Dennis McKenna — An Ethnopharmacologist on Hallucinogens, Sex-Crazed Cicadas, The Mushrooms of Language, BioGnosis, and Illuminating Obscure Corners | Brought to you by Athletic Greens all-in-one nutritional supplement, Eight Sleep’s Pod Pro Cover sleeping solution for dynamic cooling and heating, and Shopify global commerce platform, providing tools to start, grow, market, and manage a retail business. More on all three below.
Dennis McKenna (@DennisMcKenna4) has spent more than 40 years researching the interdisciplinary study of Amazonian ethnopharmacology and plant hallucinogens. He has conducted extensive ethnobotanical fieldwork in the Peruvian, Colombian, and Brazilian Amazon.
His doctoral research at the University of British Columbia focused on the ethnopharmacology of ayahuasca and oo-koo-he, two tryptamine-based hallucinogens used by indigenous peoples in the Northwest Amazon.
He is a founding board member of the Heffter Research Institute and was a key organizer and participant in the Hoasca Project, the first biomedical investigation of ayahuasca used by the UDV, a Brazilian religious group. He is the younger brother of Terence McKenna.
From 2000 to 2017, he taught courses on ethnopharmacology as well as Plants in Human Affairs at the Center for Spirituality and Healing at the University of Minnesota. In 2019, in collaboration with colleagues, he incorporated a nonprofit, the McKenna Academy of Natural Philosophy. Currently, the Academy has several projects underway, with the most immediate being preparations for an upcoming conference in the UK May 23rd–26th, ESPD55, which will cover a wide range of topics related to psycho-ethnopharmacology and feature an exclusive, pre-release screening of the McKenna Academy’s first short documentary, BioGnosis, Bridges to Ancestral Wisdom.
Dennis emigrated to Canada in the spring of 2019 with his wife Sheila and now resides in Abbotsford, British Columbia.
This episode is brought to you by Shopify! Shopify is one of my favorite platforms and one of my favorite companies. Shopify is a platform designed for anyone to sell anywhere, giving entrepreneurs the resources once reserved for big business. In no time flat, you can have a great looking online store that brings your ideas to life, and you can have the tools to manage your day-to-day and drive sales. No coding or design experience required.
More than a store, Shopify grows with you, and they never stop innovating, providing more and more tools to make your business better and your life easier. Go to Shopify.com/Tim for a FREE 14-day trial and get full access to Shopify’s entire suite of features.
This episode is also brought to you by Eight Sleep! Eight Sleep’s Pod Pro Cover is the easiest and fastest way to sleep at the perfect temperature. It pairs dynamic cooling and heating with biometric tracking to offer the most advanced (and user-friendly) solution on the market. Simply add the Pod Pro Cover to your current mattress and start sleeping as cool as 55°F or as hot as 110°F. It also splits your bed in half, so your partner can choose a totally different temperature.
This episode is also brought to you by Athletic Greens. I get asked all the time, “If you could use only one supplement, what would it be?” My answer is usually AG1 by Athletic Greens, my all-in-one nutritional insurance. I recommended it in The 4-Hour Body in 2010 and did not get paid to do so. I do my best with nutrient-dense meals, of course, but AG further covers my bases with vitamins, minerals, and whole-food-sourced micronutrients that support gut health and the immune system.
Right now, Athletic Greens is offering you their Vitamin D Liquid Formula free with your first subscription purchase—a vital nutrient for a strong immune system and strong bones. Visit AthleticGreens.com/Tim to claim this special offer today and receive the free Vitamin D Liquid Formula (and five free travel packs) with your first subscription purchase! That’s up to a one-year supply of Vitamin D as added value when you try their delicious and comprehensive all-in-one daily greens product.
The plants and compounds mentioned in this episode are illegal in many countries, and even possession can carry severe criminal penalties. This episode does not constitute medical advice and should not be construed as a recommendation to use psychedelics. There are serious legal, psychological, and physical risks. Psychedelics are not for everyone—they can exacerbate certain emotional problems, and there have been, in very rare cases, fatalities.
Sign up for Tim’s email newsletter (5-Bullet Friday) at tim.blog/friday.
For transcripts of episodes, go to tim.blog/transcripts.
Discover Tim’s books: tim.blog/books.
Past guests on The Tim Ferriss Show include Jerry Seinfeld, Hugh Jackman, Dr. Jane Goodall, LeBron James, Kevin Hart, Doris Kearns Goodwin, Jamie Foxx, Matthew McConaughey, Esther Perel, Elizabeth Gilbert, Terry Crews, Sia, Yuval Noah Harari, Malcolm Gladwell, Madeleine Albright, Cheryl Strayed, Jim Collins, Mary Karr, Maria Popova, Sam Harris, Michael Phelps, Bob Iger, Edward Norton, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Neil Strauss, Ken Burns, Maria Sharapova, Marc Andreessen, Neil Gaiman, Neil de Grasse Tyson, Jocko Willink, Daniel Ek, Kelly Slater, Dr. Peter Attia, Seth Godin, Howard Marks, Dr. Brené Brown, Eric Schmidt, Michael Lewis, Joe Gebbia, Michael Pollan, Dr. Jordan Peterson, Vince Vaughn, Brian Koppelman, Ramit Sethi, Dax Shepard, Tony Robbins, Jim Dethmer, Dan Harris, Ray Dalio, Naval Ravikant, Vitalik Buterin, Elizabeth Lesser, Amanda Palmer, Katie Haun, Sir Richard Branson, Chuck Palahniuk, Arianna Huffington, Reid Hoffman, Bill Burr, Whitney Cummings, Rick Rubin, Dr. Vivek Murthy, Darren Aronofsky, and many more.