Gaia’s Top 10 Videos On Plant Medicine and Psychedelics
As taboos fade and paradigms shift, our society is coming to learn the truly profound therapeutic benefits of plant medicine and shamanic traditions. While the tides have been slowly turning over the past few decades with our cultural perception and understanding of psychedelics, we’ve now entered into an era in which these natural, mind-expanding modalities are being embraced more than ever. Check out Gaia’s growing library of videos on these shamanic traditions and their ability to bring healing to humanity’s collective consciousness.
In this ground-breaking original series, experts explore the history and use of psychedelic plants including political ambitions, the perceived shadow side, and the proper environment to experience these substances. From the origins of Shamanism to the spiritual expression of modern awakenings, discover the role of sacred medicine as a gateway to expanded consciousness, and its continued influence on humanity.
2. Ayahuasca: Vine of the Soul
Can a sacred plant medicine from the Amazon heal our minds and spirits? In the heart of the jungle, a naturopathic doctor and an accountant experience life-altering epiphanies when they drink the psychoactive brew ayahuasca, the “vine of the soul.” This award-winning documentary explores the mystery of ayahuasca shamanism, offering insights into the nature of spirituality, mystical experience, and self-healing discovered through an expanded state of consciousness.
Is ayahuasca a doorway to direct knowledge of the divine or a path that leads to psychological trauma? Can it cure modern addictions to drugs and alcohol or is ayahuasca itself a possible substance of abuse? Some call it a medicine, others a sacrament; the Amazonian shamans say it is simply a “plant teacher” that tells you what you need to know.
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3. Healing Powers
The modern War on Drugs has deemed that all mind-altering substances are harmful for individuals and society at large, but in our new series Healing Powers, we travel the globe to show how people have been using “drugs” for as long as recorded history — both to heal mental ailments as well as support more conscious connections to the world around us.
Watch as Mareesa Stertz personally participates in psychedelic and healing experiences, learning first-hand of the restorative powers of cannabis, psilocybin mushrooms, ayahuasca, and other plant-based tonics, while meeting some of the individuals embracing alternative forms of medicine in an ever more pharmaceuticalized world.
4. Bufo Alvarius: The Underground Secret
A radical testimony of the strongest known natural psychedelic, tryptamine 5-MeO-DMT, produced by Bufo Alvarius, a toad of the Sonoran Desert. The breathtaking audio-visual adventure is enhanced by immersive animations inspired by the psychoactive effects of this extraordinary substance.
Fascinating stories of a group of Czech psychonauts are combined with personal insights of Stanislav Grof, a Nestor of transpersonal psychology, and Octavio Rettig, a modern shaman who has facilitated ceremonial contact with Bufo Alvarius for thousands of volunteers from around the world. For many, the experience has been life-changing.
Originally intended to simply document these experiences, the film evolved into an intense meditation on the nature of consciousness and being.
5. Neurons to Nirvana
A feature documentary about the resurgence of psychedelics as medicine. Psychedelics can be potent tools for getting to know who we are, who we can be, and for healing the trauma of a society that is addicted to greed and consumerism.
This film dares to break the taboo surrounding psychedelic medicines, by examining and revealing their proven potential to heal and alleviate suffering on a global scale. Through interviews with the world’s foremost researchers, writers, psychologists, and pioneers in psychedelic psychotherapy, the film explores the history and medicinal potential of five powerful psychedelic substances (LSD, Psilocybin, MDMA, Ayahuasca, and Cannabis).
6. Aya Awakenings
AYA: Awakenings is a documentary journey into the world and visions of Amazonian shamanism, adapted from the cult book AYA: A Shamanic Odyssey by Rak Razam. As Razam sets out to document the booming business of Amazonian shamanism in the 21st century, he quickly finds himself caught up in a culture clash between the old world and the new.
Braving a gringo trail of the soul, he uncovers a movement of “spiritual tourists” coming from the West for a direct experience of the multi-dimensional reality shamanism connects one to. Central to this is ayahuasca – the “vine of souls” – a legal South American entheogenic plant medicine that has been used by Amazonian people for millennia to heal physical ailments and to cleanse and purify the spirit.
7. Microdosing for Transformation
Paul Austin discusses the responsible and intentional use of psychedelics for spiritual transformation. He explains how microdoses of LSD, Psilocybin, and other psychoactive materials can help productivity, creativity, and flow states. From there we explore the benefits of combining microdosing with other consciousness enhancing practices, such as meditation and yoga. He claims the future is promising, as new research is underway combining different plant medicines for synergistic effects.
8. Amazonia: Healing With Sacred Plants
Psychologist, anthropologist, and author Alberto Villoldo has studied the shamanic healing practices of the Amazon for more than 25 years. In this beautifully filmed documentary, he shares the secrets of the jungle’s sacred plants and the healers who administer them, deep in the Amazon rainforest. Dr. Villoldo also explains the theory and process behind Ayahuasca, the legendary and powerful brew made by the shamans.
9. Terrence McKenna’s Prague Gnosis: Sasha Shulgin
Alexander Shulgin, Sasha to his friends, is nothing less than the godfather of psychopharmacology. Shulgin has given his life to the study of the pharmacology of the psychedelic experience. In the last episode of the series, while walking through the Old Jewish Cemetery of Prague, Terence and Sasha talk about tryptamine experiences, the problem with how America handles the drug crisis, and how they see themselves in all of this.
10. Mind Shift: Psychedelics and Religion
Many religions have used various mind-altering substances to connect with a creative mind, far beyond the limits of our five senses. In modern times, the use of these substances has become illegal. However, something is about to change. Daniel Pinchbeck talks with two luminaries to discuss the historical and future role of psychedelics and religion.
