The Natural Evolution Podcast

Season 2

Episode 7

S2E7 – Aliveness, Psychedelics, and Being Midwives of the Next World with Dr. Maya Shetreat

If you ever feel like the world is just too much, like you’re ‘all over the place’, heavy, or lonely, there is one thing you absolutely should know- you are not alone in that feeling. 

Dr. Maya Shetreat recognized early on in her career as an MD just how many people were walking around feeling disconnected to themselves, their bodies, and the world around them resulting in physical, emotional, and spiritual pain. She knew treating the physical body was not the whole picture- we must treat the spiritual as well. 

Maya Shetreat, MD is a neurologist, herbalist, urban farmer, and author of The Dirt Cure. She founded the Terrain Institute to combine her knowledge and invite every one of us to join her on a journey to help better understand why we’re here in this lifetime, to learn how to embrace the “weird” parts of ourselves, and to develop a healing connection to the Earth.

In our conversation together, we talk about what it feels like to make decisions that don’t honor ourselves. Specifically how that affects us, what psychedelics can teach us about navigating the unknown, and the definitions and details of plant medicine – microdosing and other healing practices. 

To learn more about Dr. Maya and the Terrain Institute visit drmaya.com | SHEtreat and follow her on Facebook and Instagram @ drmayashetreat.

Head over to https://rebelhealthtribe.com/kit to get a free download of our loaded quick start guide to help you along your healing journey.  If you like us, subscribe, review, and share us with your friends, and come join our Rebel Health Tribe group on Facebook.

Listen to Episode #7

This episode with Dr. Maya Shetreat we talk about what it feels like to make decisions that don’t honor ourselves. How that affects us, what psychedelics can teach us about navigating the unknown, as well as the definitions and details of plant medicine – microdosing & other healing practices.

About our Guest

Maya Shetreat, MD is a neurologist, herbalist, urban farmer, and author of The Dirt Cure. She has been featured in the New York Times, The Telegraph, NPR, Sky News, The Dr. Oz Show and more.

Dr. Maya is the founder of the Terrain Institute, where she teaches Terrain Medicine™, earth-based programs for transformational healing. She works and studies with indigenous communities and healers from around the world, and is a lifelong student of ethnobotany, plant healing, and the sacred.

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SE02E07: Aliveness, Psychedelics, and being midwives of the next world with Dr. Maya Shetreat, MD

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Podcast Transcript

Michael Roesslein: And we’re live. I am here with my friend Dr. Maya Shetreat. Welcome.

Dr. Maya Shetreat:

Oh, thank you. I’m so happy to be here.

Michael Roesslein:

It’s always super fun whenever we have a reason to chat and talk and record and talk about fun things. Today, I don’t know when this is going to air exactly, but just finished recording and putting together your upcoming event, which we’ll talk about at the end of this on mushrooms and psychedelics, and congratulations on that. I know what goes into producing those events.

Dr. Maya Shetreat:

Thank you so much. Yeah, it’s been a journey.

Michael Roesslein:

Yes, I’m sure. That’s a larger scale than any of the summit events that I’ve done, so I envy and don’t envy you at the same time. But I’m sure it was fun, and I’m looking forward to seeing it and sharing it. Before we get started, sometimes when I talk to my good friends, I realize that not everybody listening knows as much about each other as we do. So I’ll introduce Dr. Maya Shetreat is a neurologist, herbalist, urban farmer, and author of The Dirt Cure. She has been featured in the New York Times, The Telegraph, NPR, Sky News, The Dr. Oz Show and more. She’s also the founder of the Terrain Institute where she teaches terrain medicine, earth-based programs for transformational healing.

Dr. Maya works in studies with indigenous communities and healers from around the world and is a lifelong student of ethnobotany, plant healing, and the sacred, which I believe we’re going to get into a little bit today. So that’s quite the evolution from neurologist MD to ethnobotany, plant healing, and the sacred. Were plants and plant medicine, plants as medicine, and nature as medicine always part of your life, and then you just automatically infused that into medicine as an MD? Or did that come on after you became a doctor? I’ve never asked you this.

Dr. Maya Shetreat:

Well, I think as a little I was… No is the answer. I was definitely not. I didn’t have a mom who gave me remedies and things like that. I had lots of ear infections as a little kid. I had to drink my big glass of milk before bed every night. I took a lot of Dimetapp and a million antibiotics. I’ve got tubes in my ears. We were not, as the 70s, nobody was, like in my house, was talking about any kind of alternative or holistic or traditional healing.

And my dad who came from an indigenous background in Morocco could not have wanted to be less connected with that. Like many immigrants, he was much more interested in being an American and fitting in and like nothing that he kind of came from. He came from a family where his mom was married at nine years old and had her first baby at 12, and had 14 or 15 children, 11 of whom survived. And some really intense stories about living in refugee camps when they had to leave and so on and so forth and really, really very intense by background, which is why I can understand-

Michael Roesslein:

I understand why someone might want to leave most of that behind.

Dr. Maya Shetreat:

Yeah, absolutely. So I though was an only child and I used to-

Michael Roesslein:

Me too. High five.

