The Essential Guide to Microdosing Ayahuasca
A mixture of: N,N-Dimethyltryptamine (DMT) & Harmine, harmaline and tetrahydroharmine (MAOIs)
With LSD and Psilocybin Mushrooms leading the forefront of the microdosing movement, the prospect of microdosing ayahuasca as well is slowly starting to enter the public eye. This powerful preparation, brewed by the indigenous tribes of the Amazon region in South America, has been steadily drawing interest from seekers of spiritual evolution and personal healing worldwide.
Ayahuasca is traditionally brewed by experienced shamans for personal consumption, allowing a deep connection with nature and insight into the fate of their village. However, during the past few decades, with many Westerners venturing into the jungle for ayahuasca rituals and coming back with reports of radically transformative experiences, many more have developed an enthusiasm for this mystical brew.
Thus, to accommodate the growing needs of the West, some shamans are welcoming ordinary humans into their spirit world and giving them a chance to peer into the fabric of existence itself. It is also worth noting here that, as it often goes in the world, many indigenous people are also entering the market of exploiting the naïveté of the unsuspecting, as evidenced in the trend known as “ayahuasca tourism.” The exploitation goes both ways though, as the fetishization of these sacred ancient customs is trivializing their otherworldly and ineffable nature.
Read our Essential Guide to Ayahuasca to learn more about this ancient medicine
The experience of drinking ayahuasca within a proper ceremonial context, under the caution and guidance of an experienced teacher, is often described as life-changing. Coming into the ritual with humility, respect, and an honest desire to learn and grow can yield unfathomable benefits in the sacred setting of the vine’s natural home.
Ayahuasca takes you on a deep inner journey of self-investigation and gives you opportunities to confront your ego and let go of it. This process, often referred to as ego death, is highly challenging; it requires one to fully surrender to the power of the plants and understand the illusory nature of lifelong fortified concepts of “the self”, which we identify with. This is the goal of many, but it still comes as a surprise to find oneself on the other side. The death of the self can actually feel like physical death and takes time and comfort to process and integrate. This is one of the main advantages of drinking ayahuasca in a ceremonial/retreat context.
Ego death seems like quite a daunting prospect, but it forever cracks open the doors to a healthier outlook on life and may close the doors to counterproductive habits and addictions.
Aside from allowing for a deeper immersion into the effects of ayahuasca, placing oneself in an intentional and sacred space, purified and guarded by a spiritual healer, has the additional benefit of allowing one to commune with the guide and fellow travelers. This can be crucial for integrating the experience. The shaman also serves to invoke the spirits, enrich the ceremony with blessings and sacred melodies, and stabilize it with their vast knowledge of the spiritual realms, while also offering important instruction and care for participants they sense are having troubles. If nothing else, the presence of others can instil a sense of comfort, reassuring us that we’re not alone in seeking growth. And the exchange of accounts afterwards can be valuable for understanding what it is that ayahuasca actually does.
This is probably why ayahuasca retreats, in their now standardized three-, seven- or twelve-day forms, have become so sought after. They provide a secure and comfortable framework for westerners to relax while they take time to process the experience, often with medical staff on hand, fully vetted shamans, and well-outfitted accommodation. Diet programs are weaved into the retreat structure, as well as a host of activities such as flower baths, sauna time, hot tubs, hiking, yoga, art, and dance workshops.
The convenience of ayahuasca retreats comes at a price. All-inclusive getaways as described are valued at hundreds or thousands of US dollars, which does not fit into everyone’s financial capacities. The alternative is seeking out indigenous communities and engaging with unaffiliated or less “popular” shamans. However, this brings its own challenges and perils, among which are: the communication barrier (even knowledge of Spanish will hardly suffice as most authentic shamans only speak one of the varieties of Quechua); safety in uncharted territory and time needed to navigate it; safety from “plastic shamans” trying to make a quick buck off of unsuspecting gringos and their brews of questionable, at times dangerous, quality. For these reasons, taking (verified) ayahuasca in a more familiar setting seems like a viable option for people who don’t have the time or money for a retreat, and don’t want to deal with the potential risks at play – which is not to say that using ayahuasca in any form comes without risk.
An interesting concept to consider about the western adoption of the ritualization of ayahuasca is John Welwood’s spiritual bypassing. This term refers to the identification of spiritual seekers with certain practices and creeds neatly packed up for mass consumption. Specifically, it is the mainstream spirituality popularized by self-help books and widely accepted traditions and teachings that often have their roots in Eastern philosophy. Whether we like it or not, ayahuasca has become a trend and going to the Amazon for ceremonies is becoming far too accessible – thereby trivializing its significance. By serving the experience up in a standardized format, the ritualistic aspect is also liable to inhibit some of the deep introspection needed.
Another related critique to drinking under the guidance of a teacher might be the potential disposition of the locus of power and responsibility to the shaman. As prudently noted by Julian Palmer – the inventor of changa (an easily smokeable DMT herbal mix)  and advocate of consuming ayahuasca in solitude  – it might be difficult to find our own inner guidance if we go into the ceremony with the belief that our shaman is the only powerful entity there. Conversely, Julian notes that the first few experiences, until the person feels comfortable enough with the effects, should definitely be supervised.
Listen to our interview with Rachel Harris, PhD, about the therapeutic benefits of ayahausca.
This brings us to an important point in this discussion: is microdosing one of the most powerful entheogens known to man really the way ayahuasca should be used? The answer is, of course, complex, with many pros and cons.
The most important question to ask yourself when considering microdosing ayahuasca is what your intention is and whether this brew is the optimal way to actualize it. Even though personal accounts do suggest that anxiety and depression might be alleviated by using ayahuasca, if you’re suffering from these or similar afflictions, it’s often more useful to look into their possible cause. If it’s stress, where does it come from? Is it lack of purpose, unsatisfying work or social environment, unfulfilling relationships?
There are numerous options you might want to consider before turning to daily ayahuasca treatment. Psychotherapy, alpha-stim, heart rate variability training, holotropic breathwork, meditation, yoga, exercise, changing your job, traveling or starting more purposeful and fulfilling relationships are just some examples of how you could introduce more mindfulness into your life and alleviate stress. In the end, ayahuasca doesn’t really give you a cure – it just uncovers all the homework you still need to do yourself.
Given that researchers are only just beginning to scratch the surface of the science of microdosing in general, even with LSD and psilocybin mushrooms, we’ll likely have to wait a while for ayahuasca-specific microdosing studies.
However, preliminary findings by Gerald Thomas et al., who worked with ayahuasca retreat participants, show lasting positive changes to measures of hopefulness, empowerment, mindfulness, and quality of life, as well as an enhanced sense of purpose. The study also recorded self-reported decreases in tobacco, alcohol and cocaine use. Profound results like these are evidently attainable over one or more full-dosage sessions, but is it possible that microdosing can yield some of the same effects?
While we don’t know for certain, anecdotal reports certainly appear to suggest so.
After experiencing ayahuasca in a safe and nurturing environment, you might want to consider drinking the brew alone and/or integrating it into your daily life to harvest the sub-threshold benefits it may offer. As with LSD, psilocybin mushrooms, and even DMT, microdosing ayahuasca is entirely possible. However, taking into account the large variety of ways to prepare the brew and highly individual responses to consumption, determining the specifics of dosage and content becomes a matter of experimentation.
There are a few options when it comes to making ayahuasca at home. If you would like to experiment with brewing the actual tea, we recommend reading our article on homemade ayahuasca. With many recipes and ingredients available online, it should be noted that brewing ayahuasca by yourself is far from ideal. It is a skill that should be learned from a master and honed, and the quality of the drink will very much depend on the freshness of the ingredients.
An alternative would be exploring the pharmahuasca  route. Making a pharmaceutical ayahuasca analog is less time-consuming and allows for precise measurement of the ingredients.
The first part of the recipe involves an extracted MAOI, most often one of the three harmala alkaloids found in Banisteriopsis caapi or Syrian Rue: harmaline, harmine or tetrahydroharmine. The second part is extracted freebase DMT. The MAOI is ingested in a plastic capsule and the DMT is taken some 20 minutes afterwards, after soaking in lemon juice for conversion to DMT citrate.
