive subjects in the Tridimensional Personality Questionnaire (TPQ) and the WHO-UCLA Auditory Verbal Learning Test. The TPQ assesses three general areas of behavior, viz., novelty-seeking, harm avoidance, and reward dependence. With respect to novelty-seeking behaviors, UDV members were found to have greater stoic rigidity vs exploratory excitability, greater regimentation vs disorderliness, and a trend toward greater reflection vs impulsivity; but there was no difference between the groups on the spectrum between reserve and extravagance. On the harm reduction scale, UDV subjects had significantly greater confidence vs fear of uncertainty, and trends toward greater gregariousness vs shyness, and greater optimism vs anticipatory worry. No significant differences were found between the two groups in criteria related to reward-dependence.

The fifteen UDV volunteers and the control subjects were also given the WHO-UCLA Auditory Learning Verbal Memory Test. Experimental subjects performed significantly better than controls on word recall tests. There was also a trend, though not statistically significant, for the UDV subjects to perform better than controls on number of words recalled, delayed recall, and words recalled after interference.

The Hallucinogen Rating Scale, developed by Strassman et. al (1994) for the phenomenological assessment of subjects given intravenous doses of DMT, was administered to the UDV volunteers only (since control subjects did not receive the drug). All of the clinical clusters on the HRS were in the mild end of the spectrum compared to intravenous DMT. The clusters for affect, intensity, cognition, and volition, were comparable to an intravenous DMT dose of 0.1 to 0.2 mg/kg, and the cluster for perception was comparable to 0.1 mg/kg intravenous DMT; the cluster for somatesthesia was less than the lowest dose of DMT measured by the scale, 0.05 mg/kg.

The most striking findings of the psychological assessment came from the structured diagnostic interviews, and the semi-structured open-ended life story interviews. The Composite International Diagnostic Interview (CIDI) was used for the structured diagnostic interview. None of the UDV subjects had a current psychiatric diagnosis, whereas two of the control subjects had an active diagnosis of alcohol misuse and hypochondriasis. Only one subject among the controls had a past psychiatric disorder that was no longer present; an alcohol misuse disorder that had remitted two years previously. However, prior to membership in the UDV, eleven of the UDV subjects had diagnoses of alcohol misuse disorders, two had had past major depressive disorders, four had past histories of drug misuse (cocaine and amphetamines), eleven were addicted to tobacco, and three had past phobic anxiety disorders. Five of the subjects with a history of alcoholism also had histories of violent behavior associated with binge drinking. All of these pathological diagnoses had remitted following entry into the UDV. All of the UDV subjects interviewed reported the subjective impression that their use of hoasca tea within the context of the UDV had led to improved mental and physical health, and significant improvements in interpersonal, work, and family interactions.”


123 Andy M September 29, 2012 at 9:06 am

And for a really good analysis of a far more recent study, I suggest reading http://www.singingtotheplants.com/2012/08/new-ayahuasca-study/

124 Andy M September 29, 2012 at 9:32 am

and James, if you’re going to remain in this discussion please don’t lower yourself to using the same bullshit debating tactics as Adrian by lying about or twisting what’s actually been said.

If you go through this discussion you will find that I have never quoted Timothy Leary or any other ‘psychedelic guru’.

The studies I have mentioned are real scientific studies, conducted by real scientists and have been published in peer reviewed journals.

So, please stick to the facts James. Thanks! 🙂

125 David Dolezal September 29, 2012 at 5:40 pm

I just dropped by to check up on this blog and am surprised this thread still has legs! 🙂

I think this is a great piece in that it (without some of the hostility) contains great research and ideas on both sides of the plant medicine arguments as well as those in favor of some form of regulation (self or otherwise).

On the subject of regulation, I do have a few words to add.

There was a time in the US where prohibition of alcohol contributed to some of the greatest outlaws in US history. What they learned was that if they legalized alcohol and regulated it, they could make money on it and shut down most of the criminal activity related to alcohol. Now in the US, alcohol is legal for those over 21, but heavily regulated and taxed. It is so regulated under the wire that I wonder if most of the young people (over 21) even realize it is regulated when they buy their six pack of beer in a convenience store.

Here in the US we are at a crossroads of thinking about “the war on drugs”. On the one hand are people who for good reasons desire to continue the “war”, and then there are the pragmatists (and casual users and abusers) who wish for certain “drugs” to become legalized. Why would the pragmatists want them to be legalized? It is too expensive to incarcerate all those people that have been found to have small amounts of marijuana or drug paraphernalia, along with all of the dealers.

I think if we did a cost/benefit analysis of the costs of incarceration (lawyers, court costs, cost per person per annum in jail/prison) to the costs of rehab with funding from the taxes of the “drugs”, we would probably find that it would be hands down in favor of legalization.

Personally, I don’t drink and I don’t ‘do’ “drugs”. However, I am paying (via my income taxes) to incarcerate all of these people.

I know that regulation works in the US for alcohol and would probably work for legalizing and regulating most “controlled substances”. Would it work similarly in Peru? I doubt it. I think that it why Michael Collis is recommending a self regulation.

What I have noticed in Peru is just what Andy indicated. There are laws against selling and use of cocaine and yet (to my understanding) it continues to be sold. No one has asked me to buy any, which by my long hair should make me a target. I guess the grey leaves the dealers guessing. 

So, “controlled substances” are regulated by laws but not by the law (in US we use law to mean police) in Peru.

I have also been in discussion with business owners in Iquitos about how restaurants are regulated. If you happen to be following the regulations, you have to swim upstream in red tape (or is it red piranhas?). However, if you wish to line the pockets of the regulators you do what you want. So, if a business owner wishes to follow “the rule of the law”, he spends many hours and much money setting up his business and proving it meets all the regulations. The people who tell me this think the regulators are actually unhappy when the business is squeaky clean. The regulators happen to show up around Christmas time hoping for a little jingle in their pocket from finding issues and having the businesses fill their Christmas stockings.

