#4 Petting Bumblebees | Dr. Andrew Weil

July 14, 2020
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Dr. Andrew Weil is the father of integrative medicine. In this interview, him and Ronan discuss the power of forgiveness, our connection between mind and body, and how psychedelics impacted his medical philosophy.

As a student in the 1960s, Dr. Weil had front row seats to the work that Timothy Leary and Ram Dass were doing with psychedelics at Harvard University. And some of his academic and journalistic work at the time would forever change the course of their lives.

Dr. Weil believes consciousness is the fundamental reality of the universe: animals, plants, and rocks are all alive – we all exchange energy – and psychedelics can help you connect with them. Then, Dr. Weil tells us what it’s like to pet a bumblebee on a trip -- and why you may want to try it for yourself. The story of his life is insightful, impactful, and textured. In this podcast, listeners benefit from the wisdom that one of the best doctors in the world has to offer.

In this episode we discuss:

  • Weil has learned that forgiveness is something you do for yourself – not the other person. The human organism is capable of healing itself, and people should have more confidence in their own healing abilities.
  • Psychedelics are a safe compound and with proper set and setting can change the course of physical ailments and emotional blockages – and set the conditions to heal. Psychedelics can provide spiritual experiences, treat PTSD, and aid treatment-resistant depression.
  • Weil believes there is no separation between mind and body – what we have inside our head affects what’s outside our head – and in a psychedelic state – we see the external world transform. We have the tools to change inside and out.
  • Integrative medicine looks at all the dimensions of human life to understand health and illness and it is becoming mainstream – propelled by economics and new approaches for the future.
  • There is lots you can do right now for healthy aging and Dr. Weil’s advice is to maintain physical activity (suited to life stage) and healthy social connections (personal and community).
  • During a pandemic – it’s amazing think about how most of us are mostly healthy most of the time. And farther out – Dr. Weil believes that the resurgence of psychedelics could be the counter-balancing factor that can bring about the transformation in consciousness that is necessary for the transformation of society.

Transcripts

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Andrew: [00:00:00] To me, the most essential aspect of forgiveness is that it's something you do for yourself, not for the other person. [00:00:04][4.8]

Ronan: [00:00:10] This is Field Tripping, a podcast dedicated to exploring psychedelic experiences and their ability to affect our lives. I'm your host, Ronan Levy. There are few people in this world who have been able to watch how attitudes towards psychedelics have changed since they were introduced to Western culture than dr. Andrew Weil. These days, Dr. Weil is known as the father of integrative medicine, which is a healing oriented approach to health care that encompasses body, mind and spirit with a deep focus on nutrition, preventative medicine and mindfulness. He is the founder and director of the Andrew Weil Center for Integrative Medicine at the University of Arizona, where he also holds the chair in Integrative Rheumatology and is clinical professor of Medicine and Professor of Public Health. But back as a student in the 1960s, Dr. Weil had front row seat to the work that Timothy Leary and Ram Dass, born Richard Alpert were doing with psychedelics at Harvard University, and some of his academic and journalistic work would forever change the course of the lives of himself, Timothy Leary and Ram Dass. [00:01:17][67.2]

Ronan: [00:01:24] Thank you, Andrew, for joining us today. When I was getting into psychedelics and understanding the opportunities from a business and impact perspective, one of the first books I turned to was the Harvard Psychedelics Club, written by Don Lattin. And certainly you feature quite prominently in that book. I would just love to hear what it was like being at Harvard at that time and just living through the 60s altogether and seeing the emergence of psychedelics and its impact on society. [00:01:49][25.4]

Andrew: [00:01:50] Oh, that's a big question. I mean, Harvard in the early 60s was a pretty sleepy place, the radical stuff, it started on the West Coast, but it came to Harvard late. But there were people using psychedelics in the community and Timothy Leary's presence there and Richard Alpert began to attract greater and greater attention and I think did very important research showing the positive potential of psychedelics and demonstrating how the effects were so dependent on set and setting. But as time went on, increasingly, I think they didn't fit into the academic community and they got a larger and larger cult like following around them. And there was a lot of tension between that group and the university. I was in a strange position in that I had tried psychedelics myself first in 1960, I took chemically pure mescaline without knowing much about what to expect from it. I was also a student of Richard Evans Shulties, the director of the Harvard Botanical Museum, who was one of the great explorers of psychedelic plants in South America and got very interested in that aspect of them. And I was a reporter for the Harvard undergraduate newspaper, The Crimson, which began doing investigative reporting of Alpert and Leary, and all of that eventually led to Alpert's dismissal from the university. So I was caught up in the middle of all that. When Albert was fired from the university in 1963. Leary had left several months before on his own. The publicity around that was the first time that nationwide attention was focused on psychedelics. You know, up to that point, I think many people in this country hadn't heard of LSD or mushrooms or mescaline, and suddenly that was put out there. So the explosion that followed there in nineteen sixty three in Cambridge, Massachusetts, I think really seeded the culture with the first awareness of these substances. [00:03:43][113.0]

