Jeremy Narby

Swiss-canadian anthropologist, PhD in University of Stanford,
author of The Cosmic Serpent: DNA and the Origins of Knowledge


Psychedelic science and the knowledge of indigenous Amazonian people: a true science of ayahuasca calls for a new kind of research

Talkdate & time:
Friday 18:00-19:00


Scientists and researchers have recently become interested in the therapeutic potential of the Amazonian plant brew ayahuasca. But administering this powerful hallucinogenic cocktail requires considerable know-how and finesse. Indigenous Amazonian people have long used the brew and therefore have expertise in the matter. In their view, ayahuasca works first and foremost as a purge; and the brew’s efficacy depends on icaros (curative songs), which have healing power, and on dietas (preparatory diets), which consist in refraining from certain foods and behaviors, and which can fine-tune a person’s capacity to benefit from the brew. A true science of ayahuasca calls for a new kind of research – one that opens up to another way of knowing, and draws out its consequences, without seeking to prove it or disprove it; one that questions its own presuppositions.


Jeremy Narby is an anthropologist who has worked for the last 31 years raising funds and advocating for indigenous Amazonian initiatives such as land titling, bilingual and intercultural education programmes and sustainable forestry and fish farming, on the understanding that tropical rainforest is best protected by its indigenous inhabitants. He has also written several books, including "The cosmic serpent: DNA and the origins of knowledge", "Intelligence in nature", and “Plant teachers: ayahuasca, tobacco, and the pursuit of knowledge” (co-authored with Rafael Chanchari Pizuri).