We have received many e-mails from people who have read the article: Ayahuasca: Dispelling Myth – Harm vs. Healing
We created this new page on 12-19-2015 – to share some of the e-mails and messages which are frequently sent to us from numerous individuals who have been traumatized, hospitalized, harmed, or induced into psychosis via. Ayahuasca “healing” ceremonies and retreats.
They asked us to share their experiences; to further inform others of the dangers, contraindications, and illegitimacy which can be involved in this practice.
If you would like to submit an experience or expose, please use the “Leave a Reply” box at the bottom of this page.
Do not hesitate to include information about the retreat center you attended. Many of these operations are endangering the health of fellow human beings, and taking no responsibility- which is a quality that should never be acceptable in authentic healing arts practice.
You can submit your report anonymously or request for your e-mail to be made public as a resource for others.
12/25/15 – E-mail from Elsa (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Thank you for writing this. I read your story on Ayahuasca, your words couldn’t have hit closer to home.
I’ve been experiencing depression, anxiety, depersonalization disorder, panic and distorted vision since my ceremony. Its been 3 weeks since I did it and I’ve been to countless shamans, spiritual healers and even a transcendental psychologist. I feel better for a moment and then it goes down hill again. I’m becoming more scared and freaked out about this.
I asked the shaman before doing it if anything like this could happened and he swore nooooo, never, everything will be fine!
He no longer takes responsibility and he said that If I wanted to fix myself it would cost me an extra 500 dollars. I don’t know what to do anymore. I had never suffered from mental illness before and I had never taken drugs. I’m thinking about going to a psychiatrist and but I’m afraid I’ll get medication that could make it worst or prevent from getting better on the long run. If anyone can help me, I would really appreciate it.
12/20/15 E-mail from P.J. (Remaining Anonymous)
I just read your article on the Holistic Evolution site and it was like a godsend. Your experience mirrored my own in so many ways. Could you let me know what have you done since then to recover and how far along you are now?
My experience was in August and for over a month afterwards I had waking nightmares/flashbacks where I would rise out of bed sweating and shaking to the point where I had to start taking sleeping pills and anti anxiety meds. I still have nightmares and panic attacks a couple times a week and full of anxiety daily, which I never felt before I also had a practice of Meditation, Yoga and fitness, but as you mentioned these do not hold up to the intensity of the aftereffects. I’ve also been doing EMDR therapy for the nightmares (PTSD), meeting a Christian pastor, doing talk therapy and trying to slowly ween off sleeping pills.
Any insight you could give on how to get closer to full recovery would be most appreciated. Feel like it’s grappling in the dark without a map.
Thank you so much,
12/19/15 – Facebook Message from Samuel Garcia (Sam2320@outlook.com)
Hey, I saw your post on the Ayahuasca group. I took ayahuasca a year and a half ago back in Colombia, and was really bad, I’d say I was in a psycothic state. I am taking medication because of this, but I still can’t be the same or have a good quality life. My friend also from Colombia, is still experiencing these kind of symptoms and she took ayahuasca around 7 years ago. Do you know anyone who can help us either in South America or North America or anywhere but we need help. Please . I cannot function normally, my mind…. It has been like hell
12/17/15 – E-Mail from D.B. (Remaining Anonymous)
Thank you very much for your article about the dangers of ayahuasca.
Below is the summary of my own bad experience with ayahuasca, and then my question about what can be done to raise awareness.
I went to a center in Iqitos last September, with good reputation and plenty of excellent reviews on ayadvisor.
I had spent a lot of time researching the subject before, I thought I was ready. (And I had been practising medition intensively for ten years before btw)
I will not go into details, but I went there through horrific experiences of relentless spiritual attacks, spirit possession and through a psychotic state during one ceremony.
I too experienced the total lack of support of the center’s staff (one owner who is never there, one facilitator, that’s it…). No one is sober during the ceremonies.They promise plenty of support, debriefing session the next day etc…in reality it’s ridiculous, how did it go? oh? not so good, yeah man, that’s the power of aya, you’ve got to face your shit, it’s all on you…
I ran away after the 3rd ceremony, with the gut feeling this center was a “trap” and the people running it were under the influence of something evil, even if , yes sure, they “looked” benevolent at first.