Ronan: [00:03:44] I mean, I look back and obviously I didn't live through that time, but it always feels like in retrospect there was an incredible amount of excitement at the time. Did the impact of the work around psychedelics and psychedelics more broadly, was that kind of evident to you at the time that this was going to be world changing, life changing, or was it a little bit more subdued and a little bit more normal? [00:04:05][21.4]

Andrew: [00:04:06] The potential was there and there was early research at Spring Grove State Hospital in Maryland showing that guided LSD sessions could have a tremendously positive impact on terminal cancer patients. There was the work that Leary did in the Concord Reformatory with prisoners. I mean, there there was a lot of early research that was very promising and wonderful. But very quickly, I think that was drowned out by fear in the culture about the associations of people who were using these with political radicals, with hippies. It was seen as a threat. Albert Hoffman, the man who discovered LSD, said that he thought that Leary had done a tremendous disservice to research in that area. He just could not resist making statements that pushed people's buttons and riled people up. [00:04:55][48.6]

Ronan: [00:04:55] You mentioned that Timothy Leary was described as having done a disservice to the work in some respects. And with time has your perspective changed? Did he do a disservice or was his efforts to bring this mainstream actually, in many respects, positive? [00:05:09][13.8]

Andrew: [00:05:09] Well, he certainly brought it mainstream, but I think set back a lot of legitimate research interest in it. And it has only been relatively recently, as you know, that there has been this great resurgence of interest in the positive potential of psychedelics. And now this is, I think, got a lot of traction behind it. So in many ways, it's taken a long time to pick up from where things got left in the 1960s and early 1970s. [00:05:34][24.1]

Ronan: [00:05:34] In the Harvard Psychedelic Club, you got painted with the brush of being the person who may have brought the research from Timothy Leary, even though he actually stepped away and then ultimately Richard Alpert's departure. But Richard Alpert Ram Dass, who recently passed away and I know you reconciled with Timothy Leary fairly early on, but reconciliation with Ram Dass does seem to be harder to come by. Why do you think that was? [00:05:56][21.6]

Andrew: [00:05:58] He was really angry and he held on to that anger for a long time. He had a great influence on me. I very early on came across an account of his experiences in India, and that made a great impression on me and was really an inspiration to begin doing yoga and practicing meditation. And I made efforts to reach out to him. It was really tough when he had his stroke I did a fundraiser for him in Santa Fe and so we communicated over the years. But it wasn't until about five years ago I went to Maui to spend some serious time with him and go over all of that stuff. And that was really good. And at that time, he said, you did me a blessing. And that if that hadn't happened, I think he would have been stuck in an academic career at Harvard and that would have snuffed out, you know, a lot of stuff in him that was really important and good. And that led to his becoming Ram Dass. [00:06:54][56.3]

Ronan: [00:06:56] How did it feel when he said that to you? [00:06:57][1.5]

Andrew: [00:06:58] Well, I always had that sense myself that, you know, in a way that I had helped him in some in some way. It felt very good to hear him say that. And, you know, I consider him a teacher of mine. I think he's done a tremendous amount of good work in this culture. So, you know, I'm really glad I had a chance while he was still alive to have that conversation with him. [00:07:18][19.4]

Ronan: [00:07:18] That's amazing. On so many levels, just hearing that story, especially after such a long period, to see someone come to that kind of realization and fruition and speaking it out verbally. You know, I think that's a really magical moment. [00:07:30][12.2]

Andrew: [00:07:31] It also felt good to be able to tell him how much of an influence he'd been on my life, that I had considered him one of my teachers because he was my main inspiration for becoming interested in Eastern religion and meditation. And many other things have been very important to me. [00:07:45][14.1]

