A shaman has admitted trying to cover up the death of an American teenager who died after eating an hallucinogenic plant by burying him in the grounds of his Amazon retreat.
Kyle Nolan, 18, died after drinking extracts of a psychedelic plant called ayahuasca during a ritual in the Madre de Dios jungle region of Peru.
He was eventually traced to the Shimbre Shamanic Centre, near Tres Islas, but shaman Jose Manuel Pineda Vargas, 58, told them he had disappeared from the area.
He later confessed to burying him in the grounds of the retreat, and was arrested with two other men who helped cover up the death.
For centuries, Amazonian Indians have been drinking ayahuasca – a combination of the ayahuasca vine, tree bark and other plants – to achieve a trance-like state.
It is traditionally drunk in indigenous ceremonies in the presence of a shaman, and has become popular with New Age tourists from Europe and the US.
Tip: @whatstheharm and @ukskeptics on Twitter
The concoction contains powerful psychoactive drugs and can have a variety of additives. But it also has cardiovascular effects, moderately increasing both heart rate and diastolic blood pressure. Those who are at risk of heart disease may suffer severe stress from the drugs. Did this kid have an undiagnosed heart ailment that made him prone to the drug effects or was there a bad reaction to the ingredients? We don’t know and probably won’t know. The lesson here, as it is with all nonstandard, untested, potentially harmful treatments: if you don’t know EXACTLY what’s in it, don’t take it. You could be risking your life.