#30 Natural Highs | Dr. Alberto Villoldo

August 3, 2021

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He is the founder of the Four Winds Society, an organization dedicated to the bridging of ancient shamanic traditions with modern medicine and psychology. He joins Ronan to talk about his study of medicine, shamanism, mysticism, brain science and how they all connect to recent developments in psychedelic research.


[00:00:00] Alberto: Wasn’t until a decade later that I was able to walk in the rainforest and to have the animals continue to sing around me. Because I had healed that original wounding that we all inherited in our mythology of having been outcast, of being cast out of the garden. I had returned to the garden. And that’s a core element for Westerners as we do this deep exploration with the aid of these mind-enhancing substances, is to make our way back to the garden tonight.

[00:00:45] Ronan: Hello everyone. And welcome to Field Tripping. Today, we have a sensational guest with us, Alberto Villoldo, a medical anthropologist best-selling author and expert in the philosophy and practice of [00:01:00] energy medicine. We’ll chat today about his time spent in the Amazon, learning and growing with shamonic healing, and the wisdom he has shared following that experience. Stay tuned for what’s set to be a fascinating conversation. And please remember that at Field Trip, we’ve worked really hard to blend modern science and medicine with deep respect and appreciation for the historic practices in a way that’s approachable and accessible to anyone interested in working with psychedelic therapies. So if you’re interested, please visit fieldtriphealth.com if you’d like to learn more about the work we’re doing. And with that said, let’s head over to some news to trip over.

A study out of the Institute for Biomedical Research in Spain found that the psychedelic dimethyltryptamine, or DMT treatment, activates the sub granular neurogenic niche of the brain that regulates the proliferation of neural stem cells, the migration of neuro blasts, and promoting the generation [00:02:00] of new neurons in the hippocampus, therefore enhancing adult neurogenesis and approving spatial learning and memory tasks. This adds DMT to the list of psychedelics, in addition to ketamine and psilocybin, that seem to enhance neurogenesis. Second, the actor Megan Fox outed herself as yet another celebrity who has opened up about her use and experience with psychedelics. Fox recently told Jimmy Kimmel that she, along with Machine Gun Kelly traveled to Costa Rica to participate in ayahuasca ceremonies for three nights. On the second night, Fox reported that she quote, Went to hell for eternity. Just knowing eternity is torture in itself because there’s no beginning, middle or end. So you have, like, a real ego death, which sounds like a pretty hard trip to me, but she ultimately concluded that this is the medicine that surpasses anything you could do a talk therapy or hypnotherapy or any of those things. Finally, on the business and investment [00:03:00] side of things, One Direction star Liam Payne announced that he had invested in ATAI Life Sciences, a company that I’m personally a big fan of. But in talking about his investment, Payne said, it’s easy to be misled by the words magic mushrooms, but that ATAI is quote, Developing real FDA approved medication to be used together with doctors, for treatments of various mental health issues. Apparently the market’s rewarded ATAI for such profound insight by sending ATAI stock down 7%, reminding us that One Direction clearly doesn’t always mean up, but it is also a good reminder that in psychedelics, there seems to be this unenlightened tendency to regard something as important only if it’s sober and severe, and that we don’t need this binary notion that psychedelics are anything that is a medicine only if it’s FDA approved, a comment that our guest today is sure to have comments on.

So with that said today, we have the absolute pleasure of speaking with Alberto Villoldo a medical anthropologist, [00:04:00] researcher, and student of the shamanic healing practices of the Amazon and Andes for over 25 years. He is the founder of The Four Winds Society, an organization dedicated to the bridging of ancient shamanic traditions with modern medicine and psychology. The Four Winds Society’s “Light Body School” is internationally recognized as the gold standard in shamanic education, and his catalog of authored books are highly distinguished and award-winning. Alberto, thank you for joining us today and welcome to Field Tripping.

[00:04:30] Alberto: Thank you, Ronan. Good to be with you.

[00:04:32] Ronan: Thank you for being here. So my first question for you, uh, is, are you a fan of One Direction?

[00:04:39] Alberto: You know the-, uh, yeah, I am, as long as it leads me everywhere.

[00:04:43] Ronan: Fair enough. Um, and is your fandom increased or decreased by virtue of Liam Payne’s investment in ATAI Life Sciences? I’m I’m presuming you’re familiar with the work, some of the work that ATAI Life Sciences is doing.

[00:04:57] Alberto: I am. Yeah. You [00:05:00] know, I think that this is going to be the future of psychedelic assisted therapies, is when you have business involved.

[00:05:06] Ronan: Right.

[00:05:07] Alberto: And capitalism gets involved and there are certainly enough consumer demand for, you know, just about 50% of the American public suffering from PTSD or some kind of abuse or trauma. And this is the only way, the only way that makes sense. And that’s, you know, they, they just, this is good.

[00:05:29] Ronan: Uh, that’s great. I appreciate that comment. And actually I’m really curious about it because one of the things I’ve noticed in the psychedelics industry is that there seems to be two factions and not a lot of connection between the two, which is there are the pro-business approach, pro Western medicine approach to this with some degree of, um, you know, appetite to blend it with traditional approaches. And then there’s the very anticapitalist approach and what I would tend to, and [00:06:00] I use this expression very loosely, a more shamanic approach, that this isn’t about capitalism, it shouldn’t be about business, it shouldn’t be about Western medicine, that we need to really respect these ancient cultural traditions and, and capitalism serves no place in that. And, you know, it sounds like you’re pretty open-minded to a at least blended approach, if not somewhat Western approach. And I’m just curious to get your thoughts on that a little bit further.

[00:06:24] Alberto: That sounded like a yes or no question, but I’m going to answer it a little bit more broadly-

[00:06:28] Ronan: Please do

[00:06:31] Alberto: The, uh, I’ve spent 45 years in the Amazon working with the shamans and working with traditional wisdom keepers. And, um, and you cannot translate that into the laboratory and you can not capitalize on that. There’s no way you can wrap a business around that traditional shamanic work. And that’s part of what’s really missing in today’s psychedelic therapy, is the sacred. Sure, you can have a [inaudible], you can spend a year [00:07:00] and hell or a year in heaven, but what about the invisible world? What about the ancestors? What about extra dimensional beings that you run into. There’s no room for that in the cycle, the Western medical model, which is materialistic, which says that the only reality you experience is your psychological internal reality, and that there’s no reality to the spiritual world. So it’s, you know, I’m happy that this is going to be assisting psychedelic therapy, a lot of people with trauma, but in the indigenous societies, that was the secondary benefit. The primary one was to have a profound experience of your interconnectedness with the cosmos, with all of life, and to become a steward, a steward of the earth and a steward of life. And that’s really kind of missing in our Western paradigm.

