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MAOIs - Encyclopedia

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What is a MAOI?

In detail

'Smart' combinations

The danger of MAOIs


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.

MAOIs 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).

MAOIs 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 MAOIs are only used after at least one day of fasting. It is advised to follow this tradition.

So, MAOIs 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 MAOIs 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 MAOIs

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

Wait at least 3 weeks after taking a selective serotonine reuptake inhibitors (SSRI) before starting with a MAOI. This includes antidepressants such as the herb kanna (Sceletium tortuosum) and pills such as paroxetine (Seroxat), citalopram (Cipramil), fluvoxamine (Fevarin) and sertraline (Zoloft). It's recommended to wait 6 weeks after fluoxetine (Prozac).

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

Very dangerous:

  • 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 18-05-2007 05:00:20

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

  • Psyclist 04-06-2007 15:02:00

    Any good experiences combining MAOI's with mushrooms?

  • j 28-07-2007 09:48:40

    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 14-09-2007 21:13:58

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

  • dre 19-09-2007 13:23:51

    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 11-11-2008 18:26:49

    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 04-12-2008 15:10:03

    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 29-09-2010 14:57:10

    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 haha...wow. Glad I didn't try that XP

  • andy 25-10-2010 09:54:31

    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 08-05-2011 22:43:57

    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 14-06-2011 21:59:13

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

  • Rogue 24-09-2011 09:36:09

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

  • Martez 16-01-2013 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

  • Jarma 13-05-2014 23:16:22

    Always fast for about 24 hours before the consumption of ayahuasca

  • Carlito jones 28-06-2014 19:41:46

    ALWAYS FAST IS CORRECT. Do as they have done before us in jungles where there is experience is utilizing these compounds, the people always fast. Fast before any shroom trip too, maoi or not.

  • ziggy 18-11-2014 10:12:27

    how about combo led with changa i wanna smoke shanga on the peak of lsd but changa contain maoi is that dangrous or safe to do it

  • MetaMan 03-12-2014 00:01:02

    I've taken an MAOI for years (Nardil). Foods containing tyramine (sp?) can cause blood pressure to increase to the level that can be fatal. So I've done a lot of research.

    Having said that, it's not really as risky as it sounds. If you have a reaction (raise in BP), you have a good 1-2 hours to make it to the ER and tell them you're having a reaction to an MOAI (aka hypertensive crises).

    Unfortunately the amount of tyramine varies a lot, even within the same six pack of dark beer or the same brand of wine or cheese. So predicting how much there is in any food or drink is a futile gesture.

    On the plus side, there is evidence that you can build a resistance to tyramine. For example, I regularly eat aged cheeses, smoked fish, etc. with no problem. I started with small portions and gradually increased them.

    The only bad reaction I've had was to the "D-" cough syrups.

    I asked my doctor to prescribe the antidote to keep around, just in case.

    Having a good BP monitor is helpful. I use the LifeSource UA-767 plus. It's fully automatic, highly rated, and runs plugged in or on batteries.

  • Darren Ryan 08-11-2017 12:12:53

    I took Harmala and mushrooms. I became possessed and spoke in a god like majestic way. The sounds and lights I seen felt like it was raising me through higher and higher levels of conciousness and understanding. I begged it to stop before it tried to raise me to "TriniGod" level. Also there was a strange sense of the grey alien presence. Haven't done that much again....yet

  • OhYouKnow 15-05-2018 19:59:49

    What about microdosing psylocibin while taking an irreversible MAOI-B (transdermal selegline)? Sounds like the MAOI-B will potentiate and alter the psylocibin trip, but not be physically unsafe b/c there's no serotonin syndrome risk.

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