Understanding the Dieta Protocol for Participating in Ayahuasca Ceremonies

Dylan Charles, Editor
Waking Times 

Many people are finding their way to the Amazon to experience plant medicine ceremonies, or are finding local events hosted by traveling shamans and facilitators. As shamanic medicine traditions morph into newer westernized versions, much of the esoteric and important cultural knowledge about how best to prepare for and receive these plant medicines is being lost.

Of particular note is the ‘dieta,’ a commonly heard term describing the ascetic prescriptions in preparation of a ceremonial gathering. Because there is no universal dieta protocol that all ayahuasca traditions uniformly adhere to, understanding the value of the dieta is a matter of personal experience, but it should be understood that there is a very definite spiritual component of such preparations.

“Dieta” is a Spanish term for the preparation of the body mind and soul to participate in a ceremonial experience of any type. The essence of the “dieta” is to learn to channel and focus ones’ energy into the grove of unlimited life. ~Jonathon Miller-Weisberger

  • In it’s essence, the dieta is an act of self-control, and self-control is the cornerstone of self-mastery. Self-mastery is the most noble and virtuous reason to drink Ayahuasca, for only those who first master themselves can be of sincere help in transforming the world.

    To shed some light on this issue, and to offer clarity for anyone interested in Ayahuasca, the following outline of a proper dieta will be of great value. The protocol relayed here is written by author and ethno-botanist Jonathon Miller-Weisberger, specifically for the retreats he offers in Costa Rica and in the Upper Amazon. With decades of experience with direct involvement in the ancestral Yagé tradition of the Siekopai people, his recommendations for dieta are quite unique compared to typical ayahuasca tourism. 

    His book, Rainforest Medicine: Preserving Indigenous Science and Biodiversity in the Upper Amazon expounds on the unique and colorful cosmology embedded within the Siekopai tradition of drinking Yagé, and on the need to preserve their culture and ancestral plant knowledge along with sharing the experience of drinking medicine. 

    Years of experience, study and insight into ceremonial protocol and dieta is shared here in a thorough explanation of what the dieta is, why it is important, and what other elements of ceremonial preparation are advantageous. 

    For more on this, please visit Rainforest Medicine Gatherings:

    The following protocol, for participating in ancestral rainforest medicine ceremonies, has three principal intentions.

    • To facilitating your understanding of how to prepare the body for the experience.
    • To allow you to be more receptive in receiving the full therapeutic effects.
    • To avoid contrary effects and set backs on your life voyage.
  • This “dieta” Protocol is according to the tradition of “Our Creator’s Multicolored People,” who taught the methods of drinking and preparing Yagé to the remote ancestors of the current day Siekopai people of the Upper Amazon, as a method for spiritual self-development and as a spiritual medical science. The ceremonial drinking of Yagé was transmitted from celestial immortals, a sacred spiritual gift to assist the Siekopai people. In its most practical sense as an indigenous healing science for wellness, strength and renewal. Among the Siekopai, the few remaining elders who know the tradition, attest that this plant medicine tradition has far-reaching implications for ameliorating human suffering the world over. And that it was taught to them not to keep to themselves but to teach. To teach people of many walks of life who are called to receive the energy of the medicine, who are in need of healing, and who see the need to rectify their imbalances, and for those who are searching for communion with the energies of the spiritual realms.


    While there are many types of Ayahuasca traditions passing over to the developed countries now, we ask you to kindly abide to the method described here, being that this protocol is specific for the ceremony you will be participating in, which is a ceremony of Yagé, conducted according to ancient guidelines. These guidelines are fail safe methods that help guide the experience towards one of successful integration, healing, wellness, integrity and wholeness.

    Note: “Dieta” is a Spanish term for the preparation of the body mind and soul to participate in a ceremonial experience of any type. The essence of the “dieta” is to learn to channel and focus ones’ energy into the grove of unlimited life.

    For more information on “dieta” protocol, different indigenous people communities’ approaches, and the purpose of these, see Rainforest Medicine page 118 – 136 – “La Dieta: For Purification and Spiritual Mastery”

    On Ceremony Day

    Please follow the following fasting protocol:

    Refrain from any food or water the day of participating.

    It is imperative the body be dry, this in order to more easily absorb the medicine.
    If need be, have only some water or light tea before noon. In order to fast from food and water it is necessary to avoid direct sun, and avoid engaging in physical work, or too many activities or socializing. Stay home, go into nature, and avoid visiting people who may offer you food. Refrain from telling anyone who will not be sitting with you, what you are preparing for.

    Please refrain from sexual activity for at least 4 days before and after participating in the ceremony.

