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Ayahuasca Withdrawal and Detox

Written by Thomas Christiansen

& Medically Reviewed by Dr. Annie Tye, PhD

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Medically Reviewed by Dr. Annie Tye, PhD

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Updated 04/01/2022

Key Takeaways

  • Ayahuasca detoxification coincides with the period of intoxication
  • The side effect profile of ayahuasca use is relatively mild
  • A growing body of literature suggests that ayahuasca use is a promising therapeutic option for people who suffer from treatment-resistant depression

Ayahuasca use has increased in the United States over recent decades. Ayahuasca has not been found to cause dependency, therefore withdrawal is not a component of ayahuasca use.

Ayahuasca is a psychoactive drug, usually brewed as a tea. In recent years the recreational use of ayahuasca increased. Its ingestion is associated with a four- to six-hour psychedelic experience which occurs as the active compounds in the drug leave the body (also known as the ayahuasca detox period).

Can You Have Withdrawal from Ayahuasca?

Evidence does not support that ayahuasca is associated with withdrawal. Mounting evidence indicates that neither compound poses a significant risk for abuse or addiction. Substantial research was dedicated to evaluating whether ayahuasca should be used as a therapeutic agent for mental health concerns.

Ayahuasca Withdrawal Symptoms

The active compounds in ayahuasca, DMT and monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs), have not been found to cause dependency. Clinically, a compound must cause dependency before it can cause withdrawal symptoms.

Ayahuasca side effects include physical effects like nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, dizziness, as well as psychological side effects such as fear-inducing hallucinations. While ayahuasca does not cause clinical withdrawal symptoms, some people report that the ayahuasca experience can bring up emotions or memories that may be recalled in the days or weeks following the trip.

Related Topic: Can you overdose on DMT?

How is Ayahuasca Withdrawal Diagnosed?

The clinical definition of withdrawal depends on the previously established dependency on a drug. Ayahuasca has not been found to cause dependency, thus a diagnosis of ayahuasca withdrawal is clinically invalid.

What to Expect with Ayahuasca Detox

Detoxification is defined as a, “set of interventions aimed at managing acute intoxication and withdrawal.” Appreciable ayahuasca effects are relatively short-lasting (four to six hours), and acute intoxication and detoxification occur approximately simultaneously. Ayahuasca intoxication may include periods of discomfort or fear, but once the trip is over, detox is effectively over. Moreover, as DMT and MAOIs are endogenous chemicals that are actively produced in a healthy human, complete detox from either of these compounds can have negative health consequences.

Related Topic: Hallucinogen detox

Finding an Ayahuasca Detox or Rehab Center

There is no evidence indicating that ayahuasca detox and rehab are clinically valid does not exist. For people who are concerned that they or a loved one is struggling with any form of a substance use disorder, a rehab center with a multidisciplinary team can be a significant step towards recovery.

View Sources

Barker, Steven A. “N, N-Dimethyltryptamine (DMT), an Endogenous Hallucinogen: Past, Present, and Future Research to Determine Its Role and Function.” Frontiers in Neuroscience, August 2018. Accessed July 22, 2019.

Gable, Robert. “Risk assessment of ritual use of oral dimethyltryptamine (DMT) and harmala alkaloids.” Society for the Study of Addiction, 2007. Accessed July 23, 2019.

Hamill, Jonathan; Hallak, Jaime; Dursun, Serdar; Baker, Glen. “Ayahuasca: Psychological and Physiologic Effects, Pharmacology and Potential Uses in Addiction and Mental Illness.” Current Neuropharmacology, 2019. Accessed July 23, 2019.

Frood, Arran. “Ayahuasca Psychedelic Tested for Depression.” Scientific American, April 2015. Accessed July 23, 2019.

World Health Organization. “Management of substance abuse: Withdrawal State.” Accessed July 24, 2019.

Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. “Detoxification and Substance Abuse Treatment.” 2006. Accessed July 24, 2019.

McKenna, Dennis; Callaway, J.C.; Grob, Charles S. “The Scientific Investigation of Ayahuasca: A Review of Past and Current Research.” The Heffter Review of Psychedelic Research, 1999. Accessed July 22, 2019.

Palhano-Fontes, Fernanda; et al. “Rapid antidepressant effects of the psychedelic ayahuasca in treatment-resistant depression: a randomized placebo-controlled trial.” Psychological Medicine, February 2018. Accessed July 23, 2019.