Personal accounts have suggested that vomiting  might follow this type of intake. And some suggest that DMT can also be ingested in a pill  as long as the harmala contents are properly dosed.
The doses necessary for a brew/analog of traditional strength are as follows:
As mentioned, ayahuasca’s effects (and side effects) vary in presence and strength between individuals. It is therefore recommended to start with the lowest dose possible (a tenth of the values indicated or less, with some people using only a few drops), then slowly increase the dose until the onset of perceptible effects, before rolling it back again to just under this threshold.
This approach applies especially to the DMT portion; the vines/MAOIs are the actual healing agent and the microdosing should have a more purposeful role if it is geared toward healing rather than tripping. Omitting the DMT contents for starters and consuming a purely MAOI-based concoction is also encouraged, and it’s in line with shamanic traditions where DMT visions come secondary to the healing properties of the vines.
As with dosage, timing should be a matter of preference and one’s individual response. Based on various personal accounts, it appears that a morning or evening dose should be effective in conjunction with a strong intention. In both cases, it is preferable to have a relaxed following day, with little responsibility or demand for interaction. And since the effects are reportedly cumulative, 48 hours should be the minimal repetition interval. It is also advised to have a full dose at some point if possible, so as to integrate all the micro-healing experiences and teachings.
Microdosing ayahuasca in the morning or evening should yield different yet similar experiences. Among the effects reported by evening takers are: alleviation of depression and anxiety; vivid dreams; insights into aspects of daily life; shifts in stress; higher awareness; greater presence, compassion, satisfaction, and peace; a sense of acknowledgement; and emotional discharge. Negative effects cited include laziness and difficulty getting up, some fogginess in perception during the day, and potential diarrhea. 
Morning takers report: enhanced perception; deeper meditative states; vivid dreams; gentleness, lovingness and lightness; and positive effects on anxiety. There are differing accounts as to the effects on creativity, focus, social ability and sexual energy. Negatives include a lack of motivation for strenuous activities, tiredness, and a slight buzzy feeling. 
Even though microdosing shouldn’t warrant a full ayahuasca diet, some dietary precautions are advised, as there are foods that can be dangerous in combination with MAOIs. Specifically avoid aged cheeses, cured meats, soy sauce, fermented foods (like tofu), pickled vegetables, spicy foods, alcohol in general (especially red wine), aspartame, and large amounts of dark chocolate.
Medications and drugs that conflict with MAOIs, such as other MAOIs, SSRIs, hypertension medicine, and recreational drugs, should also not be used.
Since it contains the Schedule I substance DMT, ayahuasca cannot be legally sourced in most countries, including the United States. However, all of the ingredients to make it are naturally occurring and abundant in certain regions. If you have the patience and climate for it, you might even choose to grow them.
Fortunately the raw materials can also be legally sourced online, and they’re often prepared specifically for use in the brew. Just remember they become illegal once combined in this way.
Some of the ingredients of ayahuasca which can be purchased online include Banisteriopsis caapileaves, Syrian Rue seeds, Psychotria viridis leaves, Mimosa hostilis/tenuiflora root bark, Acacia acuminata/confusa/phlebophylla leaves/root bark.
Neither standard nor enhanced drug tests screen for DMT,  the psychedelic component of ayahuasca. And since it isn’t chemically similar to any of the drugs screened for, it’s also unlikely to trigger a false positive.
MAOIs, the other key component of the brew, aren’t screened for either. In fact, they’re present in a large number of mainstream pharmaceuticals anyway, including antidepressants.
WHERE CAN I GET AYAHUASCA?
See our section on acquiring ayahuasca for microdosing.
Ayahuasca contains the Schedule I substance DMT, which makes it illegal in the United States and numerous other countries, both in Europe and elsewhere. In some cases, even where ayahuasca has been made illegal, it remains perfectly legal to purchase the raw ingredients online.
For more on the legality of ayahuasca where you are, see here.
As mentioned above, the potential for negative interactions between MAOIs and other drugs, as well as some foods, is chief among safety concerns with ayahuasca. And while it’s unclear to what extent microdosing should be supplemented with a traditional ayahuasca diet, it’s better to play it safe.