    The reason for this goes back to ancient spiritual instructions that relate the following. Sexual energy, physical vitality and spiritual energy are one and the same energies, they are the immortal essence of the universe found within our bodies. The body is separated in three basic regions, know as “Immortal Medicine Gardens.” Sexual energy is located in the lower region, the sacral region. Physical vitality in the center region, the thymus gland or heart region. And Spiritual energy in the upper region, the pituitary and hypothalamus glands in the center of the head. The purpose of spiritual development is to integrate these energies so they may be one energy. The sexual energy must rise into the heart and the spiritual energy must also decent into the heart. Another way of putting it is the following: Sexual energy must be transformed into physical vitality, physical vitality into spirituality. Then the level of spiritual energy we have been able to develop is united with the corresponding spiritual energy of the universe. In order for this to begin to occur the sexual energy must remain calm, so it can begin to rise as a vapor in order to vitalize the body.

    Refrain from emotional outburst, from casting judgment, being too opinionated, or jumping to conclusions. Keep to a calm centered disposition.

    Practice being non reactionary, practice patience, practice being non impulsive. The essence of the above three golden guidelines are just this, to train the body in being less reactionary, less impulsive, less consuming. To train our selves into needing less from life, from people and from nature. By refraining from the above activities as described, the body mind and spirit begin to integrate. Universal integration is the sacred eternal purpose of the ancestral rainforest plant medicine tradition that is the ceremonial imbibition of Yagé.

    Additional guidelines of importance:

    The theme of women who are on their menstrual cycle and men who have experienced a wet dream or have ejaculated sperm.

    For women who may be receiving their menstrual cycle during the experience or men who have experienced a wet dream or have ejaculated sperm the days prior to the ceremony, you will not be allowed to participate in the ceremony. Nor will you be able to assist in any of the food preparations on the following breakfast day.

    There are many reason for this, some of the most important are outlined here:

    The Yagé can build a large amount of pressure inside the body. It is its’ method of detoxifying and aligning the body and its energy centers.

    It is believed that, although a rare occurrence, that woman can experience prolific hemorrhaging.

    The energy related to menstruation, and this goes for ejaculation as well, including wet dreams men may experience, is related to the physical 3D reality of life on earth. A reality bound by constant change, by life and death, essentially it is a reality bound by duality.

    It is believed that the celestial spirits, the sky people, that live inside the earth, inside the water and certain celestial regions of the universe, called “Immortal Islands,” will not enter the lodge.

    The ceremonial facilitator will not be able to see the visions brought by the immortal spirits, the doctor spirits and the heaven people, necessary to sing, heal and guide a successful ceremony for all the participants.

    Further explanation of this phenomena:

    The ceremony of Yagé is about understanding, cultivating and developing a union with the universe’s most supreme and subtle energies. It is understood, that the multi-universe is composed of many types of energies. The energies of Yagé are related to understanding and preparing the body to an alignment with the energies of the subtle immortal realms, that are eternal and unchanging. While it is also understood that the interaction of these two polar energies bring forth all life, it is also understood that neither is better or lesser, pure or impure more or less than the other, they are just different realities. The ceremony of Yagé is a time to set aside the realities of the earthly realms, in order to experience the supernatural subtle energies of the celestial realms.

    Further specification:

    If you are man whose wife is pregnant, please bring your own cup to drink from. This is important because if you drink from the same cup as others, it is believed that too much energy will pass to the fetus. The development of a child is a mysterious and powerful thing, and it must be respected. In this tradition women who are pregnant do not drink the Yagé, nor do children under the age of nine years.

    Herbs to avoid taking (9 days beforehand):

    – St. John’s wort
    – Passionflower
    – Valerian root

    – Lemon balm
    – Ginseng
    – Nutmeg
    – Kava

    Regarding marijuana. While to some it is an ally, most people overuse it, and its best if you can refrain from using her, in order to more fully experience the medicine ally of the Yagé. Some chronic users find it very hard to do so, and while it is not contra-indicatory to the experience, this is a personal choice that only you can make.

    Foods to avoid eating (9 days beforehand):

    – Alcohol
    – Aged cheeses
    – Refined white sugar
    – Fried/Heavy foods

    – Fermented foods
    – Processed foods
    – Canned foods
    – Spicy foods
    – Garlic
    – Pork
    – excessive use of dairy products.

    The following drugs & medications can be dangerous when combined with yagé:

    If you are taking any of the listed substances, you must be off them for at least 2 months prior to drinking the Yagé. It is extremely dangerous to drink Yagé or Ayahuasca if you are using the below mentioned medications. It can result in causing what is known medically as “Serotonin Syndrome.” While this is known mainly among people working in mental health, it is very little understood and still to this date western medicine suffers from a great dearth of understanding on how to appropriately handle cases of Serotonin Syndrome. Most cases are improperly handled and this triggers a worsening and down spiral of the patients’ mental health condition. One that can take years to recover from. No one wants this to ever happen to them!

