The word dieta is Spanish and means diet, but it is also the name for an ancient shamanic practice among the ayahuasqueros (ayahuasca shamans) which are local to the Amazon region. This practice does include some dietary elements, but in essence it is a spiritual practice. It teaches people how to become shamans and healers who work with the natural medicines of the region. The practice helps to cleanse and heal the body, but it also provides personal growth, clarity of the mind and a connection with the spiritual world. This method is also popular among those that are seeking healing for their physical ailments. Some people with serious conditions have had to undergo long dietas to heal themselves, and along the way they understood that that was their vocations to become shamans themselves. 

The dieta method may vary slightly from teacher to teacher, depending on their tradition. Usually during the dieta, the dietero (the person who is practicing the dieta ) consumes a natural remedy, lives in an isolated hut in the jungle/ nature, eats a very simple meal once or twice a day, and abstains from sexual activities, drinking alcohol, and taking drugs and other chemical products. The dietero has to avoid interactions with others. They also have to avoid spending time in strong sunlight or heat and distracting activities like listening to music or reading books. However, expressive activities like singing, playing music, writing, light exercises and meditation are encouraged in moderation. It is also common to have one or multiple ayahuasca ceremonies or other shamanic treatments during the dieta. These are decided on an individual basis, taking into account the needs of the dietero. It is very important to follow the strict rules of the dieta if one wishes to have good results. In some cases, the spirits that one usually tries to connect with during the retreat may even “punish” the individual if they are not taking the inner work seriously and are breaking the rules of the dieta. This is usually manifested in certain misfortunate events during the dieta or shortly after it. 

A variety of different natural remedies are known to be beneficial to take during the dieta. These are mostly plant based but they may also be of crystal, or animal origin like the Kambo medicine. Each remedy has its own spiritual powers and healing properties. In shamanism it is said that all natural remedies have a spirit, and there is a hierarchy among them. Remedies with a stronger spirit are usually used for the dieta. They make the dietero's physical and spiritual body very sensitive. This not only increases the healing properties, but it also allows the dietero to connect with the spiritual world, and create a personal connection with the spirits of nature and of the remedy that is consumed. These spirits can be seen as totems, whose powers are used in shamanic practices. 

Food

The very traditional diet food during the retreat included only one type of fish, which is herbivorous, green plantains, and in some cases tapioca, a starch extract made out of the cassava root which was mixed with water and drank. The plantain was grilled in its peel until the inside became soft, and the fish was wrapped in leaves and grilled as well. This simple method of food preparation did not require any pots and permitted the dieteros to provide for themselves during the retreat, using what they had at the time and without the need of a big fire, which is not permitted for a dietero. Today there are more options, one can stick to a very simple food choice that doesn’t require much preparation, especially for experienced dieteros this may be the best choice if they are preparing the food for them self, otherwise one will be served meals by the teacher/healer or their helpers, prepared especially for the dietero. The dieta food that is served in our retreats is fully vegan and it can include grains like: oats, quinoa, amaranth and rice. Legumes like: lentils and split peas. Vegetables like: potatoes, carrots, beetroot, zucchini, broccoli, green beans, cucumber and lettuce. Green plantains and tapioca are also part of the diet.

Dieata effects on the physical body 

The meals are served twice a day in an eating window of around 7 hours, which means that the other 17 hours the dieteros are fasting. Today this eating method is known as intermittent fasting and it is becoming a very popular health trend because of its powerful effects on the body and brain. These benefits have been confirmed in numerous medical studies, which also suggest that one may live longer from practicing this eating habit. This definitely explains some of the health benefits one gets from the dieta, but there is more to it than just the aspects of fasting.

The dieta food is prepared without any salt, spices, sweets or fats, and this helps the body to detox even deeper. Many common diseases are directly related to a high intake of sodium, sugar and fats, and that is why the dieta is very beneficial when it comes to disease prevention and bodily healing.