I have never been so scared, terrified and miserable in my life.
And, yes I later discovered there was a lot of datura in the brew…
I ran away from Iqitos, as far, as fast as I could.
I have been very lucky not to experience deep trauma in the following weeks, extremely lucky that the psychotic state was mostly during the ceremony and I managed to “solidify this reality for good within the next 48 hours.
Now, here is my question: what can we do to raise awareness?
All this bad side of ayahuasca I have only discovered after coming back, when doing specific research.
Ayahuasca forums and facebook groups are swarmed by people with cult mentality, swearing aya is always good, for everyone and everything
I haven’t even left a bad review for that center on ayadvisor because I’m afraid.
What I saw, what I experienced, the evil power I faced during the ceremonies, I never want to have to deal with them again, to have anything to do with them, with “that”.
And I am not the only one.
Many people are I believe.
When your experience goes wrong, terribly wrong, the whole aya community is turning onto you, saying it’s your fault, your shit, something is wrong with you. It’s never the fault of ayahuasca, of the shaman, of the center, it’s you, you are bad, you are wrong.
So no one dares to say anything, when it goes wrong, you just run away and go in silence.
And pray not to have long term PTSD.
(a lady I met on the aya fb page ran through 10 horrific ceremonies in Iqitos this summer, doing it again and again because she thought she had to deal with “her” darkness, and was encouraged to do so by the center. She is now in total PTSD, borderline psychotic, closely followed by her therapist, unable to sleep, paranoid..etc etc etc…)
Do you think some of us could get together and start an alternative group on facebook for example where people would be free to talk about their bad experiences?
I don’t know.
I feel like something must be done to protect others from the horrible experience I went through, and many others too.
Thanks for your article anyway, well written, dispassionate and very informative.
Hello and thank you for raising awareness around ayahuasca!!
I am on psych meds because of psychotic labelled symptoms ever since I took it, which was more than 10 years ago, and I experienced really hard times.
Trying to get off meds did not work until now.
And I am glad to be still alive.
Somebody I knew died related to Ayahuasca.
The reason for my breakdown, was, i guess, in the first place the amount of Datura (Brugmansia) and the irresponsible and incompetent people who offered the ceremonies (whom I trusted too much) …
I think taking Ayahuasca always involves risks, but it is seriously dangerous without competent company.
Hi Elisa, I am sorry to hear what you went through. A friend went through something similar. Can I ask – where did you take the ayahuasca – was it in North America? Thanks.
I am sorry for your friend.
I took it in South America.
Hello, I am a mod at the Ayahuasca forums at http://www.forums.ayahuasca.com. I wanted to let you know that someone posted your article on our forums yesterday and it was immediately stickied in the “Basic Information and Safety” section at the top of the forums. (See http://forums.ayahuasca.com/viewtopic.php?f=12&t=41322 )
There are far too many people pouring like those at your retreat center, who are great when things are smooth sailing but have no idea what to do if someone has a crisis. And there is no accountability.
Ayahuasca is a powerful medicine because it opens up very deep layers of ourselves. Opening those doors can help people release what is within them, but it also opens them up to be even more vulnerable in certain ways. It is something like surgery, the body can be opened to remove a tumor but there is the potential for unwanted things to enter as well. (You list “entity possession” as one of the way of dismissing or justifying people’s problems, when that is actually a serious danger with Ayahuasca. I found your mention of a sense of “foreign ideation” especially significant.)
Anyway, I just wanted to let you know that there is a site for support for people having problems with Ayahuasca. People need not fear ridicule, judgment, or blame-the-victim on our forums. We are also the only Ayahuasca site to my knowledge that allows uncensored reports of sexual abuse around Ayahuasca ceremonies. We are trying to counter the cult-like mentality that says that nothing bad can happen with Ayahuasca.
By the way, Santo Daime, despite its reputation, is no safer and its church leaders are every bit as incompetent and into denial and victim-blaming as any retreat leaders.
Good luck with your work.
I first initially thought ayahuasca would help me heal my depression judging on the stories I read online. I was desperate to heal trauma and my depression. This was not the case after one ceremony it initially opened me up too much and I never shut down. My 3rd eye is perpetually open which started to make every day life harder to deal with because I was overloaded with information constantly and didn’t know what to do with it.
