Foods To Avoid While Ingesting Maois


MAO inhibitors are substances, usually drugs, that the enzyme system MAO (M.onoaminoOxidase) in its effect. This enzyme system breaks down certain amines (see below) that can be harmful to the body. If MAO did not exist, toxic amines that enter the body or are produced by the body would no longer be broken down. This can lead to life-threatening complications.

MAO is responsible for the breakdown of organic monoamines (e.g. serotonin, dopamine, noradrenaline, adrenaline). The enzyme is divided into MAO-A and MAO-B. MAO-A breaks down noradrenaline, adrenaline, serotonin and dopamine, MAO-B mainly benzylamine, phenylethylamine and dopamine.

A distinction is made between selective and non-selective MAO inhibitors. With nonselective MAOIs (e.g. tranylcypromine), both forms of the enzyme, MAO-A and MAO-B, are inhibited, with selective ones only one form.

MAO inhibitors have a drive-increasing, mood-enhancing and low-level anxiety-reducing effect. They are used as a drug for severe / atypical depression, anxiety, obsessive-compulsive disorder and Parkinson's disease. Their main effect is therefore that they inhibit the breakdown of the body's own drive-enhancing and stimulating enzymes, so that these can be longer and more effective.

When using MAO inhibitors in depressed patients, increased suicide attempts can occur at the beginning of treatment, as the drive-enhancing effect sets in before the antidepressant effect. Therefore, patients at risk of suicide are more likely to be prescribed sedating (drowsy) antidepressants.

In addition to various drugs, the group of MAO inhibitors also includes:
Harmine, harmaline, harmalole [contained among other things in the rue, the passion flower and the liana Banistereopsis Caapi as part of the ayahuasca drink, asarone [calamus oil, ragweed], elemicin, myristicin, safrol [nutmeg], macromerine [donna-ana cactus], various Tryptamines, yohimbine.

Side effects / interactions

When consuming MAO inhibitors, undesirable side effects often occur, as the ingestion can lead to disorders of the metabolism of numerous messenger substances.

Side effects include high blood pressure, restlessness, sleep disorders, but also dry mouth, dizziness, headache or nausea. Interactions with other drugs / substances are quite common.

The simultaneous use of MAO inhibitors and various psychoactive substances or some drugs can lead to the life-threatening serotonin syndrome. This applies to the following substances, among others: Ecstasy (MDMA), mescaline, opiates, amphetamines (Speed, Crystal), dextromethorphan (DXM) as well as some research chemicals (LINK) and certain antidepressants (serotonin reuptake inhibitors).

The simultaneous intake of MAO inhibitors and amines in high doses (e.g. via food or medication) can cause considerable damage to the body. The effects of such a combination range from headaches, stiff neck, cardiovascular problems or increased blood pressure to death from poisoning.
(see list below)

Safer use

There is no such thing as risk-free consumption! Anyone who still consumes should familiarize themselves with the safer use rules:

While taking MAO inhibitors, you should refrain from consuming foods that contain (a lot) tyramine, as tyramine in the blood leads to the release of serotonin from the platelets or inhibits the uptake of serotonin by the platelets. (see list below) This can lead to serotonin syndrome (see above).

The simultaneous use of MAO inhibitors and psychoactive substances to increase or change the effect of the substances can be very dangerous for the reasons mentioned above. Therefore, obtain precise information before consuming, if in doubt, refrain from consuming. Never consume alone.

Particular caution is also required with nightshade plants (tomatoes, angel's trumpet, deadly nightshade). If nightshade plants are taken at the same time as MAO inhibitors, cardiovascular collapse and respiratory arrest can occur.

Caution: MAO inhibitors have very different times of action - 8 to 48 hours, with some drugs even significantly longer.

Since the same dose usually produces a stronger effect with a lower body weight or smaller stature, the risks may also increase. Therefore adjust the dosage to your body weight.

Pregnancy / breastfeeding:

During pregnancy, particular caution is required when taking MAO inhibitors, as there is insufficient experience and research. However, there are indications that the intake of MAO inhibitors can lead to an undersupply of the unborn child and thus to undesirable developments. MAOIs also pass into breast milk.

Substances and foods that contain amines in high concentrations

Sedatives (e.g. benzodiazepines)
many antihistamines (group of antiallergic drugs)
Asaron (e.g. calamus root)
Macromerine (contained in the Dona ana cactus)
Dill, parsley and fennel oil (harmless in small amounts)
Caffeine (cola, coffee, tea, cocoa, guarana, energy drinks)
matured, i.e. old, seasoned cheese
Food containing tyrosine (fish and its preparations, poultry liver, horse beans, white beans, Chianti wines)
Tyramine-rich foods (chocolate, bananas, pineapples, pears, grapes, alcoholic beverages, cheese, fish products, sauerkraut, raw sausage, yeast extracts, liver and citrus fruits)
Antidepressants, especially serotonin reuptake inhibitors
As long as the effects of the consumed MAO inhibitors last, the substances or foods listed here must not be consumed.

You can find extensive lists of food and luxury foods that contain biogenic amines at: under "Hystamine content & Co."