#003: Healing Trauma with Ayahuasca & other Plant Medicines with Ian Benouis

This week on Hacking Consciousness: Ian Benouis

Ian Benouis is a graduate of the prestigious West Point Military Academy who flew Blackhawk Helicopters for the US Army. After leaving the military, Ian worked as a sales representative in the pharmaceutical industry. Eventually, he bumped up against the limitations of what the Western medical model had to offer.

Finding healing for his own traumas through working with plant medicines, such as Cannabis, Ayahuasca, Ibogaine, and 5MEO-DMT, Ian now spends much of his time advocating for the rights of veterans to heal from PTSD through the use of these natural remedies.

Ian explains why these plant medicines, including cannabis, are literally providing a lifeline for some veterans returning home from war, many of whom find the predictable, pharmaceutical solutions to PTSD and depression ineffective and fraught with too many undesirable side effects.

If you’re interested by what you hear you in this conversation I would strongly encourage you to consider how you can support this cause, which is quite simply, the reasonable demand of people who have put their lives on the line for this country to heal from the psychological and emotional wounds of warfare in a way that’s most appropriate and effective for them and their families.

I’ll be sharing some additional thoughts on my conversation with Ian in subsequent blog posts. In the meantime, here are some excellent individuals and organizations advocating for the rights of veterans to use plant medicines:

I’d strongly suggest watching the free documentary, “Soldiers of the Vine.”  This movie follows Ian and a group of veterans as they travel down to Peru to participate in a series of Ayahuasca ceremonies. Hearing the stories of these veterans at the end of the film is extremely moving.

Finally, this is the website for the shaman, Carlos Llerena Chavez, featured in “Soldiers of the Vine” and who has done a lot of plant medicine work with veterans. He and his brother Juan are based in Tarapoto, Peru.

“Ask the plants of the earth and they will teach you.” Book of Job, 12:8-10

“If you see the day of judgment coming finish planting a tree.” Muhammad


0:00-3:00: Welcome and Opening Remarks

3:00-6:30: Introducing to working with plant medicines for trauma

6:30-10:50: How cannabis helps veterans with PTSD

10:50-13:11: Ian’s personal background with plant medicines and his own trauma

13:11-18:50: Overview of plant medicines & how they help with trauma

18:50-25:45: Reframing the discussion of psychedelics/entheogens as medicinal, therapeutic

25:45-29:30: History of how psychedelics were socially constructed in the US

29:30-39:00: Limitations of pharmaceuticals for dealing with depression and trauma

39:00:45:00: Cannabis as a tool for reintegration into society; Ayahuasca as a heart opening


45:00-51:28: Plant medicines as a catalyst for a larger social and cultural awakening

51:28-1:0:03:15 Prospects for Political Reform

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