Updated: Mar 28, 2022
You might have heard some really crazy stories about what shamans can do. Cure cancer, talk to dead relatives, make your alcoholism disappear, even change the weather or see into the future. I had heard countless stories of these impossible abilities that were just too hard for me to believe. My scientific mind would make up my own story to explain what happened - a story that matched my western-trained, fact-based belief system. But, over time, I would hear more and more of these accounts from people I respect. Eventually the sheer number of these stories forced me to at least open my mind to the possibility that these "backwards" cultures who still believe in ancient superstitions and myths might actually know something we intellectually "superior" westerners don't. Rather, they seem to know something we have mostly forgotten.
If you talk to a shaman, they will tell you that their science is taught to them by communicating directly with the spirit of whatever it is they are studying. To understand the medicinal properties of a plant, for instance, the shaman will say they communicate with the spirit of the plant and the plant teaches them how they can be used. It sounds kinda crazy, right? But, the thing is, their methods work. They spend intense periods where they follow a strict diet and meditate while they consume the plant (eat, drink, smoke, bathe in it, etc). Eventually the plant will appear to the shaman, usually in visions, voices, or dreams, and literally tell them how the plant should be prepared and what the plant can heal. The skeptic might say, well, the shaman just knows their body extraordinarily well and can detect the physiological impact the plant is having. Perhaps that is true to some degree. But shamans will tell you that some plants will even teach them how to identify and use other unrelated plants.
According to widely agreed upon lore, at least one thousand years ago, a plant instructed a shaman to find two new plants and combine them in a brew. The shaman received a vision of what these two plants looked like and where they could be found. These plants required different habitats and could not be found growing together. When the shaman finally located the plants and prepared them as instructed, s/he discovered the drink produced powerful psychoactive effects. What was especially amazing about this discovery, is that one plant, Psychotria viridis, contained an ingredient called N, N-dimethyltryptamine that caused hallucinations, but our digestive system would break down the ingredient too fast to have any effect. Eat or drink this plant by itself and nothing happens. However, the other plant, a vine called Banisteriopsis caapi, just happened to have an ingredient that prevented the N, N-dimethyltryptamine from breaking down. Eat or drink the caapi vine alone and you get vomiting and diarrhea. Together, they became Aya***, one of the most powerful psychedelic medicines ever known to humans. There was no way the shaman could have guessed the N, N-dimethyltryptamine plant had this secret ingredient. So why would s/he be interested in combining it with something else? Better yet, why would s/he want to combine anything with a plant that makes you vomit and run to the toilet? Even if s/he knew about the N, N-dimethyltryptamine, with an estimated 80,000 species of plants in the Amazon, the odds of finding the right plant to combine with it, one that grew in a different environment, was miniscule.
If that’s not already impressive enough, how about something more current and personal! I have suffered for about 10 years from a condition called hypothyroidism. This is a disease where the thyroid gland doesn’t make enough thyroid hormone. The thyroid is critical for many body and brain functions. One cause of hypothyroidism is from not getting enough iodine in your diet, which is why we add iodine to table salt. Nowadays, though, it can come on quite mysteriously. It is believed that the most common way to get hypothyroidism today is from a viral infection. This type of hypothyroidism is also easily treated, by simply taking a pill that has thyroid hormone in it. But, according to traditional western medicine, there is no cure for it and I am doomed to take those pills for the rest of my life.
As many of you know, I spent time in both July and October in the Amazon Jungle drinking Aya*** and learning from a shaman named Don Lucho. I never told him anything about my health conditions, but, on my first visit, he said Aya*** told him that I had a problem with my thyroid. I’m an overweight 50-something woman, it could be a good guess. Except that my doctor caught it early and I never had it very bad, so I never got most of the telltale symptoms. I had been slowly needing to increase my dose as my thyroid function worsened, but it was still relatively mild. Aya*** also showed him some other issues I was having (I’ll share that another day) and said Lucho would need a month to heal me. I didn’t think I’d be able to return for a whole month, but the stars aligned and I was able to spend October with him. In preparation for drinking Aya***, I was required to go off all of my medications, including my thyroid pill. The last day I took it was 9/28. During my stay, Lucho had me spend time getting to know a new plant called Ajo Sacha. According to Lucho, this plant told him it could help him heal my thyroid.
I spent 6 weeks off of my medications. 6 weeks is exactly how long it takes to see the effect of a change in your dose. To be honest, I had forgotten about my thyroid until I returned home and saw my pills sitting by the side of my bed. I felt great, so I decided to continue not taking them until I could get my thyroid tested again. I was curious if there was any change and whether the change would be good or bad. To my amazement, not only was the change good, but the results were completely normal! My thyroid was functioning on its own and functioning perfectly! Throughout my entire medical career, I was told that this is impossible. I need to get it tested again in 3 months, just to be sure, but getting off a lifelong medication is downright miraculous in my book.
Happy New to You All! May you be blessed with good health and quality bud!