In this post I will share the difference between an Ayahuasca Diet and a Master Plant Dieta, as well as my experience during my own Master Plant Dieta with Noya Rao, that I did in 2017.

A Master Plant Dieta is not the same as a preparation diet for drinking Ayahuasca.

The Ayahuasca Diet is to prepare for ceremonies. The recommended diet in the days or even weeks before is a list of necessary precautions and strict food recommendations, based on scientific evidence that they are essential for safety*. It was developed as a reaction to the quickly growing ‘Ayahuasca Tourism’ to keep people safe. It‘s role is to minimise the likelihood that someone will endure physical harm while participating in these Ceremonies.

A Master Plant Dieta is a foundational element and integrale component in the healing traditions and Plant Medicine Ceremonies of the Amazon. Fasting on Master Plants, with or without the combination with Ayahuasca (which makes you more receptive to the information from the plant spirits) has been used for thousands of years by curanderos (healers) to open their minds and hearts to guidance, and learn from the spirits of the plants how best to heal others. During these fasting rituals, consciousness is being altered in a fundamental way which allows the dietero(a) to connect directly with the Higher Self and the knowledge of the Plant Teachers. The strict ritual of the Master Plant Dieta serves as an expression of determination and dedication to ones spiritual, emotional and physical transformation. The Dieta plays a fundamental role in supporting the dietero(a) to integrate and sustain the healing they receive through Sacred Plants.

Structure of a Master Plant Dieta
Following a ceremony with special opening rituals to officially start the Master Plant Dieta, you will ingest special preparations of your Master Plant, accompanied by a strict fast.**

While not all Master Plant Dietas follow the same process, rules and rituals, there is a general protocol.
The first day will generally involve an initial period of meditation and intention setting. If possible you visit the Master Plant that you will be ingesting, soplay (breath smoke upon) it with mapacho (wild tobacco), pray and recite your intentions for your coming dieta. Then you prepare yourself to drink the Master Plant extract. You first soplay yourself with Mapacho (jungle tobacco) and Agua de Florida (a mixture of cleansing herbs and flowers in alcohol) or Palo Santo (the smoke of Sacred Wood) to cleanse yourself in preparation for your communication with the Master Plant Spirit. You then hold the cup with the Sacred Plant extract to your mouth, restate your goal and what you will be abstaining from and the length of your dieta. You soplay into the cup with mapacho three times and drink the extract through the smoke. You are encouraged to meditate in quiet places, pay close attention to your dreams, journal and soplay yourself before going to bed and when you wake to keep your energy field clean. If you have oppressive emotions you soplay yourself again. The next day you will drink the plant extract early in the morning, fast from food all day and drink again before sleep. The third day again; only eat a simple meal at night – unless you participate in an Ayahuasca ceremony at night, then you don’t eat.
The rest of your dieta you will drink the Master Plant extract in the morning and before sleep and diet on frugal and bland solid foods containing no oil, salt, sugar or spices nor any other foods that you committed to sustain from for the duration of your diet. Mostly it is only a little rice, quinoa, plantains or yucca twice a day and sometimes they offer a lentil soup, cucumber or a little river fish (that is full of tiny little bones and you should eat it without any bones being broken).

My Dietas
During my dietas I filled my days mostly in solitude with meditation, prayer, contemplating, singing, playing guitar or flute, journal, walk in the jungle visiting the medicine plants, occasionally lending a hand to prepare the Ayahuasca or other plant medicine brews, bathing in the river or at the cascade (in the Munai Camp of Maestro Don José Campos where I dieted several times on Bobinsana and other plant mixtures with him and/or his cousin Wilmer Muñaz Campos) or swim in the lake Cashibo Cocha (at the Sui Sui Centre where I dieted Noya Rao with Maestra Juanita, an abuelita (little grandmother) of the Mahua Shipibo tribe).

