Plants of the Gods — Dr. Mark Plotkin on Ayahuasca, Shamanic Knowledge, the Curse and Blessing of Coca, and More (#508)

Photo credit: Amazon Conservation Team 

Welcome to The Tim Ferriss Show, where it is usually my job to deconstruct world-class performers, to tease out their routines, habits, et cetera that you can apply to your own life. This time around, we have a very special edition featuring not one but three short episodes of the Plants of the Gods podcast, hosted by my friend and past podcast guest, Dr. Mark Plotkin. I’ve listened to all his episodes and chose a few favorites to share with you all.

Mark (@DocMarkPlotkin) is an ethnobotanist who serves as president of the Amazon Conservation Team, which has partnered with ~80 tribes to map and improve management and protection of ~100 million acres of ancestral rainforests. He is best known to the general public as the author of the book Tales of a Shaman’s Apprentice, one of the most popular books ever written about the rainforest. His most recent book is The Amazon: What Everyone Needs to Know. You can find my interview with Mark at tim.blog/markplotkin

I am excited to share with you three episodes from Plants of the Gods—the first covering the adventures of the legendary ethnobotanist Richard Evans Schulte‪s‬, the second on ayahuasca, and the third on coca and cocaine. These episodes cover a lot of fascinating ground. 

If you enjoy them and want more, be sure to check out the Plants of the Gods podcast wherever podcasts can be found. You can learn about everything from hallucinogenic snuffs to the diverse formulations of curare (a plant mixture which relaxes the muscles of the body and leads to asphyxiation), and much, much more.  

Please enjoy!

Listen to the episode on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Overcast, Stitcher, Castbox, Google Podcasts, or on your favorite podcast platform.

Brought to you by Tonal smart home gym; LinkedIn Sales Navigator, the best version of LinkedIn for sales professionals; and Athletic Greens all-in-one nutritional supplement. More on all three below.

The transcript of this episode can be found here. Transcripts of all episodes can be found here.

#508: Plants of the Gods — Ayahuasca, Shamanic Knowledge, Coca, and the Adventures of Richard Evans Schultes

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What was your favorite quote or lesson from this episode? Please let me know in the comments.

SCROLL BELOW FOR LINKS AND SHOW NOTES…

Want to hear my earlier conversation with Dr. Mark Plotkin? Lend your ears to our discussion about Richard Evans Schultes as a “trickster” in the shamanic tradition, how a shaman in the northeastern part of the Amazon cured Mark’s foot pain instantly when no one else could, the “holes” in Western medicine’s understanding, hallucinogenic frogs, the risks of ayahuasca and other Amazon-derived hallucinogens, and much more.

#469: Dr. Mark Plotkin on Ethnobotany, Real vs. Fake Shamans, Hallucinogens, and the Dalai Lamas of South America

https://rss.art19.com/episodes/53ff9b3d-96ca-40bb-b3c8-58d34ccb1936.mp3Download

SELECTED LINKS FROM THE EPISODE

Connect with Dr. Mark Plotkin:

