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About Dennis:

Dennis McKenna

Dennis McKenna’s professional and personal interests are focused on the interdisciplinary study of ethnopharmacology and plant hallucinogens.

He received his doctorate in 1984 from the University of British Columbia, where his doctoral research focused on ethnopharmacological investigations of the botany, chemistry, and pharmacology of ayahuasca and oo-koo-he, two orally-active tryptamine-based hallucinogens used by indigenous peoples in the Northwest Amazon.

Dr. McKenna received post-doctoral research fellowships in the Laboratory of Clinical Pharmacology, National Institute of Mental Health, and in the Department of Neurology, Stanford University School of Medicine. He joined Shaman Pharmaceuticals as Director of Ethnopharmacology in 1990, and relocated to Minnesota in 1993 to join the Aveda Corporation as Senior Research Pharmacognosist. He joined the faculty of the Center for Spirituality and Healing at the University of Minnesota in 2001.

He is a founding board member of the Heffter Research Institute and serves on the advisory board of non-profit organizations in the fields of ethnobotany and botanical medicines. He was a key organizer and participant in the Hoasca Project, an international biomedical study of ayahuasca used by indigenous people and syncretic religious groups in Brasil. He recently completed a project, funded by the Stanley Medical Research Institute, to investigate Amazonian ethnomedicines for the treatment of schizophrenia and cognitive deficits. At the Heffter Research Institute, he continues his focus on the therapeutic uses of psychoactive medicines derived from nature and used in indigenous ethnomedical practices.

Thank you to Beth for the picture of Dennis

From Carol Cumes (owner of Willka T’ika)

Dennis McKenna found his way to Willka T’ika with friends a few years ago after meetings and conferences in the Amazon. I enjoyed being able to chat about Ayahuasca with Dennis and hear his insights, while sharing my concerns about many Peruvian ayahuasceros and foreign shamans casually offering these ceremonies during the almost three decades I have worked with groups in Peru.

I believe in the healing power and sacredness of all plants; Willka T’ika is a testament to that belief. Ayahuasca is the Mother Sacred Plant of the Amazon. When Dennis became available to be present and lecture at this conference, I chose a singular Ayahuascero to conduct the ceremonies after observing him working with groups and individuals at Willka T’ika for the past year and a half. He is the only Ayahuascero I am comfortable about inviting to work with Willka T’ika guests.

Dennis and our Ayahuascero will agree with me that there is so much more to an ayahuasca ceremony than just taking the brew offered by inexperienced people in Peru and around the world. Setting aside this week in the most perfect surroundings of Willka T’ika allows all the elements to come together. Ayni, the Andean practice of reciprocity of energy fits right into this program. What you ask for must come from the heart, and you must first give to the plant, to take from it.

Both gentlemen are experts in the field of Ayahuasca and are dedicated to the practice, academic studies, teaching and healing benefits offered by this amazing plant. They will be available to discuss the plant from their personal perspectives.

I have been privileged to have Dennis McKenna as a colleague and fellow teacher at the University of Minnesota’s Center for Spirituality and Healing. His knowledge of the chemistry and botany of the sacred plants is encyclopedic – and his personal experience of them deep.Dennis offers a wonderful fusion of our Western scientific modes of understanding and the illuminating spiritual experiences opened by these medicines.
~ Erik F. Storlie, Ph.D., Faculty, Meditation Teacher, Center for Spirituality and Healing, University of Minnesota





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