Articles Produced by Takiwasi

Addiction and Buddhist Shamanism - The Bamboo Caves Monastery

Addiction and Buddhist Shamanism - The Bamboo Caves Monastery

Purging to cleanse: a qualitative study of Ayahuasca healing

Purging to cleanse: a qualitative study of Ayahuasca healing

Ayahuasca ceremonies, relationality, and inner-outer transformations to sustainability

Ayahuasca ceremonies, relationality, and inner-outer transformations

The documentation available in the following list is a compilation of material produced by the TAKIWASI Center during its years of research.

A testimony on the action of psychotropic plants and their link with the spiritual world

Author : Anonymous

Published on the Takiwasi website, May 2022.


It’s common to find in articles, books or on the internet many descriptions of ayahuasca sessions, mainly presented by Westerners. Paradoxically these testimonies are almost never accompanied by a reflection on their content from the western categories of thought and culture. These stories remain exotic, even fantastic, dominated by subjectivity, self-referentiality and the attempt to link them to "shamanism", whether in its traditional version or in its neo-shamanic version influenced by the New Age movement. The essential work of integrating the symbolism of visionary and experiential material is thus very often discarded or distorted, which sometimes is not without very damaging consequences.

Access and Benefit Sharing under the Nagoya Protocol – Quo vadis? Six Latin American case studies assessing opportunities and risk

Author : Michael Heinrich, Francesca Scotti, Adolfo Andrade-Cetto, Mónica Berger-Gonzalez, Javier Echeverria, Fabio Friso, Felipe Garcia-Cardona, Alan Hesketh, Martin Hitziger, Caroline Maake, Matteo Politi, Rita Spadafora, and Carmenza Spadafora

Published in Frontiers in Pharmacology, doi: 10.3389/fphar.2020.00765, May 2020.


Background: Global challenges related to access and benefit sharing (ABS) of biological resources have become a key concern in the area of research on herbal medicines, ethnopharmacology, drug discovery, and the development of other high value products for which Intellectual Property protection can be secured. While the Convention on Biological Diversity (Rio 1992) has been recognized as a huge step forward, the implementation of the Nagoya Protocol (NP) and of new forms of collaboration, especially in the context of ‘the fair and equitable sharing of benefits arising from the utilisation of genetic resources’ (Secretariat of the Convention on Biological Diversity 2011), remains often unresolved. The vision on and the specific implementation of this international treaty varies from country to country, which poses additional challenges. Aims: Using a case study approach, in this analysis we aim at understanding the specific opportunities and challenges for implementing international collaborations regarding ABS in six Latin American countries – Chile, Colombia, Guatemala, México, Panama and Peru. With this we provide recommendations for the path ahead regarding international collaborations under ABS agreements in ethnopharmacological research. Results and Discussions: The implementation of the NP varies in the six countries, and while they are all rich in biodiversity, access and benefit sharing mechanisms differ considerably. There is a need to engage in a consultation process with stakeholders, but this has often come to a halt. Institutional infrastructures to implement national policies are weak and the level of knowledge about the NP and the CBD within countries remains limited. Conclusions: Different policies in the six countries result in very diverse strategies and opportunities relating to the equitable use of biodiversity. A long-term strategy is required to facilitate a better understanding of the treaties and the resulting opportunities for a fairer development and an implementation of transparent national polices, which currently differ in the six countries. So far the benefits envisioned by the CBD and the NP remain unfulfilled for all stakeholders involved including local communities.

Addiction and Buddhist Shamanism - The Bamboo Caves Monastery

Author : Jacques Mabit

Article published in Takiwasi Magazine, No. 2, pp. 57-78, Takiwasi Ed., Tarapoto, Peru, 1993, revised in May 2024.


The creation of the Takiwasi Centre was inspired by several sources and experiences. In 1990, the General Delegation for the Fight against Drugs and Drug Addiction (DGLDT) of the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs sent Dr. Jacques Mabit on a mission to Thailand and the Philippines. One of the main reasons for his trip to Thailand was to visit the Wat Tham Krabok Monastery. Also known as “the Bamboo Caves Monastery”, where Buddhist monks had been welcoming addicted patients for decades to treat them with the combination of traditional Thai medicines and Buddhist spirituality. Jacques Mabit wrote an article about this visit, which was a source of great inspiration for the treatment model at Takiwasi. Those familiar with Takiwasi will identify, in different contexts, the similarities between Tham Krabok and Takiwasi. This article is a way of paying tribute to Abbot Charmoon Parnchand, his brother Charoen, and the Tudong Buddhist monks who opened this path of healing.

Administration of the Alcohol, Smoking and Substance Involvement Screening Test (ASSIST) among high school students in the Peruvian Amazon

Author : Fabio Friso, Gary Saucedo, Josué Villanueva, Matteo Politi

Published in Journal of Ethnicity in Substance Abuse, August 2021.


This article reports on results of the administration of the Alcohol, Smoking and Substance Involvement Screening Test (ASSIST) to 500 high school students (aged 16–19) in the Peruvian Amazon. Results indicate 68.6% of the sample reported consumption of alcohol in the past three months. One out of four students reported high risk involvement with at least one substance while 1 out of 3 reported moderate risk. This is one of the few instances in which ASSIST was administered to adolescents and offers possibilities for further reflection on drug use at early ages.

Affected Lives

Author : Swiatoslaw Wojtkowiak

These testimonies have been collected by Swiatoslaw Wojtkowiak in June 2017 and published on his blog with the authorization of the people involved.


I see this plant (ayahuasca) as a source of knowledge, both about myself, my personal issues, as well as for my professional life, for work with others as psychotherapist. It also performs well as a supervisor in my relations with patients – it shows me things about it I wouldn’t be able to notice otherwise.

Amazonian Master Plants in Containment Mode: a subtle and active company in the process of change

Author : Uriel J. López Legaria

Article published in the web page of Takiwasi, july 2020.


The use and intake of Master Plants in containment mode at the Takiwasi Center allows the user to have a collateral process to their psychotherapeutic accompaniment, by taking the Master Plants that are closest to what they need to know or need to learn to develop themselves at a psychosomatic, affective, emotional, spiritual and axiological level, generating positive effects in these dimensions and in their entirety. Throughout its clinical experience, the Takiwasi Center and its healers have been learning about the psychological-affective and spiritual manifestations produced by the intake of Master Plants in a therapeutic retreat-diet context, as part of the protocol within residential treatment and in outpatients who undertake a psychotherapy process accompanied by plants.

Amazonian medicinal plants botanical garden of Takiwasi Center in Peru; a case report of 25 years’ hands-on experience

Author : Matteo Politi, Fabio Friso

Published in Horticulture International Journal, Volume 2 Issue 3, pp. 69‒71, May 2018.


The Center for Drug Addiction Treatment and Research on Traditional Medicines – Takiwasi, is a 25 years’ Non-Governmental-Organization (NGO) specialized in the treatment of drug addiction and mental health disorders based on modern psychotherapy and biomedical approach, as well as the use of herbal Traditional Amazonian Medicine (TAM). Part of this latter therapeutic resources are obtained directly from the Medicinal Plants Botanical Garden of the Center, which represents therefore one of the core activity of Takiwasi. This garden currently counts more than 80 medicinal plant species representative of local medical traditions, holding different indication of use including depurative, relaxing and visionary ones.

Amazonian shamanism and the Western world: between encouragement and warning

Author : Jacques Mabit

Article published in French on two occasions. For the first time in the SYNODIE magazine published by the Groups of Investigation and Studies in Transpersonal Therapies (GRETT) and on a second occasion in the magazine “Nouvelles Clés” (December 2005). Translated to English by Valeria Paz Villegas, November 2017


In the small haven of the High Peruvian Amazon where I have lived for almost 20 years, I am seeing a growing wave of Westerners eager to approach the practices of traditional Amazonian medicine. Having myself been one of the initiators of this movement, I cannot help but oscillate between satisfaction and fear in the face of this enthusiasm for what is now known as "shamanism"; a very inappropriate term from an anthropological perspective.

Ayahuasca ceremonies, relationality, and inner-outer transformations to sustainability. Evidence from Takiwasi Center in Peru

Author : David Manuel-Navarrete, Serena DeLuca, Fabio Friso, Matteo Politi

Published in Ecosystems and People Volume 20, Issue 1, April 2024.


The use of psychedelic substances is increasingly associated with nature-relatedness. We explore whether entheogenic uses of ayahuasca in settings co-produced between Indigenous and Western knowledges may also foster relationality and sustainability transformations across ontology, praxis, and epistemology. A survey with 74 English-speaking individuals who attended Amazonian healing ceremonies at the Takiwasi Center in Peru, along with 11 semi-structured interviews and a discussion circle revealed unexpected personal shifts towards relationality. Beyond the expected increase in nature-relatedness, participants also reported boundary dissolution and changes in their perceptions of self, leading them to experience nature and non-human beings as having spiritual or human-like agency. The blurring of perceived boundaries between themselves and nature also challenged the materialist ontologies in which they had been educated and socialized. In terms of both epistemologies and praxis, co-produced ayahuasca ceremonies enhanced relational thinking and embodiment of relationality. Inner-outer transformations ensued from the post-ceremonial integration of the ‘plant’s teachings’ into participants’ daily lives. We discuss our findings’ contributions to the emerging field of inner transformations and the relational turn in sustainability. Potential sustainability benefits of scaling plant-based ceremonies need to be measured against their impacts on the Amazon rainforest and its biocultures.

Ayahuasca hallucinations among healers in the Peruvian High Amazon

Author : Jacques Mabit

Originally published in French by the “Institut Français d’Etudes Andines” – Lima, Perú, 1988. Translated to English by Kenreth A. Symington.


The author presents the setting and conditions for the “production” of hallucinations during traditional therapy involving the use of Ayahuasca liana, which has psychotropic effects. The presentation is based on the author’s self-experimentation carried out with curanderos of the Peruvian upper amazon region. He attempts to find some constants which would permit characterization of the consecutive hallucinations caused by ingesting ayahuasca. He then proposes meditation on the “vision” achieved through these practices. He defines the criteria which, according to him, make these modifications of the conscious state worthy of interest, particularly from the therapeutic point of view.

Ayahuasca helps cure drug addictions

Author : Jacques Mabit

Translate from French by Kenneth A. Symington. English version published by Takiwasi Center in its Website. Original publication information is as follows : MABIT Jacques, "L'ayahuasca au secour des drogués", in: Revue Nouvelles Clés, Nº2, été 1994, pp.45-47, France.


In a mission to Peru, medical doctor Jacques Mabit discovers shamanic medicine. Impressed by the expertise of indigenous peoples on the subject of plants, he asks to be initiated. Today, he manages a Center in the Amazon with the help of shamans; he heals drug addicts with the use of a psychoactive preparation. It is not a substitute for a conventional medicine, but a tool of another type of medicine./n My experience in Peru during three years (1980-1983), as part of the “Doctors without Frontiers” program, convinced me of one thing: the healers know how to treat cases resistant to conventional medicine. My return to France reminded me of our relative powerlessness, especially in the areas of psychopathology and drug addiction, I then made the decision to more closely explore these therapeutic procedures, within the structure of a research project in medical anthropology. The discourse of shamans and healers soon revealed itself to be a difficult hurdle. “Who teaches you? --The plants, how do they teach you their knowledge? -- B y means of dreams or through altered states of consciousness produced b y ritual ingestion of psychotropic, non-addictive vegetable substances.” Is it possible that all this is true, in a controlled environment, subject to verification? Conversations with healers invariably ended with the question: “And I, a Western doctor, can I learn as well? ---Yes, the plants can teach you as well, if you love and respect them and ingest them strictly following the rules (diets, fasts, isolation in the forest, sexual abstinence, etc.) They will then come to you and speak to you; it is the only way to learn”.