[00:07:53] Ronan: Right. Uh, I think you’re absolutely correct in that assessment. How do we start to bridge that? How do [00:08:00] you start to have the conversations about that? Because where I land, I keep coming back to the place, is that for most people, in the modern Western context, having conversations rooted in psychotherapy and medicine and receptor binding, all the traditional Western context, is the only way they’re going to step into this conversation. But as soon as they step into an experience, then we’ve created the wedge and the opening to have the conversation about the more mystical, the more spiritual than all that kind of stuff. But if we start with that latter conversation, there’s a lot of people that are going to put their hands up and say, not interested, that’s way outside of my comfort zone. And, and, you know, you’re just validating all the tropes we know about the hippies and all that kind of stuff. How do you approach those conversations with people who seem to be resistant to the more mystical.

[00:08:51] Alberto: You know, the, the, uh, the mystical is becoming irresistible today.

[00:08:54] Ronan: That’s true.

[00:08:55] Alberto: Because of the tremendous [00:09:00] adversity and challenges that we’re living with. In the Andes, the shamans talk about this time as the pachacuti, the great upheaval, the turning the world right-side up, a world that’s been turned upside down by commerce by coal-burning, you know, climate change and pandemics is, this is just kind of a, the beginning of a big, big upheaval for the planet that’s going to bring us back- give us the opportunity to align with a set of values that are less capitalistic and ego driven and greed driven, and that are more sustainable and spiritual, really. Because- you know, I had the opportunity many years ago to work with, uh, with a great virologist and, you know, virology so hot subject today. And he was- his name was Jonas Salk. He contributed a chapter to a book I wrote 20 years ago, 40 years ago. And he said that, What life is about is the survival of the fittest- the wisest, not the survival of the fittest. [00:10:00] It’s that nature selects for intelligence and not for muscles and teeth and brawn and speed. Only selects for intelligence. That’s why we have such big brain. Humans do and dolphins and whales. And by the way, we’re the only three species out of 40 million that don’t have deaths programmed into their DNA. But intelligence would put Dr. Salk, who discovered the Salk vaccine by the way, for polio, and gave it away to the world for free and not make a penny on it, what he was talking about was spirituality. What we refer to as intelligence is what the ancients talked about, the disconnection to the divine, to the cosmos, that led to co-creation, that led to stewardship, not just to blissing out. So this is why spirituality is becoming, because the need for a greater human intelligence is so evident today that, um, it’s inevitable.

[00:10:58] Ronan: Right. No, I, I [00:11:00] appreciate that. Just one specific question in there. You said that humans, whales and dolphins don’t have death programmed into our DNA. Can you explain that a little bit more? Cause that’s the first time I’ve heard that.

[00:11:13] Alberto: Yeah. You know, the, um, before I became really deeply enmeshed in shamanism, I was directing a small neuroscience lab at San Francisco State University. And we were looking at whether the brain could create psychosomatic health, we knew it could create disease, you know, the stress molecules, et cetera. How do you create health? And to do that, you need to be able to access the bliss molecule, the indogenous DMTs, and the- all of the, um, all of the molecules- facilitated by serotonin that repair the hippocampus. But if you look at the nature of the 40 million species and more or less than the planet give or take a million, and only three of those species don’t [00:12:00] have a death program. They’re in every other species, as soon as the female is not capable of reproduction, she’s eliminated.

[00:12:09] Ronan: Okay.

[00:12:10] Alberto: There are no grandmothers in nature. There’s no menopause and nature. It doesn’t exist, But, orcas, whales, dolphins that the biggest brain to body weight ratio. In the planet, these- we’re the only three species where you have grandmothers, where you have this transmission of wisdom, of knowledge from one generation to the next, where you, you know, where you have menopause. So this is the, this is a fascinating- this is kind of building in that conversation with Dr. Salk, that nature is doing an experiment on longevity with the three species, that we have the ability to not have a death clock operating species wide, but at the level of the individual, and that one way that we can influence that death clock is by [00:13:00] activating brain regions that you can only access with psychedelics.

[00:13:04] Ronan: Interesting. Okay. This is, this is, this is new information to me. I I’m I’m I’m very,

[00:13:09] Alberto: I thought you might be interested in this. Yeah-

[00:13:11] Ronan: Yeah. I mean, if there’s more, you want to speak about it on this, I’d love to nerd out further and understand, you know, your understanding of it and where the science is, even though I know this conversation is going to be a blending of the science and the mystical, um, you know, I’m a big believer that, uh, intelligence is the intersection- and choice of words, uh, notwithstanding- between, uh, our logic, our brains, we have very large functional, rational brains, uh, and, and our emotions, um, and true, true intelligence comes from the intersection of those. In fact, what- the way to sort of express intelligence is that emotions are in fact, the engine of creativity. They’re the engine of life. They’re the engine of truthfully [00:14:00] everything that’s going on. And our logic is designed to help us steer those emotions in productive ways.

[00:14:05] Alberto: But Ronan, you got to connect that with a brain science, man.

[00:14:08] Ronan: Of course.

[00:14:08] Alberto: I mean, that’s a beautiful theory. You’re giving me a beautiful theory. And I think I saw that in one of my early LSD sessions 50 years ago, but you gotta connect it to the brain science man, you know? And, and this is important. Otherwise you’re not going to be able to talk to the right people. Um, and that’s- see that, let me give you a perspective from the shamanic side. From the shamanic perspective, emotions are all toxic. You got to get rid of the emotions and replace them with feelings. Emotions are all basically reverberating loops in the limbic brain and the primitive limbic brain, that are ancient survival programs: fear, feeding, fighting, sexuality. That’s the programs of this brain. And you gotta, you gotta basically- you cannot heal or repair the emotions. [00:15:00] You’ve got to get rid of them, replace them with feelings and you- feelings don’t last, emotions last. Emotions, you know, you can be angry for somebody for 20 years.

[00:15:11] Ronan: Right.

[00:15:12] Alberto: But if- but a feeling means you want to kill somebody like your child or your spouse, and you get over it 20 minutes later, cause it passes. It doesn’t linger. So we got to access that higher brain that, that new brain, the neocortex. The limbic brain, which is the neanderthal brain, sits on top of that uh, the reptilian brain, which is the instinctual brain. That you had the brain of the emotions, and then you had the higher brain. That limbic brain of the emotions, first of all, the fees on sugars primarily. Secondly, that’s where you have the amygdala, the fight or flight system, and the HPA axis. So you, you’re going to be living in fear and scarcity, and you can be living in a predatory world. [00:16:00] And you got to stop producing the stress molecules, which are cortisol and adrenaline produced in that limbic brain, to get to that higher brain that thrives on bliss on the bliss molecules, where you can begin to methylate serotonin and turn it into DMT. And you’ve got the indogenous- you’ve got the molecules that will support the states of consciousness that allow you to experience psychosomatic health, or healing, or communion or stewardship of the earth even.

[00:16:33] Ronan: That all sounds very reasonable and rational, and it makes a lot of sense. And I certainly appreciate your, your, your ability to intersect the, the philosophy and, um, thinking around what I was talking about with, with the brain science and they completely agree, uh, that that’s necessary, especially in the modern context. On that particular point, actually, I have two questions, one is like, how did, [00:17:00] how did you start on this path? Why don’t we start there? How did you, how did you, you know, you touched on the fact that you ran a, uh, neuroscience lab for a while, and then your path took you down to South America. Uh, how did you decide to go on that path? And, and can you take, uh, tell us a little bit about that and just because I am very prone to forget, the next question I have is, uh, how does one start to convert their emotions into feelings? What does that process look like?

