Frequently Asked Questions
Mostly everything is included, with the exception of your airfare to Cusco and the meals on your travel days. When you arrive at the Cusco airport, we will have a driver greeting you outside with your name on a sign who will transport you to a hotel in Cusco, which is included. The next morning, we will transport you via shuttle to the retreat center in Yanahuara and all hotel stays, meals, massages (unlimited), yoga/meditation, plant medicine journeys, and local hiking excursions are included in the price.
Ayahuasca is a plant-based psychedelic substance traditionally used in indigenous Amazonian shamanic practices. It is made from the ayahuasca vine (Banisteriopsis caapi) and the leaves of the chacruna plant (Psychotria viridis), which contain the chemical compound dimethyltryptamine (DMT).
The use of ayahuasca has a long history in indigenous South American cultures, where it is typically prepared and consumed in a ceremonial setting as part of spiritual or healing practices.
Ayahuasca is known for producing intense and sometimes transformative experiences, which can include vivid visual and auditory hallucinations and powerful emotional insights. The effects of ayahuasca can last for several hours, and the substance is often taken in a group setting under the guidance of an experienced facilitator or shaman.
There is some scientific evidence to suggest that ayahuasca may have therapeutic benefits, particularly for individuals suffering from depression, anxiety, and addiction.
Huachuma is more commonly known as San Pedro in the Western world. It is also sometimes called ‘Wachuma’ by Westerners. Huachuma is a cactus native to the Andes Mountains and can be found in parts of Columbia, Ecuador, Peru, Bolivia, Chile, and Argentina. It is considered the most ancient and revered plant teachers amongst the shamans of northern Peru.
San Pedro cactus has a rich history of traditional shamanic use and has been used ceremoniously for around 3500 years by indigenous groups in Peru. Throughout that time, there have been innumerable accounts of “miracle cures” to a wide variety of illnesses which include beating addiction, cancer, paralysis, and diabetes to name a few. It is also used to treat emotional issues such as grief and psychological problems like depression.
Mescaline is the main psychoactive component of the San Pedro cactus, so a San Pedro trip is similar to other mescaline trips – like peyote. The experience lasts around 8-14 hours in total, and is often described as being very physically stimulating. A San Pedro trip can be very much centered in the body, rather than the mind – a euphoric warm glow moves through the body, which can sometimes alternate to an unpleasant electric tingling, or waves of nausea. Otherwise, the cognitive experience can be similar to other natural psychedelics like ayahuasca and magic mushrooms – deeply introspective, sometimes challenging, and intense.
In Peru, the Coca Leaves are used for their medicinal properties: altitude sickness prevention/treatment, energy booster, natural painkiller, upset stomach, flu remedy, etc. They are also valued as a Sacred Plant and have been used in spiritual rituals for thousands of years. Traditionally, Shamans use Coca Leaves to give readings to people looking for guidance. The Shaman reads the leaves and is essentially an interpreter from the Spirit world to humans.
At Andean Spiritual Healing, we include Coca Leaf readings throughout our retreats, but we also offer virtual readings for people who are seeking spiritual guidance. The meeting will begin with the shaman asking you for your full name, date of birth, and place of birth so that he can connect you with the plant spirits. He will then give you a "diagnosis" of your life based on the messages he receives from the spirits, such as telling you about your character/traits, current status in life, any physical/mental ailments, past traumas, areas of your life that could use improvement or healing, and possible outcomes for the future. At the end of the diagnosis, you will have the opportunity to ask any questions that you might have about what was covered in the reading or ask anything else that wasn't discussed where you feel you may need guidance.
The cost of the reading will depend on the length of time that the meeting lasts. The first 30 minutes is $80, which is the deposit required to book your appointment, and it is $30 for every 15 minutes thereafter (so 45 minutes = $110, 60 minutes = $140).
Whether or not you are interested in plant medicine, if you are looking to explore the ancestral Andean roots and Peruvian traditions, a Coca Leaf reading is certainly an experience that will open your mind and help to guide you in ways you may not even realize that you need guidance.
Cusco is located in the Peruvian Andes and has an altitude of 3,400 meters/11,152 feet. Many people visiting
Cusco can feel sick due to the high elevation, however, it is important not to take any man-made medications as
we prepare for our journey with San Pedro and Ayahuasca with a strict cleanse. Luckily, the most effective and
natural medicine for preventing and curing altitude sickness is provided to us by our Mother Earth.
For some visitors, the first hours in Cusco can be summarized as: shortness of breath, a discomfort in the body,
dizziness, headaches, stomachaches, even vomiting. This lack of oxygen, scientifically known as hypoxia, begins to
manifest itself at 7,874 ft (2,399 m) above sea level. That’s why right after landing in Cusco, visitors can feel
fatigued and have difficulty walking. Walking one block could feel like walking ten blocks carrying a backpack full of
rocks. It is advisable to stay hydrated, take it easy on the first day and, if possible, rest the first few hours to help
the body acclimatize to the altitude.
It is common to see locals chewing on coca leaves. As great connoisseurs of natural medicine, the Incas used coca
leaves to counteract soroche, Quechua for high-altitude sickness. No one knew better the effects of high altitude
than indigenous peoples. Coca is the best natural medicine to combat altitude sickness. It was even considered
sacred because of its curative powers and is still used in the same way now as it was in the time of the Incas. It
contains iron, vitamins A, B1, B2 and calcium, among other nutrients. Coca makes it easier for your bloodstream to
absorb oxygen, suppresses hunger, combats fatigue, headaches and can ease your stomach. If you do not feel like
chewing leaves (which can be bitter, apart from numbing your mouth), you can try drinking coca tea, which is most
commonly found in the lobby of hotels in Cusco.