Dr. Maya Shetreat:

It’s a whole thing to be an only child, but I used to have to entertain myself. So I did lots and lots and lots and lots of reading. So I kind of initiated myself into a lot of things through my reading and my home environment was not the happiest. So I had a lot of kind of time in escapism. I also used to go and play in nature by myself. So there was a creek near me and I used to go and make little, what I did not realize at the time, but make little potions and make altars and all kinds of things there, but had no name or no word for that.

That was kind of considered to be kid stuff by me because nobody I knew was doing anything like that that was an adult, maybe my aunts but they didn’t live near me. So I went on, was an English major in college, decided to go to medical school, which is its own story. And part of how I decided to go to medical school was that I was interested in psychoneuroimmunology after watching the Bill Moyers special. So it was not a totally foreign idea, right that there was this call. But what was really interesting-

Michael Roesslein:

Most people, when they’re interested in something they see on a TV show will buy a book about it. They don’t go to medical school.

Dr. Maya Shetreat:

[inaudible 00:04:55] write an essay about this, and then they let me into med school, who knew?

Michael Roesslein:

These don’t get aired in sequence, but the podcast I recorded earlier tonight was on psychoneuroimmunology with a therapist who’s also trained in functional health stuff. It’s a big word, but that’s funny. You’re like, “I like this. I’m going to be a doctor now.”

Dr. Maya Shetreat:

Great. Anyway, so what I then kind of discovered, and I think it’s funny, so I was going through my training, and I went into medicine thinking I wanted to do the psychoneuroimmunology. I was kind of waiting for… I ended up like I trained in pediatrics and I trained in adult and child neurology. All this time, over these many, many, many years, I was kind of I think in a way, somewhere in the back of my mind, waiting to learn this stuff that they’re like, “Yeah, this is this new field of medicine way back when I was in college and watched the Bill Moyers special, psychoneuroimmunology.” I thought, “Okay, I’m going to hit that.” And then really I never hit it.

But somewhere along there, I got pregnant with my children. I got married, I got pregnant with my children, and I started to have kidney stones when I was pregnant. Part of that was just working hours and hours and hours on my feet where you can’t, as a resident or a medical student, you’re not able to drink when you want to and pee when you want to and all of that kind of stuff. That’s part of our wonderful healing self-care focused medical system.

Michael Roesslein:

Yeah, I didn’t know everything that… Is it resident? Is that the term when you’re like the servant of the world? I didn’t know a lot about that until I married a nurse and she would tell me that there would be doctors in the ER that would have been there when she got there for her shift on a certain day, who were there when she got there for her shift on the next day, and they were just leaving. And in that, in between, she worked a shift, came home, slept eight, twice, then went back to work, and I was like, “Why do they do that?” She goes, “I don’t know. That’s just what they doing.” And I’m like, “Wow, I don’t want a doctor in the emergency room to take care of me that’s been at work for 20 hours.” So shout out to all the doctors who have been through that. It is no joke.

Dr. Maya Shetreat:

It is an initiatory experience for sure. I’m now very attached to my sleep in ways that I don’t think I would’ve been otherwise, but yeah. So I got kidney stones and I was pregnant, actually very early pregnancy with my daughter and they ran in my family, which we could have a lot of conversations about that, but they wanted to do some kind of procedure on me. So I reached out to one of my aunts and through one of my cousins, and I said, “Can you ask her what she did for kidney stones?” And she messaged me back, “Drink olive oil and fresh lemon juice.” And I was like, “What the…” I was not down for that at all.

And I was like, we really literally want me to drink salad dressing and that’s going to get rid of kidney stones. Sure. So I didn’t, and then time went on, and I had another pregnancy, and I had kidney stones again. And I was like, “All right. I’m just going to look it up.” I actually had the internet at that time, and I found that a lot of people had benefit when they actually did this one to one ratio of lemon juice and olive oil. And I was like, “okay, screw it. I’m doing it.” I had several kidney stones that again, they thought they were going to want to intervene, and one of them was in my ureter. They’re like, “There’s no way that big kidney stone is going to go anywhere.” And basically, you’re going to have to get a procedure.

I did my thing and I went back and they were gone. So now if I ever, I rarely get any of that anymore because I understand more about my diet and oxalate and the microbiome and a lot of other things that have really helped me. But I always go to my lemon juice and olive oil if I ever have an issue. I was like, “Wow, that was kind of my ancestors tapping me on the shoulder.” And being like, “Hey, this is your purpose. This is your lineage. When are you going to kind of embrace that?” And this was kind of where I was like, “Okay, fam, I’m listening now.”

Michael Roesslein:

Yeah, when it worked and what’s cool now with a lot of these, I don’t know the science behind that one’s specifically, but a lot of these traditional or indigenous or alternative treatments, I love how they use alternative as the word to describe the thing that’s been around for like 3,000 years, but is that science has now started to explain some of them as to the why or the how they work. So I’m sure there’s something of the combination of fats with the acidity or some aspect of the citrus that does something in the body that affects the kidneys, which breaks up the stones and the why doesn’t matter, the how doesn’t really matter, but it’s just fun to see those things get validated as they often do. So getting kidney stones was a good idea then, so good job on that.