[00:17:28] Alberto: All right. Let’s start with kind of a little bit of the history. I first started. I’m a medical anthropologist by training. So I first started researching the use of psychedelics basically in, um, in traditional societies, originally in Mexico.

[00:17:45] Ronan: Okay.

[00:17:46] Alberto: And, um, in Mexico I met one of the great psychedelic psychotherapists, a man named Salvador Roquet, who was funded actually by the CIA, because they were very interested in [00:18:00] psychedelic therapy and this was 50 years ago. And then I ended back at San Francisco State teaching in the biology department, and I actually I ended up being funded for another year and a half by the, by the Department of Defense. I didn’t know the money was coming from them. They still had this fascination with psychedelics. And what I was doing was looking at the brain to see how the endorphins, the indogenous psychedelics, what was the process? How do you take serotonin, which is a brain neuro transmitter, which is the formula for it is 5-HT, 5-hydroxytryptamine, it’s a tryptamine. How do you get it to into the higher brain where the, where the pineal gland can begin to methylate it, to add methyl bonds to it. And when you add a couple of methyl bonds to a tryptamine to serotonin, you end up with dimethyltryptamine, but it won’t do that if [00:19:00] the limbic brain, the fight or flight system is producing the stress hormones. If it’s producing adrenaline and cortisol, you’re living in fear, man, you cannot produce these bliss molecules. So the, this is where the intersection comes with your second question, how do you stop being buffeted by your emotions so you can find the inner calm and reroute signals from the hippocampus up to the higher brain instead of to the lower brain, to the amygdala. And here’s where serotonin plays a part. Because serotonin, or a serotonin analog like ayahuasca or DMT, will repair the hippocampus in six weeks. And that’s why there’s a class of drugs called the SSRI’s that are used in psychiatry that are the selective serotonin re-uptake inhibitors. They [00:20:00] flood your brain with serotonin. It takes six weeks for them to begin to work because they need to repair the hippocampus, which is rich in cortisol receptors, but serotonin repairs it, will increase the size of the hippocampus. And we’ll do that by switching on the production of stem cells in the brain, by switching on the production of a substance called BDNF, brain-derived neurotropic factors, that are the stem cell machinery that begins by repairing the hippocampus, which is where learning happens, where you, where you have a new experience of yourself. And if you don’t- and this is what the shamans in the Amazon did, they did the diet before you did the ayahuasca, to begin to repair the hippocampus so you could see God, have dinner with her, and then bring the experience back to your everyday world. But if your hippocampus was broken, you couldn’t learn. You can bring it back. You have to go next [00:21:00] Sunday for another high. So here’s where these two intersect, where now, after two years of learning that I was being funded by the Department of Defense through the university. And, um, I,had one of these unrestricted grants where we were doing stuff, you would, you wouldn’t want to write about. At that point, that’s when I left the university and, um, and really kind of struck out on my own and spent the next 20 years practically in the Amazon, working with the medicine people, looking at what would be the non-chemical elements of healing. Not the effect of the chemistry of the brain or the science or of the molecules, but what about the set, the setting, the context for an encounter with a higher sense of purpose and meaning that could then guide your way, your life in a different way. [00:22:00]

[00:22:00] Ronan: Right. Um, there’s a lot in there that I’d love to go into further specific- first question though, was, uh, you touched on how SSRI’s start to heal the brain. Uh, At least as far as I was understanding it, um, why is it then that SSRI’s seem to not really generate a lot of long-term success based on their research I’ve had, at least in treating depression, and um, why does it-

[00:22:25] Alberto: They don’t.

[00:22:26] Ronan: Yeah.

[00:22:27] Alberto: No, they don’t. They really don’t. But they do repair the hippocampus.

[00:22:30] Ronan: Okay.

[00:22:31] Alberto: They do allow you to learn a different language, or play the violin or- but if you create that in a set in a setting, that’s not drug based, for you to have a new experience of your diet, or exercise, or generosity or- so here’s where our reliance in the west is on the chemical.

[00:22:48] Ronan: Right.

[00:22:48] Alberto: It’s like, we think that if we can have ketamine clinics where we put people on a ketamine trip, then they’re going to heal PTSD. No, you’re going to reset the brain, but you’re [00:23:00] not going to repair the brain.

[00:23:01] Ronan: Right. Understood. I mean, and that’s why at Field Trip, even though we are using ketamine, because that’s what’s accessible to us right now, we pair it very closely with psychotherapy, which I think-

[00:23:13] Alberto: Totally-

[00:23:14] Ronan: -version, but it starts you on the path towards a lot of that self-generated healing.

[00:23:20] Alberto: Precicely. It’s gotta be, it’s gotta really be supported. It has to be supported with the psychotherapy, with the social. See, in the jungle it happens in the village. The healing happens when you return to the system that’s bigger than you are. It doesn’t happen with you alone or you and your spouse. You and the village, you and nature, and, um, you and the divine. So these were elements that are outside of the Western mindset, which makes it- curtails the effectiveness of these tremendous medicines. [00:24:00]

[00:24:00] Ronan: Absolutely. And in your time, uh, working with these shamanic cultures and tribes, what did you find, um, outside of the chemistry that we touched on, that created the environment, um, to support people, uh, in, in this path to getting to the divine, to getting to these higher resonance and emotions?

[00:24:24] Alberto: First, you have to remember that I went there as a westerner.

[00:24:26] Ronan: Right.

[00:24:27] Alberto: And totally aren’t- you know, I was the city boy. And here I was in a jungle. So I was terrified. And cause I didn’t- I was scared. I was- and I remember walking with this shaman and her husband and we were, we came to a clearing in the jungle and she said to me, Alberto, walk across the clearing and see what happens. And I walked across the clearing and I took the first step into the rainforest, and it was full of song. The [00:25:00] macaws and the monkeys and the parrots, in the second step. In the third step, everything stopped. And she came up to me and she said, See, they know you don’t belong here. They know, they know that your people were kicked out of the garden, that original garden. And I go, Come on. They say, Yeah, you know- the animals know you don’t belong here. And they were two Shipibo Indians by the edge of the river. They were cooking a snake, a boa on a spit. And I went up to them and I asked him if I could have some of the boa fat that they were collecting. And they gave me the can, the Coca-Cola can, and I stripped down to my shorts and I started putting the boa fat on me, because I was convinced that the animals were smelling my toothpaste or my deodorant or my sweat. And they’re looking at me a little strangely and I go, it’s okay, I’m an anthropologist. And I make my way back into the rainforest. And the first step is full of song. And the second step, [00:26:00] the third step, everything stops again, except for about 600 flies that I had on me. And it wasn’t until a decade later that I was able to walk in the rainforest and to have the animals continue to sing around me. Because I had healed that original wounding that we all inherited in our mythology of having been outcast, of being cast out of the garden. I had returned to the garden. And that’s a core element for Westerners, as we do this deep exploration with the aid of these mind-enhancing substances is to make our way back to the garden tonight, and become natural and become- be able to speak to the rivers and to the trees. When- I remember in an ayahuasca ceremony, I could speak to the, to the earth, to the planet, the Gaia. I could hear the mother, I could hear the plants. She could, she would respond to me. You’ve probably had that experience. We’ve [00:27:00] made our way back to this dialogue with the divine. And that’s where profound healing happens.

