“Your travelling where?” came the response after explaining where my next adventure lay. “I am travelling to one of the largest, remote and inhabited parts of the planet, the Amazon Jungle”, I triumphantly declared towards my friend Melanie, who was still startled from my outburst. This was a common theme that had a predictable direction each time I told others of my impending fate.
I had decided to finally take the plunge. It was July 2019 and I was 2 days away from boarding 4 aeroplanes with the final destination being the Amazon Jungle, it felt good and I can assure you I was very much looking forward to getting away. I had remained calm, until now, but I think the realisation of just how far away I was going began to hit home. Being calm changed to being excited.
This was not a rash decision by any means as I had been planning my trip for 12 months. I had researched this inside out starting in 2018 after watching a video on alternative medicine in the Amazon Rainforest. It immediately struck a chord within me how the indigenous tribes of South America, Peru in particular, survive in extreme solitude cut off from the outside world and from mainstream society. I was engrossed at how connected these people seemed to be with the earth, nature and the plants within the Rainforest. Their medical wisdom comes from plants and trees and they were talking about a brew that enhanced this connection. You drink this brew in small cups and this provided you with great insight and knowledge. It’s called Ayahuasca.
I have always been fascinated by the power of insight. It’s something that ignites a flame inside me and reading books by Anthony Williams and Caroline Myss provided lots of examples of how they use their insight in a medical sense. Both are able to tell what problems an individual has and what is needed for them to be better, with little, or no examination. My palette was wet with excitement as I had never heard before of such a thing. Imagine just looking at someone and having that insight and knowledge to be able to just know what was wrong. I was hooked and I wanted to learn this for myself. I wished this to be part of my life journey and I strongly felt I could offer this benefit to others. With the kindling smouldering, my journey of knowledge had just began.
The first thing I realised was that, in developed countries, there was a stigma attached to Ayahuasca and there was a lot of bad press and reports of people dying. I understood that this brew was not to be taken lightly. It is not a drug, it is medicine and that is not always clearly stated in the myriad of information that’s available. Images of a hippy retreat with hedonistic ravers sprung to mind listening to loud music and taking copious amounts of illegal substances alerted my cerebral cortex. I soon learned that these images were probably as a result of an overactive imagination which my mother always told me I had. Whilst I understood there was an element of risk, I already had that kindling smouldering and it felt right to continue my research and discover how and where to go to experience this medicine.
Ayahuasca is illegal in some countries but in Peru it’s widely available. In fact, in Iquitos, which is classed as the gateway to the Amazon, is situated in the North of Peru, there is an Ayahuasca boom and the fascination with Ayahuasca has swelled the tourist trade in recent years. This could be classed as the second boom in the history of Iquitos as the city was famous for Rubber production in the late 19th century. When this trade was killed off, the city suffered a decline in fortunes and with little government support the city saw a rise in poverty. The lack of government support remains the same in this decade but the steady stream of tourists wishing to sample a plant based cocktail has swelled the pockets of many local businesses that keep meals on the table for their families.
In some shops in Iquitos, Ayahuasca is sold freely to some in an ethical manner and others I would wage a guess, not very ethical. Ayahuasca is made, largely, from a combination of two plants. Ayahuasca is a vine that attaches itself around the Chacruna plant, the two are mixed together and when drunk can induce a psychedelic episode. If administered in a safe, controlled and ethical manner it can open the doors of your perception and provide higher insight and knowledge of the existence and purpose of life.
My evolving research revealed that there are a number of venues that legally facilitate the partaking of Ayahuasca and they are dotted around different parts of South America. I felt drawn to Peru and I looked at many websites and read a dozen books on the subject to help inform me of the best choice. I settled for a retreat called The Temple of the Way of Light based deep within the Amazon Rainforest, cut off from civilisation. There were no roads and to get there it was only accessible by boat and then by foot. Since booking my flight, bouts of self enquiry flooded my brain continuously, and I questioned…..What am I doing? and Do I really want to go this far for this experience?
In the next instalment I will describe my departure from the UK and my arrival in South America and my first impressions of a truly magical country.
I discovered the wonderful benefits of Camu Camu whilst in Peru. It’s found in the Amazon Rainforest and is sold on market stalls in Iquitos and it’s a great refreshing fruity drink. It comes from a small bushy plant (Myrciaria dubia) that grows by the riverside and its form comes in the shape of small berries. It’s pretty sour to taste so it’s often sold ready-made up or in powder format to mix yourself at home.
It is considered a superfood due to its extremely high concentration of Vitamin C (1) as well as other powerful compounds. Vitamin C helps to strengthen your immune system and acts as a powerful antioxidant by combatting oxidative stress (2) which is a condition that can lead to diabetes, heart disease and cancer.
When I bought it on the street in Iquitos, Camu Camu was sweetened but now when I make it at home, I just mix it with water and drink it. I used to have trouble with inflammation around my left ankle and I looked at alternative ways to combat the pain. After drinking Camu Camu regularly I found a reduction in pain which helped ease my inflammation. Some studies have shown the Camu Camu is effective in reducing inflammation (3). Other benefits that may be delivered by consuming Camu Camu are reduced weight (4) and healthier blood pressure (5).
As with any other health products, it’s important to do your research, and if your thinking about buying some, shop around and only buy from respected and ethical companies.
I have been asked this question many times since I began my journey with Alternative Medicine. I came up with my title of ‘Holistic Therapist’ to best describe what I do, but to some, that’s still pretty vague.
Holistic originates from the Greek root ‘holos’ which translates as ‘whole’. The Cambridge Dictionary describes holistic as relating to the whole of something or to the total system instead of just it’s parts. Specifically, in terms of medicine, it says Holistic Medicine attempts to treat the whole person, including mind and body, not just the injury or disease. This suggests that it’s any health therapy that treats the body as one.
I wanted to create a concept where one is ‘fixed’ under one roof and to achieve that I needed a four pronged attack. I looked at therapies that can help the physical, emotional, spiritual and psychological parts of our body and worked out how I can obtain the proper recognised training. I wanted to do things correctly so I enrolled in an HNC course in Complementary Therapies and exchanged my full time job for becoming a full time student.
Daunting as it was, the course would give me a base to build upon and I discovered how to address the physical body though the medium of Massage, Reflexology, Aromatherapy and Head Massage. I had previously taken extra training courses in Reiki, Theta Healing and Sound Therapy so that completed the spiritual part. Addressing the final two parts, the emotional and the psychological, required training in Counselling and my chosen path of Shamanism. I will qualify in both modalities in 2021 so this will complete my holistic quadrant. Using my intuition and the skills I have acquired; I am now in a position to confidently deal with clients irrespective of their suffering.
With so many varied and transferable skills you can maybe understand how the easy option was to class myself as a Holistic Therapist. I have a lot of knowledge on alternative medicine and this became the easier option to trying to explain what it is I do.