Website | Plants of the Gods Podcast

Amazon Conservation Team | Twitter | Facebook

Tales of a Shaman’s Apprentice: An Ethnobotanist Searches for New Medicines in the Amazon Rain Forest by Mark J. PlotkinThe Amazon: What Everyone Needs to Know by Mark J. PlotkinWhere Is Punt? | NovaThe Amazonian Travels of Richard Evans Schultes | The Amazon Conservation TeamHarvard Museum of Natural HistoryEast Boston | Global BostonBoston Public Library Celebrates 150th Anniversary of East Boston Branch | Boston Public LibraryNotes of a Botanist on the Amazon and the Andes by Richard Spruce | AmazonWhat Is Ayahuasca? Experience, Benefits, and Side Effects | HealthlineMescal: The Divine Plant and Its Psychological Effects by Heinrich Kluver | Giorgio Samorini NetworkThe Economic Botany of the Kiowa Indians as it Relates to the History of the Tribe by Paul A. Vestal and Richard Evans Schultes | HathiTrust Digital LibraryShamanic Origins of Religion and Medicine by Weston La Barre | Journal of Psychedelic DrugsTeonanacatl: The Narcotic Mushroom of the Aztecs by Richard Evans Schultes | American AnthropologistFly Agaric | US Forest ServiceVisken (Pindolol) | RxListPlants of the Gods: Their Sacred, Healing, and Hallucinogenic Powers by Richard Evans Schultes, Albert Hofmann, and Christian Rätsch | AmazonPhotography of Richard Evans Schultes | Covinda GalleryChiribiquete National Park – “The Maloca of the Jaguar” | UNESCO World Heritage CentreMuseum of Comparative ZoologyThe Biology of Consciousness: From William James to Richard Schultes by Brian D. Farrell | ReVistaThe Dose Makes the Poison Concept | ToxicitySacred Plants of the Putumayo | ESRIRichard Evans Schultes: World War II and the Rubber Industry | Our Amazing WorldThe Sherman Tank SiteBr’er Rabbit and the Briar Patch | Quatr.us Study GuidesPlant Admixtures to Ayahuasca, the South American Hallucinogenic Drink by Homer Virgil Pinkley | LloydiaYoco, The Natural Caffeine High by Dr. Andrew Weil | High Times via 420 TeleportQuinine | RxListColombia’s Cofan Still Fighting for Survival | SFGateColombia Creates Rainforest Reserve to Protect Medicinal Plants | MongabayTop 10 Machu Picchu Secrets | National GeographicThe Yage Letters by William S. Burroughs and Allen GinsbergThe Immortality Key: The Secret History of the Religion with No Name by Brian Muraresku | AmazonThe World’s Largest Psychedelic Research Center | The Tim Ferriss Show #385Altered Minds: Mescaline’s Complicated History | NatureDiplopterys Cabrerana (Chaliponga) | Erowid VaultAyahuasca Molecules Named “Telepathine” by Early Scientists | KahpiWhat Is Yopo? | Zamnesia BlogCoca: The History and Medical Significance of an Ancient Andean Tradition | Emergency Medicine InternationalCoca Leaf: Myths and Reality | Transnational InstitutePicea Rubens (Red Spruce) | Native Plants of North AmericaLarch | Dr. HauschkaSapodilla (Manilkara Zapota) | Rainforest AllianceAbout the Kogi | Tairona Heritage TrustMoche Civilization | World History EncyclopediaRoyal Tombs Museum | PeruErotic Gallery | Museo LarcoThe Coca Wine Fad: A Brief History | The Drinks BusinessFact Check: Cocaine in Coca-Cola? | SnopesGuns, Heroin Syringes, and Sex Hygiene Equipment: Archaeological Dig Reveals Sordid History of Storyville Red Light District of New Orleans | The IndependentThe Yucuna Indians (or Yukuna) | Laurent FontaineThe Tanimuca and Letuama Indians | Laurent FontaineErythroxylum Coca Lamarck | The Encyclopedia of Psychoactive PlantsMambe Series: Staying Still to Be Smart with the Plant | The City Paper BogotáSoroche Suffering: How to Prevent Altitude Sickness in Peru | EphemerraticThe Dark Side of the Moon by Pink Floyd | Amazon MusicReefer Madness (1936) | Inter-Pathé