Ayahuasca in the treatment of addictions

Author : Jacques Mabit

Published in the book “Psychedelic Medicine (Vol. 2). Hallucinogens and Health: New Evidence for Psychedelic Substances as Treatment” Apud Micheal J. Winkelman & Thomas B. Roberts, Greenwood Publishing Group, 2007, pp.85-107.


Ayahuasca is a mixture of a least two psychoactive South American plants: the liana ayahuasca (Banisteriopsis caapi) which gives its name to the beverage; and the leaves of chacruna (Psychotria viridis). The ayahuasca beverage constitutes a unique preparation because of its pharmacological action in which the beta-carboline alkaloids of Banisteriopsis caapi, playing the role of MAO inhibitors, enable the visionary effects of the tryptamine alkaloids found in Psychotria viridis. This specific symbiotic action, which modern science identified just a few decades ago, has been empirically known for at least 3000 years by the Indigenous groups of the western Amazon, according to archaeological evidence (Naranjo P., 1983). This simple fact deserves our attention because it reveals the extraordinary investigative potential of these ethnic groups, based on the compilation of information from the subjective perspective, which challenges our conventional western approach that tends towards exclusive objectivity with a rational focus. In other words, the psychotherapeutic discoveries of these Amazonian Indigenous peoples are not the result of mere chance or erratic investigation following the trial and error approach (Narby 1998). It is significant that both families of alkaloids of ayahuasca are also present in our bodies (Strassman 2001) and affect the serotonergic system, which suggests the existence of a natural, endogenous ayahuasca (Metzner et al 1999). Human use of use ayahuasca does not, therefore, constitute an external agent that could violate our physiology, but rather, it appeals to natural neuro-pharmacological processes, empowering them in ways that amplify their normal functionsi.

Ayahuasca Is About More Than Just You. It’s About Planetary Health

Author : Matteo Politi

Published on Kaphi - The Ayahuasca Hub, July 27, 2019.


As a pharmaceutical chemist who has spent more than 20 years around medicinal plants research and more recently also within ayahuasca drinking communities in the San Martin region in the Peruvian Amazonia, I suggest we can benefit greatly from thinking about ayahuasca beyond the medical paradigm. It’s time to take seriously the claims of indigenous elders and others who acknowledge the sentience of plant life and the deep human connection with the natural world. A key solution to our planetary crisis must involve protecting and incorporating indigenous knowledge. It can help us realize how our personal ayahuasca healing is also a kind of planetary healing. Below I outline several reasons why ayahuasca should be treated as much more than simply a personal “medicine.”

Ayahuasca tourism: participants in shamanic rituals and their personality styles, motivation, benefits and risks

Author : Veronika Kavenská, Hana Simonová

J Psychoactive Drugs, Volume 47 (Issue 5), 351-9, Nov-Dec 2015.


Ayahuasca continues to attract tourists to South America, where there has been a growth in the number of centers offering hallucinogenic ayahuasca experiences. The aims of this study were to (1) discover the reasons foreigners seek this type of experience; (2) define what an ayahuasca experience entails; (3) discover subjective perceptions of ayahuasca's benefits and risks; and (4) describe personality styles of participants using the personality questionnaire (PSSI). Participants were persons who had travelled to South America to use ayahuasca. Among the most frequent motivations were curiosity, desire to treat mental health problems, need for self-knowledge, interest in psychedelic medicine, spiritual development, and finding direction in life.

Ayahuasca, memory and consciousness. New applications of an ancient indigenous practice

Author : Jacques Mabit

Inaugural Conference for the 25th Anniversary of the Society for the Anthropology of Consciousness, April 15, 2005, University of Massachusetts, USA. Translated in December 2011, to English from Spanish by Abby Corbett.


My presence here is not due to the fact that I am a great scientist, neurophysiologic specialist, nor a distinguished philosopher of consciousness, rather, I believe, due to the fact that I can testify to the common experience of the auto-exploration of consciousness and its therapeutic applications. And this illustrates from the start the current situation of the contemporary debate revolving around the phenomenon of consciousness: the implicit acceptance or intuition that we should pass from a discourse "about" the consciousness to a direct experimentation of it and its modifications. Of course I am a doctor, a specialist in natural medicine from the University of Paris, a specialist in Tropical Pathology in Antwerp (Belgium), an associate professor at the Scientific University of the South in Lima, but these titles alone are not the reasons for, but rather the fact that with them, or in spite of them, I personally went into the practice of Amazonian shamanism. And from there I extracted a therapeutic application, through the elaboration of an attention protocol, to patients with addictions. In other words, I dared to cross certain borders, cultural, mental, and scientific, for various circumstances of my life and there is a feeling that this position “between-borders” is globalizing for many Westerners called to cross a similar threshold in their search, to take on a qualitative jump in the venture of their life. So today I find myself a Westerner who directs other Westerners to testify to personal experience and to reflect on the basis of that experience. Allow me, therefore, to part from the formalities of academia in order to simply share my thoughts on a language that is not only linear and rational, but also analogical and metaphorical.

Ayahuasca, past, present and perspectives

Author : Rosa Giove

Published in Spanish in the magazine Pueblo Continente Vol 23, N°1, p. 82-85, 2012. English translation: Fabio Friso.


The Ayahuasca brew has been used since ancestral times by the numerous ethnic groups of the western slope of the Amazon basin. It is estimated that 72 ethnic groups in this geographical area used it since remote times to modify their ordinary state of consciousness, for religious, therapeutic and cultural affirmation purposes.

Ayahuasca: Medicine with Incredible Potential

Author : Hernán Dinamarca

Interview published in April 2018 in Spanish on two occasions: in Le Monde Diplomatique (Chilean edition) and in Sitiocero. Translated to English by Jonathan Rodriguez.


At Takiwasi, an international and multidisciplinary team of allopathic doctors, psychologists, curanderos , and scientific investigators seeking knowledge about plants known as “master plants” comes together. The a priori diagnosis is that the use and abuse of drugs in adolescents expresses a search for meaning, a search for personal abundance that is oriented in the wrong direction. This search, especially within a society where personal meaning and spiritual wholeness is lacking can eventually lead to drug addiction. The antidote is the use of these “master plants”, along with psychotherapy, community living, and rigor. Along with these plants, the Ayahuasca potion serves as a cornerstone of the treatment at Takiwasi. Ayahuasca works through dreams, visions, and regressions that open what Carl Jung referred to as, “the inner voice”.

Ayahuasca: toxicity and limitations on its use

Author : Jacques Mabit

Extract from the expert witness report made for the Manto Wasi case and orally presented to the Court in Santiago de Chile, 2012 Translated from the Spanish by Kenneth A. Symington.


At this time, let us remember that the human body secretes its own "endo-ayahuasca", and therefore ingestion of ayahuasca only reproduces a natural mechanism of human physiology./n The usual scientific nomenclature categorizes ayahuasca as a "hallucinogenic" preparation.. This typology derives from the beginning of the XXth. century and continues by tradition, even though it does not correspond to an objective reality. Hallucination refers to an erroneous perception of reality, leading the subject to perceive things that do not exist. This definition assumes that only one objective, material, and perceivable reality exists. Advances in science, especially in quantum physics, have demonstrated that no reality exists independently of the observer, and when consciousness functions in a quantic manner, subjectivity imposes itself, leading each subject to interact with reality in such a way that there are as many ways of perceiving reality as there are human subjects. Theories in these disciplines consider the possibility of many realities, or levels of reality, as well as the possible existence of parallel universes.

Beyond the Pharmacology of Psychoactive Plant Medicines and Drugs: Pros and Cons of the Role of Rituals and Set and Setting

Author : Alex K. Gearin, Luis E. Luna, Fernando Mendive, Marco Leonti, Claudio Ferrante, Luigi Menghini and Matteo Politi

Editorial published in Frontiers in Pharmacology, 03 December 2021.


The Research Topic here presented is based on first-hand clinical experiences and ethnographic and observational fieldwork studies on practices used or inspired by traditional medicines related in particular to the so-called psychedelics; these are substances known to trigger non-ordinary states of consciousness, which are currently getting more attention in medicine as reflected by the increase in clinical research and a shift in attitude and opinion among public spheres. Overall, the articles in this special issue highlight the relevance of considering social and cultural domains when attempting to explain the benefits of using psychedelic plant medicines. In parallel to such perspectives, the question of mitigating risks involved with psychedelic use would equally benefit from considering social and cultural parameters, as highlighted in some of the research articles above. Social groups and cultural contexts do not simply give meaning to the experiential properties of psychedelic substance use but are necessary ingredients for safely turning such properties into medicine.

Beyond the Psychoactive Effects of Ayahuasca: Cultural and Pharmacological Relevance of Its Emetic and Purging Properties

Author : Matteo Politi, Giorgia Tresca, Luigi Menghini, Claudio Ferrante

Published in Planta Medica, November 18, 2021. Doi: 10.1055/a-1675-3840.


The herbal preparation ayahuasca has been an important part of ritual and healing practices, deployed to access invisible worlds in several indigenous groups in the Amazon basin and among mestizo populations of South America. The preparation is usually known to be composed of two main plants, Banisteriopsis caapi and Psychotria viridis, which produce both hallucinogenic and potent purging and emetic effects; currently, these are considered its major pharmacological activities. In recent decades, the psychoactive and visionary effect of ayahuasca has been highly sought after by the shamanic tourism community, which led to the popularization of ayahuasca use globally and to a cultural distancing from its traditional cosmological meanings, including that of purging and emesis. Further, the field of ethnobotany and ethnopharmacology has also produced relatively limited data linking the phytochemical diversity of ayahuasca with the different degrees of its purging and emetic versus psychoactive effects. Similarly, scientific interest has also principally addressed the psychological and mental health effects of ayahuasca, overlooking the cultural and pharmacological importance of the purging and emetic activity. The aim of this review is therefore to shed light on the understudied purging and emetic effect of ayahuasca herbal preparation. It firstly focuses on reviewing the cultural relevance of emesis and purging in the context of Amazonian traditions. Secondly, on the basis of the main known phytochemicals described in the ayahuasca formula, a comprehensive pharmacological evaluation of their emetic and purging properties is presented.

Biodiversity conservation in a wild therapeutic garden; the case of Takiwasi Center botanical reserve in the Peruvian high-amazon

Author : Fabio Friso, Matteo Politi

Published in Horticulture International Journal 3(2):41-44, March 2019.


Born as a center for the treatment of addiction and mental health and for the research on traditional Amazonian medicine, the Takiwasi Center, located in the Peruvian high-Amazon, over more than 25 years of existence has developed a series of parallel activities focused on the conservation of the environment and the recovery and promotion of Amazonian medicinal flora and of the indigenous knowledge related to it, within the general frame of “planetary health”. In this context, an on-site Botanical Garden has been created with a linked plant nursery that produces timber and medicinal species that are later transplanted into the Botanical Reserve of the center, an area of 54 hectares located within the borders of the San Martin Regional Conservation Area “Cordillera Escalera”. In this sector, in addition to a project of reforestation and conservation of the species of the Amazonian flora with a focus on medicinal plants, therapeutic activities are also performed such as the so-called traditional dietas, which offer participants a space of contact and reconnection with nature and with their inner self, to be able to work on certain psychological or emotional problems. For the future, the will of the center is to integrate the Botanical Reserve into an ecotourism route to be developed and managed in coordination with other local associations dedicated to biodiversity conservation. The strategic importance of the Botanical Reserve can then be observed, serving both for therapeutic purposes, for the conservation of local endangered biodiversity, and for the promotion of sustainable development alternatives such as ecotourism, that at the same time take into account, protect and promote the cultural richness of the region derived from indigenous ancestral knowledge.

