Frequently Asked Questions

1. What is the Takiwasi Center?

Takiwasi is a Center for Drug Addiction Treatment and Research on Traditional Medicines. Since 1992 it has contributed to improving the health conditions of the population and to the conservation of the environment, developing innovative techniques and intervention models that preserve traditional Amazonian knowledge and articulate it with modern science and technology.

2. At Takiwasi do you only treat addictions?

Takiwasi Center, besides being a Therapeutic Community recognized by the Peruvian Government and dedicated to the treatment of people with problems of addictions and mental health, also offers alternative spaces for a therapeutic instance of self-exploration that are open to people who do not suffer of addiction. Among them we can name the Retreat/Diet and the Seminar.

3. At Takiwasi do you treat chronic and degenerative diseases?

Takiwasi does not have the infrastructure or the personnel to treat serious health issues. Only drug addicts and people with moderate health problems or psychological or existential problems are received. In any case, you can always make an inquiry that will be evaluated with all the attention needed.

4. Can I take ayahuasca in Takiwasi? Which is the price?

Ayahuasca sessions at Takiwasi are administered in a ritualized way within the framework of a more complete therapeutic process such as the Retreat/Diet or the Seminar. There is no possibility to participate to an isolated intake of ayahuasca, and this must always be anticipated by a preparation that includes the intake of purgative plants. People wishing to access the process of plants intake on an outpatient basis must adapt to the schedules and rules of the Takiwasi protocol, which, among other things, asks interested parties to fill out a Health Form and write a Motivation Letter that will be evaluated by the therapeutic team.

5. Can I visit the Takiwasi Center?

Takiwasi offers free access to its Library specialized in traditional medicine and to the Store where you can find natural products made by the Takiwasi Laboratory and the books and ikaros published by the Center. Takiwasi also receives people interested in visiting its facilities and its Botanical Garden specialized in Amazonian medicinal plants. The guided tour lasts approximately 1 hour and costs 10 soles for adults and 5 soles for minors. It is desirable that people announce their visit a little in advance in order to avoid disrupting scheduled activities with residents patients in treatment and ensure good care and availability. It is possible to receive groups of visitors with a specific program (for example, groups of students for conference-talk) if there is prior agreement on the conditions of the visit.

6. Does the Takiwasi Center receive volunteers?

Takiwasi Center can receive a limited number of volunteers from different nationalities and disciplines for a maximum period of 6 months. Takiwasi will give priority exclusively to those people who can offer a specific service to the Center and that respond to our interest and to a particular internal need. The volunteer is in charge of all his travel expenses, including food and accommodation, for the entire duration of his stay. The presence within the Center, in contact with patients with severe drug addiction, requires specific rules of conduct. For more information please see Volunteering at Takiwasi.

7. Are there centers similar to Takiwasi in other countries?

As far as we know, there is no other center in the world similar to Takiwasi, however, there are close and solid experiences such as the Runawasi Center in Buenos Aires (Argentina) or the Tham Krabok Buddhist Temple (Thailand) where the people treated are mainly heroin addicts. There are other more recent initiatives in several Latin American countries (Brazil, French Guyana, Suriname, Guatemala, Bolivia, etc.) and in other countries of the world. There are also places that offer the intake of iboga, an African plant, which allows an immediate reduction of the withdrawal syndrome in case of dependence on opiates (heroin, morphine, codeine, etc.). Finally, there is a support association for Takiwasi in France: La Maison qui Chante.

8. Is it necessary to be a Christian to receive treatment at Takiwasi or to participate in a retreat/diet or seminar?

The answer is no, obviously. Takiwasi is a non-denominational center, which means that it totally respects freedom of worship or religion. Our therapeutic team includes both people who practice a specific religious cult and agnostics. However, the spiritual dimension plays a central role within Takiwasi, and especially in the treatment of addictions, because traditionally it is a central part of the practices of Traditional Amazonian Medicine. Generally we witness a spirituality awakening during the treatment or the seminars. This is related in the first place to the roots of the patient, whether he is Animistic, Christian, Muslim, Jewish, etc. In fact, one of the main successes in the work of personal evolution of the patients treated is that they rediscover the transcendent level.

9. I want to learn to be a healer, does Takiwasi provide training?

No, Takiwasi is not a training center for future healers. Only people who require treatment are received. Training to be a healer requires a lot of time, self-denial and effort and is not achievable by anyone. Being a healer implicates to dedicate a whole life to this.

1. What kinds of addictions are treated at Takiwasi?

The treatment protocol can adapt to any type of addiction with or without substances. Due to its geographic location, Takiwasi has more enrollments of patients with consumption of basic cocaine paste, cocaine, alcohol, tobacco and marijuana. However, the arrival of patients from Europe and North America (20% of all patients are not Peruvians) has extended our experience to the consumption of crack, hashish, drugs, heroin, synthetic drugs, etc. We have also treated patients addicted to gambling, sex, pornography, criminal acts, computers, etc.

2. What are the requirements to be accepted for residential treatment?

Takiwasi accepts in residential treatment only people who present a problem of addiction, be it legal or illegal substances, or some addictive behavior (gambling, games, sex, computer, compulsive shopping, etc.). According to our Operating Authorization, Takiwasi can only receive male patients between 18 and 50 years of age. For those over 50 years the evaluation is made case by case, according to the medical condition and substance(s) of addiction. For cases of alcoholism, we also evaluate case by case, since the problem is more complex, and even more if the individual is elder and there is no adequate family support after treatment.

