PT288 – Annie & Michael Mithoefer – Vital Psychedelic Conversations

In this episode of the podcast, fresh off the heels of the announcement of (and opening of applications for) our new 12-month certificate program, Vital, Kyle sits down for episode 2 of Vital Psychedelic Conversations; this week with two figureheads lending their knowledge to the course: Annie & Michael Mithoefer.

While also supervising and training therapists for MAPS-sponsored trials, the Mithoefers are probably best known for groundbreaking trials they’ve been involved in, including two MAPS-sponsored Phase II trials studying MDMA-assisted therapy for PTSD, a study providing MDMA-assisted sessions to therapists completing the MAPS therapist training, and a pilot study treating couples with MDMA-assisted therapy combined with Cognitive Behavioral Conjoint Therapy. They are also both Grof-certified holotropic breathwork practitioners, and huge proponents of breathwork in general.

They talk about why they connected so much with breathwork and how it cured Annie’s panic attacks; how they’ve used breathwork in their practice in conjunction with therapy; what trusting or following the process means (for the patient and facilitator); the concept of the inner healer (or “inner healing capacity”); touch and bodywork in therapy; how the communal, group process aspect of breathwork is inspiring ideas for group MDMA sessions; how we can best scale therapy; updates on new trials for 2022; and their best advice and biggest takeaways they’ve learned from decades in the field. 

Notable Quotes

“It’s not that you never offer any direction or engage and help people if they’re stuck, it’s that that only happens in service of what’s already trying to arise spontaneously; that the point is to give plenty of time and encouragement for that process to just take its own path and unfold in its own way. …You may be offering quite a bit sometimes in terms of support and direction, but it’s only in service of what’s already happening.” -Michael

“Stan learned it by working directly with thousands of people with LSD in the beginning. And of course, other cultures (in some cases, for hundreds of thousands of years) have developed knowledge about wise use of these kinds of states. So it sounds a little new-agey or woo woo (‘Trust the process’ and the inner healing intelligence, you know), but it’s based on reality that people have observed for a very long time. And we see it. We just get it reaffirmed again and again.” -Michael

“People do get better with love and care. Sometimes it’s just that extra fifteen or twenty minutes at the end of a breathwork session when somebody is still kind of shaky, or sitting with them and having a meal after breathwork, or the extra times that you take with people. Supporting people: it really makes a difference.” -Annie

“There’s something great about breathwork, to know that you can have these experiences without taking anything – just having that experience of: ‘Wow. These places are not as far away as I thought they were.’” -Michael

Links The safety and efficacy of 3,4-methylenedioxymethamphetamineassisted psychotherapy in subjects with chronic, treatment-resistant posttraumatic stress disorder: the first randomized controlled pilot study

Beyond the Brain, by Stanislav Grof

Pubmed: Psilocybin-assisted group therapy for demoralized older long-term AIDS survivor men: An open-label safety and feasibility pilot study MDMA-assisted therapy for severe PTSD: a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled phase 3 study Israel Embraces Research on MDMA-Assisted Therapy for PTSD Relational and Growth Outcomes Following Couples Therapy With MDMA for PTSD

Psychedelics Today: PT227 – Dr. Anne Wagner – Couples Therapy, MDMA, and MAPS Phase 2 Study at the Bronx, New York Veterans Affairs Medical Center

Pubmed: 3,4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine (MDMA) impairs the extinction and reconsolidation of fear memory in rats

Pubmed: MDMA-assisted psychotherapy for PTSD: Are memory reconsolidation and fear extinction underlying mechanisms?

About Annie Mithoefer, B.S.N.

Annie Mithoefer, B.S.N., is a Registered Nurse living in Asheville, North Carolina, where she is now focused primarily on training and supervising therapists conducting MAPS-sponsored clinical trials, as well as continuing to conduct some MAPS research sessions in Charleston, South Carolina. Between 2004 and 2018, she and her husband, Michael Mithoefer, M.D., completed two of the six MAPS-sponsored Phase II clinical trials testing MDMA-assisted therapy for PTSD, as well a study providing MDMA-assisted sessions for therapists who have completed the MAPS Therapist Training, and a pilot study treating couples with MDMA-assisted therapy combined with Cognitive Behavioral Conjoint Therapy. Annie is a Grof-certified holotropic breathwork practitioner, is trained in Hakomi Therapy, and has 25 years experience working with trauma patients, with an emphasis on experiential approaches to therapy.

About Michael Mithoefer, M.D.

Michael Mithoefer, M.D., is a psychiatrist living in Asheville, NC, with a research office in Charleston, SC. He is now a Senior Medical Director at MAPS Public Benefit Corporation (MPBC). He is a Grof-certified holotropic breathwork facilitator, is trained in EMDR and Internal Family Systems Therapy, and has nearly 30 years of experience treating trauma patients. Before going into psychiatry in 1991, he practiced emergency medicine for ten years. He has been board certified in Psychiatry, Emergency Medicine, and Internal Medicine, and is a Fellow of the American Psychiatric Association, and Affiliate Assistant Professor Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences Medical University of South Carolina.

