Although the effect of Ayahuasca on the MAO is short and reversible, I believe it to be wise – at least for people with abnormal high blood pressure – not to eat food containing high levels of Tyrosine (an essential amino-acid precursor of dopamine, epinephrine and norepinephrine) converted into Tyramine by intestinal bacteria.
If the MAO is suppressed in the way induced by Mariri, it is possible that Tyramine may get into the bloodstream leading to high arterial pressure. The use of some stimulants from the amphetamine group as well as some bronchodilators may also strengthen a tendency towards high blood pressure.
For this reason we recommend that people with high blood pressure should avoid foods rich in Tyrosine for 24 hours before the ceremony:
These are: red wine, beer; sauce and soy bean condiments (pickled soya); broad (fava) bean pods; Marmite concentrated yeast extract; mature cheese (except ricotta or curd cheese); smoked fish; tinned animal pate; concentrated meat sauce; Frankfurters; pickled cabbage (Sauerkraut); and protein supplements sold in gyms. Full reference at: The making of a user-friendly MAOI diet by Gardner DM, Shulman KI, Walker SE, Tailor SA Department of Pharmacy, Sunnybrook Health Science Centre, University of Toronto, Ontario, Canada. J Clin Psychiatry 1996 Mar; 57(3):99-104.
Some people who hope to intensify the effect of the tea try to raise their levels of serotonin (one of the most important neurotransmitters of the nervous system) by ingesting a larger quantity of the essential amino acid, Tryptophan, which is a fundamental dietary precursor in the organic synthesis of serotonin.
Various studies have shown that the level of serotonin in the brain is directly proportional to the concentration of Tryptophan in the plasma and nervous system. Ingesting Tryptophan in one’s diet directly influences the quantity of serotonin in the plasma, the brain and all parts of the body. The metabolism of Tryptophan requires a suitable quantity of the vitamin B6 and magnesium in order to function correctly. Tryptophan is the essential amino acid which is least abundant in foodstuffs. Apart from meat and anchovies, it is found most in Swiss-type cheeses, gruyere and parmesan (a milk-derived protein–alpha-lactalbumin– is possibily unusually rich in tryptophan); in eggs and in nuts.
We do not believe it is necessary or even effective to eat such a diet in order to strengthen the effects of the tea. In fact, we do not know of any scientific investigation to discover the effects of a diet rich in Tryptophan on people who are not sensitive to Ayahuasca.
The healer’s diet:
“Vegetalists” or “curandeiros” and healers who use Ayahuasca as a medicine for cure often recommend various mainly vegetarian diets (pork, for example, is not allowed for several days before the experience) which also exclude fats, salt, sugar, alcohol; and recommend sexual abstinence. Tobacco, which is considered a sacred plant, is used in various rituals. Some of these recommendations, such as the exclusion of salt and alcohol, have a bio-chemical justification; others are mainly justified on religious grounds.
The relative value of diets:
In the end, though, it is important to point out that thousands of followers of the large syncretic sects like Santo Daime and the UDV do not receive any specific dietary recommendations from their leaders – apart from not smoking or using alcohol or drugs for religious reason. And they remain just as likely to obtain the desired results from Ayahuasca.