Plant Teachers: Ayahuasca, Tobacco, and the Pursuit of Knowledge
A trailblazing anthropologist and an indigenous Amazonian healer explore the convergence of science and shamanism
“The dose makes the poison,” says an old adage, reminding us that substances have the potential to heal or to harm, depending on their use. Although Western medicine treats tobacco as a harmful addictive drug, it is considered medicinal by indigenous people of the Amazon rainforest. In its unadulterated form, it holds a central place in their repertoire of traditional medicines. Along with ayahuasca, tobacco forms a part of treatments designed to heal the body, stimulate the mind, and inspire the soul with visions. In Plant Teachers, anthropologist Jeremy Narby and traditional healer Rafael Chanchari Pizuri hold a cross-cultural dialogue that explores the similarities between ayahuasca and tobacco, the role of these plants in indigenous cultures, and the hidden truths they reveal about nature. Juxtaposing and synthesizing two worldviews, Plant Teachers invites readers on a wide-ranging journey through anthropology, botany, and biochemistry, while raising tantalizing questions about the relationship between science and other ways of knowing.