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Berkeley Talks: Dr. Joe Tafur on the role of spiritual and emotional healing in modern healthcare

By Public Affairs

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Joe Tafur smiling in a portrait

Dr. Joe Tafur

Drawing from his first-hand experience at Nihue Rao Centro Espiritual, a traditional healing center near Iquitos in the Peruvian Amazon, Dr. Joe Tafur reviews the role of spiritual and emotional healing in modern healthcare.

Tafur gave a talk on April 18, 2019, for the Lounge Lecture Series at the Phoebe A. Hearst Museum of Anthropology , alongside the new exhibit, Pleasure, Poison, Prescription and Prayer: The Worlds of Mind-Altering Substances , which runs March 15 to Dec. 15.

In this talk, Tafur discusses how emotional trauma contributes to medical illness, and how spiritual healing techniques can lead to improvements in the mind and body. Ayahuasca shamanism and other psychedelic-assisted therapies may be effective, in some cases, because of their ability to induce relevant changes in epigenetic imprints associated with emotional trauma stored in the psychoneuroendocrine immunologic network, which Tafur theorizes is the physiologic manifestation of the emotional body.

Dr. Joe Tafur is a Colombian American family physician originally from Phoenix, Arizona. After completing his family medicine training at UCLA, 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 shaman Ricardo Amaringo and trained in ayahuasca shamanism.

In his new book, The Fellowship of the River: A Medical Doctor’s Exploration into Traditional Amazonian Plant Medicine , Tafur shares his unique experience and integrative medical theories. He is now focused on his work with the nonprofit Modern Spirit and the Modern Spirit Epigenetics Project.

For upcoming events, visit the Heart Museum of Anthropology’s website.

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