Ultimate Guide to Plant Medicines in San Diego

The Ultimate Guide to Plant Medicine in San Diego

Plant medicines are becoming increasingly popular, thanks to the increased awareness and education around their many health benefits. Check out this article for an in-depth guide on local organizations that administer plant medicines in San Diego, including psychedelics and their ceremonial uses.

Magic Mushrooms San Diego

What is Plant Medicine?

From cacao’s heart-warming nature to Ayahuasca’s powerful presence, plant medicines have provided humans with a wealth of healing properties, spiritual insights, and emotional catharsis. While each plant medicine has its own unique effects, they all share the ability to connect us with nature, and with ourselves.

Entheogenic Plant Medicines

Entheogenic plants, also known as psychedelics, are known to induce altered states of consciousness, and can be used for a variety of purposes including personal growth, physical healing, and even self-exploration.


Ayahuasca, also known as yagé, is a visionary brew that has been used as medicine for generations by the idigenous tribes of South America. Traditionally made with the Bcaapi vine, a natural MAOI which is an antidepressant and Chacruna, a DMT containing plant which is a hallucinogenic tryptamine.

This tea mixture is typically consumed during the night and shows high potential in treating mental illnesses and addiction. San Diego’s first Ayahuasca church, Agape Ayahuasca Sanctuary, is now open and you can apply to attend their weekend retreats.

San Pedro cactus

San Pedro, also known as huachuma, is a light green and night blooming cactus native to the Andes Mountains. Considered to be the masculine counterpart to Ayahuasca, a San Pedro ceremony is traditionally performed during the day or within a sweat lodge.

Containing the psychoactive compound known as mescaline, San Pedro shows potential in offering psychiatric improvements and positive life changes.

Magic mushrooms aka psilocybin

The famous psilocybin mushrooms, also known as magic mushrooms, have been used for centuries in religious and spiritual rituals. With a long and rich history, magic mushrooms have been shown to be effective in treating a wide variety of health disorders, ranging from addiction to anorexia and Alzheimer’s disease.

Bufo Alvarius

The venom of Bufo Alvarius, a psychoactive Sonoran desert toad from Mexico and Southwestern U.S., contains a psychoactive compound called 5 Meo-DMT.

Those who utilize the toad’s venom claim to have a profound spiritual experience and research shows potential beneficial long-term effects on mental health and well-being.


A tree that grows in the rain forests of Central Africa, the root bark of the iboga tree is used to make a powerful medicine that has been used for centuries by the indigenous people of Africa.

Traditionally used as an initiation rite into adulthood, it is also taken in ceremony for physical and mental ailments. Gaining more recognition in the west, Ibogaine, the psychoactive compound in iboga, is being used in studies  treating opioid addiction.

Non-Entheogenic Plant Medicines

While there are many entheogenic plants that can be used for spiritual and physical healing, there are also many non-entheogenic plants that have also been used for centuries in ceremonies for physical, mental and spiritual well-being.


Also known as the frog medicine, kambo is a powerful detoxifier that is used by many indigenous tribes of South America as a way to detox and enhance hunting skills.

The healing properties of kambo claim to help chronic diseases, cancers and mental problems like anxiety and depression.


A healing eye drop medicine used by the indigenous people of the Amazon, Sananga is the juice extracted from different plants. Some of the traditional plants that are used are the Tabernaemontana Undulata and the Tabernaemontana Sananho.

Claiming to improve vision, heal headaches and eye pain, sananga is known to create an intense burning sensation in the beginning, awakening the warrior within.


While often associated with negative health effects, tobacco has a long and rich history of use as a plant medicine. Sometimes used as an offering to bridge the physical and spiritual worlds, tobacco is considered to be supportive in grounding the spirit into the body.