3. What further criteria are considered for the admission of patients?

It is important to consider that part of the treatment is based on the controlled use of purifying and purgative medicinal plants, which requires the candidate to maintain a certain health condition to be evaluated and considered for hospitalization. Sometimes we ask for further medical tests (ultrasound, blood tests, x-rays, etc.) to rule out any health condition that may not compatible with our model, especially for what refers to the use of medicinal plants. If health conditions are compatible with our therapeutic model, the motivation of the patient is also important and crucial. Starting from that begins the all process of admission. For this reason the interested party must write his autobiography that includes the reasons for searching treatment. Family intervention is important at the beginning, but more important is the patient's own involvement. It must be taken into account that we usually have a waiting list, so the evaluations are given depending on the date of submission of the requested documents.

4. How long does the treatment last? Is it possible to make it shorter?

The treatment usually lasts between 9 and 12 months. Experience teaches us that this duration, that of a pregnancy, is required in order to be reborn. In particular cases of minor poisoning or limitations of the patient's availability (for example, imperative family obligations), shorter residence times or staggered periods can be negotiated and agreed upon.

5. Is it mandatory to speak Spanish to be interned in Takiwasi?

The Center has an intercultural and multidisciplinary therapeutic team made up of psychologists and doctors from several countries, including France, the Czech Republic and Colombia. There is a possibility for people who speak exclusively English or French to be treated, however, the language of communication between all patients and therapists is Spanish and therefore it is necessary to be able to speak a minimum of Spanish in order to be admitted as a patient in Takiwasi.

6. When can I start my treatment?

There is no specific date to enter Takiwasi. Patients are welcomed throughout the year, when they are ready for admission, according to the availability of places and after establishing a commitment with the Center.

7. Is there the chance of an outpatient treatment for drug addicts?

Yes, there is an outpatient treatment for drug addicts who cannot be admitted to Takiwasi. Anyway, for men, it is recommended to start a residential treatment, in order to really face their problems and be able to heal efficiently.

8. A friend or a member of my family has problems with drugs, but doesn’t want to get treatment, what can I do to get him to go to your center?

The main requirement for entering Takiwasi is the person's will to heal. Patients are not accepted against their will, because there are no good results in this case. The doors of Takiwasi are always open and the patient voluntarily accepts to stay inside without leaving for the duration of his treatment. The only thing one can do for a friend or family member is to try to convince him to heal and make contact with Takiwasi. It’s a decision that must be taken by the person himself.

9. Can a patient communicate with family and friends during his stay at Takiwasi?

During the first three months of treatment there is no direct contact between the resident patient and outsiders. From the third month there is possibility of direct communication between family and patient according to clearly established conditions: by telephone, letters or visits to the Center. The patient does not have access to the internet during his stay. The 3-month period of no-communication with family and friends aims to allow the patient to focus exclusively on his process and on himself, and to avoid reproducing the classic intra-familiar communication errors that interfere with the healing process. However, the family has permanent and direct access to the therapeutic team to receive news on their relative.

10. What is the role of the family in the treatment of a patient?

Close relatives, especially parents, can play a key role in the success of treatment. When they accept to carry out their own therapeutic accompaniment in their place of residence or in Takiwasi, this allows them to avoid reproducing inappropriate models once their family member has left the Center, which could reactivate the addiction. The addiction always results from a family context where there were family behavior mistakes (what is called co-addiction) so it is very important for the family members to accept to undertake a personal process of comprehension of the wrong mechanisms that generated the addiction in their family. Takiwasi can give advice on several possible ways to perform this process.

Minimum rules of relationship between the family, Takiwasi and the patient are established, before commencing the treatment. These rules basically concerns money related issues, the freedom granted to the patient, the communication during his treatment. In case relatives do not wish or are not in the position to carry out this process, it does not prevent a patient from requesting and undertaking a treatment in Takiwasi.

11. What is necessary for the treatment to be successful?

The treatment gives good results for those who are really motivated and decided not only to get rid of their addition but to change their way of life. The best conditions are met when a patient understands that it is not just about stopping to consume but about facing and resolving the problems (affective, psychological, family, etc.) prior to consumption that have generated it. It is important to accept that the process will lead to meet the meaning of one’s life, gaining a new perspective on living in a different way, to elaborate a life project for one’s future. If family members actively collaborate in the process, the possibility of positive results grows enormously.

We insist on the need for the patient not to return to his place of origin (referring to the house of his parents or the places of old consumption) and avoid relating directly to people who have been part of his dependency structure. Our statistics indicate that the results improve a lot when the patients finish the whole process, leave with a clear and prepared life project and assume a follow-up after his stay in Takiwasi.

12. Are pharmaceuticals used during treatment?

The use of pharmaceuticals in the treatment protocol in Takiwasi is not considered. The only exceptions are in the case of emergency, dental treatment, collateral infection and parasite infestation.

13. How can one deal with the withdrawal syndrome without any medication?

From the day of his arrival, the consumption of all drugs (including tobacco) is suspended and the patient takes medicinal plants with the aim of purging and rapidly detoxifying his organism. Some plants induce strong vomiting and cause an immediate reduction of the withdrawal syndrome (cramps, diarrhea, headaches, nerves, anguish). They are associated with soothing and sedative plants, sauna, baths and energetic treatment. In the vast majority of cases, in a maximum of one week the patient recovers a normal sleep, an internal physical and psychic calm and achieves the absence of anguish and impulsive desire to consume drugs. All without any medication. For the abstinence syndrome, we found that is very efficient using purgative plants such as yawar panga (Aristolochia didyma) and other methods (saunas, enemas...).