Dr. Maya Shetreat:

So let me say actually, I mean, first of all, the word alternative, right, that idea, we should just never imagine that that’s ever an accident, of course. There’s a framework and there’s a programming and we’re in that soup all the time. So all those terms are never accidental. They’re never just appeared, but that kind of takes me to actually how a lot of experiences like kidney stones are, I’ve had home births, okay, so a hundred percent natural labor with two of my kids and I’ve had kidney stones. So I feel like I have a pretty good sense of the pain scale as far as that goes. So no one would really usually say, “Wow, what a gift those kidney stones were.” You know what I mean?

But that’s really true of a lot of really difficult experiences. I think looking back, I can see that it was a gift and a lot of my work has really become centered around how do we extract our gifts from difficult initiatory experiences from the times we’re in transformation in our lives that can feel literally torture, because it’s kind of scary because you don’t know what the heck is going on. How do we get into a conversation with the unknown and with mystery and learn how to navigate that and kind of then find how we can extract the gifts from it? So I’ve had many such experiences in my life and many of us do, right?

These kind of little either very challenging experiences or even almost deathlike experiences where when I lost my father very suddenly as an 11 year old, there is a kind of death that happens when you lose someone that you love, for example, that you have to kind of go through the death and rebirth cycle. How do we find the gifts in that so that we can, and our purpose, right? The kidney stones were like a cosmic breadcrumb that took me in the direction, led me to part of my purpose.

Michael Roesslein:

Cosmic breadcrumbs, that can be the title of your next book.

Dr. Maya Shetreat:

Hmm, I like it.

Michael Roesslein:

Yeah, and that’s been my experience with the most difficult periods of my life. They’ve always ushered in some sort of change that needed to happen or some new way that my life turned afterwards and were ended up being gifts. But if you’d told me that when I was in the middle of it, I would’ve not wanted to hear it, but it’s always been true. You mentioned your purpose there that those gaining clear clarity in those moments during those periods of our life can help us steer more towards intention and purpose and like, what is all of this? Why am I here? What am I doing?

And a question I intended on asking that kind of just walked right into is what does it feel like to make decisions that don’t honor our purpose? Is there a way to tell the decisions we’re making and the actions we’re taking, if they’re in alignment with purpose and with who we are? Is there a way to be able to tell that physically or in a felt sense of some kind? Do we have some sort of little radar or barometer or something built in?

Dr. Maya Shetreat:

Yeah, this whole thing, our bodies, and our minds, and just our state of being. In my work as an MD, so I do wear a lot of hats. I’m a teacher and director of an institute and I coach people through things like microdosing and do spiritual coaching and actually, a certain amount of ancient astrology kind of on the side for fun, and I’m an MD. So in my MD work, part of what really steered me into doing a lot of this more transformational support and guidance was because I saw so many people who were sick with chronic illness, with autoimmune disease, with neurologic thing, depression, the gamut of things, even more severe things even things like cancer, where there had been a lot of suffering leading into the development of their condition.

A lot of what was going on was there, and I want to be clear, it’s not like people bring upon themselves their conditions, but there’s sort of a way in which like, if you don’t commit to your wellbeing and you don’t commit to what is being called of you and what’s in alignment for you, then you’re living out of alignment. And when you’re living out of alignment, there are all kinds of ways that you get notifications, okay, that you’re living out of alignment. And some of those can be like challenging marriage, or difficult relationships that you have, or hating to go to work every day, or feeling fatigued all the time. I went through a period of time before I went to on my very first trip to Ecuador where I was saying to my then husband, “I feel like I’m dying.”

And he’s like, “Well, you’re just tired. You’re traveling, you’re teaching everywhere, you’re giving talks, you have this practice, you have three young kids doing, you have this urban farm, et cetera.” And I was like I know what tired feels like because I’ve been a resident with a fellow, a doctor with three small kids. I know what that is. This is something else. And not everybody would describe it as feeling like they’re dying, but there’s a feeling and it can be called a lot of different things, but it is reflective of this lack of alignment with your purpose. So the question then is, how do we start to even be in conversation with ourselves about what is out of alignment? Because even that alone can feel scary, but when we have physical symptoms or mental health issues too, oftentimes that’s what they really are. They are really notifications from our soul.

Michael Roesslein:

Yeah, and thank you for that. My experience has been along those lines as well, and that if those little signals and the little taps are not listened to, they tend to get louder, and I’m trying to learn to listen more quietly like hear them before they get loud and to stay more attuned to that. I think, one way that you teach people to do that and to work with that and to hear more clearly is with plants and people. Some people listening might be like, “What? What do you mean with plants? How do you listen to plants?” And others, plant medicine and psychedelics are incredibly popular now compared to what they used to be. You’d told me 10 years ago that I would have to have concerns around the commodification and capitalization of plant medicine and that things were going to become legal and people are going to be trying to make money of it, that was going to be the problem and not the prohibition and everything else. I would’ve told you, you were completely off your rocker.

So I’m glad that that things are less taboo and more talked about now. So people might have heard the term plant medicine, and then they think psychedelics or they think mushrooms or ayahuasca, what ever those things are, but the work that you do with plants and that you teach and that indigenous and traditional healers have taught forever involves a lot more than just those special plants that everybody seems to have heard of now. So what are teacher or master plants? Is that every plant? How does that work? What’s the city situation there? How do you learn from plants?