SHOW NOTES

Who was Richard Evans Schultes, and how did Mark’s path first cross with his? [07:32]Why was Schultes (generally) so well-regarded by colleagues, students, and the indigenous people he worked alongside? [11:57]How did Schultes’ background prepare him to approach his career with the fresh perspective of a respectful outsider, what brought ethnobotany into his sphere of interests, and what experience cemented it as his primary pursuit? [14:28]The spirit to explore and experiment that made Schultes a superior botanist to his less adventurous peers, and the compounds he was able to retrieve for the benefit of all as a result. [19:18]How did an expedition into the Amazon influence William James, the father of American psychology? [24:45]That time Schultes went to Colombia to find medicinal arrow poison and came home with an orchid never before seen by Western eyes. [26:47]How Schultes was recruited to use his skills as a botanist to aid the American effort during WWII instead of being sent to fight on the front lines when he tried to enlist. [28:45]On Schultes’ introduction to yoco and the allure of the Chiribiquete. [30:22]Who was Alexander Hamilton Rice, and what was his contribution to ethnobotany? [32:35]How do the Yacuna people dance the Baile de Muñeco for three days straight? [35:30]On Schultes’ introduction to ayahuasca and differing accounts about how it all went down. [36:21]How Schultes’ legacy lives on. [38:43]Biocultural conservation is not about saving rainforests, saving the indigenous people there, or saving their shamans. They are intricately linked. [42:48]Schultes on ayahuasca. [45:15]Were Christianity and Judaism founded under the influence of mind-altering substances? [46:14]Why previously isolated shamanic substances are increasingly becoming mainstreamed into Western medicine. [47:03]How Mark’s Amazon Conservation Team is working with the indigenous people of the Amazon and local governments to preserve, cultivate, and learn about the compounds to be found there for the benefit of those who live among them. [49:33]On the now global reach and importance of the once-obscure ayahuasca, and how it’s been used in the Amazon since antiquity. [52:04]Western reaction upon first experiencing ayahuasca and other mind-altering compounds hasn’t always been welcoming. [54:40]The reason behind the naming of the Banisteriopsis caapi. [56:01]Admixtures added to ayahuasca to alter the type, intensity, and duration of the experience, and the mystery of how shamans brought some of them together from such disparate ecosystems. [57:17]What might be expected from a first-time experience with ayahuasca. [1:00:47]The difference between an ethnobotanist and an anthropologist. [1:02:04]Mark’s worst ayahuasca experience. [1:03:19]Why ayahuasca and comparable compounds are rightfully called plants of the gods. [1:05:04]Humans have been using coca for at least 8,000 years. [1:06:04]How a famous houseguest’s abandoned stash of chicle led to the invention of a multi-billion dollar industry. [1:06:31]The varieties of coca and their uses. [1:08:44]For the Kogis of Northern Colombia, exchanging coca leaves is the ultimate bonding exercise. [1:10:21]What we know about coca use in antiquity. [1:10:58]Coca was an instant hit when it was “discovered” by Europeans in the 1500s. Here are just a few of its most creative applications. [1:12:38]What Mark considers to be the most interesting use of coca. [1:15:02]How admixtures work with coca-derived substances. [1:16:55]How to know if they’re selling you the real deal next time you’re at a market in the Andes. [1:21:39]What to do if you’re suffering from altitude sickness in the Andes and you hear Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon at half speed. [1:22:08]Is non-addictive ipadu unfairly maligned in the same way cannabis was in the age of Reefer Madness? How does Mark envision a future where coca can be sustainably cultivated in a way that benefits the people of the Amazon? [1:23:25]

PEOPLE MENTIONED

Richard Evans SchultesBrian HettlerDr. Paul CoxWade DavisRichard SpruceOakes AmesHeinrich KlüverWeston La BarreWilliam SaffordAlbert HofmannLouis AgassizWilliam JamesBrian FarrellParacelsusHomer Virgil PinkleyAlexander Hamilton RiceFrancisco de OrellanaSimón BolívarHiram Bingham IIIEleanor Elkins WidenerSalvador ChindoyWilliam S. BurroughsBrian MurareskuStanislav GrofConstantino TorresJose Chantre y HerreraBronwyn GatesAntonio López de Santa AnnaThomas AdamsTim PlowmanThe Lord of SipánKing TutLady of CaoSigmund FreudThomas EdisonUlysses S. GrantHenrik IbsenJules VerneJohn Pemberton

Psychedelics 101: Books, Documentaries, Podcasts, Science, and More

By popular request, I recorded the short video above to cover what I consider “psychedelics 101.” There is a sea of misinformation out there, and the video covers resources I consider well vetted. All links are listed below. Please be sure to see the important disclaimer at the bottom of this post. 

BOOKS AND ARTICLES:

How to Change Your Mind: What the New Science of Psychedelics Teaches Us About Consciousness, Dying, Addiction, Depression, and Transcendence by Michael Pollan“The Trip Treatment” by Michael Pollan, The New YorkerThe Healing Journey: Pioneering Approaches to Psychedelic Therapy by Claudio Naranjo The Secret Chief Revealed by Myron J. StolaroffConsciousness Medicine: Indigenous Wisdom, Entheogens, and Expanded States of Consciousness for Healing and Growth by Françoise Bourzat Wizard of the Upper Amazon: The Story of Manuel Córdova-Rios by F. Bruce LambSinging to the Plants: A Guide to Mestizo Shamanism in the Upper Amazon by Stephan V. Beyer

DOCUMENTARIES/VIDEO SERIES: 

Trip of CompassionFrom Shock to AweDOSEDHorizons Video Series | Horizons Vimeo | Horizons Conference YouTube

PODCAST EPISODES: 

Overview of Psychedelic Fact vs. Fiction — Microdosing, Mind-Enhancing Methods, and More | The Tim Ferriss Show #377Dr. Gabor Maté — New Paradigms, Ayahuasca, and Redefining Addiction | The Tim Ferriss Show #298Michael Pollan — Exploring The New Science of Psychedelics | The Tim Ferriss Show #313Michael Pollan — Exploring the Frontiers of Psychedelics | The Tim Ferriss Show #365Marcela Ot’alora — How to Become a Psychedelic Therapist | The Tim Ferriss Show #396Rick Doblin — The Psychedelic Domino That Tips All Others | The Tim Ferriss Show #440Are Psychedelic Drugs the Next Medical Breakthrough? #104 | The Tim Ferriss Show

RESEARCH CENTERS: 

The Center for Psychedelic and Consciousness Research | Johns HopkinsCentre for Psychedelic Research | Imperial College LondonCenter for Psychedelic Medicine | NYU Langone HealthBerkeley Center for the Science of Psychedelics | UC Berkeley

PEOPLE:

Roland GriffithsMatthew JohnsonRobin Carhart-HarrisDavid NuttMichael BogenschutzStephen Ross

IMPORTANT DISCLAIMER: These plants and compounds are illegal in many countries, and even possession can carry severe criminal penalties. None of this post constitutes medical advice or should be construed as a recommendation to use psychedelics. There are serious legal, psychological, and physical risks. Psychedelics are not for everyone—they can exacerbate certain emotional problems, and there have been, in very rare cases, fatalities.

Dr. Adam Gazzaley, UCSF — Brain Optimization and the Future of Psychedelic Medicine (#507)

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“I wanted to do research that then leapt off the page and became tools that would enter people’s lives and make a meaningful difference to them.”

— Dr. Adam Gazzaley

Adam Gazzaley, MD, PhD (@adamgazz), is the David Dolby Distinguished Professor of Neurology, Physiology, and Psychiatry at the University of California, San Francisco, and the founder and executive director of Neuroscape, a translational neuroscience center engaged in technology development and scientific research of novel brain assessments and optimization tools. Adam is co-founder and chief science advisor of Akili Interactive, Sensync, and JAZZ Venture Partners. He has been a scientific adviser for more than a dozen technology companies, including Apple, GE, Nielsen, and Deloitte.

Adam has filed multiple patents—notably his invention of the first video game cleared by the FDA—authored more than 150 scientific articles, and delivered over 675 invited presentations around the world. He wrote and hosted the nationally televised PBS special The Distracted Mind with Dr. Adam Gazzaley and co-authored The Distracted Mind: Ancient Brains in a High-Tech World, winner of the 2017 PROSE Award. Adam has received many awards and honors, including the 2015 Society for Neuroscience Science Educator Award and the 2020 Global Gaming Citizen honor.

Visit this page to learn more about the Neuroscape Psychedelic Division, which is dedicated to advancing the field of psychedelic science and medicine through multi-level research covering basic to translational to clinical science.

Please enjoy!

Listen to the episode on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Overcast, Stitcher, Castbox, Google Podcasts, or on your favorite podcast platform.

Brought to you by Wealthfront automated investing, ExpressVPN virtual private network service, and Allform premium, modular furniture. More on all three below.

The transcript of this episode can be found here. Transcripts of all episodes can be found here.

#507: Dr. Adam Gazzaley, UCSF — Brain Optimization and The Future of Psychedelic Medicine

https://rss.art19.com/episodes/0b348b6e-ed5e-472e-983b-e2a77e6fc63e.mp3Download

This episode is brought to you by WealthfrontWealthfront pioneered the automated investing movement, sometimes referred to as ‘robo-advising,’ and they currently oversee $20 billion of assets for their clients. It takes about three minutes to sign up, and then Wealthfront will build you a globally diversified portfolio of ETFs based on your risk appetite and manage it for you at an incredibly low cost. 

