In recent years, we have seen a huge increase in people who swear by plant medicines and herbs for treating their ailments. And while more research emerges that supports the claim that certain plant compounds have incredible healing properties, herb and plant medicine is often frowned upon within conventional medical circles when it comes to treating chronic conditions. But is there some truth to the power of plant medicine, herbs and Ayahuasca (an entheogen/psychedelic plant medicine considered by native people of the Amazon to be a spiritual healer) or is it just mumbo-jumbo? And, if it is so great, why aren’t we using it in modern day medicine?
In this podcast, I speak with Nick Polizzi. Nick has spent his career directing and producing feature-length documentaries about natural alternatives to conventional medicine. In this episode, Nick will share his own personal story about how modern medicine gave up treating his chronic migraines and told him that it would be a lifelong chronic (and debilitating) condition. This led him to discover the power of plant medicines, stress reduction techniques, herbs, and Ayahuasca to heal the body, mind, and spirit, and live a vibrant, healthy, energetic life.
In this podcast, we’ll cover:
- Why modern medicine often gives up on patients with chronic disease
- How Nick managed to cure debilitating ocular migraine in only 6 months (after modern medicine had given up on him)
- Why the current knowledge about plant medicines and herbs is only scratching the surface of what we will know 20 years from now (hint: only 3% of plants in the Amazon have even been studied), and the real reasons why not enough research is taking place
- Ayahuasca – Is it really just another drug to get high on? Or is it something more than that?
- Ayahuasca ceremonies – how to use them for spiritual healing (and why Nick fears doing them every time)
- Why your conventional doctor is likely not looking to helping you treat your disease using herbs and plant medicine
- Nick’s personal experiences with Ayahuasca and sweat lodge ceremonies
- How your personal beliefs can block your healing process
- Nick’s new docu-series Remedy: Ancient Medicine For Modern Illness – How to use herbs for treating modern epidemics (Note: You can sign up for your FREE access HERE.)
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The Power of Plant Medicines, Herbs and Ayahuasca to Heal the Body, Mind, and Spirit (with Nick Polizzi) – Transcript
Ari Whitten: Hey everyone. Welcome back to the Energy Plueprint podcast. I’m your host, Ari Whitten, and today I have with me Nick Polizzi, who has spent his career directing and producing feature length documentaries about natural alternatives to conventional medicine.
Nick’s current role as director of “Remedy: Ancient Medicines for Modern Illness” stems from a calling to honor, preserve and protect the ancient knowledge and rituals of the indigenous peoples of the world, and to bring amazing undiscovered medicines to people in the west. Plant medicines, natural plant medicines, mostly that can help heal many modern illnesses. So with that in mind, thank you so much, Nick, for joining me. It’s such a pleasure to have you.
Nick Polizzi: Ari, I am honored to be here.
Ari Whitten: Yeah. So first of all, I’m a huge fan of what you’re doing and the message that you’re putting out into the world. And I’m also jealous, I have to say. When I was younger when I was a teenager, I remember for certain classes, kind of drawing pictures of me scuba diving on coral reefs and, and kind of extracting certain compounds from corals to try and find medicines that we’re going to cure diseases.
And now most of my time is behind the computer screen writing and you’re down in the Amazon, doing all this, going on all these adventures and trying to find all these undiscovered… Healing compounds and it’s funny you’re doing what I kind of fantasized about doing when I was a teenager. Pretty cool. So I’m jealous. I have to say.
Nick Polizzi: Thank you, man. It’s fun, fun, balance. It’s a little bit of work balancing that with a family. I got to say. I have two small children, so it used to be, I’d say a lot easier to be… Yup, put on your Indiana Jones hat and just, be cavalier about it.
Just kind of go around the world and do what you gotta do.
Ari Whitten: Yeah, absolutely.
Nick Polizzi: I used to just pick up and just go around the world and do what I had to deal and I still do that, but there’s a little bit of my heart that never leaves Boulder, Colorado and my two boys. So I love what I do. Don’t get me wrong. But yeah, it makes it a little trickier as you get older and you start a family.
Why Nick turned to plant medicine to treat migraine
Ari Whitten: Nice. So, how did you, how did you stumble into this? How did you, I guess, first get into health and then you started going down this path with the sacred science and coin kind of going on all these adventures down to the Amazon and doing all these, this, these explorations of medicines from indigenous peoples. How did you stumble into all that?
Nick Polizzi: So my path started the way that a lot of people on this healing path start out. And that was with my own illness. I grew up on the, on the east coast. I had four or five aunts that were nurses at the local hospital. A modern medicine was the way of my family and so when I started in my early, early twenties getting migraine headaches, ocular migraine headaches, I turned to modern medicine first. That was all I really knew.
And I went to one of the best neurologists and he tried a lot of different things to get me better. Ocular migraine headaches are terrible, by the way. Anybody who’s listening, who’s ever had one knows it’s not a headache, it shouldn’t even call it a headache because it’s just a totally different thing. It’s basically a combination of a broken bone in your brain and the stroke because, I mean, a lot of times you can have stroke like symptoms during them. I was talking to someone earlier this week who still gets them and she was saying that she goes numb in loses functionality and part of one hemisphere of her body when she gets them.
So its a very tricky condition. And so when I started getting them in my early twenties was scary. Turned to modern medicine. And one of the best neurologists in Connecticut, I was lucky to see and they put me on a bunch of different drugs that would work slightly for the first couple of episodes. I was having one or two a week and then after two or three migraines they would stop working. So I was just going through this Rolodex of different pharmaceuticals that had a number of their own fun side effects in addition to kind of only working partially and then not working after a while.
So I didn’t know what to do. They were running the MRIs. They thought maybe there could be something more serious. And, ultimately, I came in one day after having had one of the most severe migraines that had ever had where I literally was trying to talk to my girlfriend and the words I was trying to say were coming out as different words. And… I had to be in the dark for about 10 hours straight with absolute quiet and a cool rag on my head and just literally could not communicate with the outside world.
I went in to see him and he said, ”Well, Nick, that was the last preventative… That was the last drug I can give you for this.” He said the only thing I can do for you now is put you on something that’s more preventative drug that will maybe work but, and will definitely cause some alterations in the way you perceive your reality. And somehow, even though I was in my early twenties, I was a numbskull, I was living in New York City I’m drinking, chasing girls around, being being a moron. I still at that point knew that that was where I had to draw the line.
I was, ”No, I can’t.” I’ve seen a couple of loved ones go on antidepressants within that same span of time and saw what it did to them. And so how their data’s completely just gone into this, this total, I don’t even want to say coma, but it was almost, there was this slight emotional coma, and I’m… ”I’m not doing it. I’m not going there. I need to at least know who the hell I am.” So, I walked away from that office in desperation and started trying to figure out on the internet what else I can try to do.
Cause he said, ”listen… This is terminal”. I left that part out. He said, ”this is terminal. This is how it is. This is how it’s going to be for your life this is all we can do is try to figure out a way of helping you cope with this problem.”
Ari Whitten: So, on that point, I would imagine that probably, I haven’t looked at the stats, but I would imagine a number of people with a condition that probably end up committing suicide.
Nick Polizzi: I don’t know. Yeah. Who knows? I’m sure I’ve never looked at that either. It’s a big deal. It’s one of those things… I mean, there’s a lot of illnesses out there. So often it’s done a tiny little tangent, a lot of illnesses out there that we’ve all become so familiar with that. It almost makes them sound benign in a way or or there, there’s so usual that we don’t really think about them as being something that, you said, could cause somebody to do something like drastic that. But something an ocular migraine headache twice a week will ruin your life.
I mean, it’s derails your life. You cannot live a normal life. It’s to your pain all the time and the pain and no one understand it and you’re always in fear of it happening again and it does happen again within the matter of days. And so you just never know what you can and can’t do. I mean, there’s a lot of conditions that, but ocular migraines are one of those. And so then I… That’s how I found my way into the healing path. It was not because I thought to myself, You know what’d be cool, I want to start working with herbs” Because I honestly, that was not where my brain is. I’m a New York Jets fan. I was busy. I was a real estate investor in New York City at the furthest thing from my mind was, I want to start working with herbs and going to yoga and thinking, seeking out energy healing practices.
