ICEERS' Support Service

For Ayahuasca & Iboga

In September last year I attended the World Ayahuasca Conference in Ibiza, Spain, which was organized by The International Center for Ethnobotanical Education Research and Service (ICEERS). Since then we have collaborated with ICEERS to help promote and ensure a growing focus on the healing powers of ethnobotanicals/teacher plants such as Ayahuasca and Iboga.

ICEERS provides a lot of relevant and useful information and guidance for those who seek experiences with these plants. They also offer support to those who have had experiences with ethnobotanicals. They are dedicated to integrate teacher plants as therapeutic tools in our modern society. At Open Mind Trips we believe ICEERS’ work is forming an important and necessary basis for the world to fully integrate the benefits of using entheogens for physical - as well as spiritual and mental - healing and growth.

Recently ICEERS has opened a Support Service which offer additional guidance for people who are interested in the therapeutical use of these teacher plants. We have interviewed Marc B.Aixalà from their Support Service to find out what exactly they do.

ICEERS Support Service

What is ICEERS and how was it established?

ICEERS stands for International Center for Ethnobotanical Education, Research and Service. It is a philanthropic, tax-exempt non-profit organisation that aims to the integration of ethnobotanical tools such as ayahuasca and iboga and other traditional plants as therapeutic tools is our contemporary society, as well as working for the preservation of the indigenous cultures that have used such plants for centuries.

ICEERS was created by Benjamin de Loenen, after the production of Ibogaine: Rite of passage, a documentary about the use of iboga in Gabon, and the therapeutic use of ibogaine for treating opiate dependency in western countries. There seemed to be the need of integrating the native and the western approaches to the use of ethnobotanical tools, or at least to provide a clearer understanding on how this tools can be used, so contemporary western society could benefit from it, and at the same time ancestral and traditional indigenous practices could be preserved by explaining them in a way westerners could understand its cultural relevance.

From there we have gone a long way, and expanded our services. From promoting and leading scientific studies with ayahuasca and iboga, to providing legal support to those involved in trials related to the possession of ayahuasca. One of this new activities in ICEERS is the Support Service.

ICEERS Support Service

What is ICEERS Support Service and what made you establish it?

The ICEERS Support Service was born as a natural extension of what we were ICEERS Support Servicealready doing since the beginning. We would receive many inquiries from people about different aspects of ayahuasca and iboga, as their use as therapeutic tools, as means of self growth, or to treat depression, or an addiction and so on. We realised some people could benefit from a more personalised attention and information, and that there was the need in the community of a more specialised orientation about these subjects.

So the Support Service offers basic information and resources to those who contact us. Some are people that have just recently heard about ayahuasca and need basic information and orientation. Some are planning their first experience or travel to the amazon, and find that many questions arise at certain point, so they contact us to get some inputs from a source they perceive as reliable. Others are experienced user who want to get more knowledge about the use of these plants, or the way to maximise their therapeutic potential. And of course we are also contacted by people who have attended a workshop or ceremony and things got difficult; some of them went through a rough experience that may have involved a lot of fear or paranoia, or some painful unconscious material may have arisen and they are having a hard time integrating those experiences or suffering from prolonged adverse effects such as anxiety, fear, depression, intrusive thoughts...

All this has happened all the time, and we felt it was important to address this situation as part of our educational and service mission, this is why we decided to create the Support Service and make it more specialised and reachable.

What is your overall goal with establishing the Support Service?

ICEERS Support ServiceIf ethnobotanicals are to be integrated in the contemporary society as tools for personal and social growth, and as potential therapeutic agents, it will be through a wide approach. We believe it is important to address what happens before and after the actual sessions with the ethnobotanicals, this means the preparation and the integration.

Preparation refers to what we do before the session in order to create a personal set that will facilitate a good and safe experience, and that will maximise the potential benefits that can occur from the experience. It also means getting the essential information regarding physical and psychological safety, the proper selection of a place or shaman to have the experience with, and to carefully plan the setting of the experience. For sure it implies being aware of the risks that are inherent to these tools, and the contraindications, physical and psychological, that one has to consider before deciding to partake in such experience. We make sure we provide this information to the people that ask for our advice.

