Transcript for “A Drink With Dr. Dennis Mckenna” (Plant dynamics, Macro-Ecology)

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say this word but just leave me alone

that’s the messy to grow plants it’s

great to talk to your plants yeah it

gets a little weird when your plants

start talking back to you more often the

message is come closer let’s form a

symbiosis let’s form a collaboration for

mutual benefit what’s up folks wow what

an amazing interview with the legend dr.

Denis McKenna you know we get into some

really amazing topics and some necessary

things in this conversation from the

global ecosystem and how we’re affecting

it and down to the base level of how

psilocybin interacts with the brain we

talked about the FDA studies that are

occurring with psilocybin research so

you guys are going to really enjoy this

conversation thank you guys so much for

listening don’t forget to get to our

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you are listening to the human

experience and are very honoured guests

for today’s dr. Dennis McKenna Dennis my

good sir thank you so much for being

here it’s it’s so great to have you back

on the show good well thank you for

inviting me it’s a pleasure happy to be


so Dennis we’re doing this thing

together which is completely new to the

show where I’m calling it a drink with

dr. Dennis McKenna and I mean I don’t

even drink rarely very rarely drink in

front of me is a beer

a drone beer I won’t drop the name just

because I’m gonna open it now and if you

could just do the same on your end

already open it worked it out it for a

while to get the mood stare completely

understand okay

let’s dive in – I want to talk about

plants and how they affect our lives

there was a talk that you did called

waking up the monkeys plant teachers and

the rediscovery of nature where you

outlined the fascinating interplay and

similarities between plants and our own

development as a species what our plant

messenger molecules and in what ways do

they share function and possible purpose

with our own brains neurotransmitter

okay so plants I say in that talk and I

say many places plants substitute

biosynthesis for behavior and they can

do that because they’re great chemists

and because they’ve mastered this little

neat trick called photosynthesis which

is the ability to use sunlight to

convert carbon dioxide and water

very simple precursors into complex

organic molecules and this is the

mechanism by which energy is brought

into the biosphere from the Sun and

bounded into the biosphere in a useful

way it’s essentially what revs the whole

engine of Gaia the engine of the

biosphere you think of a planetary

ecosystem itself as an ore

and photosynthesis is the key that

sustains life on earth but it doesn’t

stop there because plants are able to

make many molecules that are not

necessarily universally required by all

living things because they don’t occur

in all of your things but they are

useful for the plant

they are basically the language of

plants plants substitute biosynthesis

for behavior and they use these

messenger molecules which we call

secondary compounds as a way to

interface with everything in their

environment other plants one giant

bacterium of soil other animals things

that might want to eat them things and

that would include us right insects the

whole chemically mediated coevolution

between plants and insects is highly

complex especially for flowering plants

so chemistry is the language of plants

and everything that the plants deal with

in their environment is a reflection of

symbiosis and coevolution this close

relationship between different organisms

easily for mutual benefit we all come

from the same evolutionary precursors

right we are our ancestry of plants

ancestry everything else on earth goes

way way back to some it’s called the

loop of likely Universal common ancestor

hmm and that’s some billions of years in

the past in fact there’s just an article

out today that they pushed the probable

origins of life back to three point

seven five billion years they’re always

changing that date they keep all their

always say that because they’re finding

doing new information and it’s always

it’s always being pushed back trait an

but when it comes to the relationship

between us we’re the problematic

primates you know if you seem and we

have these big hypertrophy brains the

rum neurotransmitter

those are messenger

molecules in our Braves and they

resemble in fact because they evolve

from messenger molecules in plants so

these neurotransmitter like compounds in

plants work on the ecosystem level but

we’ve taken those things that we

actually take them in from our diet we

adapt them to our own internal signal

transduction processes which we which we

can characterize this arrow transmission

this is a these are all molecularly

mediated signal transduction processes

that’s what holds my own together that’s

what makes organisms work and that’s

what they see Co systems work and it

almost play solely so there’s a long

drawn-out the answer to your very simple

question okay so through this process of

this idea of bringing out a symbiosis

what effect does this have on the

species that is cohabitating with the

plan and what changes has it caused in

humans particularly with regard to our

phenotype adaptation and on the

