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Thursday, 2 May 2013

Joining the ICEERS Foundation and coming out in public

ENGLISH TEXT - (texto en español abajo)

It is with great joy that I announce that I have been asked to join ICEERS's board of directors as secretary. I am honored to be part of such an incredible group of people.

ICEERS is a charitable non-profit organization founded in 2009 by Benjamin De Loenen in the Netherlands and is dedicated to:

  • The integration of ayahuasca, iboga and other traditional plants as therapeutic tools in modern society
  • The preservation of the indigenous cultures that have been using these plant species since antiquity on, their habitat and botanical resources.
  • ICEERS is dedicated to marshall the forces of the ethnobotanical knowledge of the indigenous peoples and modern therapeutic practice, responding to the urgent need for efficient tools for personal and social development.


...as you can see I am feeling right at home! ;-)

ICEERS has promoted a number of important projects, from organizing conferences and training programs on Iboga, to keeping a close eye on the latest movements of the international drug authorities to ban ethnobotanicals.

It was on ICEERS’ request that the International Narcotics Control Board confirmed by letter that DMT containing plants such as the ones used in ayahuasca are not themselves under international control. In other words, until individual countries take steps to make ayahuasca containing plants illegal (like France did) they are not technically illegal, anywhere. That letter in itself has helped to keep a number of people out of jail in a number of countries like Spain and Chile.  (We must add that in some countries, like the US, taking those legal plants and cooking them together to make aya is in itself ilegal)

ICEERS is also currently running a program to test the purity of iboga extracts, so people know what they are using and more insight is gained into the quality, purity and possible contaminants of the available materials on the market.

They also helped fund the publication of Jose Carlos Bouso´s seminal study on long-term ayahuasca
use for the scientific journal PLOS, a respected online journal, making these important findings available for the scientific community as well as the general public. This is the largest study to date on the effects of long term ayahuasca use.

And there is a lot more coming... We all know how much misinformation and misunderstandings about ayahuasca and iboga is out there. The idea behind ICEERS has always been to make the best objective science-based information about these plants and their legitimate uses widely available. We have prepared a number of guides for first time consumers of ayahuasca and iboga, as well as guides for those interested in travelling to the Amazon and Gabon. But we are also working on a more ambitious project, an online help center where people with questions and concerns can consult one-on-one with experts on these matters. Going beyond the users, we are preparing a body of documents and guides for ayahuasca providers, from best practices to a set of minimum safety standards. The purpose is generate a series of guidelines to minimize risks and maximize benefits, to help draft a set of safety and ethics standards (like the plantaforma´s) that can help ayahuasca and iboga providers self regulate, in order to avoid situations like the one that took place in Chimbre.

So, like I said, I couldn't be happier to join an organization whose aims are so closely aligned with my own. On a personal note, I have always felt an affinity with Benjamin, who started as a documentary filmmaker, and ended up has an activist and advocate for the very plants he was filming. Benjamin made a documentary about Iboga (trailer here) in 2004, which became an international reference on this matter. What started as a personal interest as a filmmaker became much more, and began to demand from him a different type of commitment. It is a story that has many parallels with my own.

I think at this point I should confess that when I began began making a documentary about ethnobotanicals with Mark Ellam, my main motivation wasn't so much making a film, as it was getting closer to a topic that greatly interested me. The film gave me an excuse to travel, to contact perfect strangers whose work I admired and to ask them questions, what a great idea! More than 13 years later, and on my 4th documentary the results have been tremendously rewarding. But I have been feeling for some time that making films is not enough. It is as if the plants are demanding a bigger commitment, they have been so instrumental in my development that it is time to give back to them in a more meaningful way. It is time to move from generating information into more direct forms of action.

This has been manifested in my work the Asociación Eleusis, the Plantaforma, The Platform for the defense of Ayahuasca and now the ICEERS Foundation. It has been a gradual process of coming out in public. For many years I kept all my work with ethnobotanicals hidden under a slight pseudonym. For all documentary and ayahuasca publications I was Jeronimo M.M. For the rest of my other work, I went by my real name. It was a clean split. I had 2 email addresses, 2 facebook accounts, 2 lives.

I think it is a good time to put an end to that, and come out of the closet.

For the past 8 years my avatar, as Jeronimo M.M. has turned its back to the public gaze 


I think it is time to face the world




See you arround! .-)

PD if you want to know more about ICEERS´ activities please join our mailing list



TEXTO EN ESPAÑOL


Me da mucha alegría anunciar que he sido invitado a formar parte de la junta directiva de ICEERS como secretario.  Es un honor para mi unirme a un grupo de gente tan estupenda.

ICEERS es una organización sin ánimo de lucro fundada por Benjamin De Loenen en el 2009 dedicada a:
  • La integración de la ayahuasca, la iboga y otras plantas tradicionales como herramientas terapéuticas en la sociedad occidental
  • La preservación de las culturas indígenas que han utilizado estas especies botánicas desde la antigüedad, su hábitat y recursos botánicos.
  • Integrar el conocimiento etnobotánico de los pueblos indígenas en la terapia occidental actual, en respuesta a la necesidad urgente de herramientas eficientes para el desarrollo personal y social.



...como podéis ver me encuentro como en casa! ;-)

Desde su fundación ICEERS ha promovido toda una serie de importantes proyectos, desde la organización de conferencias y programas de capacitación, hasta el seguimiento de las actividades de las distintas autoridades internacionales de control de drogas con respecto a las plantas tradicionales.

Fue bajo petición de ICEERS que el International Narcotics Control Board confirmó por carta que las plantas que contienen DMT, como las que se usan en la ayahuasca, no están por si mismas bajo fiscalización internacional.  En otras palabras, hasta que los países tomen de forma individual las medidas oportunas para fiscalizar estas plantas (como ya ha hecho Francia) estas plantas no son tecnicamente ilegales, en ningún lugar.  Esa carta por si sola ha sido suficiente para evitar el encarcelamiento de varias personas en España y Chile.  (Una nota de caución: En algunos países, como EEUU, aunque las plantas son legales, cocinarlas para obtener ayahuasca es ilegal)

ICEERS también está llevando a cabo un programa para analizar la pureza de los extractos de iboga, para los facilitadores que trabajan con ella, y se gane un mayor conocimiento de la calidad, pureza y posibles contaminates de los materiales disponibles en el mercado.

ICEERS también contribuyó a financiar la publicación del importante estudio de José Carlos Bouso sobre los efectos del uso prolongado de ayahuasca, en PLOS online, una muy respetada revista cientifica.  Dando a conocer estos importantes hallazgos a la comunidad cientifica y el público en general del mayor estudio jamás realizado sobre los efectos del uso prolongado de la ayahuasca.

Y hay mucho más en camino... todos sabemos cuántos  malentendidos y desinformación hay alrededor de la ayahuasca y el iboga.  La idea detrás de ICEERS siempre ha sido hacer pública la mejor selección de información objetiva y científica de calidad que hay sobre estas plantas y sus usos legítimos.  ICEERS ha preparado una serie de guías para aquellos que vayan por primera vez a tomar ayahuasca e iboga, así como guías para aquellos interesados en viajar al Amazonas, o a Gabón, en busca de estas plantas. Pero también estamos trabajando en un proyecto mucho más ambicioso.  Un centro de ayuda online donde personas podrán llevar sus preguntas y dudas y consultarlas individualmente con expertos en estos asuntos.  Más allá de los consumidores estamos preparando un grupo de documentos y guias para proveedores de ayahuasca, incluyendo un documento de mejores practicas y uno de standards de seguridad mínimos.  El objetivo es generar una serie de consejos para maximizar beneficios y minimizar los riesgos de la ayahuasca, así como para contribuir a la redacción de códigos éticos y de seguridad (como el de la Plantaforma) que pueden ayudar a la auto-regulación de los proveedores de ayahuasca, para evitar situaciones como la de Chimbre.




En fin, que estoy feliz de formar parte de una organización cuyos objetivos son tan cercanos a los míos propios.  Personalmente hablando, siempre he sentido cierta afinidad con Benjamin, el fundador de ICEERS, que empezó como realizador de documentales para acabar en el activismo y abogacía de aquellas plantas que había estado filmado.  En el 2004 Benjamin hizo un documental sobre la Iboga (aquí el trailer) que se convirtió en una referencia internacional sobre el tema.  Lo que había empezado como un interés personal como cineasta pronto se convirtió en algo más grande, que pedía de él otro tipo de compromiso.  Es una historia que tiene muchos paralelos con la mía.

