The Holistic Sanctuary

By The Fix staff 04/20/17
Founder Johnny Tabaie treats addiction, PTSD, and more with plant medicines; alumni from this Baja sanctuary emerge transformed, with no cravings and no withdrawals.
The Holistic Sanctuary
Location : Rosarito, Baja California, Mexico
Phone : 1-310-601-7805
Price : $50,000 / 4 weeks; $25,000 / 2 weeks
Overall :
Accommodations :
Treatment :
Food :
Insurance : No
Detox : Yes

A couple of things to know about the philosophy behind The Holistic Sanctuary: First, Sanctuary is part of the name for a reason. It's a luxury rehab that takes the luxury part seriously, a beach-front property with single rooms, no chores and first class amenities. Second, Holistic is part of the name for a reason as well, as they eschew the traditional drug-assisted detox and recovery methods and use plant-based medicines and therapies to heal, and even cure, disorders including addictions, PTSD, and depression.

Founder Johnny Tabaie has developed his own proprietary, cutting-edge method of treatment called the Pouyan method, using no prescription medications. This treatment is designed to take your brain back to its pre-addictive state using only organic substances. Tabaie also says that the protocol accelerates the detox process, eliminating cravings and withdrawal symptoms. The Holistic Sanctuary uses Ayahuasca ceremonies and Ibogaine Treatment as part of the Pouyan method. Tabaie drew on his own "tragic experiences with conventional drug treatment centers, 12- step programs and society's addiction to any or all forms of Western medicine" to create the method, which is the end result of his journey to defeat and heal his 20-year addiction, his depression, and other negative behaviors.

A recommended stay at Holistic Sanctuary is four weeks, at a cost of $50,000. Most of the clients we surveyed said they came to Holistic Sanctuary for precisely the methods Tabaie employs. "I came to try ayahuasca for long standing depression, anxiety and PTSD issues," one told us. Another said, "I had a heroin addiction and knew only a very true holistic approach, not in the U.S., most preferably in Mexico, would be what worked for me since I tried so much in the U.S. Also, it was Ibogaine treatment. Something I hadn't tried yet." Patients also come for other addictions like meth or smoking, as well as eating disorders, depression and anxiety.

Clients told us about the other people in treatment: "25-30 (years old). Rich people. Nice folks," said one. Another reported, "30's, straight, successful, financially secure rich kids." Another summed it up as "rich, straight, spoiled, $150k +, white." All former clients we surveyed, however, indicated treatment quality as the most important factor in choosing a facility. Accommodations and food quality were also important considerations.

One former resident recalled a couple of his fellow patients’ experiences:

“One guy was around forty years old from Seattle that also came to try ayahuasca. He also had a good experience. One other girl from the east coast that came to do ibogaine to get off of heroin. She had a tough time when she first arrived but I actually got to witness a transition in her over six or seven days and it was really amazing to see her start to feel happy again and smile again thanks to Johnny, his incredible staff and his methods.”

All of our respondents had high praise for the food at the Holistic Sanctuary. But tasting good is not enough. The food has to have purpose, be healthy and help you with your overall recovery. "It's all organic and healthy food. Very good for you and no desserts or junk food you find in treatment centers," one former client told us. "No coffee to drink, no sweets (just fresh, organic, non-gmo fruit). Snacks were all natural and packed with nutrition. Protein shakes, freshly squeezed vegetable juice, oatmeal, fruit or nuts....Meals were totally organic, gluten-free, non-gmo...freshly prepared by a chef at meal time and were awesome! Food is medicine and other facilities totally turned me off due to their lack of knowledge and connection to healthy real food," said another. So, if you like snacks and coffee or sugar, this may not be the place for you.

Accommodations were also rated very highly. This is beautiful Baja beachfront property with private rooms, so what's not to like? There are "no chores or jobs. It was more of a spa environment. Had massages done daily and vitamin IV's done daily. Oxygen chamber done daily, and enemas. Relaxation was key," one client remembers. "The days were pretty relaxing, filled with massage, reiki, yoga, basketball, volleyball and swimming. I even surfed out front a couple of times and had a blast. Other than those activities, I spent a lot of time meditating, reading and focusing on setting my intentions for what I had hoped to get out of my ayahuasca experience," remembers another.

