My ayahuasca journey in the Amazon and how I cured my Hepatitis B

The main reason for my trip to the Peruvian Amazon was to experience the ayahuasca plant served according to the Peruvian traditions and by a female healer. Up until this trip, I had attended dozens of medicine ceremonies, all of which were led by Colombian male shamans. I had a calling and had to listen to it.

My ayahuasca journey

Over the past few years, I have been incredibly blessed to see many of my dreams come true. As I look back on my past, I can’t help but chuckle at the time I spent chasing after material possessions and status. It feels so liberating to finally understand that we are all interconnected and that true success can only be achieved when we all succeed together.

My journey of personal growth and transformation began when I first discovered Ayahuasca, the powerful plant medicine that connected me to a deeper understanding of myself and my place in the world. My first ceremony with Ayahuasca in the woods gave me a new perspective on who I was and what my purpose was. Since then, life has been like a never-ending lesson, where I continue to learn and evolve into a better version of myself. One of the most important things I’ve learned along the way is the importance of connecting to my heart over my mind, and choosing to act from a place of love rather than resentment, expansion rather than contraction, and connection rather than shutting down.

How Ayahuasca cured my Hepatitis B:

I want to share my story in the hopes that it can bring hope and inspiration to those who are on their own journey of self-healing. I want to explain in detail how the traditional, indigenous plants of the Peruvian Amazon helped me heal from Hepatitis B in just five days.

According to Western medicine, what happened to me in the jungle was nothing short of a miracle. After being on medication and spending thousands of dollars each month for a decade, I am now completely medication-free and my Hepatitis B is fully cured.
After returning to New York, I continued to get blood tests every six months to ensure that my hepatitis B virus was no longer present. And, for the next three years, every test came back negative. It was a true blessing that I was able to heal naturally and I hope my story can be a source of light for others who are on their own healing journey.

Many Western doctors may discourage trying alternative methods to treat chronic diseases, due to concerns about liability. However, we all know that nature has the power to heal us. Thanks to my connection with the higher self through Ayahuasca, I was able to trust my body and the universe and take a different approach to treating my Hepatitis B. I quit my medication and went to the jungle for a traditional plant medicine ceremony. To be honest, I wasn’t even specifically looking for a “dieta”, I was just seeking a female shaman and didn’t expect this miracle to happen. But with the guidance and support of Ayahuasca, I was able to find the courage and trust to try something different.

I believe that if scientists were to study the specific Amazonian plant that I was given, they would discover why it was able to cure my Hepatitis B. In the jungle, I also learned that this disease is common among Latin Americans, but they didn’t see it as a serious condition like I did.

This experience changed my life. Living with the disease had become my identity and I was used to hiding behind it. I always felt sorry for myself and was ashamed of having this “secret”. It took me a while to get used to the idea that I no longer had the disease, that I was free physically, mentally, and emotionally. I had no excuse to put myself down anymore, and this experience helped me to see my true worth, and to live my life to the fullest.

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My healing journey in Peru:

After completing a 3-week journey at a Native American Vision Quest camp in Colombia, my friend Daria and I followed our hearts and traveled to Peru by cargo boat on the Amazon River. Along the way, we sought advice from friends on how to navigate the jungle and asked locals in Iquitos about different shamans and practices.

We learned that in recent years, drinking ayahuasca had become increasingly popular among foreigners in this area, leading to corruption and negative experiences. We heard stories of shamans who had taken advantage of people, including trying to rape women, serving dangerous medicine, and scamming people by offering ineffective medicine.

With this in mind, we began inquiring about a reputable female shaman named Doña Othelia, who had been recommended by friends. However, we found that her rates were above our budget (~$200 per night). Instead, we decided to visit another female shaman named Doña Isabelle, who was a half Shipibo/half Bora shaman and lived 2 hours away from Iquitos by the river. The 5-day trip would cost 900 soles (300 USD) in total and included lodging, food, remedies, and three ceremonies that would take place every other day. We also had the option to hire a translator for an additional 150 soles/day (50 USD) but decided not to in order to save cost.

