San Pedro (Huachuma) and prescribed medication

Personal considerations: If you are reading this, chances are you've recognized that the path to self-realization can be pretty bumpy. Everyone has past trauma, whether from childhood experiences, birth, events in previous lives, or ancestral influences. You have probably encountered such material and you have probably found that deep work, whether through meditation, breathwork, plant medicine, or strong interpersonal processes, reveals such trauma (often uncomfortably) and brings it forth for engagement and healing. It is best if you have done some of this sort of work, so that you are familiar with what may come up. If you are taking prescription medicine to dampen these elements, you should consider carefully whether you are prepared to encounter them more deeply, perhaps more intensely, as you enter the deep state that huachuma opens in you.

Medical considerations: We take our work with plant medicines seriously and wanted to make sure there are not any known contraindications regarding drinking San Pedro, aka Huachuma, while taking prescribed medication such as antidepressants, antihistamines or blood pressure medication.  In the case of Ayahuasca there are contraindicated. But the psychotropic in Ayahuasca is DMT; whereas in Huachuma it is mescaline.  After spending quite some time on line, researching reports of adverse reactions, we found was that if someone is taking antidepressants they may find diminished results with Huachuma and it might be best to taper down use before consuming San Pedro. We reached out to a doctor we know who is personally experienced with plant medicines to get his understanding. This is what we learned from him:

There is a well-justified concern about antidepressants, specifically, and ayahuasca, because the ayahuasca vine contains monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOI), which temporarily stop the breakdown of serotonin (and also dopamine, epinephrine, norepinephrine, and any tryptamine molecules as well).   Since virtually all modern antidepressants work by increasing serotonin levels in the brain, the combination is feared to result in a kind of serotonin overdose commonly called "serotonin syndrome".  That situation is very specific to *ayahuasca*, because of those MAOI compounds in the vine component.

Huachuma does not contain those compounds -- it is made with just the cactus.  Of course always best to double check with the cook to make sure the brew at hand is not a special and major departure from what normal Huachuma is.  The compounds at play (this is of course the reductionist chemical version...) in Huachuma are phenylethylamines (PEAs), of which mescaline is one, and there are others in Huachuma and countless others in life.   Mescaline, like DMT and many other "psychedelic" compounds, activates the 5-HT2A receptor primarily -- that is one of the main serotonin receptors.  Combining that with an SSRI depressant is something I'm not sure about the effect.  If you've heard it diminishes the ceremony, that might be because of competitive inhibition of the serotonin receptors by the extra serotonin caused by the antidepressants.   The bottom line is that it is probably safe -- certainly not the kind of dangers as with ayahuasca -- but I simply do not know and I probably wouldn't do it myself.  I would get off the SSRI for at least two weeks before -- which is what I would do for ayahuasca (unless it is Prozac, which needs 5 weeks to flush out before drinking ayahuasca).

Anthistamines are generally very safe -- if they can be taken out of the equation, all the better, but if they happen to be on board, I would not have anxiety about those for myself, personally.

Blood pressure meds are a diverse group - different mechanisms, different interactions, different risks.  And just having high blood pressure is another topic worthy of consideration, as ayahuasca definitely, and probably Huachuma, too, but to a lesser extent, can cause big fluctuations in blood pressure during a ceremony.  Not really an issue for someone who doesn't have coronary artery disease or is at risk of a stroke, but something to consider.


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