Blending traditions: using indigenous medicinal knowledge to treat drug addiction

Author : Jacques Mabit

Published by the “Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies” (MAPS), Vol XII, Nº2, summer 2002, pp. 25-32, Sarasota, USA. Translated from French by Kartina Amin.


Ancestral medical practices are based on a highly sophisticated practical knowledge and, in contrast to the clumsiness with which Western peoples induce altered states of consciousness, view the controlled induction of non-ordinary states of consciousness as potentially beneficial, even in the treatment of the modern phenomena of drug addiction. Drawing from his clinical experience in the High Peruvian Amazonian forest, the author describes the therapeutic benefits of the wise use of medicinal plants, including non-addictive psychoactive preparations, such as the famous Ayahuasca tea. Within an institutional structure, a therapeutic system combining indigenous practices with contemporary psychotherapy yields highly encouraging results (positive in 2/3 of the patients). This invites us to reconsider convention approaches to drug addiction and the role of the individual’s spiritual journey in recovery.

Chakaruna, a vital encounter between Andean-Amazonian and Western tradition

Author : Ricardo Chirinos Portocarrero

Interview with Dr. Jacques Mabit. Originally published in Spanish in Unay Runa nº9, Revista de Ciencias Sociales, Yachay, saberes andino-amazónicos, Lima, 2018, pp. 187-213. English translation: Fabio Friso.


Bridges exist, the human being is one of them, the truth is one of them and there are doors behind the objective world. Scientific objectivity seems to contradict indigenous subjectivity, but the latter has been able to access fine knowledge and produce very sophisticated concrete applications long before Western science... which was very much inspired by it.

Coca and Ayahuasca: same destiny?

Author : Jacques Mabit

Published in June 2018 in the blog of the collective of researchers and activists Drogas, Política y Cultura and based on the lecture delivered at the II World Ayahuasca Conference, Río Branco, Brazil, October 2016.


While Peru built the magnificent Inca civilization aided by the wisdom provided by the Coca leaf, it later became the first producer of toxic derivatives of this profaned plant. On the other hand, the healing use of Ayahuasca was discovered a few decades ago and in a short time its use exploded all over the world. What did the use of Coca in Western world respond to and what does the use of Ayahuasca respond to today? What can the path followed with Coca teach us in relation to the use of Ayahuasca? Will the accelerated desacralization of this medicine reach the same extremes as the misuse of Coca?

Conceptions and practices of an integrative treatment for substance use disorders involving Amazonian medicine: traditional healers’ perspectives

Author : Ilana Berlowitz, Christian Ghasarian, Heinrich Walt, Fernando Mendive, Vanessa Alvarado, Chantal Martin-Soelch

Published in Revista Brasileira de Psiquiatria, ahead of print, Epub Dec 18, 2017


In an attempt to improve existing treatment options, some research has therefore explored alternative or traditional healing practices for SUDs, in a parallel way as such therapies are often used for somatic chronic diseases, like cancer. Specifically traditional Amazonian medicine, an ancient healing system involving the use of medicinal plants and ritual techniques from the Amazon rainforest, ought to be investigated.

Cultural and Pharmacological Relevance of the Emetic and Purging Properties of Ayahuasca

Author : Fabio Friso, Jacques Mabit

Published on the Takiwasi website, December 2021.


Despite the great emphasis on the widely known psychoactive effects of ayahuasca and its potential application in mental health disorders, the scientific community seems to pay less attention to its purgative and emetic properties, being the latter only scarcely mentioned and mainly considered as side and undesirable effects. Nonetheless, within the traditional ritual use, such purgative and emetic effects are considered relevant aspects for the overall efficacy of the ayahuasca medicine A study carried out by researchers from the University of Chieti, Italy, and led by the scientific director of Takiwasi, Matteo Politi, has set the aim of precisely reviewing the cultural significance of these effects within the traditional and ceremonial use of ayahuasca, and to review the pharmacology of the main constituents for their potential application in gastro-intestinal health. We analyze here some of its main results.

Drinking Ayahuasca Without DMT is Powerful and Traditional

Author : Matteo Politi

Article published online on Kahpi - The Ayahuasca Blog, March 31, 2020.


When using the word ayahuasca, we generally mean the well-known decoction of the vine Banisteriopsis caapi and the shrub Psychotria viridis, but in the Peruvian Amazon the term “ayahuasca” is also commonly used to refer to just the vine. A diluted preparation of this single ingredient is regularly used among various indigenous groups in Peru, including the Awajún where it is consumed as a rite of passage aimed at turning children into adults.

Drug addiction treatment by the traditional medicine of the Awajún tribe

Author : Miroslav Horák, Jaime Torres Romero

Published in the “Journal of Research on Contemporary Society”, 2014. v. 1, no. 1, p. 21--27.


San Martín region is among the locations with the highest production of cocaine and cocaine paste in the Upper Amazon. Since 1992 the Takiwasi Center has been operating in Tarapoto, the economic center of the region. The Center is focusing on the treatment of patients addicted to these drugs by traditional indigenous medicine combined with psychotherapy. During nine months long rehabilitation program, the patients ritually drink plant extracts, intended for detoxification of organism and addiction treatment. One of them is purgahuasca, an extract from the liana Banisteriopsis caapi, which represents the traditional component of the Awajún tribe indigenous medicine. This plant extract, previously used in rites of passage, thus became a compact part of the rehabilitation program for drug addicts. The paper deals with the description of purgahuasca use in the Peruvian history, contains detail analysis of the purgahuasca rite, and includes a reflection of effects produced by the extract written down in the internal reports of Takiwasi patients and an assessment of the significance of the purgahuasca rite in the wider cultural context.

Empirical uses of tobacco to prevent and reduce the toxic effects of COVID-19, vaccinations and the after-effects of intoxication

Author : Jacques Mabit

Published in the web page of Takiwasi, may 2021.


The global health crisis declared since early 2020 with the appearance and spread of SARS-CoV-2 and the disease labeled COVID-19, places each person in front of difficult choices to make for their health and that of their loved ones. Contradictory, biased, censored information further complicates “informed” or “enlightened” decision-making. The essential questions that arise are to determine the possible preventive measures, the treatments for symptomatic people, the approach to the after-effects of the infection or intoxication (Mild COVID, Long COVID), the choice to be vaccinated or not, the prevention of the possible toxic effects of vaccines for both the vaccinated and the non-vaccinated in the presence of the vaccinated. Traditional Amazonian medicines point to the empirical use of therapeutic black tobacco as an essential remedy in all these cases, this claim being supported by the data acquired from science and the research leads currently underway on tobacco. We propose in this article to identify some guidelines around the role and place of tobacco in the context of the COVID-19 epidemic and to point out the possible empirical therapeutic uses to respond to different individual situations in the face of the choices that are needed.

Ethnomedical uses of Yawar Panga (Aristolochia didyma) in a therapeutic community dedicated to the treatment of drug addiction in the Peruvian Amazon

Author : Matteo Politi, Nahuel Simonet, Eric Kube, Tereza Rumlerová, Edilberto Chuquilín Bustamante, Gary Saucedo Rojas, Fabio Friso, Gokhan Zengin, Luigi Menghini, Claudio Ferrante

Published in Natural Resources for Human Health, 3(2), 248-258, February 2023.


Aristolochia didyma (Yawar Panga) and other Aristolochia species are used as traditional herbal remedies with potent emetic properties. Scientific data for such Yawar Panga species, however, are scarce in the literature. The aim of this study was to describe the use of Yawar Panga within the context of the therapeutic community Takiwasi, in which the plant is used as part of the protocol for the rehabilitation of individuals with drug addiction. Fieldwork with experts in the administration of Yawar Panga at Takiwasi Center, as well as a retrospective qualitative analysis of experiences with this plant remedy in a residential inpatient population were performed. In-silico analysis of the main constituents of A. didyma as represented in the literature was completed in order to identify its putative pharmacological targets. The therapists interviewed consider Yawar Panga to be the most potent purga at Takiwasi and consider it especially useful in attenuating addiction withdrawal syndrome. From the patient’s perspective, this plant induces strong physical effects, and commonly precipitates effects in the oneiric and emotional dimensions. GABA B seems to be the receptor involved in the emesis induced by the phytochemicals contained in this plant species. Despite some relevant concerns related to the safety of the genus Aristolochia in modern western pharmacopoeias, some species, including A. didyma, are routinely used in the context of traditional herbal medicine in the Peruvian Amazon. Further phyto-pharmacological investigations would be helpful to elaborate this species’ medical utility, especially within the context of addiction treatment.

Evaluating herbal medicine preparation from a traditional perspective: insights from an ethnopharmaceutical survey in the Peruvian Amazon

Author : Giorgia Tresca, Olivia Marcus, Matteo Politi

Article published in Anthropology & Medicine, January 21, 2020.


The field of medical ethnobotany has historically contributed to the advancement of modern pharmaceutical and biomedical science through bringing discoveries from the field into the laboratory. In ethnopharmacology, a sub-field of ethnobotany, there is a concerning lack of ethnographic methods reported in the literature. The ethnographic approach is essential for detailing traditional methods of preparation and administration of plant medicines, yet pharmaceutical researchers overemphasize western epistemologies of medicinal discovery and production. In the present work, we propose an ethnopharmaceutical survey as a model to investigate the culturally recognized standards necessary for the formulation of herbal medicines. Fieldwork based on participant observation and semi-structured interviews examined the modes of preparation employed by traditional healers in the Amazonian region of San Martín, Peru. The authors draw on anthropological insight into plural epistemological encounters and propose an ethnopharmaceutical approach that takes seriously the Amazonian methods and perceptions for the preparation of traditional plant medicines.

Experiences of Listening to Icaros during Ayahuasca Ceremonies at Centro Takiwasi: An Interpretive Phenomenological Analysis

Author : Owain Graham, Gary Saucedo, Matteo Politi

Published in Anthropology of Consciousness, 2022, Vol. 34, Issue 1, pp. 35-67.


Research on psychedelic-assisted psychotherapy has shown that music affects therapeutic outcomes at a fundamental level. The development of such therapies calls for research on the use of music with consciousness-altering substances, especially in contexts informed by their traditional use. Informed by ethnographic reports, our project answers this call, investigating the phenomenology of listening to icaros (medicine songs) during ayahuasca ceremonies as reported by addiction rehabilitation patients at Perú’s Centro Takiwasi. We found that icaros were therapeutically significant. They elicited experiences of healing by modulating patients’ emotions and the altered state induced by ayahuasca. They helped patients feel safe while guiding them through difficult memories and emotions, and facilitating experiences of healing and learning about their addictions. Thus, similar therapies must carefully consider how they incorporate music in their protocols. We suggest further research to better understand the synergistic, therapeutic effects of music and altered states of consciousness, especially in cross-cultural environments.

Faith and Ayahuasca (How to speak of my faith in God since my experience with medicinal plants)

Author : Father Cristian Alejandría Ágreda

Conference presented in the Congress “Medicinas Tradicionales, Interculturalidad y Salud Mental”, Tarapoto, 2009 and published in the memory book. Original title “Fe y Ayahuasca (Cómo hablar de mi fe en Dios desde mi experiencia con las plantas)”. Translated in July 2017 from Spanish to English by Valeria Paz Villegas.


In order to understand the patients’ experience, I saw that it was necessary to experience what they were doing, that is, drinking purgatives and beginning the process until getting to the master plant Ayahuasca. I had to accept this in order to, from then on, have answers for the many questions the patients would have and everything they wanted to clarify about their lives.

Fire plants and their symbology

Author : Jacques Mabit

Conference presented at the VII Forum of the Inter-American Council on Indigenous Spirituality (CISEI), held in Buenos Aires, Argentina, November 2012. Published in Spanish in the book “Foros Internacionales Espiritualidad Indígena y Mundo Occidental Perú 2015”, Apud Jacques Mabit & Ilana Berlowitz, Takiwasi Ed., Lima 2017, section 1, pp. 157-182. English Translation: Fabio Friso.