Creo que es hora de confesar que cuando empecé a grabar junto a Mark Ellam un documental sobre los enteógenos mi principal motivación no era hacer una película, sino acercarme a un tema que me interesaba mucho.  El documental me dio excusa para viajar por el mundo, y contactar a gente cuyo trabajo admiraba para hacerles preguntas, fue una idea estupenda.  Más de trece años después, y trabajando en mi 4 documental, puedo decir que los resultados han sido de lo más gratificantes.  Pero desde hace algún tiempo vengo sintiendo que no basta con hacer películas.  Es como si se me estuviera pidiendo un compromiso mayor, estas plantas y prácticas han sido tan claves en mi vida que es la hora de devolver de una forma más activa.  Es la hora de pasar de generar información hasta otras formas de acción más directas.

Creo que este impulso de ha ido manifestando en el trabajo que he venido haciendo como parte de la Asociación Eleusis, de la Plantaforma (La Plataforma para la Defensa de la Ayahuasca) y ahora en ICEERS.  Ha sido un proceso gradual de salida del armario en público.  Durante todos estos años he mantenido todo el trabajo relacionado con enteogenos oculto bajo un pequeño pseudonimo.  Para todo mi trabajo con el documental y articulos sobre ayahuasca era Jeronimo M.M. (o Jerónimo M. Muñoz).  Para el resto de mi trabajo usaba mi verdadero nombre.  Era una división total, tenía dos direcciones de correo, dos cuentas de facebook, dos blogs, dos vidas.

Creo que hoy es un buen día para acabar con ello y salir a la luz.

Durante los últimos 8 años mi avatar como Jerónimo M.M. le daba la espalda al público 



Creo que ya es hora de dar la cara.




Nos vemos por el mundo! .-)

PD Si queréis saber más de las actividades de ICEERS podéis suscribiros a nuestra lista de correos



Thursday, 27 September 2012

Ayahuasca Track and Workshop MAPS 2013 Psychedelic Science Conference Oakland



Via Bia Labate, here is the official schedule for the Ayahuasca Track during MAPS 2013 conference.  It is incredible to watch how much the field of active ayahuasca research has grown in the last couple of years.

MAPS is preparing its Psychedelic Science in the 21st Century conference April 18-22, 2013, in cooperation with the Heffter Research Institute, the U.K.-based Beckley Foundation, and the Council on Spiritual Practices. The conference will be held at the Marriott Hotel in Oakland, California. The conference is wide ranging, with a focus on the scientific research into the medical use of psychedelics. Research topics include MDMA-assisted therapy for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, Ibogaine for opiate addiction, LSD and psilocybin for end-of life anxiety. At the conference top researchers will present the latest research from Harbor-UCLA, Johns Hopkins University, New York University, and private clinics in the United Kingdom, Switzerland, Brazil, Spain, Israel, United Kingdom, Mexico, Canada and the United States. The conference will feature three tracks: (1) clinical research: (2) a “qualitative/psychotherapeutic track” (combination of topics including psychedelic psychot
 herapy,
non-clinical research, medical marijuana, arts and culture); (3) ayahuasca.

Ayahuasca is a psychoactive substance that is increasingly popular in the public eye. It holds great potentials in the treatment of for substance use problems, and is an international test case for religious freedom. This academic conference will encourage open rigorous debate on the benefits and ricks of psychedelics, and will help make the argument for drug laws that are based on research, not fear and misunderstanding. It will provide a venue for experts to share their knowledge with medical professionals, researchers, and educate general public.

Bia Labate will facilitate the ayahuasca track and a day-long ayahuasca workshop.

See below information on both of them.

Ayahuasca Track: 19-21 April 2013

1. Linking Ayahuasca, Mental Imagery, and Internal Attention with Functional Neuroimaging

Dráulio Barros de Araujo, Ph.D.


The hallucinogenic brew ayahuasca, a rich source of serotonergic agonists and reuptake inhibitors, has been used for ages by Amazonian populations during religious ceremonies. Among all perceptual changes induced by ayahuasca, the ones regarding the visual system and internal attention are remarkable. This presentation will aim at presenting results from studies conducted by our group, which used functional magnetic resonance imaging to better understand some neurophysiological aspects of these two perceptual changes induced by ayahuasca.

Dráulio Barros de Araujo received his Ph.D. in Physics Applied to Medicine and Biology from the University of São Paulo in Ribeirão Preto in 2002, where he engaged in post-doctoral studies on Functional Neuroimaging, became Assistant Professor, and then received the title of     "livre-docente" (Associate). In 2009, he joined the Brain Institute at the Federal University of Rio Grande do Norte (UFRN), where he is currently Coordinator of the Graduate Program in Neuroscience, and Full Professor of Neuroimaging. His research deals with several aspects of neuroscience, using the methods of functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), magnetoencephalography (MEG), and electroencephalography (EEG). In the last few years, Dr. Araujo has focused on the investigation of the cognitive and neural substrates of the Ayahuasca experience.

2. Psychedelics in Unlocking the Unconscious: From Cancer to Addiction

Gabor Mate, M.D.


Complex unconscious psychological stresses underlie and contribute to all chronic medical conditions, from cancer to addiction, from depression to multiple sclerosis. Therapy that is assisted by psychedelics, in the right context and with the right support, can bring these dynamics to the surface and thus help a person liberate themselves from their influence. Special focus will be given to the speaker's experience in treating addictions and other stress-related conditions, both with aboriginal people and in non-indigenous contemporary healing circles. This work has been done under the guidance of indigenous Peruvian shamans and their Western apprentices.

Gabor Maté, M.D. is a Canadian physician, speaker and the author of four bestselling books published in nearly twenty languages on five continents. His interests include the mind/body unity as manifested in health and illness, the effects of early childhood experiences in shaping brain and personality, the traumatic basis of addictions, and the attachment requirements for healthy child development. He has worked in family practice and palliative care, and for twelve years he worked in Vancouver's Downtown Eastside, notorious as North America's most concentrated area of drug use. Currently, he teaches and leads seminars internationally. For more information, see: www.drgabormate.com

3. How Similar to Dreaming is the Ayahuasca Experience?

Sidarta Ribeiro, Ph.D.


Dreaming is one of the most common metaphors for the ayahuasca experience; but to what extent does this metaphor represent a true biological resemblance? In my presentation, I will review the neurobiological features shared by subjects who have experienced dreams and those who have consumed ayahuasca. Vivid dreaming occurs almost exclusively during rapid-eye movement sleep (REM), a physiological state of intense cortical activity. During REM, a selected set of forebrain areas gets activated, including portions of the hypothalamus, amygdala, septum, and ventral striatum, as well as the anterior cingulate, orbitofrontal, entorhinal, and insular cortices. Furthermore, it has been shown that dreaming ceases upon lesion of mesolimbic pathways connecting reward centers with the thalamus, striatum, and cortex. This suggests that dreams promote the integration of sensory and motor processes with mechanisms for reward seeking, leading to the notion that dreams evolved as adaptive simulations of possible future behaviors. Observation of brain activity during the ayahuasca experience revealed increased activity in various regions, including the precuneous, cuneus, lingual gyrus, fusiform gyrus, middle occipital gyrus, parahippocampal gyrus, posterior cingulate gyrus, superior temporal gyrus, superior and middle frontal gyrus, and inferior frontal gyrus. The visual association regions modulated by ayahuasca (upper cuneus, lower lingual gyrus, and the fusiform gyrus) are also activated during dreaming (within REM). During lucid dreaming, a special kind of dream in which dreamers are aware within the dream that they are dreaming, extra activation occurs in the occipital and frontal regions. The existing data suggest that the ayahuasca experience is akin to dreaming in the sense that both conjure visual memories in tune with the emotions of the subject. Further investigation is needed to determine how close the ayahuasca experience is to either lucid or non-lucid dreaming. The use of neuroscience tools to compare dream states and psychedelic states holds great potential for the understanding of consciousness.


Sidarta Ribeiro, Ph.D., holds a Bachelors degree in Biological Sciences from the Universidade de Brasília (1993), a Masters in Biophysics from the Universidade Federal do Rio de Janeiro (1994), and a Ph.D. in Neuroscience and Animal Behavior from the Rockefeller University in New York (2000). He performed post-doctoral studies in Neurophysiology at Duke University from 2000 to 2005. Currently, he is a Full Professor of Neuroscience at the Universidade Federal do Rio Grande do Norte (UFRN), and Director of the Brain Institute of UFRN. He has experience in the areas of neuroethology, molecular neurobiology, and multi-electrode neurophysiology, and works mainly in the following areas: sleep, dreaming and memory; immediate genes and neuronal plasticity; vocal communication in birds and primates; and symbolic understanding in non-human animals. He is greatly interested in the study of the neural bases of consciousness and its alteration. He has been involved in the public debate on the medicinal uses and the legalization of cannabis in Brazil.

4. Ayahuasca Admixture Plants: An Uninvestigated Folk Pharmacopoeia. An Updated Review

Dennis J. McKenna, Ph.D. and Eduardo Luna, Ph.D.