genotypic level well okay so there’s

symbiotic a signal transduction

relationship with plants goes on at

every level it has to do with plants

communication with other plants with

fungi bacteria and everything that it

might encounter in its environment this

is how plants regulate their relations

with everything else in the ecosystem

it’s how they optimize their relations

but then when it comes to us it gets a

little more interesting because you know

we have these neurotransmitters it’s

what makes our brain function

also you’ve by similar or even the same

molecules in plants because it came out

of the same evolutionary precursors and

so the plants what they want to send a

message to us they can actually do so at

the neural cognitive level some wag once

said you know if you grow plants it’s

great to talk to your plants

it gets a little weird with your plants

start talking back to you but that’s

exactly what is going on in this

evolutionary co-evolutionary

relationship these messenger molecules

are trying to send our species a message

and the message has to do with the

number of things primarily symbiosis

you know these messenger molecules have

various functions so they’re not

strictly separate they’re kind of

overlapping the message can be stay away

you know many of these plant compounds

are toxic the message to anything in the

environment is stay away from me a toxic

I’m a bad I don’t know if you can say

this word but yeah you know what just

leave me alone

that’s the messy war often the message

is come closer let’s form a symbiosis

let’s form a collaboration for mutual

benefit and in the case of Cubans the

collaboration is is something like this

you monkeys take care of me you

cultivate me you protect me from the

vicissitudes of natural selection nature

red in tooth and claw I don’t have to

compete anymore because you’re taking

care of me so for the plant that’s a

good deal why would we bother while

we’re getting something from the plan

that we value you know a medicine a food

a dye some we tend to value plants

because of some useful property that

they have and that usually comes down to

chemistry in some ways you know even for

example the appearance of a plant the

beauty of a flower something like this

we’re trapped to it and I don’t want to

go all reductionist on you but in fact

that’s about payments and that’s

chemistry you know so plants use

chemistry and chemical messengers to

form these complex relationships with

humans and a big part of the message is

let’s form these alliances let’s for

these symbiotic relationships even to

the extent that you have to wonder who

is cultivating who here in Trudeau are

the plants carrying out our agenda are

we carrying out the plants in Jim I

think that’s a real question but then

other NASA does to come through when you

have these psychedelic plants they’re

trying to on some level I think these

plant teachers you know this special

category of plants that have these

neurotransmitter like molecules that we

consume for these psychedelic burn you

know it’s transcendent experiences in

part the message is for one thing wake

up this is a big part of the message to

the monkeys wake up because you’re

destabilizing the ecosystem and yours

destabilizing the security of life on

Earth you’ve got a re understand your

relationship to nature so that’s one


wake up the other thing is once you’ve

woken up you know wise up right

understand first of all the limitations

of your knowledge

remember how little you know right

that’s a very common message that comes

through at least to me in psychedelic

experiences remember how little you know

there’s no room for arrogance here let

me slow you down Dennis let me just tell

you down cuz you’re segwaying for me

that was that’s you know that I missed

okay I’m gonna move into psychedelics

right now so Terence

your brother had food the gods and then

you also talked about the psilocybin

compound the formation of religions and

other frameworks of reality you actually

drew some really astute comparisons

between religions based around

psychedelic or shamanistic practices can

you can you talk about that a bit well

here’s the thing one of the things that

psychedelics can reliably do under the

right circumstances is to trigger or

generate what we think of as a mystical

experience or a transcendent experience

you can equate that to a religious

experience but it doesn’t have to happen

within the context of some organized

religion it is in fact and we’re now

understanding this it is in fact that

something that every person is capable

of and they don’t have to be a member of

an organized religion because in fact it

is built into our neural architecture

it’s built into the structure of our

brains and the receptors that

psychedelics interact with that’s a

particular subtype of serotonin

receptors serotonin is a

neurotransmitter these psychedelics

interact with one of those subtypes of

the serotonin 2a receptor they are all

more or less similar in that they can

all generate a mystical experience and

it’s interesting because you know we can

now actually study mystical experiences

from a scientific point of view you know

if used to be something that people

would strive all of their lives to have

and it was rare we now know you know 20

25 milligrams of psilocybin in the right

circumstances can reliably trigger a

