Veterans Advocate, Ian Benouis: How to Optimize Your Life w/ Plant Medicine & Psychedelics Transcription

Plant medicine and psychedelics have been shown to have many therapeutic benefits with very few side effects.

They are currently being studied in everything from PTSD to depression to anxiety to addiction to healing past trauma.

They are being used at end of life with terminal cancer patient, in smoking cessation programs, and even in eating disorders.

On this episode we are going to be talking to none other that world renowned plant medicine and psychedelics expert Ian Benouis.

Ian Benouis, JD, is the General Counsel of Veterans for Natural Rights (VNR), a 501c3 dedicated to veteran healing and reintegration. He is a West Point graduate, former Blackhawk helicopter pilot, former US Army officer and combat veteran who participated in Operation Just Cause in the Republic of Panama the biggest operation in history directed towards the War on Drugs.

He has been healing himself for over 25 years with natural earth medicines, a spiritual practice, and as a student and practitioner of ethnobotany. He has organized and participated in numerous trips with veterans to Mexico, Peru and other locations for ethnobotanical healing.

His work has been captured in documentaries including From Shock to Awe and Soldiers of the Vine.

WHAT LED YOU TO THIS WORK WITH PLANT MEDICINE AND PSYCHEDELICS?

Ian:

I grew up in Hawaii where cannabis was decriminalized ahead of the dare program and meth epidemic that came in part from the cannabis suppression. 

Went to West Point and flew black hawk helicopters in the army. Went down to Panama for Operation Just Cause which was a drug intervention operation along with regime change.

Go out right before we went to war with Iraq and Afghanistan.

Went to work for Pfizer at the peak of the pharmaceutical industry.  Went to law school. Did the corporate world. Raised a family.

I did a lot of plant medicine work after the Army and while I was in law school where I did enough work on myself to be a good father and husband.

6 years ago I met veterans at a cannabis event in Texas. The 1st event in Texas highlighting how cannabis was being used successfully to treat PTSD in Veterans .

This event moved things in me that I hadn’t been aware of. The connection with veterans at this event made me realize that I hadn’t yet finished my work.

And that’s when I started working with various plant medicines and psychedelics again to continue my own healing and through that support the healing of veterans and of everyone else that could benefit from it.

“TAKING CARE OF YOURSELF IS THE BEST LOW SIDE TO HAVE A POSITIVE IMPACT ON THE WORLD” ~ IAN BENOUIS

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4: Optimizing Your Life With Plant Medicine and Psychedelics

The Optimized Life 4: Optimizing Your Life With Plant Medicine and Psychedelics Episode 4 Show Notes: Optimizing Your Life With Plant Medicine and Psychedelics 4:26 How optimizing is a lifetime journey  5:44[…]

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HOW HAVE YOU SEEN THE ATTITUDE AROUND PLANT MEDICINE & PSYCHEDELICS SHIFT OVER THE PAST 5 YEARS?

Ian

In one way, everything old is new again. We have been co-evolving and working with the cannabis plant for tens of thousands of years.

Its a recent phenomenon of the drug war and we are still fighting against it.

Cannabis has a government patent on it. Marinol is an FDA approved drug. And now of course we have hemp with the Farm Bill. All these things are chipping away at the social stigma around this plant.

And psychedelics are right in tow with cannabis. MDMA and psilocybin are in phase III clinical trails with expanded access. Now there is no denying their efficacy. 

The drug wars fed all this misinformation. DARE has really programmed people. Putting all the kids on Ritalin and Adderall. Or you are a high school football player and you get a shoulder injury and 6 months later you are a heroine addict.

These things are right through society and everyone is seeing that’s its not a pharmaceutical paradise out there. 

And these plant medicines are tried and tested.

A HIGH LEVEL OVERVIEW OF THE MOST COMMON PLANT MEDICINES & PSYCHEDELICS 

Ian

These plant compounds work on the epigenetics level of the dna. They are able to up or down regulate protein synthesis which is how people get that feeling of “defragging their hard drive” in their brain or “scrubbing every cell” effect in their bodies.

They also work on the receptor sites to reset those receptors in the brain taking away the compulsive or addictive behavioral patterning.