[00:27:07] Ronan: What transpired in those 10 years from taking a bath in boa fat to, um, being able to walk in nature? Uh, what, what, I mean, obviously you can’t summarize 10 years in about half an hour, but I’m sure there’s a few either highlights or key moments along the way.

[00:27:26] Alberto: You know, a lot of stuff happens in 10 years. And the, um, I remember that before I left the jungle with that, in that visit, because I would go back every, every three or four months to the US, I was in an ayahuasca ceremony, and the same medicine woman, she’s shaking a rattle, and she’s singing, calling on the spirit of the Jaguar. The black Jaguar is the, the guardian of the mother plant of the ayahuasca. And suddenly there- I am inside the body of this cat, [00:28:00] and I’m not me, and I look at my hands and they’re black and they’re paws, and I know I can go anywhere. And I go to California to visit my beloved. And I’m kind of in the corner of the room, holding onto the ceiling like a cat, more like a spider, but I’m a cat. And I’m looking down in the bed and she’s in bed with a friend of mine. And I’m going, I know I could rip her jugular out right now. And all of this anger- and then this deep peace comes over me. And then suddenly I’m back in the circle with the medicine woman. And, um, and she just said to me, Your eyes have been open. So I get back to California and I asked her, what have you been doing since I’ve been gone? She says, Well, your best friend and I, we missed you so much that we moved in with each other. And I was sad, but there was no anger left in me. I had- anger [00:29:00] no longer lived within me. And that was the key ingredient. And when I heal my anger, then I was able to heal my shame. Remember that when we were in the garden of Eden, God comes in, and he can’t find Adam and Eve. And he calls to them and he sees that they’re hiding behind the bushes and he asks, Why are you hiding? They said, Because we’re naked. We are ashamed. The very first human emotions we feel in the west is shame. And shame doesn’t mean that you did something bad. Shame means that you are bad. You’re not good, not good. So my process was releasing anger, not resorting to that as a response, and then healing my shame. And then I was able to- that me 10 years to do, because I didn’t have good, good psychedelic psychotherapy.

[00:29:56] Ronan: Right. Well, I’m [00:30:00] curious just because it conflicts with a lot of the things I’ve learned, which is, you know, emotions exists to provide us with information, and, and the important thing is to not hold on to those emotions as to, to process them. To meet them, you know, with the intensity they deserve. And so in that situation of, of clear betrayal, I would argue, um, anger seems like a very fitting and appropriate response. Not that you should hold onto it for 20 years and hold on to that resentment, but there should be an anger response met with an appropriate and corresponding release of that anger. Um,

[00:30:40] Alberto: Precicely. I agree with you there. I agree. But that’s, that’s the feeling. That’s a feeling. The minute you can release it, it’s passing through you like a wind that passes through a harp and it plays some strings, but it doesn’t linger. It doesn’t fester inside of you. And [00:31:00] that’s when you replace emotions with feelings. You know, you- some asshole cuts in front of you on the freeway and you scream at them, and then you send them a kiss. It passes through. You process much more quickly. They don’t linger. It’s interesting because it seems that the nervous system resets itself every 20 minutes or so. There’s like a reset process. And when we get stuck in emotions, the reset doesn’t happen. And- but when we are able to become resilient and limber in our ability to not get attached to these emotions, we’re not, we’re not in their grip anymore. We still feel them. We, we feel love and we feel hate and we feel anger, but it’s not who we become.

[00:31:48] Ronan: Yeah. Okay. That’s understand- and thank you for sharing that story. I mean, this is a beautiful story. Uh, and as you were talking, I could, you know, sort of see the experience, and it was [00:32:00] incredibly powerful. And even though I’ve been like- as far as my exploration with psychedelics, ayahuasca always seems like a big commitment, for lack of a better term. And so I’ve been a little bit resistant to it, but, uh, based on, on what you’re talking about, uh, you know, I think it’s, uh, it definitely opens my mind to it.

[00:32:21] Alberto: The amazing thing is that the brain produces ayahuasca. We have receptor sites for it. And it’s a, methylated serotonin. Psilocybin a methylated dopamine. These are brain neurotransmitters that have methyl rings attached to them by the pineal gland and the times we produce the most indogenous DMT is when we’re making love, when we’re dreaming- you know, when you have a dream, it can be crazy. I had a dream the other night that I was having dinner with my dad in a galleon, in a Spanish ship, beautiful table set on the deck, white linen. [00:33:00] My dad was younger than me and we had a bottle of wine. And in the dream I looked at the year on the bottle of wine and it was 1888. And I said, Dad, what, what do you want? He said, Well, I needed to talk to you. I said, Well, such a nice bottle of wine you brought. He says, No, no, no, I didn’t bring the wine. I brought the ship, you brought the wine. And it seemed perfectly normal. Like any hallucination does. It’s- you’re, you’re not thinking, what a wild dream. It’s totally normal then. And it’s during dreaming, during lovemaking, and when we die, that we seem to produce the greatest amount of, of DMT, of methylating serotonin, so they can help us during these times of big transition when you die?

[00:33:47] Ronan: Absolutely. And I’ve heard that and, um, seems quite powerful. Scientifically, the difference between a methylated dopamine, like [00:34:00] psilocybin is- and this is all knowledge to me, I’m certainly no chemist, so it’s a, I’m just learning as I’m going as well as, uh, uh- versus a methylated tryptamine, or methylated, uh, serotonin. What did, what is the functional difference in our brains? And why do you think that distinction exists? I know I’m asking you to speculate on that, but from a therapeutic perspective, how, how do you see that having an impact?

[00:34:26] Alberto: Yeah, you know, I don’t have all the answers to that. I can maybe give us some ideas about it, but I don’t really have all the answers to that. But the, um, the methylation seems to happen at the pineal gland and, and this is higher brain. This is neocortex. And the pineal has been under a huge amount of stress and calcification because of the things that we put in our water system, the, um, I’m blanking out on the- um, [00:35:00] anyway, our, all of our water systems in America have an ingredient designed to protect your teeth-

[00:35:08] Ronan: Fluoride?

[00:35:08] Alberto: Fluoride. That seems to be calcifying the pineal gland so it’s unable to do its function of, of methylating, among many, many things that the pineal gland does. The other- so the brain has to take a different pathway to do that. So the other pathway that it takes is the high stress pathway. You get a high enough stress and you step outside of time, you can do amazing things. And you need the brain chemistry to be able to do that. Um, and the other problem is that the serotonin, most of the serotonin, 85% of our serotonin is produced in our gut by our gut flora.

[00:35:49] Ronan: Right.

[00:35:51] Alberto: And if you’ve been been taking antibiotics and nuked your gut flora, you don’t have serotonin available to you.