Dr. Maya Shetreat:

Yeah, that’s a great question. So the first thing I’ll say is part of the way I’ve studied with plants and I learn from plants is that I go in with the idea that plants just like animals or water or trees or other things that I have kinship with them. And what that means is that there’s an aliveness in them and there’s an aliveness in me, and that those two things resonate with one another. They entrain to one another. So when I go in with a sense of this is kin to me, these plants are kin to me, that’s part of where I go and learn from plants or I’m in relationship with plants.

That could be any plants. That could be literally the oak tree, the dandelions, the wild poke plant, the invasive, all of the plants. As an herbalist, I can tell you that actually invasive plants that we call weeds for example, are some of the most medicinal plants. If I could have, herbalist like to play this game of like, if I could have five plants on a desert island, what would I bring or whatever? For me, dandelion is definitely one of those plants that I would-

Michael Roesslein:

I was going to bring that up when you mentioned it that our culture is literally there’s a section of products at the store that you can buy that the intention of it is to kill the thing that grows in your grass that has immense health benefits. That’s like our society in a nutshell, but go ahead.

Dr. Maya Shetreat:

Right, it is. I used to just be like, I can’t. In my book, in The Dirt Cure, I kind of wrote a little like, why are we poisoning the very thing that’s probably one of the most nourishing things that we can take from our yard? And dandelion season, just as a little tip for everybody, I have a recipe on my website for making dandelion fritters. You can make them with gluten or gluten free, with eggs or vegan. It’s super, super easy. We pound those. I have to prevent myself from picking all my dandelions, because I want them to replenish each year. So I’m that crazy person in my neighborhood who’s thrilled when I see my lawn covered with dandelions. Whereas other people obviously want their lawns pristine and very green and they look at me like the crazy plant lady.

Michael Roesslein:

I do, yeah.

Dr. Maya Shetreat:

Yeah. So to get to the idea of what plants are teacher plants or master plants, so on the one hand, all of these plants have wisdom and the wisdom is like they each have their own lineage, right? So the oak tree and the medicine of the oak tree and the lessons of the oak tree are strength and groundedness, and all these things, like part of that medicine is when you look at an oak tree, for example. And I do these kinds of exercises with my students and clients, when you look at an oak tree, you feel the energy of that oak tree. There’s a part of you that then feels really rooted and really strong and really kind of able to kind of reach for the heavens. There are these kinds of medicines that you get simply by looking at it or few here like an owl hooting.

I’m just going to give that example because I get really excited. I hear owls. I live in New York City but in a very green little corner of New York City, and I get to hear owls sometimes. We run outside and listen to the owls and there’s like something of that vibration of the owl that kind of you know, it’s a medicine, right? The sound of that owl is just, it brings odd, it brings wonder, it brings reverence, it brings peacefulness, it brings sort of all these different feelings that come with hearing the wild world. And then master plants or teacher plants in a more strict point of view are things that might change the way your mind operates, like mood and kind of your neurochemistry are kind of have this potent energy.

So an example of a master plant could be cacao. An example of a master plant is coffee, right? So these are plant tonics. Kava could be a master plant. Psychedelic plants get a lot of play in a sense, especially right now because they can be very loud in the way that they speak to us. So we don’t have to listen very hard to hear them speaking to us if we’re taking them in a sort of macrodose. But microdosing is an example also of ways to kind of learn to listen to the messages of the plants. What you’ll hear, and I heard it many times when I was recording my summit is people will say the plants told me or the plants guided me too.

Nobody was like, oh, I know this is going to sound weird, but this is my relationship with these plants, is like the mushrooms guided me to think about this, or the mushrooms want me to do this. It’s so universal that people who engage with certain kinds of plant medicines feel that sense of another consciousness, another entity as literally being a guide or a teacher.

Michael Roesslein:

Absolutely. I’ll vouch for that a hundred percent. It feels good to talk about those things openly now anyway, and it’s cool that the language has shifted around it from this may sound weird to the plants told me. I was again, just talking about this in the last podcast episode I recorded, which is one with Sean Merrick. If anybody wants to look that up, he’s a psychotherapist. He’s also trained in functional health stuff, and he’s done plant medicine work. He works with ketamine in his practice because he can, because it’s the only thing right now that’s above board when it comes to consciousness altering substances that are used in therapy. We talked about how different ketamine is than the plants because ketamine, well, it’s effective medicine for therapy. It’s dissociative in some ways that pulls you out of your stories and your loops and your things, but it doesn’t have that. It’s missing that. No one ever leaves ketamine therapy and is like, “The ketamine told me this”, and it’s very clear that it’s not a plant.

We talked about the difference between the experiences of ketamine versus mushrooms versus whatever. That there’s no, like you mentioned consciousness, it’s just different because it’s manmade, and it’s not something that is gathered out in nature and wasn’t given to us for that. So it’s just interesting. I’m glad that the language is switching about it and that it’s so casually said that it doesn’t need to be preface or explained away or whatever, that we can just talk about it. People have probably talked about it for like 99.9% of the time there is people. The idea that plants can communicate in ways that aren’t with words with humans and vice versa was I think pretty well accepted until the European culture became the dominant one around the world, and even probably the traditional European populations. So I guess it would start like, I don’t know, a hundred years ago, 200 years ago that became weird.

Dr. Maya Shetreat:

No, I would say probably more around the time of the European witch-hunts, which is big part of, actually I think very pivotal-

Michael Roesslein:

Like post Renaissance.

Dr. Maya Shetreat:

Yeah, like the age of enlightenment.

