OPEN Foundation

Close this search box.

Forbidden therapies: Santo Daime, ayahuasca, and the prohibition of entheogens in Western society

Share This Post


Santo Daime, a Brazilian religion organized around a potent psychoactive beverage called ayahuasca, is now being practiced across Europe and North America. Deeming ayahuasca a dangerous “hallucinogen,” most Western governments prosecute people who participate in Santo Daime. On the contrary, members of Santo Daime (called “daimistas”) consider ayahuasca a medicinal sacrament (or “entheogen”). Empirical studies corroborate daimistas’ claim that entheogens are benign and can be beneficial when employed in controlled contexts. Following from anthropology’s goal of rendering different cultural logics as mutually explicable, this article intercedes in a misunderstanding between policies of prohibition and an emergent subculture of entheogenic therapy.

Blainey, M. G. (2015). Forbidden therapies: Santo Daime, ayahuasca, and the prohibition of entheogens in western society. Journal of religion and health, 54(1), 287-302. 10.1007/s10943-014-9826-2
Link to full text

OPEN Foundation

Join ICPR 2022 Online!

ICPR features world-leading experts from many academic disciplines, including psychiatry, psychology, neuroscience, anthropology, ethnobotany, and philosophy who come together to give a scientific conference for academics, therapists, researchers, clinicians, policymakers, and members of the public. Get your ICPR 2022 livestream ticket today and use the code OPENLIVE30 at checkout for a €30 discount.

Learn More


Subscribe to our new OPEN-Minded newsletter to stay in the loop, hear about our events, and become a part of a community dedicated to advancing psychedelics.

By clicking subscribe, I confirm to receive emails from the OPEN Foundation and agree with its privacy policy.