**Scroll down to the bottom to jump to the places that serve sacred medicine in South America**

Here is how the magic happened in Peru:

Day 1:

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The canoe that took us to Dona Isabelle’s lodge and Jorge’s sons

Early in the morning, we were picked up by a travel agency that had organized our trip to Doña Isabelle’s village. They took us to the dock where we boarded two boats, a speedboat and a regular boat, for the journey to her lodge along the Tahuaya River. After an hour on the speedboat, we were met by Jorge, one of Doña Isabelle’s helpers, at Tamishacu. He transferred us to his slow canoe for another hour of the journey.

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Welcome to the Jungle!

The lodge was in the middle of the jungle, beautifully surrounded by trees, tiny black monkeys, wild cats, and all kinds of bugs and birds. We were given a private cabin with two beds and individual mosquito nets. When we set up our hammocks, it didn’t take us too long to get used to our new place, which would be our home for the next five nights.

Lodge
The path to the lodge, the view of the Maloka where the ceremonies took place,  our humble cabin, and Jorge while preparing our meal.

 

When we arrived, we had the opportunity to meet with Doña Isabelle in her maloka (a traditional round hut used for ceremonies) for an introduction and to share our reasons for being there, as well as the health issues we wanted to address (frequent bladder infections and Hepatitis B). After listening to us attentively, she and her husband Lorenzo, who we later learned was her maestro, put us on a strict diet (dieta) consisting of grilled or smoked fish, plantains and rice, and two meals a day, with no salt, sugar, or oil. It was a very bland diet.

Our first ayahuasca ceremony took place that same night in our cabin and lasted for three hours in complete darkness. The two shamans sat in chairs in front of us, while Daria and I sat on the floor. The medicine was raw and had been liquified, which made it easier to swallow. We were only given one dose at the beginning of the night. The shamans sang icaros (traditional songs) all night and both Daria and I quickly vomited (got well in the buckets).


Our first ceremony was quite different from my past Ayahuasca experiences. The Colombian ceremonies usually lasted at least 8 hours and we had the opportunity to walk around, sit by the fire or lay down, which helped me to connect with nature more easily. We were also able to drink as many cups as we wanted. However, the Peruvian ceremonies were shorter, took place in one room in the dark and we were not able to interact with anything other than ourselves.
When we were both almost falling asleep, Jorge came to end the night and they left us to rest and meet the next morning to get our remedies.

Day 2: No breakfast | Lunch: grilled fish and plantains | Dinner: boiled rice.

The day after our first ceremony, Daria and I were given two bottles of remedies that we were instructed to use until they were finished, and that would help us overcome our health issues. Jorge excitedly shared with us how the shamans had previously helped to cure his stomach tumor and other illnesses such as hepatitis, various types of cancer, diabetes, and obesity. While we were initially skeptical, we were willing to try the remedies and see if they worked for us. We spent most of the day relaxing in our hammocks, which were protected by mosquito nets, reading and sleeping.

Day 3: Breakfast: a cup of rice soup | Lunch: rice, 2 boiled eggs, smoked plantain | No dinner.

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1st pic: Our bathtub, laundry, and laguna 🙂 The rest are our preps for the purification bath.

After breakfast, Jorge led us on a hike into the jungle to gather the plants he would use to prepare purification baths for us. We walked for nearly two hours among the lush green trees and plants, while Jorge carefully selected pieces from about 20 different plants and placed them in a bucket he had brought with him. We finally stopped at a creek where he minced all the plants to create a blend of beautiful colors and fragrances. He then used this mixture to wash our bodies and faces by scrubbing the juice all around us.

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In the afternoon, Jorge showed us how to make fibers from palm trees to make bracelets, belts, bags, etc. The second demonstration was to make wooden utensils from palm trees with just the help of a machete. At the end of these lessons, Daria and I each had a bracelet and a wooden fork+spoon set (to be used for spaghetti as instructed by our helper).

