This week on the Be Here Now Network’s Guest Podcast, Nick Polizzi is joined by ethnopharmacologist Dennis McKenna for a conversation about the science of psychedelics and the study of plant medicine.
Dennis McKenna, Ph.D. has spent a number of years as a senior lecturer for the Center for Spirituality and Healing at the University of Minnesota.The research work of Dr. McKenna includes the pharmacology, botany, and chemistry of ayahuasca and oo-koo-hé. He has also conducted extensive ethnobotanical fieldwork in the Peruvian, Colombian, and Brazilian Amazon.
If you want to explore the practice of traditional plant medicine and follow the transformational journey of eight patients who went to the jungle to find healing for themselves, check out Nick’s new book The Sacred Science.
Pass the Medicine Bowl (Opening) – Dennis shares a bit of his research background and explains his work in ethnopharmacology. Nick and Dennis talk about modern pharmacology and the gap between traditional and contemporary medical practices.
“The crisis right now in the pharmaceutical industry is that the drug discovery pipeline is getting empty. Every year fewer and fewer medicines make it from the field into the clinic and they are wondering what they are doing wrong. What they are doing wrong is that they abandoned nature.” – Dennis McKenna
Natural Chemists (13:15) – Nick and Dennis explore the way in which plants communicate with each other and ourselves. They explore the science behind how messenger molecules and neurotransmitters enable plants to interact with the world in a very sophisticated way.
Plant Partners (28:35) – We look at how our culture has led us to this place where the respect and reverence for nature has been so far removed from our lives. Dennis and Nick discuss the introduction of psychedelic plants to the human species and their influence over our development.
“Indigenous people call these ‘Plant Teachers’ which I think is a very apt way to characterize them. These Plant Teachers are getting a little hysterical in their efforts to get the message out. This is why you see this going global because on some level I think that Gia senses that there is a danger to the whole show, the whole planetary system. For whatever reason, these neurotransmitter containing plants and fungi have been delegated to wake up the monkeys. To talk to the monkeys and wake us up again to our relationship to nature. It is a wake-up call to how estranged we have become from nature.” – Dennis McKenna
The Invisible Landscape (39:25) – Nick and Dennis discuss the role that plant medicines like psilocybin and ayahuasca can play in how fully we live our lives and in changing our relationship to death. They also talk about the impact that plant medicines have on our ability to be present and in the moment.
Art via Ammit Jack