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What was your favorite quote or lesson from this episode? Please let me know in the comments.

SCROLL BELOW FOR LINKS AND SHOW NOTES…

Want to time travel with me back to my first episode with Dr. Adam Gazzaley? Give your ears a listen to my conversation with the Maverick of Brain Optimization himself in which we discussed theories of cognition, common misconceptions about the brain and cognitive function, morning rituals, the crossroads of hallucinogens and neuroscience, the neurological impacts of modafinil, and much more.

SELECTED LINKS FROM THE EPISODE

Connect with Adam Gazzaley:

Website | Neuroscape | Twitter | Facebook | Instagram | LinkedIn

Neuroscape Psychedelic Division (Please email neuroscape [at] ucsf.edu if you’d like to donate with cryptocurrency.)The Distracted Mind: Ancient Brains in a High-Tech World by Adam Gazzaley and Larry D. RosenThe Distracted Mind with Adam Gazzaley | Prime VideoDr. Adam Gazzaley: The Maverick of Brain Optimization | The Tim Ferriss Show #83Multitasking Video Game Improves Cognition in 79-Year-Olds! | Psychology In ActionNeuroRacer: A Video Game to Sharpen the Mind | WSJ VideoThe Grateful DeadRolling StoneThe Grammy AwardsEffects of Transcranial Direct Current Stimulation on Cognition, Mood, Pain, and Fatigue in Multiple Sclerosis: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis | Frontiers in NeurologyFDA Approves Video Game Based on UCSF Brain Research as ADHD Therapy for Kids | UCSFAkili InteractivePureTech HealthA Novel Digital Intervention for Actively Reducing Severity of Paediatric ADHD (STARS-ADHD): A Randomised Controlled Trial | The LancetDe Novo Classification Request | FDAPremarket Notification 510(k) | FDAAttention Search Results | PubMedDistraction Search Results | PubMedUniversity of California, San Francisco | UCSFMagnum, P.I. | Prime VideoPI Status | UCSF Office of Sponsored ResearchElectroencephalogram (EEG) | Johns Hopkins MedicineAre Psychedelic Drugs the Next Medical Breakthrough? | The Tim Ferriss Show #104How to Change Your Mind: What the New Science of Psychedelics Teaches Us About Consciousness, Dying, Addiction, Depression, and Transcendence by Michael Pollan | AmazonMichael Pollan — Exploring the Frontiers of Psychedelics | The Tim Ferriss Show #365Rick Doblin — The Psychedelic Domino That Tips All Others | The Tim Ferriss Show #440Psychedelics — Microdosing, Mind-Enhancing Methods, and More | The Tim Ferriss Show #377The World’s Largest Psychedelic Research Center | The Tim Ferriss Show #385Developing a Multimodal Biosensor for Remote Physiological Monitoring | BMJ Military HealthMultisensory Integration: Current Issues from the Perspective of the Single Neuron | Nature Reviews NeuroscienceDr. Mark Plotkin on Ethnobotany, Real vs. Fake Shamans, Hallucinogens, and the Dalai Lamas of South America | The Tim Ferriss Show #469Know Your Brain: Default Mode Network | Neuroscientifically ChallengedNick Norris — Navy SEAL and Athlete on Training, Post-Traumatic Growth, and Healing | The Tim Ferriss Show #378Principles of Experience-Dependent Neural Plasticity: Implications for Rehabilitation After Brain Damage | Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing ResearchEgo-Dissolution and Psychedelics: Validation of the Ego-Dissolution Inventory (EDI) | Human NeurosciencePsychedelic Therapy and Bad Trips | Scientific American Blog NetworkMy Hellishly Bad Acid Trip, and What I Learned in the Aftermath | ViceDifference Between Open Loop & Closed Loop System (with Comparison Chart) | Circuit GlobeGames and Technology | NeuroscapeMinority Report | Prime VideoPöpcørn: Recipes with The Swedish Chef | The MuppetsMultidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies | MAPSMeet “Pine,” the Bitcoin Philanthropist Who Set Up the $85 Million Pineapple Fund | Bitcoin Magazine