14. What happens if, after a short time, the patient wants to leave the center, do you retain him against his will?

In no case Takiwasi uses methods of coercion or measures of force. The aim is to create a coherent, respectful and pleasant environment. The Center is open and no one is being held against their will. When a patient wants to leave the treatment before the end, we talk to him to understand the reasons of his decision. Afterwards, it’s up to him and if he wants to leave, nobody will stop him. If and when the patient wishes to return, the conditions of his stay will be renegotiated. There is no automatic re-entry.

15. Does Takiwasi treat teenager patients?

In Takiwasi adolescents are admitted only when there is an express therapeutic need and both the young man and his parents approve the procedure and after legal approval of the family judge. The interested party must clearly manifest his wish and agreement beyond the parents' eventual interest and accept to integrate into a process that includes adequate preparation, psycho-therapeutic accompaniment tools and post-ayahuasca follow-up. Usually this does not concern young people under 15 years of age. In those cases where there is a clear frame of contention and integration of the experiences lived with Ayahuasca and the other complementary methods, very positive results have been seen.

16. Why Takiwasi only treats men in residential modality?

Peruvian law does not allow men and women to stay in the same center. We once received women, but coexistence with men was problematic. The intake of plants awakens the libido, the sexuality and the affective-emotional world anesthetized by the drugs. However, the energy management of plants requires a period of sexual abstinence which is difficult to observe if there is proximity of the two sexes. In addition, many times when girls have drug problems, they are more difficult to be treated than men, and therefore require closer and deeper care. In general, women are less at risk of addiction, but when this occurs it is much more serious. We would like someday to be able to build a center specifically for women.

17. Why is sexual abstinence required during treatment?

The work with plants is an energetic work, and it is traditionally contraindicated to have sexual relations during the time of plants intake to avoid being victim of what is called “cruzadera”, ie disturbances due to energy mixtures with other people.

18. In what does Takiwasi’s therapeutic model consist?

The therapeutic model that is applied at Takiwasi is innovative and unique in its genre. It is characterized by the combination of the resources of psychological and medical conventional therapies with the ones of the Amazonian traditional medicines. Therefore, a curative tripod is conformed, comprising 3 complementary therapeutic workspaces, which provide mutual feedback:

- Community living. It follows the general model of therapeutic communities, offering an instance of self-observation and restructuring through the daily life and domestic chores.

- Psychoterapy. It takes into account a diversity of instruments for the individual or collective approach to the issues that arise with the cohabitation and as a consequence of the use of traditional medicine plants.

- Medicinal plants. They closely accompany the patients in each stage of the treatment, for both the initial detoxification and for the exploration of their own inner world. There is a special emphasis in the ritual and controlled use of medicinal plants with psychosomatic effects, in accordance with the Amazonian tradition.

19. What are the results of the treatment?

In 25 years of existence Takiwasi has treated almost 1000 people suffering with addiction problems with an average of one third of patients fully cured, a third clearly improved, but with signs of addictive behavior still present, and a third without notable benefits. This includes all ages and all social classes and cultural contexts: from the Amazonian peasant consuming alcohol, to the young student addicted to marijuana, the unemployed consumer of basic cocaine paste, etc. When considering only the patients who completed the entire process, the figure reaches 67% of positive results, according to internal self-evaluations carried out in 2002 and 2008. These results can be attributed to a therapeutic system that includes the use of medicinal plants Amazonian, a context of coexistence in community life and a psycho-medical accompaniment carried out by professionals.

20. Are all Takiwasi’s patients treated with Ayahuasca?

Ayahuasca is the central axis of the treatment at Takiwasi, reason why all the patients take Ayahuasca. However, the intake requires a previous selection and a preparation where we can finally rule out certain people. Apart from physical and psychic reasons, the evaluation is essentially focused on the ability of the patient to respect certain conditions (sexual and dietary rules) because if the answer is negative, the results of the intake can ultimately be harmful to him.

21. Which is Ayahuasca’s mechanism of healing addictions?

Ayahuasca serves, above all, to the conscious explicitation of the psycho-emotional mechanisms that led to addiction and the discovery of a transcendent sense of life that allows to give coherence to suffering and guide the subject towards constructive life goals. In short, Ayahuasca assumes a role of facilitator in psychotherapy with immediate integration effects that comfort the patient's motivation and stimulate him to continue in the liberating process of self-knowledge.

22. Is there a risk that people who have been addicted to other substances might become addicted to ayahuasca?

Ayahuasca does not in any way induce any dependence and we can affirm this with complete security that comes from more than 25 years of experience of using ayahuasca and following up on the sessions of thousands of different people as well as our own. Therefore it absolutely does not represent a process of substitution for an addictive drug. By the time people finish the process in Takiwasi they do not desire to continue drinking ayahuasca since they know the requirements that this work requires of them such as the dietary rules and sexual abstinence, the unpleasant taste of the brew, the difficult confrontations with their inner world, and the requirements of ritual and conduct. Ayahuasca teaches precisely that the access to the “other world”, to the symbolic world, inner or spiritual, is extremely necessary and requires sacrifice, vocation, motivation, and infinite respect.