Traditional Amazonian medicine uses certain plants that are associated with the fire element and that play an important role not only in the field of physical healing but also for psycho-emotional and spiritual recovery. Starting from a symbolic approach to the fire element, in this article we propose to discern how these symbolic qualities, recognized by numerous traditions, coincide with the wisdom and ancient therapeutic practice of Amazonian healers, and with our own clinical experience.

Fire plants in the therapeutic process at the Takiwasi Center

Author : Rosa Giove

Article based on the lecture delivered at the VII Forum of the Inter-American Council on Indigenous Spirituality (CISEI), held in November 2012 in Buenos Aires, Argentina. Published in Spanish in “Foros Internacionales Espiritualidad Indígena y Mundo Occidental Perú 2015”, Apud Jacques Mabit & Ilana Berlowitz, Takiwasi Ed., Lima 2017, section 1, pp. 183-190. English Translation: Fabio Friso.


In the Andean-Amazonian worldview, lack of harmony is seen as the origin of evil, and the cold-heat imbalance is very present. People get sick from lack of heat, that is, from cold, or from excessive heat, and each case produces different symptoms and characteristics. This conception of cold-heat is not exclusive to the Amazonian worldview. It is present in many other ancestral cultures, such as Chinese, Indo-European or Arab medicine, probably arising from the observation of nature and perhaps introduced into Latin America by the Spanish, who brought with them their medieval medicinal systems.

From hurricane to light breeze

Author : Jacques Mabit

Lecture delivered in French as part of the 2011-2012 series of lectures IdéesPsy, Series: Cries and whisperings of the soul, Paris, May 2, 2012. Translated to English by Fabio Friso.


The exploration of our inner being often refers us to this apparent opposition between the material world of manifestation and the invisible world of principles, between what cries in us and what the soul whispers. For the "ways of God are high above ours" (Is 55,6-9.) and undoubtedly the object of this inner quest consists in overcoming this separation between the world from above and from below, so that the will of the Father can be applied here below as it already applies up there. Thus, we proclaim to be loved while our soul whispers "love"; we cry to be recognized while it whispers "recognize the other and the All-Other". The initiations of the first peoples, in their extreme experiences, lead the individual to surrender to his humanity and join this intimate place where he becomes a being "with broken hearts and minds". We then see, when man touches his own misery, a spontaneous springing up and overflowing from the body of the essence of the soul that asks for forgiveness and gives thanks. Never have contrition and gratitude appeared to me so authentic, as manifestations of memory incarnated in the depths of the body. For like Elijah (1 Kings 19: 9-21), man meets God not in the mad hurricane of his fantasies, the seismic jolts of his frenzy, or the devouring fire of his passions, but, in the midst of silence, in the light breath of an inner breeze.

Gabor Maté meets Jacques Mabit

Author : Jacques Mabit & Gabor Maté

Published in "The Ayahuasca Conversations, Encounters from the film The Jungle Prescription", compiled by Jeronimo M.M., Robín McKenna & Mark Ellam, Robot Jaguar Productions, Toronto, pp. 95-149, april 2017.


Canadian doctor and author Gabor Maté has spent years working with addicts. Frustrated with the available options for treatment, he visited Takiwasi to learn more about the center’s approach. These are some of the conversations that took place between doctors Jacques Mabit and Gabor Maté.

Healing and Knowledge with Amazonian Shamanic Diet

Author : Matteo Politi

Article published on, September 27, 2018.


Within the Amazonian traditional medicine, teacher plants are considered living beings able to transmit knowledge, once consumed within the specific rituals like the dieta. Such ritual technique has been used as a therapeutic tool for over 25 years in the Takiwasi Center as part of the addiction treatment protocol. The several dietas that patients undertake during their inpatient care are crucial for the success of the treatment.

Implementation of Nagoya Protocol on Access and benefit-sharing in Peru: Implications for researchers

Author : Fabio Friso, Fernando Mendive, Marco Soffiato, Valerio Bombardelli, Alan Hesketh, Michael Heinrich, Luigi Menghini, Matteo Politi

Published in Journal of Ethnopharmacology, available online 18 April 2020.


Ethnopharmacological relevance The Peruvian Amazon holds more than 1000 plant species with commercial potential and the national sales of natural products derived from medicinal and aromatic plants have exceeded $ 400 million per year. Research and development activities carried out on the genetic and biochemical composition of Peruvian flora have to abide by national and international regulations, such as the Nagoya Protocol (NP).
Aim of the study The aim of this paper is to describe the implications of the current implementation of the NP in Peru for performing research on national genetic resources.
Materials and methods A review of the current legal framework and status of the NP in Peru was performed accompanied by first-hand experience undertaken by submitting a request for access to genetic resources related to wild continental species.
Results So far, Peru has issued 16 Internationally Recognized Certificates of Compliance (IRCCs) through 2 of the identified National Authorities. Some of the difficulties and challenges observed have to do with the degree of effective implementation of the Access and Benefit-Sharing (ABS) system, the fact that the application process is not sufficiently clear, and the wide gap between this formal system and what occurs informally outside of it. In response to this, training and implementation projects have been launched and a new law on the access to genetic resources has been proposed.
Conclusions The difficulties observed still represent an obstacle to scientific research and the development of new commercial products based on Peruvian traditional knowledge and genetic resources. Although improvements have been made to the ABS framework, there remain major challenges to encouraging and ascertaining the equitable and sustainable use of Peru's biodiversity.

Itinerary and testimony of Dr. Jacques Mabit, Physician and Shaman

Author : Frédérique Apffel-Marglin

April 2007 – InterCulture No. 152 - Identity and Religious Pluralism - pages 25-45.


The following words were spoken to me in French during an interview I conducted with Dr. Mabit on January 23, 2007/n I told Dr. Mabit that I had awakened interest in the editorial team of InterCulture for his practice of an ayahuasca ritual where Christianity and indigenous spirituality were blended and enriched each other. I explained that we wished to publish his words in this issue on religious pluralism. I also reminded him of my own spiritual experience with ayahuasca at Takiwasi. I translated his words into English.

Jung, his inspirers and the New Age

Author : Jacques Mabit

Originally published in French on the web page of Takiwasi, 10 October 2021. Translation by Fabio Friso.


The figure of Carl Gustav Jung (1875-1961), Swiss psychiatrist and founder of Analytical Psychology and Depth Psychology, cannot be left out of the list of “inspirers of the New Age”. Indeed, beyond his status as a psychoanalyst, he is an almost constant reference for personal development seminars and training in transpersonal psychotherapy, but also, in his approach and his explorations, a person “inspired” by of spiritual entities, as he himself recognized. That is to say, much of his knowledge and his writings do not proceed from his own background but from “revelations” transmitted by “inspirers” belonging to the spirit world. The power and richness of his thought fascinate and arouse admiration, and just as much justifies examining his sources of inspiration.

Magical Thinking

Author : Jacques Mabit

Interview with Jacques Mabit by journalist Álvaro R. de la Rubia, January 2021.


The Amazonian peoples (like all ancestral peoples) are quite pragmatic and what anthropologists describe as “magical-religious thinking” is in good part a projection of Western thought. The desecrated Western world, where “God is dead”, finds itself without a spiritual compass. The indigenous peoples know the invisible world while the Westerners deny it or imagine it, they have cut themselves off from it, they ignore it, and rationalism actually hides a strong imaginary of compensation, often unconscious, about the “indigenous”. They are fantasized as “good savages” ideally living in harmony with nature, pure and wise, which is a total illusion, or as superstitious, irrational ignorant, lacking in discernment, which is just as inaccurate. The extraordinary crisis of covid-19 shows to what extent Westerners can “swallow” delusions and fantasies beyond all rationality, pragmatism, and even outside all scientific criteria (which is the definition of superstition).

Marijuana: angel or demon?

Author : Jacques Mabit

Article originally published in Spanish in the Takiwasi Magazine Nº 5, pp 63-77, Tarapoto, Perú, 1997


Marijuana (Cannabis Sativa) has become in our days a constant theme of debate, therefore it perfectly symbolizes the conflict between the supporters of the total liberalization of consumption of psychoactive substances in one hand, and on the other, the opponents of any tolerance towards them. These systematic postions obligate us to choose between these two ¨closed¨ options: the first, modestly wraps itself in the cloak of tolerance, liberty and a pseudo ¨angelical¨ approach to the ¨herb¨; the second one, demonizes all induced modified states of consciousness and with horror, mentions the bloodcurdling numbers of drug addicts in the world. Whomever brings this subject up, risksbecoming an executioner sent by the “establishment” to sustain moral order, or an irresponsible person, heir to hippies, completely unable to face and deal with the challenges of the modern world.

Medicinal plants diet as emerging complementary therapy from the Amazonian tradition. Data from Centro Takiwasi, a Peruvian therapeutic community

Author : Matteo Politi, Gary Saucedo, Tereza Rumlerova, Olivia Marcus, Jaime Torres, Jacques Mabit

Published in Journal of Medicinal Herbs and Ethnomedicine 2019, vol. 5, pp. 23-28.


This article presents data related to diet-retreat users at Centro Takiwasi, a therapeutic community that specializes in addiction rehabilitation based on a protocol that combines western psychotherapy with traditional Amazonian medicine. Central to Amazonian shamanism in Peru is the dieta (diet-retreat), a practice of drinking plant preparations in isolation in the rainforest while observing dietary restrictions, abstaining from social relations, sexual activities, and the use of perfumes. In the past two decades, the dieta has become increasingly popular among a global audience as an alternative form of healing for various physical and mental health conditions. We discuss socio-demographic data of the diet-retreat users at Centro Takiwasi from 2012-2017, describing as well the main plants used for this medical practice inspired by the local Amazonian traditional knowledge. Results indicate a rising interest in the shamanic diet for westerners as a complementary or integrative therapeutic experience. Further research on the Amazonian diet could contribute to implement a novel approach in herbal medicine at large.

One hundred days of ayahuasca in France: the story of a legal decision

Author : Ghislaine Bourgogne

Lecture first presented in French with the title “Les cent jours de l’Ayahuasca” during the Congress “Medicinas Tradicionales, Interculturalidad y Salud Mental”, Tarapoto, Perú, 2009. English version published in the book “The Internationalization of Ayahuasca” Beatriz C. Labate and Henrik Jungaberle, eds. Zurich Switzerland, Lit Verlag, 2011, 446 pp.


This article is about how ayahuasca came to be known in France and the meeting points of historical, social, medical, psychological contexts that are surrounding its use on the legal as well as on the ethical levels. The question is why the use of ayahuasca that after all concerns only a minute part of the French population leads to so much effects and controversies. We will explain the interaction of all those contexts.

Participant Experiences on a Medicinal Plant Diet at Takiwasi Center: An In-Depth Small-Scale Survey

Author : Tereza Rumlerová, Fabio Friso, Jaime Torres Romero, Veronika Kavenská, Matteo Politi

Published in Anthropology of Consciousness, 27 October 2021.


The medicinal plant diet is a healing process used in traditional Amazonian medicine (TAM), and it is poorly described within the scientific literature. This work analyzes the experience of seven participants in this therapy performed at the Takiwasi Center in Peru. Semistructured interviews were performed before and after treatment, documenting participants’ motivation, psychological experience, and perceived personal changes (physically, psychologically, socially, and spiritually), as well as the role played by each medicinal plant. All the interviews were recorded, transcribed, and analyzed using interpretative phenomenological analysis. Reasons to participate in the plant diet included self-discovery, personal development, interest in plant medicine, and professional realization. The experience was perceived as intense and allowed participants to experience self-acceptance, self-discovery, mental balance, rest, cleansing, and connection with nature. Three months after the experience, participants felt physical changes (n = 6), psychological changes (n = 7), social changes (n = 5), and spiritual changes (n = 5).