Ronan: [00:07:46] You clearly were able to take the insights from the psychedelic experience and in whatever capacity, decided not to follow them. Do you have any advice for anybody who may be having psychedelic experiences? [00:07:56][10.4]

Andrew: [00:07:57] I guess everyone has to find that for himself or herself. But it seems to me that the challenge is how to integrate that vision and what psychedelics open to you with ordinary life. And I think it's absolutely possible to do that. But that's the work. You have the experience and you can't just keep repeating it. You have to find ways to integrate that and then build on it. [00:08:18][20.7]

Ronan: [00:08:18] On the theme of forgiveness, after your book, From Chocolate to Morphine came out, you were criticized pretty harshly by Paula Hawkins. Curious to know how that felt. Also how you move past that. [00:08:28][10.1]

Andrew: [00:08:29] I was the target of quite a lot of attacks by the anti-drug forces. At one point, the the White House was sending dossiers on me to places that invited me to speak, trying to keep me from doing public speaking pieces. So that was a little scary. At one place that I worked, I was told that I couldn't work there anymore. And then they went to the University of Arizona and tried to get them to drop me from the faculty. So that was a scary time. And in retrospect, I was able to see that they'd done me some sort of service. I knew that I was on the right path and I held to what I was doing. In a book that I wrote a few years ago called Spontaneous Happiness. I wrote a section on forgiveness and how important that is for mental health and wellbeing. And I think to me, the most essential aspect of forgiveness is that it's something you do for yourself, not for the other person. It is giving something up that you've been carrying as a burden. And the other person, it's not really necessary for that person even to know what you've done. You know, it's some internal act that you do to give up some burden of resentment and anger that you've been carrying and you really do it for yourself. [00:09:34][65.5]

Ronan: [00:09:40] I was struck by how themes of forgiveness are central to Andrew's story from both his experience with Ram Dass and Timothy Leary. So how much forgiveness is a central component of integrative medicine? For me, forgiveness for others has usually come easily. What has always come harder as forgiving myself and having compassion for my mistakes. But the first step to forgiveness, especially self forgiveness, is to acknowledge our wrongs, which isn't always easy to do. One particular moment that stands out for me is when I was a young lawyer at Blake's, I did something wrong. I fucked something up. Normally my instinct would have been to find an excuse. But for whatever reason, on that day, instead of trying to justify my mistake, I just owned up to it. And by owning up to it, I was able to forgive myself. The lawyer I was working with forgave me and I remember it so vividly. I remember it really showed me how owning up to our faults is a powerful, powerful experience. [00:10:32][52.1]

Ronan: [00:10:36] Besides the experience at Harvard, how do you think psychedelics have affected your life? I know you touched upon it, but I'm wondering if you can offer a little bit more detail. What are some of the deepest insights you've taken away from a psychedelic trip? I know some of my and I developed a great degree of empathy. [00:10:50][14.0]

Andrew: [00:10:50] Well, there are many and I've written about some of them. One is that they have made me really aware of and appreciative of the intricacies of the connections between mind and body. That really there's no separation there and that the only way we separate mind and body is verbally. And I have just seen again and again that what we have inside our head affects what's outside our head. And in psychedelic states have seen the external world transform. And that has had great influence on my medical philosophy. Just a very, very powerful insight that when we see things out there that we don't like or that appear hostile, there are ways we can change our mind and our perceptions that actually create changes in the external things I've just experienced that, you know, again and again with insects, with-. [00:11:41][50.7]

Ronan: [00:11:43] Sorry, with insects? Can you elaborate on that? [00:11:44][1.7]

Andrew: [00:11:45] Yeah, with insects. I'll tell you one story. I was I had heard somebody make a remark about petting a bumble bee, and that sounded great. So I tried to pet bumblebees and they want nothing to do with it. They're they're going about their business. They don't want to be touched. And one day I was in a canyon in Arizona and I was in a psychedelic state and just feeling at one with everything. And I had a section of orange in my hand. And then a bumblebee landed in my palm and was drinking the juice. And it just stayed there and allowed me to pet it and interact with it. It was just wonderful. And it was there's no question that something to do with my internal state and whatever vibe I was giving off. Another insight is I've had a real sense that everything is alive, that consciousness is the fundamental reality of the universe, and that everything is conscious in some way or other, that animals, plants, rocks. I remember again, I spent a lot of time in canyons outside of Tucson in my psychedelic experiences of feeling and seeing energy coursing through my body and being continuous with energy in the rocks that I was lying on. And it seemed like it was streaming, colorful, brilliant, corpuscular energy that was moving. And I could feel this in everything. It was in the plants and the cactuses, in the rocks. And this has it's a very powerful theme of my belief system that consciousness is the ultimate reality, that there really is no distinction between what we call animate inanimate, and that this puts me at great odds with materialists who say that consciousness is some byproduct of neural activity in the brain. I think the brain is a creation of consciousness. [00:13:30][105.0]