23. Do you consider cannabis users as addicts?

The problem with cannabis is precisely that those who consume it by smoking it almost never feel addicted. In serious intoxications, manifestations arise that resemble psychotic outbreaks. The impregnation of cannabis is gradual and soft and therefore goes unnoticed, but in our experience is very problematic. We encounter problems of memory, concentration, access to emotions, increasing mentalization, spiritual falsification, etc. Finally, it can lead to a form of isolation in an imaginary world, an inability to concretize objectives in a concrete way.

24. What relationship do you maintain with a patient after the end of the treatment?

Patients are not required to maintain any relationship with the Center after their residence. However, a therapeutic follow-up is required to continue and strengthen the process that has been started and achieve a satisfactory social reintegration. We believe that this follow-up should be at least 2 years and ideally 5 years. In view of the specificity of the healing process in Takiwasi, which is little known by conventional therapists, it is recommended to carry out this follow-up stage in contact with the Center for greater ease. For patients from other countries, as far as possible they are advised on therapists from their region or country who are familiar with the innovative Takiwasi protocol. All patients that ended their treatment satisfactorily can also request a period of reinforcement, in a residential or ambulatory from, when they need it, to make an evaluation of their evolution, take plants and consolidate their reintegration process.

1. What is ayahuasca?

Ayahuasca is a brew traditionally used by indigenous peoples of the Amazon made from the combination of two plants: the vine ayahuasca (Banisteriopsis caapi) combined with the leaves of the bush chacruna (Psychotria viridis). This brew allows entering into altered states of consciousness and with the help of experienced healers it allows not only to cleanse the body, but also the emotions and the spirit.

2. Is ayahuasca legal?

In Peru the use of ayahuasca is legal, there is no impediment in consuming it. We are a legal and official center, belonging to the national health network. There is no problem at all with this matter, although the claim to westernized acculturation leads people to think that these medicines are obsolete, a matter of outdated indigenous people or frustrated westerns and so they treat it with contempt.

3. What kind of preparation is recommended to someone before they drink ayahuasca in Takiwasi?

At Takiwasi the ingestion of ayahuasca entails a previous preparation, which starts with the identification of the subject’s motivation. The purpose is therapeutic; the mere curiosity, the desire of trying “one more drug” or having recreational experiences are not compatible with the Center’s focus. An interview with a team’s psychotherapist is needed to rule out mental disturbances, which are incompatible with the intake of ayahuasca (schizophrenia, personality-disorders, etc.). The participants are requested to fill out a medical form in order to exclude medical contraindications and, if necessary, complementary medical tests are required. Every subject must previously ingest at least one purgative (emetic) plant.

Before the ingestion, it is required to cut out pork meat, strong condiments (hot pepper), and alcohol from one’s nutritional diet and the participants are required to refrain from the consumption of addictive substances (including Cannabis). It is recommended to avoid other unhealthy foods although they are not strictly prohibited (ice cream, fried snacks, abundant refined sugar, preserved food, spicy food, red meat…); a list of healthy foods is suggested. The alimentary preparation must be established at least one day before ingestion and must be continued for a minimum of 2 days after, although is recommended one week before and after drinking ayahuasca. In case of a process with multiple ingestions, it is required to maintain this diet throughout the whole process. It is recommended to avoid any perturbation of the physical-energetic body such as intensive physical exercise, agitated environments (discotheques, crowds…), strong odors (intense perfumes, essential oils, fuel vapors, burnt smells, etc.) and foreign energetic techniques (Reiki, opening chakras, channeling, massages, saunas…). Sexual abstinence is also recommended for the same period of time.

4. What are the main plants used in Takiwasi besides ayahuasca and what do they do?

Takiwasi uses several types of Amazonian or universal plants such as:

  • Purgative plants – used in ritual context they permit not only physical but also emotional and spiritual cleansing with each somatic zone having its symbolic correspondence. Besides their general purifying effect, each plant or preparation focalizes its effect on certain organs, corporal regions or physiologic systems, e.g. Vervain (Verbena litorales) on the liver; White lily (Lillium spp.) on the sexual and reproductive zone; Yawar panga (Aristolochia didyma) on the thorax or digestive and respiratory system; Mexican marigold (Targetes erecta) on the head.
  • Psychoactive plants – used during specific ceremonies (e.g. purgahuasca) or in the frame of traditional “diets”; the ritual context allows the amplification of their physical effects. At the same time, almost all of them have a purgative effect. They are also known as “teacher-plants” due to their ability to activate certain psychical functions (concentration, stimulation of the memory, capacity to make decisions, etc.) that the patient perceives as revelations, awareness, or “teachings”. In this group we can include tobacco and coca leaf extracts, which also allow the detoxification of individuals addicted to the same plants when used improperly.
  • Plants called “of contention” – these plants are given to the resident patients every night to gradually prepare them, physically and psychically, for the ayahuasca sessions and the diets. They have a gentle effect of detoxification, regulation of the nervous system, and the metabolism in general. Among them we mainly find Camalonga (Strychnus spp.) and Mucura (Petiveria alliacea), which are excellent purifiers of negative energy impregnations and good protectors on an energetic level.
  • Daily support plants, which are used to respond to daily discomforts - these plants strengthen body and mind, relax, tranquilize, facilitate digestion and sleep, ease pains, etc. These plants are used in different ways such as in infusions, decoctions, sauna, baths, rubbings, etc.