I had no idea what the heck that stuff was. So it was really out of desperation and again, the people that I interview, especially the people who are not native folks, people who are from the Western world who were interested in this stuff. It’s usually, I mean, I’ve got to say at least seven times out of 10 in my experience is because they were somebody they knew got really sick and as many as as often happens, but it’s very unreported. They’re failed by modern medicine miserably, and they go on their own healing path.
And so that’s how I got on this path which led me to herbs. It led me to EFT and led me to other energy healing practices and it also led me ultimately to shamanism.
Nick’s Documentaries – How and why they were made
Ari Whitten: I think that’s a beautiful segue into your last documentary that you worked on, your current one is ”Remedy – Ancient Medicines for Modern Illness”, but the previous one that you’ve done is called ”The Sacred Science.” Where you took a bunch of people down to the Amazon people who had severe illnesses and it was kind of this documentary adventure where you’re following these people as they’re going into the jungle looking for cures to their conditions.
Can you talk about that whole documentary and how things played out with that?
Nick Polizzi: Sure. So I made two documentaries after I got better. So the part I left out is within six months of me leaving modern medicine. I was completely 100 percent cured, never not had a migraine since. So
Ari Whitten: Yeah. Actually, let’s go into that first and then we’ll get into ”The Sacred Science”.
Nick Polizzi: Cool. Yeah, I got to say, I credit EFT with a lot because EFT tapped me into my body. It got me literally tap me literally tuned me into emotions. I never knew that as a, as a dude, just a normal guy. I don’t even know what a normal guy these days or what kind of, if, if that’s offensive to even say… But I was just this, this northeastern Connecticut, New Englander kind of guy and I was raised from a young age not to really look at my emotions. Not to really give them much credence. That was a pretty sissy thing to do in my family. And I’m not… My dad. My parents are great, but that’s just in my society looking, examining yourself too much with a little bit weird to try to do.
And so this period of self examination was helped a lot by, by EFT and I started realizing there were these undercurrents event and these energies and thoughts and ways of being that were not normal, I thought were normal. I thought that’s just kinda the way it was.
But when I started really tapping into it and hanging out with more people who are a little more enlightened than me, I realized that these were choices I was making. And so EFT really helped me dig into those things. And once I got more sensitive to the subtle energies that were going on inside myself, that was when I started really being able to dial into herbs. Herbs who seemed very like… camomile tea, nothing’s going to feel any of it. There’s nothing bad about it. There’s nothing. It’s not potent. Drugs are the way to go or else there’s no other option.
But once you tune into your body, you start working with plants and start working with diet. As you know, you start sensing in your body what you’re allergic to, you start sensing in your body what makes you feel good? What does it make you feel good? And so that was, that was my entryway, EFT and energy medicine was my entryway into herbs, which was my entryway then into shamanism and rituals.
Because, as you open up the Pandora’s box, and you realize how much more there is going on inside you, and you start finding out that who you thought you were is absolutely not who you are, then you just have to keep on going down that path which is turned [inaudible].
That was when we decided that we were going to make the movie called ”The Sacred Science”. I ended up making a movie with Nick Ortner of the tapping solution, who’s a good friend of mine from a long time ago now.
Ari Whitten: I’ve actually had him on the podcast as well, so a lot of people will be familiar with him.
Nick Polizzi: Ok, cool. So Ortner and I went to high school together, and middle school together. People don’t know this, but he couldn’t speak English until he was in second grade. He came over from Argentina and he did not have a word of English and he just turned into a New York Times best selling author.
So that’s pretty amazing. Pretty amazing human being. So he and I made ”The ”Tapping Solution”. Then we made another movie called ”Simply Raw – Reversing Diabetes in 30 Days” as a part of that too, which is more on the dietary side. And then what I noticed was in what we’re shooting these things behind the scenes, something that I would ask a lot of people that we’re interviewing, out of a personal interest was… ”Who is your mentor, who’s your Guru”, because we’d be sitting down with these big, big name people Jack Canfield and all those folks. You know they are, these people that you are ”Wow, who’d you learn from?”
And when you ask them that question, a lot of times I don’t know how no percentage it was, but a lot of times they were, there was people being pointed to that didn’t live anywhere near us and they were not gray haired white men. You know what I mean? We know that were wearing suits in front of the camera, which is pretty much all the experts that are in a lot of these, a lot of these personal development and nutrition films. They were native people, there are people from other places, other continents. They were elders, they were wise people and that was very intriguing to me.
And so that kind of made me realize that where I wanted to go next, not only because of the herbal side, but also on the leader, the wisdom and the personal transformation side. It was something that looked like it was the next place to go. Shamanism, native practices, healing rituals, ancient medicines.
And so that turned into this path of discovery where we just started, me and two other people on our team started to research shamanism. And at that point it was very hard to find a lot of good information on it because it was not what it is today, 10 years. It’s really, it’s really just blown up into something.
Back then it was the dark, the dark corner, dark, cobweb corners of the Internet. You’d find little, little sites that would talk about it, you know. And so we pieced together this kind of… we called it the law where there were just a map of the world and we started kind of putting, putting different pins in places and starting to get an idea of where were, these cultures are still alive, the, the resources that these cultures had at their disposal, the heal people.
Because we knew, we knew we wanted to do. We want them to take people someplace to get healed. So we wanted to find out the best possible location for, for us to take a crew of people or a group of, of very ill people to get better.
The truth about plants in the Amazon
Ari Whitten: I would guess a lot of those pins ended up in the Amazon area.
Nick Polizzi: Yeah. Yeah. Because not only is this the Amazon has one of the most thriving cultures of shamanism was the planet. I’d say in Africa and in Siberia are probably the two other places that I would say are, are just as just as alive still, but the difference between Siberia and Africa, at least the areas of Africa that we were looking at the Amazon, is that the Amazon has over 80,000 species of plants, less than three percent of them.
I mean now basically coding soundbites from the film that I’m trying not to put it in my own words, but basically three percent of those 80,000 plants had been studied. And of those three percent some 20/25 percent of our cancer treatments or since I’ve been synthesized from those plants, but there’s 97 percent that hasn’t been studied. And the only people who know those plants, are the indigenous people. So we’re okay, ”so there’s this very alive and thriving culture of shamanism and they have at their disposal the biggest, the biggest pharmacopeia of medicinal plants in the entire world. Yeah. Let’s go there.”
Ari Whitten: Yeah. And I think there’s an interesting point to be made there, which is that a lot of us growing up in the west growing up in the United States, for example, have this conception of, of modern science is, ”oh, we’ve, we’ve already discovered and researched all the plants that there are and the different extracts of different herbs and things like that. We already know kind of everything there is to know about all these plants or, maybe not everything there is, no. But we’ve discovered 90 plus percent of the medicinal plants that, that there are to discover.”
I know that I certainly used to be under that impression and it’s just… It’s actually the opposite, is that the science just scratched the surface as far as how many of these, these medicinal plants we’ve actually found and researched.
Nick Polizzi: Yeah, it’s totally true. And there’s all kinds of reasons for it. It’s exciting to me because, I mean you think of this world is a place where no man has been everywhere. So no, there’s nothing original anymore. Who’s going there’s nothing left to do. We’ve already figured this place out. Well, that just told you how little we actually know, we know three percent of. And, and so I say 80,000 species of plants in the Amazon site, not even close. That’s the conservative number of number I say, so I can’t get trolled.
The ethno pharmacologist and a botanist that I talked to who are down there all the time, say the numbers continuing to grow, they estimated that far over 100,000 species of plants and that’s with deforestation, continuing to take a lot of it away. They’re still finding more and more species.
So… And that number, that three percent number, it holds true for most of them, most of the plants around the world. Um, I think that there’s something 450,000 species of plants in the world and I think some similar, some similar percentage of them have actually been studied. So think about that. We’re looking for cures we’re looking for in all these, all these diseases now you and I know that a lot of these diseases are lifestyle diseases that we probably could settle just by being a little bit more responsible. But the ones that aren’t, think about that. So a lot of our medicine comes from there the medicines that you, a lot of medicines that people think are, we’re just kind of born in a, in a factory, come from plants. The easiest one being aspirin, aspirin and comes from white willow bark.
