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We are a team of dedicated volunteers! Can you help Chacruna advance cultural understanding around these substances? Working as Director of Research at Takiwasi, a pioneering center for the rehabilitation of drug addicts and research on traditional medicines, located in the high jungle of Peru, gave me the chance to get firsthand contact with the ancestral practice known as dieta diet.
This consists of a retreat in isolation with the ritualized intake of specific medicinal plants from the local flora that are perceived as proper teachers, accompanied by a special diet and strict physical and psychological norms. In the approach to mental health challenges, including addiction, Takiwasi successfully combines psychotherapy, conventional Western medicine, and Traditional Amazonian Medicine TAM , where the dieta represents one of the most important therapeutic practices of this unique protocol.
The dieta, as a tool from the Amazonian medical tradition, is nowadays increasingly spreading towards Western cultures and contexts. The Takiwasi Center alone, since , has welcomed more than 2, people from around the world who have come specifically to experience this type of treatment.
During the addiction treatment process, which lasts roughly nine months, an addict patient usually takes part in four dietas. Within the Amazonian traditional medicine, teacher plants are considered living beings able to transmit knowledge, once consumed within the specific rituals like the dieta. The several dietas that patients undertake during their inpatient care are crucial for the success of the treatment. Takiwasi uses approximately 20 different plant species for dietas, 2 the majority of which are poorly described in the scientific literature.
A further key part of the treatment lies in the ritual use of the psychoactive teacher plants beverage named ayahuasca. The modified state of consciousness generated by the intake of this brew allows the patients of the Takiwasi Center to proceed to a deep introspection that leads them to the roots of their addictive behavior.
The subsequent phase of psychotherapeutic integration of the information received through the visions is crucial to allow the individuals to become aware of their problem and undertake a path of catharsis. Native peoples used the Dieta to obtain teachings about daily survival practices such as hunting, divination, consultations with ancestors, healing, and leadership. The dieta allows patients, both drug users and non-addicts, to face psychological and social blocks and traumas, create a special contact with nature and the inner self, and devote themselves to holistic purification that eliminates toxic elements at the physical, emotional, mental and spiritual levels.
It allows them, at the same time, to expand their perceptions, reconnect with repressed emotions, purify and strengthen the body, and connect with the sacred dimension of nature. If the choice of the plant to be ingested is important, the restrictions that accompany the dieta are even more so.
Tarapoto, Peru: Takiwasi] The rules that accompany the consumption of teacher plants play a key role in increasing the strength of the modified state of consciousness and, consequently, allowing the person to get in contact with the spirit of the plant.
The main restrictions in the dieta protocol proposed at the Takiwasi Center are: isolation; dietary rules usually, boiled green plantain [ inguiri ] and a portion of rice or oats, twice a day, is all that is allowed ; salt and sugars must be avoided at all time, as well as alcohol, pork, and spicy food; these should be avoided for up to four weeks after the end of the process, in what is called the post-dieta.
Excessive physical exercise, chaotic environments, exposure to sun, rain, fire, and excessively strong odors must also be avoided; total sexual abstinence masturbation and intercourse is required. He also administers them a mixture of lemon, chopped onion, garlic, pepper, and salt to cut cortar the dieta, and close the energetic body that has remained open and highly sensitive during the isolation period.
Because the plants continue to work even after this phase has ended, the person must follow the prescribed restrictions throughout the post-dieta period. It is believed that a large part of the effect of the dieta is the consequence of the integration process that follows it.
These experiments are located in France, but in recent years, we could observe the spreading of proposals in other European countries such as Spain, Portugal, Holland, and Ireland, as well as in Canada and the USA.
The therapeutic value of the dieta seems to lie in the combination of different factors teacher plants, isolation, fasting, etc. According to the opinion of Jacques Mabit, MD, healer and founder of the Takiwasi Center, the changes that can be observed in a person after a dieta have to do with their structure, that is to say, they are maintained over time.
Personality, the way of relating to the external world, the ability of exploring the inner universe, the development of oneiric life, all get changed in a lasting way. Therefore, the dietais considered essential for long-term healing and is the main learning tool for those who are initiated to Amazonian curanderism.
From this moment on, he begins to act more frankly and openly towards the therapists. For the first time, there is a sincere revelation about the real intentions and feelings in play. The patient returns to the therapeutic community with a renewed feeling of belonging to the group. During a dieta, people often find themselves spending a lot of time in silence and avoiding the use of verbal speech, thus reducing the activation of certain cerebral cortex circuits that, in an ordinary state of consciousness, make the rational functionality predominant.
By partially limiting logical thinking, space is given to the most intuitive-instinctual sphere, usually repressed in the daily life of the average Westerner. The full immersion in nature often allows one to observe for the first time the variegated microcosm of Amazonian insects, while being surrounded at the same time by the repetitive melodies of birds, cicadas or frogs. The human-like form of these animals pushes towards taking awareness of the human being as one of the many animals that inhabit the planet, thus leading to a more equal positioning within the living realm.
This can facilitate the experience of feeling part of an egalitarian whole; a sensation shared also by various mystical-religious cultures that, in certain contexts, can bring about a real ecstatic condition. Conclusion Given the recent increase of interest in the dieta, especially in the context of the so-called shamanic tourism of the Peruvian Amazon, we can expect that this technique from the indigenous tradition will be more thoroughly investigated by academic scientific researchers, as is currently occurring for the well-known psychotropic brew ayahuasca.
Within the Western culture, the dieta could be integrated not only as a therapeutic tool, but also as a means for the ecology of the future. Please support Chacruna's work by donating to us. Featuring Nicole Buchanan, Ph. Did you enjoy reading this article? Become a Chacruna Member Support us on Patreon! Select options. Add to cart. Share Author Recent Posts. Matteo Politi, Ph.
Matteo Politi has a Ph. He has published in various peer-reviewed scientific journals and popular magazines on topics related to phytochemistry, herbal medicine, and holistic therapies. Latest posts by Matteo Politi, Ph. Photo Credit: Fabio Friso. Photo credit: Miguel Palomino. Is Ayahuasca Cultural Heritage of Brazil? Psychedelic Businesses.
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