Jorge making utensils from coconut trees
Jorge making utensils from palm trees

At night, we met with the shamans in the main ceremonial hut at 8 pm for our second ceremony. After drinking ayahuasca and blowing out the candle, we waited for the effects to begin. The shamans placed tissues soaked in the medicine in my ears to help with my ear ringing problem, which allowed me to hear the jungle more clearly. The sounds of birds, monkeys, cats that sounded like jaguars waiting outside, and bugs were so loud and clear that I jumped a few times thinking there were animals around me. I also heard a woman singing a different icaro besides the shamans.

I purged soon after and waited for the next three hours to have visions. Although I tried to focus on the problems I had intended to resolve or asked questions, I found myself thinking about the rest of my South American trip and the things I wanted to eat when I returned to the “civilized world”. Meanwhile, I sent positive thoughts to Daria, who seemed to be having a more successful experience with the medicine.

Day 4: No breakfast | Lunch: smoked fish and plantains | Dinner: smoked fish and rice.

The day was very peaceful and relaxed. We continued our diet of eating bland food and taking our remedies. At our request, Jorge made juices for us using jungle plants to help with constipation and keep away the mosquitos. We also enjoyed taking baths in the lagoon, which helped to remove the layers of bug repellent on our skin and felt amazing!

Day 5: Breakfast: boiled eggs and rice | Lunch: smoked fish and rice | No dinner.

Our requests to the shamans to make the ayahuasca brew stronger and the ceremony longer were apparently heard and we began the night by drinking from a cup that was twice the size of the previous ones and also thicker. It didn’t take long for us to feel the effects and start our journey into the astral realm. Throughout the night, I was able to work on the things I had intended to and found answers to many of the questions in my mind. I saw my future family and sent blessings to every person who had been in my life. I truly enjoyed the 5-hour ceremony, minus the flying cockroaches that hit our faces all throughout the night. At some point, I had to wrap my face with my scarf so I wouldn’t end up with a huge bug in my mouth. This reminded me of the film Midnight Express, in which the guy had to wear women’s stockings on his head in prison to avoid the cockroaches at night.

The ceremony was very powerful and ended at 1 am. We didn’t get much sleep afterward as we had to wake up at 5:30 am to start our journey back to Iquitos.

The supposed 2-hour ride took us 4 hours since we had to wait for the boat to fill up at 7 am in the morning. To make matters worse, we were forced to listen to incredibly loud Peruvian rap/techno music from someone’s equipment, and all the songs seemed to contain lyrics about drugs, sex, and money. Since we were assumed to be rich gringas, we agreed to pay for the 8 missing passengers so that the boat could leave the port quicker. When we finally arrived in Iquitos, we were happy to check into the Flying Dog Hostel (20 soles/night or 7 USD), take a shower, and have our clothes laundered.

I felt like we were guided by Pacha Mama, even in an environment that was new to us. Being in solitude for 5 days in the middle of the Amazon forest, after the hustle and bustle of New York City, surprisingly didn’t feel strange. I am so grateful to mother nature for first giving me the disease and then taking it back. This incredible experience continues to help me live my life with less fear and more trust.

If you plan a trip to the Amazon, here’s what you might want to consider:

– Since we were in the Amazon in the rainy season, it poured most nights non-stop but thankfully it stopped around 7 am to leave us a freshly washed and cool nature. So bring waterproof shoes, jackets, raincoats, ponchos, etc.

– Mosquitos were the main annoyance. You need a strong repellent with at least 25% deet and you need to spray it often.
When mosquitos couldn’t find a place to bite in our bodies, they attacked our faces so we had to stay indoors most of the time and wore long sleeve shirts and light-colored pants. But in spite of this, we were bit terribly and constantly scratched our bodies all day and night. A good anti-itch lotion is also highly recommended.

-The jungle was loud but not dangerous. When we heard big animals walking around our cabin, we were pretty sure that they were some type of predator. However, when we spotted a group of cute little black pigs an afternoon, we laughed at our wild imagination 🙂 The heavy leaves, branches, and fruits constantly falling from the trees as well as monkeys and birds jumping around were the source of most of the noise.