[00:35:59] Ronan: Right. [00:36:00]

[00:36:01] Alberto: And so you don’t- you’re not able to- your hippocampus gets damaged, you’re, uh, you’re not able to- you have so little of it, you, you use it primarily for peristalsis, which is the other use for serotonin in the gut, to move your food along.

[00:36:17] Ronan: Right.

[00:36:17] Alberto: So I think that we’re having a serotonin crisis and that’s why I personally love to supplement with the precursors.

[00:36:24] Ronan: Okay. Which are?

[00:36:26] Alberto: Let me show them to you. I’ve got them right here. Actually, I’ll show them to you in a sec, but- you know, 5-HTP is one of them. 5-HTP is fantastic to help you sleep, it’s a serotonin precursor. L-tryptophanthe is the other one that you can put in your smoothie in the morning. 5-HTP is 5-hydroxytryptophan. L-tryptophan is a tryptamine precursor.

[00:36:49] Ronan: Right.

[00:36:50] Alberto: You take that in the morning and it elevates your mood. 5-HTP at night helps you go to sleep and your dream dreams become really lucid. [00:37:00] So these are the, these are the ways that we can support, and then of course repairing your gut flora, so that they can do their job of- now, if you ask a GI doc, What do you need all this serotonin for you? And he says, So you can poop. So you can have regular bowel movements. And you ask a shaman and they tell you, you need it so you can see God. So one of them is seeing shit, and the other one is seeing God. [laughter]

[00:37:27] Ronan: The circle of life is ever so ironic and entertaining.

[00:37:31] Alberto: Yeah.

[00:37:32] Ronan: Um, do you take those on a, on a daily basis? I mean, I, I assume, but I don’t-

[00:37:37] Alberto: No, I take it occasionally. I, and if you, if you, um- these are basic, basic, basic foods that the body needs. And if you have excess, you basically recycycle it. You get rid of it. But they are neuro nutrients that we’re lacking today. The other one is DHA. So [00:38:00] DHA, one of the omega 3’s, the omega 3’s have DHA and EPA. EPA is great, if you’re bipolar. DHA is great for rebuilding the hippocampus, turns on the production of the brain derived neurotropic factors, stem cell production. All of these ingredients that turn on stem cell production, they’re turning on BDNF that then result in repairing the hippocampus, which is the area in the brain that gets mostly damaged. DHA is essential, and we used to get it in our food, in our fish. But today, most farm fishes- most fish is farm raised and it’s devoid of DHA. Breast milk is 40% DHA because the brain needs it to grow and to repair. So if you go on a month- on a six week protocol of eating a piece of wild-caught salmon or eating- taking 2000 milligrams of [00:39:00] DHA, omega-3, DHA for six weeks, you will repair your hippocampus, and the next time you have an ayahuasca session or a ketamine trip, you’ll be able to integrate that, because you have the hardware to be able to carry the experience into everyday life. There’s not just a vague memory that you have.

[00:39:22] Ronan: This is fascinating. I didn’t know any of this. This is great education-

[00:39:26] Alberto: Take a look at DHA, especially there’s really good research on, um, reducing your risk for, for dementia with DHA. It will lower your risk for Alzheimer’s by 85%.

[00:39:37] Ronan: Wow. All right. Well, I’m good. My grandmother unfortunately passed away from Alzheimer’s, but I’ve been taking fish oil pretty much religiously since I was 20 years old, so hopefully-

Precicely. You know,

[00:39:48] Alberto: the benefit of the fish oils. And the caffeine is really good for that too. But especially- the benefit is DHA.

[00:39:55] Ronan: Right.

[00:39:56] Alberto: And that, uh, not the EPA, cause you, you can’t [00:40:00] take too much of that. So if you do take an omega-3 or fish oil, be sure that it has a high DHA concentration.

[00:40:07] Ronan: Okay. Duly noted. Um, Two other questions. The first one is more practical. Uh, and I know you touch on it to some degree in The One Spirit Medicine and all that kind of stuff, but what other things can people be doing to start to repair their hippocampus? Because, you know, certainly I don’t think people should rely exclusively on, uh, supplements and psychedelics to be doing-

[00:40:30] Alberto: SSRI’s. Yeah. Yeah you shouldn’t take- you don’t want to take SSRI’s recreationally anyway. Um, you know, exercise, of course. Um, things that, that you- that are new to you. Um, it’s like my wife and I like to play Scrabble. And we play- our native language is Spanish, but we play Scrabble in English. So we have to, and an I’m [00:41:00] an author, so I, you know, I, I work with words a lot, but I- so I play with a Scrabble board upside down because I want to kind of push my brain to see things. So you do things that will break the mold of how you perceive the world.

[00:41:17] Ronan: Right.

[00:41:18] Alberto: And this is one of the key shamanic takeaways, is that, for the shaman, everything that you perceive, all perception is projection. All perception is a projection of an internal map of reality that you carry. And we want to change the world by changing the physical reality, whereas the shaman changes the map and then the world begins to accommodate to it. So to break whatever perceptual patterns you have. So you can look at the same thing you’ve looked at for 20 years and see something different about it. And that requires a hippocampus that’s functioning. So you can wake up [00:42:00] next to your beloved that you’ve been married to for 10 years, or 50 years, and go, Wow, who is this, who is this wonderful human being, I wonder who she’s going to be today, or he’s going to be today? And if your hippocampus is broken, you’re going to wake up and go, Who is this person in my bed? Get em’ outta here.

[00:42:19] Ronan: Indeed. When my grandmother was in advanced stages of Alzheimer’s, her last words to me, um, uh, her last cognitive, or conscious words to me, she was sleeping on my grandfather’s shoulder, um, I walked into the room, and in high school, I had long curly hair, um, and I walked into that room and she opened, and she hadn’t seen me you know, she hadn’t- she’d seen me like this before, but clearly in her advanced dementia, she didn’t recall. And she lifted her head up and she looked at me and she said, Where’s your hair? And then went back to sleep. So you could see how that break can happen very, very, very [00:43:00] clearly. Um, philosophical question, and really curious to know, um, cause I think you’ve probably learned a lot of this, or at least I expect you did in your work, um, with these tribes, is, um, the, the founding mythology in the west of, of shame, right? That, that moment in the garden of Eden, um, is, is central to our worldview. And I’ve very recently, I think, become highly cognizant about how those foundational narratives in our society actually affect everything on such a deep level. And so it’s really changed my perspective on a lot of things on, on, on being Jewish on, you know, understanding- trying to understand, you know, Dr. Mike Dow was on the podcast and he’s working with Field Trip now, about what it’s like to be a gay man in our society or, or a black woman, and how the foundational narratives, our society have such an impact on that, that go back thousands of years and it’s really hard [00:44:00] to separate those, um, from modern existence, who whomever you are. But there’s still the question of why did some people end up with this narrative of shame, you know? If we’re all connected to a great creator of god, goddess, all that is, why did some people end up with this? And I don’t know if that ever came up in your explorations or conversations around philosophy or religion in your work, but I’m curious.

