What foods and drugs need to be avoided?

What foods need to be avoided?

Basically foods that are aged, preserved, dried, fermented, pickled, cured (meats), rancid, old, outdated, overripe, or even slightly spoiled.

The following foods are recommended to be avoided with MAOIs:

  • Meat that is not fresh, especially unfresh liver (fresh meat and fresh liver are safe)
  • Smoked, fermented, pickled (herring) and otherwise aged or dried fish, lox; any fish that is not fresh
  • Sausage, bologna, pepperoni, salami, corned beef
  • Aged cheeses (cottage cheese and cream cheese are safe)
  • Protein extracts
  • Liquid and powdered protein dietary supplements
  • Brewer’s yeast, yeast vitamin supplements, or yeast extracts
  • Fermented tofu, fermented bean curd, fermented soybean paste, soy sauce
  • Canned soups, or soups made with protein extracts or bouillon
  • Miso soup (contains fermented bean curd)
  • Shrimp paste
  • Sauerkraut
  • Fruits that are bruised or even slightly overripe, especially bananas and apples; raisins and other dried fruits, fig newtons, etc (banana peels also should be avoided — as though you’d eat them anyway)
  • Avocados, if ripe or overripe (slightly underripe avocados are fine in moderation). Guacamole should be avoided.
  • Red wine, especially Chianti; sherry, vermouth, champagne, brandy; beers and ales, including nonalcoholic; whiskey and liqueurs such as Drambuie and Chartreuse
  • Dairy products that are close to the expiration date or that have been unrefrigerated (fresh yogurt is safe)
  • Aspartame (Nutrasweet)
  • Fava beans, especially if overripe
  • Peanuts – in large quantities
  • Raspberries – in large quantities
  • Spinach, New Zealand prickly or hot weather – in large quantities
  • Chocolate – in large quantities
  • Caffeine in large quantities (note: in a few rare individuals, there may be a severe interaction with even small amounts of caffeine)

How long do they need to be avoided?

24 hours before and after drinking Ayahuasca should be sufficient.

Is it really important to avoid those foods?

The warnings about tyramine interaction sound very serious, because they are adapted from warnings about interactions with pharmaceutical MAOIs.
However, food interaction with Ayahuasca is frankly not as serious a matter as it is with pharmaceutical MAOIs.


However, while there are no reports of fatalities from food interactions with Ayahuasca, food interactions could conceivably be life-threatening for a person with severe high blood pressure or serious heart disease. People with these conditions, therefore, should follow the MAOI safety diet very strictly when taking Ayahuasca.

Please note: Peganum harmala (Syrian rue) is a stronger MAOI than Banisteriopsis (Ayahuasca vine) and has potentially more serious interactions.

What can I eat?

In terms of the MAOI safety diet, basically foods that are as fresh as possible and not overripe, preserved, or spoiled in any way.

Drugs and Medications

Is it really dangerous to combine some pharmaceutical drugs with Ayahuasca?

YES. Unlike food interactions, whose consequences are unlikely to be serious, interaction with pharmaceutical drugs and meds (including some over-the-counter drugs and certain herbs) can be potentially life-threatening..

Which drugs are dangerous with Ayahuasca?

A list of meds to be careful of with MAOIs:

  • other MAOIs
  • SSRI’s (any selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor)
  • amphetamines (meth-, dex-, amphetamine)
  • antihypertensives (high blood pressure medicine)
  • appetite suppressants (diet pills)
  • medicine for asthma, bronchitis, or other breathing problems
  • antihistamines, medicines for colds, sinus problems, hay fever, or allergies (Actifed DM, Benadryl, Benylin, Chlor-Trimeton, Compoz, etc.)
  • CNS (central nervous system) depressants
  • antipsychotics
  • alcohol

Some specific drugs that should not be combined with MAOIs:

  • Actifed
  • Amantadine hydrochloride (Symmetrel)
  • Amoxapine (Asendin)
  • Benadryl
  • Benylin
  • Bupropion (Wellbutrin)
  • Buspirone (BuSpar)
  • Carbamazepine (Tegretol, Epitol)
  • Chlor-Trimeton
  • Clomipramine (Anafranil)
  • Cocaine
  • Cyclobenzaprine (Flexeril)
  • Cyclizine (Marezine)
  • Desipramine (Pertofrane)
  • Dextromethorphan (DXM)
  • Disopyramide (Norpace)
  • Doxepin (Sinequan)
  • Ephedrine
  • Flavoxate Hydrochloride (Urispas)
  • Fluoxetine (Prozac)
  • Imipramine (Tofranil)
  • Isocarboxazid (Marplan)
  • Levodopa (Dopar, Larodopa)
  • Loratadine (Claritin)
  • Maprotiline (Ludiomil)
  • Meperidine (Demerol)
  • Methylphenidate (Ritalin)
  • Nortriptyline (Aventyl)
  • Oxybutynin chloride (Ditropan)
  • Orphenadrine (Norflex)
  • Parnate
  • Paroxetine (Paxil)
  • Phenergen
  • Phenelzine (Nardil)
  • Procainamide (Pronestyl)
  • Protriptyline (Vivactil)
  • Pseudoephedrine
  • Quinidine (Quinidex)
  • Salbutemol
  • Salmeterol
  • Selegiline (Eldepryl)
  • Sertraline (Zoloft)
  • Tegretol
  • Temaril
  • Tranylcypromine (Parnate)
  • Tricyclic antidepressants (Amitriptyline, Elavil)
  • Trimipramine (Surmontil)
  • Yohimbine

Also avoid the following herbs:

  • St. Johns Wort
  • Kava
  • Ephedra
  • Ginseng
  • Yohimbe
  • Sinicuichi

Using Tricyclic antidepressants within two weeks of taking MAOIs may cause serious side effects including sudden fever, extremely high blood pressure, convulsions, and death.