mystical experience in just about any

schmuck you know you know if you see

this you don’t have to practice you know

asceticism for your whole life to get

this it is something we’re capable of

now when you have a mystical experience

there are characteristics of it one of

them is called oceanic boundlessness

this idea that we are all one we’re not

separate we’re not separate from other

people we’re not separate from any other

living things the idea that we’re

bounded but we’re you know egos separate

from everything else that’s a delusion

it’s not really the way it is so that’s

one thing another thing that comes out

of mystical experiences is what some

people have called biophilia which is in

the innate discovery and love for living

things you know I mean it’s built into

our sensibility generally we have an


love or life

for living things I affiliate you know

it’s uh you know it’s the litter of

puppies syndrome right I mean what can

be cuter right but you know maybe the

best of tarantulas not so much but you

know there’s still a element of beauty

there and appreciation and then the

other thing is what people called

animism is a perception animism

is the idea that essentially everything

is intelligent everything is conscious

in a certain way you know even rocks

even you know their intelligence is

something that permeates nature it’s not

separate from nature it is nature and

that’s the other thing

pantheism the idea that there’s not an

external divine entity that created the

universe the universe is the divine

entity the universe is God if you want

to use a loaded term like God yeah these

are common perceptions of psychedelic

experiences and I would venture to say

of the indigenous worldview which very

often are informed by psychedelics I

mean that strikes me as highly

intriguing that ease you know indigenous

populations are consuming these plants

that elicit these experiences that make

them feel more connected to each other

it make them feel more connected to

living things that’s highly interesting

right EE is it interesting but it can

even be study using these substances you

know because what they do in some sense

they lower the gating mechanisms you

know much of what our brain does is

filtered information out because there’s

so much coming in and in order to

construct the model of reality that we

have happened you could call it a


if you liked but it’s a model of reality

and in order to construct a model that

makes sense it has to filter most of

what you’re getting out you know so

marrow physiologist call it sensory


I’m temporarily disable that and that’s

very useful so Dennis what about what

about the opposite I mean what if

someone ingests a psychedelic compound

like psilocybin and they have a

difficult experience and or like a dark

experience or a negative experience what

happens then I mean that that is also

very likely right

well yes it does happen but I think

that’s a question of your own

preparedness and your own expectations

and people say the most difficult

experiences are often the most valuable

experiences you know whether it’s a

psychedelic or some other life

experience if it challenges you that’s

where the opportunity to learn opens up

and really benefit from that if your

experiences are always about you know

happy hippies and unicorns and rainbows

and fuzzy bunnies that’s great but

you’re not necessarily gonna learn a

whole lot from that you will enjoy it

but will you earn so that challenging

experiences are actually the most useful

and that’s where preparedness and these

key variables that we call set and

setting come in try you want to optimize

your setting I mean that’s kind of a

no-brainer right you want to have an

optimal situation where you’re taking

these things set is more complicated

because set is your mindset and that

goes do what your expectations are what

your intentions are if you need and

really your whole life experiences has

to do with what you are what you bring

to it because this encounter with the

plant teacher is a dialogue you know and

you’re having a dialogue it’s something

that is an intelligence or at least it

presents itself as intelligence and

you’re an intelligence too so you have

two minds that are somehow communicating

with each other not necessarily language

right I find that when I have a major

life issue or problem there’s a few

ayahuasca sessions that I had where

there was something deeply traumatic

going on in my life with some family

related stuff I was

this tipping point where if the plant

pushed me it’s even a little bit into

the sort of dark realm it would have

broken my sight and I mean thankfully

that didn’t happen but I find that when

I’m having life problems I tend to kind

of avoid using these compounds and I’m

more keen on let’s have a good time with

it and learn as much as we can from it

when things are going well I mean I know

that there are some people who kind of

go towards micro dosing and you’re

talking about LSD to solve issues to

solve complex problems I think there’s a

sort of Renaissance happening with the

usage of psychedelics it’s really

intriguing I mean there’s there’s so

much happening in the world of the

regulations and the FDA studies and what

you guys are doing at the hefter

Institute what Maps is doing but

actually what we were talking about do