We saw a huge hairy tarantula probably bigger than my hand only once and it was on the Colombian side of the jungle. We were told that the anacondas, tarantulas, jaguars, and other wild animals lived about 2 hrs away from where we were, and by signing up for a jungle tour, we could see them closely. We said “umm no thanks” to that offer for now. The tours usually cost around 200 soles/night.

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An abundance of greens surrounding us during one of our daily jungle explorations

Where to find a retreat to learn about the plant medicine, join ceremonies, talk with shamans, etc: 

Disclaimer: Please know that everyone’s experience with the sacred  medicine is different. I am happy to provide some leads as a starting point for you but please use these connections at your own risk. Do a lot of research and talk to the shamans, facilitators and organizers before making the best decision for yourself while entering into this new phase of your life. 

PERU

This retreat that I fell into magically with the help of the universe can be reached by contacting the travel agency that arranged it for us. Hucari Tours (looks like they changed their name to My Amazon Tours) is located in the main Iquitos market area. Alternatively, you can call the shaman’s helper named Jorge Luis Valderrama Tuanama: 984 80 32 52. He speaks only Spanish and the ceremonies were with Shaman Lorenzo and his wife Isabelle. I highly recommend them if you have a health problem to cure and you are ready to surrender to the power of plant medicine!

If you google ayahuasca retreats, you will see that there are so many centers in the Iquitos area. The ones that have a website are targeting westerners, hence the prices are high. I am talking about like $2000 for a week.

  • In Pucalpa, the sacred waters of Mayantuyacu Centro Amazónico has been recommended by a friend. If you are seeking healing, they are waiting for you!
  • Temple of the Way of Light– Iquitos, Peru: While I cannot vouch for them, I first heard about this retreat from a few people I crossed paths with and then in several documentaries. It seems like they are more westernized to accommodate the western seekers in a more comfortable environment with a bill that is associated with it. They also are good if you want to learn more about medicinal plants or even become a shaman. I know Dr. Gabor Maté also held programs for psycho-shamanic healing methods in this center, especially for addiction problems, which is a true gem not to be missed.
  • Willka Hampi in the Sacred Valley: An eco-community working on the base of the Sacred Medicine wheel to discover the Mystic Arts and Sciences of Life. Their work is guided by traditional principles of Nature, the Master Plants Tobacco & Mama Coca, the Sacred Plants Grandmother Ayahuasca & Grandfather Huachuma.
    From a close friend who spent time there: it’s a very communal experience and people go into it with questions as a community and individual. They take it really seriously and do it as a way to further grow in their spiritual path. Usually, they give you the opportunity to do it with them if you do a course with them and they invite you, or you help out in the community as a volunteer.
  • The Sacred Valley Tribe is another group that organizes ceremonies pretty often at a reasonable price in the Sacred Valley (Cusco/Pisac area).
  • Santo Daime Church near Cusco: I had amazing experiences with Santo Daime ceremonies in the later stages of my journey. It’s the Brazilian tradition/religion founded in the 1930’s in the Brazilian Amazon by Raimundo Irineu Serra. Santo Daime churches have spread globally far beyond their origin and promote a wholesome lifestyle in conformity with Irineu’s motto of “harmony, love, truth and justice”, as well as other key doctrinal values such as strength, humility, fraternity and purity of heart.
    While they have centers all around the world, the one near Cusco was brought to my attention by a good friend who had a great experience. I have been doing this lately with 2 traveling shamans from Brazil and have had amazing experiences.

COLOMBIA

  • There is a shaman in Salento, Colombia who holds ayahuasca ceremonies. I almost went to his ceremony with a bunch of backpackers but he declined me since I was in my moon period (that is a common thing with ayahuasca due to the female/male energy conflict). If you go to La Serrano hostel in Salento (an eco-hostel and a beautiful place to stay in), they would tell you where/when or simply bring you with them.
  • Taita Tulio’s yage ceremonies in Putumayo, Colombia: Taita Tulio and Taita Querubin are the elders of my long-time shaman Alberto and I have been fortunate enough to sit with them in several occasions. They are from the Cofan tribe and perform authentic ceremonies following their routes in their indigenous outfits, and playing their amazing instruments.