A Master Plant Dieta 2

My Dieta with Noya Rao
The Noya Rao Dieta with Maestra Juanita was my sixth official diet. I started the first day with setting intentions, drinking a little of the Noya Rao Medicine and a first Ayahuasca ceremony. The second day was full of preparing and cleansing rituals. An early morning Vomativo (purging ritual by ingesting Sangre de Grado (dragon blood) followed by drinking many litres of water, till it all comes out. An afternoon Vapour Bath (steam bath with several cleansing plants containing Toé) where you sit completely covered by a thick dark plastic with a big hot pot of steaming water with the healing herbs between your legs, sweating and breathing in the hot vapour (or even swallowing it, if you can) until you really can’t stay any longer inside. You then can come out of that little claustrophobic space, lie down and they give you a Soplado (bath with smoke of Mapacho) by blowing six times on the front of your body from head to toe, six times on the back, and sitting up they blow your crown and your folded hands in prayer. After that you have a swim in the lake. And in the evening a Baño de Humo (smoke bath) for protection and freeing spirits that might be stuck on you: wearing a big Shipibo dress, covering all the holes as much as possible, you stand over a pot which releases the smoke of Palo Santo and two other sacred woods that are burning on the hot coils. You catch the thick smoke under your dress so that the smoke covers you – wearing the clothes that you will sleep in that night. This ritual was originally for cleansing after someone in the family or community died, to free the spirits. The third day we spent some time learning Shipibo icaros and had another Ayahuasca ceremony. After that I started water fasting for a couple of days, drinking a glass of the Noya Rao Medicine twice a day, always with a little prayer ritual, first cleaning my space with palo santo, asking the spirit of Noya Rao to open me to the Light World of Noya Rao and to teach me the good things, then praying for the same things with my special Noya Rao pipa (pipe) made by Maestra Juanita who charged it and opened the spiritual connection with Noya Rao via this pipe, whistling for it, singing an Icaro or my intentions, then smoking the pipe connecting with the Noya Rao Riosbo (spirit), soplar the cup with the extract (el liquido) three times and finally drinking the Master Plant.
There was an Ayahuasca Ceremony every other day. On the fifth day I had a Baño de Noya Rao (bath). While you sit on a stool Abuelita Juanita washed your body with a warm Noya Rao tea. You were not to wash it off but go like this into the ceremony. It serves as protection. In the afternoon she gave me a healing, sucking dark energies that block me out of my body and even sucking my eyes to stop the migraines. It had been a year with some severe challenges that still stuck on me. That night in the ceremony she worked with me a lot, chanting many special icaros in front of me to clean my body and energy from all that was blocking my free flow of life and love. On the sixth day I had another treatment with her, where she gave me a special massage to the bones of my hurting body. The seventh day was quiet. At night in the ceremony Maestra Juanita told me: “Canta. Cànta!!” She kept telling me that I have to sing. Singing is my Medicine. That night I sang a new icaro in Shipibo, my own! An icaro for the Noya Rao spirit. In the last days of the dieta I had two Baños de Amor/Protección to attract Love, Abundance in relationships and to protect me in the world outside after leaving this place – because outside it isn’t always as pure loving as it is here. It was a special recipe of Maestra Juanita – who abundantly poured the beautifully smelling plants also over her own head at the end, with all her clothing on. The next day I had another Baño de Amor/Protección in the morning, with different plants. One for protection, to gain Strength, Courage and to bring the Spirit back in the body and another one for Love and Abundance. In the last ceremony Maestra Juanita was singing Closing Arcanas, special songs to close the Dieta and protect us against the things we would encounter in the World Outside, which is not always as safe and protected as in the retreat. After the ceremony the diet is officially over and the silence I was in for the duration of the retreat was broken. The last day ends with an Integration Circle – for me, apart from the Introduction Circle, the only Sharing Circle that I attended because I chose to stay in silence in those moments. Words from others were distracting me from falling ever deeper inside and I felt I had to go deeply into my own process. I have been doing some deep shadow work during this Silent Retreat with the plants. With Ayahuasca as an amplifier and the Noya Rao shining it’s Light upon it, I was able to bring programs that don’t serve me anymore to the surface. Trapped energies that were holding me back in life, that were now to be cleaned and transformed to get back into alignment with my true nature, self-worth and self-love. It was very hard work that required a lot of commitment. I have to integrate all of this very well! On the last day I got instructions for my 3 months(!) Post-Dieta***, this was the time that is needed to let the Noya Rao energy settle in your body and integrate all the lessons to make it part of me. After these three months this energy stays with me forever and Noya Rao will my Ally for life.

The Master Plant Noya Rao
Noya Rao, known as the Tree of Life and the Path to Truth, is used in the sacred ceremonies by the Mahua Shipibo traditions of Peru. Dieting the bark of the roots is believed to be an essential step on the path of becoming a healer. It can activate your intuitive capacities as well as helping to bring to light unconscious assumptions about the world. It supports you to access the courage to abandon limiting beliefs and change their perception.
For thousands of years the Shipibo curanderos (healers) have been connecting and working medicinally with this special tree, even though this very rare and mythical tree has been disappeared from this planet for long! They cultivated an enduring spiritual relationship with Noya Rao, explaining that they were receiving etheric chipsfrom the spirit realm, which were implanted during ceremony. Some shamans are said to have a wife in the spirit realm and a child in the tribe of the Chaikuni people who also inhabit the spirit realm. The child would gather these etheric chips and send them down to the physical realm to use as needed. These seeds are believed to inhabit the dietero(a) and continue to grow inside them for the rest of their life. The implementation of these chips is the method the Shipibo people use to initiate recipients into the healing profession.
Only about eight years ago the Noya Rao tree has “returned to the human dimension’ and people diet on the juice of the bark . Up to now there are only three of these mystical trees to be found, a Grandmother, a Mother and a Son.
I have been dieting on the roots of the Son. Unfortunately I couldn’t visit the tree during my dieta, because all three of them grow on the same Mahua Shipibo property in Iquitos and I was dieting in Pucallpa. But after this I will go for an apprenticeship with Shipibo-Konibo Maestro Heberto Hirán Garcia Mendendez in Ashi Meraya, Iquitos. So I am definitely planning on visiting the tree to pay my gratitude and bring my prayers. They say that if you visit the tree at night it glows in the dark – but only people with faith can see this so it can’t be captured on photo.