Ronan: [00:13:31] That's fascinating. It's something that I've thought about at length. How do you how do you have that conversation with materialists? [00:13:35][4.5]

Andrew: [00:13:36] Oh, God, they get so pissed you would not believe it really presses their buttons. You know, how could any rational person maintain that consciousness is anything other but a product of, you know, neurochemistry and neuroanatomy. But, you know, interestingly, there is now a movement in science. There is a growing movement of one name for this Pan Sikhism. But just even in the past year, there've been articles coming out about new models that are looking at all aspects of the universe being conscious. [00:14:05][29.3]

Ronan: [00:14:06] It's interesting how these themes kind of interweave among a lot of people. There's actually the author, Tom Robbins, who really opened my mind to a lot of this, and he was talking about his first psychedelic experience on LSD, which I think he did in a doctor's office or a psychologist office. He described exactly kind of similar experience where I think he looked at a flower and felt uniformly connected with the flower and everything in the universe. I guess one of the questions I have is how do you translate that into life? What does it change about your day to day perspective on things? [00:14:36][30.0]

Andrew: [00:14:37] Absolutely. It's been very central to my medical advice, my interactions with patients. I'm a very avid gardener. I work a lot with plants. I feel that I have a conscious connection with plants, that I understand them, I understand their needs, their language. I told you that I live with three dogs at the moment, Rhodesian Ridgebacks, I can't imagine life without dogs. And we understand each other's consciousness. And it's been really trained me and non-verbal thinking. We anticipate each other's needs and moods. In my medical philosophy. I think one reason that I have been successful even within the academic world, is that I think differently and that people are drawn to that and interested in it, even though it's not why I'd say what mainstream culture supports, it seems to be very attractive to people. [00:15:24][47.4]

Ronan: [00:15:29] We're talking in the middle of the COVID pandemic and I've heard some people refer to this. Time as the great pause, because it's forced us to really start to separate what's important from what's not what's what's relevant from what's just an accent on life. And I've been advised by a number of people to not waste this time that this is one of the unique moments in history where we actually have the time to look inside and reflect. Just wondering if you've taken this time during the great pause to reflect and if anything has really come out of it. [00:16:00][30.3]

Andrew: [00:16:00] In some ways, my life has not changed very much because I always mostly worked from home and kept up a lot of my routines. I guess the biggest difference is not traveling. I'll be interested to see how many of the changes that we are now living through are going to stay with us once the pandemic ends, I would think a lot of people are going to continue to work from home. I wonder how this will change the kinds of things we do outside of the house. And I've been reading a lot about pandemics and diseases. Just fascinating stuff. One thing that I've put in all of my books about health is that it is remarkable that most of us are mostly healthy most of the time. There are so many things out there that have the potential to harm us. There are so many things that can go wrong inside us. And yet most of us are mostly healthy most of the time. And that really is the one of the marvelous things about the human body, about our organism, is that it is able to maintain health and equilibrium. And it's really important to honor that ability and keep it working for you as you go through life. So that's one of the things I've been reflecting on. [00:17:04][63.5]

Ronan: [00:17:04] That's a great insight. It's consistent with one of the philosophies we have at Field Trip which is trying to take the perspective that there's no such thing as a sick person or a healthy person. We're always just on a spectrum. Sometimes we need more help, sometimes we need less help, but we're all just people. So changing the attitude of some people are patients. Changing that dialog in medicine is, I think, one of the most important shifts that we can make. And it seems to be to me at least pretty consistent with perspectives of integrative medicine. [00:17:30][26.2]

Andrew: [00:17:31] The most important, the philosophical principle of integrative medicine, is that the human organism is capable of healing itself and maintaining equilibrium and it's not a new idea. Hypocrisies taught that we should revere the healing power of nature. I think most people don't have much confidence in their own healing abilities. And to me, that's where good medicine starts. When I am working with a patient, I'm always thinking, why is healing not happening here? What's blocking it? What can I do from outside that might facilitate it and might help it along? It would be very useful if people had more confidence in their organism's resilience and ability to maintain equilibrium and did not run off to practitioners for every little thing. Rather than figuring out how they could make changes themselves that would allow their own healing mechanisms to come into play. [00:18:17][46.3]

