Plant Medicine or Psychedelic Medicine? Understanding the Healing Processes with Ayahuasca and Ibogaine
Bruno Ramos Gomes, M.A.
Despite the lack of scientific biomedical evidence, there is a multitude of histories of healing processes using psychedelics in many different situations, including drug dependence, post-traumatic disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder, and so on. How do these healing processes develop? How close are they to the healing processes of occidental medicine? Drawing from his research with a group that uses ayahuasca to help homeless people recover in São Paulo (Flor das Águas Rescue Unit), and his experience with more than 300 ibogaine patients, the author aims to present how the healing processes happen in those two contexts, what is the role of the plant in each one, and what is the effect of the relationship with the doctor or healer. From those reports of healing processes, the author will discuss the frontiers of understanding a psychedelic substance as a conscious molecule, or a spirit or teaching plant, and consequently the different practices that derive from each one.
Bruno Ramos Gomes, M.A., is a psychologist with a master’s degree in public health at São Paulo University and is doing research on ayahuasca for drug dependence and with homeless people. He has been working since 2004 using harm reduction in Cracolandia, a region with hundreds of crack users in the streets of downtown São Paulo. He has been working with ibogaine treatment since 2010, and is also collaborating on ICARO-UNICAMP’s ayahuasca research to treat alcohol dependence.