Ayahuasca is a psychedelic beverage utilized in the ethnomedical and shamanic practices of numerous indigenous peoples of the Amazon Basin.  It has also been adopted as a sacrament in several syncretic churches originating in Brazil.  The hallucinogenic properties of ayahuasca derive from the presence of DMT (N,N-dimethyltryptamine), in one or more species of admixture plants, that is rendered orally active by ß-carbolines alkaloids, potent monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOI) found in the other key ingredient, the liana Banisteriopsis caapi  (Malpighiaceae).  Although these ingredients are necessary and sufficient for its visionary properties, in many ethnomedical traditions ayahuasca preparations often include other biodynamically active admixtures.  Some are added to alter or modulate the acute effects of ayahuasca, while others may be utilized in combination with, or separately from, the ayahuasca brew as components of the “dietas.” These plants are regarded as “teacher plants” and are consumed within dietas in the context of shamanic apprenticeship.  Ayahuasca is, in fact, at the center of a vast and largely unstudied folk pharmacopoeia of associated medicinal plants.  Although the biologically active constituents and medicinal properties of some of these admixtures have been cursorily investigated, many have not, and this uninvestigated pharmacopoeia is a promising area for ethnopharmacological and phytochemical studies that may point to the discovery of novel compounds or plants with novel medicinal properties.  This presentation will discuss the botany, chemistry, pharmacological properties, and potential uses of some of these lesser known species that are utilized by indigenous ayahuasca traditions. The presentation will include an updated overview of some of the admixture species discussed in our 1986 paper on this topic, as well as new species that have come to light since that paper was published.

Dennis McKenna’s professional and personal interests are focused on the interdisciplinary study of ethnopharmacology and plant hallucinogens. He received his doctorate in 1984 from the University of British Columbia, where his doctoral research focused on ethnopharmacological investigations of the botany, chemistry, and pharmacology of ayahuasca and oo-koo-hé, two orally-active tryptamine-based hallucinogens used by indigenous peoples in the Northwest Amazon. Dr. McKenna received post-doctoral research fellowships in the Laboratory of Clinical Pharmacology, National Institute of Mental Health, and in the Department of Neurology, Stanford University School of Medicine.  He joined Shaman Pharmaceuticals as Director of Ethnopharmacology in 1990, and relocated to Minnesota in 1993 to join the Aveda Corporation as Senior Research Pharmacognosist.  He joined the faculty of the Center for Spirituality and Healing at the University of Minnesota in 2001. He is a founding board member of the Heffter Research Institute and serves on the advisory board of non-profit organizations in the fields of ethnobotany and botanical medicines. He was a key organizer and participant in the Hoasca Project, an international biomedical study of ayahuasca used by indigenous people and syncretic religious groups in Brazil. He recently completed a project funded by the Stanley Medical Research Institute to investigate Amazonian ethnomedicines for the treatment of schizophrenia and cognitive deficits. At the Heffter Research Institute, he continues his focus on the therapeutic uses of psychoactive medicines derived from nature and used in indigenous ethnomedical practices.

Luis Eduardo Luna received a Ph.D. from the Department of Comparative Religion Stockholm University (1989) and the title Doctor of Humane Letters, Honoris Causa, from St. Lawrence, Canton, New York (2002).  He is the author of Vegetalismo: Shamanism among the Mestizo Population of the Peruvian Amazon (1986), a co-author with Pablo Amaringo of Ayahuasca Visions: The Religious Iconography of a Peruvian Shaman (1991) and co-editor with Steven White of Ayahuasca Reader: Encounters with the Amazon¹s Sacred Vine (2000). He is a retired senior lecturer of the Hanken School of Economics, Helsinki, and  the Director of the Research Center for the Study of Psychointegrator Plants, Visionary Art and Consciousness, Florianópolis, Brazil. For more information, see: http://www.wasiwaska.org/

5. Ayahuasca Characterization, Metabolism in Humans, and Relevance to Endogenous N,N-Dimethyltryptamines

Ethan McIlhenny, Ph.D.

The metabolism and excretion of DMT and beta-carbolines following ayahuasca consumption has not been studied systematically in humans. We developed a liquid chromatography–electrospray ionization-tandem mass spectrometry procedure for the simultaneous quantification of the major alkaloid components of ayahuasca, including several known and potential metabolites. The assay was applied to a variety of ayahuasca samples and modified to be applicable to human blood and urine samples before and after consumption of ayahuasca. Less than 1% of the administered DMT dose was detected in urine or blood plasma, despite the inhibition of monoamine oxidase afforded by the presence of the harmala alkaloids in ayahuasca. The major metabolite of DMT was the corresponding N-oxide, DMT-N-oxide, which was found in both blood plasma and urine, although it was not detectable in ayahuasca samples. The methods developed would be suitable for the study of ayahuasca in human and ethnobotanical research, as well as in forensic examinations of ayahuasca preparations. The characteristics of the methods suggest that their sensitivity, selectivity, and reproducibility are adequate for use in further toxicological and clinical research on ayahuasca as well as functioning as an assay to screen biological samples for endogenous hallucinogens. Based on the results of these studies, we present a critical review of 69 published studies reporting the detection in human body fluids of three indole alkaloids that possess differing degrees of psychedelic activity. Suggestions for the future directions of ayahuasca and endogenous psychedelics research are offered.

Ethan McIlhenny attended Skidmore College in Saratoga Springs New York and received his Bachelor of Arts degree in Neuroscience in 2006. Ethan entered a Neuroscience Ph.D. program with a teaching assistanceship at Tulane University in New Orleans, Louisiana and completed his Masters of Science degree in 2008. Ethan completed his Ph.D. at Louisiana State University in the Department of Comparative Biomedical Sciences at the LSU School of Veterinary Medicine in 2012 under the mentorship of Dr. Steven Barker, where he received a 4-year board of regents grant fellowship. Ethan continues research pursuits with the Cottonwood Research Foundation.

6. Ayahuasca and Profound Healing

Chris Kilham


This presentation, based in fieldwork carried in Peru, will explore ayahuasca’s therapeutic potentials. True healing puts into order the body, mind and spirit with the past, present and future. Ayahuasca, also known as La Medicina (The Medicine), works in a manner that radically expands the definition of healing, working not only on a variety of common and idiopathic disorders, but also on root existential conditions of ignorance and separateness.


Chris Kilham is a medicine hunter, author, and educator. The founder of Medicine Hunter Inc., Chris has conducted medicinal research in over 30 countries. He is the FOX News “Medicine Hunter” and appears on FOX News Health online and in 100 international television markets. He also writes a weekly column for FOX News Health and is on the Medical Advisory Board of  “The Dr. Oz Show.” Since 1994, Chris has worked, traveled and studied with shamans in Brazil, Peru, and North America. He has participated in many dozens of ceremonies, both with and without the ingestion of ceremonial psychoactive drugs. He is experienced with ayahuasca, San Pedro cactus, peyote, coca, and tobacco. Chris is recognized as a chief in Vanuatu, South Pacific, is known as “Maxipe” which means “black vulture” by the Macuxi indians of Brazil, and has lived with and visited dozens of native tribes in Amazonia and in other cultures. Shamans in both Brazil and Peru recognize Chris as one of their kind and a bridger of worlds, and have engaged in numerous ceremonies to bolster his energy and support his work with medicinal plants and native cultures.

7. Ayahuasca, the Scientific Paradigm and Shamanic Healing

Stephan V. Beyer, Ph.D., J.D.


Current scientific research focuses on what the sacred plants can do for us: heal our wounds, cure our addictions, and expand our minds. This paradigm sees the sacred plants as useful prepackaged collocations of active molecules. But in indigenous cultures, shamans heal because they are in a personal and mutual relationship with the healing spirits. In such cultures, when the sacred plants are used, encounters with the world of the spirits are not visits to the therapist; they create a relationship that entails obligations as well. In this view, the sacred plants are autonomous others who are not means to our ends, but rather ends in themselves. This presentation explores whether our understanding of the sacred plants is enhanced by viewing their uses—like vision fasts or dreams or talking circles—not as conventionally therapeutic, but rather as a sacred shamanic ceremony that has its own often unforeseen purposes, which may not be to heal us, or to heal us in ways we do not expect.