Ronan: [00:18:17] There seems to be more and more evidence that mindset and perspective has such a profound impact on our health. All the way down to epigenetics. I remember reading about that attitude seems to have an effect on what genes get expressed when your cells are replicating, which is incredibly fascinating. And on that point, psychedelics clearly are relevant to this conversation. How do you foresee psychedelics fitting into modern medicine? [00:18:40][23.0]

Andrew: [00:18:41] Absolutely. I think when they become available for medical use, I just see so many possibilities for them and not just in the arena of mental emotional health, which is what's mostly talked about. I have just seen so many examples in which psychedelic experience has dramatically changed the course of a chronic physical ailment. And I just see tremendous potential for using them in things like autoimmune diseases, in chronic pain, in which they can show a person that there's a different way of interpreting what's going on in your body. And having that vision can allow healing to happen then the condition to change. So I'd love to be able to use them that way. [00:19:23][42.4]

Ronan: [00:19:24] I've read and heard that a lot of chronic conditions from autoimmune conditions straight through to cancer are largely the result of inadequate processing of our emotion. We spend a lot of time holding on to them or directing them literally into the the physical assets of our body. How does that sound to you? Is that something that you believe in? [00:19:42][18.8]

Andrew: [00:19:42] That might be too glib. And I think we have to be careful with it. I think there are certain categories of disease where that is predominant. For example, I worked for a long time with a very skilled hypnotherapist who I remember saying to me that he thought that all dermatological conditions and all GI conditions should first go to hypnotherapy before they go to dermatology and gastroenterologist, because those sites have the highest ratio of nerves to tissue and are the most frequent sites of expression of problems that originate in the mental sphere. But when you talk about cancer, I think that's tricky. I think that repressed emotions and emotions might suppress immunity and allow cancers to grow faster. I don't know that they cause cancer. And just tell you one way I see that get misused. When I was in medical school, this was in the late 1960s when I would see women who had breast cancer. And these were mostly women of my grandmother's generation, I always ask them why they thought they got breast cancer and they would always give answers, like 20 years ago I fell against the kitchen table and hit my left breast or I was in an automobile accident. My breast was injured. There is no evidence that cancer has anything to do with physical injury. But then starting in the 1980s, if I would ask women who were then of my mother's generation why they thought they got breast cancer. The answers are always things like, well, I bottled up my anger at my husband all those years. And there's also, I think, no evidence that that's the case. But if you think you got cancer because of an accident, it was something out of your control. But if you think you've got cancer because you didn't express emotions, that's your fault. And that's an opportunity to be guilty about something which probably compounds the situation. [00:21:17][94.8]

Ronan: [00:21:18] Absolutely. I Think we can't dismiss that there's a number of factors that go into specifically chronic diseases, but certainly unresolved emotions probably do not help the situation at all. [00:21:28][10.3]

Andrew: [00:21:29] Certainly not. But that has to be explored. And the problem with conventional medicine is that it ignores that whole realm and just focuses on the physical. And this is another area in which I think integrative medicine has a great advantage because it insists that people are not just physical bodies. We're also mental, emotional being, spiritual entities, community members. And you've got to look at all those other dimensions of human life in order to understand health and illness. [00:21:52][23.0]

Ronan: [00:21:52] Why do you think there's resistance from modern allopathic medicine towards integrative medicine? I know I've started working with an integrative medicine doctor and I remember going back to my family doctor who I continue to maintain for other aspects of care. And I was talking about some of the work we're doing. And he asked for your test for this is normal. Why are you taking that? And my integrative doctor was like because we're not interested in normal. We're interested in optimizing. We're looking to make sure that you have the longest, healthiest life, not the normalest life. And I'm wondering if you have any thoughts on A) why that may be and B) what we can do to start shifting that. [00:22:26][33.6]