The bodily benefits will depend on the length of the dieta, which can take anywhere between a week and many months. Obviously one can experience weight loss and a strong detox, especially during the first days there will be a lot of noticeable changes in the body which are in some cases unpleasant. To avoid that, the ideal is if the person who enters the dieta already has a healthy lifestyle and diet, or at least has practiced such for some weeks prior. Another common practice is to take a natural purgative just before the dieta, or on the first day. This will help pre-cleanse the body and limit the unpleasant sensations due the change in diet and the detox that will take place. Once the body adapts to the new changes, positive effects will be felt and one may experience a sensation of cleanliness and lightness of the body. Symptoms of illness may decrease or disappear, and a heightening of the senses may also be felt. 

The most important aspect of a dieta is probably the main remedy. The nature of this remedy and how often it is consumed will definitely give each retreat its uniqueness, as each remedy will have different qualities, like purgative, visionary, strength enhanced or sedative. Each remedy also has a range of different healing properties which will target specific areas in the body as well.

Dieta effects on the spiritual body 

It is not surprising that all religions recommend some form of fasting, not just to stay healthy but as well as a spiritual practice. When we have a direction in which we wish to move spiritually, the dieta will be the vehicle to bring us to our goal. Just as the physical body is cleansed during this process, our spiritual body undergoes a cleansing as well, and we may dump a lot of emotional and energetic ballast during the dieta retreat. 

Once we reduce the food intake to the necessary minimum, or maybe don't even consume any food for a certain period of time, we may get a bit weaker physically, but spiritually we expand. We become more sensible and sensitive, everything slows down and suddenly we can feel nature as a living spirit, full of vigor, which is just an extension of ourselves, an important realization on the shamanic path. 

Solitude is also an important spiritual practice. It teaches us not only how to be with ourselves in peace, but also how to listen to the inner voice, the voice of the spirit. This usually occurs once the mind settles down, which can take days in some cases. First, a lot of thoughts will come to the surface of our mind, but as the days pass a calmness will be noticeable. The lack of interaction with others and external information enables the dietero to become more present, peaceful and self-reflective.

Celibacy is another practice well known among spiritual seekers. It is said that ejaculation leads to loss of energy, and sexual interaction with another person changes the energy of the individual. For that reason any sexual activities during the dieta are seen as a dieta break. This break may have various implications, depending on the remedy one is consuming. However, in all cases it is said that it will bring some negative consequences and loss of spiritual powers. This can be seen as a challenge to gain a stronger will power. Many dieteros will experience a kind of test; apart from the sexual thoughts that one may have when awake, one can be almost sure that one will have dreams which may be very sexual in their nature. This is where the dietero has to become aware and reject the sexual act in the dream. Doing so is seen as success and a step of progress on the spiritual path. If the dietero gets drawn in by the lust then they should be more present the next time when they have a dream of this kind. 

In fact, dreams will become very vivid during the dieta, and in shamanism a lot of importance is given to them as they are yet another way for the shaman to enter spiritual realms, foresee the future and receive teachings. 

There are 4 types of different dreams one may experience during a dieta:

1. Test dreams: Besides sexual dreams, one may also dream about eating food that is forbidden during the dieta. Indeed, anything that is not allowed during the dieta should be avoided in dreams as well. Any temptation is a test on the spiritual path which one has to overcome. 

2. Cleansing dreams: These dreams are common and may be a bit scattered, chaotic and often full with action. They usually carry symbols from our past that are no longer relevant to us.  This dreams are like a window through which we can have a glimpse on all the junk accumulated over the time before it is emptied out. 

3. Important & prophetic dreams: These dreams have a lot of teachings in them and are the most important dreams for a shaman. Sometimes they can be very symbolic, and dream-reading knowledge is required to interpret them. At other times they can be clear as can be. In both cases, these dreams have a message, either describing the person's current or future situation, or giving answers to their questions.   

4. Lucid dreams: This is when someone is conscious during a dream. This type of dream often needs to be practiced but it may also occur spontaneously, or when the ditero succeeds in a test dream. When this type of dream occurs, the ditero can use it to visit spirits and learn from them. 