Peruvian herbal medicines in the context of Nagoya Protocol; challenges and opportunities

Author : Fabio Friso, Fernando Mendive, Marco Soffiato, Alan Hesketh, Valerio Bombardelli, Luigi Menghini, Matteo Politi

Published in PharmacologyOnLine Journal of SILAE - Società Italo-LatinoAmericana di Etnomedicina Cibo e Salute. Supplementary Issue - vol. 1, December 30, 2019 Abstract Book of the 28° SILAE Congress.


It is estimated that the Peruvian Amazon holds more than 1000 plant species with commercial potential and the national sales of natural products derived from medicinal and aromatic plants have exceeded $ 400 million per year. BioTrade companies such as the Takiwasi Laboratory have focused mainly on the collection, processing and marketing of products based on local biodiversity under sustainability criteria (UNCTAD, 2016). Research and development activities and collaborations are also carried out on the genetic and biochemical composition of the plants, which implies to abide by the national and international regulations, such as the Nagoya Protocol (NP). Despite this richness in terms of indigenous traditional knowledge and biodiversity, Peru, like many other countries, is struggling to update its administrative procedures and regulations in order to respond in a timely manner to researchers and private companies that request formal access to genetic resources.

Phytochemical profiling of Amazonian Herbal Medicinal Products: The role of traditional processing methods

Author : Matteo Politi, Giorgia Tresca, Marco Soffiato, Richer Garay Montes, Fernando Mendive

Journal of Medicinal Herbs and Ethnomedicine, Vol 5, 2019.


Research on traditional processing methods used to transform plants into medicines offers a valuable arena to investigate the correct formulation of herbal products. While scientific literature on traditional herbal medicines emphasizes the relevance of the taxonomical identification of the used species, the same rigor is not applied to recording the processing methods. In other words, attention is given to the ingredients, but not the recipes. This can not only jeopardize the quality of research on traditional herbal medicines, but also generate concerns once such medicines reach the global markets in compliance with modern manufacturing requirements, which are usually well far away from the traditional ones. In the present work, different traditional herbal medicines used in the region of San Martin, Peru, were analyzed by the means of UPLC-UV/DAD metabolite fingerprinting. Different extracts were prepared from same commercially available materials in order to test the effect of the recipes on the chemistry of the finished products. In particular, different plant parts and their status (fresh or dry), extraction solvents and decoction times were selected for metabolite comparisons between the extracts. In accord with literature data on others traditional pharmacopoeias, our results show how specific manufacturing steps can affect the chemistry of the finished products. Further efforts are necessary to evaluate the traditional herbal practices, whether understandable or not, with modern scientific approaches.

Pilot Evaluation of a Residential Drug Addiction Treatment Combining Traditional Amazonian Medicine, Ayahuasca and Psychotherapy on Depression and Anxiety

Author : Cecile Giovannetti, Sara Garcia Arce, Brian Rush, Fernando Mendive

Published in Journal of Psychoactive Drugs, 04 August 2020.


Recent research highlighted the therapeutic potential of ayahuasca, a psychoactive plant brew used ritually in traditional Amazonian medicine (TAM). The present study evaluates the impact of integrating ayahuasca and TAM with psychotherapy on depression and anxiety in an inpatient addiction treatment program. Male patients (N = 31) were evaluated pre and post treatment using the Beck Anxiety Inventory (BAI) and the Beck Depression Inventory (BDI). Clinical and sociodemographic characteristics, motivation, quality of life, spirituality, and treatment satisfaction were also measured and analyzed by means of two tailed t-test, one way ANOVA and Spearman test. From pre- to post-treatment, patients showed significant reductions in scores of anxiety (from 20.8 to 11.6, p < .002) and depression (from 18.7 to 7.5, p <.001). Similarly, patients showed higher scores of quality of life (p < .001) and spirituality (p < .001) upon discharge, which correlated with their reduction in scores of anxiety and depression. While future results will evaluate the efficacy of this treatment on measures of addiction at follow-up, the present results build upon previous research to bring further support to the use of Ayahuasca and Amazonian medicine in mental health treatments with a transpersonal focus.

Plant based assisted therapy for the treatment of substance use disorders - part 1. The case of Takiwasi Center and other similar experiences

Author : Matteo Politi, Fabio Friso, Jacques Mabit

Published in Revista Cultura y Droga, 23 (26), 99-126, Julio-Diciembre 2018. DOI: 10.17151/culdr.2018.23.26.7.


Objective This article aims to give an overview of the major American centers using traditional herbal medicine or their derivatives in the treatment of substance dependence. Methodology For the purpose of this article we have considered a small number of plants hailing from South, Central and North America. The research has been based on scientific literature, information exchange with treatment centers, internet searches and the personal experience of the authors. Results and discussion Results show the relevance of certain psychoactive plants well known also for inducing modified states of consciousness (MSCs) including Ayahuasca, Coca, Wachuma, Tobacco, Psilocybe mushrooms, Salvia divinorum and Peyote. Conclusions Plant based assisted therapy for the treatment of substance use disorders appear to be a promising field of research, although validation of the clinical outcomes need to be improved for the majority of the analyzed cases.

Plant based assisted therapy for the treatment of substance use disorders - part 2. Beyond blurred boundaries

Author : Matteo Politi, Fabio Friso, Jacques Mabit

Published in Revista Cultura y Droga, 24 (28), p. 19-42, Julio - Diciembre 2019.


Objective. This article aims to offer a vision of the centers at a global level that use derivatives of plants or animals for the treatment of substance use disorders, and to offer a reflection on the concept of drugs as medicinal or toxicant agents depending on the context of use, culture and policy. Methodology. Some practices coming from Africa, Asia, Europe and the Americas were considered, carrying out a research based on scientific literature, exchange of information with treatment centers, internet search and the personal experience of the authors. Results and Discussion. Different cases of the use of natural medicines are described including psychoactive derivatives of Tabernanthe iboga and Bufo alvarius. Conclusions. The blurred boundaries between considering drug consumption as a crime or as a health issue could be overcome by being inspired by the ancient wisdom of traditional medicines.

Plant Teachers as a Source of Healing in the Peruvian Amazon

Author : Gonzalo Brito, Claire Sieber

Published in: Alan Drengson & Duncan Taylor (Editors), Wild Foresting: Practicing Nature's Wisdom, New Society Publishers, 2009, 307 p.


As ecological studies have demonstrated, the health of the ecosystem depends upon many symbiotic and reciprocal relationships between plants, animals and non-biotic elements. Studies in psychology demonstrate that there are similar requirements for individual human health. The intuition that psychological problems arise not only from internal variables, but rather that they also depend upon the contexts in which people live, work, relate and change is not new. To better understand patients’ suffering, and to find ways out of this suffering, psychology has drawn from the application of systems theory in the therapeutic field. In particular, psychologists have focused on contextual variables such as the familial and social dynamics in which patients are situated. More recently, we have come to understand that it is not only our social systems, but also the ecosystems in which we live that have a profound impact on our psyches and our general sensations of well-being or illness.

Protocol for Outcome Evaluation of Ayahuasca-Assisted Addiction Treatment: The Case of Takiwasi Center

Author : Brian Rush, Olivia Marcus, Sara Garcia, Anja Loizaga-Velder, Gabriel Loewinger, Ariane Spitalier and Fernando Mendive

Published in Frontiers in Pharmacology, May 19, 2021.


The present study describes the protocol for the Ayahuasca Treatment Outcome Project (ATOP) with a special focus on the evaluation of addiction treatment services provided through Takiwasi Center, the first ATOP study site. The goal of the project is to assess treatment outcomes and understand the therapeutic mechanisms of an Ayahuasca-assisted, integrative treatment model for addiction rehabilitation in the Peruvian Amazon. The proposed intervention protocol highlights the significance of treatment setting in the design, delivery, and efficacy of an addiction rehabilitation program that involves the potent psychedelic tea known as Ayahuasca. After describing the context of the study, we put forth details about our mixed-methods approach to data collection and analysis, with which we seek to gain an understanding of why, how, and for whom this specific ayahuasca-assisted treatment program is effective across a range of outcomes. The ATOP protocol employs qualitative research methods as a means to determine which aspects of the setting are meaningful to clients and practitioners, and how this may correlate with outcome measures. This paper delineates the core principles, methods, and measures of the overall ATOP umbrella, then discusses the role of ATOP in the context of the literature on long-term residential programs. To conclude, we discuss the strengths and limitations of the protocol and the intended future of the project.

Purging to cleanse: a qualitative study of Ayahuasca healing at a drug treatment centre in Peru

Author : Svĕt Lustig Vijay, Magdalena Harris, Fabio Friso, Matteo Politi

Published in Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs, June 2024.


Ayahuasca, an entheogen from the Amazon rainforest, has garnered growing interest to treat substance dependence. To date, there is little research concerning the act of Ayahuasca-related purging (mainly vomiting), which is considered to be central to healing during Ayahuasca rituals. This study explored practitioner perspectives on purging during Ayahuasca rituals at the Takiwasi Centre in Peru. We conducted in-depth interviews with curanderos (healers), plant preparers, and psychotherapists (N=11) at the Takiwasi Centre between August-October 2021. Interviews were conducted and transcribed in Spanish. Interviews were analyzed using a thematic analysis approach. Participants described purging as a fluid concept that went beyond the act of vomiting. Participant narratives around purging were organized into three central themes or “accounts”: Spiritual-oriented, which highlighted the relationship between purging and spiritual development; Amazonian-oriented, which placed emphasis on purging as a cathartic expulsion of embodied cargas (loads) that are perceived to lead to sickness; and Clinical-oriented, which stressed that purging generates a range of empirically-observable therapeutic benefits. All of these explanatory models emphasized the pivotal interconnection between purging and healing during Ayahuasca-assisted treatment for substance dependence at Takiwasi. This study highlights practitioner perspectives on purging at the Takiwasi Centre, who offer three main explanatory models for this aspect of healing during Ayahuasca-assisted therapy for substance dependence. This research contributes to the limited literature on the role of purging in Ayahuasca-related healing, which may inform further investigation into differential understandings of the role of purging for therapeutic benefits.

Reflections on Ayahuasca from a therapeutic perspective

Author : Jacques Mabit, José Campos, Julio Arce

Translated from Spanish. English version published by Takiwasi. Original publication information is as follows : MABIT Jacques, "Consideraciones acerca del brebaje ayahuasca y perspectivas terapéuticas", in: Revista Peruana de Neuro- Psiquiatría, Tomo LV, 2, pp. 118-131, Lima, Peru, june 1992.


The water extract from Banipsteriopsis caapi, Psychotria vidris and Brugmansia ap., a potion generally known in the jungle as Ayahuasca, constitutes the central axis of curanderismo (shamanism) throughout the entire Amazon basin, due to its purgative and psychotropic effects. Anthropological, psychological and phytochemical studies demonstrate that, if it is properly administered, it can be advantageously used in the treatment of chemical dependencies and psychopathology. Our studies of Ayahuasca enable us to reach a number of conclusions regarding improvements in its method of preparation. Treatment of patients also indicates that therapeutic sessions are affected not only by the active ingredients (β-carbolines and tryptamines) of Ayahuasca, but also by the psychosomatic condition of the patient, by natural environmental factors, and by other factors controlled by the therapist.

Reiki or spiritual deceit

Author : Jacques Mabit

Article originally published in French “Le Reiki ou l’arnaque spirituelle”, November 2016. Translated in August 2017, to English from Spanish by Ken Symington.