[00:44:30] Alberto: You know, this is the important of myth. Myths are the, the informing patterns that we inherit, and we inherit them biologically, we inherit them culturally, we inherit them. And they’re in- almost like they’re in our DNA. So what we think is mythology, they’re not just stories. They’re operating archetypes that are dynamics within our psyche, [00:45:00] and that connect us to particular forces in the human world and the human psychic, the collective unconscious, that Carl Jung use to call, that inform us and really guide us without us even realizing them. And they are the foundational myths, they are the, the sha- what I call the maps, or the, the internalized map of reality that we confuse for reality. And it’s the awareness that we can get with the psychedelics, is that we get to see the map.

[00:45:33] Ronan: Right.

[00:45:34] Alberto: And, you know, and then we- then if we practice it with a good master, we get, we got a compass, so we can navigate, instead of it’s getting stuck in the shoals that run in our family history, you know?

[00:45:50] Ronan: I hear you on the topic of, of getting a good guide or a good master, I think one of the concerns I have, um, these [00:46:00] days about shamonic practices, isn’t specifically about the shamonic practices, but the fact that everyone can put on a hat and declare themselves as shaman. Um, and how, how does one distinguish between someone who’s legitimate and someone who’s a charlatan, or maybe that’s even the wrong question. I don’t know, but it’s one of the concerns I’ve always had about, how do you separate, um, the true masters from those who were just representing.

[00:46:29] Alberto: You know, that’s- it’s hard to tell what’s really, really good, but you can usually tell pretty readily what’s bad. And the, um, I know more ayahuasca sessions happening in New York City and in London that I do in the Amazon.

[00:46:43] Ronan: Right. Yeah.

[00:46:45] Alberto: So my assumption today is that most everybody that’s leading psychedelic sessions in the informal world is poorly trained- good intentions probably, and, and many of them financial and economic [00:47:00] interest and- but poorly train and, and doing a good bit of damage and occasionally a little bit of good. And I would be very cautious, um, who you, who you work with, and the medicines you work with. You know, I, I had the opportunity to spend time with some of the heroes of the, the previous generation, people that you probably have forgotten, but people like Marilyn Ferguson, who had the Brain Mind Bulletin, and John Lilly, who and I see- I saw these people just go down the tubes with ketamine, self administered, without any kind of guidance and coaching, and- I remember having- remember who John Lilly was? Did you read any of his books, or?

[00:47:43] Ronan: I know the name.

[00:47:43] Alberto: He did the dolphin, the dolphin research. We, we were having lunch one time and in the middle of lunch, he’s shooting himself up at ketamine in the leg right through his pants. And, and of course, yes, he was in the God throne- you got to bring it back- [00:48:00] this is what I learned working with the indigenous shamans in Nepal and the Himalayas and then the Americans, is they’ve got to bring it back to the community. You’ve gotta be in service. You’ve gotta give back, and you’ve gotta be humble, use your, because it’s a humbling experience. Life in innately [inaudible]. Be humble about it. Give back, make a difference in the world and, um, don’t pass yourself off as something you’re not, and be careful, be careful who you do your psychedelic work with.

[00:48:37] Ronan: Great. Uh, I think that’s good advice. Um, in, in One Spirit Medicine, you said that there is only one ailment, disconnection from spirits and only one remedy, which is one spirit medicine. Can you tell us a bit more about disconnect- I mean, I think we’ve talked about it quite a bit, but I’d love to hear it articulated specifically what disconnection from spirit means for a [00:49:00] modern Western listener. I mean, is that just like, if you’ve got depression, you’ve probably satisfied the requirements to have disconnection from spirit, but I’m sure it’s much more nuanced and complex than that.

[00:49:12] Alberto: Yeah. It’s much more nuanced. You know, when I was a medical anthropologist, initially, there were few people funding this, the work that I was doing 50 years ago. So I ended up being funded by big Swiss pharma for a couple of years. Because they knew that the jungle was nature’s pharmacy, and they wanted to discover the next big cancer cure, heart disease or dementia cure. And they funded me for a short, you know, some young graduate student, and a thousand Swiss francs I could live on for six months.

[00:49:46] Ronan: Right.

[00:49:47] Alberto: So the, um, I went to backwater villages where kids were- would come running up to me and they would rub my hand to see if the white dirt would rub off. And after six [00:50:00] months I went back to my handlers and I said to them, Look, I haven’t found anything. And they said, why? I said, Because there’s no cancer, there’s no dementia. There’s no heart disease in any of these populations. There’s the occasional rare case. And, uh, today we know that these are the elements of the west, that you don’t find these in indigenous societies anywhere in the world. And they’re probably the result of the pollution, our lifestyle, and our disconnection from nature. But that connection begins with your gut flora because we’re, we’re a colony organism.

[00:50:37] Ronan: Right.

[00:50:38] Alberto: You know, we have a hundred trillion cells, that 90% of them belong to the gut. So we got to replenish the gut. We have to connect with our internal nature and that resets our inst- our gut instinct. And then we have to know where our food comes from, where our water comes from, the shamans connect with your power animals, the power animals are the [00:51:00] forces of nature. Now we don’t have power animals. We have pets. It’s like, come on.

[00:51:06] Ronan: I’m sure my golden doodle is no one’s power animal.

[00:51:11] Alberto: Yeah. So that kind of breaks us from this, this intimate connection with the lightning and thunder and rain and the rights of birth in of death. We haven’t seen any, most of our listeners have probably never seen anyone dying other than a parent, maybe,

[00:51:33] Ronan: Right.

[00:51:34] Alberto: whereas in a traditional society, life and death are so intertwined with each other, and you have the rites of passage that we don’t have in the west, which is an important part of psychedelic therapy. How do you create a rite of passage into becoming a new, another- a different person than the one you have been, a better person? [00:52:00] So these are elements that I feel we’re learning to recover. Um, and it’s this, you know, the, the old hippies and the new hippies and the new, the new people that bridge the science and the traditional wisdom, that you so artfully present that, um, that are going to be bringing this back and renewing our life, you know, a human trajectory on this planet.

[00:52:28] Ronan: Right, absolutely. Uh, I think there’s something really special happening in society right now. I think it’s just starting to make its, uh, tentacles being felt, but, uh, I think something really interesting is happening, and you didn’t touch on specifically the Aztec and the Aztec calendar, or the Mayan calendar, actually about 2012, about how, you know, it’s supposed to be the end of time, so to speak, um, but uh, Irwin, the person I work with personally, he talks about, 2012 wasn’t the end of time. Clearly the earth still [00:53:00] exists, you know? The university didn’t go away. What it was, was a shift in the patterns. No longer were the old patterns repeating. Uh, new patterns were being formed. It’s kind of like before you could look back-

[00:53:12] Alberto: That was the tipping point. It was the tipping point.

[00:53:15] Ronan: Yeah, absolutely.

[00:53:17] Alberto: It’s like with climate change, you know? There’s a tipping point where it’s very difficult to backtrack, like where we are right now. But in the seventies, you know, our parents and, and many of us could have really made a difference in the seventies. It would not have been that expensive, but we weren’t willing to. So this is it. This is, all of the indigenous prophecies, not just the Mayan, speak about the end of an era. The Incas called it the Pachacuti, the Andean peoples. You know, I live in Chile half the year, in South America, and the other half in the US, and um, all the Andean people say, this is the change that we have been looking forward to.