Please watch their video here: https://www.facebook.com/AmpoWichampi/videos/753015958195290/

  • Lastly, I have friends who organize ceremonies near Bogota. I’ll be happy to try to connect you to them if you reach me via email (asleone@gmail.com).

ECUADOR

Shaman Geovanny does ceremonies with and without the medicine in his sweat lodge and they are all very powerful. He is an experienced shaman and healer and also makes healing oils. I met him at a retreat in Colombia and did san pedro in the temazcal (sweat lodge) as well as in his beautiful place in Ecuador.

His English is not advanced so you can write him in very simple plain English indicating you’d like to join a circle of its happening around your travel dates. His email is geovanny_153@yahoo.com and he is very responsive.

If none of these work, you can trust that the medicine will find you this way or another! 😉

My question to guru Mooji about his perspective on Ayahuasca at his satsang in March 2016, in Rishikesh, India:

I feel so grateful to Ayahuasca for giving me the objective introspection I desperately needed. It slapped me in the face and opened my eyes to the true nature of reality. Of course, the experience wears off but my eyes are now open… wide open. The insight I have gained and the positive changes I have made will never wear off. There are many paths, which will all ultimately lead to the same goal. We all have to cross this river at some point but which rocks we use to cross it is our choice…

I wish you the best of luck in your journey! Leave a comment down below if you happen to visit any of these magical places 🙏🏼



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9 thoughts on “My ayahuasca journey in the Amazon and how I cured my Hepatitis B

  1. Great story and experience about the wonders of Ayahuasca. Ayahuasca is really an amazing plant that can help many people cure their diseases and just forget their problems.

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  2. I like your story and applaud your bravery. Last summer I hacked through Spain – little over 500 miles in 35 days on a Camino DE Santiago French Route, and fell in love with long-distance backpacking. Your trip through Columbia and ayahuasca experience inspire me to take a trip also. Would you recommend any particular retreats in any part of Latin America that are known for the best shamans, medicine, and overall experience? I would greatly appreciate any feedback. Namaste

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    1. Thank you Michael! I saw a movie about camino de santiago and it is super cool. Congrats on finishing it! There are so many centers in the Iquitos area as you can imagine and the ones that have a website are targeting westerners, hence the prices are high. I am talking about $2000 for a week. While I cannot vouch for them I heard about this retreat from a few ppl I crossed paths with.
      Shipibo Ayahuasca Retreat in the Amazon – Iquitos, Peru
      templeofthewayoflight.org/

      The one I found randomly, which I talk about in my blog can be reached by calling Jorge Luis Valderrama Tuanama: 984 80 32 52. He speaks only Spanish and the ceremonies were with Shaman Lorenzo and wife Isabel.

      In Colombia: there is a shaman called Manuel in Salento, Colombia. If you go to hostel Serano, they would tell you where/when.

      The retreat I am going in Colombia for the last 2 years is private and I cannot share the name unfortunately.

      But if you are ready, the medicine will find you this way or another! 😉

      Good luck with your ayahuasca journey. It is amazing!

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  3. Hello 🙂 you had a great experience with ayahuasca.
    It is unbelievable that ayahuasca cured your hepatitis B. I have hepatitis B since 7 years and I take medication for it as well.
    Can you tell me if you took your hepaptitis B medicine during your ayahuasca experience?
    Because I am thinking of going to Peru to do the same and see if they can cure it.
    I would appreciate your feedback. Thank you

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    1. Hi Eugen, so happy you came across my healing experience with the mother medicine and other magical plants. I didn’t use my pills (Viread) during the retreat nor after. When I returned back home and did the usual blood tests, I had no trace of the virus 😊 Hope everything goes well for you too. Good luck on your healing journey!

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