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What Are MAOIs And What Are Their Uses?

2 min
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Monoamine oxidase inhibitors have transformed over the years, creating the ultimate astral experience for psychonauts. However, these drugs once used as antidepressants bear many dangers, dietary restrictions, and drug contraindications when combined with other substances.

MAOIs (monoamine oxidase inhibitors) first came on the scene in the 1950s as a drug designed to treat depression. Today, they are less commonly used as a medication, but there are still some who benefit from their use. The traditional herbal brew "ayahuasca" combines MAOIs found in Banisteriopsis caapi with DMT to induce a hallucinogenic experience for the drinker. Essentially, MAOIs are psychoactive drug-boosters that allow substances like DMT to be properly absorbed, without being destroyed by the body; thus, releasing secretions of serotonin in the brain. Users can enjoy an ayahuasca trip and be lost in the thrill and profound beauty of their surroundings.

When it comes to medical treatment, monoamine oxidase inhibitors are often seen as a "last resort" treatment when all other antidepressants fail. Although newer antidepressants (like SSRIs) have been created to cause fewer side effects, some individuals do not respond well to them. In these cases, doctors fall back on MAOIs. They are used to treat depression, Parkinson's, bipolar, panic disorders, and phobias.


The cause of depression is linked to low levels of neurotransmitters dopamine, serotonin, and norepinephrine in the brain. Monoamine oxidase, a naturally-occurring chemical found in the body removes these neurotransmitters and decreases one's mood. When treating depression with MAOIs, monoamine oxidase is restrained, thus preserving the neurotransmitters and improving brain cell communication.


Tyramine is an amino acid found in the human body and virtually all foods that works to regulate blood pressure. The monoamine oxidase enzyme breaks down excess tyramine in the body; when taking MAOIs, a complete block of the MAO enzyme system is established. Ingesting certain substances high in tyramine content while taking MAOIs may increase the risk of certain health complications.


Foods To Avoid MAOIs

There are dietary restrictions to consider when taking monoamine oxidase inhibitors. For instance, eating foods high in tyramine while taking MAOIs can cause a severe spike in blood pressure, and in extreme cases, can lead to bleeding in the brain (hemorrhagic stroke).

Tyramine-rich food and drink that should be avoided are aged cheese, cured meat, fermented foods, soy products, nuts, and alcohol to name a few. For a more complete list, check out the ayahuasca MAOI diet. It is recommended to only eat fresh foods instead of leftovers or foods that are past their expiration dates. Doing otherwise may require medical treatment.


Drugs To Avoid MAOIs

As MAOIs prolong the effects of substances that interact with your immune system, they also contraindicate with a lot of the medicines we use. The decision to use MAOIs with other antidepressants should always be reached between you and your physician, as this could cause serious health issues. Symptoms like dizziness, memory loss, hypertension, severe headaches, anemia, drowsiness, and anxiety are not uncommon. Drugs that should be avoided include:

  • Sleeping-pills
  • Anaesthetics
  • Migraine medicines
  • Allergy medicines
  • All OTC cold medicines
  • Cocaine
  • Amphetamines (speed)
  • MDMA (XTC)
  • Mescaline cacti (peyote and san pedro)
  • Alcohol
  • Ephedra/ephedrine
  • Pseudoephedrine
  • Macromerine
  • Phentermine

It's a hazard to your health if any of the above substances are ingested within 12 hours preceding or following the ingestion of an MAOI. Additionally, the above list is not absolute, so always conduct further research to determine what is safe for you to use.


When one stops using a chemical substance, psychological and biochemical withdrawals will occur. Once you discontinue taking MAOIs, it's important not to stop abruptly, but rather to slowly decrease your dosage. A 15-day period is required to flush out the drug after the discontinuation of MAOI use.

Withdrawals MAOIs

Chemical withdrawal symptoms:

  • Insomnia
  • Vomiting
  • Constipation, diarrhea
  • Stomach issues
  • Headaches
  • Lethargy, shakiness
  • Fast heart rate
  • Shaking
  • Tremors
  • Excessive sweating
  • Muscle aches

Psychological Withdrawal MAOIs

Psychological withdrawal symptoms:

  • Loss of concentration
  • Extreme moodiness and irritability
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Difficulty avoiding the addiction

Usually, withdrawal symptoms will subside on their own, but when the symptoms are severe, medical treatment may be required. Contact your doctor if you experience adverse withdrawal effects, as some medications can help reduce the symptoms of withdrawal.


Please make sure to follow all dietary restrictions to avoid any adverse reactions when taking MAOIs in combination with other substances. Never disregard medical advice or delay seeking medical assistance. Always consult your doctor when using new drugs. Only they can truly evaluate the potential risks of MAOIs given your unique medical history.


Written by: Zamnesia
Zamnesia has spent years honing its products, ranges, and knowledge of all things psychedelic. Driven by the spirit of Zammi, Zamnesia strives to bring you accurate, factual, and informative content.

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