Andrew: [00:22:26] I think doctors are led to believe that they know everything about the human body and health and illness, and they really are unaware that there are big gaps in their education. I mean, a glaring one is nutrition, which is still completely slighted in medical education. So I think anything that comes along that's unfamiliar, there's they instinctively are defensive about intent to reject. It's very easy for them to dismiss ideas and practices in integrative medicine as being unscientific or even anti scientific, they say that there's no evidence for them. Often there is a great deal of evidence that they're simply unaware of. So I think it's a matter of re-education, of time. And in the U.S., there's a group called the Consortium of Academic Health Centers for Integrative Medicine that includes now, I think, almost three quarters of the nation's medical schools, which have indicated that they're moving in this direction. So this is becoming a mainstream phenomenon. And I think it's going to be propelled now by economics, not just by consumer demand, because the current state of health care is just unsustainable. It costs too much and the outcomes are too poor. And we have to find ways of doing things differently. And I think integrative medicine is the real promise for the future. [00:23:36][70.0]

Ronan: [00:23:37] I know this is a totally unfair question to ask, but I remember posing it to a doctor a number of years ago and I said, what is the single most important thing I can do to extend my life? And that doctor at the time said intermittent fasting. But I'm going to pose the same question to you. If there's one thing that you would recommend to people to do starting today, what would that be? [00:23:55][18.4]

Andrew: [00:23:56] Don't smoke. [00:23:56][0.2]

Ronan: [00:23:57] That's a good one. [00:23:57][0.5]

Andrew: [00:23:58] That's the main thing. I would say intermittent fasting has a great deal of research behind it. Fascinating, I think, tremendous potential, the challenge is that there's so many different ways of doing it. And you have to find some way of getting the benefits from it that work for you. You know, I have a book called Healthy Aging, and I did a lot of investigation of healthy aging strategies. I must say that what I've taken away from it, the two most important things are to maintain physical activity throughout life and being careful to change the forms of that, to adapt to the changes in your body, and second, to maintain social and intellectual connectedness. [00:24:31][33.0]

Ronan: [00:24:32] That totally resonates with me. I don't have a scientific background at all to be able to refute or agree with it, but it sure makes a lot of sense intuitively, that's for sure. You mentioned not smoking being a good way to extend your life, which is certainly great advice. I don't think there's too many people who would challenge that. One of the questions that has come up, as you know, what the evidence around smoking cannabis is? [00:24:52][20.5]

Andrew: [00:24:53] Well, I think it's less harmful than smoking tobacco. And it certainly can be a respiratory irritant. But we don't see the correlations with the kind of diseases that are associated with tobacco smoking. I think it is preferable not to smoke anything and to find other ways of doing that, probably heating cannabis and inhaling the vapors rather than combusting. It is probably a better idea, although you've got to be careful you're not taking anything else harmful in that way. [00:25:17][24.2]

Ronan: [00:25:17] Yeah, absolutely. I mean, I think that's one of the biggest opportunities and certainly one of the big risks around blackmarket product, especially even in psychedelics or cannabis, is you just don't know the legitimacy of what you're consuming or how is prepared. On that note, you have been described as the most trusted advisor for recreational drugs. I think one of the concerns that people have is how do you balance constructive consciousness expansion or constructive call it recreational use of drugs with the risks of addiction and dependance you know with psychedelics, I'm having a call with some friends who are very focused on consciousness expansion and awareness and all that kind of stuff. And the subject in our next call is going to be about how do you ensure that psychedelics don't become a crutch instead of a tool? [00:25:58][41.0]

Andrew: [00:25:59] The basic principle of the book From Chocolate to Morphine and why it angered so many people was it took the position that there are no good or bad drugs, there are only good and bad relationships with drugs. Now, in the case of cigarettes, cigarettes are the most addictive drug out there, right up there with crack cocaine. One statistic I've seen is that a youngster who smokes more than one cigarette has only a 15 one five percent chance of remaining a non smoker. So based on that, I would say the advice would be don't even try it once. With other drugs. The dangers, the risk benefit ratio is quite different. With psychedelics, I think the on a physical level, they're probably the safest compounds that we know in terms of physical toxicity. I think the main dangers are psychological and those are related to set and setting. So I think the most important advice is to really pay attention to, of course, the dose that you take, but your expectations of what you want, your thoughts about what the drug is going to do, and then the environment, both physical and social, in which you use it and your reasons for taking it. And probably for novice users. The most important advice is to seek the experience of a guide. Traditional societies. These would be shamans, up here. It may be somebody with some sort of psychological training or maybe not just, but somebody who is experienced and able to structure the drug's effects in a way that are positive. [00:27:23][84.7]

