Running an ayahuasca healing center for over six years and guiding over 1200 people through this process, we have seen a lot of different kinds of experiences people can have with the medicine ayahuasca. One of the truly amazing things about this medicine is that it truly does work with people in a unique and individual way. No two people’s experiences are the same. Neither is the process of healing they go through. While most people can have a very strong experience with ayahausca, there are some that the medicine does not seem to work for.
Here at the Hummingbird Ayahuasca Retreat Center we get at least one or two people per month for whom the medicine does not seem to work well. The exact reason for this cannot be known with certainty. Some of these have been living very clean and healthy lifestyles and following a spiritual path for years. There is not any clear pattern of emotional back ground or blockages. The one thing that does stand out is that around 70% of those for whom ayahuasca does not work well had been heavy marijuana users over the past few years or had been on a regimen of pharmaceutical medication. Casual, occasional use of marijuana, a few times per month, does not seem to interfere with this medicine. Heavy use of marijuana, 4-5 times per week, even if it was stopped a couple of months before, definitely seems to interfere with the work of ayahuasca. Not only does it not tend to work well, marijuana users often do a lot more purging than other people. It is not uncommon at all to see marijuana users purging three times per night for half an hour or more each time. Many people have taken the time and spent the money to come to Peru to work with ayahausca only to be very disappointed with their experience due to their history with marijuana.
Ayahuasqueros are mostly opposed to marijuana if one will be working with ayahausca. Some are against its use in any form. Others are not against is use in general, but state that it interferes with ayahuasca, that the two plants simply are not compatible and should not be used together or in close proximity.
Does that mean if I have been smoking a lot of marijuana lately that I am wasting my time trying ayahuasca? No it does not. All of our bodies are different and ayahuasca is a particularly unpredictable substance. We have also had people who had wonderful experiences that said they had been using marijuana regularly for years, so this is not to say that all heavy users of marijuana will have their ayahuasca experience negatively impacted. One really cannot predict what is going to happen with ayahausca. What is clear is that of those for whom ayahuasca is not working well, the overwhelming majority have been long term heavy users of marijuana in the recent past.
There are a few things that may help clear this. If someone is not having much of an experience and they have a history of drug use, a tobacco purge will often clean the system and allow ayahausca to work in a more typical fashion. Tobacco is a powerful medicine and it can clear out energies that block ayahausca from working, even for those who have not been using drugs or medications for an extended time. We have also seen many people that were having almost no effect from ayahuasca have their ceremonies open up in a major way after they did a ceremony with San Pedro.
Ayahuasca is very unpredictable. It is not rare at all for a person to not have much of an experience with ayahausca the first few times they drink it even if they have never done drugs. This usually lasts only one or two ceremonies, and then the medicine works normally. If after two ceremonies it is not working, we will recommend the person drink tobacco. That will usually clear what is blocking the medicine. Often the individual will purge quite a bit the ceremony after tobacco, then be in the normal range of ayahausca experience moving forward.
If you are planning on drinking ayahuasca and smoke marijuana, we recommend you stop as soon as possible before you sit to drink. If you are a regular or heavy user, it is best you stop at least two months ahead of the time your retreat begins. The cleaner the body is when you arrive to work with ayahuasca the more you will receive from it and the better your experience will be.
The first few ceremonies with ayahuasca are usually about cleaning the body. The cleaner the body is when you arrive, the sooner you can get to the deeper healing, teaching and beauty that ayahuasca has to give. Eating clean and healthy is the best preparation one can do. Our Prepare For Healing With Ayahuasca page has recommendations and restrictions for getting the most from our time with this medicine.
Meditation and yoga will also be very helpful in preparation for an ayahuasca retreat. The above diet is very important, as is eating healthy and well. Those who have taken very good care of their bodies for a few years, exercising and eating very clean and healthy, often go right into the good stuff ayahuasca has to give without going through several difficult ceremonies of purging and cleansing. If you want the best from you time with the medicine, take care of your body first.