  • Cannabis – works on the endocannabinoid system, helps with pain and relaxation
  • MDMA – works to reduce fear and creates heart opening, great for trauma, conflict resolution, PTSD
  • Iboga (root) – good for addiction, trauma and traumatic brain injury.
  • Ego dissolution – good for doing the larger biographical work necessary to be functional in this life time
    1. Psilocybin (mushrooms)
    2. 5MEO DMT (bufo)
    3. DMT (ayahuasca) 

THE FINE LINE BETWEEN SELF MEDICATING AND HEALING

Ian

We create these false dichotomies. Why is recreational or re-creational a bad word?

We’ve made into a bad word because if we aren’t working hard, smoking cigarettes, drinking coffee and then blowing steam off with alcohol after work, we aren’t contributing to the american dream.

All medicine use is self medicating. Whether its almond butter, pornography, TV, religion, sex … its all receptor biology at the physical level.

You are what you eat. Whether that’s good food, good vision, good people. If you are eating poorly that’s going show in your body. Often times people don’t recognize the importance of taking care of their original brain, the microbiome.

THE IMPORTANCE OF WORKING WITH A TRAINED GUIDE WHEN USING THESE MEDICINES 

Ian

Guides traditionally have lineages going back thousands of years working with these plant medicines.

Having a guide provides a safe container to safely go deep, understand and process the experience. 

Its crucial when working with these plant medicines to have the support structure to be able integrate it.

HOW PLANT MEDICINE IMPACTS THE MICROBIOME AND NEUROTRANSMITTER PRODUCTION

Ian

80-90% of serotonin is produced in the gut.

There is literally bacteria in there that have the pass codes to serotonin production.

That information is connected to the brain via the longest cranial nerve, the vagus nerve. 

Conclusion: 80-90% of our mood and happiness is coming from our gut.

Where to find Ian:

Website: https://psychedelicmusalman.com/

Podcast: Psychedelic Time Share

Documentaries: Soldiers of the Vine, Shock to Awe

Until next time, stay optimized ya’ll!

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Big love,

Amy & Jess

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About Ian Benouis

Ian Benouis is a West Point graduate, former Blackhawk helicopter pilot, former US Army officer and combat veteran who participated in Operation Just Cause in the Republic of Panama.  This operation was the largest combat operation in US history focused directly on the War on Drugs and was the largest special operations deployment ever conducted. He was a pilot-in-command and his aviation brigade flew more night vision goggle hours than any unit in the military except for the Task Force 160 Special Operations which his unit was ultimately rolled up into when the 7th Infantry Division at Fort Ord, California military base was shut down. Ian grew up in Hawaii in the 1970’s where cannabis was decriminalized and fully integrated in to the culture.  He has been healing himself of trauma for over 25 years with sacred plants, a spiritual practice, and being a student and practitioner of ethnobotany.  Ian was a pharmaceutical representative for Pfizer after he got out of the Army witnessing firsthand the meteoric rise of the SSRI’s and synthetic opioids in the early 1990's. He is a casualty of the drug war having been busted for a friend’s cannabis while in law school.  Ian is an intellectual property attorney who has been working in the corporate world for over 20 years in the primary roles of VP of Sales and Marketing and General Counsel.  He is a political activist in the cannabis and natural plant medicine space nationally and locally in Texas.  Ian was previously the Chairman of the Board for a public policy foundation in Texas for over seven years. Ian was featured in the Spike Jonze produced episode Stoned Vets on Weediquette the cannabis focused series on Viceland on HBO with a number of other veterans protesting the VA’s policy on medical cannabis and trying to end the veteran suicide epidemic. In 2016 Ian organized a trip for six veterans with PTSD to Peru in May for a 10-day plant diet including ayahuasca and other plant medicines with three Shipibo trained shaman brothers that are third generation plant medicine healers.  Ian also took some of the same veterans to Mexico for treatment with iboga and 5-Meo-DMT.  This experience was captured on video and was released as a documentary in March 2017 entitled Soldiers of the Vine. He is member of the team supporting the movie From Shock to Awe a feature-length documentary that chronicles the journeys of military veterans as they seek relief from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder with the help of ayahuasca, MDMA and cannabis.  This movie premiered at the Illuminate Film Festival in Sedona, AZ on June 2, 2018 where it captured the inaugural Mangurama Award for Conscious Documentary Storytelling.