Britons at £500 retreat get high on mindbending drug blamed for student’s death
A BRITISH accountant is selling £ 500 weekend retreats to Spain where guests take a psychedelic drug that has caused a number of horrific deaths.
Groups of up to 12 people gather at a luxury villa in Marbella to drink ayahuasca, a highly dangerous hallucinogenic brew which is illegal in the UK and has been blamed for the death of a 19-year-old Briton.
Nicknamed ‘little death’, the potent psychoactive drug is often drunk during tribal rituals in the Amazon rainforest by Westerners who have been promised they will experience ‘spiritual enlightenment’.
But Arron Kilburn, 31, is cashing in on the drug’s soaring popularity by enticing hundreds of Britons to Spain, where the drug is legal, and promising them ‘ten years of therapy in one night’.
A string of celebrities including Sting, Paul Simon and Lindsay
Publicity makes no mention of the dangers
Lohan have endorsed the class-A drug, which is a blend of the ayahuasca vine and a shrub called chacruna, and have credited it with transforming their lives.
But last month, an inquest concluded that the drug contributed to the death of gap- year student Henry Miller, from Bristol, after he drank the substance during a ritual in Colombia in 2014.
Mr Miller’s parents warned against taking ayahuasca and the coroner at his inquest, Maria Voisin, said she would write to the Foreign Office urging extra guidance to those visiting areas where the drug is prevalent.
Experts have also warned that ayahuasca, which contains a dangerous LSD-like substance called dimethyltryptamine, can increase blood pressure and cause severe psychological distress and hallucinations.
In 2015, Unais Gomes, 26, a Cambridge graduate and former Goldman Sachs banker, died after taking ayahuasca. He was stabbed to death by a friend who said he was acting i n self- defence after t he pair became involved in a violent struggle at a retreat in Peru.
In another incident involving ritu- als in Colombia, Joe Tilley, 24, of Leicester, fell to his death at a waterfall known as the End of the World.
For £560, customers of Ayahuasca English, the company run by Arron Kilburn, are whisked to a vast villa in Marbella for a three-day retreat where they take part in all-night ayahuasca sessions and ‘psychotherapeutic integration’.
According to the firm’s website, the organisers collect the natural plant ingredients in South America before they are prepared for guests ‘ by expert connoisseurs of the plants and the masterful formulas used for thousands of years in indigenous communities’.
Mr Kilburn highlights none of the drug’s dangers in the company’s promotional material but in a slick video shot at the villa, he declares: ‘Many people contact us and feel very anxious about coming.
‘I’d encourage everyone to trust themselves and follow their heart. There’s a quote that I really like which is, “The greatest treasure is found in the cave that we are afraid to enter.” ’
Mr Kilburn, who runs an accountancy firm called AK Finance Systems Ltd, describes himself as an ‘ayahuasca integrator’ on his Facebook page and has spoken at several conferences to promote the drug.
An advert on Facebook says ayahuasca ‘allows us to go deeply inside our own consciousness – to see the limiting beliefs and patterns that we hold, and to let them go in order to realise our true potential. Many believe that ayahuasca itself has now decided to make the change and expand across the globe.’
Last night, a spokesman for Inner Mastery International, the parent company of Ayahuasca English, said: ‘Ayahuasca is only an optional tool that we use to go deeper therapeutically into our participants’ emotions and hidden traumas, and given in very measured dosages.
‘We have a medical team to advise our participants and team members before any person signs up. All participants have to fill out a form with their medical history and treatments, and we do offer preand post-retreat support.’
SLICK: Stills from a video promoting the retreat run by Ayahuasca English in the popular resort of Marbella
TRAGIC: Henry Miller died after drinking ayahuasca in Colombia