Hunting Magic Mushrooms and DMT in South America - Dennis McKenna #21

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In this episode of ReWild Yourself! podcast, Dennis McKenna — an ethnopharmacologist who has studied plant hallucinogens for over forty years — explains what happens when psychedelics are in our systems and recounts some of his fascinating adventures with his brother Terence McKenna in South America hunting psilocybin mushrooms and DMT.

Episode Breakdown:

  • What is ethnopharmacology?
  • Merging science and the spiritual
  • The spectrum of food and medicine in tribal cultures
  • What happens when psychedelics are in our system
  • Serotonin upgrades
  • Psychedelics bring the background to the foreground
  • Plant vs synthetic drugs
  • Adventures with his brother Terence McKenna in South America hunting mushrooms and DMT
  • A nutrient deficiency causing reductionist and materialistic world view


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You can’t be drug free because you’re made of drugs. Tweet it!

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Meet Dennis

Dennis McKenna is currently Assistant Professor in the Center for Spirituality and Healing at the University of Minnesota. His research has focused on the interdisciplinary study of Amazonian ethnopharmacology and plant hallucinogens. He has conducted extensive ethnobotanical fieldwork in the Peruvian, Colombian, and Brasilian Amazon, recently completing a four-year project investigating Amazonian ethnomedicines as potential treatments for cognitive disorders in schizophrenia. His doctoral research (University of British Columbia,1984) focused on the ethnopharmacology of ayahuasca and oo-koo-he, two tryptamine-based hallucinogens used by indigenous peoples in the Northwest Amazon. Dr. McKenna completed post-doctoral research fellowships in neurosciences in the Laboratory of Clinical Pharmacology, National Institute of Mental Health (1986-88), and in the Department of Neurology, Stanford University School of Medicine (1988-90). He joined Shaman Pharmaceuticals as Director of Ethnopharmacology in 1990, and subsequently joined Aveda Corporation as Senior Reseach Pharmacognosist. He is a founding board member of the Heffter Research Institute. He was a key organizer and participant in the Hoasca Project, the first biomedical investigation of ayahuasca used by the UDV, a Brazilian religious group. Dr. McKenna is author or co-author of three books and over 40 scientific papers in peer-reviewed journals.