What is a MAOI?

In detail

'Smart' combinations

The danger of MAOI's


List of dangerous combinations

Links / References

What is a MAOI?

Normally DMT - as found in plants such as Mimosa hostilis, Psychotria viridis and Phalaris Arundinacea - is not effective when ingested orally. This is because it is broken down (inhibited) by Monoamine oxydase (MAO). MAO is an important enzyme that breaks down certain chemical compounds such as drugs and poisons.

MAOI's or MAO-inhibitors interfere with the action of the MAO enzyme and stop the breakdown of chemical compounds such as DMT, making it effective when ingested orally. The combination of a DMT containing plant and an MAOI is commonly known as ayahuasca (or yage).

MAOI's must be used with great caution because otherwise they cause harmless food to become poisonous. The results can be dangerous: headaches, nausea, even unconsciousness and death. In shamanistic tradition MAOI's are only used after at least one day of fasting. It is advised to follow this tradition.

So, MAOI's are:

  • Syrian rue (Peganum harmala)
  • Banisteriopsis caapi
  • Passionflower
  • Yohimbe
  • and certain anti-depressiva.

In detail

Monoamine oxidase (MAO) is the primary inactivation pathway of most tryptamines. That's why inhibitors of the MAO enzyme (MAOIs) can be used to potentiate the effects of tryptamines and to make DMT and 5-MeO-DMT orally active.

MAO inhibitors fall into two classes: irreversible and reversible MAOIs. In addition they can inhibit either or both of the two types of the MAO enzyme, MAO-A and MAO-B which are associated with serotonergic and dopaminergic neurons respectively.

Irreversible MAOIs (e.g. the hydrazides iproniazid and phenelzine) bind permanently to the enzyme and cause MAO inhibition lasting 1-2 weeks after ingestion. They are used clinically to treat depression.

Reversible MAOIs, such as moclobemide, which is used as an antidepressant, and the beta-carbolines harmine and harmaline, are effective for much shorter time, maybe up to 24 hours. Recreational drug users around the world are using mainly harmine and harmaline despite the lack of scientific studies on their effects on humans.

'Smart' combinations

Taking MAOI's on purpose doesn't have to come with too much unpleasant side-effects. Nausea is minimized in 'pharmahuasca', which consists of pure DMT and a reversible MAO-inhibitor such as harmine or moclobemide. When the DMT is in a plant extract taking it with a pure MAO inhibiting substance instead of a plant containing MAOIs usually reduces nausea and other body load significantly. MAOIs have also been used to potentiate the effects of mushrooms containing psilocybin and even phenethylamines -- the latter combination can be very dangerous. DPT ingested with MAOIs has been called 'propylhuasca'; DPT is orally active by itself and its dosage should be smaller when potentiated by MAOIs.

According to anecdotal reports one gram (corresponding to approx. 30 mg of harmine/harmaline) of P. harmala seeds ingested inhibits MAO enough to make DMT orally active, while 75 mg of moclobemide is sufficient for the same purpose. In short, this is why DMT containing seeds are combined with peganum harmala to enhance their hallucinogenic qualities.

The danger of MAOI's

There are significant dangers in using MAO inhibitors. Most MAOIs potentiate the cardiovascular effects of tyramine and other monoamines found in foods. Ingestion of aged cheese, beer, wine, pickled herring, chicken liver, yeast, large amounts of coffee, citrus fruits, canned figs, broad beans, chocolate or cream while MAO is inhibited can cause a hypertensive crisis including a dangerous rise in blood pressure.

MAOIs interact with other psychoactive substances in addition to tryptamines; effects of amphetamines, general anaesthetics, sedatives, anti-histamines, alcohol, potent analgesics and anticholinergic and antidepressant agents are prolonged and intensified.

Overdosage of MAOIs by themselves is also possible with effects including hyperreflexia and convulsions.
It should be noted, however, that these strict warnings apply best in the case of irreversible MAOIs, and many users of reversible MAOIs to activate or potentiate tryptamines are not quite as careful with no apparent ill effects.


Tryptamine derivatives and beta-Carbolines have been detected as endogenous metabolites in mammals, including humans. Methyl transferases that catalyze the synthesis of tryptamines, including DMT, 5-MeO-DMT and bufotenine, are found in human lung, brain, cerebrospinal fluid, liver and heart (McKenna & Towers 1984). In the pineal gland MAO is the primary inactivation pathway of serotonin, a neurotransmitter synthesized from the amino acid tryptophan. If MAO is blocked by harmine, harmaline or other MAO inhibitors serotonin can be converted by the methyltransferase enzymes HIOMT and INMT into psychedelic tryptamines (serotonin --(HIOMT)--> 5-MeO-trypt. --(2*INMT)--> 5-MeO-DMT).

So, ingesting l-tryptophan to increase serotonin levels, a candy bar to increase the amount of tryptophan getting to your brain and natural plant material containing 25-50 mg harmine/harmaline to block MAO, all at the same time, might cause your pineal gland to synthesize substantial amounts of 5-MeO-DMT (Most 1986). Similar results might be obtained by substituting 5-hydroxytryptophan (5-HTP) for tryptophan. Normal sleep-inducing doses of melatonin have also been taken with reversible MAOIs with the resulting psychoactive effects suggesting significant interaction of the two substances. This is extremely dangerous for persons with existing amine imbalance or schizophrenia. For normal, healthy people possible consequences are bad.

A potent inhibitor of INMT, which is a necessary enzyme for the synthesis of DMT and 5-MeO-DMT, is found in particularly high concentrations in the pineal gland. A bypassing or inhibition of the synthesis of this inhibitor might be responsible for trances and other psychedelic states achieved "without drugs" (Strassman 1990). See Strassman's article for more info and speculation about the pineal gland.