Stephan V. Beyer, Ph.D., J.D., has doctoral degrees in both religious studies and psychology, and has taught as an associate professor at the University of Wisconsin - Madison, the University of California - Berkeley, and Graduate Theological Union. Expert in both jungle survival and plant hallucinogens, he lived for a year and a half in a Tibetan monastery in the Himalayas, and has undertaken and helped to lead numerous four-day and four-night solo vision fasts in the desert wildernesses of New Mexico. He has studied the use of sacred and medicinal plants with traditional North America herbalists, in ceremonies of the Native American Church, in Peruvian mesa rituals, and with mestizo shamans in the Upper Amazon, where he received coronación by banco ayahuasquero don Roberto Acho Jurama. Steve’s current interests center on the indigenous ceremonial use of the sacred plants. He has served on the editorial board of the Journal of Shamanic Practice, and currently serves on the advisory board of the International Center for Ethnobotanical Education, Research, and Service. He is the author, among other books, of Singing to the Plants: A Guide to Mestizo Shamanism in the Upper Amazon. The Institute for the Preservation of Medical Traditions at the Smithsonian Institution has praised his “unparalleled knowledge of sacred plants.”

8. Integrating the Modern Practice of Traditional Ayahuasca Shamanism

Joe Tafur, M.D.


In an effort to bridge the world of academic medicine with traditional healing knowledge, Dr. Tafur will review his experience treating individuals at the traditional Amazonian healing center Nihue Rao Centro Espiritual in Iquitos, Peru.  Successful treatment of several western diagnoses will be reviewed, including treatment of
psychological illness (PTSD, Depression), psychosomatic illness, and autoimmune disease (multiple sclerosis, psoriasis, ankylosing spondylitis). Traditional treatment techniques will be reviewed with a central focus on treatment through ayahuasca ceremony and traditional Shipibo shamanism.  We will review traditional Shipibo shamanism and explore the relationship between this work and exciting and relevant topics in modern medicine, including: integrative psychology, psychoneuroimmunology, functional medicine, epigenetics, and the use of psychedelic medicine in modern psychiatry.

Dr. Joe Tafur, M.D., is a Colombian-American integrative family physician
who has been involved in traditional Amazonian plant medicine since 2007. In addition to his involvement in South America, he has published several scientific papers and has worked on academic projects with the UCLA Center for East-West Medicine, the Scripps Center for Integrative Medicine, and the UCSD Center for Integrative Medicine.  From 2007-2009, Dr. Tafur also worked as a Post-Doctoral Research Fellow at the UCSD Department of Psychiatry, investigating low-intensity light therapy and psychoneuroimmunology.  He now spends over half of the year working at the traditional Amazonian healing center Nihue Rao Centro Espiritual (www.nihuerao.com), along with his partners, Master Shipibo Healer Ricardo Amaringo and Cvita Mamic. Nihue Rao specializes in traditional Shipibo plant medicine, integrative healing, and in particular, traditional ayahuasca ceremony.

9. The Therapeutic Potential of Ritual Ayahuasca Use for the Treatment of Substance Dependencies

Anya Loizaga-Velder, Ph.D. cand.

This presentation is based on the author’s doctoral dissertation, which consisted of a qualitative study that included interviews with 14 therapists who used ayahuasca professionally in the treatment of addictions, as well as with 15 substance-dependent individuals who participated in ayahuasca-assisted treatment in varying contexts. The presentation addresses the value of ayahuasca for substance dependency treatment from a psychotherapeutic perspective, and the variables that may influence treatment outcome. Special attention is placed on the role of ritual and integration.

Anya Loizaga-Velder is a German-Mexican clinical psychologist who has been investigating the therapeutic potential of the ritual use of psychedelic plants for over 15 years. She is founding member and collaborating researcher of the Nierika, Multidisciplinary Association for the Preservation of the Indigenous Traditions of Sacred Plants in Mexico. She holds an M.A. degree in psychology from the University of Koblenz/Landau in Germany and currently is a doctoral candidate in Medical Psychology at Heidelberg University. This study is part of the special research group Ritual Dynamics and Salutogenesis (RISA, www.risa.uni-hd.de).

10. Ayahuasca-assisted Therapy in the Treatment of Addiction

Philippe Lucas M.A. and N. Rielle Capler, M.H.A.


This presentation is a comprehensive overview of an unpublished observational study of ayahuasca-assisted therapy for addiction and patterns of dependence conducted in British Columbia, Canada, in 2011. The study took place in the longhouse of a coastal First Nations band in cooperation with the Band Council and health office. The research tracked the progress of 12 indigenous participants of the “Working with Addiction and Stress” retreats organized by Dr. Gabor Mate (author of In the Realm of Hungry Ghosts; Close Encounters with Addiction), which combines 4-5 days of psycho-spiritual counseling with 2 ayahuasca ceremonies in the Peruvian Shipibo indigenous tradition. This presentation will begin with an examination of “observational” research design to evaluate the therapeutic potential of illicit substances like ayahuasca, and will then discuss researcher observations of the retreat itself.  Ayahuasca-assisted addiction therapy was shown to have a significant and lasting positive impact on the lives of many of the retreat participants. This talk will close by sharing the final study results, and a discussion of the challenges and opportunities of using ayahuasca-assisted therapy to reduce drug-related harms and address stress, trauma, and problematic substance use in aboriginal and non-aboriginal populations.

Philippe Lucas, M.A. is a Research Affiliate with the Center for Addictions Research of British Columbia and a founding Board member of the Multidisciplinary Association of Psychedelic Studies Canada and the Canadian Drug Policy Coalition.  His research interests, projects, and publications include the use of cannabis, ibogaine, and ayahuasca in the treatment of addiction. Currently, he is a Primary or Co-Investigator on a number of studies examining “cannabis substitution theory,” and is Coordinator and Co-Investigator of an observational study of ayahuasca-assisted treatment for addiction and stress.

N. Rielle Capler, M.H.A., has worked as researcher and policy advisor in the medical cannabis field for 13 years. She helped pioneer Canada’s first compassion club, where she worked as the policy analyst and research coordinator from 1999 to 2007.  Rielle is co-investigator on several community-based research projects, including the Health Effects of Medical Marijuana Project (HEMMP) with UBC’s School of Nursing, and the Medical Cannabis Standards, Engagement, Evaluation, and Dissemination (SEED) Project. Rielle is a co-founder of the Canadian Association of Medical Cannabis Dispensaries (CAMCD) and Canadians for Safe Access, a national organization promoting safe access to cannabis for medical use and research. She sits on the advisory board of the Drug Policy Committee of the BC Civil Liberties Association. Rielle is also a co-investigator on an observational study of ayahuasca-assisted therapy in the treatment of addiction that took place in British Columbia, Canada, in 2011-2012. She is currently a doctoral student in Interdisciplinary Studies at the University of British Columbia.

11. Four Hypotheses Regarding Ayahuasca’s Mechanisms of Action in the Treatment of Addictions

Mitch Liester, M.D. and James Prickett, D.O.


Ayahuasca is a medicinal plant mixture utilized by indigenous peoples throughout the Amazon River basin for healing purposes.  This medicine contains a combination of monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOI’s) and N,N-dimethyltryptamine (DMT).  When ingested together, these medicines produce profound alterations in consciousness.  Ayahuasca is increasingly being explored as a treatment for addictions.  However, the possible mechanisms of action by which ayahuasca treats addictions remain unknown.  We propose four hypotheses regarding ayahuasca’s biochemical, physiological, psychological, and transcendent effects that may help explain ayahuasca’s anti-addiction effects.

Mitch Liester, M.D., is a psychiatrist in private practice in Monument, Colorado. After graduating from medical school at the University of Colorado, Dr. Liester completed his psychiatric residency at the University of California, Irvine under the tutelage of Dr. Charles Grob.  He has published in the areas of transpersonal psychiatry, near-death studies, and psychedelic medicines.

James Prickett, D.O., is a resident physician and burgeoning researcher at the University of Arizona Department of Psychiatry.  He received his Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine degree from Des Moines University.  Dr. Prickett’s primary interests lie within psychopharmacology, traditional medicine, and the relationship between belief, spirituality, and mental health. He has been a guest speaker on topics including autism, psychedelic drugs, adolescent substance abuse, and addiction. He has traveled to Ecuador on several occasions to study traditional medicine in both the Andes and Amazon Basin.  His research regarding the possible mechanisms by which ayahuasca treats addictions has been published in The Journal of Psychoactive Drugs.

12. Twenty years at Takiwasi: Reflections on the Spiritual Dimension as theInterface between Drug Addiction and Traditional Amazonian Medicine

Jaques Mabit, M.D.


Based on 20 years of experience at the Takiwasi Center, Peru, it is proposed that the pathology of drug addiction inevitably implies more than simple physical intoxication or psycho-affective problems; it also implicates a semantically existential dimension, which is of a metaphysical, or what we refer to as a spiritual nature. Within the context of healing rituals with psychoactive plants, Traditional Amazonian Medicine addresses the physical, psychological, and spiritual dimensions simultaneously. For this reason, this traditional Amazonian treatment has the potential to offer a solution to the problem of addiction. The Western approach, however, often denies the sacred or the spiritual, resulting in a tendency to confuse extreme psychedelic experiences with spiritual experiences. In this paradigm, psychoactive plants are more often used to facilitate psychotherapeutic processes rather than to open a door to a genuine relationship with the spiritual world.  In our intervention, we propose criteria for discerning between the psychological and spiritual dimensions, and for transitioning from one dimension into the next.

