Young Canadian dies after tea treatment in Peru

These stories seem to come up periodically – young adults head to the rainforest for an “experience” and they get way more than they bargained for.

Jennifer Logan dies after drinking tea in Peru.

She had been gone nine days when staff at a rainforest retreat where she was staying called her parents in Saskatoon to tell them she had died.

Logan’s younger sister says they learned that the 32-year-old had a medical reaction after drinking tea during a ceremony with a shaman. She was taken by motorcycle and boat to hospital but doctors could not revive her.

Initial autopsy results found she died of pulmonary edema, an accumulation of fluid in that lungs that can cause respiratory failure.

But the family is awaiting further tests in the next few weeks that may show whether the tea was to blame.

Amy Logan said staff at the all-female retreat made various teas for clients and, on Jan. 17, crafted a drink for her sister to give her “clarity on her future path.” The teas are designed to make people vomit, or purge and cleanse the body.

The cup and jug that she was drinking from was taken for testing. The “tobacco purge” which is what she apparently underwent, can be used as a pre-ritual before an ayahuasca ceremony. According to the Peru Nature website [spelling errors in original]:

The tobacco it is a master plant used in the amazon to purify the liver, respiratory sistem, to clarify the thoughts and emotions. The ritual involves drinking 2 liters of tobacco tea, while the healer its working in your energies you dispose of the tea by vomiting. The after ritual feeling of cleansing, strenght, peace and relax its perfect to get in the ayahuasca ceremony during night.

Several deaths have occurred after taking the psychedelic plant ayahuasca. Detoxing is nonsense and, as we see here, potentially harmful. The human body is capable of cleansing itself when needed through elimination. The added nonsense about spiritual and emotional cleansing may be convincing for some in a New Age, mystical state of mind. In this case, the tea was violently rejected by the body. That’s not good, it’s not healthy to induce such a reaction. This facility is said to fully advise participants who sign a written waiver. The shaman was said to have 20 years experience. That these retreats tend to be rather far from emergency medical help also may play a role in the deaths.

Tip: Paul Kron

Correction: Title changed “from” to “after”. We don’t necessarily know the tea effect killed her.

  29 comments for “Young Canadian dies after tea treatment in Peru

  1. Ryan
    February 5, 2015 at 6:38 PM

    Pulmonary edema is one of the more dangerous results of altitude sickness. If that’s what killed her its entirely possible the tea had nothing to do with it. Peru has some ridiculously high altitudes.

  2. February 5, 2015 at 6:47 PM

    Thanks for this info!

  3. Ronald H. Pine
    February 5, 2015 at 6:49 PM

    But this was in preparation for taking ayahuasca, a rainforest drug, and the article says that this was at a rainforest retreat, and Puerto Maldonado was mentioned in the article, which is in the Amazon Basin. There is no rainforest at those high elevations where you get altitude sickness.

  4. February 5, 2015 at 7:21 PM

    Tobacco is quite well known as a poison – and this shaman gave her a tea made out of it?

  5. Whiskyjack
    February 5, 2015 at 9:33 PM

    Yet another reason to endorse government oversight of herbal preparations. I would love to know the combination of chemicals in the preparation that killed her. Money quote in the linked article: “The other three women in the group stopped vomiting within 15 minutes.” Sounds like another detox ritual designed to rid the body of imaginary toxins. Too bad it resulted in death.

  6. ChristineRose
    February 5, 2015 at 9:37 PM

    The reports say that she was vomiting uncontrollably, which is the desired effect of the tobacco infusion. Aspirating vomit is also a cause of pulmonary edema. I suppose if by some chance she did have congenital heart valve problems we’ll hear about it soon enough.

  7. Headless Unicorn Guy
    February 5, 2015 at 11:30 PM

    “Two liters of tobacco tea.”

    Isn’t that a particularly nasty suicide method — nicotine poisoning?

    Because brewed into a tea, all the nicotine would leach out of the leaves full-strength, whereas burning (as in smoking) chemically destroys most of what’s in the leaf, only releasing a portion of it.

  8. Ryan
    February 5, 2015 at 11:40 PM

    Right. But the article is pretty unclear as to a lot of things. As I understand it (which is not particularly well admittedly) altitude injuries don’t necessarily present immediately, or depending on which type can be a lingering sort of thing rather than a knock you dead immediately sort of thing. If she was travelling in Peru, its likely she spent at least some time at altitude (or planned to). A lot of the tourist sites are way up in the Andes.

    It just seems to me “person dies in place known for high altitudes from altitude related injury” is more likely than “person dies in place known for high altitudes from something startlingly similar to an altitude related injury that was none-the-less cause by drinking tobacco juice and forced puking”. The info about what happened comes 2nd hand from the sister. The info about the tea comes from the spa sounding place where it happened. Nothing definitive from authorities.

