Determination of the Elemental Composition of Ayahuasca and Assessments Concerning Consumer Safety


The consumption of ayahuasca, a brew prepared from the decoction of two Amazon plants, has increased worldwide in the last decades. This fact raised questions about the safety in its oral administration. In this sense, information concerning the chemical composition of ayahuasca is essential to find a comprehensive reply. Therefore, the aim of this study consisted of determining the elemental composition of ready-to-consume ayahuasca samples produced in Brazil, in order to evaluate the safety in the oral administration of this beverage, considering recommended macroelement and microelement daily intake values and the permitted limits of potentially toxic heavy metals. Real ayahuasca samples, obtained from Brazilian religious groups, underwent microwave radiation-assisted acid decomposition, and Li, Al, Mn, Fe, Co, Cu, Zn, As, Cd, Hg, and Pb concentrations were determined by ICP-MS, while Ca, Mg, K, and P concentrations were determined by ICP OES. Method accuracy was assessed by analyte addition and recovery assays. Recoveries ranged from 80 and 118%, indicating satisfactory accuracy. Limit of detection (LOD) and limit of quantification (LOQ) values were lower than 1 mg L−1 for the macroelements determined by ICP OES and lower than 3.5 μg L−1 for the microelements determined by ICP-MS. The concentrations of the elements determined in the samples were lower than the recommended or tolerable limits; hence, it is possible to affirm that ayahuasca presents safe administration levels regarding total elemental content.

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The authors would like to thank Prof. Dr. Marco Aurélio Zezzi Arruda (Institute of Chemistry, UNICAMP, Brazil) for facilitating the access to the instrumentation employed in this work. We are also grateful to the UDV for providing the ayahuasca samples.


Fundação de Amparo à Pesquisa do Estado de São Paulo - FAPESP (grant number 2018/01525-3) and INCT of Bioanalytics (FAPESP 2014/50867-3 and CNPq 465389/2014-7 grant numbers) are acknowledged for financial support.

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Correspondence to Alessandra Sussulini.

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Guimarães, I.C., Tófoli, L.F. & Sussulini, A. Determination of the Elemental Composition of Ayahuasca and Assessments Concerning Consumer Safety. Biol Trace Elem Res 199, 1179–1184 (2021).

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  • Ayahuasca
  • Metals
  • Profile
  • ICP-MS