Jacques Mabit first came to Peru in 1980 with the Medecins Sans Frontieres Organization as an M.D., specialist in tropical disease and natural medicines. He was honored as an honorary professor for the Southern Scientific University of Lima, honorary member of the Peruvian Association of Psychologists, and as a fellow for the Ashoka Foundation. From 1986 onwards, he has been developing participative and auto-experimental research on traditional medicines and especially Amazonian medicines. These investigations led him to define an original therapeutic protocol for drug addiction treatment. In 1992, he founded the Takiwasi Center in upper Peruvian Amazonia to initialize the first pilot experiment of this treatment. The Takiwasi Center welcomes drug-addicted residents from Peru, Latin America and Europe. This model has also been implemented in other countries and has been applied to other pathologies. Jacques Mabit has made numerous public statements on the subject through publications, conferences, and other media.

13. Ayahuasca: Dope or medicine?

Josep María Fábregas, MD


This presentation will show the results of an investigation of long-term users of ayahuasca to assess the addictive capacity of the substance in comparison to its capacity to be used for the treatment of drug abusers. In this study, a large group of ayahuasca users were administered the ASI (Addiction Severity Index) to assess the extent that ayahuasca use provokes problems in their lives. In the second part, I will discuss the methods and outcomes of research at the Institute of Applied Amazonian Ethnopsychology (IDEAA), an establishment created by a Spanish group in the Amazon with the goal of studying and applying the use of ayahuasca to the treatment of drug addiction and in aiding processes of personal growth.


Josep María Fábregas graduated from the Central University of Barcelona with a degree in Medicine, specializing in Psychiatry. He completed his studies at New York Staten Island Psychiatric Hospital. He was a resident physician at the Marmottan Hospital under Claude Olivenstain. He is the Director of CITA (Addiction Research and Treatment Center) since 1981, and in 2000, he founded IDEAA (Amazonian Ethnopsychology Applied Institute). He has lectured extensively about drug addiction and altered states of consciousness.

14. Ayahuasca and the treatment of drug addiction: A review of the evidences and proposals for the future

José Carlos Bouso, Ph.D.


Although ayahuasca has become popular among the psychedelic community as a kind of medicine to treat drug abuse and addiction (there are nearly 150,000 entries in Google for ‘ayahuasca drug addiction’) evidence is weak, fragmented and disperse. Its fame as a potential anti-addiction treatment is supported mainly by claims from former drug users who recovered after joining an ayahuasca religion and also by reports from clinics treating drug addicts in South America. In this presentation we will review all the fragmentary evidence regarding the effectiveness of ayahuasca in the treatment of drug addiction. Although there is some promise in the therapeutic potential of ayahuasca based on the evidence examined, the lack of systematic
studies precludes reaching definite conclusions. A clinical protocol for assessing outcome will be presented.

José Carlos Bouso received his PhD from the University of x in 2012. His studies addressed preliminary data on the safety and efficacy of different doses of MDMA administered in a psychotherapeutic setting to women with chronic post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) as a result of a sexual assault. He also has been conducting neuropsychological research into the long term effects of different drugs such as cocaine or cannabis. He has also done transcultural research studying extensively the long term effects of ayahuasca use in different cultures and ecosystems, both in Spanish and in Brazilian communities. José Carlos Bouso is co-author of several scientific papers and book chapters. He currently combines his activity as a clinical researcher at the IMIM - Institut Hospital del Mar d'Investigacions Mèdiques - with his work as Scientific Projects Manager at ICEERS (International Center for Ethnobotanical Education, Research and Service –www.iceers.org).


15. Evaluating the Therapeutic Potential of Ayahuasca for Substance Use Problems: What Can We Learn from Treatment Research Projects and Paradigms?

Brian Rush, Ph.D.


This presentation will provide a broad framework for the different types of research necessary to investigate and understand the therapeutic potential of ayahuasca. It will briefly summarize what we know about the effectiveness and active ingredients of treatment of substance use problems; the definitions and methods used to define treatment “success”; and the implications for ayahuasca treatment research. An important distinction will be drawn between studies of basic mechanisms of therapeutic effects; clinical research on small samples under tightly controlled conditions; and substance use services research that investigates treatment settings, samples and outcomes in naturalistic settings. Across this spectrum of research strategies, I will offer an overview of the emergent literature on treating problematic substance use with ayahuasca, both in the biomedical and social sciences field. I will argue that a broad systems lens is necessary to fully investigate the various ways ayahuasca is used therapeutically. Effective scientific research should describe the people and sub-types who seek out this healing strategy and the theoretical and practical orientations of the people and programs that offer help. It is also critical to understand culture-bound interpretations of concepts such as “help-seeking,” “treatment,” and “positive outcome.”  The presentation will close with an outline of an interdisciplinary research project to investigate the therapeutic offerings of a group of centers in Latin American countries incorporating ayahuasca as a key component of the treatment of substance use problems.

Brian Rush, Ph.D., is an Epidemiologist and Health Services researcher working as a Senior Scientist and Head of the Health Systems and Health Equity Research Group with the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health. He is also Professor in the Department of Psychiatry and the Dalla Lana School of Public Health at the University of Toronto, Canada. His areas of interest and expertise include the evaluation of substance abuse and mental health treatment systems and services including the use of epidemiological data to plan integrated treatment systems; assessment of the costs, processes and outcomes of treatment and individual and community-level impact; and the study of the understanding, acceptance and implementation of evidence-based practice in community treatment and support settings. Currently, he is in the initial stages of formulating an interdisciplinary research project to evaluate ayahuasca’s potential in treating drug abuse in the Latin American context as well as research in Canada on the prevalence and pattern of ayahuasca use in the general population and self-reported reasons and benefits of use.


16. A Psychological and Neuropsychological Evaluation of Hoasca Users within União Do Vegetal in The USA

Paulo Barbosa, Ph.D.


Ayahuasca, or Hoasca, is a hallucinogenic brew originally used for magico-religious purposes by Amerindian populations of the western Amazon Basin. Throughout the last two decades, Brazilian syncretic churches, such as Santo Daime and União do Vegetal (UDV), have helped spread the ritual use of ayahuasca abroad. This trend has raised concerns that regular use of this N,N-dimethyltryptamine-containing tea may lead to mental and physical health problems associated with drug abuse. Lawsuits involving tensions between drug control laws and principles of religious freedom were filed in Europe and in the USA. In 2006, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled for the UDV, allowing it to import, store, and use hoasca. In 2009, the District Court of the State of Oregon ruled a similar decision in favor of a local branch of the Santo Daime Church. These decisions point to the definitive establishment of this practice in American religious diversity. The few rigorous studies that have been completed on the psychological and medical effects of ayahuasca suggest mostly positive effects of religious ayahuasca use, but concerns about the potential for harmful effects remain. To further elucidate the effects of religious use of hoasca, we propose a case-control study in which 35 North American users of hoasca within the UDV are compared to 35 matched Christian control subjects with no history of hoasca use. The assessment will include instruments on quality of life, personality, spirituality and religiosity, mood, neuropsychological function and altered states of consciousness.

Paulo Cesar Ribeiro Barbosa obtained his Ph.D. in Medical Sciences at Universidade Estadual de Campinas (UNICAMP) in 2008 working on a follow-up evaluation of religious ayahuasca users. He obtained his B.A. in Social Sciences at Universidade de São Paulo (USP) in 1992. Since 2001, he has worked on a variety of projects involving psychiatric, psychological, neurocognitive, social and cultural assessments of ayahuasca users within Brazilian urban contexts. Dr. Barbosa was appointed Professor of Scientific Methods in 2002 in the Departamento de Filosofia e Ciências Humanas at Universidade Estadual de Santa Cruz, Brazil, and is currently doing post-doctoral studies at the Psychiatry Department of the University of New Mexico. Dr. Barbosa’s main research interests and activities concern the relationships among psychiatric, psychological, and anthropological methods of evaluating the effects of ayahuasca in Brazilian urban settings.

17. A Survey of Quality of Life and Antidepressant Use in Brazilian Members of the UDV

Luís Fernando Tófoli, M.D., Ph.D.