One thing is for certain – with microdosing, there is no risk of having a “bad trip” or experiencing intense psychedelic effects. Taking a microdose is the ideal way to be introduced to psychedelics safely and comfortably.
There are lots of things to cover before you get started with microdosing – depending on the reasons you’re interested in the first place!
For information regarding microdosing in general, sign up to our extensive microdosing course to gain access to curated materials that will help you design the ideal microdosing regimen for your needs. You’ll also gain access to an exclusive community of enthusiastic, helpful microdosers!
For ayahuasca-specific advice, however, it’s a good idea to seek advice from dedicated online forums. Some popular examples include:
 Opray, M. (2017, Jan 24). Tourist boom for ayahuasca a mixed blessing for Amazon. Retrieved from https://www.theguardian.com/sustainable-business/2017/jan/24/tourist-boom-peru-ayahuasca-drink-amazon-spirituality-healing.
 Cohen, B. (2015, Nov 30). How Ayahuasca Destroyed My Ego and Brought Me Back Home. Retrieved from https://thedailybanter.com/2015/11/how-ayahuasca-destroyed-my-ego-and-brought-me-back-home/.
 Wikipedia. (2017, Oct 24). Plastic shaman. Retrieved from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Plastic_shaman.
 Allen, M. (2014, Apr 30). Crappy Ayahuasca Can Kill You. Retrieved from https://www.vice.com/en_us/article/exmpww/a-beginners-guide-to-ayahuasca.
 Masters, R. A. (2013). Spiritual Bypassing: Avoidance in Holy Drag. Retrieved from http://robertmasters.com/writings/spiritual-bypassing/.
 Azarius. Changa. Retrieved from https://azarius.net/encyclopedia/102/Changa/.
 Palmer, J. (2017, Jun 14). Why You Should Drink Ayahuasca Alone. Retrieved from http://julianpalmerism.com/why-you-should-drink-ayahuasca-alone/.
 Thomas, G., Lucas, P., Capler, N., Tupper, K. W., Martin, G. (2013). Ayahuasca-Assisted Therapy for Addiction: Results from a Preliminary Observational Study in Canada. Retrieved from http://www.maps.org/research-archive/ayahuasca/Thomas_et_al_CDAR.pdf.
 Rätsch, C. (2005). Ayahuasca Analogues and Pharmahuasca. Retrieved from https://erowid.org/chemicals/ayahuasca/ayahuasca_info11.shtml.
 clemens. (2006, Oct 22). Re: Question about converting DMT freebase to DMT [Online forum comment]. Message posted to https://www.shroomery.org/forums/showflat.php/Number/15345668#15345668.
 joemolloy. (2011, Oct 18). Re: Can one experience a full-fledged DMT breakthrough from Pharmahuasca? [Online forum comment]. Message posted to https://www.shroomery.org/forums/showflat.php/Number/15239889#15239889.
 CabbagePatch. (2015, Jul 18). Daily microdosing for depression [Online forum comment]. Message posted to http://www.forums.ayahuasca.com/viewtopic.php?f=17&t=40602&p=308077.
 ryu. (2015, Oct 23). Conclusion 4 week microdosing schedule [Online forum comment]. Message posted to http://www.forums.ayahuasca.com/viewtopic.php?f=1&t=41062&p=316023.
 TAOS-. (2016, Feb 27). Microdosing report [Online forum comment]. Message posted to https://www.reddit.com/r/Ayahuasca/comments/47sj0n/microdosing_report/.
 yogaaya. (2017, Mar 11). Re: Microdosing ayahuasca vine for healing depression [Online forum comment]. Message posted to http://www.forums.ayahuasca.com/viewtopic.php?f=17&t=42490&p=330796#p330769.
 Alley, A. A. (2016, Mar 22). Re: How is microdosing on ayahuasca? [Online forum comment]. Message posted to https://www.quora.com/How-is-microdosing-on-ayahuasca.
 Erowid. (2015, Feb 10). DMT — Drug Testing. Retrieved from https://www.erowid.org/chemicals/dmt/dmt_testing.shtml.