Ethnopharmacologist, Scientist, Author, Conservation Activist & Consciousness Explorer
Dennis McKenna is an ethnopharmacologist who spent nearly half a century researching psychoactive plant medicines, many of which have been used for millennia by indigenous tribes for sacred rituals and healing purposes. However, most of these plants are scorned, forbidden and criminalised under the penalty of imprisonment in the today’s society.
Dennis holds a doctorate from the University of British Columbia, where his research is focused on ayahuasca and oo-koo-hé, two hallucinogens used by indigenous peoples in the Northwest Amazon. Dennis has 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.
In 1990, he joined Shaman Pharmaceuticals as Director of Ethnopharmacology, and in 1993 became the Aveda Corporation’s Senior Research Pharmacognosist. Dennis has been an adjunct assistant professor at the Centre for Spirituality and Healing at the University of Minnesota since 2001, where he teaches courses in ethnopharmacology and botanical medicine. He has taught summer field courses in Peru and Ecuador, and has conducted fieldwork throughout the upper Amazon. He is a founding board member of the Heffter Research Institute, a non-profit organization focused on the investigation of the potential therapeutic uses of psychoactive medicines.
In addition, Dennis is the author of many scientific papers, and co-author, with his late brother Terence McKenna, of: The Invisible Landscape: Mind, Hallucinogens, and the I Ching as well as Psilocybin: Magic Mushroom Grower’s Guide.
Dennis will be at the conference to officiate the European launch of the Ethnopharmacologic Search for Psychoactive Drugs (ESPD50). ESPD50 is a publication which followed the landmark symposium held in 1967, bringing together groups of specialists who gathered to share their findings on the use of psychoactive plants in indigenous societies and in modern medicine. On the 50th anniversary, during the month of June 2017, an international group of specialists gathered again to share their perspectives on past, present, and future research in ethnopharmacology. Dennis was the organiser of the ESPD50 conference, as well as one of the chief editors of the volume.