It’s just that, that’s where it comes from. So one of the, one of the most consumed drugs in the world comes from of something that you could probably find in your state somewhere if you’ve looked in the right spot. And like I said before, a lot of, a lot of the cancer treatments… The most potent ones come from come from trees and barks.
So what does that mean? What does that mean for the possibilities that are out there? If you’re sick right now, listening, listening to this right now, what does that mean to you? I mean, does, it has to give you a little bit of hope because that’s what doctors have told you. There’s nothing left for you.
Well, that’s according to their playbook, it’s not, that’s not according to the world’s playbook.
Ari Whitten: And also on the small portion of these plant medicines that have been studied. And I don’t want to get into conspiracy theory in here, but most physicians, most conventional MDs don’t receive any education in the, even the herbs that have been studied or a nutrition class or for that matter, or just the basics of, of lifestyle medicine. They’re not being exposed to these realms of knowledge. So even the stuff that has been studied, you’re probably not going to find out much about those things from your local physician unless they’re one of the small portion of physicians that has gone to great lengths to educate themselves on their own.
Nick Polizzi: Integrative doctors and functional medicine doctors, a lot of them really, really do have strong herbal backgrounds. Robert Roundtree, I’m not sure if you ever had him on. Do you know Robert Roundtree?
Ari Whitten: I do, yeah. I have actually been meaning to get him on because he’s big into a particular topic of interest of mine called Hormesis, so he’s one of my next guests that I was…
Nick Polizzi: He [lives] right down the street. He’s in our new series. He is just, he’s got a lot of brilliant, brilliant stuff to say about this. I mean he’s just a great example of a functional medicine doctor who is just steeped in Herbalism. I mean he’s, he’s graduated from some of the most prestigious universities, all that, all that pedigree, if you will, that’s something that matters to you.
But really first and foremost, you realized somewhere along the way he’s, ”Hey, I got into this to help people and the stuff that we’re doing, some of the works, but a lot of it really doesn’t work. So what else can I do?”
So I mean, I to your point… A lot of doctors out there are really just, and this is something that i’ve had to get over it because I tend towards, towards extremes, so when I first feel myself using herbs and alternative medicines, I started kind of looking at modern medicine suspiciously ”like this is all kind of a crock” and then I’ve just slowly but surely come over to the fact that now everybody’s most everybody’s on a healing path is out there to help people and a lot of doctors are on a healing path to, they’re just trying, but that’s the way that they went and a lot of them are realizing that they need to mix in other stuff and a lot of them are doing that.
So Roundtree’s great. You should have him on the show for sure.
Sacred Science – The power plant medicine and herbs can have in healing chronic and terminal disease
Ari Whitten: He is, yeah. I really like his stuff. So let’s talk about ”The Sacred Science” for a minute. So what you. You took a bunch of people down to the Amazon who had a variety of different illnesses. What were the results or what kinds of experiences to did people have?
Nick Polizzi: So we had three different cancer patients. We have a patient who had neuroendocrine cancer, we had a patient with prostate cancer, another patient with breast cancer. We had a someone come down who had Crohn’s disease, very advanced. We had a person come down who had depression and addiction. We had another patient come down who had advanced Parkinson’s disease. And I always, I always lose track of these things and we have another patient come down who had diabetes. I’m not sure if I said that one before.
And then finally we had to, we had someone else come down who had IBS. And so the results varied. I think that the way that, the way that we put it in the film is, five came back with real results to come back disappointed and one never came back, at all. So you know, I think that part of what we did when we were making the movie is I just wanted it to be real people. And I think you probably see this in the, in the space, there’s a lot of people saying all kinds of stuff about they are trying, making all kinds of claims.
And I think that what we did with that was, ”hey, we’re just going to tell you exactly what happened up here”. Fortunately for us, amazing things happen in a lot of ways. But there’s also there was things that happened in that people, certain people didn’t get the results that they wanted.
I think that the nicest thing about at all or was that every single one of them had a profound spiritual transformation. So for measuring things based on physical improvement I think that those numbers are pretty accurate that I just gave you were measuring things based on personal evolution and the disintegration of limiting beliefs and illusion. And everybody came back whether they were physically improved or not with. Because we asked them all, so how everyone was, I, this, this has been so profoundly beneficial to me. This has been one of the most transformational experiences in my life. So, on a spiritual level, on a consciousness level, I think that it was 100 percent success rate, but, but one person died while we were down there. So that can be looked at as a failure if you want it to look at it from a medical perspective, but everybody who’s on the inside, including the family member, this person was like, ”that was exactly how that was supposed to go.”
Ari Whitten: What are the details around that? As far as the. I mean, that’s just so people know because I’m already aware that, that, that person already had a terminal illness was only a few weeks to live, if I remember correctly.
Nick Polizzi: And so that was Gary. Gary came down and he had neuroendocrine cancer. It wasn’t looking good for him and he was… so he was there for 10 days and he had, I don’t want to say he had a crazy healing breakthrough, but he went from not being able to walk around because it hurt so bad to be able to walk around and really enjoy himself. And we were all, ”Whoa, this is, this is incredible. Gary, how are you? You have tumors all throbbing”. So he had tumors all throughout his body and he knew that this is very likely… this was going to be his final, his final destination.
But then he just had these, these let’s say at least a week of just feeling like he was on the mend and the last couple of days of his life he was, ”I don’t feel I don’t feel any pain anymore”. So we were all, ”what is going on here? This is crazy. I keep an eye on Gary, this is, this is not really going through some kind of transformation”.
So he he passed away on day 11. He had a pulmonary thrombosis and some people some of the doctors we’ve talked to you say that it said that it’s actually part of it doesn’t necessarily mean that, that it wasn’t working, it just means that it might’ve, it might’ve caused an issue. We’d actually never had an autopsy to kind of look at whether there was no, there was a reduction or a shrinking the tumors inside of them.
But Pulmonary thrombosis can happen when with this condition when tumors dislodge or break off and can cause problems once they’re, once they start to go away. So it’s possible that was it. It’s possible that it really wasn’t him getting better. He was just kind of in this kind of final, final 10 days of his life. But I do know that he was, he died pretty happy… He was a pretty happy man down there.
And then. So I called, I remember after he died that next morning on the satellite phone and I called up his sister, which was a very hard phone call to make. And I was ”Susan, I’m so sorry I’ve got bad news for you”. And I was crying and she was trying and I was, ”I’m so sorry, you know? And she’s,”What are you talking about? [Inaudible] all of us. He didn’t… He knew she’s you don’t know this. But the doctors told him that he was going to be alive for four or five more days when he got on the plane” She was, ”He barely got on the plane because he almost couldn’t make the transferring the transferring flight. He didn’t want to tell you because he didn’t think that you’d let them come down”. And I was like, ”Oh my, gosh”.
So he came down, knowing that he was, he had days left and just didn’t tell us about it. So now that was his path, you know? And that was his journey and it was such an inspiration. The other to the other people that were down there, the other, the other, the other individuals who are working on themselves to kind of see him being so strong, even though he was so far gone so that was, that was our story.
Yeah. It’s complex. It isn’t you know what it sounds when you say somebody, somebody went, came down with us and died. It’s, there was, there was much more extenuating circumstances.
Ari Whitten: Yeah. Well, yeah. That’s why I wanted to clarify because the way you originally phrased it was, ”Oh yeah, we took him down there and we killed him” It’s a little bit more nuanced than that. But you know, I think it’s interesting. I think it’s interesting that even five of the eight people actually got really good results because from my perspective, the odds are really… the deck is stacked against you getting results.