    For these reasons the following drugs are ABSOLUTELY prohibited and completely contra indicative:

    – MAOI’s (Monoamine Oxidase Inhibitors)
    – SSRI’s (Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors)
    – Antidepressants (Such as Zoloft, Prozac, Celexa, Lexapro, Paxil, Luvox, Oleptro, or any other type of Antidepressants not mentioned here)
    – Antihypertensives (high blood pressure medications)
    – Appetite suppressants (diet pills)
    – Medication and inhalers for asthma, bronchitis, or other breathing problems
    – Antihistamines
    – CNS, or Central Nervous System depressants (Such as: Xanax, Ativan, etc.)
    – Vasodilators
    – Antipsychotics – Barbiturates
    – Medication for colds, sinus problems, hay fever, or allergies (Such as: Actifed DM, Benadryl, Benylin, Chlor-Trimeton, Compoz, Bromarest-DM or -DX, Dimetane-DX cough syrup, Dristan Cold & Flu, Phenergan with Dextromethorphan, Robitussin-DM, Vicks Formula 44-D, several Tylenol cold and any drugs containing “Tuss” in its name.)

    The above mentioned drugs are VERY dangerous and can be fatal when combined with Yagé. If you are taking ANY of these, for your best interest, you are mustn’t drink Ayahuasca or Yagé.

    Regarding illicit and recreational drugs:

    – Cocaine
    – Amphetamines (meth-amphetamine or dex-amphetamine) – Ephedrine
    – MDMA (Ecstasy)
    – MDA, MDEA, PMA
    – Opiates (heroin, morphine, codeine and opium)
    – Dextromethorphan (DXM)

    Please refrain from using these for at least two months before participating in a ceremony of Yagé. Search out holistic methods to assist you in refraining and overcoming the craving, try to practice being ok with feeling empty. Everyone has the innate power to overcome the addictive nature of the mind, or at least transfer those craving into a less harmful channel of personal fulfillment. Seek out reliable professional help, health and dietary assistance, acupuncture, homeopathy, yoga and meditation will all be helpful.

    Other Medical Conditions:

    Epilepsy/Seizures – If you or an immediate family member has a history of epilepsy and/or seizures, you MUST inform us prior to drinking. Use of Yagé, if not properly managed and monitored, can induce a seizure if you have a prior family history of epilepsy.

    Diabetes – People with diabetes have extra risk involved with the consumption of yagé. The use of the MAOI’s present in yagé can alter blood sugar levels through hypoglycemic effects. MAOI’s may change the amount of insulin or oral anti-diabetic medication that you need. People with severe and unstable diabetes should not take yagé because of this risk. People with less severe diabetes should contact us prior to drinking to discuss the particulars of the case including the possibility of a modified dieta.

    Heart/Cardiovascular Conditions – If you have any chronic heart condition or high blood pressure it is not advisable to participate in the drinking of yagé. The use of yagé can elevate the blood pressure and can pose serious and/or fatal risk to those with serious heart conditions or high blood pressure. Having such serious conditions would exclude you from participation in one of our ceremonies. This includes people who use a pacemaker. Those with minor heart conditions are welcome to discuss the matter further.

    Liver and Kidney Conditions – The use of yagé can be stressful for the liver and kidneys. The liver and the kidneys play essential roles in the metabolism of exogenous and endogenous chemicals. Yagé contains harmine and related alkaloids, which act as inhibitors of monoamine oxidase. This inhibition activity occurs in the liver and gastrointestinal tract. If a participant has various monoamines still present in their system from diet, environmental exposure, medical condition, or use of pharmaceutical or illicit drugs, these would accumulate in the presence of an MAOI and would add further stress for the liver and kidneys.

    Hypothyroidism – If you have a hypothyroidism condition, it is generally safe to partake in the use of yagé; however, you MUST inform us of your condition, so that we can closely monitor your dosage. You also may continue using your hypothyroid medication (synthetic hormones, such as synthroid) during your ceremony without complication.

    For more information on traditional ceremonial gatherings visit Rainforest Medicine Gatherings, or write to info@rainforestmedicine.net.

    As can be seen, this protocol for preparation for drinking yagé is quite involved, and when journeying with this sacred medicine, especially for the first time, it is critical to understand that the dieta is far more than just restrictions on what food should be avoided prior to ceremony.

    Furthermore, it is advised to continue the dieta after the ceremony for as long as is possible, preferably for at least two weeks. Doing so greatly enhances the ability to integrate any spiritual transmissions received in ceremony into everyday life, so that you may more fully benefit from the transformative aspects of this medicine.

    Read more articles by Dylan Charles.

  • About the Author

    Dylan Charles is the editor of Waking Times and host of The Battered Souls Podcast, both dedicated to ideas of personal transformation, societal awakening, and planetary renewal. His personal journey is deeply inspired by shamanic plant medicines and the arts of Kung Fu, Qi Gong and Yoga. After seven years of living in Costa Rica, he now lives in the Blue Ridge Mountains, where he practices Brazilian Jiu Jitsu and enjoys spending time with family. He has written hundreds of articles, reaching and inspiring millions of people around the world.

    This article (Understanding the Dieta Protocol for Participating in Ayahuasca Ceremonies) was originally created and published by Waking Times and is published here under a Creative Commons license with attribution to Dylan Charles and WakingTimes.com. It may be re-posted freely with proper attribution, author bio, and this copyright statement.

    Like Waking Times on Facebook, Follow Waking Times on Twitter.

    No, thanks!