There are plenty of activities available. In addition to the gym, basketball, volleyball, yoga, massage, hyperbaric chamber and sauna, there are weekend excursions and things like ATV-ing, jet skiing and all kinds of fun, physical activities. When asked about amenities and treatments, one recent resident listed, "5 coffee enemas a day, NAD treatment, IV vitamins, massage, reiki, yoga....On weekends you can go horseback riding or ride ATV's as well as go fishing or ride jet skis, even zip lines." You're also given liberal use of internet, phones, and TV here: "TV in the rooms and living room. Able to watch during IV vitamins. Those with personal business had access to internet. Personal phone calls were done at night."

When asked about the staff and how they handled rule infractions, most residents told us that everything was very smooth and that it felt like a comfortable and safe place. For example, one former client said, "Everything is done with care and respect....If someone was not appropriate for all the guests, and was of any harm to anyone, then they would be asked to leave for the safety of everyone. I always felt safe and secure during the healing process."

Another resident reported: "I was written up on at least 4 occasions for not following the recommended protocol of drinking the fresh juices, it was just a simple formality of documenting that I had to sign. I was never shamed or ridiculed or judged or scolded, that is not a part of this environment at all. Everyone is treated with respect and dignity as an adult with choices."

As far as actual medical treatment, former clients we surveyed were very positive about it, claiming there were medical professionals on staff and very available. "...and they were excellent in every way!" said one alumnus. "I always felt safe and like I was in good hands." One resident reported that “One of my nurses had finished medical school so was an outstanding nurse. I needed a central line for my catheter so they provided a thoracic surgeon for me and it seemed the Doctor was on site for 12-24 hours at least twice a week.” Another recalled: "ER Doctors 24/7 during Ibogaine Therapy. Also nurses, Alternative Health Care Professionals. All very compassionate and kind, well trained."

Patients’ safety is of utmost importance. The Holistic Sanctuary claims a ratio of three staff to every patient. Almost everyone gave high ratings to the non-medical treatment as well. This model does not believe that you are in a hopeless state of lifelong addiction and that there is nothing that can be done about it. Neither is religion emphasized. "This was not a 12-step based program. It is a true holistic, loving program. No group therapies, no confrontations. It was all about loving and finding out how to love ourselves again," a recent resident states. "The most memorable part was my ayahuasca ceremony. I took ayahuasca for three nights in a row on the last three nights of my stay there. Bottom line is ayahuasca was the most amazing experience of my life....I wish everyone on Earth could experience what I got to," another told us. Another recalled the various treatments: “It was a non 12 step non religious based holistic approach colonics/green enemas hyperbaric chamber amino acid drips NAD drips massage reiki healing carbon sauna salt baths.”

Almost everyone we surveyed had high praise for The Holistic Sanctuary and its alternative treatment methods. Is it working? "I've been using drugs for 15 years and this is the longest I've ever been sober with no cravings and no withdrawals," a former patient told us. Another said, "Yes. The ayahuasca plant was an amazing eye opener for me, and watching those present who took Ibogaine and transform before me was just awesome." In fact everyone who took our survey reported that they have remained abstinent since their treatment. One reported that he felt his nervous system had been “re-set.” Others report feeling “grateful” and “amazing.”

One former resident did have some constructive criticism: "Bring it to America and accept insurance." That may not be entirely up to Tabaie. It is a U.S.-based company, but the actual facility is in Baja, California due to the use of ayahuasca and Ibogaine.

A grateful former client sums it up: "I loved it. I was treated with love and respect. The treatments worked as promised. It was beyond what was promised. I went there to get cured and was given more than I thought I would get. Johnny gave me his plant medicine and I had a spiritual awakening. My life is changed forever."

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