So, regulation in Peru is not how you may find it in most of the so-called Western World. (Peru is in the Western hemisphere). Considering the global economic ranking of Peru in GDP, Peru should be more effective at enforcing its laws. Peru’s wealth lies in its people and its natural resources, but a small minority of the people feel the wealth should naturally be in their pocket. The mining/petroleum organizations, for example, know this and capitalize on it. By lining the pockets of a few it is less expensive than meeting environmental regulations and contractual obligations. Bank account intoxication creates blind eyes to law enforcement.

Government regulation of ayahuasca in Peru would probably do what Andy states. It would drive the good guys out of business, unless they are big money making operations like Blue Morpho who can afford to meet all the regulations by employing a full time person on staff just for regulations. The problem with self-regulation that Michael proposes is that the tourists need to know about it to see who is reputable, and it would need to be funded. Michael has a means to inform the tourists, but the tourists need to read his paper. I read it, but I have some grey hair. The younger people do not seem to have the same pleasure of reading a paper.

On the subject of placebos, I think I need to write an article for Captain Bill and Mick explaining what they really are. Too many people think they are nothing but little sugar pills. Most MDs do not understand the placebo effect, especially those who are critical of alternative medical approaches like ayahuasca and many other plant medicines. The “placebo effect” is the most under appreciated scientific phenomena for improving human health!

Why is it that medical doctors lack an understanding of placebos work? It took decades before medical profession to have the science to back up why aspirin works the way it does. It is a simple plant medicine that everyone now only know as a pill to take for headaches and to lower blood pressure. Maybe several more decades will pass before the “placebo effect” is understood.

The “placebo effect” is believed by many as a person’s belief in something working, making it work. So, if this works, why not use it instead of a pharmaceutical. If you can “control” the “placebo effect”, wouldn’t that be better than to take an addictive pharmaceutical? What if ayahuasca with a highly trained shaman can control what medical science calls the “placebo effect”? Would that be something that is good or bad for society?

Personally I find it unfortunate that so many of the alternative healing techniques are attributed to the “placebo effect” when they help someone and when they are found ineffectual the practitioners are called con-artists.

Everyone is different and a treatment that works for some may not work for all, but that is not to say they don’t work. Science’s existence is learning why something works sometimes but not always. It is not only about why something works a little better than a placebo.

Show me the person who knows how to use the “placebo effect” any day; they can heal me faster with fewer side effects. At least that has been my experience. You can call it my belief. If my belief can heal myself and others, why not learn how or why?

At least allow the fact that healing can happen in ways that we currently can not explain with medical terminology. Research has shown that ayahuasca can help people with a multitude of issues. Surprisingly, addictions are best treated with it. The ayahuasca I am referring to is a tea made up with only one or two ingredients – the ayahuasca vine and chacruna leaf.

Why is ayahuasca so effective? We can only explain it in spiritual terms. If one does not believe in metaphysics or the supernatural, it is difficult for one to understand how ayahuasca works. I have seen it work for people and not work for them. That is its spiritual component and its mystery.

On the subject of parachutes, I have been involved on design teams of the most advanced fighter aircraft in the world. The pilots do not carry parachutes into the cockpit. The parachutes are integrated into the seats. The whole seat is ejected via rockets and then the parachute is deployed. The pilots have to trust their maintenance crew and the aircraft’s designers that the seat and parachute will operate correctly when required. The pilot’s don’t have to know everything about why it will work, only trust it will work when needed.

Sometimes we need to trust who created us and those that can help us to stay in tune. We may not need to understand how it works, only that miracles can happen and do.

On the subject of regulation, I do have a few words to add.

There was a time in the US where prohibition of alcohol contributed to some of the greatest outlaws in US history. What they learned was that if they legalized alcohol and regulated it, they could make money on it and shut down most of the criminal activity related to alcohol. Now in the US, alcohol is legal for those over 21, but heavily regulated and taxed. It is so regulated under the wire that I wonder if most of the young people (over 21) even realize it is regulated when they buy their six pack of beer in a convenience store.

Here in the US we are at a crossroads of thinking about “the war on drugs”. On the one hand there are people who for good reasons desire to continue the “war”, and then there are the pragmatists (and casual users and abusers) who wish for certain “drugs” to become legalized. Why would the pragmatists want them to be legalized you might ask? Because it has become too expensive to incarcerate all those people that have been found to have small amounts of marijuana or drug paraphernalia, along with all of the dealers.

I think if we did a cost/benefit analysis of the costs of incarceration (lawyers, court costs, cost per person per annum in jail/prison) to the costs of rehab with funding from the taxes of the “drugs”, we would probably find that it would be hands down in favor of legalization.

Personally, I don’t drink and I don’t ‘do’ “drugs”. However, I am having to pay (via my income taxes) to incarcerate all of these people.

126 David Dolezal September 29, 2012 at 5:48 pm

Oops, my beginning seems to have been duplicated at the end. 🙂

127 Rastus September 30, 2012 at 12:25 am

I make it a habit not to directly address or respond to people like Adrian. Generally because they give me gas, specifically because people like him are not actually people but more of a set of scripts which are inherently non-intelligent which they run according to the situation, they never vary much and never fail to rapidly deteriorate into personal jabs and general foolishness. Btw, I find it interesting that Adrien has made a point to know of every single supposed case of Ayahuasca related injury in the history of the Amazon, almost seems like he might have an agenda (not to mention setting up shop right in the heart of ignorance personified)? Beyond that I merely wanted to make a simple point that; your typical Ayahuasca “brew” is an extremely complex mixture of chemical molecules and compounds, many of which are scientifically classified as “PHYCHO-ACTIVE”, which means they have an ACTUAL physiological effect on the human organism, some of which (the effects) are so strong that they appreciably alter brain chemistry, endocrine function, among other key bodily systems. These effects can be far more potent than many “scientifically endorsed” Pharmaceuticals used in the Psychiatric Profession, to the point where the experiencer is psychologically, and most certainly physically, turned inside out in a most un-metaphorical fashion. To the point where (my point) anyone who would call these effects “placebo” needs to have their heads examined for the source of the total failure of their “logic system”.

Most sincerely,
Your friend, Rastus.

128 James Richardson September 30, 2012 at 7:07 am

On the subjects of parachutes…right you are David in the case of most current fighter aircraft in the world. I come from an era where I started strapping on a parachutes in T-33´s and Tudor trainers. In Canada, we usd T-33´s for naval exercises and radar calibration up until the 1980´s. Both were jet aircraft.

129 James Richardson September 30, 2012 at 7:52 am

As a footnote David. You always had confidence in the technicians. They were highly trained and competent including the safety technicians whose responsibility was the ejection system….I cannot say that the same confidence exists in those involved in the ayahuasca trade here.

130 Adrian Walker September 30, 2012 at 9:34 am

James, concise and accurate as usual. The local industry contains numerous shady (at best) characters whose idea of self regulation would be a free for all as long as they reaped the benefits. Objectively we have amongst the opponents to this forum a gent wanted by the FBI in relation to hallucinogens and a self declared bankrupt who left heavens know how many small honest people in the lurch. Was his bankruptcy caused by drug abuse? We’ll probably never know. However such folk are clearly unsuitable to self regulate a chook raffle let alone an industry where dangers abound.
Andy makes a lot of noise about lodges 100 miles or so away from the city yet almost all the activity in iquitos is centred out along the Nauta road, within an hour or so by vehicle. 100 miles takes quite a few hours by boat and is thus less attractive for an ayhuasca lodge, which after all, has ne dependency upon the environmental quality. Of course admnistration of regulation in more remote lodges or centres would be nigh impossible but with enough registered providers in and near the city, the system becomes manageable. I would repeat my call for registered churches having the right to administer ayahuasca as a sacrament, a la Brazil, as an excellent method.

131 S.P. September 30, 2012 at 11:17 am

Wow, just wow. First off, I have to say this is a poorly written article full of conjecture, sweeping generalizations, and outright disinformation. If I’m not mistaken, the author has an advanced degree, and yet does not provide even one citable source for any of his claims.

As I read through the comments, it’s clear that he really doesn’t know what he’s talking about. Hell, I’ve only been to Peru once and have participated in only 5 ceremonies and I feel pretty confident in stating that I know more than he does. I did my research for about 8 months before arriving in Peru; on ayahuasca, on Iquitos, on shamans, etc… Not once during all of my research (okay, my own advanced degree did teach me how to do research, at the very least), in speaking with people in Iquitos, or even since my trip there have I heard of anyone claiming eternal life through ayahuasca. Nor have I heard of this “number of deaths” the author speaks of, aside from the documented cases everyone has already mentioned.

I have seen, however, many troubled gringos wandering around…floating aimlessly…perhaps attempting to escape their real lives. But then again, ayahusca is not what is causing their problems. People like that exist everywhere. They are lost souls who are seeking refuge outside of themselves. You’ll find them all over the world, but I digress.

What’s worse is the defensive attitude the author wields, like a weak sword being swung back and forth by a small boy sticking his tongue out at anyone who dares to call him out. All he can do is throw out insults. Even the folks who agree with him make better arguments!

With that said, I appreciate the comments made by Andy, Alan, and David, all of whom took the time to cite their sources and attempt to clarify some of the incorrect information about ayahuasca and all the research that has been done on the subject.

I really don’t think it’s fair to go to a foreign country and start spouting off on how things “should” be done (i.e. ayahusca regulation) based on absolutely no direct experience with the thing you claim to know everything about! And it’s downright foolish to continue arguing your point without actually citing ANY credible sources. I’m not against the idea of regulation in general. But the elitist attitude that everything should be done the way it is the US (for example) is at best, naive.

Adrian, I’m sorry, but I just can’t take you seriously. I think somewhere in your noggin, you might have some good ideas and a sincere desire to raise questions, but you need to stop name-calling and insulting people in an attempt to be heard. You should know that by now.

Regardless, thanks to all who contributed to this discussion and for providing some juicy reading.

In closing, I’ll share one anecdote from my experience in Peru. The morning after my first ceremony, I met a middle-aged Russian man from Chicago by the stream where I went to wash up. He was there for a week and was preparing to leave. During our conversation about ayahuasca, he summed his experience up thusly: “I don’t know about this spiritual mumbo jumbo shit, but I can tell you this. It works. I don’t know how, but I know that I stopped taking my depression medication and that I don’t need it anymore. That’s it. No magic, no nothing. It just works.”

132 Andy M September 30, 2012 at 12:09 pm

Yawn! As usual Adrian, you’re so full of bile and self righteousness. This seems to be a very common side effect of having a pickled brain in my experience of meeting similar people.

How about you address the points that both David and I have made, that in a place like Iquitos, regulation could actually do more harm than good.

Whether you believe it or not, the majority of people running ayahuasca retreats are good honest people who genuinely want to help people heal, and make a difference in the world. And most of them do not make a great deal of money. Regulation could force these good honest people out of business, and then what are you left with? The piranhas who won’t give a damn about following regulations and they will continue to operate in one way or another. If you don’t think that’s true, then you obviously haven’t gotten to know Iquitos very well. Possibly because you spend most of your time drinking at Dawn on the Amazon.