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PT287 – Josh Hardman – Psychedelic Stocks, Data Privacy, and Drug Development

In this episode of the podcast, Joe interviews Josh Hardman, the Founder and Editor of Psilocybin Alpha, a news website and weekly newsletter covering the psychedelic space with a focus on emerging companies and drug development.

Hardman discusses how the juxtaposition of the studies coming out of Imperial College London and the way hippie culture intersected with various political movements made him want to create Psilocybin Alpha. He talks about his early anonymous days and how the 2020 US election jumpstarted the site, especially due to the passing of Oregon’s Measure 109 and people suddenly showing a lot of interest in psychedelic stocks. 

And they talk about a lot more, as this podcast is very topic-to-topic conversational in the way you’d imagine a podcast between two people neck deep in psychedelic happenings may be: why the UK is so conservative when it comes to drug policy; Brexit; cryptocurrency, decentralized finance (DeFi), and decentralized health (“De-health”?); overuse of Sonoran desert toads and over-harvesting of iboga (why aren’t LSD and psilocybin good enough?); data collection and data privacy; patent thicketing; integration as a new recurring-revenue model; psychedelics and VR; investor obsession with derivatives and analogs; and 2022 seeing the likely consolidation of many for-profit companies in the psychedelic space.

Notable Quotes

“The point at which it went from just being kind of a side project to me to being ‘I should work on this full time’ was the November 2020 elections in the US. I remember I sat here up to like 5am in the UK, watching the results to see measure 109 in Oregon (obviously) and the DC ballot initiative to decriminalize. I think that was the point, to me, where I saw not just traffic to the website go up thousands of percent overnight, but also the types of people that were reading Psilocybin Alpha went from weed investors and crypto investors to therapists and people who were seeking therapy, emailing me. Hundreds of emails the next day saying, ‘I want to get involved in this. I’ve been working in psychiatry or psychotherapy for 30 years and I want to understand this new modality.’”

“Why are people depressed? I think a lot of people are depressed because something acute happened to them or because maybe they do need to go inside and work some stuff out internally, but, me being a student of sociology and political economy, I’m more inclined to think a lot of people are depressed because of their material situation: their job or their home life, economic realities in America, lack of health insurance. These things are all external. So I have some concern with how much we can really solve whilst in a system that makes people so upset and miserable.”

“The reason psychedelic companies are so disruptive to the healthcare system is because something like Prozac is chronically dosed. It’s like almost a recurring revenue model. It’s a subscription model. And obviously psychedelics can potentially not cure someone but put them into remission (at least clinically) in two or three sessions. So you could say that if a company is able to capture the integration part of the treatment arc as well, that’s where they start getting their recurring revenue.”

“I think people are concerned about investing in another psilocybin company. So if you can take a derivative, an analog, or a new chemical entity entirely (even if it’s very similar to psilocybin); to the investor or to the untrained eye, it’s new. It’s novel, and it’s going to get a patent, so therefore it must have some value. I think that might be a big story in 2022, when we start realizing that a lot of these supposedly new chemical entities either start failing in preclinical work or in Phase 1 work or they’re just not that remarkably different.”  

Links Psychedelics 2021: A Year in Review When the LSD King Timothy Leary Hid in Africa with the Black Panthers GH Research Is Taking Psychedelic 5-MeO-DMT ‘Toad Venom’ Public Washington Psilocybin Bill Would Legalize Supported Adult Use

Psychedelics Today: PTSF72 – Breaking Down SB-519, with MAPS’ Ismail L. Ali

Psychedelics Today: Eyes on Oregon YouTube playlist Small Pharma granted fast-track designation from UK regulator for DMT-assisted therapy for Major Depressive Disorder

Facebook: The Purple Shop

Psychedelics Today: PT268 – Hamilton Morris – PCP, 5-MeO-DMT, and The Synthesis of New Psychedelics

Hamilton’s Pharmacopeia: The Psychedelic Toad Why DIY Magic Mushroom Growers Are Gathering In An Uncle Ben’s Rice Subreddit

What Technology Wants, by Kevin Kelly (Joe called it “What Technology Does”) Is DeFi Dangerous? Elizabeth Warren Thinks So China declares all crypto-currency transactions illegal

Psychedelics Today: PT244 – Mark Haberstroh – Mushrooms, Retreat Centers, and Safety (the person who has been to more retreats than anyone Joe knows)

Psychedelics Today: PT277 – Ryan Zurrer – Venture Capital, Reciprocity, and the Regenerative Financing Vine Goldman Sachs asks in biotech research report: ‘Is curing patients a sustainable business model?’ The Big Short (Sweatcoin)

About Josh Hardman

Founder and Editor of Psilocybin Alpha, an online resource and weekly newsletter covering the psychedelics space with a focus on drug development efforts.

Instagram: @psilocybinalpha
Twitter: @Josh__Hardman
Twitter: @PsilocybinAlpha
Linkedin: Joshhardmanuk

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PT286 – Joe Tafur, MD – Vital Psychedelic Conversations

In this episode of the podcast, Kyle sits down with Joe Tafur, MD, for the first episode in our new weekly series, “Vital Psychedelic Conversations.” 

