Modafinil & Ayahuasca – Are There Contraindications?

I recently found myself in a situation where I would be taking modafinil and ayahuasca in close proximity to each other, and I wasn’t sure if this was a bad thing. I received a beautiful gift of a jar of ayahuasca honey – a highly concentrated syrupy reduction of ayahuasca. For those of you familiar with the Santo Daime way of grading ayahuasca preparations, honey is stronger than the strongest grade of Daime – grade 5. Honey, or Daime mel, is not typically served in group church works. That would probably a recipe for disaster, if having your congregation be cognizant enough to read their hymnals, sing, play their maracas and dance in a 1 meter by 1 meter square box with any level of coordination is important. With regards to my gifted honey, I knew it would be strong, but I had no idea whether 1 tablespoon or 1 teaspoon would send me to outer (or more accurately inner) space. So I needed to test it.

MUST READ: Everything You Need to Know About Ayahuasca

A Cautionary Note on Ayahuasca Combinations with Other Drugs
As a rule of thumb, I DO NOT ENDORSE ever using ayahuasca with other drugs, especially pharmaceutical drugs, due to the high risk of contraindications and the general absence of any scientific studies, long or short term, on ayahuasca drug combinations. These drug contraindications could result in serious illness or even death. I personally believe it’s best to drink ayahuasca by itself, following dietary guidelines, for a pure, unadulterated experience of this sacred plant medicine.

Why I Had a Time Constraint

Now I’m really particular about where I drink my medicine. I don’t drink ayahuasca in random hotel rooms, accommodations I’m renting, or even friends’ houses, unless they have a specifically consecrated space for medicine work. My preference is to drink in nature, on land that is considered sacred or cared for in a sacred way, to be a used place of healing or spiritual retreat. So that tends to really limit my options, but allows for beautiful solo journeys where I feel safe and protected. Because at the end of the day, drinking ayahuasca is a shamanic work, not a recreational drug experience. So shamanically, you want to minimize the possibility of disturbances by negatives spirits, or pick up parasitic entities. And there’s no place better to do this work than in a natural location that has been blessed, where the local spirits are pacified and friendly to humans.

I was also getting ready to move, so I had one opportunity – ONE DAY ONLY – to drink on my friend’s beautiful land – an organic farm & healing retreat center before I got on a plane. Further complicating matters, I had been microdosing with modafinil with much greater frequency due to some intense workloads I’d been plowing through.

MUST READ: Guide to Microdosing With Modafinil for Entrepreneurs & Other GSD Kind of People

Both ayahuasca and modafinil affect your brain chemistry, and I wasn’t sure if they were contraindicative. Certain drugs – specifically selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRI’s) – are extremely dangerous to use with ayahuasca. Extremely dangerous, as in, resulting in death, with considerable unpleasantness on the way out. Modafinil is a cognitive enhancer and nonamphetamine “wake-promoting agent,” with mood enhancing qualities. It is not, however, an SSRI.

I spent some time researching this particular drug combo and found nothing online. This didn’t surprise me as there haven’t been any long term studies on off-label use of modafinil with people who are otherwise healthy, and certainly no studies of subjects using both. The closest information I found on the topic was an anecdotal account of an individual who was taking modafinil and then decided to smoke some DMT. Given that ayahuasca contains far more chemical compounds than smokable DMT, I didn’t find this account to be an accurate gage on then safety of using these 2 drugs back-to-back. Ayahuasca and modafinil is an unexplored, undocumented frontier.

Given the absence of reliable information, I decided to guinea pig myself.

Here are the reasons why I chose to take this risk.

I don’t recommend trying this. No studies have been done regarding this particular drug combinations. Modafinil is a mono-amide and affects serotonin. Ayahuasca contains monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs) – which are chemicals which inhibit the activity of the monoamine oxidase enzyme family. “Amides” and “amines” are sufficiently similar in chemical structure to be of concern. Thus there is a real unknown risk factor associated with mixing these 2 drugs, which could result in serious illness or even death.

Scientific Reasons for Taking a Calculated Risk with Ayahusca and Modafinil

As I mentioned before, modafinil is not an SSRI. In fact, modafinil has been found to be effective in increasing mental clarity, focus and energy in subjects who are taking antidepressants.

In a 2004 study, a team of researchers headed by Dr. Thomas L. Schwartz of the SUNY Upstate Medical Center in Syracuse, New York, found that Provigil (modafinil) seemed to counteract SSRI side effects, which include somnolence and fatigue.

