Medicine for the future: if we listen, plants will teach us
From the ayahuasca tourism in South America and the rapid mushrooming of luxury plant medicine retreats in the US and Europe to the new gamut of psychedelic-assisted therapists, self-styled shamanic facilitators and psychedelic integration coaches, the plants known as "plant medicines" are big business for many. And while science corroborates the immense benefits of these ancestral medicines and particularly in treating debilitating mental illnesses such as depression, the potential of these medicines to topple a $15 billion-dollar global anti-depressant market has not gone unnoticed by investors focused on capitalizing on this psychedelic boom. For all its “newness”, this is a timeworn story of the old wolf in sheep’s clothing: appropriation and commodification of both the plants and the psychedelic experience. Is it possible to maintain a respectful attitude towards the plants and the psychedelic (healing) experience they facilitate, while utilising them for our own benefit? Can we learn to respect the presence, the voice and wishes of these vegetal others? And what if we listened and plants could teach us the medicine for our shared future?