This presentation introduces the unpublished results of a recent survey with almost 2,000 UDV members from different parts of Brazil, and focuses on two points: quality of life and use of serotonergic antidepressants. Quality of life of ayahuasca drinkers from the Brazilian ayahuasca religions has not been previously assessed in a considerable number of subjects. The putative risk of serious adverse effects from the concomitant use of ayahuasca preparations and the highly prescribed selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRI) is a yet undetermined subject that could be better understood with information from regular ayahuasca drinkers. In this study—conducted by a multidisciplinary Brazilian-North-American research team—literate subjects volunteered to fill in a self-report instrument that included 1) a socio-demographic questionnaire; 2) a World Health Organization scale about quality of life (WHOQOLBref); 3) a questionnaire about past and present substance use; and 4) a questionnaire about the use of antidepressants and their reported effects on the ayahuasca experience. This presentation will include the results regarding general quality of life, the effects of SSRIs on the ayahuasca experience, and the relationship of these results with socio-demographic variables.

Luís Fernando Tófoli is a medical doctor with a residency and a Ph.D. degree in Psychiatry at the University of São Paulo (USP). He is a professor of Psychiatry at the State University of Campinas (UNICAMP) and his production as a scholar is focused on community mental health policies, mental health in primary care, and ayahuasca and mental health. He has studied the onset of mental disorders in UDV members and is currently working on three projects concerning ayahuasca: a survey about quality of life and history of drug use in UDV members, the validation of the Brazilian Portuguese version of the Hallucinogen Rating Scale, and a preliminary study on the influence of drug, set, and setting in ayahuasca experiences.

18. Long term effects of the ritual use of ayahuasca on mental health

José Carlos Bouso, Ph.D.


Over the last decades, ayahuasca use has expanded throughout the world. An uncountable number of people are being exposed to this potent hallucinogenic beverage. At the same time, little is known regarding the long term effects of ayahuasca use. The few studies published until now conclude that ayahuasca seems not to be deleterious at the long term. In this presentation data will be presented from a longitudinal study where different areas of mental health have been assessed in a large sample of regular ayahuasca users (n = 127) and controls (n = 115). The assessment included potential drug abuse-related problems, personality, psychopathology, life attitudes and neuropsychological performance. Results are in line with previous studies. Potential biases that share all the published studies will be also discussed.

José Carlos Bouso’s studies addressed preliminary data on the safety and efficacy of different doses of MDMA administered in a psychotherapeutic setting to women with chronic post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) as a result of a sexual assault. He also has been conducting neuropsychological research into the long term effects of different drugs such as cocaine or cannabis. He has also done transcultural research studying extensively the long term effects of ayahuasca use in different cultures and ecosystems, both in Spanish and in Brazilian communities. José Carlos Bouso is co-author of several scientific papers and book chapters. He currently combines his activity as a clinical researcher at the IMIM - Institut Hospital del Mar d'Investigacions Mèdiques - with his work as Scientific Projects Manager at ICEERS (International Center for Ethnobotanical Education, Research and Service –www.iceers.org).

19. Ayahuasca for PTSD: Integrating Psychedelic Therapeutic Strategies for Neurotrauma into a Bioinformatics Framework

Jessica L. Nielson, Ph.D.


This presentation is part of our work developed at University of California, San Francisco (UCSF), which uses a bioinformatics framework and multivariate statistics to fully characterize the syndrome of spinal cord injury (SCI). The bioinformatics approach we have developed can be applied to other forms of neurotrauma, including traumatic brain injury (TBI) and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Studies about MDMA-assisted psychotherapy have demonstrated safety and remarkable, long lasting beneficial effects in treatment for treatment-resistant PTSD. Our perspective hypothesizes that by incorporating the data from these clinical trials into our bioinformatics framework, along with additional studies from previous and future PTSD trials, we will be able to identify syndromic risk factors for treatment-resistant PTSD and their appropriate treatments. We will present here a pilot study currently being developed in collaboration with two healing centers in Peru; Shimbre Shamanic Center and the Paititi Institute. Our project is to collect data from individuals suffering from ailments including PTSD who have voluntarily traveled to these centers to participate in shamanic ayahuasca ceremonies in order to heal themselves. Our study will use similar outcome measures that are currently being used for MDMA-assisted psychotherapy for PTSD (e.g. CAPS) to assess the effects of ayahuasca on PTSD, including pre-treatment and post-treatment follow up interviews. If preliminary results demonstrate a consistent beneficial effect of ayahuasca on PTSD symptoms, additional outcomes will be collected for psychological evaluations, physiological measures (qEEG, vital signs), and blood and urine analysis to detect ayahuasca levels during treatment. The goal of this project is to identify the potential risk factors for treatment resistant PTSD, and to determine whether substances such as MDMA and ayahuasca will prove to be additional therapeutic options for veterans suffering
from PTSD.

Jessica Nielson, PhD, received her B.S. in biology from Cal Poly Pomona in 2003, and her Ph.D. in anatomy and neurobiology from the University of California, Irvine, in 2010. During her doctoral work she resolved a century-old controversy regarding the fate of the corticospinal tract following spinal cord injury, demonstrating definitively that this important motor pathway survives injury and is available in chronic cases for therapeutic interventions to promote regeneration and functional recovery. She joined the Brain and Spinal Injury Center at University of California San Francisco in 2011 as a postdoctoral scholar, where she has been developing a novel bioinformatics approach to characterize syndromic features of spinal cord injury, with future plans to apply this approach to traumatic brain injury and post-traumatic stress disorder.

20. Classifying Ayahuasca: The Role of Subjective Experience in Psychiatric Research with Psychedelics

Brian Anderson, M.Sc., M.D. cand.


Recently, neuropsychiatric studies with the psychedelic brew ayahuasca have been initiated by a small group of researchers in Brazil. Their research alternatively portrays the modified state of consciousness induced by ayahuasca as psychopathological, psychotherapeutic or spiritual by, respectively, using ayahuasca to model psychosis, to treat depression, and to induce religious visions. Through interviews with the scientists doing this research—complemented by my previous ethnographic study of the ayahuasca religions—I develop a case study of how these researchers’ subjective experiences with ayahuasca, as well as the experiences of religious ayahuasca users, shape the researchers’ classifications and representations of the ayahuasca experience. The inclusion of such subjective experiences in considerations about the nature of the ayahuasca experience lends itself to establishing a complex understanding of the brew’s effects that is often at odds with conventional psychiatric understandings of psychedelic drugs, particularly the categorical delimitations between what is considered psychopathological, psychotherapeutic and spiritual.

Brian Anderson is currently an M.D. candidate at the Stanford University School of Medicine. He also holds a MSc from the BIOS Centre at the London School of Economics and a BA in Biochemistry from the University of Pennsylvania. Since 2006 he has been a researcher with the Núcleo de Estudos Interdisciplinares sobre Psicoativos (NEIP, www.neip.info). His anthropological fieldwork experience includes work with the undocumented Mexican immigrant population in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and with the União do Vegetal, an ayahuasca religion, in Bahia, Brazil.

21. The Effects of Participation in Ayahuasca Rituals on Gay’s and Lesbian’s Self Perception

Clancy Cavnar, Psy.D.


The practice of drinking the psychoactive drink ayahuasca has been shown in several studies to have positive long-term effects on mental states, and several studies have suggested it has a particularly strong positive effect on perceptions of identity. This research sought to discover if and in what way, these previous findings would be seen in gay people, who are often taught by their culture and religion that their lifestyles, values and sexual orientation are unacceptable. This qualitative study examined the interview responses of 17 gay and lesbian- identified participants who had used ayahuasca in a group in the past three years regarding their self-perceptions. The results indicated that all participants reported positive effects on their lives from ayahuasca rituals, including affirmation of their sexual orientation, and no participants reported negative effects on perception of identity. Findings will be reported and the implications of psychedelic research with gay and lesbian people will be discussed.

Clancy Cavnar attended the New College of the University of South Florida and completed an undergraduate degree in liberal arts in 1982. She attended the San Francisco Art Institute and graduated with a Master of Fine Art in painting in 1985. In 1993 she received a certificate in substance abuse counseling from the extension program of the University of California at Berkeley. In 1997, she graduated with a Master's in Counseling from San Francisco State University. In that same year she got in touch with the Santo Daime in the USA and has traveled several times to Brazil since then. In 2011, she received a Doctorate in Clinical Psychology (Psy.D.) from John F. Kennedy University in Pleasant Hill, California, with a dissertation on gay and lesbian people's experiences with ayahuasca. She is co-editor with Beatriz C. Labate of the book  “The Expansion and Reinvention of Ayahuasca Shamanism” (Oxford University Press, in press). She is also a researcher with the Núcleo de Estudos Interdisciplinares sobre Psicoativos (NEIP, www.neip.info).

22. Santo Daime in Europe: ritual transfer and cultural translations

Jan Weinhold, Ph.D.