    But then again Mark Bellis immediately below us linked this:

    And apparently respiratory failure can result from nicotine overdose. Maybe those respiratory problems come from/present as pulmonary edema. Or maybe the labeling of it as pulmonary edema is a misdiagnosis. Its just there’s not a terrible lot of information there, and given what we’ve got there’s a possibility something else killed her.

  9. David H
    February 6, 2015 at 1:49 AM

    Did a little checking.

    She was from Saskatoon, a city in central Saskatchewan, Canada.
    Elevation: 481.5 m (1,579.7 ft)
    Puerto Maldonado is in Southeastern Peru in the Amazon forest just west of the Bolivian border.
    Elevation: 183 m (600 ft)

    I doubt altitude was much of a factor.

  10. JR
    February 6, 2015 at 10:21 AM

    You would likely pass through Cusco or Lima in order to get to Puerto Maldonado. While in Cusco, it is common for people to drink lots of “coca tea”, in order to help battle the altitude sickness. People typically spend several days there in order to acclimate, and experience everything from headaches, shortness of breath, trouble sleeping,dizzy spells, vomiting, etc. That is why many travelers spend several days in Cusco before heading to Aguas Calientes to see Machu Picchu.

  11. Jeremy
    February 6, 2015 at 10:41 AM

    That is the one of the most ridiculous correlations I have ever seen, David H. Do you know anything about Peru? Many people go there to visit Machu Picchu, which sits at 8000 feet ASL, and then do an ayahuasca ceremony. It is extremely plausible that she visited Machu Picchu prior to the retreat and that the tobacco tea had little to do with her death.

  12. houston
    February 6, 2015 at 10:52 AM

    Because, as we all know, government intervention will prevent people from producing and consuming this stuff again.

  13. WMcCreery
    February 6, 2015 at 11:21 AM

    The toxin we need remove gullability!!

  14. Paola Santacruz
    February 6, 2015 at 11:24 AM

    Not true, where shamans are located is the Peruvian Amazon region, the news piece clearly says “rainforest retreat” not “the Andes”.

  15. Theodore
    February 6, 2015 at 11:27 AM

    My sympathy to the young lady and her family.
    To go to Puerto Maldenado you land in Cusco, bieng from Calgary we still got alttitude sickness in cusco before going to Puerto. Having an allegric reaction in the Amazon Basin would not be good for anyone Tea or no tea. Remeber no one dies in Canada.

  16. PeaceOutBrother
    February 6, 2015 at 11:49 AM

    Taking medical advice from a shaman in the rain forest. What could possibly go wrong?

  17. Martin
    February 6, 2015 at 12:14 PM

    The forest zone of Peru is mostly not located on high altitudes. This is most likely the effect of some allergic reaction, either to the tea itself or any other substance ingested by this person.

    Of course, not all peruvians are equal and I don’t recommend ayahuasca or any other psychotropic substance unless under medical prescription.

    It’s only sensible to test yourself for ANY allergies you may have before exposing yourself to any new substance –whether in your homeland or abroad.

  18. Martin
    February 6, 2015 at 12:35 PM

    For centuries humankind has approached this kind of rites as a method to access non rational knowledge. Exposing your body to an altered state, be it using drugs, sensory deprivation, etc. is a way to “know by feeling”. It’s not a matter of “believing” something (and thus, be cheated or deceived eventually), but of “experiencing” something.

    Rationality is just one way to know the world, and is fine, only not applicable for the whole array of reality.

    You know your mother loves you, and not because you read it or deduced it. You *feel* it.

    You know you can’t drink milk because you’re lactose intolerant. It’s not that you read it in a book. You *feel* it.

    People who drink ayahuasca (something which, as I said in a previous reply to this article, is not something I normally endorse) are trying to “experience” another side of reality, not by belief, but by feeling it.

  19. February 6, 2015 at 2:19 PM

    It’s not helpful to speculate what she did/didn’t do or what could have happened. Hopefully, some answers will shake out from the testing.

    Also, read more carefully. We aren’t saying the tea was the cause (although it certainly had something to do with it). The entire premise of what she did was poorly thought out and potentially dangerous. The risk of problems is very high. The benefit? Overhyped and slightly ridiculous.

  20. Dale Bewan
    February 6, 2015 at 5:20 PM

    Of course, it’s entirely possible to experience these altered states of consciousness without going through a ritual poisoning. Both psilocybin and LSD produce profound alterations of consciousness that can give someone insight or improved state-of-mind (for years after the experience), but unlike ayahuasca don’t require the deliberate ingestion of poisons at the same time.
    Vaporised DMT (the primary active ingredient in ayahuasca) is also much safer and easier, but a rather different experience (much shorter, and much much more intense), since the MAOI in ayahuasca alters the effect quite significantly.
    Of course, some people will argue that the ritual poisoning is a part of the experience itself and helps to give new aspects to the altered state that can be helpful. While I don’t doubt that it, combined with the atmosphere, makes the whole thing feel a lot more ‘spiritual’, I would argue that any benefits gained from that could also be gained through a well controlled but quite different setting without the risks, such as those used in psychedelic therapy.

  21. c
    February 6, 2015 at 6:55 PM

    okay where is the evidence that she went to machu picchu?

  22. Ken
    February 7, 2015 at 2:28 AM

    So she died from excess fluid in her lungs… She drowned, after drinking a large volume of liquid that would make her violently ill.

    Pulmonary Aspiration. No edema or high altitude necessary.

  23. Aldo Valencia
    February 7, 2015 at 4:55 PM

    Ayahuasca anyone?

  24. February 7, 2015 at 5:02 PM

    BTW, it’s ABSURD to say I or anyone else should not be qualified to comment on this story if we haven’t tried this. (Comments are moderated for good reason.)

  25. Frederick
    February 7, 2015 at 5:47 PM

    I get what you are saying, but you know that all those “altered” are rational, right? they all come form chemistry altering in you brain. the experience of “god” “deeper consciousness” are all illusion in you brain, you really check mechanism go to sleep, etc etc. You are not touching a deeper layer of the universe, or making contact with it, or seeing another reality, it is all in you head, it’s cool, yeah, and even awesome. The feelings are “real”, in the sense that your brain is making them up, and that’s what you are feeling, not “deeper layer of the universe.

    Also , about love, yes you know it, and you assume it, “you feel it” is from empathy, which is also a mechanism in the brain.We have evolve to understand the feelings of others because it could save our asses.

    I don’t understand the needed to make metaphysical stuff up to justifies this. In fact, it makea “love” and all other emotion unreal and fake. What I feel is real because my brain is doing it, it’s chemical and electricity, so what? it is real and I don’t need make stuff up to justified it. And it’s not less romantic or emotional, in fact, I think it is MORE. Since you can’t denied it, because it is freaking real, and in your brain. ultimately we could probably quantify it. And you kniow what, it won’t denature it at all. Only people unable to accept the fact that those emotion a real, and within reality, not in made up metaphysical BS universe, will think that.

    It’s no reason yo get people to drink poison. There’s drug out there a lot more safer, they should use those if you really have to do it.

  26. Frederick
    February 7, 2015 at 5:53 PM

    Maybe the tea just aggravated something that was already going to happen. I hope it is that, because if the tea did it, I really hope that the authorities will do something about it. All those others people going there for this ritual, so unsafe. I feel sorry for her and her family. I can understand the will of going to live a experience, but just going to a isolated monastery s already something in itself, do they really need to add weird concoction to it?

  27. Scott
    February 7, 2015 at 10:06 PM

    I suggest that you look in to rationality. It doesn’t seem that you understand the concept. The knowledge that your mother loves you may lead to the feeling of being loved, and the knowledge of lactose intolerance comes from experience.

    Your suggestion that knowledge is gained through feeling isn’t very clear or useful and can be dangerous. I certainly don’t want a pilot making choices that are not based on experience, and I don’t want somebody that is hallucinating on anything to make any choices that would impact me, especially if those choices come from drug induced hallucinations.

    Your assertion may be correct, if it is the intention to feel another side of reality, but if your assertion is that there is more than one reality, then I also disagree. There is only one reality and we all have a small window that allows us glimpses of that reality. Sometimes we are able to correctly interpret what we see, and other time we are not , and hopefully, as we go through life, we make choices based on correct interpretations, and not incorrect interpretation of reality.

  28. DJ
    February 8, 2015 at 9:00 AM

    Having drank both tobacco and ayahuasca in Peru I perhaps could shed some light.
    It’s true that in most places people tend to drink tobacco a couple days before the first ayahuasca ceremony in order to “cleanse ” the body.
    I drank the tobacco with a few other guys and was pretty ill. I noticed it increased my heart rate significantly and became very perhaps the poor lady in question had some underlying undiagnosed issue.
    One lady who drank it with us had a violent reaction to it which scared the hell out of everybody . The best way I could describe her reaction was that of an epileptic when in the throws of seizure.
    I think I remember reading somewhere that anything up to around 20% tobacco is reasonably ok but more than this can cause serious problems.
    May God rest her soul.

  29. Russian Skeptic
    February 10, 2015 at 8:17 AM

    Looks like an acute attack of allergy. The issue whether one should or should not try altered states of consciousness is totally irrelevant. Adult people who have allergies usually know that and are cautious about herbal substances. And yes, there are some stupid enough to believe that they can cure their allergies exactly by herbal teas.
    P.S. Altered state of consciousness are caused by psychoactive stuff. You have your own stuff inside you, that is, endorphins. You can perfectly do it without swallowing s- -t. Just fall in love, for instance.

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