And what I mean by that is you’re taking people from the western world living a completely different lifestyle and suffering consequences from the modern Western world’s lifestyle and then taking them down to South America to indigenous peoples living in the jungle who have developed a certain medical tradition that hasn’t emerged to treat those illnesses. They’ve never even seen most of those illnesses. And their traditional medicine, culture is not about healing those conditions. It’s about healing the conditions that emerge in their culture. So it’s honestly amazing and remarkable that you worry that they’re able to get significant results with those people.
How mental blocks can hinder your healing
Nick Polizzi: You know, if you talked to healers, it’s a great point. If you talk to healers out there, and I know that you’ve done your fair share of work in these realms. I’ve heard it said so many times.
They’re listen, ”It’s so easy for us to heal our own people. It’s just so easy”. I don’t know that it’s necessarily just because of environmental things and them growing up. Yeah, just been growing up with these plants around them and maybe having some kind of a synergy with them as much as it is. And this is what these guys telling me.
It’s because they have fewer blocks. They trust us, they trust the medicine, skepticism we tell them is going to work. It works. So people come down here and they’re expecting a miracle overnight thing and that doesn’t happen. And then they immediately get discouraged or they come down here distrusting it and just kind of with all kinds of emotional baggage and mental baggage. And then we’ve got to cut through that first.
I mean, that’s why Ayahuasca as much as that’s become a little bit stigmatized, obviously it’s become a lot more popular in the last we’ll last decade. But that’s why it’s so beneficial when you see it used across the board and these healing traditions because they call it, at least in my experience, they say we got it before we started trying to do anything. We need to clean the slate and we want to start with a clean slate.
So before we even tried to start messing with this disease, let’s start getting the are shattering the beliefs you have and shattering this, this, these illusions that are better kind of clinging to you so that you can start seeing things clearly.
And I think that’s so important. You know, and again, some people are ”Oh, hallucinogenics”. Well, now that Michael Pollan came out with this book and made everyone [inaudible] microdosing mushrooms. But for a while, and probably still now I’m sure a lot of people when they hear Ayahuasca. They find out that it’s, that means the vine of death and they can give you crazy come to Jesus type visions and things like that. Then they say, ”nope, that’s where I get off the bus”. But mean you to look at it that way.
I mean, how many… What kind of a mental cage have you imprisoned yourself in? I mean, we all have them in some way, but I mean, some people have really, really thick bars on there so you know, and so before you can start working with the subtle energies of what’s causing your disease. A lot of times you had to actually break free from this thing and understand that you’re not this, you’re not your name. You know, you and I have talked about might’ve talked about this on our of we talked a month ago.
You are not your name. Most people think that their, their name most people, you ask them who they are, they’re gonna say, well I’m Bob and they ask him ”I get it. But, who are you?”
”Oh, well, I’m a, I’m an electrician”. Whatever it is. For some reason, Bob the electrician, it seems to be my example there, but no. People don’t really want to get that real with themselves and they can’t, they don’t have the words to describe who the heck they actually are.
So I mean, I feel that’s a good, that’s a good starting point. It’s if you can’t, you can’t get deeper, deeper than that, then you know that you’ve got some bars that need to be. Need to be sought a way.
How an entheogen like Ayahuasca can be used for personal transformation and spiritual healing
Ari Whitten: Yeah. One hundred percent. And you know, I, I want to mention a few things at this point because we’re gonna I would love to talk a bit more about entheogens and hallucinogenic plant medicines. But there’s a bit of a… It’s kind of an interesting barrier that emerges here where you can talk about these kinds of things and talk about the kinds of experiences that one can have on these things. But people who haven’t actually experienced it won’t really be able to wrap their head around it.
And I know because prior to me experiencing some of this stuff and I heard people talk about these kinds of things, I just thought it was a bunch of crazy talk and I was, ”okay, this person sounds like they’ve lost their mind and this is a bunch of Mumbo-jumbo nonsense”.
So, for everybody listening, who hasn’t experienced any of these hallucinogenic plant medicines, what I just want to preface by saying, open your mind to hearing the message here without judgment and without skepticism and consider the possibility of maybe what they could do for you.
So with that in mind. One thing I want to talk to you about Nick, that I know we talked about on our phone call several weeks ago, is when you went down there to study to film some of these, these shamans doing this work. They were actually skeptical of you initially, right? You know, and they kind of was, ”Well, how do we know we can trust you and why should we let you in here and why should we let you film what we’re doing? And you know, how do we know that your intentions are good?” And so they kind of, they put you through some stuff, didn’t they?
Nick Polizzi: This is just a touch back on something that we’re talking about a few minutes ago when we say that there’s only a three percent of these plants have been studied. It’s also not just because modern medicine doesn’t want to study them. It’s also because they burned tons of bridges down there. So they look at me as, as some gringo with a camera and a crew who wants to come down and do this thing. And they’re, ”oh great. So there’s another Gringo who wants to come down here and take something from us.”
So there’s a reason why there’s a reason why only three percent have been studied down there. The doors have been closed for the most part. You know what I mean? If they, if they get a whiff of anything that they think is, you’re trying to push some kind of agenda, that’s not going to be righteous and just. So yeah, they didn’t, they didn’t want to talk to me necessarily. And I think that that’s sitting in ceremony really was the equalizer.
Ari Whitten: And just, real quick, for people not familiar with the use of language, what do you mean by sitting in ceremony?
Nick Polizzi: So, sitting in ceremony… Before I was able to maneuver very easily down in South America and do anything that was going to do for this project, once we realized we wanted to film down in the jungle. The first thing, the very first thing before anyone was going to even talk to me more than literally a casual conversation in a coffee house kind of a thing was ”Okay, well on Saturday night, come here to this address and we’re gonna sit down and then we’re going to have a ceremony”.
And so that was how it went for me. And so my first ceremony was absolutely it was, it was probably the most strongest, most heart wrenching, gut wrenching ceremony that i’ve ever, i’ve ever been in. And so yeah… Ultimately, what it turned out to be was the first few ceremonies were just their their mechanism by which they could understand me and understand who I was. It’s like a truth serum. I mean, it’s very hard to sit in and Ayahuasca ceremony and continue to have any ulterior motives.
It’s the ultimate truth serum. I mean, I’m sure, I’m sure that somewhere in some way the United States government has tried to figure out a way of using this for some type of a tactic. So yeah, it was, it was absolutely epic. And it was something that I’ve come across that in a couple of, a couple of different scenarios in a couple different cultures.
So, so similar to the Ayahuasca ceremony, I would say the sweat lodge is an intense. Is it intense ceremony too. Some people who might not have, who might be listening, who haven’t worked with a hallucinogen, but who’s, who have been in a sweat lodge. Well, I mean, the intensity of a serious, serious sweat lodge and the intensity of the serious serious Ayahuasca ceremony. I’m not even sure which one I dread more.
I mean, they’re both. It’s really what we’re doing with these rites of passage that keep me so intrigued and, and loyal to them is that we’re playing with… We’re not playing with, but we’re stepping into intentional intensity that that’s the way I look at it.
So I know I’m walking into an intense environment. I know it’s gonna end and without intensity, I don’t think any of passage is really fully complete. I don’t think. I don’t really believe in that as being a rite of passage.
So what your step…
Ari Whitten: I just want to point out one thing that’s interesting that it’s worth mentioning to everybody that hasn’t had one of these experiences yet. You said, ”I’m not sure which one I dread more”. That’s an interesting contrast to some people who haven’t had an experience with something like Ayahuasca who might think, ”Oh, these psychedelics and hallucinogens. This is just a bunch of kids just running off trying to get high and go on drugs and be high and feel that feeling of euphoria and bliss. It’s just drugs and just being high”. And what you just said is ”I dread having this experience. I dread the, the idea that I’m gonna go sit down at the end of this week and do another one of these ceremonies.”
You dread it. Why? Explain that to people who think that these things are just about getting high and being euphoric. Why are, why are they not correct in their assumptions there?
Nick Polizzi: You know, what’s nice. So I don’t think I’ve ever discussed it. Juxtaposed with sweat lodges before and it’s really good. It’s a really good one because that’s one that we can actually describe with words. Very hard to describe what happens with Ayahuasca. We can do it, and it’s relatively effective, but I mean I with a sweat lodge you can really understand that.
