Psyched Out: Documentary on Psychodelics and Plant Medicine
Directed by Giovani Bartolomeo (2018)
The first video below is a documentary based mainly on the work of the late Terrence McKenna, a US ethnobotanist who was one of the first to investigate the healing effects of psychodelic plants. The film also features contemporary psychodelics advocates Dr Gabor Mate and British author and journalist Graham Hancock. The second video concerns a bank robber who was trained as an ayahuasca* shaman by a fellow prisoner.
Psyched Out begins by tracing the history of psychodelic use in healing and religious ceremonies. DMT (N,N-Dimethyltryptamine) was widely used by ancient Egyptians. McKenna believes Moses was under the influence of DMT when the burning bush spoke to him. He also suggests the forbidden fruit Adam and Eve ate in the Garden of Eden was actually the amanita mushroom. He also also sees a fundamental role for psylocybin in the supercharged evolution of the human brain occurring 15,000 – 20,000 years ago.
Between 3,000 – 1,500 BC, the use of psychodelics in healing and religious ceremonies occurred in all major civilizations. It ended in Western civilization in the 4th century AD with the Roman emperor Constantine’s formalization of the Catholic Church as a political body. Beginning with European colonization in the 15th century, psychodelics were banned nearly everywhere in the world.
McKenna and others believe the early church banned psychodelics because their role in expanding consciousness (ie these plants make people aware of their unconscious processes) leads people to question their fundamental beliefs about authority and their role in society.
For me the most interesting part of the film were the testimonials given by three patients who took ayahuasca and experienced total remission of longstanding opiate addiction, panic disorder/insomnia, and incapacitating scleroderma.**
I was also intrigued to learn of important discoveries and inventions directly related to psychodelic use, including the DNA double helix, the polymerase chain reaction, and several of Steve Jobs’ innovative Apple products.
*Ayahuasca is a hallucinatory tea made from a plant and vine containing DMT.
** Scleroderma is a group of autoimmune diseases that may result in changes to the skin, blood vessels, muscles, and internal organs. The disease can be either localized to the skin or involve both skin and other organs.
Kentucky Ayahuasca Episode 7
I normally hate reality TV, but that was before I watched Kentucky Ayahuasca. Steve Hupp offers two-day Ayahuasca ceremonies with his wife and two apprentice therapist With 15 years experience, he boasts an 80% success rate for refractory PTSD, depression, and addiction and bipolar disorders.
Although, as a Schedule 1 drug, ayahuasca is illegal in the US, Native Americans are allowed to use it in religious ceremonies. Hupp calls his church the Aya Quest Native American church.
Readers can view the entire Kentucky Ayahuasca series at