133 James Richardson September 30, 2012 at 12:25 pm

Adrian, you are right with respect to the shady characters involved in the trade here. I have heard various expats here comment about some of these characters from time to time. As we use to say in business ¨caveat emptor¨… but when it goes to mind altering drugs and the people involved, you must take it beyond that.

I am basically totally integrated into the local community with most of my friends being indigenous peoples, family and friends from the community so this blog is one of my forays into the ¨gringo¨world. Again Adrian, I congratulate you on raising the subject and incurring the unwarranted insults from those driven by greed. I think I have contibuted to the flogging of this subject enough and I will let the vested interest group speak in the mirror.

134 Adrian Walker September 30, 2012 at 2:08 pm

James, many thanks for your intelligent contributions to this forum which have been numerous and telling. I intend to follow the same path but would like to make Andy an offer in the meantime. Andy, you claim me to be some kind of drunkard, so I’ll put to you an offer which is as follows – find 2 reliable witnesses that can attest to seeing me in a drunken condition at any time during my months in Iquitos, and I’ll give you half of the land I have just purchased – 50 acres of prime jungle Andy! All you have to do is produce credible evidence for your outrageous, offensive and incorrect claim. Let’s see who the liar is Andy! Beats pillows at dawn on the amazon doesn’t it?

135 Adrian Walker September 30, 2012 at 2:18 pm

Andy, my apologies for briefly forgetting that when brains were being handed out, you were busy taking some substance or another, so I’ll make this a whole lot easier for you. I asked you for 2 reliable witnesses and so I’ll simplify your task by nominating 3 possibilities, all of whom I regularly socialise with in the evenings – try Bill Grimes, Michael Collis and Bill Harrison. And the offer stands rock solid.

136 Mike Collis October 1, 2012 at 8:28 am

I have recently spoken to officials of both the Regional Government and the Municipality about ayahuasca tourism.

They all said the same ;

We will take the money brought in by ayahuasca tourists BUT we are no at all proud of it.

137 Mike Collis October 1, 2012 at 8:39 am

I recall a young lady from Holland who wrote an article about her year here in Iquitos, it was quite good. I emailed her and thanked her and told her that it would also be published on my http://www.iquitostimes.com website.
She replied;

“Dear Mike,
Thats great, thank you Mike, but would you please delete the last paragraph which refers to the ayahuasca ceremony I took part in. You see I do not want my family and friends to know about it. Thank You”

Andy do your parents know about your activities here with regard to you ingesting, on a regular basis, (and for no apparent medical reason) ayahuasca and San Padro ?

138 Andy M October 1, 2012 at 11:09 am

Adrian, I guess I’m going to have to pass up on the land, but I can provide one witness with a very amusing story who I consider to be very reliable. Please correct me if this story isn’t true. Let’s call the witness one very ‘Cross’ lady. I’m sure you’ll know who she is.

A few months ago you went out to visit her lodge to see if it might be something you might want to buy or rent. You wrote about it here http://dawnontheamazon.com/blog/2012/07/17/bedbugs-and-their-ilk-in-iquitos/

I’ve seen a copy of the email that this lady sent you and she is very upset that you mis-represented what were obviously mosquito bites as bed bugs, as she has never before or since had a complaint about, or problem with, bed bugs. Isn’t this what really happened Adrian:

As you were not a paying guest, you were asked to bring groceries with you to prepare for dinner. You actually forgot to bring the groceries, but you did remember to take several beers with you (isn’t that true Adrian?). Now I don’t know about you Adrian, but in my view, when someone forgets the food but remembers the beer – that shows exactly where a persons priorities lie.

After you’d finish all those beers, the lady said goodnight to you and had the impression that you were quite drunk. You were just 10 METERS from the entrance to your room, but you actually had to return to the dining room and ask the lady for assistance in finding your room. I have actually visited this lodge myself and I know just how small and easy it is to find your way around. If you couldn’t find your way back from 10 meters then I suspect you had rather a lot to drink that evening.

You then went to bed without a mosquito net, AND with the door left open (something only a drunk person would be stupid enough to do), and then you wondered why your partner was covered in bites the next morning. D’oh!!!!!

139 Andy M October 1, 2012 at 11:13 am

And yes Mike, my parents know exactly what I’m doing in Peru, and hopefully they’re going to be visiting me next year.

140 Andy M October 1, 2012 at 11:21 am

One other thing I forgot to mention Adrian is that in every picture I’ve seen of you (and from what I remember when I met you in Iquitos), your face is red as a beetroot! Now, perhaps you have some other skin condition, but what I do know is that a consistently red face is one of the surest signs there is of alcohol abuse.

“Facial redness

One of the earliest signs of alcohol abuse is a persistently red face due to enlarged blood vessels (telangiectasia). This appears because regulation of vascular control in the brain fails with sustained alcohol intake.” http://www.dermnetnz.org/reactions/alcohol.html

141 Adrian Walker October 1, 2012 at 3:14 pm

When all else fails try a good straw man argument – Andy Mooncalf 2012. Do I need to add more? I could possibly mention that after 40 years of life and work in the tropics there is a world of difference betwixt a mosquito bite and a bedbug nip, but such lessons would be wasted on someone who makes unsubtantiated, baseless and libellous claims and then lacks the guts to back them up with a solitary shred of credible evidence. Bill, it’s time you gagged Andy on the drunkeness issue unless you personally believe it to have some truth.