Special diets and fasting are common and traditional practices among various spiritual ceremonies across the world. In preparation for the San Pedro and Ayahuasca ceremonies, it is very important that you follow the dieta (which is both physical and mental) as best as you can for your healing process and to create within yourself the openness and capacity for information, growth, and connection to the spiritual realm. Some substances, foods, and activities are to be completely avoided because of medical contraindications and potentially adverse physical effects, while others are strongly advised against because of how they may potentially interfere with the connection to the plants during ceremony. The more you prepare, the better your results will be for reaching optimal levels of awareness and understanding. The dieta is important not only in preparation for the medicinal ceremonies, but also during and after the ceremonies. During the retreat, we will provide all the proper meals and activities in accordance with the dieta, and it is expected that you will maintain the dieta for at least 3 days after your last ceremony. The stricter you are with the dieta, the more lasting and profound your transformation will be.
Food and Drinks
If your current diet consists of sugary drinks and fast food, there will be a lot you will want to cut out. If you mainly stick to an eating regimen of plant-based, whole foods, then the dieta will be less of a change from your norm.
Essentially, the idea is to stick to clean, nutrient-dense, non-processed food and drinks as much as possible. Avoid red meat, pork, spicy foods, caffeine, alcohol, dairy, and excess sugar and salt for ideally up to two weeks before the first ceremony. Unfortunately, the blander, the better. A healthy diet before the ceremony consists of lots of fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains (like rice, quinoa, and oats), and legumes (like beans, lentils, and peas).
While cooking, be sparing with oil (olive or coconut are preferred), salt, spices, and sugar. It is also necessary to avoid foods or drinks that contain tyramine, which is found in aged cheeses, yeast, fermented foods (like sauerkraut, kombucha, soy sauce, or tofu), yogurt, some nutritional supplements, and excess amounts of chocolate and peanuts. The reason it is important to avoid drinks and foods rich in tyramine is that the ayahuasca vine contains a monoamine oxidase inhibitor (MAOI). MAOIs prevent the breakdown of tyramine, which is an amino acid. This combination of foods and brew could create a challenge for the body to process, potentially increasing the chances of headaches, increased blood pressure, or increased nausea.
Mental & Spiritual Preparation
The dieta not only includes what is fed to the body but also what is fed to the mind. In addition to purifying the body, there can also be benefits from preparing psychologically and spiritually before the experience. Leading up to your trip, it is advised that you avoid stressful situations/people that could lower your vibration and steer your mind into a negative space. We recommend being in a state of peace, tranquility, and self-confidence prior to the retreat so that your mind can be more receptive to the personal introspection and the visions that may occur during the ceremonies. Preparation and attitude during the retreat must be love, honesty, patience, humility, respect, and courage. These values will strengthen your mind and help you achieve a successful journey.
What to Avoid & For How Long
15 days prior to first ceremony:
- No red meat
- No pork
- No illicit drugs
- No marijuana
- No prescription medication*
7 days prior to first ceremony:
- No sex or masturbation
- No alcohol
- No caffeine
- No dairy
- No eggs
- No garlic
- No onion
- No spices, salt or sugar
*It is strongly advised to discontinue medications such as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) and other
MAO inhibiting medications for at least 15 days before the first ceremony. If you have a medication that you must
continue taking, please let us know. Additionally, if you suffer from any mental or physical ailments, please make
us aware so that we can take any necessary precautions.
The safety of our customers is our main priority. We have carefully designed safety protocols to protect you and keep you emotionally, mentally, and physically safe. Feeling safe and comfortable will allow you to fully open yourself up to the experience and will allow you to receive all the benefits that come from the plant medicine ceremonies.
The Andean Spiritual Healing staff is well prepared to guide you throughout your stay. We have a registered nurse present during the ceremonies in case of any medical emergencies, and should the need arise, our temple is located 10 minutes from a 24-hour clinic.
While it can be tempting to gorge on everything you have been abstaining from once you get home from the retreat, it is important to continue the pre-ceremony guidelines during your initial integration period. This post- ceremony commitment is an opportunity to maintain the clarity of mind to explore the insights gained from the ayahuasca experience. Your future self will thank you if you continue the dieta during this period. You should continue the cleanse for a minimum of 3 days post ceremony, but for as long as you are willing and able to maintain the dieta.
There is some scientific evidence to suggest that ayahuasca may have a range of therapeutic benefits. Here are a few potential benefits of ayahuasca:
Antidepressant and anxiolytic effects: Some studies have found that ayahuasca may have antidepressant and anxiolytic (anxiety-reducing) effects. In one study, a single dose of ayahuasca was found to significantly reduce symptoms of depression and anxiety in individuals with treatment-resistant depression.
Addiction treatment: Ayahuasca has been shown to be effective in treating addiction, particularly substance abuse disorders. In a small study, ayahuasca was found to significantly reduce drug craving and decrease the risk of relapse in individuals with a history of drug dependence.
Enhanced psychological well-being: Ayahuasca experiences are often described as deeply meaningful and transformative, and many people report feeling a sense of increased psychological well-being after taking the substance.
Increased insight and self-awareness: Ayahuasca is often described as inducing a sense of introspection and self-reflection, which may lead to increased insight and self-awareness.
It's important to note that the research on the therapeutic benefits of ayahuasca is still in its early stages and more research is needed to fully understand its potential effects and risks. Additionally, the use of ayahuasca is not without risk, and there have been reported cases of serious adverse effects, including psychosis and even death. Therefore, it is important to approach the use of ayahuasca with caution and to fully understand the risks and potential dangers involved.