List of dangerous combinations

Below is a list of substances, that you should NOT take 12 hours before and 12 hours after taking a MAO-inhibitor.

Very dangerous:

  • antidepressants containing Selective Serotonine Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRI's) such as the herb Kanna (Sceletium tortuosum) and pills such as paroxetine (Seroxat), fluoxetine (Prozac), citalopram (Cipramil), fluvoxamine (Fevarin) and sertraline (Zoloft)
  • sleeping-pills
  • anaesthetics
  • migraine medicines
  • allergy medicines
  • over the counter cold medicines
  • cocaine
  • amphetamines (speed)
  • MDMA (XTC)
  • mescaline cacti (peyote and san pedro)
  • alcohol
  • ephedra/ephedrine (for example in products such as Ephedra Super caps, Super stacker, Ultra Boost)
  • pseudoephedrine
  • macromerine
  • phentermine.

Can cause headaches or sickness:

  • cultured dairy products (buttermilk, yogurt, and sour cream)
  • all aged/mature cheese (exception: cottage cheese, cream cheese)
  • dry and fermented sausage (bologna, salami, pepperoni, corned beef, and liver)
  • all meat, fish and eggs which are not fresh
  • pickled herring and salted dried fish
  • meat extracts
  • yeast extracts/brewer's yeast (Marmite)
  • sauerkraut
  • fruits (bananas, avocados, canned figs, raisins, red plums, pine-apple, raspberries)
  • nuts (peanuts)
  • broad beans and pods (lima, fava beans, lentils, snow peas, and soy beans)
  • soyasauce
  • LSA (morning glory and baby hawaiian woodrose seeds)
  • MDA related herbs (nutmeg, sweet flag)
  • chocolate
  • caffeine (coffee, tea, cola, guarana, energy drinks)
  • ginseng
  • St Johns wort
  • nasal sprays (Vicks Sinex, Prevalin or Otrivin)
  • other MAO inhibitors.

Links / References

This article is based on the following pages:

Erowids MAOI Vault

Azarius on MAO-inhibitors


  • Kram - 2007-05-18 05:00:20 +19

    I'm glad there's no mention of THC being armfull or dangerous combination.

  • Psyclist - 2007-06-04 15:02:00

    Any good experiences combining MAOI's with mushrooms?

  • j - 2007-07-28 09:48:40 -4

    I once had two tablespoons of nutmeg with an average dose of magic mushrooms and the trip was definitley quite enhanced... i had a super bad horror trip on it and walked myself into hospital for some reassurance that I wasn't about to die... served me right for not reading up on the combination before I guess...

  • siras - 2007-09-14 21:13:58 +1

    thanks god for this article. very good info. good job!

  • dre - 2007-09-19 13:23:51 -5

    Shrooms contain small amounts of DMT as well as psilocybine. When taken with MAOIs like Peganum Harmala, the DMT becomes active and you get a combo trip. Read up on Erowid.

    I definitely enjoyed the sensation, wish I had taken more shrooms though - I took 3g of Syrian rue (chewed it for 3 minutes or so) and half a box of Golden Teacher shrooms. All I can say is - niccceeee.

  • moonskin1976 - 2008-11-11 18:26:49 +6

    I bought some 200 mg of 95% pure harmaline and divided it into four capsules (50 mg per capsule) then took a capsule about 30 minutes before ingesting the psilocybin mushrooms. After I took 3.5 grams of mushrooms, the effects came on quickly. I captured visuals that I have never captured before on any other substance. I tripped for about 8 hours with the peak lasting almost the whole time. The visuals were so intense at times I thought I was coming apart at an atomic level. Definately not for the faint of heart but, recommended for anyone who thinks they have things "figured out".

  • Dude - 2008-12-04 15:10:03 -1

    Uhm, MAOI's with mushrooms won't be a very good idea I think... Surely the MAOI's will boost your shroom-experience, but, if you use the right shroom-dosage you will probably don't even need it. I've only had very very strong mushroom trips, so I wouldn't wanna go anywhere near MAOI's ;P

  • Hannah - 2010-09-29 14:57:10 -1

    Oooh I am SO glad i found this. I heard about nutmeg as a way to get high and was thinking about trying it out...but I'm on SSRIs. And I drink LOADS of coffee Glad I didn't try that XP

  • andy - 2010-10-25 09:54:31 -1

    Hi, thanks for this. But I am concerned that you lump several medications together ... for example "over the counter cold medications" could mean any one or a combination of a huge number of medications ... as could "migraine medications". We really need to know what's in each medication before we can comment. Blessings. Andy

  • Zen-panda - 2011-05-08 22:43:57 +2

    So is P.Harmala a short time inhibitor or a long one? How long before i can start eating properly again? I have 10g of P.harmala and 10g of M. Hostilis. I want to do a mix of 1.5g P.Harmala and 5g M.Hostilis and two lemmons and simmer on stove. strain afterwords and drinkt. But the whole MAOI crap is scaring. any advice on how long doe the MAOI stay within the body and after eating when can i consume the ayhuasca?

  • knob - 2011-06-14 21:59:13

    Is there some food that is confirmed to be safe to eat with MAOIs?

  • Rogue - 2011-09-24 09:36:09 -5

    I have taken the maoi nardil for twenty years without paying any attention to the tyramine effect and have no untoward events ever.

  • Martez - 2013-01-16 22:00:36

    Hey so I ate a handful of the seeds ate a half eighth of the shroomies and smoked some amphetamine 1 night I'm concerned about my health just wondering if anyone else has done the same thing and if they have some sort of psychosis from it or anything please respond ur message will be read sometime

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