When consuming pharmaceutical Monoamine Oxidase Inhibitors or plants which contain alkaloids that act as MAOIs, it is important to observe a strict diet in order to avoid health issues. In particular, there is an amino acid known as tyramine which is found in various foods which can cause a hypertensive reaction when combined with an MAOI. Symptoms of hypertensive crisis include severe headaches, heart palpitations, a rise in blood pressure, and possible heart attack or brain hemorrhage. If you are taking pharmaceutical MAOIs as medication for depression or anxiety, you should never eat any of the following foods. If you are working with an entheogen that contains an alkaloid that acts as an MAOI, such as syrian rue or Banisteriopsis caapi, these foods should be avoided 24 hours before and after medicine work.
Foods to Avoid
Chianti wine, vermouth, beer, whiskey, liqueurs, and non-alcoholic beer and wine.
Tofu, miso, nattou, and any other fermented soy product.
Broad Bean Pods
All hard cheese should be avoided. Cream cheese and cottage cheese are safe to eat.
Smoked, fermented, pickled or otherwise aged fish.
Smoked, fermented, pickled or aged meat. This includes sausage, pepperoni, salami, etc.
Foods to Restrict
These foods can be eaten in very small quantities, but it is important to be careful.
All alcoholic beverages not mentioned above
Avocados, especially overripe
Nuts, particularly peanuts, coconuts and brazil nuts
Medicines to Avoid
This is a partial list. If you are taking ANY prescription medication, it is important to check and make sure that it is not contraindicated with MAOIs. If an MAOI is taken with the wrong medication, it may cause serious illness or even death.
Amphetamines, cocaine, MDMA, opiates, barbiturates, decongestants & allergy medications, cold medications, diet pills, methylphenidate, asthma inhalers, meperidine, levodopa, dopamine, carbamazapine, certain antihypertensive medications, sympathomimetic amines (direct & indirect acting) including psuedoephedrine & ephedrine, SSRI and tricyclic anti-depressants.
Saklad, S.R. “What foods you should avoid on MAOIs”, 1994. http://deoxy.org/maoidiet.htm.
Savinelli, A., and J.H. Halpern. “MAOI Contraindications.” Newsletter of the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies 6, no. 1 (1995): 58.