142 Andy M October 1, 2012 at 3:18 pm

Interesting, So you dispute the nature of the bites, but you don’t deny you turned up at the lodge, forgetting the food, but remembering the beer, or needing assistance to to find your room 10 metres away and going to bed leaving the door open.

I think you’ve been busted Adrian 😉

143 Andy M October 1, 2012 at 3:28 pm

>>unsubtantiated, baseless and libellous claims and then lacks the guts to back them up with a solitary shred of credible evidence.

LOL. And you know all about making unsubstantiated, baseless and libellous claims don’t you Adrian?

I’m in possession of the exact email that was sent to you about this matter on Wednesday, July 25, 2012 9:30 PM, with the subject line “Untruths and disinformation” that asked you to retract the lie you made about her lodge.

I guess it’s a case of her word against yours, but given that you’ve done absolutely nothing but misrepresent the truth since the beginning of this discussion, and given that I know my friend is an honest woman, I know exactly who I believe in this matter!

144 Captain Bill October 1, 2012 at 6:08 pm

Gentlemen, please, enough mean spirited name calling and personal accusations on both sides. Get back to having a serious discussion of a serious subject. I understand that passions run hot but there is no need to make unnecessary enemies. “Can’t we all just get along?”
Bill Grimes

145 Andy M October 1, 2012 at 6:23 pm

Many apologies Captain Bill! I just often can’t resist the pleasure of exposing hypocrites!

Anyway, Bill, you may be pleased to know that hopefully by next week I’m going to have an excellent new article for you to publish on your blog if you wish to. (it will probably be a transcript of an interview).

Just by an odd quirk of fate, there’s a very senior medical doctor from the US on our current retreat in Huaraz that started yesterday. Being a senior medical doctor he is extremely qualified to talk on the subject of health and healing ,and his views on ayahuasca and the healing benefits of psychedelics are the polar opposite of Adrian’s. And this man REALLY DOES know what the hell he’s talking about.

146 Captain Bill October 1, 2012 at 7:34 pm

Ooops there you go again Andy…The article sounds interesting. I look forward to publishing it. As always, thanks for your intelligent comments and spirited debate, and thank you Adrian, and thank you Mike for stirring the pot. Thanks to David Dolezal, Peter Gorman, Alan Shoemaker, Scott Humfeld, and Jim Richardson for your thoughtful comments, and to everyone of you for taking the time to express your opinions, and to you loyal reader, without whom, what would be the point…
Bill Grimes

147 Adrian Walker October 1, 2012 at 8:19 pm

Gentlemen, I am taking permanent leave of this particular forum comfortable in having established and maintained both the scientific and ethical high ground. Thanks to all who have participated and of course to Captain Bill for providing the opportunity.

148 Andy M October 2, 2012 at 11:10 am

Here’s a bit of light relief – a poem I recently wrote about Ayahuasca.

See: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4wqk684nNIg

149 Brian S. October 2, 2012 at 1:15 pm

Adrian Walker .. You are so typical of the type that has to have the last word. I do not think you actually read anything of what was published here to substantiate what people were trying to get across to you. You simply were not interested as you are so convinced your views are correct.
If you think for one second that you “established and maintained both the scientific and ethical high ground” on this blog post then you my friend are living in a different reality … one inhabited by you, yourself and all on your own !

150 Mike Collis October 3, 2012 at 8:08 am

You are wrong Brian, although I do not agree with some of Adrians ideas I agree with most of what he says.
Obviously Brian, you, like Andy ingest ayahuasca and possibly other intoxicants. Why Brian? Do you have a problem ? Are you searching for “yourself” ? or are you just another junkie like Andy.

Ayahuasca is a medicine and is not a recreational drug for you and your cronies to get high on.

151 Andy M October 3, 2012 at 3:46 pm

Sorry Mike, but I take great offence at you, someone I consider(ed) a friend, calling me a junkie. That is absolute bullshit and nothing could be further from the truth. You are really no better than Adrian, a hopeless old fool trying to write about a subject you really have no understanding of, and nor do you want to try and understand it. It’s sad really.

A junkie is an addict and someone who uses drugs out of necessity. I have no addiction to ayahuasca (it’s not even possible to get addicted to ayahuasca). I haven’t even taken ayahuasca for about 6 weeks now. Have you ever met a junkie who can go 6 weeks without getting a fix?

You are disingenuous to say the least. Trying to rake up whatever negative story about ayahuasca you can find, when you know full well that 99% of people have positive experiences. You’ve told me personally many times about all the incredibly positive stories and feedback you get from people returning from the Temple of the Way of Light (who visit you to return your wellies).

You my friend are full of shit!

152 Mike Collis October 3, 2012 at 4:33 pm

Thank You Andy,
Here in Iquitos you will not find a more positive proponent of shamanism and ayahuasca than myself. Apart from Peter Gorman and Alan Shoemaker I have lived in Iquitos far longer than any of you (15 years) and I have taken ayahuasca, I have received treatment from a shaman and I know many shamans and have witnessed the good they can do. I had terrible pain in my left arm once and Dave DolezaI treated the pain without touching me or adminsterring any medicine. I also remember the Italian lady who for more than 30 years had suffered demons in her mind brought on by the trauma caused by sexual abuse as a child. No modern medicines or treatment could help rid her mind of those demons. In 2010 and after 12 days at the Temple of the Way of Life being treated by those wonderful shapibo ladies the demons left and she returned to Rome a new person.
Over these last few years we have seen an increase in the amount of tourists that come here wanting to “try” ayahuasca and hoping to have great visions etc. Some “on the fringe” shamans cater for these sensation seekers and often add other substances to the ayahuasca mix to enhance the quality of the visions. Some of these additives are very dangerous. This sort of misuse of ayahuasca is what I want stamped out along with the unscrupulous dealers who trade in it.
The Amazon is truly blessed with natural medicines like ayahuasca and its abuse for personal gain is totally unacceptable to me.

Now tell me what benefit you get out of ayahuasca other than personal gain (i.e the 50 soles you charge the shaman for each tourist you take to him). After all you said you have’nt drank ayahuasca for 6 weeks.

153 Andy M October 3, 2012 at 5:02 pm

“Now tell me what benefit you get out of ayahuasca other than personal gain (i.e the 50 soles you charge the shaman for each tourist you take to him). After all you said you have’nt drank ayahuasca for 6 weeks.”

Wrong again Mike! When I was living in Iquitos and taking people to Don Lucho (something I did 2 or 3 times a month on average) I never charged Don Lucho or took any cut of the money that was paid to him. My only ‘financial gain’ then was that I myself didn’t pay to take part in the ceremonies.

154 Mike Collis October 3, 2012 at 5:57 pm

OK Sorry Andy but I could have sworn you told me you charged 150 soles per person per night to take them to Don Lucho, 50 of which was for you.

As you are an expert can you tell me.

Why you did not address my remark that some unscruplous shamans put additives in their ayahuasca to enhance the potency of their brew.

True or false ?

Also I should have said Temple of the Way of Light not Life.
Deliberate mistake which you failed to notice. Only joking Andy.

In the Amazon rainforest when shamans treat their patients only the shaman drinks ayahuasca.

So why do you drink it?

The collective drinking of ayahuasca is a modern thing and is not a part of the healing process. True or false ?

155 Andy M October 3, 2012 at 6:37 pm

“OK Sorry Andy but I could have sworn you told me you charged 150 soles per person per night to take them to Don Lucho, 50 of which was for you.”

No worries, the fee was 150 soles and it all went to Don Lucho. I didn’t want to take a cut because I fully supported the fact that Don Lucho was running a non-profit organisation, and most of the money he made was put towards teaching local farmers about permaculture and sustainable farming practices. I think on about two occasions (out of about 30 or more) I charged the people I was taking an extra 50 soles, simply because I didn’t really want to go, so I was just charging for my time as a guide to take them out there and bring them back safely. I never ever took a cut of the 150 soles that was paid to Don Lucho. He would certainly testify to that.

“Why you did not address my remark that some unscruplous shamans put additives in their ayahuasca to enhance the potency of their brew.”

To be honest I have no experience of this. Some people say it happens, and I don’t doubt them, but I certainly don’t support it. I only ever took people to Don Lucho who I know only makes pure ayahuasca. Personally I don’t believe that additives are needed to enhance the brew. A good shaman should be able to make very potent pure ayahuasca. However, by their nature, the unscrupulous shamans are not good shamans!

“In the Amazon rainforest when shamans treat their patients only the shaman drinks ayahuasca.”

Somewhat true, but certainly not always. But you have to understand that westerners have entirely different health problems to indigenous people. Most western people (whether they are aware of it or not) have huge emotional issues because of negative things that have happened in their lives, bad relationships etc. It wouldn’t be very easy for people to be healed of these issues without drinking ayahuasca themselves.

“So why do you drink it?”

Two main reasons. First, ayahuasca is far more than just a medicine, the spirit of the vine is also an incredible teacher and you never ever stop learning from the experiences you have with her.

But primarily, for me, it’s my equivalent of going to church. Drinking ayahuasca is a spiritual communion. Most people go to church because they believe that for 1 or 2 hours a week it somehow brings them closer to God. I drink ayahuasca because I know it really does bring me closer to God and spirit.

“The collective drinking of ayahuasca is a modern thing and is not a part of the healing process. True or false ?”

Not exactly. You have to understand that there are something in the region of 60 indigenous tribes that use ayahuasca. Some tribes use it in different ways and collective drinking on special occasions within a tribal community is certainly not uncommon. So I would disagree that it’s entirely a modern thing.

156 Mike Collis October 4, 2012 at 8:24 am

Thank You Andy,

That was very informative.

Chris Kilham has made a posting on Facebook.
I quote;

“Here is an update from the Ayahuasca Test Pilots. Shaman Jose Pineda Vargas, also known as “Mancoluto,” who conducts ceremonies at Chimbre Retreat in Peru, buried the body of a young man who died there, and then lied about it. DO NOT go to Chimbre. It is unsafe, and Mancoluto is not to be trusted at all. If you are going to journey, do it safely with someone who is talented, honest and humane. Repeat- stay AWAY from Chimbre. ”

The young man died because of negligence, thats bad , but what was worse for me is the shaman unceremoniously buried the boys body in his garden with no regard whatsoever for his parents who would be searching for their son and then trying to deprive the parents of giving their son a decent funeral.

Your views please Andy.

Of course you did’nt drink ayahuasca for six weeks. Andy you have an abundant supply of San Pedro!

157 Andy M October 4, 2012 at 9:15 am

What happened at Shimbre was disgraceful. We still don’t know the cause of death yet, it might not have been anything to do with ayahuasca and could easily have been an allergic reaction to an insect bite or something like that. As far as I’m aware a proper autopsy is being conducted in the States. However, it was negligent beyond belief that people were not being supervised during their ayahuasca experiences. The owner of Shimbre was warned many times about this, yet he chose to ignore those warnings and support the methods of this shaman.

I’ve never heard of any other retreat center, or shaman (even the unscrupulous ones) that don’t supervise people during ceremony. It’s just not the way things are done.

And, I haven’t taken San Pedro since February Mike!

158 Murilo Reis October 5, 2012 at 2:11 pm

Wow !! What an overwhelming forum!
I love to see people defending their opinion. Great. I admire Adrian to bring it up first as merely opinion, then continue the discussion’s serious merits.
We are talking about murdering (nobody is guilty and the facts are debatable until is proved ), raping, confidence artists, et al.
I wont read between the lines and avoid my opinion about Ayahuasca and its effects because I have neither the credentials nor the knowledge to talk about it. What I do have are several actual complaints from guests of my hostel about their experiences with Ayahuasca.
I own a Hostel with a partner Jamal, who is an Ayahuasca user himself . I don’t judge him, far from that, is his life and his point of view doesn’t affect me. However, what does affects me and, ironically, himself as well, are the effects of Ayahuasca use and the governance of its financial market. We receive all kind of people here, sometimes there are more Ayahuasqueros than not, and sometimes there are more guests who are solely jungle tourists. Luckily, we have had no problems with the latter, unfortunately, I cannot say the same about the former.
• I do not tolerate Drugs for personal reasons, but some people are more flexible about it. I do not tolerate people openly smoking marijuana in our common area as if it is normal. I can’t and I wont. I can’t accept people that not respect my NO SMOKING AREA.
• Also before and after those retreats, I witness people using drugs.
• We have had numerous clients that we have to help with stomach problems after the retreats, maybe it’s the water, maybe it’s the food maybe the food, however, there is something to be said for the trend existing mainly in those who are post ceremony.
• One guest bought Ayahuasca for himself, and used it by himself (which, I understand proponents would probably not advise either). He had several bad experiences himself, and worried members of our community.
• I have heard enough stories of rape and molestation during ceremonies , that I feel they must have a solid base in fact.
• Also, whether by murder or suicide, people have been dying who have had a connection with Ayahuasca and its use.
• And, finally, a notorious shaman whose name I have seen mentioned on this blog, promised to a client right in front of me that he would replace half of the cost of an expensive camera that had been stolen during the client’s retreat. Trusting him, the person left believing is this reputable shaman would honor his agreement. We continue to receive emails from the client asking if we can help the shaman follow through, because he will not respond to their correspondence.
Here is my idea to help.
Because we (me and Jamal ) profit from the people coming to Iquitos to do Ayahuasca, one of the retreats refers their clients to us. We haven’t heard any bad reviews about this one.
This conversation would not be taking place if there was regulation on Ayahuasca and on those who run its ceremonies. Drugs can cure, that is a fact, natural or otherwise. Without regulation, however, drugs can be easily abused by its users and proprietors. You have to be blind not to see the effect that it has here in Iquitos. I don’t think I have to point it out, it is obvious enough when one is walking around the boulevard.
Regulation is necessary for the safety of people seeking Ayahuasca , tourist or otherwise. Not only will some regulation be more secure for health of users, it will be healthy for the business aspect of the industry. If people feel secure in looking for and using Ayahuasca, the market will grow. It seems to me that it is already, in aome ways, a well run industry, but an industry that is ignoring its negative effects. I’ve seen in this forum that there are some people using/ selling/informing about it for more than 15 years, which is no surprise, since it has been around for millennia. My question to them is, why is there little to no regulation on Ayahuasca and its purveyors when it is it so obvious that there are major problems with aspects of the industry? If you are so adamant about its use and its healing powers, why not organize to eliminate these negatives instead of using your energy to ignore them and argue that they do not exist?
I hope, and I know, that there is some level of regulation that can both enhance Ayahuasca’s healing powers and mitigate the issues that its industry can create

159 Mike Collis October 5, 2012 at 6:03 pm

Well said Murilo.

Just for the record, at this moment in Iquitos are 2 french detectives who were sent by their government to investigate the deaths of 3 french nationals, whose deaths were all linked to ayahuasca.

The British Government in its website referring to Peru said
“There are a number of spiritual cleansing centres operating in the Amazon and Cusco areas. It is known that some people have become ill and some have died while using these centres”.

I understand that the US Embassy will soon be posting a similar advisory about ayahuasca.

160 Skeptic1 October 6, 2012 at 8:11 am

You say ayhuasca is only a placebo, that makes me think you have totally missed the point with it altogether. After my opinion ayhuasca´s extremely powerful placebo effect is what makes it a great medicine. It have the potential to touch and alter your mind deeply and make you believe in it so strongly that your body or mind repairs itself.

161 Brian S. November 1, 2012 at 7:00 am

Reply to Mike Collis comments here “Obviously Brian, you, like Andy ingest ayahuasca and possibly other intoxicants. Why Brian? Do you have a problem ? Are you searching for “yourself” ? or are you just another junkie like Andy. Ayahuasca is a medicine and is not a recreational drug for you and your cronies to get high on.”

I am quite shocked by your comments here but will not get into a “fierce” rebuttal. Instead, the next time we see each other on the boulevard if you will be so kind as to accept my invite to discuss this as gentlemen over a couple of beers .. and you can then judge who I actually am.
Anyone who does know me knows that the only intoxicant I enjoy on a “get high” basis .. are a few beers and that I have always taken Ayahuasca in a respectful manner mindful of the fact that it is a medicine. I am at a loss to know who my “cronies” are … and have never, and would never dream of, taking ANY sacred medicine as a means to get high. See you in the New Year ?

162 Kevin Davis April 22, 2013 at 2:09 am

The deepest sin against the human mind is to believe things without evidence.

163 Mic May 12, 2013 at 11:07 am

Adrian started out halfway making sense, but his judgement’s are backed by nothing except hearsay. Post the pharmaceutical reports, amounts they used from which plants, or how they synthesized. Post the trial group sizes, controls and all data. If you can not or will not do that, you are simply trying to speak officially for what ayahuasca is all about, when in reality you do not have the expertise to do so. Your posts turned more and more into those of a an outright troll.