So you walk into. So this last experience I had maybe two, or maybe it was two experiences to go. I was sitting there, I was in northern Wisconsin, I’m hanging out with some native American men who are welcoming me into the situation. I don’t like enclosed areas, period. I do not like enclosed areas. I’m the kind of person that when you, when, when you go to a restaurant, I’m sitting looking at the exit at all times. I’m just, I’m always, for whatever reason that could be a genetic thing. That can be some unresolved trauma, I don’t know, but I don’t like to be in enclosed areas.
Ari Whitten: Especially small enclosed areas filled with a bunch of hot, sweaty naked dudes.
Nick Polizzi: And the amount amount of literally glowing hot rocks. And so a lot of people probably haven’t seen what a traditional sweat lodge looks. But it’s nothing, really. Nothing very epic. It’s what? I forgot what the guy was who heard all those people in that big tent that the Dome, the guy from The Secret who got her in it. That’s a huge circus tent. I don’t even know what that was. But a regular sweat lodge is, literally, if you’re standing, you’re standing 5’10 or whatever. The top of the roof of the thing probably comes to your waist. I mean it’s dug into the ground. It’s a very, very small. It’s very it’s maybe 12 feet across.
It’s just a small little kind of a hut that you have to kind of walk down slightly into. It’s dug into the earth and you know. The proper sweat lodge is packed. It’s that little thing is packed. I mean you have there can be two tiers where there’s people sitting up on the top of the top rim and people who were sitting literally with, their knees almost touching the pile of rocks.
So I’m at this thing in Northern Wisconsin, I’m totally honored to be there. I’m, this is crazy. I’m one of the only if the, if not the only person who was the only white male here. I’m at this thing and I just, I’m there to make contact on there because of what I do for a living.
That, you were right, you were saying before you’re envious of me going and tracking down medicine. Well, this might not be one of those things, one of those parts that you’d be envious of having to put yourself through this.
And then also those honestly, most of what I’ve experienced in the Americas, at least, is most native folks do not trust us. You’re, if you’re a white dude with blue eyes and a beard you’re sort of, you’re, you’re the quintessential guy [inaudible], you know what I mean? ”Okay, here we go. Here’s this, come in to try to have an experience.” or ”Here’s this guy coming to try to write a book.”, ”Here’s this guy coming in to try to liberate us from our own problems.”, or ”Here’s this guy trying to make a name for himself.”
So, I mean, I go in there knowing all this stuff so it makes it even more important that I could hang in a sweat lodge. You know what I mean? So, not only the fact that you have this pile of hot rocks stacked up and you have these elders, most of them are older dudes who are just piling in. And there’s no way. It’s a clown car. People will continue to get into this sweat lodge and I’m packed in the middle of it all. Don’t know these people. I know they probably don’t trust me and now we’re in the middle of the worst possible environment for myself.
There’s no dark, there’s no light. It’s not. It’s not it’s a tent that has any transparency to it, so there’s no sunlight coming through or they can literally just skin. It’s animal skins on top of, on top of sticks that are bent, and then they close the flap and its complete darkness and then they sing and you just sit there as this thing fills up with impossibly hot air.
And so to try to compare that to an Ayahuasca experience, I think that the first, the first thing that happens in an Ayahuasca experience that makes it horrifying to me when it’s, when, at least for me, when you’re in a strong medicine experience is. There is a problem… For me, there’s always an issue with getting, getting oxygen. So, so there is, there’s a feeling of disintegration. Your body, your body feels it’s going away. You might think that that sounds a pleasant thing. Wow, my aches and pains get to melt away. And just, I get to be this, this water spirit. Your body, the ego, whatever you wanna call it. I think that connects to your soul. If you believe you have one or just your brain to the rest of your body does not want to feel that.
The idea of your body disintegrating into the ground, into a puddle, like the wicked witch is not something that your body wants. It’s just, it’s an absolute, it’s absolute free fall. It’s, it’s a feeling of, it’s a feeling of death and I think that’s why they call it the vine of death because the feeling is I’m dying. I’m no longer here and it’s not a pleasant thing.
It’s not… Oh, I just took, I just took Ayahuasca. Now I’m having this experience. Well, this is, yes, this is what they say is going to happen. So I’m just going to go with it. There isn’t always going with it with Ayahuasca because a lot of times the mechanism by which you can give yourself some, some positive self talk or some positive words of words of encouragement, or just be your own ally.
Somehow, that part of you can get taken away. You know, the kind of thing where if you’ve ever smoked, smoked a joint before, or even if you had too much to drink, you can at least tell yourself, ”okay, I’m a little bit drunk. I probably shouldn’t have had that last glass of Tequila”. That’s like, you’re still there. You still have cognitive function, you’re, you’re still in control to some degree and you’re kind of going with it. There is no going with it when you, when, when you feel medicine coming up.
And now that being said, sometimes some people will say that it can be a very joyous experience. For me, it’s always been when it comes on really strong, a feeling of that same sensation of that flap closing on the Sweat Lodg. Which is: ”I’m not going to be able to handle this. I’m not going to… This is too much. I should’ve never done this. I should never do this again. I’m not gonna be able to do this. I’m going to die here.” And there’s always that feeling of I’m going to die here.
When there’s, when there’s strong medicine that was toward and you feel it coming on, there’s always a feeling of in the back of your head. For me, again, I’m being very, very candid here. Some people, some people are… well, can it be used, I don’t want to say abuse, but some people would take Ayahuasca every single day. They’re just, ”No man, it’s great. You just it take it and just do your thing”. But for me it’s it’s a feeling of I almost have to kind of put my, put my affairs in order before I stepped into an Ayahuasca ceremony because it can, it can change who you are and so you can come out of an Ayahuasca ceremony and have, have a whole new insight on life and, and going a completely different direction.
But even more than that, even though you know that nobody ever dies and they take Ayahuasca unless there’s other foul play, unless there’s something else going on. The the, the number of fatalities are extremely low in comparison to other drugs and things like that that are taken with Ayahuasca. It’s just not a risk. Even though you know you’re not going to die when you sit there and the medicine starts coming on. Or sometimes these days, even now when I sit there and drink the cup and I go back to my spot in the circle and, ”how did I just find myself sitting here doing that again”? , ”How did I just do that again? I’m sitting back down here and now I know exactly what happened last time. How did I just get myself to do that again?” Because it just is so harsh and so intense for the first hour or two for me.
So I think that, that that the sweat lodge is intense because you literally can’t breathe sometimes when it’s too hot, it’s too hot and there’s nowhere, there’s nowhere to go, you know? And with Ayahuasca it’s, it’s this feeling of complete ego death. You know what I mean? It’s, it’s, it’s you can’t be yourself. You can’t be who you thought you weren’t anymore. You go into my stories about who Nick is doing, don’t have, they’re not going to help me in it. I’ll ask a ceremony. In fact, they’re going to hurt me. So you walk into a ceremony and substance, something deep down inside, especially if you’ve been through at one time, you know that you’ve been playing games, you know what I mean?
You know that you’ve been up to no good ever since he got out of the last one because we just get back into these patterns. So I think there’s part of that too where you’re , you’re just horrified the fact that you’re going to be exposed again and you’re gonna have to shut all that stuff and all those things that you have there for a reason because they’re spackle, spackle on a wall that’s cracked and you don’t want to see the cracks.
You know what I mean? You don’t want to go into those cracks. So the first thing that gets that thing that happens is all that, all that stack against power blasted away and you have to kind of deal with who you are again.
Ari Whitten: This is a terribly tough question to ask and I’m glad that you’re the one answering this instead of me. What?
Nick Polizzi: Swinging white lights. I need some swinging light up here.
Why some choose to do something they fear more than once
Ari Whitten: Why? Why do this, why, what do people get out of this? I mean, probably some people listening to this who have never and maybe are not even inclined to do it or are sitting here listening to you and they’re, ”Why is this guy? Is this guy a masochist or what his deal is? He’s intentionally subjecting himself to something that’s really, really difficult and harsh and painful, and he’s saying he dreads it. Yet, he’s doing it again”. Why do this? What do you get out of this and what do other people get out of it?
