Dennis McKenna and his brother, the late Terrence McKenna, were a couple of young explorers looking to expand their consciousness through the use of psychoactive substances. Together they started their adventure by going to South America in search of a form of orally active DMT which effects would last long enough to learn from the experience. During their travels, they found a lifelong passion for delving into the unknown.
Their work with psychoactive substances started with their curiosity about the unknown and resulted in them publishing books, media, and discussions which promoted the use of psychedelics, having since been shared with millions of people. Dennis and Terrence’s stories have inspired many other psychonauts to take the same initial leap that they once did.
Dennis has dedicated most of his life to researching psychoactive plants. Within his career, he has focused his attention largely on ayahuasca and psilocybin, and their use as medicines to help people live more productive spiritual lives. Although Dennis was the younger brother of Terrence, he managed to make his own name by focusing mainly on the science behind the psychedelic compounds in plants.
Dennis received his Master’s degree in botany from the University of Hawaii in 1979. Thereafter, he received his doctorate in botanical sciences in 1984 from the University of British Columbia where he wrote his dissertation on Monoamine oxidase inhibitors in Amazonian hallucinogenic plants: ethnobotanical, phytochemical, and pharmacological investigations.
Dennis was inspired to continue his education in understanding the chemical processes behind the psychedelic experience so he could better understand the plants. His research has included the pharmacology, botany, and chemistry of ayahuasca – a medicinal plant found in South America – and oo-koo-hé, a South American tree known for its psychoactive leaves and beans. He has also conducted extensive fieldwork in the Peruvian, Colombian, and Brazilian Amazon. Today, Dennis takes part in retreats and discussions that focus on psychoactive plants and how they can be used to promote a lifestyle that is more aligned with the needs of the planet we live on.
In this episode, we speak with Dennis McKenna, an explorer of consciousness, an American ethnopharmacologist, research pharmacognosist, lecturer and well-known author. Dennis shares with us the stories of his past adventures and some of his current passions. Further, he discusses what he thinks about the current state of psychedelics and what he perceives their future will be. He also talks to us about his newest book, Ethnopharmacologic Search for Psychoactive Drugs (ESPD50), and the history behind the publication.
We found it so stimulating speaking with Dennis, who is a hero to many (as well as myself) as he has spent the majority of his life’s work sharing knowledge which has allowed individuals the tools needed to change their minds. He has become an iconic figure all over the world because of his altruistic desire to share his knowledge on psychoactive substances and their many uses.
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