[00:53:59] Ronan: Okay.[00:54:00]

[00:54:00] Alberto: It’s like a birthing process of a new human, and remember births, births are, you know, you and I were there for our births, unless you’ve seen another, they’re bloody and they’re, they’re loud, they’re screaming, and they’re tight, and you’re getting squeezed and, and it’s, um, it’s a, it’s a painful process.

[00:54:22] Ronan: Yeah. I, I was there for, uh, the birth of both of my children and yes, it is a bloody, and I will take Stephanie’s word for it, extremely painful process.

[00:54:32] Alberto: Yeah. Yeah. That’s why we guys don’t get to do that, cause we couldn’t handle it.

[00:54:36] Ronan: [laughter] Indeed.

[00:54:39] Alberto: So it’s like the transformation. I was talking to a friend of mine, and we used, he used a metaphor of the, um, of the caterpillar and the cocoon, you know? It’s getting tight and it’s getting squeezed and you’re trying to tell this worm that things like butterfly exist. And it’s going to say, Yeah right. No, you can become one of them. He says, No, no, I just want the pain [00:55:00] to go away. And the thing with, with these larva, these caterpillars is that 90% of them end up not as butterflies, but as moths, eating your sweaters. Is only the 10% that really come into their extraordinary beauty. And this is kind of a similar process I think humanity is going through.

[00:55:22] Ronan: Yeah, absolutely. One of the things that comes up often in the modern psychedelic industry or community is, is about this need to protect the indigenous cultures, um, in, in so many respects. And I mean, logically, I completely understand the rationale for it, but there’s always been like this tension in my mind, which is, on the one hand there’s value in protecting, on the other hand, you don’t want to be a protector. You don’t want to impose your will on the will of other people. Uh, and, and, and sort of [00:56:00] define that they should be protected. You know, I, I remember reading the example of, um, you know, Coca-Cola being introduced to indigenous cultures around the world and people are like, Oh, what a tragedy? What a travesty this is that these people were exposed to Coca-Cola. And then someone said, But maybe they want to drink Coca-Cola, you know? Why, who are we to judge and other person’s preferences? And I think that, that conversation is relevant here, but I’m curious to know from the perspective of, um, the indigenous cultures on, on what’s happening in the west right now, how do they see what’s happening? Besides it sounds like a sense of optimism about this process of rebirth, but is, is, is there concern about this? Is there concern about it being taken over, or being colonized or anything along those lines?

[00:56:47] Alberto: You know, the, the, um, when I first started spending time in the Amazon 50 years ago, there were indigenous cultures. They don’t really exist anymore.

[00:56:59] Ronan: [00:57:00] Right.

[00:57:00] Alberto: There, there’s some cultures in transition. They’re all becoming westernized. There’s no future in being an indigenous person, not for your children. And that they’re not interested in, in going back to the, to the jungle. They, this is inevitable, this process of change. I think that there is a, that you have to be careful with cultural misappropriation, which is not protecting the indigenous, but, but not stealing, uh, for your benefit, uh, the stuff of another culture. But I’ll tell you, you know, we, we can’t return all Christians to Rome or to, or to Israel before that, or to the Middle East. And we can’t, uh, we can’t take cell phones away from Native Americans. So this, this is the process of great transformation and I think, I know, that the shamans are very ready to offer their wisdom, but not their cultural forms. That we need to respect. But the wisdom is universal.

[00:57:58] Ronan: Just touching on the last [00:58:00] point that you raised, which you, you feel like the indigenous cultures are happy to share the wisdom, but not necessarily the cultural forms. Can you help me understand what, what that means in a little bit more detail?

[00:58:12] Alberto: Yeah, the there, so this is the re- the traditional societies have- there are two elements to their traditional medicine practices. There’s the healing methodologies. And then there’s the religious practice. I think that we have to respect the religious practice, that that’s her own unique form. And the healing methodologies, I think are universal. Now the shamanic healing methodologies include not just [alleviating] symptoms and making feel better, but helping people die consciously, helping them evolve spiritually, helping them become stewards of the earth. It’s a very ample medical model. And that is universal. That, they’re ready to share, the same way that the Chinese have shared [00:59:00] acupuncture. And the, and so, but the form, the religious form, the, uh, I think that we have to be very respectful not to be, um- you know, it’s like, you don’t want to, you don’t want to be imposing Christianity on the, uh, on the traditional societies, like so much Christianity was imposed upon them. And we have to- but at the same time, the model of sustainability, of stewardship, respect for the earth. See, in the west, we don’t have a healthcare system. We have a disease care system-

[00:59:37] Ronan: Yep.

[00:59:39] Alberto: -that is dysfunctional. It’s killing people. Cancer rates are going- skyrocketing. We have, you know, we live in the age of pharmageddon, where we’re hooked on medication from birth to death. This is collapsing. We do medicine by, by geography, you know? We have [01:00:00] specialists in the gut, and the brain, doctors that do the GI tract, and doctors that do diseases. They specialize in illnesses. It’s like, the great spirit didn’t create the human body in parts, you know? And so this is the, the end of this Western paradigm, and they have been the keepers of a feminine paradigm, that’s integrative, and that’s holistic, and that’s readily available and being offered to us.

[01:00:27] Ronan: Gotcha. Thank you for clarifying. Uh, just out of respect for your time, I have one, okay two more questions. The first one is, uh, you know, Dr. Michael Dow, who also works with us at Field Trip now, and he studied your teaching and mentioned to me that some of his colleagues, or psychedelic assisted doctors, have been to your training centers and say it’s been really impactful for their practices. Um, in your mind, what’s the difference between being a shaman and a modern psychotherapist, or a modern physician? Isn’t really the way our culture has moved these practices from the spiritual to the [01:01:00] modern individualistic Western society? And this is the fact that we have become so individualistic make these medicines even more needed to connect?

[01:01:07] Alberto: Okay. That was about three questions. Let me see if I could start with the first one, the difference between a doctor and a psychotherapist and a shaman. The Western medicine is the very best medicine that we have for trauma.

[01:01:21] Ronan: Right?

[01:01:21] Alberto: I mean, if you get bit by a snake, don’t go to a shaman. Go to the ER, [or if you] get hit, get in an automobile accident. But then go to your shaman to find out why the snake bit you in the first place.

[01:01:32] Ronan: Yeah.

[01:01:33] Alberto: So in the west, for example, we, um- for the shaman, there’s no difference between being killed by a jaguar or being killed by a microbe. For us, one of them is an illness and the other one is bad luck. Got killed by a Jaguar. But for them, you have to be in right relationship with parasites, with microbes, and with jaguars, or they are both going [01:02:00] to be looking at you as lunch. So the beginning of the healing process is, how do you establish right relationship? What is the, what are, what are you the universe trying to teach you with this condition? Second, is that illnesses do not exist. Sick people exist.