Santo Daime rituals have been conducted in several European countries for the last 20 years, involving an extended cross-cultural exchange of ritual practices between European and Brazilian churches. Despite the similarity between ritual structures in Brazil and Europe, there are several contextual differences: the illegal status of Daime/DMT in some European countries and language differences being the most obvious. In this paper, issues around this “ritual transfer” are discussed: How do ritual participants in Europe adapt the ritual practices and belief-systems of Santo Daime to their own cultural contexts? How do the legal status, language differences, and other cultural contexts influence rituals and meanings of ayahuasca-induced altered states of consciousness? How can empirical research tackle such problems on a conceptual level?


Jan Weinhold studied psychology at the Humboldt-University Berlin. Since 2002, he has been working as a research psychologist within the Collaborative Research Centre "Dynamics of Ritual" (SFB 619 "Ritualdynamik") at Heidelberg University, where he completed his Ph.D. in 2011. His research interests cover the use of psychoactive substances in relation to ritual studies, drug-abuse prevention, cross-cultural psychology, altered states of consciousness, and systemic psychotherapy. He has published articles in the field of ritual studies and drug use and has co-edited the volumes Rituals on the Move [Rituale in Bewegung], LIT-Verlag, 2006; Therapy With Psychoactive Substances: Approaches to and Critique of Psychotherapy with LSD, Psilocybin and MDMA [Therapie mit psychoaktiven Substanzen: Praxis und Kritik der Psychotherapie mit LSD, Psilocybin und MDMA], Huber, 2008; The Problem of Ritual Efficacy, Oxford University Press, 2010; and The Varieties of Ritual Experience, Harrassow
 itz,
2010.


23. Transnationalism, Legal Pluralism and the Expansion of Ayahuasca Traditions

Kevin Feeney, J.D. and Beatriz Caiuby Labate, Ph.D.


This chapter will explore globalization, diversity, and issues of social justice by examining the global expansion of ayahuasca religions through the lens of transnationalism, and against a backdrop of global legal pluralism. Politics have often equated cultural groups with particular national boundaries, and, proceeding from this premise, have made legal and cultural exceptions for groups that were seen as specifically situated geographically. A perfect illustration of this is in a provision of the article 32 of the 1971 United Nations Convention on Psychotropic Substances, which permits signatories to make reservations for “plants growing wild which contain psychotropic substances…which are traditionally used by certain small, clearly determined groups in magical or religious rites.” The provision reflects a view that exemptions for psychoactive drug use are acceptable if they are confined to a specific locality, and to a specific culture group. The ayahuasca religions pose a particular challenge to this line of thinking. The originally Brazilian-based religions of Santo Daime and the União do Vegetal have established a global presence with international adherents, followers who are not constrained by national boundaries, and not identifiable as members of any particular ethnic categories. As these religions expand outside of their traditional regional and cultural contexts, they come to be viewed through the Western framework of the “war on drugs,” and become classified as criminal enterprises. The expansion of the ayahuasca traditions will be used as a foundation for examining issues of international human rights law and protections for religious freedom within the current global milieu of cultural transnationalism.

Kevin Feeney, J.D., received his law degree from the University of Oregon in 2005, and is currently a student of Anthropology at Washington State University (USA), where he is studying the religious use of peyote in American Indian traditions. Other research interests include examining legal and regulatory issues surrounding the religious and cultural use of psychoactive substances, with an emphasis on ayahuasca and peyote, and exploring modern and traditional uses of Amanita muscaria, with a specific focus on variations in harvest and preparation practices. He is co-author, with Richard Glen Boire, of Medical Marijuana Law (2007).

Beatriz Caiuby Labate has a Ph.D. in Social Anthropology from the State University of Campinas (Universidade Estadual de Campinas, UNICAMP), Brazil. Her main areas of interest are the study of psychoactive substances, drug policies, shamanism, ritual, and religion. She is Visiting Professor at the Drug Policy Program of the Center for Economic Research and Education (Centro de Investigación y Docencia Económicas, CIDE) in Aguascalientes, Mexico. She is also Research Associate at the Institute of Medical Psychology, Heidelberg University, co-founder of the Nucleus for Interdisciplinary Studies of Psychoactives (NEIP), and editor of its site (http://www.neip.info). She is author, co-author, and co-editor of eight books, two with English translations, one journal special edition, and several peer-reviewed articles. For more information, see: http://bialabate.net/

24. The Economics of Ayahuasca

Kenneth Tupper, Ph.D.


This presentation considers the emerging status of ayahuasca as a commodity in international trade networks and the global economic system of the early 21st century. It explores how the brew and its constituent plants are variously represented as a medicine, sacrament, or plant teacher by people who drink it, and how drinkers (and suppliers) negotiate these representations with the competing status of ayahuasca as a consumer item in the global marketplace. Is ayahuasca drinking becoming a bourgeois luxury for the affluent of the global North? Does the commodification of the brew somehow profane it? How does ayahuasca consumerism fit within the politics of international drug control? Is ayahuasca, as the International Narcotics Control Board suggested in its 2010 Annual Report, simply an example of the “increased trade, use and abuse of . . . plant material” containing psychoactive substances? These and other questions lead to reflections on what the economics of ayahuasca might reveal about the nature of money, value, and ecology at a critical moment in world history.

Kenneth W. Tupper, Ph.D., is an Adjunct Professor in the School of Population and Public Health at the University of British Columbia. His 2011 Ph.D. dissertation focused on ayahuasca, entheogenic education, and public policy. His other research interests include the cross-cultural and historical uses of psychoactive substances; public, professional and school-based drug education; and the creation of effective public policies to maximize benefits and minimize harms from currently illegal drugs. For more information, see: www.kentupper.com

25. A Psychoanalytic Perspective on Ayahuasca: Insight, Transitional Space and Potential Side Effects

Eduardo Gastelumendi, M.D.


This presentation will explore differences and continuities between psychoanalysis and the ayahuasca experience regarding both their nature and scope. These might be considered two of the few “royal roads” that lead to inner exploration, transformation, and growth. They rely mainly, but not only, on insights; whether in the form of meaningful and new true understandings that emerge in an intimate interpersonal relationship (as may happen in psychoanalysis) or under the form of emotionally intense and vivid visions and the grasping of truth (as in the ayahuasca experience). It will be noted that ayahuasca may produce negative side effects, such as the “inflation of the Ego” or taking as real visions that should have a metaphoric or “as-if” quality. The Winnicottian psychoanalytic concept of "transitional space," essential to developing the capacity to play, create and love, may help to clarify and better understand occasional problematic effects of ayahuasca.


Eduardo Gastelumendi is a psychiatrist and psychoanalyst working mainly as a clinician in private practice in Lima. He is Member and current Vice-president of the Peruvian Psychoanalytic Society, Member and former President of the Peruvian Psychiatric Association (1999 – 2000) and Member of the International Neuropsychiatric Association. He lectures at the Institute of the Peru Psychoanalytic Society. He is Co-Editor-in-Chief of the Revista de Neuro-Psiquiatria (founded in 1938 in Lima). He has participated in the Freud – Jung dialogues between the IPA (International Psychoanalytic Association) and the IAAP (International Association for Analytic Psychology) since 2006. His main theoretical interest is to explore the interface between different disciplines (Psychiatry and Psychoanalysis; Psychoanalysis and Neurosciences) and between psychodynamic approaches and traditional medicine, especially related with ayahuasca, substance he has known for more than two decades.


Ayahuasca Workshop: Ethnobotany, Safety & Expansion: April 22nd, 2013.

9:00h – 9:30h - Opening and Introduction by Bia Labate

9:30h –11:00h – Ayahuasca’s Evolving Worldview and Practices: From Indigenous-Mestizo Ceremony in 1976 to a Global Phenomenon in 2013, by Kathleen Harrison

As recently as the 1970s, the ayahuasca culture of the Peruvian Amazon exhibited a worldview that was a blend of indigenous and mestizo elements and practices. The living tradition exhibited an astonishing depth of knowledge on the varieties of botanical form and their parallel spiritual content. Based on original fieldwork carried out in Peru in the seventies, the speaker will begin by describing that worldview and its traditional means of transmission via the oral tradition, shamanic performance, and direct experience. We are now midway through a fascinating evolution of worldviews that has developed over the past forty years. The spread of ayahuasca culture has pollinated external worldviews with nature-based knowledge, ideas of animism, concepts of causality (fate, health, luck), the dynamics of personal and collective ceremonial experience, and complex interactions with apparent shamanic power. The newcomers have gained much, yet have overlooked, changed and, to some extent, homogenized or depleted the diversity that those sources held. By regarding the “bio-cultural diversity” of the ayahuasca complex such as plant species, varieties and attendant perceptions, we still have much to learn and to investigate. As the metamorphosis continues, what is a possible model for the future of ayahuasca use?