Dieta effects on the energy body 

Practices comparable to the dieta can also be found in other shamanic and spiritual traditions around the globe. The ancient tantric texts of India provide some of  the best and most detailed descriptions of various spiritual practices and ideas, and some of these are similar to the dieta method in the asceticism of their form. These texts also describe the function of the energy body and how different practices can influence it. The energy body consists of different channels through which life force is moved, and an inappropriate lifestyle will create blockages in those channels. The blockage will cause the flow of energy to be reduced and, depending on its location, it will manifest itself as a physical or spiritual ailment in that area. 

Apart of the many channels through which the energy flows seven main energy centers known as chakras are given the most importance in tantra. Each chakra is located in a different part of our energetic body, beginning from the base of the spine up to the top of the head, and each one is responsible for a specific function. These functions are divided into lower and higher chakras. The first 3 chakras are responsible for basic material needs, like survival, procreation and the action of material-oriented activities. The 4 higher chakras are more spiritual in their nature, and are responsible for devotion, the seeking and speaking of truth, intuition and enlightenment. 3 of the higher energy centers are also known by the shamans in the Amazon and are used in their work: these are the heart, the forehead and the crown.

According to the tantric teachings, energy evolves from the lower to the higher chakras but they are all of equal importance, as the lower chakras need to be purified for the energy to rise. This purification usually takes place when an austere and disciplined lifestyle is practiced. With its ascetic approach, it can be said that the dieta method cleanses the chakras and helps the energy to rise, as the limitations to physical comfort that the dietero undergoes tame the energy of the lower chakras and gradually allow it to flow to the higher ones. This is not exactly a traditional view from an Amazonian shamanic tradition, but any shaman who works with the dieta method will confirm that the dieta is the great shamanic practice for rising one's energy.

Post dieta 

The post dieta is an extension to the dieta retreat. It is a state of transition between the dieta and the return to one's regular lifestyle. Different schools/tribes observe different post dieta restrictions, depending on their tradition, the dieta remedy and the dieta length. In almost all cases one would not be allowed to eat pork, chilly, deep-fried food or anything that is or looks aggressive, like the meat of carnivorous animals, or fruits or vegetables with spikes etc. Sexual activities, alcohol and drugs are also forbidden. In other respects, one can go back to one's normal lifestyle. The length of the post dieta may be the same as the dieta itself, but in some cases it can even be longer. During this period, the teachings and the medicine will continue their work but on a subtler level.

KAMBO DIETA

When it comes specifically to the Kambo dieta, one may realize that this type of dieta may not be as popular as the many plant dietas among the ayahuasca shamans. The use of the Kambo medicine was present among some ayahuasqueros in Peru but the knowledge of its use vanished completely during the last century, leaving the Matses tribe as the sole preservers of the tradition of the Kambo use. However, the Matses are not known for their strong shamanic culture and they do not use ayahuasca. Therefore, they have not developed a strong dieta tradition. This is why the Kambo dieta in Peru was not practiced till recently. However, the growing Kambo trend is changing this, and in the last years more ayahuasqueros have incorporated the Kambo medicine into their practice. This is especially the case among foreign and mestizo shamans, who tend not to follow the kind of strict traditions as those of the Shipibo tribe do, for example. 

In Brazil, the Yawanawa tribe is well known for its traditional use of both ayahuasca and Kambo. They have a similar practice of dietas to those of the Peruvian shamans but apart from the plant dietas, they also do dietas with Kambo. Pajés are the shamans in their tribe and the only one that are permitted to apply Kambo to others. They undergo long dietas with plans and Kambo before they are accepted as such. 

The Kambo dieta offered at our retreats is usually 8 days long, and the amount of the Kambo applications will be individual decided according to the needs of the participant. As with a plant dieta retreat, the Kambo dieta will help to cleanse and heal the body, and it will give dreams and understandings that will benefit the ditero. The Kambo dieta helps to deepen the connection with the spirit of the Kambo frog and with nature in general. This connection is essential for anyone who desires to have a deeper understanding of the shamanic tradition of Kambo.