So, while many people are sceptical I had the privilege to actually diet on the rare Noya Rao and ally myself with this tree that – when created and maintained well – will give me lifelong support, providing information, guidance and energy. Like building any other friendship, the quality of the relationship that you build with a Plant is determined by the energy you give to the connection. Sincere, authentic attention given to the Plant throughout and after your fast will enable you to unlock guidance, information and energy stored within the Plant and find important answers that will aid you in your healing journey.
Sticking strictly to your diet is a powerful expression of dedication and commitment. It shows that you are determined to heal and ready to receive guidance, strength and protection.

Breaking the fast 
When the duration of the fast is over, the dieta is officially closed. Like with the opening of the Dieta this is done with an Ayahuasca ceremony with certain rituals declaring that it is completed and expressing your tremendous gratitude to the Plant spirit. You officially break the Master Plant Diet by ingesting food that was prohibited during the Dieta, like spicy food such as a raw chili pepper or taking a mixture of lemon/onion/salt or oil/salt/chili/garlic/sugar, before consuming any of your post-dieta food. You are invited to pray to the food, to thank the Plant Spirit and state to your Plant Spirit Ally that you are ingesting this drink or food as a symbol that the contract is about to be broken.

After officially closing your Dieta, your Post-Dieta*** starts: another diet to respect your friendship with the Plant and make it settle in your body. The basic idea is that during the dieta a strong relationship is formed and a great deal of attention and energy is shared, so even though the diet has been fulfilled you should continue to give energy, thoughts and feeling to the Plant Spirit. You shouldn’t want to run out and do all the things that were sacrificed or the dieta. That would be like ending a relationship and wanting to stay friends, but diving into bed the next day or soon after with someone else. That would be disrespectful and your friendship would most likely suffer as a result. So it is important to maintain the same reverence for the Plant while slowly starting to ingest salt, oil, sugar etc.

Ayahuasca Diet
On a physical level Ayahuasca inhibits the action of the enzyme monoamine oxidase (MAO) in the body. While MAO is inhibited, compounds that the enzyme would would normally break down could accumulate in the body to toxic levels. So it is advised to avoid taking Ayahuasca alongside foods that contain tyramine (an amino acid) which stimulates the release of norepinephrine in the blood. If norepinephrine gets too high it can cause headaches, constriction of blood vessels, severe hypertension and in rare cases even heart failure or a fatal stroke.

These foods contain tyramine in large quantities:
– Aged cheeses such as cheddar and blue cheese
– Broad beans (tuinbonen)
– Soy products
– Sauerkraut
– Marmite
– Tap beer
– Spoiled / improperly stored meat, fish, poultry, liver
– Dried / fermented meat
– Pickled haring

The list of foods to be avoided was first published in 2012 by Dr. David Flockhart for when one is prescribed SSRIs or any MAOI.

** Master Plant Dieta 
The length and the terms of the fast vary but some restrictions generally apply to all Master Plant Dietas. These include:

– Limited use of toothpaste, deodorant, insect repellent, soap and other personal care products, unless they are 100% natural, free of any scent
– Abstinence from sex in any shape or form
– Restriction of certain foods and drinks, such as: Oil, Salt, Sugar, Spices, certain fruits such as Papaya, Mango, Watermelon, Caffeine, Alcohol Chocolate, Red meat, Pork, Seafood

While the outward expression of the dieta is often talked about in terms of food restrictions and sexual abstinence, the dieta goes much deeper than the physical aspects. The act of abstinence and the food diet is only touching the surface. Thoughts have a very important role in the dieta. Negative thoughts or certain fantasies are a demonstration of the lack of determination. So there are some more important restrictions on another level that you have to prevent yourself from:
– Thinking negatively and complaining about the dieta
– Doubting or losing faith in the process
– Fantasizing about favorite foods or sex

*** Post Dieta 
The duration, food diet and other restrictions for this are being set by the Maestro or Maestra that has been guiding you. Mostly it is at least two weeks, still refraining from sugar and many other things. Our Post-Dieta with Noya Rao is… 3 months and includes much more that the food. But the good thing is that most of the time fruits and vegetables can be eaten again in all abundance!

This is written with tremendous thanks to Elio Geusa, who generously shared his knowledge about the healing traditions of the Shipibo tribe and Master Plant Dietas during the dietas that he facilitates with the Shipibo Maestros Juanita and Don Miguel.

* AYA Healing Retreats Manual, 2017
* Psychedelic Press London – Volume XXII, 2017