Nick Polizzi: Do you ever go through? I’m kind of asking you, but really asking everybody, do you ever go through life and you find yourself in situations where whether you’re alone, whether you’re in groups where you’re trying to be better than you currently are. And you can feel in your periphery, there’s something there that you’re just not quite able to see. It’s holding you back [inaudible].
It’s just… agonizing and maybe some people won’t relate to this, but I think a lot of people get this where you’re trying to be who you know, you could be and in which is awesome because I mean just doing that amazing. The fact that you’re trying and you’re aware that you’re trying to head toward that amazing. But as you’re trying to do it, you’re like… ”What? I don’t get it. I want to do this. I know that this is who I want to be, but there are things that are making they’re limiting. I have a spoiler on, I have a whatever it is. I have this weird ceiling, a glass ceiling that I can’t see, that’s preventing me from getting there”.
Well, for me that was an earlier period of my life, which is when I first started working with native plants was this a period where I knew I was in a Rut. I knew I wasn’t doing. I knew that there was a thing going on in my life that was holding me back. It was a dark period. Even though I couldn’t put a finger on what it was, everything on the outside look great. I just didn’t feel happy. I wasn’t thriving. I was over it. I was lost. I didn’t know who the hell I wanted to be. I didn’t know what I wanted to do. My health wasn’t great. It was, it was an entheogen that shattered it all unexpectedly.
And so that was how I started working with enthogens and psychedelic plants. I really don’t work with synthetic stuff. I, I really only worked with, with with power plants, teacher plants because I just feel there’s something, there’s something to them that really resonates with me a lot more. But, but that’s why I work with cerimonies. Period. Because I think that there are certain things for me.
I mean some people might’ve had the most perfect upbringing and they might have had parents. I mean my parents are good. Again, the most perfect circumstances and maybe they were empowered and maybe they don’t have anything that. Maybe they’re actually maybe they’re actually going after it. They don’t need that. Maybe they don’t need to work with these, with these types of interventions.
But for me, ever since I healed myself with migraines using alternative methods, I’ve been very suspicious of anything that I think is impossible. Especially if things that I think are impossible limitations that I have, so I would do these ceremonies because they’re the only way that I can get a look at that I can do. That’s the only way that I can get a look at the thing that’s holding me back. And it’s never, here’s everything that’s holding you back because I think that that’s almost your body or maybe the medicine or however you want to call it, is there’s enough intelligence not to show you everything because you probably would just have a panic attack and die.
But there’s always just gives me the glimpse of the next thing. It feels you’re scaling. There’s so many metaphors, analogies. It’s you’re, you’re scaling the mountain. You know what I mean? All I need is the next finger hole I don’t need. I don’t need to know it all. I just need to know… Generally, I’m going in the direction of who I’m supposed to be and I have my foot on something and I have me, one of my hands on something. So sometimes you’re just looking for that next handhold and the only way, I mean sometimes you can get it through a lot of things. I the long distance run for that reason. I am fasting for that reason, because you can get those little insights in those little glimpses into that stuff too, there. But when I find myself in an Ayahuasca ceremony, usually it’s either a. Because I know it’s been too long and I know it’s been too long when it’s been over a year.
I’m, okay, well, it’s time to go back this time. Or if it’s a period where I just can tell that they’re stagnating and there’s something that absolutely. Like one of my, one of one of the Shamans that I work with is to call and he’s ”a shakeup. Sometimes you just need to shake up”. And when I know that there’s, when I know that there’s stagnation and I know that I’m really hurting on something. If I know that I’m not being good to one of my, if I know that I’m being moody, they’re if I’m being I’m not, I have a block or some calcification around a relationship with a loved one. Even that kind of thing. I’m, that’s hard, man. I don’t even know how to get through that.
Sometimes it’s just one ceremony away. Oh, I get it now. The next morning, the next morning you wake up, are you covered in vomit? Maybe. Have you been through something really kind of scary? Maybe. But do you have answers? Hell yeah.
Usually you have answers, you come back, it might not be, might not be the most pretty thing in the world, but in that in the middle of that place. The fires, a purification that you’re sort of all of a sudden start seeing truth and then you start looking at your life with that through that lens and things are very, very clear.
How to use Ayahuasca to give yourself an upgrade
Ari Whitten: Yeah. Beautifully said. You know, I, I think of it upgrading the operating system. Gives you little upgrades to the next level of operating system. Meaning, more love, less attachment, less struggle, more compassion, more creative energy, more insight, more acceptance of wounds and traumas, and living your life from a new vantage point, a new perspective, and it gives you these… There’s, you said, there’s an intelligence that it’s a non self intelligence. Some people call it God, other people maybe atheists, but even whether you’re a religious person or an atheist, you are going to experience some kind of non-self intelligence that is very clearly not just your brain. I’m not just any of your normal brain’s way of ways of thinking about things. I should say…
Nick Polizzi: That would be a really great experiment. Get 20 atheists and sit them…. Then ask him the next morning. So, what do you think?
Ari Whitten: Totally. Yeah. And, and well, I’ve had, I’ve gone through… I don’t know that I would call myself an atheist necessarily, but I’m definitely not a religious person who’s talking about God all the time. But I’ve definitely had some experiences that have, have showed me that there is some kind of intelligence that doesn’t feel anything like any of my normal thoughts or feelings or ways of looking at things.
And it is very, very clearly have a higher degree of wisdom that is guiding me and showing me and teaching me new things and new ways of being in the world. And there’s an interesting aspect to this which is that it seems to be an intelligence that often guides you into wounds, traumas things that are blocks for you.
You know, I’ll give an example of a friend of mine who actually a wife of a friend of mine whose father committed suicide when she was very young. Literally her… When she was in the house having dinner. Her mom told her dad that she wanted, she was gonna leave him and he literally went upstairs and hung himself in the house while they were having dinner.
And you know, she was, I think 10 years old or something. So her, she did a, a journey an Ayahuasca journey and had to relive that. And it was a, it was a terribly painful thing. And I know lots of people and I myself have also kind of, it’s guided me back into some of my own wounds.
But you know, there’s a saying in I’m in Jungian traditions of psychotherapy that ”the gold is in the shit”. And what they mean by that is there. If you can gain a new perspective on your past wounds and traumas and accept those things that happened and heal those wounds and come and start to to see them from a new perspective and maybe even see the blessing and what those wounds have have given you the positive side of them and how they’ve actually been blessings in your life, or if you can start to cultivate how that experience can be a blessing in your life.
That’s how you turn shit into gold. And this type of medicine seems to be an intelligence that just facilitates that ”shit to gold” process.
Nick Polizzi: Yeah. It’s just reminded me of the first and second ceremony, I ever did. Where felt, literally and, uh, and so people… A lot of people call Ayahuasca grandma because it has this feminine, maternal, but very hot, really rigid but loving type of energy to it.
And I remember for a couple of those ceremonies it really just felt after I got pat got through the initial free fall feeling I was going to die and then realized that really I actually wasn’t going to die, but I was going to feel I was going to be dying for a while. And I got through all that. Then every time after two hours of maybe, maybe an hour and a half to two hours of that free fall type, trying to get safety to figure out the, figuring out the balance system of the whole thing after I kind of got my bearings and let go of all the thoughts and started being present with just what was happening in my immediate, my immediate reality.
There’d be this feeling of her kind of coming down and you know, first of all it’s saying hi and saying thank you. You know, whatever. Some kind of dialogue. And then it just felt it would always turn into me being picked up by the scruff of my neck, a puppy pretty much. And just dragged into different scenarios from my past.
But at that point it would be a, ”Hey, do you want to see the next thing”? At that, after a certain point it became more of a, a total conversation because the assumption that I guess was that are maybe the, what was being said was that I had already gone through a lot already. So it wasn’t, there was, it was optional. Do I want to kind of just chill and just kind of or do I want to start going inside and go with her more, well, I’m going to, I’m going to totally go… Now that I’m here… Understand that I’m okay. And, and also, honestly, the fact that you feel there’s another presence with you as watching a benevolent, the presence that you feel.