5. Are there people that should avoid taking ayahuasca?

The use of ayahuasca must be avoided in cases of dissociative psychic processes where delirious elements (psychosis) are manifest. In the same way, the cases called borderline must be evaluated individually to analyze each person’s capacity of integration of the symbolic experience, their motivation, their family environment, etc. On the other hand, the physical contraindications are reduced relatively when concerning purely organic problems. With caution, the persons who present with severe metabolic deficiencies (diabetes, uremia for example) or functional deficiencies (cardiac insufficiency for example) are excluded. This is also the case in advanced degenerative pathologies (lupus, multiple sclerosis, SLA, etc.). Due to its purgative characteristics, giving ayahuasca to people that could be harmed by the vomiting efforts (esophagus fissure, gastric ulcer, early pregnancy, etc.) is avoided.

As means of precaution at Takiwasi we don’t give ayahuasca to pregnant women with less than three months of pregnancy to avoid potential abortions by expulsion due to vomiting efforts. It is worth emphasizing that in the indigenous tradition, the pregnancy does not represent any contraindication and intake of Ayahuasca is even recommended, to give greater "force" to the fetus. Indigenous and mestizo healers, however, avoid accepting pregnant women in collective sessions, because their energy is very powerful and, according to them, could disturb other participants.

In Takiwasi menstruation is considered as the absolute contraindication for Ayahuasca ingestion, especially during the first days of the period. During her menstruation the woman not only performs a physical and physiologic cleansing of her reproductive organs but she also achieves an energetic cleansing. If we are talking about a woman with a strong charge of bad energies in her energetic body, these emanations become very toxic and they represent a real danger. They induce what is called a “bad trip” with a negative alteration of all perceptions, terrifying visions and sensations. These effects depend on the toxic charge on the energetic level of the menstruating woman and can vary from benign to extremely dangerous.

Another issue is the risk of a serotoninergic shock linked to the use of serotonin reuptake inhibitor antidepressants, or SSRIs, which has been indicated as a possible. With caution and to the extent possible, the therapeutic protocol undertaken by Takiwasi demands the suspension of those antidepressants three months before the beginning of the consumption of ayahuasca.

Takiwasi decides whether a person can participate or not to an intake of Ayahuasca after an analysis of his file (motivation-presentation letter, health form), an interview with a member of the therapeutic team and, if necessary, a medical consultation with a physician and the performance of complementary laboratory tests. The previous purge also allows to detect psychic or energetic blockages that are so important to discourage the candidate from taking Ayahuasca or to propose him another therapeutic protocol.

6. Is ayahuasca compatible with mental illness (schizophrenia, psychosis)?

It is not recommended to take ayahuasca for people who have serious psychiatric problems. Takiwasi does not accept in ayahuasca sessions people with such problems, unless these problems are temporary and due to the use of drugs. Neither the use of psychiatric medications is compatible with ayahuasca.

7. Why does vomiting occur during an experience with ayahuasca?

When the vomiting occurs at the beginning of the session, it often indicates that the person rejects ayahuasca out of fear or insecurity in the face of the unknown. In this case it does not have a purgative effect, but is an intention of avoidance, be it conscious or not. During the session certain people make an effort to vomit or to provoke vomiting in order to avoid the effects of ayahuasca. Besides that, spontaneous vomiting occurs when the psycho-physical effects of ayahuasca reach and remove whatever internal blockades the subject has. A confrontation is unleashed between the person’s resistances and the ayahuasca’s strength. If the resistances are more powerful, then the person doesn’t vomit. When ayahuasca defeats certain resistances, the subject vomits not only the ayahuasca, but also the corresponding blockades. In this case it acts as an energetic purge that purifies the subject on a physical, psycho-emotional and/or spiritual level. Thus, to the indigenous people, vomiting is a sign of healing.

8. Is it possible to consider ayahuasca as a medicine?

Ayahuasca is indeed a medicine, a great and powerful medicine. Therefore, it requires the usual clinical procedure used to evaluate the indications and contraindications to its prescription. It is also inserted in a therapeutic context where it is complemented with other forms of intervention (psychological follow-up, use of other plants, physical monitoring, etc.). Ayahuasca is also more than a medicine as commonly perceived in the western society, as it overcomes the search for psycho-physical health to answer questions about the meaning of life, to reach existential questions, self-knowledge, knowledge on human nature, and the discovery of the laws that govern the invisible world. Therefore, it inevitably includes a spiritual dimension and opens the person to deep semantic experiences that can sometimes be described as authentically mystical.

9. Are there specific illnesses for which ayahuasca might be beneficial?

We cannot say that there are specific illnesses for which someone can benefit from ayahuasca since it depends more on the patient than on the illness. For example, it cannot be assured that ayahuasca heals cancer yet there are people with cancer that are cured with ayahuasca. In general, due to its activity on the energetic body and its somatic engramations, ayahuasca potentially has good effectiveness on illnesses of psychosomatic origin. Ayahuasca is also a powerful instrument (when managed properly) in those pathologies which are normally classified as psychological or psychiatric and which actually result from a form of energetic perturbation with a spiritual origin, infestations due to magic practices, occultism, spiritualism, trans-generational malicious inheritances, etc. Ayahuasca demonstrated to be equally interesting for the obsessive-compulsive disorders (OCD). Very encouraging results were observed (at least temporarily) for Parkinson’s disease (and Parkinsonian syndromes) and would merit larger studies. In addition, ayahuasca is a natural anti-malarial and a vermifuge.

10. Why women can’t take ayahuasca during their menstruation period?

Ayahuasca works at an energetic level. During her menstruation, a woman is involved in a process of cleansing and reversing of her energy polarity. Taking ayahuasca at these times can cause strong discomfort, to the person and the other participants of the session. This prohibition has nothing to do with morality. The experience of healers has shown that it is better to avoid it for the good of all.

11. Is Ayahuasca a "hallucinogen"?

The most known effect of Ayahuasca is a powerful psychotropic effect that triggers visions. From this arises the question of how to characterize these visions. Those who criticize the brew speak of hallucinations, that is, of imaginations totally disconnected from reality. But from the point of view of Traditional Amazonian Medicine, this term is not adequate. Certainly, the images and sounds that the individual experiences are not related to external reality. However, they reflect reality, because the real is not only what we see and hear outside of us. That is what we call the outside world. There is also another side of the world, which we are constantly experiencing: our inner world composed of our thoughts, our desires, our memories, our moods... For traditional medicine, with ayahuasca almost the same thing happens as when we dream at night: our imagination produces images and sounds that have little to do with what is outside and still tell us a lot about ourselves. Unlike sleep, the effects of Ayahuasca are perceived by fully awake individuals. One of the functions of the healer is also to ensure that the participants in the Ayahuasca session do not fall asleep, that they have the courage and strength to face these visions that will be expressed in the form of very vivid images of the complexities, the sufferings, but also the forces and desires that are hidden in them.

12. Is Ayahuasca toxic?

Studies have proven that ayahuasca does not show signs of toxicity or risk of addiction, in accordance to the experience of local healers who use this preparation to heal and detoxify. Thanks to the periodic medical examination carried out among patients during the course of treatment, we can see a remarkable improvement in the hepatobiliary functioning, the general state and especially the immunological state. In addition, the main components of ayahuasca are produced at the endogenous level by our body and, therefore, are not alien to our physiology. This demonstrates its lack of toxicity. In addition, self-regulation mechanisms allow its elimination through vomiting or diarrhea when the effect is stronger than tolerance, either physical or mental.

1. What is a personal evolution seminar?

A personal evolution seminar is a space open to all non-drug addicts, eager to discover and experience the world of Amazonian plants to solve a personal, physical, psychological, emotional or spiritual problem. The seminars last two weeks during which all the infrastructure and experience of Takiwasi is made available to the participants

2. Who can participate in the seminars?

The Seminar is addressed to adults and motivated people who yearn for an authentic self-search with "feet on the ground and head in the stars" and for which they present a serious motivation.

Seminars are addressed to people who speak and understand French; an option for other interested participants (ie. Spanish/English speaking) could be the Retreat/Diet.

3. What are the requirements to participate in a seminar?

To participate in a seminar it is necessary to first contact Takiwasi who will ask the applicant to send a Motivation Letter and fill out a Health Form. Based on these two documents, the applicant will be asked for additional information or the application will be accepted.

4. Which are the differences between a seminar and a Retreat/Diet?

A seminar for French-speaking persons consists of a more in-depth work, which includes: 3 purges, 3 ayahuasca sessions and a 4-day retreat/diet, individual cures and individual and group therapeutic accompaniment in French by MD Jacques Mabit and Psychotherapist Fabienne Bâcle. This process is only for people who speak and understand French.

A retreat/diet process has the same therapeutic approach, less intense and includes: 1 purge, 1 ayahuasca session and 7 days of diet, with the individual therapeutic accompaniment Takiwasi’s psychologists (in Spanish, English and French). The two processes are little bit different but the purpose of the work is the same.

5. How to prepare to come to a seminar?

The ingestion of plants requires good physical conditions that are medically evaluated. To prepare, it is advisable to consume little red meat and alcohol a week before the seminar. Pork and its derivatives must be totally suppressed, as well as the intake of allopathic medications (pharmaceuticals). Sexual abstinence (sexual intercourse and masturbation) is also requested from the beginning of the plants intake process, as well as during the month following the seminar. The consumption of alcohol and marijuana is prohibited during the stay in Takiwasi (pre, during and post seminar period), because contraindicated with the work with the plants. It is necessary to bring summer clothes, a towel, some shirts with long sleeves, swimwear, light shoes (sandals). Bring a pair of walking shoes (sneakers, for example), a sweatshirt and a sweater to face the cold.

6. What are the post-seminar conditions and why are they necessary?

Once the seminar is over, and in a special way after the diet, the person is very open and sensitive from an energetic point of view. The energetic work of integrating the process with the plants is delicate, deep and needs a slow metabolization. This lasts until the plants taken are well assimilated. For this reason, abstinence from all sweet food is requested for two weeks. It is also necessary to abstain from sex, not to eat chili or pork, avoid consuming alcohol and to be close to strong odors for one month after the end of the diet. Not respecting these basic rules can cause serious disorders called “cruzaderas” (crossings).

1. What does Dieta in Takiwasi means?

The Retreat/Diet (commonly referred to as “dieta” in traditional medicine), is the deepest therapeutic work of Traditional Amazon Medicine, stronger and more effective than ayahuasca itself, and necessary when taking ayahuasca to reinforce its effect. It consists of a 7-day retreat in isolation, in a very simple hut (“tambo”) in the jungle, in the Botanical Reserve of Takiwasi, with the ritualized intake of the so-called "master plants", under a very strict diet and rules of corporal and psychic management.