Artist, Alex Grey talks about the use of LSD as a creative tool for connecting with sacred reality through the visionary mystical experience. Then, author Michael Muhammad Knight offers his view of Islam that is considered controversial to some. Even more controversial was his profound experience with ayahuasca and the divine feminine. Both agree that bringing psychedelic sacrament back into religions would initiate a reemergence of the divine feminine and bring balance to the masculine dominance found in prominent religions in this inaugural episode.
What You Should Know About Your Liver
The liver is the second largest organ in the body (your skin is the largest) and arguably the most popular one mentioned in yoga studios, health magazines, and wellness centers throughout the spring and summer season. Considering your liver is involved in nearly 500 bodily functions—including detoxification and producing important proteins such as enzymes, hormones, blood proteins, clotting factors, and immune factors—there’s no mystery why it’s important to honor and protect this essential organ no matter what season it is.
However, after the winter is over, it’s a great time (from the Ayurvedic perspective) to purge any or all unhealthy winter habits and wake up to the vibrant energy of the spring season. As a yoga teacher, nutritionist, and Ayurvedic Health Educator, I’m always a student and curious about the human body and how it operates. I’m always eager to learn what I can do to make it thrive.
The liver and kidneys are the primary organs for detoxification and naturally help you cleanse by eliminating waste products in your sweat, urine, or feces. If your liver is in good shape, you will feel energetic and find it easy to think clearly and maintain a happy, stable mood. When the liver is not functioning well, it will not remove waste products efficiently and you will feel quite the opposite of healthy.
The liver acts as a proverbial club bouncer, standing guard at the entrance; on a daily basis, the liver filters unwanted items out of your bloodstream such as drugs (over the counter and prescription), alcohol, cigarettes, environmental pollutants, caffeine, food additives, smog, chemical household cleaning products, plus ammonia and bilirubin (which are produced in the body as a result of protein metabolism).
Please remember that every toxic substance mentioned above will eventually be processed by your liver. If your liver can’t break down the toxins, they simply don’t go anywhere, which makes it harder for the liver to do its regular job. To help give your liver a break, please take extra caution with alcohol consumption. If alcohol is consumed on a regular basis, normal liver function may be interrupted, leading to chemical imbalances and depression. Liver cells may be destroyed or altered, resulting in fatty deposits (fatty liver which will be covered next month), inflammation (alcoholic hepatitis), and/or permanent scarring (cirrhosis). Mixing alcohol and medications may also damage the liver.
If you use alcohol to relax or reduce stress at the end of a long day, consider getting some exercise instead, then treating yourself to a “mocktail” (non-alcoholic drink) and see if these replacements help you to feel more clear and emotionally stable at the end of each day.
One of the numerous incredibly cool things about your liver is that it has the extraordinary gift of regenerating itself. However, I don’t recommend overburdening it with unhealthy lifestyle choices and foods high in fat, sugar, cholesterol, and pesticides that may cause harm down the road.
Diet: Liver-Supporting Nutrients
Making an effort to eat seasonal, local, organic, whole foods rich in the following nutrients below are important preventative steps for optimal liver health. Here’s a short list of important liver-supporting nutrients and the foods rich in them, which can help keep your liver happy. I hope you enjoy adding them to your cart during your next visit to the market.
Folate (a B vitamin): Green leafy vegetables, spinach, kale, chard, beet greens, asparagus, broccoli, avocados, and brewer’s yeast.
Vitamin C: Grapefruit, lemon, red bell peppers, broccoli, brussels sprouts and strawberries.
Flavonoids: Beets, apples, blueberries, cabbage, parsley, tomatoes, strawberries, and white, green or black tea.
Magnesium: Dark green leafy vegetables, tofu, almonds, pecans, cashews, Brazil nuts, wheat bran, millet, brown rice, dried apricots.
Iron: Kelp, brewer’s yeast, blackstrap molasses, wheat bran, pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds, sunflower seeds, millet, organ meats, parsley, clams, almonds, dried prunes, raisins, Jerusalem artichokes, beet greens, egg yolks, whole wheat bread, oats, brown rice, dried peas, lima beans, kidney beans, green peas, almonds, artichokes, and dark green leafy vegetables.
Selenium: Found in our soil and will vary greatly depending on where your food was grown and how healthy the soil is. Foods with concentrated selenium include brewers’ yeast, wheat germ, liver, butter, molasses, Brazil nuts, oats, garlic, mushrooms, radishes, and tomatoes.
Cruciferous Vegetables: broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower.
Root: Turmeric (anti-inflammatory, helps the liver detoxify carcinogenic chemicals and stimulates the production of bile).
Herbs: Echinacea, dandelion, red clover, burdock, and milk thistle, which has a reputation for promoting the growth of new liver cells and might be worth exploring during a seasonal detox If you are considering a liver flush or cleanse, it’s important to make sure you stay hydrated and are also having regular bowel movements each day.
Daily bowel movements are essential because the chemicals and pollutants that get released in the body from the liver will end up in your stool for elimination. Slow or irregular elimination patterns may lead to further complications. During a detox phase, I often recommend mild laxatives such as Triphala (Indian formula found in most health food stores in capsule form), psyllium, flaxseeds, chia seeds, and prunes to ensure your colon is being emptied two to three times a day. I also recommend consulting with your local Ayurvedic practitioner (yogi health scientists) or nutritionist to support you in building a custom program that addresses your uniqueness and health goals.
As you can see there is a lot you can do in your daily life to support your liver. If you give your liver a break and limit the number of drugs, alcohol, pesticides, fatty foods, artificial sweeteners, and sugar in your diet on a regular basis, there would be less need to “detox” your liver. A balanced diet with regular exercise and hydration goes a long way in regard to the health of your organs.