11:00h – 11:15h – Break

11:15h - 12:00h – Discussion with Kat and Bia

12:00h -13:00h – Lunch

13:00h - 14:45h – Ayahuasca, safety and biomedical research, by Luis Fernando Tófoli

This section will offer a general overview of the biomedical research on ayahuasca with a special focus on the discourse about its safety. Some claim that the interpretation of biomedical data generally points to a considerable safety in the use of this decoction with psychedelic properties, provided that certain precautions are taken. On the other hand, the corpus of biomedical findings on ayahuasca is interpreted skeptically by those who stress that there is no absolute absence of risk to health in its consumption. Although there is no unconditional impartiality in the life sciences and the interpretation of scientific research is subject to diverse worldviews, some issues in ayahuasca research require more biomedical evidence. Based on the analysis of the scientific literature and the author's experience with ayahuasca, some dilemmas in the biomedical universe of ayahuasca will be discussed. These are: its general toxicity; the use by pregnant women, children and adolescents; drug interactions; and effects on mental disorders and substance misuse, among others. This section will also explore new paths for the potential development of biomedical research in the field of ayahuasca, and its contextualization within the broader disputes concerning psychoactive substances.

14:45 - 15:00h - Break

15:00 -17:00h Ayahuasca For All the Senses, by Chris Kilham

The ayahuasca ceremony is both a journey into a spirit landscape, and a remarkable display of multi-sensory activity, from the singing of healing songs, called icaros, to the burning of Amazon tobacco (mapacho) and Palo Santo, wood of the saints. Visions, body sensations, purging, and even synesthesia, a joining together of various senses, occur in the ayahuasca journey. In this workshop, we will explore the ethnobotany of ayahuasca. Further, we will dive into the deep end of the sensory pool, with trance, smoke, song, lavish images and more, all derived from traditional Amazonian ayahuasca shamanism.

Beatriz Caiuby Labate has a Ph.D. in Social Anthropology from the State University of Campinas (Universidade Estadual de Campinas, UNICAMP), Brazil. Her main areas of interest are the study of psychoactive substances, drug policies, shamanism, ritual, and religion. She is Visiting Professor at the Drug Policy Program of Center for Economic Research and Education (Centro de Investigación y Docencia Económicas, CIDE), in Aguascalientes, Mexico. She is also researcher with the Nucleus for Interdisciplinary Studies of Psychoactives (NEIP), and editor of its site (http://www.neip.info). She is author, co-author, and co-editor of eight books, two with English translations, one journal special edition, and several peer-reviewed articles. For more information, see: http://bialabate.net/

Kathleen Harrison, M.A., is an independent scholar and teacher of ethnobotany. She has initiated and participated in recurrent fieldwork, mostly among indigenous people in Latin America, since the 1970s. She is the president and co-founder of Botanical Dimensions, a non-profit organization that has worked for 28 years to collect medicinal and shamanic species and the lore that helps us understand how to regard them. Kat teaches at various universities (currently University of Minnesota, University of Missouri-Kansas City, Albany College of Pharmacy, and Goddard College), specializing in tropical ethnobotanical field courses in Peru and Hawaii and integrative healing traditions in California. She helps her students understand the nature-based worldviews of traditional cultures, along with the role of plants in healing and story. She is based in rural Northern California and Hawaii. For more information, see: www.botanicaldimensions.org

Luís Fernando Tófoli is a medical doctor with a residency and a Ph.D. degree in Psychiatry at the University of São Paulo (USP). He is a professor of Psychiatry at the State University of Campinas (UNICAMP) and his production as a scholar is focused on community mental health policies, mental health in primary care, and ayahuasca and mental health. He has studied the onset of mental disorders in UDV members and is currently working on three projects concerning ayahuasca: a survey about quality of life and history of drug use in UDV members, the validation of the Brazilian Portuguese version of the Hallucinogen Rating Scale, and a preliminary study on the influence of drug, set, and setting in ayahuasca experiences.

Chris Kilham is a medicine hunter, author and educator. The founder of Medicine Hunter Inc., Chris has conducted medicinal research in over 30 countries. Chris is the FOX News Medicine Hunter and appears on FOX News Health online and in 100 international television markets. He also writes a weekly column for FOX News Health and is on the Medical Advisory Board of The Dr. Oz Show. Since 1994 Chris has worked, traveled and studied with shamans in Brazil, Peru and North America. He has participated in many dozens of ceremonies, both with and without the ingestion of ceremonial psychoactive drugs. He is experienced with ayahuasca, San Pedro cactus, peyote, coca, and tobacco. Chris is recognized as a chief in Vanuatu, South Pacific, is known as “Maxipe” which means “black vulture” by the Macuxi indians of Brazil, and has lived with and visited dozens of native tribes in Amazonia and in other cultures. Shamans in both Brazil and Peru recognize Chris as one of their kind and a bridger of worlds, and have engaged in numerous ceremonies to bolster his energy and support his work with medicinal plants and native cultures.


Documentary Screening and Discussion: “AYA: Awakenings”

Directed by Rak Razam and Tim Parish

90 minutes

(forthcoming 2013)

Discussion with Rak Razam

Synopsis:
AYA: Awakenings is a narrative documentary into the world and visions of ayahuasca shamanism, adapted from the cult book 'Aya: a Shamanic Odyssey' by Rak Razam. As Razam sets out to document the booming business of Amazonian shamanism in the 21st century, he quickly finds himself caught up in a culture clash between the old world and the new. Braving a gringo trail of the soul, he uncovers a movement of ‘spiritual tourists’ coming from the West for a direct experience of the multi-dimensional reality shamanism connects one to. Central to this is ayahuasca – the “vine of souls” – a legal South American hallucinogenic plant that has been used by Amazonian people for millennia to heal physical ailments and to cleanse and purify the spirit, connecting it to the web of life. In researching the mystery of ayahuasca, Razam undergoes his own shamanic initiation, undergoing numerous tests and trials in the jungle and the psychic landscapes the vine reveals. On the way he encounters a motley crew of characters, from rogue scientists that conduct DMT-brain scans on jungle psychonauts to indigenous and Western shamans that slowly unravel his cultured mind and reveal the magical landscape of the spirit world. And the more he drinks this potent jungle medicine the deeper it leads him: from the wet jungle where the ayahuasca vine grows and on into the raging heart of consciousness itself. By blending narration directly from the book with video footage, interviews with practicing curanderos, samples of traditional icaros or magic songs, photographs and cutting edge special effects, Aya: Awakenings reproduces the inner landscape of the visionary state in unprecedented detail, invoking a spiritual awakening in the viewer. Featuring the artwork of Pablo Amaringo, Andy Debrenardi and more; video editing by Verb Studios, soundscapes by DJ Buttons Touching and music by Tipper; Darpan, Lula Cruz, Sphongle and curanderos Guillermo Aravelo, Percy Garcia Lozano, Ron Wheelock and Kevin Furnas. For more information, see: http://vimeo.com/20458066

Rak Razam is an author, prolific media maker and networker. He wrote the book Aya: A Shamanic Odyssey and the companion volume of interviews, The Ayahuasca Sessions (http://www.ayathebook.com). He is a frequent lecturer on ayahuasca and the shamanic revival sweeping the West, and is the co-director with Tim Parish for the forthcoming Aya: Awakenings documentary. He was also interviewed and appears in the CBS (Canadian Broadcasting Corporation’s) 2007 audio documentary In Search of the Divine Vegetal (www.podcastdirectory.com/podshows/2266458) talking about his ayahuaca experiences. His video interviews for website Reality Sandwich, New MAPS of Hyperspace, (http://vimeo.com/album/1688275) feature Sasha Shulgin, Alex Grey, Stan Grof, Rick Doblin, Ralph Metzner, Mountain Girl, and more luminaries. His popular podcast show In a Perfect World (http://in-a-perfect-world.podomatic.com) has featured Dennis McKenna, Mitch Schultz (DMT: The Spirit Molecule), Stephan Beyer (Singing to the Plants), Darpan, James Oroc (Tryptamine Palace) and dozens more. For more information, see:www.rakrazam.com


Register here: http://www.maps.org/conference/3-day-conference/

See press release here: http://www.prweb.com/releases/2012/9/prweb9916480.htm

Wednesday, 30 May 2012

funded, again


Our second crowdfunding campaign in indiegogo was a success!

The reality of creating a documentary that looks feels and sounds like this has meant a tremendous amount of love, work and effort in the service of something we believe to be overwhelmingly important - not less than a change in the conscious approach to medicine.
In a sea filled with sometime chaotic messages we want to create something that you can give to anyone and say: Watch this, you will understand what ayahuasca is about. To valorize the use of the medicine, to bring traditional Amazon practices out of the margins and present them to the world defended in a cloak of respectability supported by science.
In the past 6 months, almost 850 people have pledged nearly $64000 to help us accomplish this dream.

THANK YOU