Reiki has been fashionable since the 1990’s and from the beginning of the century, developing with great speed in all situations. Our therapeutic experience shows us that It is one of the largest and constant sources of spiritual infestation. This spiritual danger is greatly ignored and underestimated, which is why it seems useful to transmit our experience regarding this theme and our thoughts about this social phenomenon, as a warning to those using it.

Reparation ritual for unborn children

Author : Jacques Mabit

Article published in Takiwasi's web page, September 2010.


We propose in this article a reparation ritual for children who were not born because of a premature death provoked spontaneously or willingly. This extraordinary healing act was born from a particular experience that happened in the Takiwasi Center, in Peru, using a therapeutic approach whose origin we will explain. The clinical experience of three decades has shown us the serious and sometimes dramatic consequences of abortions whose physical, psychological, and spiritual effects are often silenced or underestimated in a great measure. The post-abortion syndrome is generally concealed or dismissed by the medical community. However, when the reparation is done correctly, the benefits in these three levels are evident.

Research initiatives at Takiwasi Center on drug addiction, mental health and traditional Amazonian medicine

Author : Matteo Politi, Luigi Menghini, Fabio Friso, Gary Saucedo Rojas, Jaime Torres Romero, Jacques Mabit

Published in PharmacologyOnLine Journal of SILAE - Società Italo-LatinoAmericana di Etnomedicina Cibo e Salute. Supplementary Issue - vol. 1, December 30, 2019 Abstract Book of the 28° SILAE Congress.


Takiwasi Center is a not for profit private institution located in Tarapoto, Peru, working for more than 25 years for the treatment of people confronting problems of drug addiction and mental health integrating the Traditional Amazonian Medicine (TAM) with modern approaches including psychotherapy. Takiwasi acts as a therapeutic community authorized by the regional health authority and as a research center recognized by the National Council for Science, Technology and Technological Innovation. In the present work we present the main research project results with particular emphasis on those related with ethnomedicine and phytotherapy.

Results of the addiction treatment model of the Takiwasi Center

Author : Jacques Mabit, Fabio Friso

Published on the web page of Takiwasi, september 2021.


Our almost 30 years of clinical experience indicate that the interaction between traditional Amazonian medicine, psychotherapy and spirituality, proposed by the therapeutic model of the Takiwasi Center, turns out to be very successful in the treatment of addictions and other mental health disorders. We believe that the articulation of these different therapeutic approaches greatly benefits the outcome of the treatment and thus is showing a path to follow in the global search for mental well-being and good living. It is the initial vocation of the Takiwasi Center to associate clinical practice with research. Since the beginning of its operation, the Takiwasi Center has permanently evaluated its activities, its patient population and the results of its therapeutic interventions in order to constantly improve its model. Nevertheless, in order to avoid the bias of self-evaluation and to respond to the economic and technical demands of a high-level scientific investigation, it has been sought to summon external and independent researchers. In this article we want to summarize some of the most outstanding results recorded in recent academic publications that highlight the efficacy of our therapeutic model. These results provide clear indications of the effectiveness of the use of traditional Amazonian medicine within the protocol developed by Takiwasi for the treatment of addictions.

Ritual Ayahuasca use and health: an interview with Jacques Mabit

Author : Beatriz Caiuby Labate, Brian Anderson, Henrik Jungaberle

Published in the book “The Internationalization of Ayahuasca” Beatriz C. Labate and Henrik Jungaberle, eds. Zurich Switzerland, Lit Verlag, 2011, 446 pp.


Through the interview with Dr. Jacques Mabit, director of the Takiwasi Center in Peru, the authors aim to elicit a comprehensive view of various health-related issues pertinent to the ritual consumption of Ayahuasca. In collaboration with this “local” authority, information regarding the preparation, proscriptions (diets), effects, and experiential integration central to Takiwasi’s use of Ayahuasca will be outlined. How Dr. Mabit views Ayahuasca’s possible healing qualities, contraindications, and “side effects” or adverse reactions is one of several aspects that will be covered. The interview also attempts to understand how medical and spiritual knowledge interact, via conflict and/or synthesis, within the decision-making processes of the Takiwasi Center.

Ritualized use of Amazonian psychoactive plants in the treatment of addictions: 7 year of experience at Takiwasi Center

Author : Jacques Mabit

Lecture for Addictions “2000+1”, Challenges and Opportunities for a new Millennium, ISAM’s International Scientific Conference, Israel, September 2001.


I’m a French doctor that has been living in Peru for the past 20 years. At first, I dedicated myself to sanitary development in primary health care. Through my professional practice in the poor areas of the country , I was able to discover the use of traditional medicine, still very much used, varied, of low cost and of grand cultural acceptance.

Rituals of Life, From the Day-To-Day to the Sacred

Author : Rosa Giove

Article originally published in Spanish: Rituales de la vida, cotidianos y sagrados, Foros internacionales. Espiritualidad indígena y Mundo Occidental, Sección 1, pp. 39-45, Ed. Takiwasi, 2017. Translated to English by Jonathan Rodriguez, reviewed by Sasaba Zazopoulos.


The definition of rite is broadened when we speak of the ritual, because we are referring to a series of practices and attitudes that are related, marked or signed by some sort of symbolic value that generally finds sense or reason to be within the context of a group of humans – be it a religion or the tradition of some other community. Rituals are processes with specific actions, different from ordinary ones practiced in day-to-day life. These actions include objects or words invested in the possibility of modifying beliefs, relationships, meanings, or realities.

San Patrignano: distressing vision of the society of the future

Author : Jacques Mabit

Translated from Spanish to English by Mandeep Boro in November 2017, reviewed by Elena Salazar. Original title: “San Patrignano una visión angustiante de la sociedad del futuro”, 2014.


In May 2014, in response to an invitation from Jacques Attali, we participated in the LH Forum on Positive Economy which was held within the premises of San Patrignano Community, near Rimini (Italy), place of residence for people with problems of addictive substances abuse. We want to share in this report our concern on the ambiance that we discovered during our short stay in this famous Therapeutic Community presented as a reference model for the future, and point out the reflections that aroused in us, the questions that emerge regarding the vision of the future of humanity according to this prototype of tomorrow's society

Short-Term Treatment Effects of a Substance Use Disorder Therapy Involving Traditional Amazonian Medicine

Author : Ilana Berlowitz, Heinrich Walt, Christian Ghasarian, Fernando Mendive, Chantal Martin-Soelch

Journal of Psychoactive Drugs, Published online 01 May 2019.


Chronic illness management today commonly involves alternative medicines. Substance use disorder (SUD), as a chronic psychosomatic illness, might benefit from a similar approach. The accredited Takiwasi Center offers such an SUD treatment program involving Amazonian medicine combined with psychotherapy. The current study assessed this integrative program‘s short-term therapeutic effects. We measured baseline data from 53 dependence-diagnosed males admitted to treatment (T1) and repeated clinical outcome variables at treatment completion (T2). Paired samples t-tests were used to assess changes between T1 and T2 (n = 36). Nearly all participants (age M= 30.86, SD= 8.17) were dependent on multiple substances, most prominently cannabis, alcohol, and cocaine-related drugs. A significant decrease (T1 to T2) was found for addiction severity outcomes drug use (p < .001), alcohol use (p < .001), psychiatric status (p < .001), and social/familial relationships (p < .001). Emotional distress also diminished significantly (p < .001), as did substance craving (p < .001). Quality of life increased significantly from T1 to T2 (p < .001). Our results provide first indications for significantly improved SUD symptoms after the Amazonian medicine-based treatment. These findings are preliminary given the design, but strongly encourage further investigation of this therapy, which in the long term may open new therapeutic avenues for SUDs.

Sinchi, Sinchi, Negrito: medicinal use of Tobacco in the Upper Peruvian Amazon

Author : Jacques Mabit, Rosa Giove

In press by the Fundación Desde América, Buenos-Aires, Argentina.


The negative connotation given to tobacco in contemporary society entails the risk of mistakenly considering this extraordinary medicinal plant almost a plague that needs to be eradicated. This stigmatization results from modern westerners’ ignorance about the correct and ritualized use of this plant, which from time immemorial has been considered sacred throughout the Americas.

Synergism between Catholicism and Indigenous Spirituality within the Drug Addiction Rehabilitation Program of Takiwasi, a Therapeutic Community in the Peruvian High-Amazon

Author : Alberto Dubbini, Marco Gallizioli, Fabio Friso, Jaime Torres, Jacques Mabit, Matteo Politi

Published in Studies in Religion/Sciences Religieuses, December 19, 2019.


The association between spirituality and medicine is unfolding as a research theme that may have increasing practical implications in healthcare systems. Both spiritual and scientific dimensions are present within the treatment protocol for addiction applied at the Takiwasi Center, a pioneer therapeutic community that combines western approaches, including psychotherapy, biomedicine, and Catholic practices, with traditional Amazonian medicine. Through a series of open-ended and semi-structured interviews conducted on nine workers of the center during fieldwork research and comparison with the information obtained from literature review, the present article aims at testing the existence of an effective synergy between Catholic religiosity and indigenous-mestizo spirituality within the therapeutic process performed at the Takiwasi Center and puts in evidence some stimulating and problematic issues that arise from this synergy.

Takiwasi: Ayahuasca and Shamanism in Addiction Therapy

Author : Michel Mabit

Published in the Newsletter of the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies.


Attempting to cure drug addiction by the ritual use of ayahuasca, a plant beverage with psychotropic effects, might appear to be crazy or at least very daring. When Takiwasi (Center for the Rehabilitation of Drug Addicts and for Research of Traditional Medicines) was born in September 1992 in Tarapoto, Peru, the idea of the founders was to investigate and use in a systematic way the Amazonian healers' shamanistic knowledge to cure drug addicts. This applied research has now been underway for three and a half years seeking an efficient, low cost and culturally adapted alternative therapy. The initial results are encouraging.

Takiwasi: the use of Amazonian shamanism to rehabilitate drug addicts

Author : Jacques Mabit, Rosa Giove, Joaquín Vega

Published in “Yearbook of Cross-Cultural Medicine and Psychotherapy”, International Institute of Cross-Cultural Therapy Research (IIKT), pp. 257-285, VWB, Series Editor: Dr. Walter Andritzky, Berlin, Deutschland, 1996.


The Peruvian Upper Amazon is the front of penetration into the immensity of jungle, and a space where several cultures meet. For centuries, the men of the deep jungle exchanged products, customs, techniques, and knowledge with those of the Andes or the Coast. In this Andean Piemont, today, in a larger scale, the indigenous ancestral cultures meet or confront the thousand faces of the modern Occidental culture. We have been living for nine years in this place in contact with Lamista and Chazuta ethnic groups situated along the Mayo and Huallaga Rivers. These groups are famous for their traditional magical healing ritual s and practices, which always inspired admiration and respect throughout the Amazonia. As an Andean inheritance, they talk Quechua but with features from the nearby Jivaro groups of the equatorial forest. Recently they started to produce coca leaves and its first derive, the cocaine paste, an extremely addictive highly toxic product./n The coca produced here is of great quality because c1imatological characteristics enable an average of 30% more alkaloids than the plants grown in other places. Consequently, Amazonian healers have been regularly visiting this region of the jungle (ceja de selva) in order to pick up medicinal plants of a superior quality. During this century, this area was exploited for the best curare liana, tasty coffees and the best tobacco of French national cigarettes Gauloises.

Teacher Plants: A Way to Introspection

Author : Jaime Torres

Article published in Spanish in the book "Memorias del Segundo Foro Internacional Sobre Espiritualidad Indígena" pp. 58-62 Tarapoto, 2001.


In the Amazon there are plants, some of them with psychoactive effects, that the locals call "Teachers" because when properly ingested they generate knowledge about their healing properties through dreams, visions, perceptions and intuitions. Due to their entheogenic properties, they also serve to give us an introspective vision about ourselves, and about life in general.