Integration refers to what we do after the experience, so what happened during those magic hours can have long lasting beneficial effects for us. Sometimes, if nothing is done, the benefits of a session tend to fade quite easily. The opposite can also be true, that the effects of the session last way longer than the session itself. This can be the case when the person has had a difficult experience, and it is not so easy to know how to deal with the content of the session, and what to do with that. It is also essential when these ethnobotanicals are used to treat any psychological condition such as anxiety, depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, or any addiction. So integration both addresses the maximisation of benefits and the reduction of adverse effects.

We believe the best outcome of an experience that intends to be therapeutic (to treat any psychological condition), come with a careful preparation and integration, and the support of a trained professional, who can give context and support the person during this process.

The potential benefit of the responsible use of ethnobotanical tools is maximised when they are used in the context of a wider process, that addresses the individual health situation of the person from different approaches, be psychological, medical, familiar/social and also spiritual.

So to answer your question, our goal is to provide support to the community by sharing this vision of the need of a process that holds and gives context to the experiences with ethnobotanical tools: A proper preparation, a proper selection of the place with trained and ethical professionals, and a proper integration of the experience. We believe that by sharing this approach, there will be less difficult reactions and adverse effects, and when they happen they will be better supported and held. So with time we’ll promote safer practices, and encourage the users to seek for this practices and to those who host ceremonies to offer them. And this will promote a more beneficial use of these tools, therefore a potential growth in our social and personal domains and a healthier, happier and more respectful society, both towards the environment and the rest of mankind.

How can people benefit from your Support Service? 

ICEERS Support ServiceAt ICEERS Support Service we can support those who contact us in several ways. We provide orientation and information through e-mail for people that have questions about any aspect of the use of ethnobotanical tools. Depending on the request we’ll activate different resources.

We also offer sessions over Skype for people that are experiencing adverse effects or are having difficulties integrating their experience. These sessions are not designed to be a therapy session, but to help the person in a specific situation. Sometimes what this person need is just to be able to share their experience with an empathic interlocutor, and this helps to give some framework to the experience, and therefore it becomes more manageable. Sometimes what has arisen is more complex and can’t be addressed in a few sessions, so we will find someone in the area of the person that can be of support, or we will encourage the person to activate his/her contact network to find a suitable person to get the support needed.

One of the inquiries that seems to really matter to those who contact us is “who to take ayahuasca with”. People are getting more and more conscious of the importance of having the experience in the proper setting and with the proper person. At ICEERS we don’t give any list of recommended centers or shamans, nor advice for or against someone. Instead we provide information with our views on what we believe are the best practices one should look for when searching for a place to have an experience with ayahuasca or any other mind altering substance. We have written a “Best Practice Guide” that includes some of the aspects we believe are essential in such work. This can give people the tools to look for the place that best suits their needs. Different people have different needs and tastes, so what works for one may not work for another.

Anyway people do need to get reliable information about centers and people offering ceremonies, this is why the task you are doing at Open Mind Trips is so important. We believe it is essential to share with transparency what happens in this community, so people can take the decisions they believe to be best for them. It would be great that the database in Open Mind Trips keep growing and more and more feedback is received. The benefits from this would be good for everyone, as users would be able to find proper and safer places to experience with ethnobotanicals, and those offering sessions could get feedback on what they are doing well and how to improve. I wish you all the best!

ICEERS Support Service

We hope this interview has offered you a deeper understanding of ICEERS’ Support Service and of how you can make use of it.
Feel free to contact them here if you need:

Information addressing your concerns about the use of ethnobotanical tools.

Support after a session or in the case of experiencing adverse effects.

Advice in cases where you are helping a relation whom is suffering from difficulties due to the use of ethnobotanical tools.


Please use our services here at Open Mind Trips if you need help with:

ICEERS Support Service

Recommendations of centers or people to perform/do sessions with

Giving feedback about your experience at a center or with a shaman