ayahuasca research center at the mishana community in Peru

Ayahuasca Research in its Native Environment

In September of 2017 the Ayahuasca Foundation began operations of its research facility, the Riosbo research and retreat center. This site is a purpose built facility designed to conduct scientific observations on plant medicines and their associated practices. The site is located in the heart of the Allpahuayo-Mishana National Reserve, near Iquitos, Peru.

Featured in Forbes (article here) and the documentary series  Down to Earth with Zac Efron‘ on NETFLIX.

Simon and Nigel lead the ayahuasca research at RiosboWorking alongside traditional Shipibo practitioners and having hosted hundreds of healing retreats, courses, and seminars – observing the treatment of over 2,000 program participants – the multidisciplinary team at the Ayahuasca Foundation have developed an understanding of the healing processes unique to the indigenous traditions of the Amazon rainforest. The goal of the research center is to provide a site in which sophisticated scientific methods can be employed to further educate us on how some of these powerful plant medicines may work. We accept that we, as scientists, are the naïve ones. It is clear there is much to learn from ancient wisdom.

The primary goal of Riosbo is to investigate the parallels, overlaps and differences between modern and traditional medicine – whilst ensuring that the cultural heritage of ancient practices are respected.

The site holds no affiliations or links with any profit-based entities. We work alongside and in partnership with the local community based within the national reserve.


In collaboration with a growing list of institutions around the world, the UK-based research team have published and continue to develop experiments at Riosbo. More details here.

We are pleased to announce that in 2019 the team collected data for the first UK government-funded project into ayahuasca. Funded by the Medical Research Council (UK), in a project that formed collaborative efforts from respected institutions around the globe. This study was also the first ever to look at the effects of an entheogen on genes; in the field of epigenetics. The article has recently been published in the Frontiers in Psychiatry journal – see here.

Despite the generous input we have received to date, we need support. At present, raising funds to research organic medicines is extremely difficult and more often than not crowdfunding is the only option.

Any donations are greatly appreciated and may help pave the way for a future in which medicine serves solely the purpose of healing, instead of profit-based models. All US donations are tax-deductable via our fiscal sponsor, the Multidisciplinary Association of Psychedelic Studies (MAPS).

If you have professional expertise that you think you can offer, or think you can help in any other way please get in touch through the contact link at the bottom of this page.

Why Riosbo?

Research into the therapeutic potential of psychedelics reports on the importance of ‘set’ and ‘setting’. Set being the individual’s state of mind going into the experience, and setting being the physical location – comfort, safety and so on of the individual. Riosbo allows us to collect data in an environment where both of these factors are optimized. We test sample groups with a large range of conditions, whilst all the while being delivered by experienced practitioners of Shipibo lineages.

Riosbo provides a platform designed to better understand how traditional elements of treatments may provide a consciousness-enhancing environment – a phenomenon which appears to amplify the healing potential of the medicines. Through scientific studies, we strive to capture these quests for healing with the goal of helping to refine our future approaches in medicine, as cultures continue to converge.

Our ultimate motivation is to discover optimal treatment methods that create lasting benefits in all stages of life. Furthermore, we aim to do our part in helping raise global awareness of ecological and cultural devastation. Providing data which ensures the cultural heritage of the communities within the Amazon are rightfully, deeply respected.

The Riosbo research centre supports the Regenerative Agroforestry Irrigation Network (RAIN). Reciprocity comes in many forms, the Ayahuasca Foundation also works closely with the local community in this respect.

Please visit www.rainumbrella.org for further information.

For more information on the research efforts at Riosbo, please see the options below underneath the contact link.

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Preservation of Plant Medicine

Just a few generations ago, our ancestors (no matter who you are) relied on medicinal plants to treat illnesses and conditions. An immense body of knowledge was shared by word of mouth, and passed on from parents to children, neighbor to neighbors. Unfortunately, that knowledge has faded in most cultures, replaced by a similar body of knowledge about pharmaceutical medication. The immense wisdom of plant medicine gained from countless generations of indigenous cultures in the Amazon has not yet faded, but it is in danger of doing so. Pharmacies are on nearly every block of jungle towns, and knowledge is beginning to shift the way it has with modern cultures. We must not let this knowledge fade away.

By working together with our team of curanderos and the Mishana community where the Riosbo research center is located, we have begun assembling a compendium of medicinal plants with their properties and usages, along with recipes for preparation and use. Very few, if any, indigenous groups in the Amazon had a written language, so nothing was preserved in writing. Now, even the languages themselves are in danger of fading away. By creating this collection we will contribute to the preservation of ancestral knowledge, which western cultures already realize is so incredibly important to staying connected with the environment of which we are a part, of which we are made. We are literally made of plants. By spreading the wisdom of indigenous healing traditions, we hope to change the course of the local populations currently in the throws and challenges of a changing time, and reminding the global community of the direction we could be headed, towards greater harmony, health, and happiness.

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It is estimated that there are over 60,000 species of plants in the Amazon Rainforest, yet only a tiny fraction of them have been adequately studied, including some of the most important plants utilized in the indigenous traditions practiced by our team of curanderos. By collaborating with laboratories in the US and UK, the Ayahuasca Foundation will be conducting scientific analyses of various medicinal plants in order to better understand how their effects on particular systems within the body. We may also be able to identify and name certain plants that are currently not yet known outside of the indigenous traditions. We hope these studies will contribute to the continuously growing body of knowledge about the healing potential of plants and plant medicine.

A somewhat new classification of plants with very special properties is a group called Adaptogens. Considered by many to be the future of medicine, namely for their disease preventing and immune system strengthening qualities, this rare group of plants is still quite small, and very few, if any, from the Amazon region have been officially classified. We have observed adaptogenic properties in several of the powerful medicinal plants utilized within the healing tradition and will be investigating these plants further in the hopes of properly classifying them and thus bringing more attention their ability to enhance the body’s rate of adaptation, most especially to various types of stress. Stress, in general, is one of the key causes of illness, and while the saying may be ‘survival of the fittest,’ in reality it is ‘survival of the most adaptable.’

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Paradigm Shift

While science has proven to be an incredibly valuable methodology for discovery, it has limitations when conducted within an ethnocentric paradigm. Cutting edge science is cutting edge because it cuts through those boundaries that limit perception and understanding. Fields like neuroimmunology, epigenetics, and quantum mechanics suggest that we must not limit ourselves solely to reductive, materialist perspectives within which the science of previous generations conducted its analyses. It would be foolish to consider our perspective superior to another, but wiser to acknowledge that through sharing and collaboration, a combination of perspectives is the best bet to delivering a view of the bigger picture.

The Ayahuasca Foundation strives to enhance our view of life, our understanding of health, and our practice of medicine by collaborating with indigenous cultures. By learning, sharing and investigating together ancestral tradition and wisdom, as well as modern ideas and methods, we plan to help provide a greater view, a more beneficial understanding, and more effective practices.

The time for a paradigm shift is here. It is happening, and we are more than happy to play a role in the expansion of awareness.


Ayahuasca Retreat Programs at Ayahuasca Foundation