Still used today, you can find tobacco being used in many different forms. Some of its popular medicinal forms include:

  • Rapé, also known as shamanic snuff, is a mixture of plants, ash and tobacco that is blown up the nostril.
  • Tobacco juice, known for its powerful cleansing properties, is used in a sacred container for drinking.
  • Mapacho, commonly known as Aztec tobacco, is a very potent variety of tobacco that is used for ceremonial smoking.


Cacao, the bean that chocolate is made from, has a long history of use in shamanic and religious rituals. A sacred plant of many indigenous cultures, cacao is said to promote inter-connectivity between the physical and spiritual realms through the channel of the heart.

Also gaining recognition in the West for its health benefits, cacao is known to be high in antioxidants, improving heart health and cognitive function.

Herbs & Spices

There are many different herbs and spices that are potentially in your kitchen or garden that have been used for centuries for their healing properties.  Here are 10 common plants and their healing benefits:

  • Peppermint: Used to treat digestive issues, headaches and anxiety
  • Chamomile: Used as a sleep aid and to relieve stress
  • Cinnamon: Used to improve cognitive function and blood sugar levels
  • Ginger: Used to treat nausea, pain and inflammation
  • Garlic: Used to improve heart health and boost the immune system
  • Basil: Used to treat anxiety and depression
  • Rosemary: Used to improve memory and cognitive function
  • Ashwagandha: Used to relieve stress and improve sleep
  • Cayenne Pepper: Used to improve circulation and relieve pain
  • Sage: Used to improve memory and cognitive function

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Plant Medicines in San Diego

Agape Ayahuasca Sanctuary

An entheogenic church based in San Diego County, Agape Ayahuasca Sanctuary offers ayahuasca, psilocybin mushrooms and bufo alvarius ceremonies to their members.

Local Edible + Medicinal Plants

A helpful resource guide from the native Kumeyaay people of the local plants that you can forage for edible or medicinal use.

The House of Light

An entheogenic church based in Vista, The House of Light offers ayahuasca, psilocybin mushrooms and bufo / kambo ceremonies in spiritual retreats or in private sessions.

Maya Moon Collective

San Diego’s first cacao cafe, Maya Moon Collective serves ceremonial drinking cacao and organic, fair-trade cacao desserts and also hosts wellness and spiritual events focused on plant medicines in its cafe space in Normal Heights.

San Diego Herbal Medicine + Acupuncture

Traditional Chinese Medicine uses over 6,000 different species of herbs in different combinations to treat many different conditions. Schedule an appointment with a TCM practitioner to see which herbs might be best for you.

Soul Tribe Sanctuary

A plant-medicine church, Soul Tribe Sanctuary offers psilocybin mushroom ceremonies to their members in and around San Diego County.

Self Heal School

Teaching comprehensive holistic herbal education since 1985, Self Heal School offers courses, programs, herbal walks and more.

Wildcraft Medicine

Wildcraft Medicine in La Jolla is a team of naturopathic doctors, herbalists and health coaches focused on creating a plant-derived, holistic health protocol to meet the unique needs and ailments of each patient.

Exploring Plant Medicines

From the iboga tree of Africa, to the common dandelion, there are many plants that offer powerful medicinal and spiritual health benefits. While some of these plants are entheogens, there are also many non-entheogenic plants that have their own unique set of properties. Whether used for cleansing the body, or for bridging the gap between the physical and spiritual worlds, these plants have been used for centuries by many cultures around the world. If you are considering exploring plant medicines on your own, please first consult a qualified medical practitioner.

DISCLAIMER: This article is for informational purposes only. It is not, nor is it intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice or treatment for specific medical conditions. You should not use this information to diagnose or treat a health problem without consulting a qualified healthcare provider. To the extent that this article features the advice of physicians or medical practitioners, the views expressed are the views of the cited expert and do not necessarily represent the views of Locally Well San Diego.

Looking for More Plant Medicine Resources?

Explore our Events Calendar for upcoming yoga events, meditation classes and wellness workshops about plant medicines in San Diego. Or browse all of our Wellbeing articles for the latest wellness news and trends!

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