It also lead me to experiencing more traumatic events as I was unknowingly involved with someone from the circle who was a black magician. This person spiritually attacked me and almost killed me. I became possessed and it made my mental illness worse. Something took over my body and my life force and now I have lost my health my mind and spirit.
There are so many alternative ways to healing and Ayahuasca can be very dangerous because you open yourselves up to forces no human being has any control over. And also whose to say the people leading ceremony really care about your wellbeing. I know I have lost 2 years of my life and am not sure I can recover from what I gone through.
Thanks for sharing your stories. It’s important that people with stories like yours are heard, to counter the unrealistic enthusiasm towards ayahuasca that is being promoted by the media as well as by carefully constructed scientific studies. I wanted to let you all know of some possible resources to help you cope and recover from your experiences, and that you can share with others. Raven Ray has started a project called the Aftercare Project (aftercareproject.org) specifically to address issues like these. It’s still getting off the ground, but she provides a list of other resources available here: https://theaftercareproject.org/helpful-resources/
I hope that helps. Best wishes.
Avoid Tierra Mitica in Peru. It is run by a greek businessman with an extreme narcissistic personality disorder, apparently trying to form a cult around himself.
I am still trying to recover from the horror that I experienced during my ceremonies in Peru. Pure evil I saw. It tried to overpower me and kill the shaman, other people in the circle and myself. I attempted suicide twice. Lost all my savings, my life, my mind. For 1.5 years I have been living in a state of perpetual fear and psychosis. I wish I knew how to get out of this.
Pavel! How have you been? What has worked for you? Have you found anything in particular that heps?
Hi Eowyn, thank you for the message. Apologies for the delay in replying – things have been difficult. I use a number of plants, such as CBD oil, St. John’s Wort, Ashwaganda, Milk Thistle, etc. I am also learning to meditate. But things are still difficult. I was glad to come across this page and see that there are other people like me, that I am not alone. I have a question for you: when you went to your first ceremony, did you choose to go there or did someone invite you to come? I hope you can answer.
I too am suffering from bouts of severe depression and suicdal thought. I took a full cup about trio years ago. Had a mental break and landed in the mental hospital whispering non sense. Complete insomnia for 3 to 4 months. One word describes my flashbacks. Complete hysteria And schizophrenia. I had a normal mental mindset my whole life until now.
Jamie! How have you been? Its been 1.5 years for me now and I still can´t get my mind back fully. Have remedies have you tried? are you still on medication? I´m desperate for help, I can´t live my life like this.
I took Ayahuasca 1.5 years ago and I´m still not well. I had a psychotic breakdown and was doing better for the past 3 months and then went downhill again. With depression, anxiety, fear, distorted vision and just like a sense of hopelessness. I´ve seen neurologists, shamans, reiki healers, psychiatrists, been in therapy for a year and the list goes on. I´ve also become extremely OCD with thoughts and ideas. I´ve been suicidal several times and I just don´t know how to get my life back.
My psyche is still out of it. I can´t seem to snap out of it. I don´t know what to do. How do I get my mind back and my life back? I´m so tired of living like this.
If someone knows help my email is elsamalandrino[at]hotmail.com
Hi Elsa, I have just sent you a message.
This is a message for D.B. whose email is quoted above.
Hello D.B., you wrote: “…a lady I met on the aya fb page ran through 10 horrific ceremonies in Iqitos this summer, doing it again and again because she thought she had to deal with “her” darkness, and was encouraged to do so by the center. She is now in total PTSD, borderline psychotic, closely followed by her therapist, unable to sleep, paranoid..etc etc etc…”
That was in 2015? I would really like to know if she is doing better now. I also, like her, pushed through 10 ceremonies and experienced something similar.
