Safety at the Temple
The safety of our guests is paramount. All the healers and facilitators who work at the Temple of the Way of Light have many years of experience holding ayahuasca ceremonies and overseeing the responsible use of ayahuasca in its traditional context.
Your well-being is our priority, both in and out of ceremony, as we guide you through deep personal healing and growth. We provide a caring, contained, and protected environment to work with ayahuasca and ensure your welfare at all times.
The Temple has implemented the following measures and practices as part of our risk-management program:
- Protocols for emergencies to minimize harm from any accident.
- Fully equipped first-aid kit including snake-bite anti-venom, anti-histamines, etc.
- Contract with local medical clinic in Iquitos in case of an emergency that requires outside assistance.
- 24-hour transport to Iquitos (journey time is 1.5 to 2 hours).
- Permanent communication with Iquitos via fully functional cell-phone network.
- Rigorous medical screening via questionnaire at booking stage.
- Medical doctor (not onsite) to check any guest medications prior to booking that may potentially contraindicate with ayahuasca, as well as offer medical advice for more complicated health cases.
- Written disclosure form that provides full and complete information about medical, environmental and other risks that are inherent in participating in our programs.
- 1 facilitator supervising and 2 carers (not drinking ayahuasca) assisting in every ceremony.
- After-ceremony care by sitter who stays on until 3am to 4 am in the ceremonial maloka.
- Highly experienced healers and facilitators.
- Support staff of 10 Westerners and over 50 local people working around the Temple.
- All ayahuasca provided at the Temple is simply ayahuasca vine and chakruna – no other admixtures.
In medical terms, ayahuasca has few contraindications, however in certain cases working with ayahuasca can carry health risks. If you have any heart, liver, kidney or other serious medical problems, you should inform us prior to booking and discuss your situation with a doctor who is aware of the issues taking ayahuasca may raise.
If you have a serious cardiovascular disorder, you should not take ayahuasca, as it slightly increases blood pressure. No alterations of liver function and other biochemical parameters have been observed after the administration of ayahuasca in the laboratory. Only a modulation of the immune system has been detected, but this is temporary and does not seem to have clear effects on health.
It is very important to consult with a physician if you are taking any medication regularly, or if you would need to take medication during the workshop at the Temple. The use of antidepressants and other psychotropic drugs may well be contraindicated for the use of ayahuasca, as well as the use of drugs metabolized by certain cytochromes. Not only psychotropic drugs may be contraindicated – so might any drug capable of interacting with MAO (MAO-Is: Monoamine oxidase inhibitors). The combined use of ayahuasca with drugs that use the same metabolic pathways can be dangerous. It is very important to consult a specialist.
If you have a chronic illness, it may be dangerous to stop taking your medication for some time with the intent to take ayahuasca. Please speak with your prescribing physician prior to changing your pharmacological protocol and inform us if you are taking medication so that we can check for contraindications with ayahuasca.
The alkaloids present in ayahuasca interact with the serotonergic system in different ways: the beta-carbolines (harmine, for example) are inhibitors of the MAO enzyme, which has its role in the degradation of serotonin and other neurotransmitters. Therefore, the use of ayahuasca in combination with other serotonergic pharmaceuticals (such as antidepressants) can potentially cause adverse reactions such as “serotonin syndrome,” which can have serious consequences for one’s health. We advise people who are receiving treatment with medication (including natural products), or under the effect of any drug that acts on the serotonergic system, to be extremely cautious when considering taking ayahuasca. Please see our medical guidelines for more information and contact us if you are interested in attending a workshop but currently taking medication.
Although not very common, there are cases of people who faint during the experience of taking ayahuasca. It is important to be aware that if a person gets up on a hard floor or with hard objects around, they can get hurt if they fall.
It is also important to take psychological safety into consideration. People with personality disorders or a history of mental disorders (such as borderline personality disorder, bipolar, schizophrenia, etc.) are at risk if they use ayahuasca. The Temple carries out a medical screening for all potential guests that evaluates the presence of the above-mentioned risk factors, among others. Ensuring a controlled context in which to work with ayahuasca, as well as adequate integration of the experience during and at the end of the workshop, are keys to reduce ayahuasca-related risks. Working with highly experienced healers and facilitators to ensure that issues are dealt with in a professional, caring, and controlled manner is also a critical factor in reducing risk. We treat the safety of our guests as of utmost importance and ensure that all measures, including 24-hour supervision, are adopted as and where necessary.
Provided the above precautions have been diligently taken, working with ayahuasca is safe. Fortunately, since 2007 and having facilitated healing journeys for thousands of guests, we have an exemplary track record and no serious issues (physically or psychologically) have ever arisen.
Respecting the Diet: Before and After an Ayahuasca Retreat
Due to a very limited number of past guests who have not adhered to dietary restrictions before and / or after leaving a workshop, we need to emphasize that maintaining the diet is an absolutely essential factor in the healing process. The three most fundamental restrictions before and after a workshop are street drugs (cocaine, ecstasy, heroin, etc), sexual activity, and pork. If a guest decides not to adhere to this critical advice after leaving the Temple, we cannot be held liable for the consequences (which can be severe psychological and energetic damage).
For the safety and well-being of all guests, if we suspect that street drugs have been taken or if it is clear that alcohol has been consumed immediately prior to arrival at the Temple, we reserve the right to refuse admission to a workshop.