Psychedelics like psilocybin and ayahuasca have been shown to improve mental health and wellness. Often ceremonial, a retreat center can bring the best in much-needed rest and rejuvenation, too.
As post-pandemic and climate-related cases of depression skyrocket, a growing number of people are turning to iboga, psilocybin mushrooms, ketamine, LSD, MDMA, and ayahuasca among others, for a new way approach to healing.
A study published by Johns Hopkins University found that psychedelic treatment along with psychotherapy may mitigate symptoms of depression for as long as a year. It’s an advancement in how we approach mental health and well-being. As many as 30 percent of patients diagnosed with depression don’t respond to conventional pharmaceutical treatments.
To that end, psychedelic retreats are popping up around the globe, giving guests an opportunity to work with professionals in some of the most beautiful backdrops in the world.
What is a psychedelic retreat?
Substances, healing sessions, and practitioner styles vary widely. Generally, though, psychedelic retreats are set in environments that facilitate personal connections with nature as well as allow quiet space for the administering of substances.
Retreats may work with shamans — Indigenous people trained in plant or fungi medicines that may be part of their lineage. Other retreats may see more modern therapists and licensed practitioners helming the substance ceremonies.
Most all retreats incorporate integration periods between and after the psychedelics have been administered.
When looking for a psychedelic retreat, there are options for most every budget, and while many people may choose to leave their city and head to a more lush, remote part of the world, there are a growing number of centers and practitioners doing this work in major cities, too.
Are psychedelic retreats legal?
While a growing number of cities and one U.S. state so far have decriminalized psychedelics (In Oregon’s case therapeutic psilocybin isn’t just decriminalized, it’s legal), they’re generally illegal under the Controlled Substances Act. But that’s just the U.S.
Around the world, a few countries do allow the use of certain psychedelic substances. These include the Netherlands and Jamaica for psilocybin, as well as Mexico.
There are legal protections for ayahuasca, too, in countries including Brazil, Costa Rica, Italy, Mexico, Colombia, and Peru.
Some other countries have conditional restrictions, like in the U.S., certain psychedelic substances are deemed legal when they fall under religious use.
Luxury psychedelic retreats
For the seeker interested in a truly transformative experience, luxury retreats may be the way to go. An immersive experience in a beautiful part of the world can bring healing in more ways than one.
Iboga is an isolated component of the African evergreen Tabernanthe rainforest shrub native to Central Africa countries including Gabon, the Democratic Republic of Congo, and the Republic of Congo. It is known for its intense hallucinations and reverence as a spiritual medicine among the Bwiti tribes. Ibogaine is the Westernized isolate of Iboga, used mainly in the treatment of addiction to opioids and alcohol. But traditional practitioners say the biggest benefits come from using the plant in its natural state.
1. Root Healing Center, Portugal
Immerse yourself in a 360 healing experience at the Root Healing Iboga Retreat Center in the coastal town of Sintra, Portugal. The center handles all of your travel to and from the airport so you can focus on the inner journey ahead, which is spread out over the course of eight days, including two traditional Iboga ceremonies based on the teachings of the Bwiti tribe of Gabon.
Enjoy the property’s access to nearby beaches and forests, stroll through the lush gardens and pine-covered hills, or relax poolside as you prepare for or integrate the teachings of your iboga sessions. Access the many quiet spots of the center to reflect, meditate, and process your healing work with the center’s skilled team of facilitators. Guests can expect nourishing locally grown fruits and vegetables to snack on as well as personalized meals catering to every diet as they enjoy their stay at the luxe retreat center.
The psychoactive compound in hundreds of species of fungi, psilocybin is best known for its role in the 1960s and 1970s counterculture movement as one of the more popular psychedelics of choice. But research shows it’s not just for recreation; psilocybin shows strong potential in treating a range of issues from anxiety and depression to PTSD.
2. MycoMeditations, Jamaica
Enjoy seven nights in Treasure Beach, Jamaica, at the MycoMeditations resort. The focus here is on psilocybin therapy and includes lodging options, plant-forward Jamaican meals, massage, and day spa sessions.
Bring a notebook for the classes on the history and benefits of mushrooms, and enjoy the lush property’s greenery and low-key vibes.
3. Synthesis, Netherlands
Just a thirty-minute drive outside of Amsterdam is the Synthesis retreat in the coastal area, Zandvoort. There, psilocybin truffle ceremonies run for three to five days in a hundred-year-old renovated church.
Facilitators and therapists administer the psilocybin, and guests are treated to plant-based meals, private coaching, the Lighthouse grounds’ gardens, saunas, and more.
4. The Buena Vida Psilocybin Retreat, Mexico
Not far from Playa Del Carmen, Mexico, is the Buena Vida psilocybin retreat center, which focuses on shaman-led ceremonies over the course of six to seven nights.
Guests experience home-cooked meals, day trips to the surrounding nature areas, meditation, sound baths, and cacao ceremonies.
The retreat preparation includes counseling and guidance sessions with a trauma specialist and integration follow-ups.
5. Mushroom Tao, Thea Retreats, Costa Rica
At the luxe Thea retreat center nestled in the mountains above the beaches of Santa Teresa, Costa Rica, the secluded Thea center is is a sacred space, dedicated entirely to wellness. With just three villas, Thea aims to keep its offerings incredibly intimate.
A typical Mushroom Tao-led retreat includes three psilocybin ceremonies, nature hikes and ocean trips, farm-to-table vegan meals, yoga, massage, sound healing and more luxe amenities.
6. Silo Wellness, Jamaica
Silo Wellness launched several luxe psilocybin retreats for 2022 and they’re aimed at ticking all the boxes. From daily yoga and mindfulness meditations to the ceremonies themselves with expert Rastafarian facilitators leading the experience.
Enjoy the lush grounds to fully immerse in nature and enjoy the Jamaican landscape, beaches, and rivers. The Good Hope Villas include a stunning infinity pool, private beach, river and fresh Jamaican food made with locally grown ingredients.
Ayahuasca has played a sacred role in South American tribes for millennia. The brew, a mixture of the Banisteriopsis caapi vine and the Psychotria viridis shrub, is rich in N,N-dimethyltryptamine (DMT), bringing powerful hallucinations as well as reports of physical healing. Celebrities including NFL quarterback Aaron Rodgers, musicians Sting and Machine Gun Kelly, and actors including Lindsay Lohan and Jim Carrey, have all talked about their experiences with ayahuasca.
7. Soltara Healing Center, Costa Rica
In the tropical Gulf of Nicoya in Costa Rica, Soltara offers a lush escape from the bustle of city life and healing with the DMT-rich plant brew, ayahuasca. Visits can last up to three weeks, with guests working with Shipibo healers from Peru to understand the medicine and how it works.
An intimate setting, with no more than 20 guests per visit, the center offers floral baths, spa treatments, and nature immersion in its more than 20 acres of Costa Rican rainforest, just steps away from the ocean.
8. Ayahuasca Foundation, Peru
The Ayahuasca Foundation offers a range of retreats in Iquitos in the heart of the Peruvian Amazon. The eight-day luxury retreats include ayahuasca ceremonies guided by Andean shamans. Retreats are limited to a maximum of 12 participants.
Facilitators also offer yoga, meditation, bodywork, and external medicinal plant treatments, as well as swimming and “ethno-botanical” hiking.
9. Rhythmia, Costa Rica
Visit one of the five Blue Zones of the world when you head to Rhythmia in Costa Rica—a 90-minute drive from the Liberia airport. Once at the retreat, you’ll experience ayahuasca ceremonies in a celebrity-loved facility that includes first-rate accommodations, and top-notch facilitators.
Enjoy the luxury pool, fine vegan dining, talks and workshops from health and wellness experts, and immerse in the natural surroundings in between ceremonies.
10. Spirit Vine Ayahuasca Retreat Center, Brazil
Based in the Atlantic Rainforest along the coast of Bahia in Brazil, Spirit Vine has been hosting ayahuasca retreats since the ’90s. The center offers nine and 11-day retreats aimed at integration and reflection between ceremonies.
Relax in the jungle or beachside and enjoy the 39 acres of lush preserved area where Spirit Vine is located. Enjoy daily yoga and vegan meals made with food from the center’s own organic garden where it also grows its own ayahuasca ingredients.
11. Temple of the Way of Light, Peru
The Temple of the Way of Light is a renowned plant-based medicinal shamanic sanctuary nestled within the lush expanses of the Peruvian Amazon. This sanctuary conducts deep-rooted ayahuasca retreats guided by both female and male Shipibo practitioners. It is committed to facilitating transformative experiences for visitors, leveraging the timeless healing traditions of the Shipibo community, and fostering the conservation and continued growth of this distinctive culture and its profound insights into the modern era.
Guests experience six medicine ceremonies over 12 days with group integration sessions and a skilled team of facilitators. Guests also experience steam baths, flower baths, energetic massages, and individual consultations with the healers and facilitators. Enjoy daily jungle walks, plant-based meals, and private, rustic bungalows where you’re immersed in the sounds, smells, and sights of the forest.
Legal in the U.S., ketamine is widely used for relief from depression, anxiety, and other mental health issues. Recent research also points to ketamine’s benefits in treating some autism spectrum disorders.
12. Sense Of Self, U.S.
There are hundreds of outpatient ketamine clinics in the U.S. and around the world, making it more accessible than any other psychedelic currently. But not everyone wants to go home right after an intense ketamine session. So if a more immersive experience is in order, the Topanga-based Sense of Self retreat in Southern California might be the spot.
Nestled in a remote valley of the Santa Monica mountains, the SOS Ketamine Retreat Center is situated on ten acres of paths, oak tree groves, and gardens. The center includes hot/cold therapy, a hot tub and pool, and plenty of space to
meditate, decompress, and reconnect with your authentic self.
13. Transcendelic, California
Transcendelic Retreats hosts ketamine retreats in California, including at the Ojas Retreat Center in Temecula and the Good Life Resorts in San Diego. The retreats include yoga, massage, and connection with nature and may bring relief from depression, anxiety, and post-traumatic stress disorder. Choose from 4, 5, or 6-day retreats that feature multiple treatments, plant-forward meals, meditation, massage, yoga, and time in nature.
Check out our list of dedicated psilocybin retreats immersed in nature for more healing opportunities.
Before starting a psychedelic treatment regimen, always be sure to discuss with your primary care physician and mental health practitioner. This article is for informational purposes only. It is not, nor is it intended to be, a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment and should never be relied upon for specific medical advice.
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