Ronan: [00:27:24] And how do you do that personally? I think you've described yourself as a shaman, if I understand correctly. So curious to know if you have any suggestions or recommendations. [00:27:32][7.9]

Andrew: [00:27:32] Well, I've had my share of bad trips with psychedelics and I've had fantastic experiences. And in retrospect, you know, a lot of the bad trips were very predictable. I could have foreseen that given my mental state and the circumstances in which I took it, that it wasn't going to have a good outcome. I don't advertise myself as being a shaman and I don't guide people on psychedelic trips, but certainly willing to share my knowledge with people and help them find good guides. I'm very pleased to see now that there are several institutions know one of them is Maps. The other is the California Institute of Clinical Studies, which are have training programs for psychedelic guides. So, you know, maybe it'll be easier for people to access that kind of expertize in the future. [00:28:12][39.1]

Ronan: [00:28:12] I've been called out on social media because I don't have extensive experience with psychedelics. Some people are critical of that fact. And I think, therefore, I'm unqualified to be helping to try to to grow this industry. What's your perspective on especially guides or therapists leading people through experiences if they don't have experience themselves? [00:28:32][20.4]

Andrew: [00:28:33] Well, if you're talking about therapeutic situations, I think it's very important for a person to have experience themselves. And if you look even at the early research that was done, I mentioned that Spring Grove Hospital research in the late 50s, early 60s with terminal cancer patients. The results were fantastic that, you know, most of the people that went through this had much less pain. They needed a much lower dosage of narcotics. They were able to interact productively with family and friends. They lost their fear of death. I mean, fabulous results. And then other people who did not have experience with the drugs tried to repeat this and didn't get the same results. And that was one of the things that turn people off of doing research in this area. They didn't understand how much all this depended on set and setting. And one of the major variables there is the the mind set and experience of the therapist. It's possible that a person in a neutral setting can have a fabulous experience, but it certainly would be better to do this with a with a good guide. [00:29:29][56.3]

Ronan: [00:29:30] I just have a couple more questions for you. First one is there are movements in different capacities to legalize psychedelics. Certainly the works Maps is doing is at the forefront and Usona and Compass Pathways on the for profit side. And then there's efforts on the more grassroots political level, like the Psilocybin Services Initiative in Oregon that will probably be on the ballot this year. Just wondering if you have a perspective on is all of this good? Is is one path better? [00:29:56][25.7]

Andrew: [00:29:56] I think it's great. And I would say that there's been such a flood of positive publicity about the tremendous potentials of these. Just in the past week, there have been a great many media reports on this survey showing that people who use psychedelics and particularly DMT, have spiritual experiences and have become people who are atheists no longer are atheists. I mean, remarkable. So I think there's great momentum here. I would say that we're likely to see MDMA made available for the treatment of PTSD fairly soon. I think we'll see psilocybin made available. For the treatment of drug resistant depression and maybe obsessive compulsive disorder, and I think it'll proceed from there. So in the US, the challenge is to get these out of schedule one, which is defined as having no therapeutic potential. And once that happens, I think that in various states that become available, I think it's great. [00:30:50][53.7]

Ronan: [00:30:50] What I love about the Psilocybin Services Initiative is one of the things that interests me about psychedelics personally is is their capacity not just to heal mental health challenges like treatment resistant depression, PTSD, but really for their capacity to be expensive and eye opening and creativity inducing and empathy generating and all of these wonderful things. And and I think it's one of the challenges and certainly I'm sure this integrates with any integrative medicine practitioner, which is you don't need to be sick to benefit from this. But the current allopathic approach to medicine requires you to be sick. So that's one of the challenges that needs to be balanced. I guess we'll see how it goes forward, but I'm sure certainly attitudes will liberalize fairly quickly. [00:31:29][38.5]

Andrew: [00:31:29] And I would this is sort of farther out speculation, but the world is in such awful shape at the moment, really in any direction you look, whether it's the degradation of the environment, overpopulation, polarization of society, the complete failure of political systems, it's pretty grim out there. And it just may be that this, you know, reappearance of and resurgence of psychedelics, maybe that will be the counterbalancing factor that has the potential to bring about the transformation in consciousness that is necessary for a transformation of society. [00:32:05][35.3]