you think that plants are trying to give

us a warning is that communication

happening to help us avert some sort of

massive disaster that’s happening on the


well yes I I do believe this I think

exactly that’s what’s happening this is

why something like ayahuasca in the last

10 years 20 years has suddenly gone from

something that was in the Amazon nobody

not that many people knew about it or

cared or even had any idea what this was

suddenly it’s gone on to the global

stage it’s like it’s almost like the

plant teachers are trying to get us to

wake up to the environmental disasters

that we’re facing because of our

unconsciousness right because of our

separation from nature and our failure

to understand that we are destabilizing

these homeostatic mechanisms again

signal transduction

we’re destabilizing these things and

we’re approaching a point where they

can’t be reversed you know the planet

tends to go to homeostasis like

everything else

it strives for equilibrium we’re

upsetting those mechanisms in serious

ways and at a certain point we reach a

tipping point where we will find it they

cannot be reversed I mean the planet as

a whole life as a whole is tremendously

resilient but there is a limit to this

ever before an evolution has a species

been able to manipulate planetary

processes through our technologies to

the point where these systems are

seriously threatened our impact on the

ecology has always been local up to now

but now it’s not it’s global so we have

to get very smart about how we deploy

these technology often I say in my

lectures we’re extremely clever there’s

no doubt about that what we’re not is

wise we have to bring our wisdom and our

cleverness into harmony with each other

so that yes we can manipulate all of

these technologies that are potentially

very dangerous we have to be smart

enough to use them wisely and with

clarity of beneficial purposes this is

one of the main lessons that I think the

plan teachers are transmitting to us you

know and they’re getting increasingly

hysterical right because we’re not

listening and so people are going people

go to South America or wherever and they

take ayahuasca and many many people come

back with this sort of renewed

perspective on all this and literally

away I don’t remember a time where I was

actually more scared for the planet and

humanity then now the propaganda and

ian’s mainstream media is just so

subversive that I can’t even turn my TV

on anymore without hearing some

mind-numbing thing

makes me wonder where we’re gonna be in

10 years 20 years 30 years and obviously

you know because we’re arming the planet

in the way that we are and no one is

paying attention

no one is you know addressing this issue

where where are we gonna live well I

mean we haven’t done anything for our

generation I mean what have we invented

the Internet

I mean that’s the only notable thing

that I can think of that we’ve done well

but that’s a huge thing that’s a huge


Xavier because essentially we’re

exterior izing our nervous system on to

global scale right that is what the

internet is at some level it’s the human

nervous system but now it’s routes the

globe in the same way that you know

geologists talk about different spheres

right you talk about the geosphere the

hydrosphere the atmosphere these are all

things that enshroud the planet well now

we have to talk about the Aero sphere or

the a cyber sphere I guess you could

call it and what’s different about that

is it’s a human invention it’s not

something that evolved in the structure

of the planet it came from us but then

of course we also tame nature but I hear

you I you know I am worried about this

you know I am very dismayed with the

political situation and I just have come

to the point where I think that politics

is broken you know it’s not working


I’m very dismayed with the with the

policies of the new administration but

it’s it was headed in the wrong

direction to begin with and it was like

you know

these people don’t get it they are

easily dismantling the pathetic steps

that we have taken over the last 10 or

20 years to restore things now they’re

busy reversing all those policies

because they don’t realize that these

things have consequences because the

ecosystem works on a longer time scale

than we do I mean the Trump

administration for example is not

looking past the next four years you

know and hopefully that’ll be the

longest that they have but you know but

we have to start planning in terms of

them as you say the next 20 years 50

years 500 years and the sad thing is

we’re not doing you know the the

technology is there the technology is

being invented every day I was just

reading this article on Elon Musk and

his solar energy proposition that

basically a roof of these solar panels

would cost less than a regular roof so

we have the technology I don’t think

there’s a big enough like wake-up call I

don’t think your average human being is

scared enough yet and hopefully it’s not

too late how scared you have to be you

know in order to wake up I mean the

Congress he’ll they’ll be standing up to

their waist in water before they’re

gonna wake up you know because they are

deliberately denied they don’t like what

science tells them so their reaction is

to well let’s just be a denier this is

not a solution

this is idiocy facts don’t lie you know