The 'Icaro' or Shamanic song

Author : Rosa Giove

Article originally published in Spanish, Takiwasi Magazine Nº 2, Takiwasi, Perú, October 1993 pp. 7-27.


In the Peruvian jungle 'icaro' is the name for the song or melody used by the curanderos (most commonly used term to describe healers) in their rituals./n Lacking a literal translation in Spanish, Quechua, or other regional languages, in practice it has a very deep and important meaning : the shamanic song is a tool that cures, the wisdom and the vehicle for the curandero's personal energy, the symbol of his power./n Using the 'icaro' means 'charging' an object or potion with the power of the shaman, conferring upon it a specific property to be transmitted to the recipient, be it purification, protection, curing, harm or influence over the will-power. This is done by singing the icaro directly over the transmitter object or substance. The object is then given to the subject and ingested in the case of liquids (potions) or smoke blown over him if tobacco is used. The icaro is fundamental to the curandero's work in the Amazon. It embodies the knowledge of the shaman, constituting his curative patrimony, his working tool, and the inheritance of his apprentice. Being the vehicle for his energy, its effectiveness depends largely upon the curandero's preparation through diets, the taking of purges, his daily regimen and assimilation of ancestral knowledge.

The alternative of indigenous knowledge to the therapeutic “All or Nothing”

Author : Jacques Mabit

Translated from French by Kartina Amin. Original publication information is as follows: Mabit, Jacques. « L’alternative des savoirs autochtones au « tout ou rien » thérapeutique ». Psychotropes: Revue Internationale des Toxicomanies. Vol. 7, no. 1, 2001. pp. 7-18.


Ancestral medicines respond to the clumsiness with which Western peoples induct altered states of consciousness with a highly sophisticated practical knowledge, according to which not only is the controlled induction of non-ordinary states of consciousness not harmful but it may even confront the modern phenomena of drug-addiction. From his clinical experience in the High Peruvian Amazonian forest, the author describes the therapeutic benefits of the wise use of medicinal plants, including non-addictive ones with psychoactive effects such as the famous Ayahuasca vine. The elaboration, within an institutional structure, of a therapeutic system combining indigenous practices with contemporary psychotherapy yields highly encouraging result (positive in 2/3 of the patients), pointing beyond the cultural context that produces drug-addictions and therapies. This invites us to reconsider the conventional approaches towards the universal notion of initiation. Forgotten in the West, this archetype seems to resonate with the drug-addict’s spiritual journey.

The Ayahuasca ritual: Peruvian national cultural heritage and its possible integration into the primary health system

Author : Rosa Giove

Published in Revista Cultura y Droga, 27(33): 17-41, June 2022.


On June 24, 2008, the Peruvian Government declared the “knowledge and traditional uses of Ayahuasca practiced by native Amazonian communities” as National Cultural Heritage. The inspiration that led to this important achievement was to protect the ritual use of the Ayahuasca brew as traditionally practiced for centuries by Amazonian indigenous communities, including its intangible ritual component, the knowledge of the healers and the healers themselves, while also favoring the protection of the environment and the sustainability of the plant resources involved. In the last couple of decades, the mechanisms of action of Ayahuasca and its therapeutic potential in several fields have been investigated in depth. Nevertheless, thirteen years after the enactment of this declaration, regulations that can offer a concrete protection are still pending, while we observe increasing commercial pressure and risks associated with the irresponsible use of Ayahuasca and other psychoactive plants in the context of shamanic tourism.

The discipline and sophistication of traditional Amazonian medicines: a resource for approaching psychopathologies

Author : Jacques Mabit

Published in Mother’s Therapy, ed. Mathias De Lattre, 750Publisher: The Eriskay Connection, pp. 113-121, 2021.


Ayahuasca undoubtedly represents a very powerful tool for self-knowledge and therefore a privileged means of facilitating the work of the psychotherapist. While taking Ayahuasca, the subject does not lose consciousness and simultaneously plays the role of observer and observed. He himself is his own object of observation. He can actively intervene in his own inner world and thereby becomes the direct protagonist of his treatment. This does not fail to significantly improve his own self-esteem and powerfully strengthen his conviction about the discoveries he makes about himself and, at the same time, consolidate his motivation to make the necessary changes in his life. He can verify the veracity of his therapist's interpretative propositions. He recovers the reins of his being which escaped him.

The evolution of a pilot program utilizing ayahuasca in the treatment of drug addictions

Author : Jacques Mabit, Claire Sieber

Shaman’s Drum Journal, Number 73, pp.23-31, USA, 2006.


The idea that psychoactive substances can be used to treat drug addicts may seem paradoxical to Western psychotherapists, yet there is growing evidence that the ritual use of plant medicines may provide one of the most effective treatments for people suffering from substance addiction.1 For more than fifteen years, my associates and I have been developing and testing an experimental rehabilitation program at Takiwasi, a residential center located in the Amazonian foothills of Peru, which actively incorporates the psychoactive beverage ayahuasca in the treatment of drug addicts. After having observed hundreds of addicts undergo hundreds of ayahuasca sessions at our center, we can affirm that the ingestion of ayahuasca—under controlled conditions of preparation, prescription, and psychotherapeutic follow-up—can produce surprising therapeutic benefits, with a total absence of dependence./n I first visited Peru in 1980 as part of a Médecins Sans Frontières (Doctors Without Borders) French program, working on a primary health care development project. I was immediately confronted with limited medical resources as director of the small rural hospital of Lampa, located in the Andean mountains near Lake Titicaca. For these extreme technical limitations, I saw myself obligated to call upon the local resources and I therein discovered the extraordinary richness of the ancestral healing practices of Peru, including Peru’s enormous reserve of medicinal plants. These Indigenous medicines revealed themselves as effective, low cost, and culturally adapted compared to the Western medicine I was proposing. I spent the next three years, from 1980 to 1983, in Lampa studying Indigenous medical traditions in southern Peru and their possible integration with western medicine. My work gave me an opportunity to meet and observe traditional curanderos (healers), and my experiences with them convinced me that they were surprisingly effective in treating many physical, psychological and psychosomatic illnesses resistant to conventional medicines. At the time, I didn’t fully understand exactly what the curanderos were doing, but I realized that the controlled induction of altered states of consciousness—with or without plant medicines—was a critical component of the region’s Indigenous shamanic and spiritual practices. I noticed that the curanderos practiced a holistic approach, working simultaneously on the physical, psychological, and spiritual levels. It was also clearly significant that these traditional healers operated within a highly effective healing system that provided participants with a sense of purpose.

The Sorcerer, the Madman and Grace. Are Archetypes Desacralized Spirits? Thoughts on Shamanism in the Amazon

Author : Jacques Mabit

Published in the book “Contemporary Voices from Anima Mundi; A Reappraisal”, Frédérique Apffel-Marglin and Stefano Varese eds, New York: Peter Lang Inc., International Academic Publishers, pp. 113-154.


Can (Amazonian) shamanism hope to offer some insights on Jungian psychology? Can it answer questions plaguing contemporary Western culture? Because Amazonian shamanism is so much older than the Jungian school of thought, does shamanism have more to offer humanity in terms of self-knowledge? Does the concept of individuation make any sense when applied to the different ethnic groups of the Amazon region? To begin with, is it even possible to establish a fruitful dialogue between these two approaches to understanding human nature? No, strictly speaking, a dialogue is not possible simply because, if Jung and his disciples are wordy and long-winded (no offense intended), shamanic traditions are never written down, and shamans themselves are silent guides whose teachings are passed on through practical experience, not verbal discourse.

The Takiwasi patient's Journey

Author : Michel Mabit

Published in the Newsletter of the MAPS Volume 6 Number 3 Summer 1996 English translation by Jamie Moir.


The patient's journey begins when he presents himself at the center for an explanation of the rules. As a preliminary test of his motivation, he must come to Takiwasi freely and unaccompanied by family members, every day for eight days. He will then talk to a therapist and take his first purges (milk of magnesia with coconut milk). Raw vegetable oil is taken to provoke biliary flushing. This vesicular cleansing is combined with an enema the following morning. This will prepare the first Yawar Panga, a detoxifying emetic plant which works on his energies and is administered within a ritual setting. This session is generally tiring (2-3 hours of vomiting) and is followed by a deep and revitalizing sleep. The patient notes an immediate improvement the following day, feeling cleansed and more clear-minded, encouraging him to persevere. The withdrawal symptoms are thus somewhat alleviated./n During this week, the cost of the treatment is discussed. The patient or his family is asked to contribute what they realistically can. The cost varies according to the center's running costs at the time. Really poor patients pay nothing at all for their treatment. Takiwasi has never refused any patient for lack of money. The most important element is the patient's motivation to stop taking drugs. Many initial contacts do not result in enrollment as after a few days, the drug addict does not return. If the future patient maintains his motivation and reports to the Center during one week, he is then admitted to follow the complete treatment as an inpatient.

The Time of Chakarunas

Author : Jacques Mabit

Originally published in Spanish. Prologue to the second edition of the book “Naturaleza Silvestre. Ceremonias de un chamán amazónico” by Ana María Pérez (2008).


The prophecies of the Andean world announced for our time the appearance of man-bridges called chakarunas, people with a vocation to establish connection between different "worlds": material versus spiritual world, different cultural worlds, phenomenological world versus archetypal world (numen), etc. In a context of planetary globalization where borders tend to blur, it is surprising to note that universality reaches the most remote parts of our humanity, including the healing and spiritual arts spaces of remote ethnic groups. The Peruvian Amazon is one of these spaces that are opening up to the explorations of Westerners who lately come to invade Amazonian cities and villages in the summertime in waves of “spiritual tourists”, creating the phenomenon that has been called “shamanic tourism”. In them we find the several motivations, from physical healing to the search for mystical experience, from curiosity about exoticism to adding one more psychedelic experience to their drug intake list.

The transmission of traditional medical knowledge

Author : Jaime Torres Romero

Article published in Takiwasi’s web page. Translated from Spanish to English by Diogerlin Linares.


The high effectiveness of the therapeutic procedures used in traditional medicine is currently generating great interest in the Western world. Attempts are made to reduce the efficacy of these procedures, on one hand to the biochemical properties of plants and on the other hand, to the use of suggestive techniques by healers, which is why Westerners strive to learn these "techniques" without paying attention to the rigorous initiatory process, that is required to learn and practice traditional medicine.

The use of tobacco purges in therapeutic processes

Author : Ghislaine Bourgogne

Lecture presented at the International Congress "Traditional Medicines, Interculturality and Mental Health" and published in Spanish in the book of memoirs, Ed. Takiwasi, 2012, Tarapoto, Peru. Translated to English by Jonathan Rodriguez.


There are many psychotherapeutic approaches in place in Europe. Including but not limited to: emotional, behavioral, corporeal, psychoanalytic, and integrative therapies. They all claim to be the quickest and most efficient, but that does not change my point of view in a fundamental reality. When we encounter a problem, we have two ways to resolve it: either confronting it directly to understand its origin, or developing physically and spiritually with the goal of solving it, and through these means slowly being able to overcome the problem. Traditional Amazonian Medicine combines both of these possibilities. It shows us that the human body is a vehicle of wisdom and knowledge.

The Voice of Intelligence in the Ayahuasca session

Author : Jacques Mabit

Conference presented at the workshop “Local Knowledge and Traditional Medicine”, VI International Book Fair, Cusco, Peru, September 2019.


During Ayahuasca ceremonies, the person that drinks this medicine comes into contact with an intelligence that communicates with him/her and provides information as a teaching. After the ayahuasca session, it is very common to hear participants say "Ayahuasca told me this or that thing", "I was told or shown or taught this or that thing", etc. In this brief presentation, we would like to draw a synthetic profile of this Voice or rather Intelligence that expresses itself dialogically with the Ayahuasca drinker.