I would to say that I drank two years at a retreat with a ancient shamanic center in Ecuador. I experienced spiritual and psychotic attacks which still continue. I tried taking psychotic pills but mad things worse. The worse part is that I now hear voices all coming from both natural source and my surrounding internally and all around. I recommend everyone stay away …
Hi guys, I just entered my 5th month after attending one ceremony on which I took 2 doses. Handling the first dose wasnt easy but after (stupidly) taking the second, my nightmare began. I had a horrible experience which lasted for 4 or 5 hours, when it finally ended, the shaman didnt say anything useful and i was left to integrate my experience the best I could. My troubles started a couple of weeks ago when I started to feel disoriented, dizzy, not myself. I am currently experiencing anxiety, constant fear, panic attacks and depersonalization. Also, I haven’t been able to get a good night’s sleep for months which makes the whole experience even worse. I don’t know what to do. Is there ANYONE who got better somehow to give me some hope? 😦
I’m sorry to hear what you’ve experienced.
After writing this article, I have healed and transformed myself to a degree- that I am not the same person I was when I wrote it.
Healing from what you are going through is very possible, as is transcending the limitation you currently face. Send me an e-mail and I’d be happy to share with you my process and offer some insight.
Well, it’s been a year and 7 months since I took ayahuasca and I’m still suffering. I tried everything non pharmaceutical but it didn’t work so I ended up on an antipsychotic. I was doing really well for almost 6 months and then tried to wean myself off the antipsychotic. I ended up right back into a state of otherworldly anxiety, fear, panic, insomnia. Has anyone been successful on getting off antipsychotics from ayahuasca induced psychosis?
You can email me email@example.com
I am at about 4.5 years after a traumatic “ayahuasca” trip (I believe it was actually a harmala brew) It induced ptsd symptoms that worsened over the course of a year. Over the next years I remained extremely anxious, trying everything to get past it and just trying to live my life which steadily lost all joy and meaning, I was extremely confused and distressed throughout, stuck in repetitive scary thought patterns which just got more irrational and scary, and later I became very depressed and suicidal as I felt my life passing me by while in this state. Relationships and friendships suffered, I felt utterly alone and unable to speak up.
But I have been in real recovery mode for about a year now, taking CBD and having a stable environment has helped. So has therapy and learning about trauma. I am recovering steadily now and parts of myself and my psyche that were lost are returning. My advice would be, if you can, find somewhere you feel utterly safe to heal. Take supplements like CBD and ashwagandha and just keep asking for help, keep reaching out, I believe in the right circumstances every mind can recover, I had to learn to let the traumatic feelings out… which would result in me hyperventilating and physically reliving the experience…it was distressing but afterward the tension would be lessened and I learned to trust my body and mind to return to normal. I believe the Wim Hoff breathing method might be helpful for dealing with the stress. I also used trauma release exercises to induce a physical release of stress.
It was absolutely the hardest thing I have ever been through… I can never get those years back and I am trying to become less angry and sad about it …it makes me feel a lot better to find out I’m not alone.
I really feel for everyone who has posted here because it.s so hard.
I would love to know if there is a forum or group about this topic so we can support each other.
I was in Peru last month. I was at king of compassion iquitos. Willy and jerry run this place. i never met jerry only on emails. he was in Canada when i arrived. i only dealt with willy a native. His vibes from the first meeting i felt strange around me. my first ayahusca was terrifying i sow lots of spirits and felt like i was losing my mind nothing positive. willy was in the room took ayahusaca and i felt like he connected his energy to mine if it makes any sence. Anyway the next day i felt fear all day and the 2 nd time to do ayahusca as the day went by i kept hearing in my head dont do it dont go back. spoke to willy about my fear dont worry you are imagining he said. At 5 pm 3 hours before my 2nd ayahusca my heart was beating so fast. I was in fear. 8 pm we went to the temple. i was so scared but still drank it and when the candles went off i heard in my heard get out now!!!and the taste of the 2 nd ayahusca was even more discusting…I looked for my torch and flashed them willy and the shaman i screamed i want out now!!!!they started to laugh.No you have to go through it now that its in your system.i said no i sow a 2ltr water bottle and drank it all and forced myself t vomit. Nothing came out. I started to feel the DMT kicking. As i tried to walk my legs were heavy i sow spiders and i kept on walking towards my room. Once i got to my room i locked the door. Kept lights on and went through visions crazy experience. But i m so happy i got out even though after drinking it. I really believe something really bad was gone happen to me. Ayahusca is a nasty shit.I really dont advice it. It a trip to hell.the people running the place are not sincere only after money.