It doesn’t always feel like a benevolent presence there for me. When you come up with the come up as part, it just feels you’re on your own and, and you, you might’ve made a mistake… Maybe this is going to be the time that’s not going to be okay, you’re not going to be, get this, get through this one, but then after a while there’s always this, this, this amazing energy that descends upon me when I try it. I can’t speak for everybody. And then it just feels, you said, you spend the rest of the night for me, I spend the rest of the night being guided into my darkness and, and it’s horrifying.
But then once you realize that you’re not alone, no, it’s not as horrifying, but you just say you continue. So I just continue to do it. Okay, well, here’s, where’s the next thing? And sometimes it turns into a Rolodex. Maybe you and I talked about this, a Rolodex of just people in your life. You’re okay, well now, now that I had his lens, now that I have the, the positive, I have sore, I’m kind of the good, I have the beautiful… Whatever the opposite of that is where it’s just, you’re seeing with clearsight then you kinda wanna start looking at everything and that you can so you can try to mend things and you can kind of see what’s going on.
So there’s definitely some ounces, a Rolodex of people and then for any charge, looking at them for anything that needs to be talked about or brought out. That kind of thing.
Ari Whitten: Yeah. Beautiful. You know, I think…I use the analogy of upgrading the operating system when I, when I know it’s time for another journey for me it’s kind of when your computer is starting to freeze up a lot and you know, starting to dig to get real slow and, and it’s not really as responsive as it should be. And then sometimes it just shuts down on its own and you’re like ”God damn it. I lost all this work I’ve been working on for the last half an hour”. And I think when you start to what, for me personally, when I start to experience that sort of feeling in my day to day life as far as what’s going on up here in my head, that’s when I know it’s, all right, time, time for another, upgrade to my operating system.
I don’t want to continue to live like this, continue to, I’d rather than live from a place of frustration or irritability or lack of flow in creative energy, and lack of love. I want to move more into love, acceptance, creativity, flow, gratitude and I think it’s natural and just living stressful day to day lives, we start to lose those things. And I think it’s good to have rituals on a daily basis and also maybe some of these, these, these bigger journeys once in a once in a while that help reconnect you to I think the higher intelligences of what is really important and valuable in life.
Nick Polizzi: Yeah, I think that that’s something I think is being lost. So maybe a little bit now is people are starting to do this are on a weekly basis. And I’m not saying that there’s a right way and a wrong way to do it, but I do think there is a risk and anything can be abused. Anything can be you can build a tolerance to anything. You know, I know plenty of people who sit in the ceremony every weekend who is, at least from my own bs detector… I’m like, ”I don’t think, I don’t think this is really helping you”. You know what I mean? This is really what you need. Maybe we need is the exact opposite of this. Maybe you need to…
Remedy, ancient medicines for modern illness Documentary – How plant medicine, herbs, and entheogenics can help you recover from and prevent most modern illness today
Ari Whitten: Just more day to day life and less deep insights for a little while.
So we’ve, we’ve talked a lot about entheogens here. We’ve gone a little bit over time. Do you have 10 more minutes that you could spare? Because right now I want to shift the discussion to your new film Remedy which is launching right now. I’ve already sent out a couple of emails to my audience, letting them know about it, so we’ve already got, I know several thousand people have signed up for it.
But talk to me about Remedy and I know obviously for anybody thinking that the whole focus is all about Entheogens, just to clarify, Remedy is, not really about hallucinogenic plant medicines or that kind of thing that we’ve been talking about for the last 20 or 30 minutes, but it is really about herbal medicines for treating a lot of ailments and also just living with greater health and energy and vitality. So, so talk to me about Remedy.
Nick Polizzi: So remedy is a nine part docu series. We sat down with a number of different experts in the health world. But really, a lot of scientists and a lot of herbalists predominantly to find the most promising, powerful, effective plants in the world for the conditions that plague our society today.
So yeah, entheogens are one way to go… They have a specific use and I think that from what you and I just we’re talking about it’s a, it’s something that you do a ceremony and you do it with intentionality and you do it every once in a while when you need, when you need that little extra, something, a little extra insight.
Whereas there’s tons and tons and tons of herbs around the world that are being used and have been used for thousands of years on a regular basis to, for everyday wellness to kind of keep your body in balance, to give you energy, to give you better sleep, to clarify thought.
And there are three main schools of Herbalism that we’re focusing on. They’re probably the three main schools of Herbalism that would come to mind if you were, if you were if you were talking to someone about or who knew who was in the, the know revelism, one of them is Chinese Herbalism.
The Chinese have been doing this for thousands and thousands of years. Their text or medical texts are literally thousands and thousands of years old with formulas that are still being used today. I’m having not been adjusted because they still work so well in hospitals and hospitals in China. Regular hospitals. They also have herbs that are being used in the same proportions as they worked thousands of years ago.
Ayovedic medicine from India is the second school, another very vast, vast school of healing plants that has been in existence for a long time.
And then the third is Western Herbalism, which is more North American and European Herbalism. Which, if you’re in the states, it’s the kind of Herbalism, the folk Herbalism that our grandmas might’ve might’ve practiced and brought over. I mean, I’m from, I’m from Italy and Ireland and that I have, I have a little bit of both on both sides that I know is still still used. So both all three of these schools have a lot to offer in the way of healing chronic illness.
We’re not trying to figure out how to heal broken bones herbs or that’s not what, that’s not what I’m after. I think that, I think emergency medicine, modern medicine is extremely good at things like that. But chronic illness is something that is plaguing our society and in large part modern medicine doesn’t have an answer to. So we’re going into things pain what you can do for pain using a variety of different herbs that have been around for a very long time.
What you can do for stress and anxiety, which many, many believe, is the root of all illness. And from what I’ve experienced in my travels, I tend to agree. So what you can do to eliminate stress and anxiety, whether it’s literally mental stress or stress in the body systems and energetics within your body.
We’re going into cognitive function, which something that herbs are incredibly good at. How to have more memory, clarity and focus. And then also going into some of the more serious illnesses in the brain, the brain area.
And we’re also going into more serious illnesses in the brain that are sort of reside in that region, Parkinson’s disease, MS, Alzheimer’s in any herbs that can be used to heal those.
I mean, the numbers on these things are incredible when you get into this stuff. It’s fascinating. First of all, the numbers on the success with the modern medicine has are startlingly low. You’re like ”wow. So that’s, that’s, that’s it. That’s the efficacy rate, but how come that’s all we know about.” And then you look at the efficacy rate of herbs which are usually just as good, if not better, and they have little to no side effects.
Ari Whitten: So just as one example of this, I’ve seen the trial of, I think it’s called ”Azilect” an Alzheimer’s drug versus saffron. And I think saffron, just straight saffron and nothing else, no lifestyle intervention, no diet overhaul, just saffron pills. I think was at least as effective, if not more effective.
Nick Polizzi: And you know, what’s the real [inaudible] of that is that, is that stuff like saffron and Rosemary and potentially even Gotu Kola. They’ve done studies on those things. I was talking to Sayer Ji. Do you know Sayer Ji from Greenmedinfo?
Ari Whitten: Yeah.
Nick Polizzi: He’s in the series, but he was, he was making this point that you look at these studies and some of them you’d think that the more, the more you take, the better or the more you take, the more potent it was more drastic results. And some of, some of them really are that way. Things like turmeric seemed to be kind of like that.
But, some of them, it’s actually a specific dose. You go higher, it’s not going to be as good, if you’re lower it’s not gonna be as good to get the right dose. And it’s not it’s not intuitive. It’s not something that you’d be… ” oh yeah, it makes sense”. It’s literally a certain, one gram or a half a gram. And then if you go any more than the results kind of fade away of rosemary for Alzheimer’s or dementia. It’s very interesting when you start getting down to it, in the energetics of, of things and the, and the formula, the formula of herbs and how important it is to get the proportions right for the individual. It’s interesting how you have, more isn’t always better. I guess when you’re talking about plant medicine.