[01:02:17] Ronan: Right

[01:02:17] Alberto: But illnesses do not exist. We have 144,000 illnesses described in the Western medical, and they’re not, they’re collections of symptoms that have to be treated with certain medications. No, for the shaman, the disease process is not an intervention, but a journey, and a journey that might include doctors and nutrition and exercise and supplements and forgiveness, and, but it’s a journey. And this is where the modern shamans, the neuroshamans that I like to call them, are integrating psychotherapy, we have doctors that have trained with us in our, in our energy medicine trainings that they’ve go from [01:03:00] mitochondrial energy to the luminous energy field. And so we’re really expanding the models. And this is very integrative to, to work with this feminine principal with our very masculine, uh, psychotherapies and- that are pretty defunct, you know? That the new psych- there’s the old Freudian stuff is so, so passe.

[01:03:27] Ronan: Fair enough. All right, I’m going to switch my, my last question for you, um, to this one, which is, you touched on, um, how life and death in shamanic cultures is, is much more integrated. It’s not nearly as binary as we view it as in Western culture. How has it affected your perspectives of, of mortality? Um, and the transition, has it reduced the fears around passing? I mean, you’re two years younger than my mom and you look, you know, in incredible shape and incredible [01:04:00] health. Um, uh, so I’m sure you have plenty of healthy years and I certainly hope you have plenty of healthy years ahead. Um, but has your perspective on mortality changed?

[01:04:10] Alberto: You know, in 2012, just as the world was ready to end, I got a terrible diagnosis. But I, as an anthropologist, I’d been in Africa and Indonesia and the jungles in South America. And I had picked up parasites and viruses. In, there were 12 in my body. They put me in a world map, the docs said we have this worm that is starts itself in the liver, and in the brain, that’s only found in north Africa, I said, Yeah, I’ve been there. So I had a dead liver, a heart full of holes, and parasites in my brain. And the docs at Mayo clinic said, you better get on in line for a liver transplant. And I go, oh my God. So, I took the next flight to the Amazon to work with the shamans that I had [01:05:00] worked with to sit in motion, healing, deep soul based healing process. And I use Western medicine to kill the, the, uh, I gave- I had to take the same medication that I give my dogs for worms, to kill the virus. There are five kinds of hepatitis. I had all five of them.

[01:05:19] Ronan: Jesus.

[01:05:19] Alberto: And I had parasites in my brain. And I knew I could maybe get a new liver, and maybe a new heart, but where was I going to find, uh, a good brain? And, um, and I did the Western meds. I killed the bugs, the parasites, and then I went on to grow a new body, to grow a new liver, which repairs naturally. I grew new heart. Grew a new brain. I knew how to turn the stem cells in the brain on again. And this is my most recent book is called Grow a New Body. Um, and I had great Western medical help, you know, good friends like Dr. Mark Hyman and Dr. David Perlmutter, were really with me the [01:06:00] whole way. And, and, um, and we have the ability to grow a new body. We grow new body every seven years, because every cell in your body is replaced every seven years. But to be able to grow new body, you’ve got to break into password protected regions in your DNA that will- and we have these instructions because we grew body to begin with. And in the process of doing so, I was preparing to die and preparing to live. And it was so rich to go through that preparation, to come to the end of my state, to give thanks to say, Wow, maybe this is the last morning that I get to see. And that’s remained with me. I have this deep gratitude and appreciation for life. And, and I know that, uh, that life is short that you cannot squander your life and it’s precious, and that, uh, [01:07:00] that we’re, we’re simply travelers. And there’s a difference between being a traveler and being a tourist. And I learned to become a traveler through life.

[01:07:12] Ronan: That’s beautiful. Thank you for sharing. Uh, thank you for sharing your time with us. It’s been incredibly insightful and I know that certainly I will be, uh, reading the books are- the exact title is how to grow a new body?

[01:07:25] Alberto: It’s called Grow a New Body. The improved version of the One Spirit Medicine book. Updated with all the new brain science.

[01:07:34] Ronan: Wonderful. I’m going to take a look for that. I am keen to do the same, even though I think fortunately right now I have no severe dysfunctions in my body in terms of that level of kind of issue, but can’t hurt to get an early start on it. So Alberto, thank you so much for making your time available to us-

[01:07:51] Alberto: You’re most welcome. Thank you. Thank you for what you do and blessings and, and be well.

[01:07:57] Ronan: To you as well. Thank you so much.[01:08:00]

I confess. I was a bit uneasy heading into my conversation with Alberto. In preparing for our conversation, I was struck by how much of the content on One Spirit Medicine seemed to provide an over-simplified path towards enlightenment and happiness. And I started the podcast position to take a confrontational tone on some issues, but with a single anecdote, Alberto won me over. When he told the story of how he responded to some indigenous people who looked at him with confusion with, It’s okay, I’m an anthropologist. In that moment, he reminded me that we are all on a journey, from ignorance to wisdom. And that he was no different than that. There seems to be this unenlightened tendency amongst some in modern Western culture, and disproportionately so in the psychedelic community I find, that anything indigenous is pure and ought to be protected and preserved, whether it wishes protection or preservation or not, often seems to be [01:09:00] irrelevant to the conversation. And Alberto’s insights that the indigenous communities, at least those he worked with, had what seemed like a much more empowering, engaging, and thoughtful perspective. And it was a good reminder that no matter where in the world you are, that we could all be happy if we could just shrink our egos and stop taking ourselves so seriously. Life is too serious to take that seriously.

To wrap today’s episode, let’s check out your questions to trip on. This question is, “Hey, Ronan. What do you think is the biggest misconception about psychedelics?” Fortunately, this is an easy one to answer. Most psychedelic substances like psilocybin, LSD, and MDMA are still scheduled in many Western countries, which means they’ve been determined to have no medical or therapeutic value. In fact, many people still believe that they are highly addictive and will ruin your brain. In both cases, almost nothing is further from the truth. [01:10:00] Trial after trial after trial has demonstrated that these molecules can have profound and significant medical, therapeutic, and emotional benefits, and they carry some of the lowest risks associated with any drugs, let alone narcotics. Certainly no drugs are entirely safe, but when it comes to psychedelics, these are just about as safe as it comes.

As a quick reminder, you can now record a question for us and we will play it on the show. It’s a great way for us to feel connected to you, our amazing listeners. To record your question, go to speakpipe.com/fieldtripping, or you can send us your questions, comments, or any episode ideas by email to [email protected]. That’s Kast with a K. Thanks for listening to Field Tripping, a podcast that’s dedicated to exploring psychedelic experiences and their ability to affect our lives. I’m your host Ronan Levy. Until next time, stay curious, breathe properly, and remember, every day is a field [01:11:00] trip if you let it be one.

Field Tripping is created by Ronan Levy. Our producers are Conrad Page and Jon Cvack, and associate producers are Sharon Bhella, Alec Sherman, and Macy Baker. Special thanks to Kast Media and of course, many thanks to Alberto for joining me today. To learn more about his background, teachings, and offerings, head to thefourwinds.com. Finally, please rate, review, and subscribe to our podcast and sign up for our newsletter fieldtripping.fm or wherever you get your podcasts.