I first tried plant medicine a year after my husband Marc died. I was struggling, my yoga instructor encouraged me to try ayahuasca, a psychedelic hallucinogen. Although I was nervous about trying this alternative type of healing, especially since the decision was spontaneous, the experience gave me clarity, hope, and healing. Since then, I’ve experimented with three other types of plant medicine and want to share my journey with you in case you find as much benefit in it as I have. But first, let’s discuss the different types of plant medicine and what they do.
Plant medicine can alleviate anxiety, depression, PTSD, obsessive-compulsive disorder, past trauma, and alcoholism. A recent study from Johns Hopkins University found that one psychedelic, psilocybin mushrooms, can alleviate symptoms of depression for up to one year. It’s truly remarkable what these substances can do when administered correctly and safely.
Psychedelics can also be incredibly healing for those who have life-threatening illnesses. After reading Michael Pollan’s popular book, “How to Change Your Mind: What the New Science of Psychedelics Teaches Us About Consciousness, Dying, Addiction, Depression, and Transcendence,” I decided to try psilocybin to heal my past trauma with cancer and autoimmune diseases. My journey was transformative, and I found an intense inner peace, calm and love for myself.
I know what you’re thinking now: this all sounds a bit “woo woo,” and what even are psychedelics anyways? Some psychedelics come from plants, seeds, and fungi, while others are made in a lab. They can be smoked or ingested through a powder, tablet, or liquid. Typically, when done naturally and for healing purposes, you will have a guide who helps you set an intention for the trip, supports you during the journey, and discusses your revelations after you’re done.
In the past, I’ve tried talk therapy, energy healing, meditation, breathwork, and reiki to heal my past traumas. But nothing has healed me as much as my trips with plant medicine – specifically psilocybin. Over the years, I’ve experimented with four types of plant medicine: ayahuasca, psilocybin, 5-MeO-DMT, and kanna.
Keep reading to hear about my experiences with each one.
Ayahuasca was the first psychedelic and hallucinogen I ever tried fourteen years ago. It was a year after Marc died, and I was really struggling. My yoga teacher at the time (who is now a plant medicine shaman) was the person who first encouraged me to try ayahuasca at a house in Malibu with 20 strangers. She has an incredible voice and sang the whole journey, which put me at ease and made me feel safe. One challenge with the experience was not knowing anyone else in the group. It would’ve been more comforting had I been familiar with the others embarking on the journey with me. But the biggest struggle I faced with this first journey was the energy in the house. It was not warm or welcoming – everything you want to feel on a plant medicine journey. I am such an empath that the offputting energy prevented me from fully surrendering to the experience.
With that said, the journey itself was incredible. Marc came to me and looked healthy, content, and at peace. He was on a beautiful golf course (he was a golf fanatic in life) and assured me our girls and I would be completely fine. He told me he wouldn’t have left if he didn’t think I could handle it all, which was highly reassuring since I had been struggling with being a newly single mom and the sole breadwinner. I felt so relieved when he said he was in a good place and I didn’t need to worry about him.
The aftermath of the journey was not as comforting. I vomited and had diarrhea for hours. I didn’t think anything else could come out of me because I was on the toilet with a bucket for at least two hours (I apologize for the TMI; I want you to get the full picture!). I learned later that’s a very normal thing to experience after trying ayahuasca. Although I was terribly sick during my journey, the next day, I felt light and as if I had gone through ten years of therapy. I felt unburdened, and when I looked in the mirror, I immediately noticed I looked years younger.
In June 2019, I experienced severe insomnia, anxiety, and other unpleasant symptoms. I could not fall asleep for days at a time, no matter what I tried! So, many years after my first ayahuasca trip, I decided to explore psilocybin to reach the root of my symptoms. A friend offered to guide me, and I took a leap of faith. Initially, I thought my struggles might be related to burnout that I needed to overcome, but it turned out to be much more than that.
My pent-up negative subconscious thoughts, past traumas, and damaging stories I had been telling myself for years were causing emotional distress as well as physical symptoms such as the insomnia. The negative self-talk for decades was taking a toll on my physical, emotional and spiritual wellbeing. But during my first psilocybin trip, I recognized the negativity that I had been spouting within myself for so long: “You’re not good enough, you have to work harder, you will never live up to your potential,” etc. I needed to find a way to release all that, which I did on several journeys with psilocybin.
After four journeys over that next year, my insomnia and anxiety subsided, and I felt much more at ease. Since then, I have had more experiences with psilocybin, and each one of them has offered intense growth. To read more about my journey with psilocybin, read my blog on Psilocybin Mushrooms: The Window into my Subconscious.
5-MeO-DMT is a psychedelic that is found in a wide variety of plant species and also is secreted by the glands of the Colorado River toad. Unlike a trip on magic mushrooms which typically lasts between four and six hours, 5-MeO-DMT experiences only last 15-30 minutes. They are super short and very extreme.
If you’ve experimented with psychedelics, you may know that not every journey is beneficial. My experience with 5-MeO-DMT was scary. I smoked toad venom and traveled to an altered universe. This altered universe is lovely for some, and they claim to see God. People rave about the resulting feelings of connection to the universe and all living beings, but I did not experience that. They say that it feels like dying and getting reborn, but I just felt like I was dying. I spent the majority of my trip totally freaked out. For me, the altered universe was not pretty, and I was terrified. Luckily, I was in a supportive environment and felt loved by the people taking the trip with me. But to say it was not an incredible journey for me would be a significant understatement. It’s important to note that everyone reacts uniquely to these substances, and your experience will be different than mine.
Kanna is a succulent plant native to South Africa that has been used for healing, social, and spiritual purposes for thousands of years. It is an herbal remedy and natural mood booster that makes you feel completely at ease and relaxed. It is a powerful heart-opener. The feeling you experience on kanna is completely in-body and does not make you hallucinate, which I love.
My first experience with kanna put me in the calmest state I had ever known. It was the most healing trip I have ever been on. I intimately bonded with the strangers I was with. It was so impactful to take down my walls so quickly and have no inhibitions connecting to people I had never met before.
The first step was taking kanna, an intense heart opener, to unlock my center. Then, I combined psilocybin and ayahuasca for the most intense and wonderful experience. My guide was an intuitive healer, and she could see what I was thinking, feeling, and needing. I held hands with the people I took the journey with, and it was so helpful to have both male and female energy there to guide me through past traumas. It was truly an incredible journey! My experience with kanna has benefited me years after my first journey. I now know what that wonderful sense of calm feels like, and it is a regular goal of mine to return to that feeling in my day-to-day life.
Although there is darkness with every journey, I am at a place in my experience with plant medicine where I welcome both the good and the bad. I see the dark areas as opportunities to overcome my traumas. I’m grateful to have excellent guides and supportive people who helped me during these transformative journeys. If you want to learn more about plant medicine and if it might be right for you, I invite you to book a one-on-one session with me.