Ronan: [00:32:05] Certainly, it's one of the thoughts I had recently, which is I look back and you look at the evidence and relative safety profile of psychedelics and you think about all the impact that they could have had, particularly through the Vietnam War and all the vets and onward. And you can't help but kind of get to that place where it's almost more criminal that these things were scheduled than anything that they could have possibly done in a negative way to our society. But then I paused and kind of thought about it and I thought maybe humanity wasn't ready in the 60s to actually handle the responsibility that comes with these drugs and that we needed the last 50 years or so to catch up to the potential and the power of these. And as I continued that thought process, I came to the place of it's probably not coincidental if I'm going into my metaphysical lens that psychedelics are having a reemergence right at the same time that you see the old systems of the planet crumbling. [00:32:57][52.2]

Andrew: [00:32:58] Well, it is a source of optimism to see this happening. So I'm very happy about it. [00:33:04][5.6]

Ronan: [00:33:04] One last question for you. Although I think maybe the answer would be somewhat implied in what you just said, which is back in the 60s, there's ambitions of trying to put psychedelics in the water at the White House and the Kremlin to lead to the end of war and all that kind of stuff. But if there is one person who you could wave the magic wand and have them have a psychedelic experience who would that be? [00:33:23][18.8]

Andrew: [00:33:25] The problem is it's not just putting the psychedelic in the glass of water. It all has to do with set and setting. So I'm not so sure that if you gave Donald Trump a dose of LSD or mushrooms that he'd come out any different. I don't know. [00:33:37][12.5]

Ronan: [00:33:38] Certainly Donald Trump has been mentioned numerous times in this question. [00:33:41][2.8]

Andrew: [00:33:41] Yeah, I would imagine. [00:33:42][0.5]

Ronan: [00:33:43] Thank you so much, Andrew, for making the time for us. That's really wonderful. I really appreciate your insights. [00:33:47][4.1]

Andrew: [00:33:48] Good. I enjoyed it. [00:33:49][0.9]

Ronan: [00:33:54] It was so incredible, speaking to Andrew Weil. The story of his life is so impactful, insightful and textured, we can learn a lot from his experiences. For now, here are three key takeaways from our conversation. One of the most powerful things we can learn is that we are the masters of our own reality. All of our experiences are subjective interpretations of our surroundings. The experience of sight or sound or feeling are literally just your brain turning electrical signals into our perception of reality. Though it may be hard to wrap your head around this idea it is one of the most empowering, freeing experiences to accept this fact. The decision to forgive is not only good for your mental health, it's good for your physical health as well. Heal the mind, heal the body. And one of the best things you can do to start healing your mind is to find forgiveness. Finally, as living beings, we all have our own healing capabilities. But today, most people don't believe that they have them. There are many amazing stories out there where people have used their minds to overcome diseases and injuries that modern medicine said would be impossible. Have confidence in your body's ability to heal and don't be afraid to make changes to your perspective and behaviors. [00:35:03][68.5]

Ronan: [00:35:11] Thank you for listening to Field Tripping, a podcast dedicated to exploring psychedelic experiences and their ability to affect our lives. I'm your host, Ronan Levy. Until next time. Stay curious. Breathe properly. And remember, every day is a field trip if you let it be one. Field Tripping is created by Ronan Levy, produced by Conrad Page. Sharon Bela is our researcher. Special thanks to Quill. And of course, many thanks to Dr. Andrew Weil for joining me on this episode. Let's stay connected and keep this trip going. Subscribe to our new podcast. Tell us what you think about it and sign up for our newsletter at FieldTripping.fm. [00:35:11][0.0]

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About Ronan

An entrepreneur and a visionary, Ronan is one the founders of Field Trip – with a mission to bring the world to life through psychedelics and psychedelic-enhanced psychotherapy. Concurrent with his work at Field Trip, he is a partner at Grassfed Ventures, a venture capital and advisory firm focused on the cannabis and biotech industries and is Chief Strategy Officer and Member of the Board of Directors for Trait Biosciences Inc., a leading biotech company in the hemp and cannabis industries. Prior to his current roles, Ronan co-founded Canadian Cannabis Clinics and CanvasRx Inc., the latter of which was acquired by Aurora Cannabis Inc. (NYSE: ACB) in 2016, after which he served as Senior Vice President, Business and Corporate Affairs for Aurora. A lawyer by training, Ronan started his career as a corporate lawyer at Blake, Cassels Graydon LLP and Legal Counsel at CTVglobemedia Inc. (now Bell Media Inc.) He holds a Juris Doctor and a Bachelor of Commerce degree, both from the University of Toronto.