The rise of psychedelic retreats

Amanda Schendel, 39, opened The Buena Vida Psilocybin Retreats, a collective of five- and seven-day traveling psychedelic retreats held a...


Amanda Schendel, 39, opened The Buena Vida Psilocybin Retreats, a collective of five- and seven-day traveling psychedelic retreats held at luxury resorts in Mexico, in January 2019. The retreats include work on breathing, hypnosis and gastronomy; participants are tested for cardiovascular and mental health before attending. They closed in March 2020, but by June they were back.

“The number of lives that I think I have saved and changed in a drastic and meaningful way made me feel capable of taking this risk,” said Ms. Schendel. “The people who came in 2020 were all like, ‘Yes, I know there is a pandemic and I am risking my life, but what I have suffered is so bad that I am ready to take the chance. “”

Ms. Schendel works with local tribal medicine healers, who help find psychedelics and dose them for her participants. It requires participants to complete a medical intake form that checks mental and physical fitness, then flag any potentially risky application and forward it to a staff physician. About 10 percent of those applying for retirement are ultimately not admitted. The entire psychedelic industry needs to be vigilant, she said.

There were no health emergencies or psychological crises at her compound, she said. “As soon as something goes wrong or a mistake is made, it could bring down the whole house of cards that many of us have spent many years building,” she said.

At OM Jungle Medicine in Costa Rica, Managing Partner Angel Twedt – a former nurse who believes psychedelics have cured her multiple sclerosis – handles logistics and manages physical space. To dose psychedelics into her complex, she also relies on local shamans and says she trusts their tribal knowledge.

“There is something very special about sitting with the tribe that has been doing this work for many generations,” she said. “Their knowledge comes from a magical, pure and authentic place. It makes you feel really safe.

Dr Griffiths, of Johns Hopkins, said that while he welcomes the erasing of the decades-old stigma around psychedelics, he also urges travelers to ensure that any psychedelic experience is carried out under the care of ” an approved medical team, with appropriate screening and monitoring.

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