Vital is the name of our new 12-month certificate program launching in April, and each episode of Vital Psychedelic Conversations will feature one of the teachers we’ve been honored to be able to include in the program. While the official announcement with all the important details is coming next week, we’re pretty pumped about Vital and wanted to start this new series today!

Joe Tafur, MD, is a family physician and author who was trained in ayahuasca curanderismo at the Nihue Rao Centro Espiritual in Peru. He also is a co-founder of the Church of the Eagle and the Condor, which is currently pursuing legal protection for ceremonial ayahuasca use. 

He discusses the frustrating application process for the church; the idea of the substance only being a part of the experience; how a truly transpersonal moment seems to make people start asking about the sacred; the scientific community’s struggles with the transpersonal; soul retrieval; the interconnectedness of all things; and he makes an argument for allowing religious tokens in therapeutic containers. And he talks about what we can learn from Indigenous tradition and their holistic and health-focused mindset, connection to nature, relationship with substances, and embrace of spirituality. 

Through the Church of the Eagle and the Condor, Tafur is running a webinar series to speak to and learn from Indigenous elders called “Wisdom of the Elders.” The first is next week, January 27th, and features Diné Elder Josie Begay-James.

Notable Quotes

“People are with this kind of direction: they’re partying, they’re having a great experience, maybe making some big memories, maybe they are shifting, some people are growing, maybe not. But then, on this other side, you have this high percentage of people really turning around decades-old mental health issues. So that’s a big, big difference. So what’s going on in those sessions? And what’s going on around those sessions? The focus has been the substance, the substance, the substance, the substance. They think they can sell it, whatever they want to do with it. But that other meat of what’s happening with people – there’s a lot of mysterious elements in that space.”

“The ones who are doing the psychotherapy with ketamine, I find, over and over again, that they become very curious about the sacred. …Those people want to know about people that have experience with this, from that perspective (from a spiritual perspective), because you can tell them: ‘These molecules did this and these neural patterns did that,’ but they’re not satisfied. It doesn’t answer the questions that they’re seeking, about: ‘What do I do with that?’”

“Why does it have to be separate? Why would it be separate? It’s not separate, I don’t think, in sports. I don’t think they try to get people to dissociate from their intuition and their feeling. I think they encourage it strongly. …They’ll say, ‘He’s possessed!’ They’ll say a person is ‘inspired.’ Similarly with music; you wouldn’t have that ‘I’m not going to try to feel into my soul while I’m on stage.’ It’s actually the opposite, is the discussion quite often. Isn’t that true? Isn’t that what sells tickets all over the world? Isn’t that what distinguishes the big ticket sellers in general, that they’re able to tap into something that is transpersonal?”

“We have to deal with the transpersonal, not only for the sake of expanding ourselves and to be better people or to grow, but it’s a matter of health. That’s the reason.” 


The Fellowship of the River: A Medical Doctor’s Exploration into Traditional Amazonian Plant Medicine, by Joseph Tafur, MD

January 27th: First episode of the Church of the Eagle and the Condor’s “Wisdom of the Elders” Series: An Evening with Diné Elder Josie Begay-James The Shipibo Ceremonial Use of Ayahuasca to Promote Well-Being: An Observational Study

Psychedelics Today: PT229 – Dr. Matthew Johnson – What is Consciousness?

About Joe Tafur, MD

Joe Tafur, MD, is a Colombian-American family physician originally from Phoenix, Arizona. After completing his family medicine training at UCLA, Dr. Tafur spent two years in academic research at the UCSD Department of Psychiatry in a lab focused on mind-body medicine. After his research fellowship, over a period of six years, he lived and worked in the Peruvian Amazon at the traditional healing center Nihue Rao Centro Espiritual. There he worked closely with master Shipibo healer Ricardo Amaringo and trained in ayahuasca curanderismo. In his book, The Fellowship of the River: A Medical Doctor’s Exploration into Traditional Amazonian Plant Medicine, through a series of stories, Dr. Tafur shares his unique experience and integrative medical theories. After the release of his book in 2017, Dr. Tafur has been spending more time in the U.S. and with his spiritual community in Arizona, has co-founded the Church of the Eagle and the Condor (CEC). This spiritual community is dedicated to promoting the spiritual unity of all people with the Creator through the practice of traditional Indigenous spirituality and sacred ceremonies. The CEC is currently pursuing legal protection for their practice of sacred Ayahuasca ceremony. Dr. Tafur is also a co-founder of Modern Spirit, a nonprofit dedicated to demonstrating the value of spiritual healing in modern healthcare. Among their projects is the Modern Spirit Epigenetics Project, an epigenetic analysis of the impact of MAPS MDMA-assisted psychotherapy. Their first results have now been submitted for publication. He is currently a fellow at the University of Arizona’s Center for Integrative Medicine. Additionally, he is involved the Ocotillo Center for Integrative Medicine in Phoenix, Arizona. To learn more about his work you can also visit

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