A New Zealand tourist died after a psychedelic drug experience in the Peruvian jungle - but his mother didn't find out until three days later.

Matthew Dawson-Clarke, 24, died in September 2015 after drinking tobacco tea in preparation for an ayahuasca ceremony in the Amazon, the Daily Mail reported.

Ayahuasca is a psychedelic drug that's made from a vine that grows in the South American jungle, and Mr Dawson-Clarke was keen to try it after going on vacation to Peru.

Matthew Dawson-Clarke on the podium after winning a road running race in Florida USA 2015. Photo / Supplied
Matthew Dawson-Clarke on the podium after winning a road running race in Florida USA 2015. Photo / Supplied

His mother found out about his death through a phone call from a person who simply said: "I'm so sorry for your loss."


"My world stopped that day," the mother told the ABC.

Lyndie Dawson-Clarke spoke about her son's death in an interview with ABC's Foreign Correspondent programme.

She said she wants young people who are interested in trying the drug to be careful.

"I'm not here to tell people what to do with their lives," she said.

"I'm just here to say 'be aware'."

Ayahuasca is a temporarily mind-altering brew that is made from the mashed stems of a vine by the same name.

That plant matter is often mixed with the leaves of the psychotria viridis plant, which contains the psychedelic compound DMT.

Ayahuasca has been used in religious ceremonies by the peoples who inhabit the Amazon jungle for centuries.

Matthew's mother Lyndie Dawson-Clarke. Photo / ABC
Matthew's mother Lyndie Dawson-Clarke. Photo / ABC

It has recently become popular among tourists who come to South America.

As the government of Peru put it, according to the BBC, consuming ayahuasca is supposed to open the "gateway to the spiritual world and its secrets".


Ayahuasca is a pharmacologically complex tea, commonly obtained from Banisteriopsis caapi and Psychotria viridis.

It combines N,N-dimethyltryptamine (DMT), an orally labile psychedelic agent, with monoamine oxidase.

Ayahuasca produced significant subjective effects, peaking between 1.5 and 2 hours, involving perceptual modifications and increases in ratings of positive mood and activation.

Ayahuasca, also known by the names Daime, Yajé, Natema, and Vegetal, is a psychotropic plant tea used by shamans throughout the Amazon Basin in traditional medicine, rites of passage, and magico-religious practices.

Source: Journal of Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics