Travel Magazine

Santuario Revisited- Healing from Chronic Hives (urticaria)

By Tilda Y

It started one night in early January. I was dancing tango in Buenos Aires when I felt the first itch, which later spread through my body. I was on fire, but not in a good way.  A trip to the bathroom had me in horror.  I had broken out in hives.

It was strange, but I took an anti-histamine pill when I got home and brushed it aside as a once-off outbreak.  It must have been the sticky summer heat of Buenos Aires. I knew that it wasn’t anything funny that I had eaten that day. What I didn’t know was that I would be battling with daily outbreaks, muscle twitching, fatigue, chest-tightness and pill-popping every night for the next two months.

Can’t Couldn’t live without my Zyrtec

Hives could be caused by a great number of factors, anything from food to detergent to autoimmune diseases and parasites. My daily hives were definitely not caused by anything external; something was going haywire inside me.  An anti-histamine pill would give me quick relief that lasts close to 48 hours, but I would wake up in the mornings completely drained. I couldn’t do anything, fatigue and stress simply made me miserable. There were nights when the attack was so bad that even my eyes would puff up, and my eyelids swelled so much it would take a full day to subside even after medication. I would wake up in the middle of the night, feeling as if I could scratch myself to death.Attempting to control them without medicine was simply impossible.

I read up as much as I could about hives, from articles to forums where fellow sufferers would share their progress and treatments.  One thing became very obvious.  In most cases of persistent hives, the doctors simply cannot tell you what’s wrong, and you are your best detective.

(I eventually did a blood test when I went back to Peru, and yes the doctor echoed the same sentiment, suggesting that I see a dermatologist for allergies, because it could be some products that I had all of a sudden developed an allergy to. Wow, insight.)

My best guess was that I had a parasitic infection. After all, I had just been in Peru eating from dodgy cevicherias.  It was the most sensible reason.  And so, I went on a parasite-eliminating frenzy.  From strong herbs like Paico and wormwood to even stronger pharmaceutical medicine, I did what I could do dispel the parasites I probably had. The hives continued.  I also went for multiple acupuncture sessions, which quickly returned my energy and strength, but unfortunately did little for the hives.  The only thing that stopped them were anti-histamines, though that hardly explained why body was releasing histamines in the first place.

Do I really want to suppress the symptoms, or do I want to find a cure?

The Shaman of Santuario

I was almost willing to keep up with the daily pills till my body fixes itself.  But somewhere deep down in my gut, I knew that there was someone who could help- Maestro Enrrique.

I was there in Santuario Healing in December 2014, and had the most beautiful days of my life in the Amazonian oasis. I was never one to believe too much in the ‘spiritual hocus pocus’, and was absolutely skeptical of the word ‘ healing’ but in those short five nights I knew that there was a whole world of real medicine that the people of the jungle have known since the beginning of time. All my theoretical rejections had could hold no ground when I fully experienced the strength, energy, and love that came from the earth itself.

And as I contemplated a return trip with uncertainties in my travel plans, I got a message from Liam, who I had met on my first trip.

‘When are you going back?’

Great timing. I just knew then, that I had to go back, and let Maestro Enrrique work the magic. A three-hour ride from the Pucallpa airport, a 20-minute boat ride down the river, and a 45-minute trek later, I was right back at home.


The healing begins

In preparation for the Ayahuasca ceremonies, I had to stop taking anti-histamines.  That was difficult, as I felt as if I was putting my body under more stress without help, and could rely only on topical relief from sangre de grado (which works like a dream), and my own Chinese ointment.  The ‘winter’ of February meant perfectly cool weather from the rain, but also a million insects which spared me no mercy.  Relative to the insect bites, my hives felt like a gentle tickle.

The first ceremony took place on my birthday, and I made a birthday wish to Mother Ayahuasca to be cured.  No fancy intentions, just a plain and simple ” please help me!” cry as I downed the strongest and most awful tasting liquid in the universe. The thought of it now is enough to bring about a reflex grimace on my face. I had no profound visions, and I certainly felt physically uneasy the whole night, only to reach out for the bucket hours later with a rather strong purge.

The next day, Enrrique said that a malignant virus had entered my body, which was very weak and had no protection. Perhaps, the ‘scientific’ explanation would be that my immune system was weak.  Ayahuasca helped reveal the plant that would be my cure.  Interestingly, this was determined by calling in various plant spirits into the Maloca. Most of them would come and go, and the spirit that stayed with my body represented the plant that I needed. And so, Enrrique got me started on a tree resin called Oje to purify my blood.

What was that?

I had a total of four ceremonies in nine nights. Perhaps the most memorable of all was the second.  Lying down all mariado-ed (drunk on medicine) in the maloca, I felt incredibly uncomfortable, nauseous,  and I just wanted everything to be over so I could leave.  The beautiful icaros from Aime and Enrrique calmed me, but my body just wanted to give up.  And then came the ‘energy  jolts’. It started from my forehead, a completely new sensation, an energy of some sort. This energy then shot through my whole body as I shuddered, and this head-to-body jolt happened three to four times.  Not long after, I had the strongest and most violent purge of my life, as if my stomach was pushing out a century’s worth of toxic through my mouth and even my nostrils (gross, I know)

Just what was that? I didn’t know, but what was sure was that right after the purge, my body completely lost all its tension and strength and I could only lie fully surrendered on the mattress, feeling absolute bliss and peace, not unlike my very first Santuario ceremony in December. Beautiful thoughts of the people in my life came through my mind, and I thanked each and every person for having come into my path. Wave after wave of deep gratitude, love, and joy flowed through my mind and body. And at the end of it all as I regained my regular consciousness, a definitive message came.

” You are cured.”

True enough, the hives were almost all gone.  I would get a spot or two at pressure areas (e.g. waistbands, bra-line) subsequently, but amazingly, they go away on their own in half an hour without any intervention.

As for the ‘ energy jolts’, I felt an even stronger one in my third ceremony.A bright flash of light, followed by a swift and impactful surge came right at me and entered my body through my gut, leaving behind a gentle warmth. Seriously, what on earth was that?

I don’t have words in my vocabulary for what it was, but something told me that it was a good thing.

For some reason, my ceremonies had been physically difficult, one of which sent me dry-heaving the whole night. Perhaps, I really did have too much junk in my mind and body. But just like the first time in Santuario, I left with with a profound sense of love, peace, and important insights that I hope I can keep.

Do you judge what you do not know?

There is a whole world of ancient knowledge and wisdom that the modern man would more quickly scorn at than to try and understand. We pass judgements on ideas and concepts that are unfamiliar, sometimes in the most condescending way.  Some are willing to put aside their bias to explore unfamiliar concepts with an open and questioning mind. Others simply hold tight to their preconceptions, inherently deadly afraid of being challenged.

My encounter with Ayahuasca and the world of shaminism had had me put two feet deep into a world so absolutely foreign,  I hardly have any point of reference to help me express my thoughts and experiences.  But foreign and strange as it may be, it also feels absolutely right, and absolutely divine.

I don’t know when I’d be back in Santuario. One day, I’d like to spend some time to learn from Maestro Enrrique. But that time is not now, and I have lots to work on before I do return.


Maestro Enrrique and wife Aime. Credit:



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By Genie Pinner
posted on 04 October at 14:21
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