American Found Dead After Taking Ayahuasca

The mother and sister of Kyle Nolan, a young American whose body was found Tuesday near Puerto Maldonado, in Madre de Dios, arrived in the jungle river town yesterday to identify the body and to find out how he had died.

Ingeborg Oswald and her daughter Marion were in Lima and Puerto Maldonado only a week ago, handing out flyers with Kyle’s photograph and details of where he had been travelling.  They were unable to get any useful information, and returned to California.

Kyle had come to Peru in mid-August against his family’s wishes.  A shy 18-year-old and a triplet, from a small town in northern California,  Kyle was determined to visit the Shimbre Shamanic Center near Puerto Maldonado  and take part in a shamanic ritual using ayahuasca, a hallucinogenic used by indigenous peoples throughout the Amazon.   

His family reported him missing at the end of August when they had not heard from him for about 10 days.  Information was sought not only in Puerto Maldonado, but also in Cusco and Pucallpa, two cities that are also popular for ayahuasca rituals and where Kyle could have gone after his sessions at Shimbre.

This week, however, the shaman from the Shimbre center, Jose Manuel Pineda, 58, known as Master Mancoluto, confessed to police that Kyle had died from an excessive dose of ayahuasca, taken on August 22, according to daily El Comercio. Pineda said that he had found Kyle dead the following morning.

Pineda, his German assistant Florian Schmatz, and the center’s carpenter buried  the young man in a nearby field to avoid bad publicity for the center.   All three men are now in police custody.

Kyle Nolan found the center on the Internet, but this week all information has been deleted from the site except for a photo of Master Mancoluto and the building used for the ayahuasca rituals.

The family are making arrangements with the help of the U.S. Embassy to take their son home for burial in California as soon as possible.

Sharing is caring!


  1. I was born in Peru and am sad to hear about this young man’s death. I do agree that this man, Pineda, should be investigated and tried. If it is found that he is using these herbal medicines in order to profit from irresponsible use by his customers, he should be put out of business and in jail.

    Unfortunately, young people will find ways to get high if they really want to and in every country in the world, there are people who will take advantage of that kind of demand in order to earn a little money, with no regard for the dangers of overdosing. Although it’s terrible for the parents to go through this, they are dealing with an adult’s wishes, he was 18.

    My only hope is that people will not blame an entire country for the irresponsible and uncaring behavior of one man.

  2. Kyle Nolan may have had an undiagnosed underline medical condition that lead to his dead. It could’ve been undiagnosed asthmatic condition, it could’ve been an allergic reaction, pulmonary disorder, cardiac birth defect etc etc. I feel sad for his surviving mother and sister.
    It could have happened to anyone. Each participant should have a thorough medical history and examination prior to the ingestion of ayahuasca. This medicine is not for everybody no matter how dire or desperate the person’s circuntances are.

    • There are two separate issues here. First is the death of Kyle Nolan. He may have had a per-existing condition that lead to his death. He could have choked on his own vomit. He could have had an adverse reaction to the medicine. Lots of scenarios are possible. The practice of the shaman was to leave the participants on platforms in tents by themselves. Perhaps greater supervision would have prevented this tragedy.

      The second issue is the handling of his death. The body was buried. The parents had to find out their son was missing by his absence. The shaman lied to them and said he walked off. So many unethical actions here. But also very stupid on the shaman’s part. It makes it harder to run forensic and toxicology reports when the body has been buried and left to decay. If the body was handed over to authorities right away then maybe we would know what Kyle died from.

      Also the shaman said he died from drinking too much aya. I don’t believe it is possible to dye from too much of the brew unless there is something toxic like too much nicotine or datura in the mix. Why would an experienced shaman suggest this?

      Something does not add up here and I hope the truth is found for the sake of the family and everyone effected by this great tragedy.

  3. Sad circumstances… Yes, I agree… The medicine is not for everybody. Also, a lot of past negative publicity has been cast at Shamans. I hope that the irresponsible actions of one Shaman does not affect other great Shamans who serve the path with humility and dedication. This type of situation calls for controlling bodies that can regulate the responsible use of entheogens and free access to information about the risks involved. If this young man was aware of the dangers, he might have got a medical report before taking the brew. This could have saved his life! Maybe it is time that the medical industry acknowledged the use of entheogens and time they created a standard medical test format so people can be assured that their bodies are able to hold the medicine with ease… It is no secret that thousands have received authentic healing from ayahuasca.. Often from conditions that are beyond normal medical treatment. Maybe it is time to recognize that herbal alternatives are of great importance in this time – and that we are all responsible for accidents like this. Make it available to everyone with guidelines in place to prevent such sad outcomes…

  4. Olga Susana Mayo says:

    What a shame ! Ayahuasca is not a game, it’s a drug. Peru is a beautiful and interesting country but a foreigner – especially as young as Kyle Nolan – should not travel without taking some cautious advice. My condolences to his family.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *