The Search for New Psychoactive Medicine in the Amazon

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Take a peek inside the Amazon Rainforest’s medicine cabinet in an intimate talk with renowned ethnobotanists Dr. Dennis McKenna, Dr. Luis Eduardo Luna and Dr. Mark Plotkin, as they reflect on over thirty years of research and discovery in the rainforest.

This evening will also feature the short documentary The Shaman and The Scientist with director Sarah Hutt and will be moderated by ethnomusicologist, sound researcher and therapist Alexandre Tannous who will also be sharing his research. The discussion will be followed by a Q & A.

Tickets for this event are free for members and $25 for non-members, with proceeds benefitting the International Center for Ethnobotanical Education, Research, and Service (ICEERS), Wasiwaska Coastal Rainforest Reforestation Project, and the Amazon Conservation Team.


About the Speakers:

Dr. Dennis McKenna has conducted research in ethnopharmacology for over 30 years. He is a founding board member and Director of Ethnopharmacology at the Heffter Research Institute, and was a key investigator on the Hoasca Project, the first biomedical investigation of ayahuasca. He is the younger brother of Terence McKenna. He taught courses in Ethnopharmacology, Botanical Medicines, and Plants in Human Affairs from 2000-2017 as an adjunct Assistant Professor in the Center for Spirituality and Healing at the University of Minnesota. He has recently taken a break from academic activities to concentrate on envisioning and manifesting new opportunities. 

Dr. Luis Eduardo Luna received a Ph.D from the department of Comparative Religion at Stockholm University in 1989 and was named Doctor of Humane Letters by St. Lawrence University in 2002. He was an Assistant Professor in Anthropology (1994-1998) at the Department of Anthropology of Santa Catarina Federal University (UFSC) in Florianópolis, Brazil, and retired from the department of Modern Languages and Communication at the Hanken School of Economics in Helsinki in 2011. He is a Guggenheim Fellow, and a Fellow of The Linnean Society. Luna is author ofVegetalismo: Shamanism among the Mestizo Population of the Peruvian Amazon (1986), co-author with Pablo Amaringo of Ayahuasca Visions: The Religious Iconography of a Peruvian Shaman (1991), and co-author with Slawek Wojtowicz, Rick Strassman, and Ede Frecska of Inner Paths to Outer Space: Journeys through Psychedelics and Other Spiritual Technologies  (2008). He is also co-editor with Steven F. White of Ayahuasca Reader: Encounters with the Amazon’s Sacred Vine (2000), with an expanded second edition published in 2016. Luna has lectured on plants and shamanism worldwide, and has curated art exhibitions in Europe, Latin America, and the United States, and directed two documentary 16mm films, Don Emilio and His Little Doctors (1981), And so, I tell them to Paint (1991). He is director of Wasiwaska, Research Center for the Study of Psychointegrator Plants, Visionary Art, and Consciousness in Florianópolis, Brazil. 

Dr. Mark Plotkin trained as an ethnobotanist by Richard Evans Schultes, Plotkin attended Harvard, Yale, and Tufts. His first book, Tales of a Shaman's Apprentice has gone through more than 40 printings, his IMAX film "Amazon" was nominated for an Academy Award, and his TED Talk has garnered well over a million views. Plotkin serves as President of the Amazon Conservation Team which has partnered with more than 50 South American tribes to map and improve management and protection of over 80 million acres of ancestral lands.


Sarah Hutt is an author, director, and documentary producer. Her Emmy-nominated work has appeared on VICELAND, The Discovery Channel, National Geographic Wild, MSNBC, Animal Planet, Travel Channel, and The History Channel, to name a few. Her writing has made the NY Times bestseller list and she is a Publisher's Weekly starred reviewed author of non-fiction books for children and young adults. She is the owner of Cave Productions, a production company that offers content creation and story consulting services.

Alexandre Tannous is as an ethnomusicologist, sound therapist and sound researcher. He has been investigating the therapeutic and esoteric properties of sound from three different perspectives — Western scientific, Eastern philosophical, and shamanic societal beliefs — to gain a deeper understanding of how, and to what extent, sound has been used to affect human consciousness. This search has led him to the intersection of art, science, philosophy and spirituality. The material he transmits about sound is based on a multidisciplinary research over 13 years: observations he made during his fieldwork in over 40 countries, scientific studies, personal experiences, and data collected from thousands of people he has worked with doing sound therapy. This has led him to a deeper understanding of how sound reveals and unlocks hidden powers we have within us to promote profound inner transformation and healing.