Shamanic Plant Diet & Ayahuasca



Ayahuasca: a dense and concentrated earthly brew. Photo: F. Sammarco

The shamanic diet is a sophisticated and complex process, if you think at all the possible plants combinations that can actually be involved, and when one dwells on the fact that many Maestros and Maestras are altogether illiterate. All this makes one wonder at the meaning of the words “sabiduría” or ”conocimiento” (knowledge), and on how this may be achieved without going to a Western university! This is the “School of Advanced Studies in Amazonian Shamanism”….a parallel university to our own Western institutions, that has its own laws, dynamics, and ways to knowledge. Here plants are the teachers and the “maestros” the traditional guides and the keepers of “la ciencia” (the science).


Basic vocabulary to get familiar with

Brebaje = Plant preparation, in liquid form.
Descanso = Spanish name of the break period given (by the shaman) to the apprentice doing the plant diet.
Dieta = Spanish name of the diet. The traditional plant-based shamanic apprenticeship.
Dietera = The female apprentice who is doing the plant diet.
Dietero = The male apprentice who is doing the plant diet.
Palos maestros = ”Teacher trees” (the Trees one may receive teachings from).
Plantas maestras = ”Teacher plants” (the Plants one may receive teachings from).
Preparado = The actual teacher plants concoction that one takes during a diet.
Prueba de dieta = Spanish name for the ”tester of the shamanic plant diet”.
Soga = Spanish name for ‘vine’ (like ayahuasca, for instance).
Toma/Tomar = Taking the plants of the diet and/or the Ayahuasca, in liquid form.

In the FAQ section below, you may find answers to the most common questions asked re. the dieta:

FAQ: Ayahuasca and the Plant Diet

1) ”Is it possible to take Ayahuasca during the diet?”

YES, that is essential part of the training for the shamanic initiation, even though the number of times one will take part to Ayahuasca ceremonies depend intrinsically from the length of the diet itself, and from the type of diet one is doing (i.e. traditional diet or pre-diet/’prueba de dieta‘). When one engages in the healing diet – however – the answer is ‘may be yes, may be not’, as it very much depends from the condition one is affected from. We DO NOT offer the healing diet, ONLY the SHAMANIC PLANT DIET.

2) ”How many times do I have Ayahuasca sessions whilst doing the Shamanic Plant Diet?”

It depends on the type of diet one is doing and from the shaman with whom one is dieting with. In the traditional plant diet the apprentice (dietero/a) may begin his/her first Ayahuasca session with the shaman, typically only from the eighth day of his/her own apprenticeship. Meanwhile, the shaman will prepare with icaros and other protections the physical and energetic body of the apprentice and only him or her (the shaman) will start to drink from the second night of the first week of diet.

In the case of the ‘prueba de dieta‘ – that is the tester of the diet, or ‘pre-dieta‘ (an introduction to the plant diet proper, which goes from an absolute minimum of two weeks onwards) – one may not take Ayahuasca for the first week of the retreat, especially (but not exclusively) if dieting with powerful ‘palos maestros’ (teacher trees). Beginning with the 2nd week of the pre-diet training, one may normally take part to four Ayahuasca sessions each week, as for the Ayahuasca retreat. However, please note that these are guidelines only, and *can* be subject to change, at the discretion of the shaman, and/or according to the degree of experience one may have, to the length of the ‘pre-diet’ and/or to the types of plants and/or ‘palos’ one may be dieting with.

FAQ: Length of the traditional shamanic plant diet

3) ”What is the average length of the traditional shamanic plant diet?”

Guidelines may vary from shaman to shaman, even from within the same ethnic group. Some shamans (the more strictly traditional) do not call a proper shamanic diet anything that is less than three months in length, to begin with. This is – mind you – the minimum period one should engage with, not the maximum, that can otherwise last several years. To become a proper shamanic healer, one would normally require a full five years of dieta (including periods of break). The absolute basic is learnt in the first three months, and one can consider himself (or herself) advanced in the apprenticeship after having completed a one year training.

4) ”What is the average length of the shamanic plant diet tester (‘prueba de dieta’)?”

This changes from shaman to shaman. From an absolute minimum of two weeks onwards, and usually anything between two weeks up to eight weeks or more.

FAQ: Temporary breaks of the diet & communication with the outside world

In a three months diet, one may only go to town after having completed the first phase of the training. This period – more or less – coincide with the end of the first month and half of drinking the plant concoctions prepared by the shaman. Times may vary from person to person, depending on individual energy, and response times to the shamanic diet. In a six months diet, a dietero/a may go to town only after – or from – the end of the third month of diet. That is, only after having completed the first period of the diet, taking the plant concoctions.

Your diet will terminate with a special Ayahuasca ceremony and your retreat will end on the last day of the thirteenth week, in the afternoon.

During your shamanic apprenticeship you will get also to learn how to prepare cleansing herbal baths, clay baths and baños de florecimiento (ritual floral baths, to increase luck and prosperity) as well as singing icaros on a plant remedy, and even treat a patient affected by “susto” (fright), among other things.



We now offer a complimentary SPANISH-ENGLISH interpreting service, available for free for our guests.

There are no limitations in terms of freedom of movement/going to town, for the Ayahuasca retreat (even though we invite you to make the most of your retreat time in the jungle!!). However, in line with traditional rules, these limitations may remain in place for guests doing the traditional shamanic plant diet, at the discretion of the shaman.