science is about collecting facts and I

don’t care what the administration is

there aren’t alternative facts you know

there are facts and then everything else

is either opinions or lives and they’re

deeply into lies and not so much into

accepting facts so this is what this

maze me about the impotence in a sense

of political institutions to respond to

this which is why I believe plant

teachers really are the solution because

they’re catalysts for global

consciousness change I mean people say

well what do you do what do I do I talk

about my teachers and I I try to teach

people you know and create opportunities

for people to have those encounters and

learn from them facilitate the symbiosis

basically and so part of the solution I

think is to be a plant person you know

grow plants trade plants people teach

people how to use them you know

propagate this messy it seems like that

very much but what’s one person to do so

this is what I do I talk about remember

that movie water world where dirt was

like the new gold I mean hopefully we

don’t we don’t get to that yeah yes you

know dirt and plastic or the new gold

okay Dennis it so we went off and

thought change it but I I mean I think

it’s important to discuss this stuff and

create awareness about it because this

is our home I think we have to be aware

and conscious and if you’re not thinking

about this where you’re at least

recycling then you’re not doing anything

good for the planet that we live on I

wanted to talk about the FDA approvals

for psilocybin treat

of anxiety depression in cancer patients

I think the you so not Institute is in

Phase three

yes studies what is a phase three study

entail what does that mean the approval

of eating in drugs doesn’t have to be

psychedelic any new drug if you want to

get it approved in the US for clinical

use you have to go through three phases

phase one is basically a safety study

you know you’re not even asking if it’s

efficacious you’re the same isn’t safe

that’s usually done with a fairly small

number of subjects but it’s a highly

structured study then if it passes

cluster on phase one and phase two

slightly larger of subjects and you look

at a specific therapeutic target does it

work or depression does it work for PTSD

if it passes muster on Phase two don’t

say okay it’s safe to a degree it’s it’s

efficacious for whatever your

therapeutic goal is then you get to

Phase three

much more expensive you’d have to do

thousands of subjects you have to do it

in several different centers usually

these are universities or clinics and it

is basically a base to on steroids you

know where you’re assessing the drug for

efficacy in a very large group you can

show it works you can show it safe and

you can show it safe for a large sample

once you pass phase three than the FDA

you know will usually approve the drug

as a prescription drug so if this study

passes the Phase three trials then

psilocybin would be removed from the

schedule one classification of the

Controlled Substances Act yes Wow

it would have to be it would be given a

different schedule probably – and it

would then be available for clinical use

clinicians properly qualified for it

probably you know doctors psychiatrists

or whatever they would be able to use it

and it would be available through

prescription so that’s the goal and

that’s what you’ve sown is doing that’s

what maps is doing with MDMA same thing

they’ve just started phase 3 trials they

got permission from the FDA to do a

phase 3 trial I think you Sona is

working on permission to get phase 3

approval once they do they’ll be able to

go ahead with that now that’s just in

the states that’s the framework that we

have to work in here but something like

ayahuasca is much more difficult to get

through that approval process right well

it’s a plan and it not only is it a

plant but it’s at least two plants and

the FDA likes molecules they like too

many molecules that are you know

absolutely if I as a medicine we know

exactly what the composition is what the

doses are and all that i osk is a much

looser kind of thing every formulation

is different to a certain extent and

although you can study plants under

approve FDA protocols it’s more

difficult you know because of the

inherent variability of plant

preparations and the sort of FDA’s not

be that open to plants you know to

develop prescription drugs but I’ve long

been an advocate of you know why do we

have to necessarily play the FDA game

with something like ayahuasca it doesn’t

have to be done in this country it could

be done in Peru for example where not

only is it not illegal it’s been

designated a national patrimony they’re

good physicians in Peru and iOS did it

comes out of the culture it’s a

traditional innocent

so here’s a perfect opportunity to

develop something like ayahuasca with

all of that indigenous you know history

into a clinical medicine that that you

can take in Peru or other countries that

approve iOS there are different ways to

go forward you don’t have to do a three

phase study only if you choose to do

this with the FDA what’s up guys you

have been listening to the human

experience with Dennis McKenna

dr. Dennis McKenna if you want to hear

the rest of this interview where we get

into the hardcore stuff of everything

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