SHOW NOTES

How NeuroRacer, the game Adam helped develop, helps older adults regain the cognitive function they had in their 20s, and why its featured spot as the cover story of Nature made Adam feel like he’d won a Grammy. [06:46]What has motivated Adam to pursue groundbreaking scientific discoveries and developments? [14:50]Improving upon the work that went into NeuroRacer and building the first video game therapeutic to be approved by the FDA: EndeavorRX. [18:13]Why does the mechanism behind this game prove effective in improving attention abilities in children with a wide variety of conditions including autism, depression, ADHD, and multiple sclerosis? [25:38]How does UCSF compare to its peers in the ecosystem of research within the United States? What is its focus? [29:22]Is risk-taking a critical ingredient for the enthusiasm required for scientific breakthroughs? How has Adam’s work evolved through these breakthroughs over the past decade we’ve known each other? [32:41]An important announcement about Neuroscape’s brand new division and its incoming, world-class director, and how and why it all came about so quickly — especially during a year of global pandemic. [39:08]How will Adam and Robin’s work fill in a gap that’s been thus far lacking in this type of research, and what is Adam most looking forward to exploring in this field with Neuroscape’s sophisticated resources of experience and technology at their disposal? How will their approach differ from methods that have been used in this area since the ’60s? [50:58]Just as the EndeavorRx game adapts to specific users for effectively treating a variety of conditions, does Adam foresee a way for psychedelic therapies to be customized for their patients to address seemingly disparate conditions? [1:07:02]How do we reduce the chances of a patient who is undergoing psychedelic therapy enduring a destabilizing amount of stress that causes more harm than it cures? Here’s where shamans and Adam’s closed-loop systems might mutually benefit from a knowledge exchange. [1:17:54]There’s not really one psychedelic community, but a number of tribal factions at odds with one another along the spectrum between science and superstition. In such a friction-heavy environment, why does Adam think his work has been viewed in such a positive light? [1:22:34]A request for the audience from Adam, information about how interested listeners might get involved with or support his research, and parting thoughts. [1:27:30]

PEOPLE MENTIONED

Matt MullenwegKevin RoseDarya RoseMickey HartMatt OmernickEddie MartucciScott H. KollinsRobin Carhart-HarrisRalph MetznerMichael PollanRick DoblinThe Swedish ChefLeo ZeffStan GrofJennifer MitchellPineStorm

Greg McKeown — The Art of Effortless Results, How to Take the Lighter Path, the Joys of Simplicity, and More (#510)

Illustration via 99designs

“If you focus on what you have, you gain what you lack. And if you focus on what you lack, you lose what you have.”

— Greg McKeown

Greg McKeown (<a href="https://twitter.com/GregoryMcKeow

George Mumford, Mindfulness Coach to Michael Jordan and Kobe Bryant, on Awareness, Compassionate Action, the Dizziness of Freedom, and More (#509)

Illustration via 99designs

“When you go get interviewed, if they tell you you’re the greatest thing since sliced bread, you say, ‘Thank you,’ and you just smile. And if they tell you you’re the biggest choke artist of all time, you just t

Psychedelics 101: Books, Documentaries, Podcasts, Science, and More

By popular request, I recorded the short video above to cover what I consider “psychedelics 101.” There is a sea of misinformation out there, and the video covers resources I consider well vetted. All links are listed below. Please be sure to see the important disclaimer at the bottom of this post. 

BOOKS AND ARTICLES:

How to Change Your Mind: What the New Science of Psychedelics Teaches Us About Consciousness, Dying, Addiction, Depression, and Transcendence by Michael Pollan“The Trip Treatment” by Michael Pollan, The New YorkerThe Healing Journey: Pioneering Approaches to Psychedelic Therapy by Claudio Naranjo The Secret Chief Revealed by Myron J. Stolaroff<li

Balaji Srinivasan on The Future of Bitcoin and Ethereum, How to Become Noncancelable, the Path to Personal Freedom and Wealth in a New World, the Changing Landscape of Warfare, and More (#506)

Illustration via 99designs

“If code scripts machines, media scripts human beings.”

— Balaji Srinivasan

Balaji S. Srinivasan (<a rel="noreferrer noopener" href="https: