My friend and colleague, Alberto Villoldo PhD, is a medical anthropologist who has spent the last 25 years studying and working with the medicine men of the Amazon and Andes. These sages were the first doctors in history, and they repaired the body, the mind, and the spirit to create health. They did not treat disease or diagnose illness, and did not have specialists that treated the brain and the gut and the heart separately. They learned that if you could create the emotional, nutritional, and spiritual conditions for health, disease would resolve itself. And unlike Western medicine that has over 14,000 different diagnoses, they recognized only one ailment, the disconnection from nature and from our own nature and purpose. They called their practice One Spirit Medicine.
Alberto writes in his new book One Spirit Medicine: “Years ago I asked an old man in the Amazon rainforest what he did to avoid the diseases of old age. ’Simple, he replied. Live a long and healthy life.’ I laughed and said he had not understood the question: I wanted to know how to avoid the diseases of old age. He smiled and repeated the same answer. ”
The practices that are an everyday part of the ancient shamanic way all support a long and healthy life. The super-nutrients in the organic foods they eat turn on the antioxidant mechanisms in every cell, quench free-radical activity in the brain, and switch on the longevity genes that prevent the illnesses associated with old age. The spiritual teachings help us shed debilitating and disempowering stories from the past that keep us reliving old traumas and the health history of our ancestors. And the vision quest supports us in finding new guiding myths to help us heal body and mind, and recover our passion.
Alberto explains that the key to optimum health is to revise the unconscious programming and limited beliefs that have been driving us, thereby updating our neural networks to support healing and transformation.
One Spirit Medicine is part of a new wellness model that doesn’t rely on medication to fix physical problems or mood imbalances. Unlike many pharmaceutical and over-the-counter remedies, the medicine of the shamans carries no side effects or warnings written in fine print. It will not cause dependency. You will not have to beg your physician to write a prescription for it, or argue with your pharmacist over whether or not your prescription renewal has been approved.
The message of One Spirit Medicine is that you don’t need to track down a shaman to find Spirit, or look outside yourself to find health. You only have to look within. That’s where you will receive One Spirit Medicine.
At the heart of the book is the idea that how we perceive the world “out there” is a projection of internal maps that shape our beliefs and guide how we think, feel, and behave. Stored as neural networks in the brain, these maps hold the unconscious programs that drive our experience of life and the state of our health.
Today, we know this belief as epigenetics, the ability that our foods, our moods, and our sense of inner peace have to switch on the genes that create health and switch off the genes that create disease.
I have travelled with Alberto to the headwaters of the Amazon and the high Andes, met the shamans that he has worked with, and been surprised at how similar their practices are to those of Functional Medicine. Except that these medicine men and women work directly with energy, taking out what doesn’t belong in the person’s body, and putting in the right energies and ‘wisdom’ that they need to heal.
The wisdom of the ancients is being newly discovered in the language of our biology. Alberto Villoldo translates advances in the science of creating health and integrates them with spiritual and life practices from shamanic traditions — the one medicine we all need to reclaim body, mind, and soul. There is no one better to guide us on our journey toward living a light-filled, vibrant life.
One Spirit Medicine is available now at Amazon, and I encourage you to order your copy today!
Wishing you health and happiness,
Mark Hyman, MD.