Michael Roesslein:

Yeah, and reason.

Dr. Maya Shetreat:

We were enlightened enough to decide that humans were superior to all other things and that we didn’t have to be concerned with the cycles of the seasons or nature or sacred events and so on. A lot of that wisdom was under attack, right? At that time, for example, not only did they have sort of these witch-hunts, which were really going after older, anyone who was sort of more like women on the margins, especially, even though it kind of encompassed a lot of women, it was like, are you a single woman? Are you an older woman? Are you a wise woman? Are you a midwife? Are you somebody who’s kind of in a more empowered state? But at the same time, it was also at the beginning of kind of a big push of colonization and slavery.

It was sort of what was happening in Africa, the kind of whole enslavement sort of cycle there, and then also kind of the invasion of the Americas, right? That was really attacking a lot of the indigenous people of Europe and then the indigenous people of Africa and then the indigenous people of the America. So that’s when I think the whole idea of the aliveness of all beings became taboo and people had been destroyed, literally destroyed and slaved, killed, the gamut, so it’s pretty terrifying.

I think that’s part of why we all feel, those of us who speak about this, feel like we’re kind of coming out from underground, but we feel very cautious. Many of us feel very cautious still and some of the ways that we might talk about it or teach about it or so on, because it’s in our epigenetics that you get destroyed for talking about this.

Michael Roesslein:

Yeah, for a lot of generations at this point. So there’s an ingrained fear probably of unsafeness. We’ve talked about non psychedelic plants. There’s psychedelic plants, most cultures, and actually, I kind of want to talk about the psychedelic plants that are used in various cultures. Not all indigenous or native or traditional cultures use psychedelic plants as medicine, but almost all of them. I actually have not encountered one that breaks the rule, but I’m sure it exists has some sort of practice that shifts a state of consciousness that might be similar to psychedelics whether it’s like a sweat lodge or a vision quest or probably various forms of breathing or breath work. Why do you think that is? I could be wrong. I don’t know if it’s universal, but I think it’s pretty universal. I’m curious as to why you think that is and what experiences may mimic similar to psychedelic plant experiences?

Dr. Maya Shetreat:

Yeah. I mean, obviously there are countless indigenous communities we couldn’t even possibly generalize, but I would say that things like psychedelic mushrooms like psilocybin mushrooms or even cannabis, which is not technically a psychedelic, but was used as a sacred plant. We think based on literally drawings on temples, ancient temples. Some people who know a lot more about that than I do, talk about it in the summit. But I do think that indigenous peoples tend to have actually transformational experiences around psychedelic plants of various kinds. People actually think, for example, scholars think that the Oracle of Delphi, she was in this cave where there was sort of smoke coming up from this crevice.

It’s thought that she got her visions through breathing in some kind of psychedelic transformational herb. People think that it’s possible that part of why the cow is sacred in Hinduism is because psychedelic mushrooms grow in cow patties. So that was like a sacred medicine that they were able to retrieve from the cow. So these are all theoretical and there’s many more about like Moses and lots of stories. But I think what we know is that in that many indigenous peoples definitely had that. If they didn’t, or even if they did, there were also other forms of initiatory experiences, for sure. We know that deep meditation has similar neurological mechanisms and outcomes as psychedelics. When I say deep, regular meditation, not I meditate for 20 minutes a day-

Michael Roesslein:

Not I listen to the Calm app every Tuesday.

Dr. Maya Shetreat:

But the idea is that you’re shutting down, what’s called the default mode network and the default mode network is part of your mean network, right? It’s sort of what upholds all of the narratives and stories that you operate according to and we use a lot of predictive coding, it’s called, that the default mode network, this constellation of structures in the brain that work together is in charge of. Predictive coding is when I come to a new situation. I don’t take in every single detail fresh from that situation. I take in a few details and I fill in the rest of the details with previous experiences. What that does is it enhances my capacity for survival because I don’t have to take as much time to assess a situation.

But on the other side of it, it means that you are really living in the past in a certain way, right? Because you’re only taking certain details from new situations. So what if you had a really traumatic past where there was a lot of danger all the time, and then you go into experiences where there’s no danger and you see danger but there isn’t danger and that’s going to change how you operate? And then you’re going to be like, “Wow, why do people act this way around me, and think there’s something wrong with me?” Because you can’t see that you’re kind of projecting danger onto situations where there may be none. That’s just obviously an example.

So the idea is that psychedelics can shut down temporarily the default mode network to allow some ability to actually have A, a relationship with your old memories and old stories that you compartmentalize or suppress, and B, allow you to kind of shut down predictive coding so that you can see a new experience as what it is more so, right which gets us into a very hairy conversation about reality that I don’t know that we want to get into today, but-

Michael Roesslein:

Different podcasts.

Dr. Maya Shetreat:

So there are other things besides psychedelics that can shut down default mode network, breath work, certain kinds of breath work, yes, can do that. Deep, regular meditation can do that. Situations of extreme awe near death experiences, extreme sports, all can do that, and even isolation chambers can do that. So there’s actually a good number of ways to access some of those benefits and that kind of transformational experience and being able to kind of see through who you usually are sort of more to what’s possible for you. All of those things are available without psychedelics and yeah, absolutely most cultures and well, most indigenous cultures have some form of that or many forms of that.