2. What arises in the patient during the Retreat/Diet?

The issues addressed in the Retreat/Diet may include events and aspects of vital importance for each person, that are very intimate and strongly linked to blockages and traumas. In this practice, a special contact with nature and the inner self is created, and thus dedicated to a physical and energetic depuration that eliminates toxic food and other substances that block sensibility. This process allows to expand perception, re-connect with repressed emotions, cleanse and strengthen the body, and connect with the holy dimension. It favors dream production, remembrance of past situations and experiences that weren’t well-processed and deep introspection.

3. What are the conditions of the post-diet process and why are they necessary?

Once the diet in isolation ends, the people find themselves very open and sensitive from an energetic point of view. The energetic work of integrating the process with the plants is delicate, deep and needs a slow metabolization. This lasts until the plant taken is well assimilated. For this reason, abstinence from all sweet food is requested for two weeks. Sexual abstinence is also necessary (including masturbation), eating chili or pork or consuming alcohol is forbidden and one must avoid getting in contact with strong odors until one month after the end of the diet.

During the first two weeks after the “cut” of the diet, it is especially recommended: seeking to stay in a calm environment, with peace and nature; to avoid heavy environments, with a lot of smoke or noise; do not smoke tobacco and even less marijuana; avoid overloads with odors or perfumes; in case of health problems, avoid prescription drugs and resort to natural methods or remedies (homeopathy, plants, bathrooms, etc.). Not respecting these basic rules can cause serious disorders called “cruzaderas” (crossings).

4. How to prepare to a diet?

The intake of plants requires good physical conditions which are medically evaluated. To prepare, it is advisable to consume little red meat and alcohol a week before the diet. Pork and its derivatives must be totally suppressed, as well as the intake of allopathic medications (pharmaceuticals). Sexual abstinence (sexual intercourse and masturbation) is also requested from the beginning of the plants intake process, as well as during one month after the end diet. The consumption of alcohol and marijuana during the stay in Takiwasi (pre, during and post diet) is prohibited, because they are contraindicated in the work with the plants. Participants must arrive at least one day before the start of the process. It is necessary to bring summer clothes, a towel, some shirts with long sleeves, swimwear, light shoes (sandals). Bring also a pair of walking shoes (sneakers, for example), a sweatshirt and a sweater to face the cold.

5. What is a diet plant?

Diet plants are also called "master plants". This name refers to a great variety of plant species that have been used by man since ancient times in religious rituals, for self-exploration and to gain knowledge. These uses given by man are associated in general with the psychoactive properties of these plants and their capacity to modify the ordinary state of consciousness. The choice of the plant is made taking into account the psychophysical requirements of the patient and the characteristics of the plant, sometimes with very precise indication. Because of their teaching quality, the content of dreams and visions during the diet give indications not only for the patient but also of a general nature. Healers who use these plants know what effects to expect from each one on the physical and psychic levels and our observation confirmed the veracity of their appreciations. For example, some people understand what they must do to improve their daily lives and some receive indications on how to cure certain diseases, either for themselves or for others, to the point that many healers were initiated in the course of a diet, while they were healed themselves.

6. What one must bring to a Retreat/Diet?

It is not possible to take any beauty or cleaning product (soap, perfume, toothpaste, shampoo, conditioner, repellent, essential oils, etc.) to the retreat/diet since the minor odor can seriously affect the energy work. This includes any product that may have an odor, such as oil paintings, nail polish, candles, incense, etc. The participant will only have with them water and a special soap made by the Takiwasi Laboratory. Likewise, one can’t bring music equipment, radio, cell phone, clock, money or personal documents. Takiwasi is not responsible for loss or deterioration of valuables that one could bring to the diet. Participants can only bring cotton clothes, a towel, a coat, a flashlight and spare batteries, 2 to 3 books and a notebook to write or draw. No extra food is allowed other than the one proposed by the Center.

7. Can menstruating women participate in the retreat/diet?

The energy charge of women during menstruation is not compatible with the energies mobilized during the ayahuasca sessions, so if they are menstruating they will not be able to participate in the ayahuasca session that precedes the retreat/diet. This therapeutic precaution does not have a moral character; it comes from the fact that menstruation strongly disturbs the process of purification. We ask you to take this into consideration when choosing the date in order to take full advantage of the experience in Takiwasi. No exception can be made in this regard. However, the menstrual period does not affect the participation in the purgative plant intake and in the process of retreat/diet itself.

8. Why is sexual abstinence required as a condition of the post-diet process?

The work with plants is an energetic work, and it is traditionally contraindicated to have sexual relations during the period of plants intake to not have what is called “cruzadera”, i.e. disturbances due to energy mixtures with other people. The energetic work of integrating the process with the plants is delicate, deep and needs a slow metabolization.

9. Are there people who should not take ayahuasca?

The use of ayahuasca must be avoided in cases of dissociative psychic processes where delirious elements (psychosis) are manifest. In the same way, the cases called borderline must be evaluated individually to analyze each person’s capacity of integration of the symbolic experience, their motivation, their family environment, etc. On the other hand, the physical contraindications are reduced relatively when concerning purely organic problems. With caution, the persons who present with severe metabolic deficiencies (diabetes, uremia for example) or functional deficiencies (cardiac insufficiency for example) are excluded. This is also the case in advanced degenerative pathologies (lupus, multiple sclerosis, SLA, etc.). Due to its purgative characteristics, giving ayahuasca to people that could be harmed by the vomiting efforts (esophagus fissure, gastric ulcer, early pregnancy, etc.) is avoided.

As means of precaution at Takiwasi we don’t give ayahuasca to pregnant women with less than three months of pregnancy to avoid potential abortions by expulsion due to vomiting efforts. It is worth emphasizing that in the indigenous tradition, the pregnancy does not represent any contraindication and intake of Ayahuasca is even recommended, to give greater "force" to the fetus. Indigenous and mestizo healers, however, avoid accepting pregnant women in collective sessions, because their energy is very powerful and, according to them, could disturb other participants.

In Takiwasi menstruation is considered as the absolute contraindication for Ayahuasca ingestion, especially during the first days of the period. During her menstruation the woman not only performs a physical and physiologic cleansing of her reproductive organs but she also achieves an energetic cleansing. If we are talking about a woman with a strong charge of bad energies in her energetic body, these emanations become very toxic and they represent a real danger. They induce what is called a “bad trip” with a negative alteration of all perceptions, terrifying visions and sensations. These effects depend on the toxic charge on the energetic level of the menstruating woman and can vary from benign to extremely dangerous.

Another issue is the risk of a serotoninergic shock linked to the use of serotonin reuptake inhibitor antidepressants, or SSRIs, which has been indicated as a possible. With caution and to the extent possible, the therapeutic protocol undertaken by Takiwasi demands the suspension of those antidepressants three months before the beginning of the consumption of ayahuasca.

Takiwasi decides whether a person can participate or not to an intake of Ayahuasca after an analysis of his file (motivation-presentation letter, health form), an interview with a member of the therapeutic team and, if necessary, a medical consultation with a physician and the performance of complementary laboratory tests. The previous purge also allows to detect psychic or energetic blockages that are so important to discourage the candidate from taking Ayahuasca or to propose him another therapeutic protocol.

1. What is meant by spirituality in Takiwasi?

The concept of spirituality in Takiwasi is understood from the body as an exploration of the links of the human being with the invisible world, both internal (unconscious) and external (energies of nature and life). This leads to explore, through induced and controlled modified states of consciousness, the memories engrammed in the patient's body that allow them to access semantic experiences, carriers of meaning for their life. In these MSC one can live peak experiences of death-rebirth, of resurgence of deep memories and even transgenerational memories, of connection with nature, of discovery of a transcendental dimension in human life, which are highly healing.

2. Is Takiwasi a denominational center or linked to any specific religion?

Takiwasi is a non-profit, apolitical, non-denominational association in which people are always accepted whatever their religion or if they do not have religion. This is not a criterion for choosing patients or visitors. However, most of the people who work in Takiwasi are Catholics. In Takiwasi there is a consecrated chapel and a dedicated Catholic priest who is responsible for the spiritual accompaniment of patients and others who wish. The spiritual or religious activities that take place in the institution are never mandatory, each patient being free to participate or not, according to their faith, their belief or their life philosophy.

3. Is it necessary to be a Christian to receive treatment in Takiwasi or to participate in a retreat/diet or seminar?

The answer is no, of course. Takiwasi is a non-denominational center, which means that it totally respects freedom of worship or religion. Our therapeutic team includes both people who practice a specific religious cult and agnostics. However, the spiritual dimension plays a central role within Takiwasi, and especially in the treatment of addictions, because traditionally it is a central part of the practices of Traditional Amazonian Medicine. Generally we witness an awakening of spirituality in the course of treatment or seminars. This relates in the first place to the roots of the patient, whether Animistic, Christian, Muslim, Jewish, etc. In fact, one of the main successes in the work of personal evolution of the patients treated is to rediscover the transcendent.

4. Why does prayer play an important role within the center?

Prayer is a practice that allows you to communicate with the Divine to ask, thank or simply reaffirm the faith. Today, it has become almost obsolete and is reserved for religious cults or, in general, only arises in case of great danger or anxiety. However, prayer in the past was a therapeutic weapon for body and soul. In the same way, local healers generally use prayer in their ceremonies, in the form of invitations or calls to the entities of their pantheon. To respond to the request of the patients themselves, we considered it appropriate to use prayer as an instrument of healing, rebalancing of energy and communication with the transcendent world. It is used individually or collectively in ritual sessions or outside of them, but in any case without forcing anyone or going against the one’s beliefs and the freedom of each person.

5. I cannot come to Peru, what do you recommend me to doing to help in my personal or spiritual search?

There are several techniques or methods that also allow a spiritual or personal search. Vipasana Buddhist meditation sessions are excellent. There are centers around the world that propose them. At a Catholic level, retreats with spiritual exercises of San Ignacio de Loyola also work very well. Other possibilities are the rebirth or family constellations, the deprogramming of emotions by eye movements, etc.

6. Nowadays many energy channeling techniques exist (Reiki, Channeling, Psychophony, spiritism, occultism, automatic writing, etc.). What is your opinion on this subject?

Our opinion is that all techniques that contact the spiritual worlds without knowing what kind of energy is involved, are dangerous. The world of energies is not all white. There are also black, destructive entities that take advantage of all these techniques to disturb people that are on a sincere quest. In our therapeutic experience Reiki especially shows us to be one of the greatest and constant sources of spiritual infestation. It is a spiritual danger greatly ignored and underestimated, so it seems useful to convey our experience in relation to this issue and our reflection on this social phenomenon, in order to warn about its use.

For more information read the article Reiki or spiritual deceit.