The fact that adjunctive modafinil not only alleviated SSRI-induced side effects but also improved physical and mental health-related quality of life suggests that its addition to antidepressant therapy may be of benefit in promoting patient adherence by reducing noncompliance due to medication side effects as a potential cause for relapse.

9 years later, in 2013, researchers from the Universities of Cambridge and East London and King’s College London, which included a meta analysis of 568 patients with unipolar depression and a total of 342 patients with bipolar depression found that the combination of Modafinil and prescribed antidepressants could reduce the severity of depression more effectively than taking antidepressants alone.

Modafinil has actions on a number of neurotransmitter systems. This may explain why adding it to traditional anti-depressants, such as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, has beneficial effects on the symptoms experienced by depressed patients.

Modafinil also has a half life of 15 hours. While I would not take modafinil on the same day as an ayahuasca ceremony, I feel fairly confident that most of it is out of my system after a day.

Finally, the quantity of Modafinil that I’ve been taking is 1/8th of a Modalert 200 – 25 mg, effectively a microdose. And the amount of ayahuasca I’d be taking would be a small test amount that would help me gage what a full adult serving of what this ayahuasca honey would be.

My Past Experience with Modafinil & Ayahuasca

I went into this experiment already fairly confident that I’d be just fine. I already have a track record of taking Modalert 200 and ayahuasca in relatively close proximity, but with more days in between than what I intended to try out. My experience comes from having to orchestrate Internet marketing launches while attending a 3-week ayahuasca festival in Brazil with medicine works every other day.

If “Internet marketing launch during 3-week ayahuasca festival” made you do a double-take, yes indeed this is not something that I recommend you do at the same time, especially in a country where the power constantly goes down, the Internet cuts out, and your cell phone data plan doesn’t work as advertised. But if your life choices happen to lead to a convergence of such events happening at the same time, then buckle down, hold on tight, and try not to get too stressed out.

Since I was there for a much longer period than 3 weeks, I was able to give myself more space – about 1 week – between Modalert 200 days and the ayahuasca ceremonies, which I chose not to do every other day because I was also working. I was also not microdosing with Modafinil at this time, but taking whole tablets of Modalert 200.

What Ayahusca Tells Me About the Things I Consume

Now I have an ongoing dialogue with Mama Ayahusca about the things I put into my body, probably because she’s the one that has to get in there and thoroughly clean it out. Picture a little, old grandmother with rubber gloves up to her elbows on unclogging your gross, greasy kitchen sink drain by hand. Granny means business.

La Machi, by Mariela de la Paz

La Machi, by Mariela de la Paz

I get scolded about tobacco smoking and drinking alcohol. She makes it pretty damn clear how bad alcohol is for me, even the red wine drunk over a week ago, and I feel it / taste it on its way out as I projectile vomit. When the projectile vomiting is over, then the deep lung phlegm cleansing process begins as a string of thick, goopy loogies demanding to be hocked out. This only happens if I’m in a smoking period or have a cold or flu. If it’s the latter, I usually emerge from the ceremony completely recovered. Ayahuasca is the best flu cure, in my opinion.

Mama Aya has told me flat out – in her loving, patient way as I’ve continued to ignore her – that I need to stop drinking coffee… though Yerba mate is OK. She makes it abundantly clear that processed food and sugar should be avoided, and salt minimized. She’s shown me how animal products are toxic, especially since these products are infused with the pain and suffering of the animals that were treated inhumanely, in addition to hormones, antibiotics and chemical additives. And that sausages are actually kind of disgusting and should be avoided completely.

Interestingly enough, I’ve not heard a peep from her about Modafinil. Not even a whisper. No feeling of, ugh, that tasted like Modafinil coming out of the hatch.

Bear in mind, these musings entirely subjective and are absolutely not to be taken as medical advice.

My Modafinil and Ayahuasca Experience

  • This is what my guinea pig experiment looked like:
  • 25 mg of Modafinil every 1-3 days for a 3 week period
  • 50 mg of Modafinil on Friday at 10am
  • 1 teaspoon of ayahuasca honey taken at 2pm the following Sunday
  • 2 capsules of 5HTP Monday night
  • 25 mg of Modafinil on Tuesday 10am

Sunday was an absolutely beautiful day of spiritual resurrection. I started with a swim in the ocean, then bopped around to the last 30 minutes of Ecstatic Dance at the yoga retreat center down the road. Then I met up with me friends at the end of the dance and we headed back to the farm. My friend set me up under a lush mango tree in a reclining deck chair under a mosquito net, like a princess in the forest.

