Peru: Wellness Resources Abound
This past October, I had the absolute honor and privilege to travel to Iquitos, Peru.
Iquitos is located at the basin of the Amazon Rainforest. The Amazon Rainforest is well known for its biodiversity and its vast range of medicinal plants, it is also responsible for about 20% of the earth's oxygen, which is why they call the Amazon, the Lungs of the Planet. More than half of the world's plant and animal species come from the world's rainforests, over 80% of the human diet comes from the rainforests, and over 70% of the 3000 plants identified by the US National Cancer Institute as active against cancer cells, also come from the rainforest. Over 120 pharmaceutical drugs come from plant-derived sources. As a healer who works with plant medicine, you can imagine my excitement to travel to the Amazon.
The invitation came from a colleague at Emperor's College, where I'm completing my Doctoral degree. This colleague just completed her Capstone research on combining Acupuncture with Ayahuasca for the treatment of Depression, and designed a retreat for some of her patients in Iquitos, Peru.
I came along for the retreat, with plans of treating patients daily in between other healing modalities, while also learning more about plant medicine from the Amazon region. The jungle experience was unlike anything I've ever experienced. I had the honor of working with Shipibo shamans, who offered enlightening spiritual, as well as practical, insight. I participated in traditional ceremonies with them, and had an enriching learning experience. I performed a couple of treatments, but mainly I worked with plants. I completed multiple plant diets, plant diets facilitate healing and offer knowledge and wisdom for those who decide to work with them. Plant diets are often a part of a healer's initiation into working with plants and the healing arts. The dietary items often included juice fasts, superfood smoothies and fresh, local and organic produce, grains and legumes. Other visitors were completing gallbladder flushes, liver detoxes, fasting and other plant diets, while participating in medicine ceremonies. I was both amazed and impressed with the nutritional resources that were available, and how much healing was taking place all around me. There is something very special about the jungle, especially when you can slow down enough, isolate yourself and just be. It was a very profound journey for me to be able to feel the power of the jungle and the plants all around me. It is no wonder so many people are flocking to jungle retreats, they soothe and center the soul.
If there was anything I took home with me, it's that a connection to Pachamama (Madre Tierra, Mother Earth) is so important for sustaining the physical and spiritual body. Illness and disease often arise because we have lost this connection. How do we do that in such a fast paced world? Certainly, things like getting out in nature, and creating rituals can help, as can incorporating plant-based foods into our diet as much as possible. There is so much more, I will be integrating my journey from the Amazon into my daily life and my healing practice. I like to explore practices and rituals to keep this connection ongoing, and it is part of my healing practice when working with patients. I will be of service through a new lens, and armed with new tools. I am honored and ready to put this new knowledge to work.
There are a multitude of ways to heal, if we can just get outside the box and explore a little. Miracles are just waiting to happen.