And the reason why is because it’s really important for healing your community. You don’t want your community to be holding all this trauma and kind of painful experiences in your lineage. You want to cleanse that so that you can move forward and be a healthy community. In most indigenous communities that work with these medicines that I know about very much believe that they’re only as healthy as the sickest person in our community, right? So here in our country in the U.S., for example, addiction is a massive, massive problem. It’s sort of its own pandemic in a sense, and probably worse now. There are medicines, for example, iboga which has its pitfalls and kind of potential dangers, but is effective in one dose for reversing severe addiction to things like heroin, really, really difficult things to break addictions.

Michael Roesslein:

I have friends who work with it, and it was always like, even to me, someone I have quite a bit of psychedelic experience and I’m pretty open minded and nothing kind of freaks me out and I’m not scared of substances or plants or whatever. And iboga was always the one that was like, “Okay, I’m never going to take that one,” because of stories I heard about it, and things that I heard about, the difficult process that it puts people through, and that it’s physically dangerous for a lot of people and all these stories. And then I met two women who work with iboga closely with addicts and it saved both of their lives. They will say that, and one of them was opiates and one of them was alcohol. For people who scoff at hearing alcohol mixed in with opiates and heroin, it should be for some people. Somebody deep into alcoholism is it’s not any easier to get out of there than it is to get out of any of the other ones.

Both of them were so profoundly impacted by their experience with it, that now they work exclusively with iboga, and then the preparatory and the integration and the nutrition and the lifestyle around it and doing… Because it’s not like throw somebody into a plant ceremony of some kind, and then they come out and they’re this perfect shiny object that doesn’t need any more work or more help or any more things. That’s often the start of someone’s process, but they’ve really changed my perception on iboga and opened my eyes to it.

I still don’t really feel drawn to an experience with it myself, but I’m no longer scared of it. I no longer have a judgment towards it. I used to be like, “Oh, that’s probably more harm than good.” And they said when you see a 90% recovery rate with opiate and heroin addicts, more harm than good becomes relative, and that they do EKG testing, they do blood testing, they do different kinds of tests, and they’ll turn people away who have certain heart issues and things. But anybody out there listening doesn’t know anything about iboga or you have heard about it and it’s like this boogieman, it’s not. There’s powerful work being done.

Dr. Maya Shetreat:

Yeah, I totally agree with that. I would say that’s a really important point that you bring up around teacher plants in general, whether they’re psychedelic or otherwise. But certainly, the psychedelics, they’re not just like necessarily here for a recreational enjoyment. They’re not like a smorgasbord of like, I’m going to try what I want sort of thing, and I think a lot of people…

Michael Roesslein:

That’s where I was when I first heard about it, and I was like, “That one doesn’t sound very fun.”

Dr. Maya Shetreat:

Right, these are all really serious medicines, and does that mean they should be medicalized? Not necessarily, but nor does it mean that we should be just kind of thinking, well, how will this be a good thing? Will I like it, kind of thing? Because the experience of psychedelics are not necessarily fun or not necessarily easy. Certainly, some of them can be very enlightening or even ecstatic experiences for some people. But for many people, they’re not. I mean, I’m not going to try to think of percentages. Are they profound experiences? Almost always. Are some of them really difficult? Yes. I appreciate that you said, “Well, this isn’t for me”, and I hope that part of what my work is to give people that sense of reverence and awe and cultivating intimacy, right with these plants before just kind of diving in and saying, “What can you do for me?”

And saying like, “How can I show up in a good way both before, during, and after and do my part in this process to become more aligned with my purpose and become a better human and contribute to the wellbeing of all living beings?” Right, because that’s part of what their job is for us, and we have to kind of show up and do our part and not just think, is this going to be a good high for me? Or am I going to learn some truth about my past? I mean, not to say that there’s not room for that, but coming into it, it’s not just a recreational drug alone.

Michael Roesslein:

Yeah. I don’t think it ever is a recreational. Admittedly, my introduction to most psychedelics and plants was recreational. It was like this is fun, this is interesting, this is cool, I’ll do this type of thing. And then now, I mean, I haven’t used them in that way for 15 years. It’s much different now, but I think that’s just a good point to make. The last question I get asked all the time about now that I want to throw past somebody who can be more qualified to answer it than I am is microdosing, is now all the rage in certain circles.

To my knowledge, there’s some research that’s been started in studies to start to look at it, but it’s difficult because the substances are highly illegal most of the time. So running studies on certain things, it’s a lot of hoops to jump through, but people listening have probably heard the term microdosing. They may not know exactly what that means. So maybe we could give it a little definition of what microdose means, and then which things are being used in that way? What might someone see from that? And then we can let you go celebrate finishing your summit.

Dr. Maya Shetreat:

So I’m passionate about microdosing actually. In general, I think it’s a beautiful way of starting this conversation with the plants and with yourself and kind of connecting to the bigness of kind of the mind of the universe as one of my interviewees, that’s one of his ways of thinking about it. So I do love microdosing. Microdosing means essentially that you might be taking one of these medicines or any medicine, it doesn’t have to be specifically like a plant medicine, but in this case, we’re talking about plant medicines, in a dose that is less than one that would give you really perceptible, psychedelic experience. The way that we think about alter sense of reality or visions, or hallucinations, or any of that kind of thing.

