Submission: Drug Interaction with Ayahuasca Ceremony? with Guest Responder, Karen L. Culpepper


I am seeking a little advice/insight from you, if possible. I was recently invited to participate in an Aya circle.

I have participated in a few positive 5-MEO-DMT experiences. The ceremonies were very well done, and the experiences have been wonderful, deep, and profound.

With that said, I take a specific mood stabilizing medication called Lamictal (Lamotrigine), for Bipolar II. It is not an SSRI or an MAOI. The medication had no negative effect on my 5-MEO experiences.

I feel blessed to be called to Aya, and I do not take her invitation lightly.

I would like to know if you have come across anyone else that has taken a mood stabilizing medication while participating in an Aya ceremony. Do you know of any effects this medication might have on an Aya experience?

Any information on the matter would be greatly appreciated.

Thank you again, very much.


I invited my dear friend and colleague Karen L. Culpepper to answer this post. She is our resident plant medicine woman and herbalist at Freed Bodyworks. To learn more about Karen's practice, visit here.

Blessings and thanks for your patience with my response.  I think it was on purpose that I got to sit with your question for some time.  My science brain started looking up DMT and how MAOIs interact with that chemical structure and what class of drug is Lamictal.  How would DMT effect this and that.  And then my guide said, "Karen just stop with all of that and speak from your heart." 

In all honesty,  I am not familiar with the structure of an Aya circle.  My experience has been within the structure and doctrine of a few Santo Diame churches both here in the the states and abroad in Brazil.  I can only speak from this space. In full disclosure, I am not a daimista and in no way, shape or form am I some sort of expert on the Santo Diame path.  Just sharing with you a few thoughts.  

I had a very dear sister in my herbal community introduce me to the Santo Diame church.  One of the best decisions I have ever made was to honor and accept her invitation.  The beauty and comfort of being within the sacred structure of Santo Diame works is such an amazing experience.  Intentions are set.  Prayers are made.    

The current of the work, as they are called, is the synergy of the container held by the people leading the work, the beautiful hymns, the divine beings that work with individuals, the peace of mind of having guardians present and the sacred sacrament/sacred Being, the Diame.  Both the masculine and feminine aspects of the plant medicine are ritualistically prepared separately and then combined, again, in ritual.  Your experiences during the work are YOUR experiences, not necessarily to be shared.  In time, as you continue to work with the energy of the plant spirit and as you participate in more works, more clarity may come to you.  

In your email you shared that you are currently taking Lamictal for Bipolar II.   I want to use this opportunity to plant this seed.  An African elder from Burkina Faso by the name of Malidoma Some has quite an interesting paradigm shift around mental illness from a shaman's perspective.  (see article here: 

His take is that mental illness is actually the birth of a healer and there is communication with this person from the spirit realm, from entities that have a tendency to hang out around the healer.  And trust me when I say, they can cause some havoc for the person.   Check out this article and see if it resonates with you.  

We live in a society where we want to break things down to its lowest common denominator.  So instead of yummy kale, let me partake in this wonderful serving of greens in, we think, yummy kale, it has an ANDI (Aggregate Nutrient Density Index) of 1000 and has this many calories and this many grams of fiber and so on.  I say all of that to say, guess what?  Sure DMT has the ability to bring awareness to and awaken the third eye chakra, which is a space of vision and inner guidance.  You have already gone to a Aya circle and it sounds like you have had expansive journeys/experiences from it.  

To really answer your original question, I would suggest jumping onto a few online forums to really have your science question answered.  I am not sure I am equipped to answer it from an organic chemistry perspective. Here's the deal: this is not about me telling you anything.  Use the calling and access to this beautiful plant spirit medicine to your advantage and ask it to show you the way.  My prayer is you receive clarity around your concerns and that your prayer is answered.  

Many blessings on your journey.  


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