Your excuses for not trying it border on the absurd, and are certainly not very scientific. I for one seriously doubt you even have a PhD in anything, much less in anything to do with plants. Be that as it may, you certainly are not approaching the subject of ayahuasca very scientifically at all. No data nor have you tried yourself. I am as cynical and logical as they come, yet I tried ayahuasca for myself to see what all the fuss was about. I am still “experimenting” if you wish to call it that, and having consumed it 3 times, I find it to be far more than a placebo.

164 Jack July 12, 2015 at 5:11 am

Adrian, you said to Andy M:

“You refer to healing but fail to mention the number of drug related deaths that may be indirectly related to ayahuasca or whatever’s mixed with it by the unscrupulous.”

There have been no deaths from using ayahuasca genius, stop lying. Nobody likes a liar. Do you believe ayahuasca is harmful because it’s possible to add harmful things to it? Nice logic. Since it’s ‘possible’ to add poison to a glass of water, do you consider water itself to be harmful? Since it’s ‘possible’ to poison a sandwich, do you consider all sandwiches to be harmful?

You also said, “As for not having taken the stuff, why would anyone bother when cheap, effective and safe purgatives are available in every pharmacy?”

… You already know ayahuasca is not used as a purgitive, so drop the dishonest sarcasm. You have no first-hand knowledge or experience with the substance, and yet choose to ignore countless testimonials, including many from scientists and doctors who used it themselves. You have no basis for your ignorant opinion. Take ayahuasca yourself, and THEN you can tell people whether it’s legit or a waste of time.

I think you just like calling yourself a skeptic. I’m afriad it’s you who sound like the “village idiot”, not Andy M

165 Jack July 12, 2015 at 5:18 am

Murilo Reis, that is the most incoherent, jumbled rambling I’ve ever seen, I believe. Forget to take your meds?

166 Daniel July 26, 2015 at 1:53 am

I’ve never taken ayahuasca, but I’ve taken LSD and mushrooms hundreds of times, salvia a few times and DMT twice. I however have watched a few documentaries on Ayahuasca and my bullshit detector went off almost immediately.

One particular documentary had 5 or 6 people traveling to the Peruvian Amazon, all strangers, all with very unique issues they wanted to sort out through their experience. On days 1-3, their experience was nothing short of terrifying, but gradually less so from day 1 to day 3. By day 4, there was some sort of resolve and day 5 was almost like party, like a bunch of people on a good acid trip.

What was so curious about this was that for all of these people from such diverse backgrounds was that their experience was so uniform. All of them were scared shitless in the beginning and by the end,
All of them were having a blast.

These people weren’t really entering the “spirit world”, they were being given gradually reduced dosages and their high was less intense on day 5 than it was on day 1. It was high enough to be fun, but not scare the shit out of them.

A friend of mine who had a very intense experience on DMT (I don’t know that there is such a thing as a mild DMT experience) once claimed “yeah, but I saw things I never even imagined before!!”
Yeah, and I’m sure Michaelangelo never imagined the Sistine Chapel before he painted it. The mind is an unbelievably powerful creative tool that can conjur up really vivid and extraordinary images with no effort
At all. Taking a drug that enhances this doesn’t mean you’ve physically experienced a new reality, your perception of this one has just been chemically altered

167 Sviato Kulchyckiy October 4, 2015 at 6:57 am

Hello Adrian, just happened to stumble upon your article online. To be honest, I’ve never heard anything about ayahuasca providing eternal life to its users, but I have tried it several times, and each time it was quite an experience. There are some things words could just not describe , and these experiences I can not describe without being looked at as a mentally ill patient (which i’m not, but haven’t actually been checked out, so who knows?). But I must say, I do agree with the notion that an ayahuasca experience would be far safer, and for me personally, perhaps, more comfortable, to take part in if there would be an experienced medical staff situated not too far away from me.That being said, I must admit it does seem a bit ignorant given the fact that you had never tried ayahuasca, yet you give your opinion of ayahuasca to the world.
Many people can read your article and have a view of ayahuasca being nothing more than a scam aimed towards westerners, however I’m sure if they read your comment thread as well, their opinion might be subject to change.
And I’m no blog expert, but I do believe that if you are going to present some information, you should take into consideration both sides of the story, so that futile people don’t eventually end up calling you different names. Its just the way people react when something that is of meaning to them is attacked by a person who hasn’t tried that something which is of meaning.

ANYWAY, nice day to you all. The more we speak about a subject the more the world is educated. True information or misinformation, both is information we use to make up our OWN minds. Peace to the world. Namaste my friend.

168 Petros October 8, 2015 at 3:06 am

First of let me just get this out of the way. I think ayahuasca is one of the most profound experiences I have ever had and continue having. I also think that everyone should try it as its truly an amazing life experience.

Now as a skeptic I don’t believe in all the anecdotal evidence and science-woo. Having explored the “spiritual” avenue to try an explain the experience and was always left wanting as I understand the true nature of evidence. While I have no doubt people are having genuine experiences but the reality of the matter is not what people may think. These experience can be life changing but to draw conclusions of spirit realms and supernatural attributes is being intellectually dis-honest.

Also it has never been demonstrated that ayahuasca has ever cure a life threatening illness. Yes people come to the jungle ill and leave well… however people never take into account the fact that when people are doing these retreats, one get prescribe medicinal plants and proper diets. Its amazing what our bodies are capable on their own when given the chance. Sure ones mental state also factors in where the aya ceremony has impact but as far as thinking machine elves or spirit serpents are working on you is total wishful thinking and diminishes the reality of this amazing product of evolutionary biology.. our bodies.

I personally find since shedding the newagey/hippie baggage that it comes with it, I can go deeper than ever….. at home on my own…. no “shaman” required.

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