So the idea is you can kind of do your daily life, get in your car, take walks, go to the grocery store, anything that you might want to do. You should not be altered in any way and unable to kind of do your life. Some people might choose to focus on certain things if they decided to microdose, and there’s a lot of ways to microdose, and there’s a lot of kinds of medicines you could microdose with. So there are people who do that with LSD, microdoses of LSD. There’s someone who wrote a whole book about her experience with intractable depression, bipolar, I think, and found that this was transformative.

But it could be psilocybin mushrooms. It could be ayahuasca. I mean, in other words, there’s a lot of ways to work with microdosing. I don’t think we know even the beginnings yet. And then I teach a whole class about microdosing and coach people through microdosing. The idea is really that there are kind of these microdoses, then there are medicinal doses, and then there are shamanic doses, right? So it’s actually built into even the traditional use of them.

Michael Roesslein:

I was going to ask that. I’ve never even thought to think that or wonder that before. I’ve always just assumed microdosing was a creation of our culture. So a lot of these plants, the psychedelic ones and the non psychedelic ones, they have traditionally been used in various doses. It’s not the cultures that use mushrooms always eat handfuls of mushrooms when they eat mushrooms. It’s interesting.

Dr. Maya Shetreat:

I’ll even say with my teachers, my indigenous teachers and my first experiences with certain kinds of psychedelic medicines, their culture and their tradition was to use very tiny doses compare to like… So the Ecuadorian approach to let’s say ayahuasca or San Pedro is totally different than the Peruvian or the Brazilian. Again, I’m talking, I don’t want to make it sound like Ecuador has one indigenous community, right? It’s thousands. But with the people that taught me, they thought it was disgusting to hear that people took big doses of the ayahuasca brew. They were like, “Why would people do that? You don’t need that.” So it does vary, and it can be very potent.

That’s what I think is so exciting is we tend to think that if something doesn’t have fireworks in cannon balls, or if it doesn’t really, really, really hurt and cause us suffering, so we have to have some kind of heroic experience that it’s not going to help us, right? And it’s just not true. It’s very possible to get a lot of benefit transformation, growth, and healing from microdosing. We actually are learning that. There are a few studies and a lot of other ones where they’ve actually gone into Reddit forums. Again, I present on all of this stuff and teach on all of it, but it looks like it can be helpful for cluster headaches, for migraines, for chronic pain, and even posts statements right now is involved in a big study in California where they’re looking at lion’s mane mycelium, niacin, and microdose of psilocybin to actually reverse dementia.

Michael Roesslein:

Yeah, I was at one of his first presentations where he threw that stack out and talked about what the neuro regenerative potential of that combination could be. I think that was almost three years ago, and it was one of the first times he openly talked about some of those things. Because Paul tried to be a clean academic for a long time and didn’t want to tarnish his reputation as an expert on mushrooms by sharing all of his psilocybin related research. I couldn’t believe some of the things he shared both about lion’s mane mushrooms and about the neuro regenerative properties of psilocybin. It’s just exciting. It’s exciting to see the taboo removed from some of these things on the scale and the speed at which it has been now, of course, that comes with pitfalls. Like I mentioned earlier, the dude-bros are going to try to capitalize on everything and try to commodify it and make money off of it.

But there’s a generation being raised right now that’s not growing up with this same propaganda and the same stigmas and the same taboos around some of these things that we did. I mean, I don’t know. I heard stories in high school like, “Oh my God, if you take that, this is going to happen to you.” Or, “You’re going to jump off a bridge. It’s going to be in your spinal column forever”, and all this taboo. I used to think there was a military recruiter when I was in high school, because I didn’t go to a private school. So the army tried to recruit us, and they came in, and it was the people that were recruiting pilots like TOPGUN style, not TOPGUN pilots, but the pilots that fly the fast planes. I was like, “Dude, I want to do that. I’ll talk to that guy.”

But there was a legend around our high school that if you ever took LSD, that it forever lived in your spinal column or spinal fluid or whatever. And that job specifically in the military, just that one, fighter pilots get spinal tap tested for LSD use, and that they can always test it forever. We totally believed it. We thought that was for sure a thing that LSD and we had taken LSD, so we’re forever tainted. If you take five hits of LSD, you’re like clinically insane for the rest of your life. We thought that too.

So we thought we were all in the brink of psychotic lifelong madness, and that we could have our spinal fluid tapped by the guy at the school trying to get us to be pilots. I was the only one who had the guts to spill the beans to him that this was our fear and is why we wouldn’t try to sign up to be a pilot. He’s like, “Well, admitting illicit drug use is a red flag. So no, you can’t be a pilot, but nobody was going to stick a needle in your spine. I don’t think that’s true kid. I don’t think it stays in there like that.” I was like, “What?”

Dr. Maya Shetreat:

I also remember hearing those same.

Michael Roesslein:

Yeah, and we grew up many miles away. I was in the Chicago area, you’re in New York, and these urban… But we all know where a lot of that propaganda came from. It’s exciting to see, like my son is around the age of at least one or two of your kids, because he’s late college age, and they don’t understand what the big deal is. It’s not a big deal around plant medicines and psychedelics. It’s just like a thing that people do. I’m encouraged by that because we need some lessons from plants now.