I smudged myself with white sage and prayed to the spirits of the land for healing, guidance, and insight. Then I served myself 1 teaspoon of honey.

The honey was sweet and delicious. It was a really clean preparation, no bitter aftertaste or underlying stomach turning sensation. As the monks in Europe mastered winemaking, the Daimistas, in my opinion, have mastered the art of brewing ayahuasca.

The effects came on roughly after 45 minutes. Though it was a solid experience that lasted 4 hours, it was not a full-on all night work dosage with technicolor visions and encounters with divine spirits. It was a deep, nourishing communion with the earth, replete with insights to the questions I had. It was exactly what I needed to gage its strength. A full-on, 8-hour adult single serving without a second or third round would be 1 to 2 tablespoons of this honey, depending on your body mass.

I left my spot at 6pm and stopped by the yoga retreat center for dinner, sauna and hot tub. I felt so good, and slept so well.

Monday was a full-on day of work, errands, and my late night staff meeting with my team in the Philippines which ended at 11pm. I was totally energized and clear all day, that I didn’t even drink any Yerba mate. I wanted my Monday to be completely unadulterated by stimulants and I felt terrific. But strangely, I couldn’t sleep. My mind was really active. After tossing and turning until 1:30am, I decided to take to take 2 capsules of 5HTP to help me sleep.

The most unpleasant part of my Modafinil ayahuasca experience was those 2 capsules of 5HTP that I took. Normally this does nothing except send me off into a nice, deep sleep. But for whatever reason, I couldn’t fall asleep on it, and it was making my heart do the fluttery thing I so do not like when combined with Modafinil, even though a full 3 days had passed since my last dose. I wished I drank more Kava extract instead. I finally dosed off at around 4am.

Tuesday was my move out day, and the last day to take care of important business before getting on a series of planes and heading into a 3-day Internet marketing conference. So I took another 25 mg of Modafinil to get me going.

I felt great, I was on a mission to dominate my to do list and leave my house spanking clean, which I did by 9pm. Then I picked up my friend who was buying my car, drove an hour to the city I was flying out of, completed the car transfer at the AirBNB I booked, he drove off and I dropped off to a blissful, deep sleep.

Woke up naturally, bright and early the next day. I was just fine. Just fine.

DO Avoid Modafinil + Alcohol

On another note, after not drinking any alcohol for months, the other night I had a glass of pinot noir 34 hours after I had taken 25 mg of Modafinil the day before. As I left the restaurant, I started to hear ringing in my ears, I felt dizzy, and I really felt like puking. This made me suspect that either the 15 half life of Modafinil is incorrect, or this would really depend on your constitution and metabolism. Obviously I seem to be quite sensitive to these drugs.

Warning and Disclaimer

This experience is entirely personal, subjective, unscientific and should not be taken as medical advice. If you intend to use Modafinil and Ayahusca concurrently, or in close proximity to one another, I urge you to exercise caution. Every individual has a unique set of health circumstances and metabolizes chemical compounds differently. Bear in mind that I was using relatively small amounts of both drugs, so I have no idea how full doses of each might react. What doesn’t affect me might actually kill you.

In fact, you should simply assume that these first person narratives are a work of fiction.

Have you used Modafinil and Ayahuasca together? If so, how was it for you? Please share your thoughts in the comments below.'

About Lorna Liana

Lorna Liana is a new media strategist and lifestyle business coach to visionary entrepreneurs. She travels the world while running her business as a digital nomad. Lorna's boutique agency provides “done for you” web design, development and online marketing services for social ventures, sustainable brands, transformational coaches and new paradigm thought leaders. She is also a personal development junkie, and 20 year practitioner of shamanism, with extensive training in Tibetan Bon Shamanism and the ayahuasca traditions of the Amazon Basin. A self-professed ayahuasca snob and perennial ayahuasca tourist, Lorna has been drinking ayahuasca since 2004. She's been in approximately 150 ayahuasca ceremonies (from terrible to fantastic), and tasted wide variety of ayahuasca brews (from awful to exquisite). Her ayahuasca experience spans 30+ different shamans and facilitators, 7 indigenous tribes, several Brazilian churches, and a host of neo-shamanic circles, in Peru, Ecuador, Brazil, Europe, the US, and Asia. Through this widely-varied background, she hopes to shed some perspective on the globalization of ayahuasca.

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