Chris Kilham, a.k.a. the Medicine Hunter, has been studying medicinal herbs for 46 years. He is an author, ethnobotanist, explorer, and ultimately a searcher for truth in medicine, the universe, and within the human consciousness. You may have seen him on the Dr. Oz Show or Fox News, or read about his travels in the Amazon rainforest, the Himalayas, or Malaysia. MassRoots recently spoke with Chris, a contributor to next week’s first online annual Holistic Cannabis Summit, from his office in New York.
Chris’ Journey to Medicinal Plants
Chris became interested in medicinal plant healing as a teenager, after seeing the effects of a failed health system and reading about the traditional use of medicinal plants in different cultures. At the time, there was limited but growing science on the subject. Information he obtained inspired him to pursue his passion and track down medicinal remedies all over the world. Chris’ mentors number in the hundreds, and possibly in the thousands, as he considers each and every one of the people he has learned from over the years his teachers in the medicinal plant and healing arts. In his travels, he’s seen cannabis used extensively for pain relief, relaxation, sexual pleasure, medicinal purposes, and ceremonially – particularly in the Himalayas.
What Do Chris Kilham and Zoe Helene Do?
Chris’ wife, Zoe, is an author, women’s rights champion, and fellow traveler; the two use herbal medicine in their daily lives. Chris told us that the current era in the United States is similar to the sixties, when awareness of consciousness, government, reality, and politics were all shifting towards a greater truth in the world. The end of cannabis prohibition is a major change for the United States and other countries, as well – also a sort of return to the truths and awarenesses held by indigenous cultures who were here prior to the European colonization, or were brought here from Africa as slaves. Chris feels that all people everywhere should be able to use medicinal plants and herbs to their benefit, and in ways they see fit in order to be healthy, happy, and conscious. This should be done without interference from government guidelines initiated to prevent lawsuits and increase profits for major pharmaceutical corporations.
The Prohibition of Cannabis
The prohibition of cannabis, Chris and many others believe, stemmed from the end of the Mexican Revolution in 1910 – a time when Mexicans were immigrating to the US and becoming more integrated with white Americans. The fear driven by white prejudice was ultimately the beginning of cannabis prohibition in the United States. Prior to 1910, hemp was a widely-used and appreciated product for medicines, ship sails, rope, and clothing; Virginia even required its farmers to grow it in 1619. Following the revolution, however, recreational marijuana became popular in the US and crimes attributed to immigrants became linked to the use of marijuana – cannabis quickly became demonized by the government and society. The severe unemployment of the Great Depression contributed to the fear of Mexican immigrants, “escalating public and governmental concern about the problem of marijuana,” according to PBS. Suddenly, “research” was linking marijuana use among any “inferior” race to crime and deviant (read: overtly sexual) behaviors. By 1931, 29 states had outlawed cannabis, and this trend continued over the next fifty years.
Daily Medicinal Plant Use
Chris uses many familiar medicinal plants on a daily basis for cooking, including coffee, onions, garlic, ginger, and turmeric. He mentioned that hazelnuts can restore the body’s natural collagen, and emphasized the daily use of adaptogens (plants that cannot be overused or produce ill effects in the body) such as ginseng, holy basil, and shizandra. I asked Chris if cannabis is considered an adaptogen, and he replied that it is not. An adaptogen is safe for anyone at all times – many adaptogens increase energy, endurance, and stamina; some decrease cortisol. Cannabis is considered mostly harmless, but it can affect people differently, and depending on how much is used, even result in unpleasant effects for some.
Chris’ latest book, The Ayahuasca Test Pilots Handbook: The Essential Guide to Ayahuasca Journeying, is focused on the medicinal plant brew ayahuasca, which derives from the Amazon rainforest, and is rich in the psychedelic substance DMT. The plants used to make ayahuasca are found in the Amazon rainforest, and are considered an integral part of Amazonian medicine. Ayahuasca is a drink or tea derived from the vine banisteriopsis caapi – the word ayahuasca means “vine of the soul” or “vine with a soul.” The second ingredient is chacruna (psychotria viridis) or chagropanga (diplopterys cabrerana) – both of which also contain large amounts of DMT. (Chris does not recommend using ayahuasca and cannabis together, noting that the incredible hallucinogenic effects of ayahuasca do not need cannabis-derived amplification.) The first known Western contact with ayahuasca was through a discovery by Richard Spruce in 1851, an English ethnobotanist, but it is thought that ayahuasca has been used for at least two millennia. Chris mentioned in this video that the experience of ayahuasca is shared by all who take it at the same time.
Ayahuasca and PTSD
Chris and MassRoots talked about a short video in which he advocates the use of ayahuasca for veterans and other people suffering from posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). I asked him how ayahuasca can help people suffering from PTSD. His response was that neural circuits in the brain cause repetitive thoughts, some of which are positive and allow us to proceed quickly through daily tasks such as tying our shoes, or starting a car. For PTSD sufferers, however, these repetitive thoughts can manifest as flashbacks, which are horrifying, negative, and cause undue stress or even violent reactions. The psychedelic experience of ayahuasca can “suspend” these reactions for a short period time, causing the repetitive thoughts to stop and allowing people to change their reactions to them. They can essentially be changed to a positive reaction instead of the repetitive bad thoughts or memories. While ayahuasca can be used without any guidance, Chris strongly recommends the use of ayahuasca with a shaman or experienced leader.
How are the Medicines Chris Finds Used?
Chris spoke with MassRoots about some issues he had with large pharmaceutical companies in the past; in trying to develop helpful medicines for the public, he found these companies to be dishonest, disreputable, and unethical. His ultimate goal lies in establishing trade for marginalized peoples all over the world; creating useful medicines and organic cosmetic products is an essential way of preserving valuable cultures while helping others who might need these rare medicines to help them with diseases, mental issues, or other health concerns. Chris travels all over the world in search of these medicines, and is known as someone who will try a possibly dangerous medicinal plant at least once if it promises positive health effects.
What Will the Future of Cannabis Look Like?
Chris is a firm believer in revealing the truth, especially when it comes to the human consciousness, human health, cultural truths, and the lies of large pharmaceutical companies. Medicine is meant for everyone, and keeping it under lock and key, charging outrageous prices that most people can’t afford, and covering up the true healing abilities of the many medicinal plants in the world is a singularly human crime. Chris’ experiences, observances, and knowledge are immeasurably valuable to our planet, our people, and the future of humankind. Cannabis is just one of these medicinal plants, and should be legal for use by all human beings to promote healing, reduce pain, and reduce stress and violence.