So before we go, I just wanted to give you an opportunity. We’re going to have the, underneath this video or on the show notes, whoever’s listening to this, when this goes live, there will be a button to click down there that takes them to sign up for your event. You’re probably sick of talking about it by now, because you’ve been immersed in it for weeks or months. We recorded a long time ago, it feels like. So just share a little bit about what it is and why they might want to check it out, and what they’ll learn, and then we’ll let you go celebrate.

Dr. Maya Shetreat:

Yeah. I’m not at all sick of talking about it, believe it or not.

Michael Roesslein:

Okay, good.

Dr. Maya Shetreat:

So yeah, I interviewed over 40 different experts, artists, healers, and people who have transformed with psychedelics or medicinal mushrooms. I decided to put those guys together. They’re not quite the same, but they’re both awesome.

Michael Roesslein:

By medicinal mushrooms, you’re referencing mushrooms like lion’s mane, and turkey tail, and chaga, reishi, yeah. Cool.

Dr. Maya Shetreat:

So both of those and part of why I kind of put them together is both of those are banned hashtags. These are all the things that are kind of forbidden to us, but have this tremendous healing. So I was lucky enough to have you and some wonderful people you connected me to. One of the lead researchers of the psychedelics program at John’s Hopkins that’s gotten a lot, a lot, a lot of the press on their things on eating disorders and PTSD and OCD and dementia and depression and NYU, that they do this amazing research on psychedelics for existential suffering and fear of death, and for people who have actually-

Michael Roesslein:

That’s mushrooms, right?

Dr. Maya Shetreat:

With psilocybin mushrooms. So some amazing scientists that just absolutely blew my mind. And then healers and people who work with these medicines and indigenous people who are talking about things like San Pedro and ayahuasca giving their perspective on kind of the evolution of psychedelics as it stands right now. So it was just an incredible experience and so much education that’s there. I think just as with these medicines, you come and you find what calls you and dive in. Even listening to one of them might be something that really changes your perspective. I mean, there’s just so much incredible wisdom. I barely-

Michael Roesslein:

I’m jealous you got to do all those interviews. I kind of wish I was a fly on the wall for a lot of those like that, which you can be. Everybody can go be a fly on the wall, that’s the point. I’m grateful that you invited me to be part of it. Every time I openly share about my experience with plant medicine and psychedelics, it feels authentic. There’s something about that that feels good, because I didn’t talk about it for a long time, and not publicly. I feel woefully unqualified compared to some of the people that you have involved in the summit. But I know you were looking for experiences as well as education and information and research. But just to be part of something that features some of the people that you have involved with this is really cool. It’s like getting to the NBA.

Dr. Maya Shetreat:

I definitely just had a lot of fan girl moments and-

Michael Roesslein:

Yeah, I was looking at the list and I’m like, “Oh man, that’s crazy.” I can’t imagine interviewing that person. It’d be really fun. So I’m a little jealous, and I’m really looking forward to it. I highly encourage everybody to check it out, and then that link will be below. It’ll be very clear. What’s what? And then also you’ve mentioned you teach classes, you teach groups, you have an incredible certification program. Where would people’s first stop be if they want to go check out not the summit, but your work and your workshops, and your offerings? Where do they go for that, and what do they find there?

Dr. Maya Shetreat:

Yeah, they can go to my website at drmaya.com. D-R-M-A-Y-A.com. If you want to see my psychedelics intensive training program, where we go through all really the latest up to date all the time science and kind of the sacred components and how to become a sitter and how to incorporate it into practice if you’re a clinician, they can go to just drmaya.com/psychedelics. And if they want to see my certification, they can go to drmaya.com/certification.

Michael Roesslein:

I love when people use simple URLs. They went through these phases where they all used to be simple, then they went to like as cool as you could make them or as clever or whatever. And now, they’ve gone back to just being really simple, and drmaya.com/psychedelics is a good URL.

Dr. Maya Shetreat:

I want to say one quick thing, because-

Michael Roesslein:

Sure.

Dr. Maya Shetreat:

What you said about when you talk about psychedelics, how it made you, it feels authentic to you, and it feels good to you, that’s part of the process, whether it’s through psychedelics or other kinds of rituals or approaches, that’s sort of my mission is to have people feeling like that. Psychedelics do that for people in many cases. It makes me so happy to hear that you feel that sense of it’s really connecting with your truth and your purpose and your sense of aliveness. It’s, I think, instigated so many incredible projects and collaborations for you. So I feel like you’re actually a beautiful kind of example. Your story is really an inspiring example of the way that transformation can work.

Michael Roesslein:

Well, thank you. It does feel good, and it feels I’m kind of going to bat for a friend, like defending the plants sort of. So it’s been quite a ride and I wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for them. So thank you for bringing that into the world and helping more people meet the plants and what they can do and learning from some incredible wizard brains that you’ve gathered together to share their knowledge, so thank you so much. It’s always a pleasure. I really love it anytime we get to connect. Hopefully, you’ll get to teach in Italy again sometime soon. So we can wander around Tuscany and find mushrooms. Well, here, they’re the porcini, which are not in season right now. So I’ve only had them dehydrated and rehydrated, but I will find them and eat them, but that would be fun. So I hope that happens.

Dr. Maya Shetreat:

Yes, definitely. Thank you so much.

Michael Roesslein:

All right.