Therapeutic contributions of Ayahuasca in cases of addiction

Author : Jacques Mabit

Article originally published in « Les plantes hallucinogènes : Initiations, thérapies et quête de soi », Christian Ghasarian & Sébastien Baud, Ed. Imago, 2010, pp 267-286.


Over the last twenty years, the interest of the citizens of the so-called "modern" societies towards psychotropic plants, that are a tool to modify the consciousness, has increased to the point of becoming a social phenomenon that goes well beyond the border represented by academic community and scientific laboratories. This interest is an extension of the attempts at self-exploration begun in the 1960s in the face of the lack of convincing answers on the meaning of life coming from churches, philosophical schools, political projects and conventional psychotherapies. The desacralization that goes hand-in-hand with modernity considerably reduces the ritual spaces that favor a deep symbolic investment.

Therapeutic potential of spirituality and mystical experiences in the treatment of substance use disorders

Author : Alberto Dubbini, Jacques Mabit, Matteo Politi

Published in Revista Cultura y Droga, 25 (29), pp. 41-62, Enero - Junio 2020.


Objective. This article aims to give an overview on the role of spirituality, faith and mystical experiences in the treatment of Substance Use Disorders (SUDs) by presenting the case of the therapeutic community Takiwasi, where psychoactive plants are used, and by considering other Complementary and Alternative Medicine (CAM) therapies that are derived from or have connection with religious or spiritual practices. Methodology. The research has been based on the review of scientific and grey literature and on an interview performed with the president and founder of Takiwasi. Results and discussion. Synergism between Christian and Amazonian spirituality appears relevant within the Takiwasi protocol. The use of CAM including Mindfulness, Holotropic Breathwork and Yoga emerge from the literature. Conclusions. Clinical experience show that spirituality is a key factor to be taken into account when considering addiction treatment and several CAM practices with spiritual connotations show promising potential for the treatment of SUDs.

Times for reconciliation

Author : Jacques Mabit

First published in Spanish in 1998. “Memoria del II Foro Interamericano Sobre la Espiritualidad Indígena”. English Translation by Valeria Paz - April 2016.


500 years ago a misunderstanding occurred between the peoples of Europe and the peoples of the Americas. Today, what we are attempting to do is create spaces for true encounters between peoples. This has to happen by obligation through reconciliation, that is, the acknowledgement of mistakes made, the asking of forgiveness and the restitution of faults committed.

Towards a transcultural medicine: Reflections and proposals based on the experience in Takiwasi

Author : Jacques Mabit, Jesús González

Original article: “Hacia una medicina transcultural: Reflexiones y propuestas a partir de la experiencia en Takiwasi”, Published in Journal of Transpersonal Research, 2013, Vol.5(2), pages 49-76. Translated from Spanish by Fabio Friso, reviewed by Olivia Marcus.


The current picture of medicines in a globalized world in crisis invites us to reflect on how different logics of tradition and modernity match or disagree in the field of health. Traditional indigenous medicine, where shamanism often plays a key role, appears at this juncture as a salient environment for the analysis and production of new models of health and well-being. This paper presents an explicit proposal for intercultural dialogue in order to open a transcultural paradigm for building a medicine to meet the new challenges of contemporary societies. The main elements of this proposal are necessary epistemological reflection, the analysis of the social reality and implicated power relations, ethics, and the logic of articulation and openness to the complexity of the human being and to life.

Traditional aromatherapy in the clinical context of a therapeutic community for the treatment of substance use disorders.

Author : Antoine Renard, Giorgia Tresca, Luigi Menghini, Rebecca Lazarou, Gary Saucedo, Fabio Friso, Matteo Politi

Published in Journal of Medicinal Herbs and Ethnomedicine, 8: 21-28, October 2022.


Western medicine and psychotherapy have historically overlooked the potential of engaging the sense of smell for therapeutic purposes. However, in other medical traditions, such as that of the Peruvian Amazon, specific therapeutic interventions based on the use of aromatic plants are commonly performed in conjunction with other healing modalities. Traditional specialized healers locally known as perfumeros conduct such healing sessions. This research describes how this kind of traditional Amazonian aromatherapy is used in the context of Takiwasi center, a therapeutic community specialized in the treatment of substance use disorders. Participant observation was carried out by shadowing the healers in charge of specific aromatherapy sessions including the so-called plant baths, sahumerio, and saunas. Additionally, semi structured interviews were conducted with several members of Takiwasi’s therapeutic staff, and non-peer reviewed publications and audio-video materials present in the Takiwasi archive were consulted and used as original data for this research. Data on users that received a plant bath from July 2019 to February 2021, were also acquired and discussed. The cosmology beyond this kind of traditional aromatherapy includes concepts such as “energetic body” and “spiritual entities”, opening the discussion on something beyond the mere materialistic aspect of aromatic chemistry and pharmacology.

Traditional indigenous medicine of the Peruvian Amazon and its potential for psychological treatment and personal growth

Author : Veronika Kavenská

Published in A Reader in Ethnobotany and Phytotherapy, Miroslav Horak, Mendel University in Brno, Faculty of Regional Development and International Studies, Brno, 2015, p. 48-57.


This contribution explains the context and basic principles of traditional medicine of the Amazon. In particular, it focuses on the hallucinogenic vine ayahuasca, traditionally used by indigenous communities in the Amazon as a tool for healing, establishing contact with spiritual life, and for many other purposes. In the last decades, we observed a rapidly growing interest in ayahuasca among people from other cultures, who come to the Amazon to undergo the ayahuasca ritual. This contribution demonstrates ayahuasca’s psychotherapeutic potential, and shows the possibilities of using ayahuasca in structured therapeutic community for drug addicts, as in the Takiwasi Center’s case.

Traditional Use of Banisteriopsis caapi Alone and Its Application in a Context of Drug Addiction Therapy

Author : Matteo Politi, Fabio Friso, Gary Saucedo, Jaime Torres

Published in Journal of Psychoactive Drugs, 27 September 2020.


Takiwasi is a therapeutic community for the treatment of Substance Use Disorders (SUDs) that combines traditional Amazonian medicine (TAM) with modern psychotherapy. One of the plant medicines from TAM used in this protocol is purgahuasca. It is a decoction of the vine Banisteriopsis caapi alone, whose use is traditional among the Awajún and other ethnic groups in Peru. The research began with a field trip to Awajún territory to explore the indigenous use of purgahuasca as an initiation rite. Then, analysis of its application was conducted in the clinical context of Takiwasi.

Treatment and outcomes at Takiwasi Center, a Peruvian therapeutic community: identifying patient-related indicators

Author : Victoria Defelippe, Anna Schlütter, Annelen Meriaan, Bjorn Winkens, Veronika Kavenská, Gary Saucedo Rojas, Matteo Politi

Therapeutic Communities: The International Journal of Therapeutic Communities, Vol. 40 No. 2, pp. 93-106, September 2019,


Substance abuse is a major public health concern, with over millions of people suffering from it worldwide. Although there is an abundance of treatment options, many of these rehabilitative trajectories are subject to “drop-out”. In addition, “drop-out” is a significant risk factor for relapse. There is an urgent demand for effective treatment, which would enable patients to reduce abuse and prevent relapse. Takiwasi is an addiction treatment centre that combines traditional Amazonian plant medicine with conventional western medicine and psychotherapy. The purpose of this paper is to explore whether socio-demographics factors, such as education level and occupation, psychiatric comorbidities and primary drug use, are associated with treatment non-completion of Ayahuasca (AYA)-assisted addiction therapy.

Twenty years of Takiwasi. Reflections on the spiritual dimension as the interface between drug addiction and traditional Amazonian medicine

Author : Jacques Mabit

Conference presented at Maps Psychedelic Science Conference, April 2013.


Based on 20 years of experience at the Takiwasi Center, Peru, it is proposed that the pathology of drug addiction inevitably implies more than simple physical intoxication or psycho-affective problems, and comprises an existential, metaphysical, semantic dimension of meaning that we call spiritual. Within the context of healing rituals with psychoactive plants, traditional Amazonian medicine addresses the physical, psychological, and spiritual dimensions simultaneously. For this reason, this traditional Amazonian treatment has the potential to offer a solution to the problem of addiction. The Western approach, however, often denies the sacred or the spiritual, resulting in a tendency to confuse extreme psychedelic experiences with spiritual experiences. In this paradigm, psychoactive plants are more often used to facilitate psychotherapeutic processes rather than to open a door to a genuine relationship with the spiritual world. In our intervention, we propose criteria for discerning between the psychological and spiritual dimensions, and for transitioning from one dimension into the next.

Use of tobacco purge in a therapeutic community for the treatment of substance use disorders

Author : Tereza Rumlerová, Eric Kube, Nahuel Simonet, Fabio Friso, Matteo Politi

Published in Anthropology of Consciousness, September 2022.


In the Peruvian Amazon, tobacco (Nicotiana rustica) is considered a master plant and is the main curing tool of local healers. Among its several medicinal uses, we find drinking tobacco juice with the purpose of purging in order to heal on a physical, mental, and spiritual level. This specific practice is part of the addiction treatment protocol developed at Takiwasi Center. The goal of this investigation was to focus on the effects of the tobacco purge as reported by therapists at Takiwasi and to elaborate its relevance within the context of addiction treatment. In order to obtain information on this topic, we performed research fieldwork based on a participant-observation approach, and retrospective data analysis on information from interviews conducted by psychotherapists with patients. As alleged effects of the tobacco purge, therapists reported that patients experienced feelings of mental clarity with the greatest frequency (n = 80), followed by noteworthy physical effects including discomfort and intoxication (n = 63). An effect on sleep and dreams was also common (n = 36) and many found the experience directly related to addiction treatment and the desire to consume substances (n = 20).

What if Someone Tries to Patent Ayahuasca?

Author : Matteo Politi

Published by the International Center for Ethnobotanical Education, Research and Service (ICEERS), june 2021.


Advances in scientific research in recent decades have brought unprecedented attention to ayahuasca, the sacred plant brew of the Amazon. Researchers are confirming what the Indigenous people have been affirming for centuries: ayahuasca is an exceptional medicinal concoction, with diverse properties and potential therapeutic applications. Western society is looking to exploit this immense potential. Shamanic tourism has lived a couple of decades of boom and I recently learned of a patent application for synthetic ayahuasca that has been pending for a number of years.

Who Turns to Amazonian Medicine for Treatment of Substance Use Disorder? Patient Characteristics at the Takiwasi Addiction Treatment Center

Author : Ilana Berlowitz, Heinrich Walt, Christian Ghasarian, David M. O’Shaughnessy, Jacques Mabit, Brian Rush, Chantal Martin-Soelch

Published in Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs, 81:4, pp. 416-425, August 2020.


Complementary medicines are an emergent field in the treatment of substance use disorders (SUDs) and include Amazonian medicines, such as ayahuasca. The aim of this multimodal cross-sectional study was to investigate characteristics of people who seek treatment for SUDs at an accredited healthcare facility that applies Amazonian medicines along with conventional psychotherapy.

Yawar Panga ritual ceremony

Author : Jacques Mabit

Conference first presented during the VII International Congress of Traditional and Folkorik Medicine, Mérida, Mexico, Dec.1993, later increased in 2014.


The ritual ceremony of Yawar Panga is a specific healing act originally from the High Amazon Basin of Peru, designed to operate a deep cleaning of the body of the participants. It consists in the ingestion of juice from the fresh leaves of a climbing plant identified as Aristolochia didyma S. Moore (family Aristolochiaceae), complemented with a ritual environment made of singing (ikaros), vitalizing blows of black tobacco smoke that the shaman directs towards his patient and the rhythmic sound produced by the beating of the shacapas (bunch of dry leaves of Pariana sp.).

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