Using Fluoxetine (Prozac) within five weeks of taking MAOIs may cause high fever, rigidity, high blood pressure, mental changes, confusion and hypomania.

Using Meperidine (Demerol) with pharmaceutical MAOIs has resulted in deaths from a single dose.

Using cocaine with MAOIs may cause a severe increase in blood pressure, increasing the chances for stroke and cerebral hemorrhage and making it possible to overdose on a relatively small amount of cocaine. (A fatality has been recorded involving combining Peganum harmala and cocaine.)

Using Bupropion (Wellbutrin) within two weeks of taking MAOIs may cause serious side effects such as seizures.

Using Buspirone (Buspar) with MAOIs may cause high blood pressure.

Using Carbamazepine (Tegretol) with MAOIs may increase seizures.

Using CNS depressants with MAOIs may increase the depressant effects.

Using Dextromethorphan with MAOIs may cause excitement, high blood pressure, and fever, or brief episodes of psychosis.

Using Tryptophan with MAOIs may cause disorientation, confusion, amnesia, delirium agitation, hypomanic signs, shivering.

Using alcohol with MAOIs may cause side effects like angina (chest pain) or headaches. The headache may mask or be mistaken for hypertensive crisis caused by MAOI interaction.

Using Kava with MAOIs may result in hypotensive crisis (severe blood pressure drop).

Using Temaril with MAOIs may increase chance of side effects.

Special note to diabetics: MAOIs may change the amount of insulin or oral antidiabetic medication that you need. Notes on Diabetes and Ayahuasca.

Threads discussing specific meds:

asthma inhalers
Losartan (Cozaar)
St Johns Wort

How long do you have to stay off them before and after an Ayahuasca ceremony?

Depends on the drug. May be 24 hours, may be six months. Two to six weeks is typical, but do not guess. Find out for sure from your doctor.

Questions about food or medication interactions may be posted in this thread http://forums.ayahuasca.com/phpbb/viewtopic.php?t=7088
Or you can create a new thread in the Information Forum with your safety question.

59 Responses to “What foods and drugs need to be avoided?”
  1. Sabrina says:

    Hello! I have taking Betoptic for 4 years . drops for eyes , for high pressure. It is ok if I stop Betoptic 2 wweks before Ayauasca ? Thanks.

  2. kate says:

    Are SAM-E and lithium orotate okay to take? If they are taken, how long must one stop taking them before drinking the ayahuasca tea?

  3. Morgan Maher says:

    Hi Kate,

    Definitely a question to check in to on the forums.

    You’ll likely find lots of help there regarding those specifically

  4. Sushma says:

    I have type 2 diabetis and am on Metphormin. can I still participate

  5. Alfred says:

    I’m taking isotretinoin (accutane) for almost 4 months and I’m interested in taking ayahuasca. Is there any contraindication?


  6. Stanley says:

    Thanks for the comprehensive list and easy to follow guidelines. I do miss one substance on this list that can have adverse effects: melatonin (supplement used by people that have trouble falling asleep, artificial hormone that is normally naturally generated by the pineal gland when night falls). On the ceremonies i went to they warned for melatonin and with regular use they advise to seize using it for at least 3 weeks before drinking ayahuasca.

Check out what others are saying...
  1. [...] Food and medications to be avoided [...]

  2. Syrian Rue says:

    [...] http://www.ayahuasca.com/science/wha…to-be-avoided/ "lease note: Peganum harmala (Syrian rue) is a stronger MAOI than Banisteriopsis (Ayahuasca vine) and has potentially more serious interactions." time syrian reversibly inhibits mao-a but it does not mean that tyramine foods are A OKAY! because they can still cause quite a ass load of nausea to the user you just wont be hit by the dreaded serotonin syndrome as well large amoutns of beta carbolines will have a mao-b affinity just not large enough to cause the most problems with regular maoi's GS_googleAddAdSenseService("ca-pub-9888434945255495"); GS_googleEnableAllServices(); GA_googleAddSlot("ca-pub-9888434945255495", "RIU_skyscraper_header"); GA_googleFetchAds(); GA_googleFillSlot("RIU_skyscraper_header"); Not all suffering is necessary, Maybe no suffering is necessary. – Terence McKenna Reply With Quote + Reply to Thread « My Little Greenhouse | – » [...]

  3. [...] Ayahuasca works like poison control, soaking up toxins in the body, and pouring them out through your throat, to cleanse the body both spiritually and physically. For this reason, it’s important to eat healthy beforehand, and follow whatever dietary guidelines your spiritual group recommends. Usually this means a cleanse of only fresh organic fruits and vegetables for a couple days beforehand, and avoiding eating any processed food, heavy meats, or overripe bananas and avocados (those two are specifically singled out). [...]

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