Ari Whitten: well you, it sounds like kind of a weird idea, but on the other hand, it’s actually fairly common knowledge. If you think about exercise, for example. Exercise is really powerful medicine, but really important to get the dose right two little below your, that person’s fitness level and what their body is adapted to, and you’re not really doing anything. You’re not stimulating any new adaptations.
If you exceed that person’s fitness level too much and go way beyond what their body’s adapted for, then you just cause trauma. You make them exhausted, you cause damage and inflammation and it’s mostly counterproductive. And if it’s really extreme, link in extreme endurance athletes, sometimes you get calcification of the arteries, heart attacks, things that.
So, yeah, you gotta know your fitness level and then do just the right amount or just a little bit beyond that to start to stimulate a little greater adaptations. But getting that dose right is really important.
Nick Polizzi: Totally. It’s, so, it’s, it’s been a mind blowing experience creating the project. You know, we asked, we have, we have a whole episode on cancer, which has been… I make these films and my buddy Jeff says, some people say, ”Hey Jeff, how do you do all your research? And he’s like, you watched my research, I don’t, I start off, I ask a question and then I in these interviews so I could find out what the heck’s going on”.
And that’s kind of how this project’s been. And it’s very humbling when you go into a project, but some certain assumptions and then you sit down with experts who are extremely good at what they do and they just shatter your existing belief systems about how things are supposed to be.
For instance, I walked, I went into this series with a pretty a pretty big chip on my shoulder about modern medicine and it, and its approaches to treating cancer.
Well, I came out of this experience with a number of amazing herbs that are being used in China specifically as well as a few of the countries that are very effective and promising for the treatment of cancer. But I also came out of this with a new appreciation of some of the modern interventions that are available too. And how they can dovetail very nicely with herbs and the importance of an integrative approach.
So it’s really amazing to be doing this for a living. Going back to your original point, I love what I do for a living and I think that the one thing that I’m most proud of about this series is that there are a lot of things coming out right now that are very. And we’ve mentioned this before. There’s a lot of people who are, who are making crazy claims out there.
I’m not saying that those people are necessarily doing it for any bad reason, I just think there’s a lot of voices out there and people are trying to be the loudest and, and get attention. And I think that when you’re dealing with conditions that are as dire as something like cancer, you need to be very careful about what you were saying to the world so and cancers is just among many other things.
But, you know, and I think that what I’m most proud of is that the work that we’re doing and the information we’re putting out is, is really, really, really well vetted. And it’s very evenhanded. There isn’t, there isn’t a, we’re not trying to put it in any way down. Yeah, we are exposing some truths about modern medicine, but that’s real. Those are things that are actually happening that people need to know about. We’re not saying the herb, that herbs are the answer for everything but we are showing you where they can be highly effective.
We don’t want to waste anybody’s time specifically from people who are really dealing with, with the more harsh conditions. We want everyone to have the resources at their disposal that they need to make the most educated decisions they can. So if we’re talking about it, if we’re covering it in an episode, it’s because we’re confident that it’s something that you know, that you need to know about.
Ari Whitten: Yeah, beautifully said and I, I really appreciate that. I completely agree that there are people out there that are saying all kinds of wacky stuff that is not supported by the evidence, and it’s also not evenhanded is, is really misrepresenting things and giving kind of just a false impression of effectiveness or ineffectiveness of various approaches. So I, I appreciate the value system that this is coming from.
So I appreciate the extra time that you’ve taken to do this interview with me as well. So real quick, can you give kind of an overview of what people can get in the documentary? So obviously there’s an episode on cancer, but what are some of the other episodes?
Nick Polizzi: Okay, so I’m going to, I’m going to do a little lightning round on this.
Episode one is it’s all about, it’s all about modern medicine and Herbalism. It’s all about how they, how they have sort of interface with each other in the last hundred years. Here’s why. It’s why you don’t know about Herbalism is you really only know predominantly about modern medicine. And there is, there is some really interesting, slightly conspiracy theory stuff there, but actually very founded in fact. In history, so we have a little history lesson, the beginning where we then we kind of explained to you how the evolution of humans and plants, is it basically episode one.
Then we go into for episode two through nine, we go into specific herbs for specific illnesses ultimately.
Episode two is all about stress and anxiety with a second part on chronic pain. So it’s a two parter, episode two.
Episode three is all about the immune system and the microbiome. So another two parter. We start with the immune system and then we, then we dive headlong into the microbiome and the herbs we can use to support those trillions of microorganisms that dwell inside of her body and largely contribute to our health. So those two systems are very intertwined. As you’ll find out in episode three.
Episode four is all about cognitive function, brain health, memory, clarity, focus, and the more serious illnesses that can, can happen.
Episode five is all about Lyme disease and coinfections is an epidemic that touched my life very, very recently. My son got Lyme last year and we used herbs to get him better, but it’s an incredible episodes talking about bacterial infections in life. And, and how to know if you have one and what to do if you find out that you’d have one.
Episode six is all about heart health and with the second part on depression. And then another one of these amazing revelations that I’ve had on just making this project and literally just having a told me by numerous different herbalists from different schools is that there’s a direct connection between your heart health and symptoms of depression. So we have a whole first half on what to do for, for good circulation and for a healthy heart, but then we dovetail right into depression and herbs that you can use to alleviate those symptoms.
Episode seven is on energy and sleep. It’s basically just diving into how to have more energy, how to get the best night of sleep ever. And then fatigue goes away, obviously when you kind of handle that.
Episode Eight is all about cancer. So at that, that’s a, that’s a pretty long episode. Really crammed with a lot of great information.
Episode nine is about sex hormones and overall reproductive health.
Those are our nine episodes. And basically you can put an herbs for front of every single one of those episodes. Titles.
Ari Whitten: Beautiful. I love it, man. With it. It sounds great. I’m excited to see it myself. And also importantly, what are the dates because you are… I should also say to people, this is not, you’re not asking for money to see all of this material. You’re giving this away for free.
Nick Polizzi: Yeah.
Ari Whitten: When, and it’s free during specific dates. So what are those dates?
Nick Polizzi: So it is free. The episode one premieres on September fifth, and then there’s going to be one episode a day from the fifth through the 13th and you’ll be able to watch episode one for the entire, the entire event, but every other episode is only gonna be up for 24 hours. So you gotta you gotta register, you got to tune in and you gotta make sure you open up the emails we sent to you on the day and the episode comes out so you can watch it in the period, the viewing window that we’re offering it for free.
September 5th through the 13th.
Ari Whitten: Awesome. Well, I’m going to rush to get this podcast out so that we get it out before then or at the very latest during then, but hopefully this coming weekend.
So Nick, it’s been such a pleasure. Thank you so much for taking time out of your day and extra time to do this interview with me. It’s, it’s really, I’ve really, really enjoyed this conversation. I really appreciate the work that you’re doing. I think it’s very important work and I appreciate you getting the word out on plant medicines for both physical, psychological, and spiritual ailments. I really value everything that you’re doing, so thank you for the work you’re doing and thank you for joining me on the podcast today.
Nick Polizzi: Alright. Thank you for having me. It’s an honor to be here with you.
Ari Whitten: Awesome brother. We’ll take care and enjoy the rest of your day.
The Power of Plant Medicines, Herbs and Ayahuasca to Heal the Body, Mind, and Spirit (with Nick Polizzi) – Show Notes
Why Nick turned to plant medicine to treat migraine (2:17)
Nick’s Documentaries – How and why they were made (08:08)
The truth about plants in the Amazon (14:12)
Sacred Science – The power plant medicine and herbs can have in healing chronic and terminal disease (20:45)
How mental blocks can hinder your healing (28:05)
How an entheogen like Ayahuasca can be used for personal transformation and spiritual healing (31:04)
Why some choose to do something they fear more than once (46:32)
How to use Ayahuasca to give yourself an upgrade (51:57)
Remedy, ancient medicines for modern illness Documentary – How plant medicine, herbs, and entheogenics can help you recover from and prevent many modern illnesses today (1:01:21)
You can access Nick’s new documentary for FREE (during a limited time) HERE.