Health and Safety Guide
In our Health and Safety Guide you can find relevant information about potential risks when
dealing with entheogens.
You can also find a basic guideline for how to ensure your own Safety.
Each year, thousands of people travel to South American countries seeking healing with the teacher plants. As confirmed by travelers, retreat centers and the media, an ongoing threat to healing with the teacher plants is the emerging exploitation by ‘self-proclaimed shamans’ who lack proper experience, knowledge and intentions. Engaging with people who do not work with the right intentions has reportedly resulted in abuse and exploitation of vulnerable people looking for healing.
Our goal is to help prevent this from further happening, by creating more overall Transparency within this field. We have therefore formed some basic safety questions for each Retreat Center, Shaman or Facilitator listed at our site, which you can find in their profile. These questions were created with inspiration from The Ethnobotanical Stewardship Council, and offers the listing owners a possibility to share information about their safety precautions. If you feel that we should be asking them other/more questions, please do not hesitate to contact us so we can implement your ideas to our site.
Lastly, our review section allows former ceremony attendants to evaluate the general safety of the retreat center and their ceremonies, and thus confirm or invalidate the provided information.
In this way we believe we can create more Transparency when dealing with safety issues concerning the work with the teacher plants. Transparency is our main value, and we believe that Transparency is the key to create more knowledge, safety and sustainability around the teacher plants.
Our research has led us to develop the following basic criteria as a guideline for determining if a shaman or retreat center is working with the right intentions and experience.
Do they offer any safety guidelines?
If a shaman and/or retreat center does not inform you of the safety guidelines concerning precautions with diet, sexual or medical precautions there is a possibility that the shaman is not aware of the guidelines from the traditional way of working with the entheogens (e.g. restraining from sexual interactions, from specific foods and drugs), the interference with Western medicine, or that he/she chooses not to following these traditions and not to pay attention to any medical precautions. You should therefore always do your own research and/or check with your doctor to make sure that you do not take any medication that could interfere with the plants, or that the plants may not be suitable for you due to psychological reasons/conditions. Note that every shaman may work in different ways, but if the shaman chooses not to follow the traditional basic guidelines, he/she should at least inform you of the consequences it may have for you, and of why he/she chooses to do so.
We recommend you to never accept or start a sexual relation with your shaman. This is an important factor. It is normal to feel great gratitude towards the shaman, but we recommend you not to engage in such a relation for any reason whatsoever. Even if you feel drawn to your shaman, he/she is not in a place to engage in sexual relations and this could interfere deeply with your own healing. Please let us know if any shamans are inviting you to have any sexual interactions with him/her so that we can help stop this practice.
Transparency on content and procedures
Make sure to ask your shaman how the plant teacher medicine is made, since each shaman may mix a different brew. It is important for you to know which plant teacher you are dealing with so you know what you are about to experience. Please note that not all shamans wish to share their recipe, but he/she should at least explain why he/she chooses not to do so. Each retreat center featured on our site have been asked to inform us about the content of their brew in the general information each center provides us with, but it is always good to double check any information you find at our site.
Lastly we want to point out that most people prefer not to consider their shaman ‘a savior’ in a way where you put all the responsibility for your healing on his/her shoulders. A shaman is a person who can put himself in your place, since he too has been through healing himself, and therefore knows what you are going through. At the end of the day, we recommend you to realize that you have the responsibility for your own healing. Just like a regular doctor cannot cure your disease himself, but only recommend you how to treat it, the shaman can mostly just guide, assist and help you through your healing process. The rest of the job is basically up to you and the medicine.
The International Center for Ethnobotanical Education Research Service have established a Support Service, which is a free and confidential information service for those interested in healing with entheogens. You can contact ICEERS Support Service if you
- have concerns about ayahuasca or iboga
- have a personal question
- need advice about topics related to ethnobotanical tools
- or you are helping someone who is using or has used these plants
Feel free to write them for additional guidance. Contact ICEERS Support Service.