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Peruvian Plant Medicine

In this episode of the Whole U. Podcast you'll hear from Gina Aprile about her healing journey with "Plant Medicine," and her intentions for sharing her experience. 

Evidence of plant medicine dates back thousands of years, and has been more recently popularized in the U.S. by celebrities such as Sting and Chelsea Handler. Plant medicine (e.g. Ayahuasca and San Pedro) are mixed from local cactus / plants, and are ingested to help people connect with nature, and have spiritual self-realizations.  

In this interview you will learn about:

  • The difference between plant medicine and "recreational drugs"
  • The process and outcomes of a plant medicine "ceremony" 
  • Precautions to consider with any such experience . . . 

Listen in as we hear from Gina Aprile.


Blog Post By Althea Champion:

The Western way of thinking comes with ups and downs. As Westerners, we lean toward what is familiar, and we lean hard—hard enough that when new ideas arise, we have trouble opening our minds to the unfamiliar. And it is here where we fall short.

In order to make valuable changes . . . new perspectives and lifestyles must be considered. This is something Gina Aprile has experienced first hand. 

How Gina Was Called to Plant Medicine

Aprile grew up in Lima, Peru. She moved to the United States at the age of 23, where she graduated from Northern Arizona University with a degree in Business Administration. After applying her degree to established businesses (like American Express), she found herself unhappy. Because she did not love what she was doing, she made the decision to return to school to study Chinese Medicine.

After travelling to the Sacred Valley of Peru in 2012, Aprile had the opportunity to drink San Pedro (a naturally psychoactive beverage) for the first time. In doing so, she experienced the powerful energy of the valley, and came to the realization that she was being called to move and live there. 

Overcoming "The Impractical"

However, this move seemed "impractical" - because Aprile was married . . . and enrolled in school back in the States . . . so her responsibilities eventually pulled her back to the US. But, she stayed conscious of the fact that her heart's strength would some day prevail over her mind's -- at which time she would return to the Sacred Valley of Peru. But how? Her negative self-talk looked like this:

  • How am I going to move here?
  • How am I going to work?
  • What am I going to do?
  • How am I going to make money?
  • You can't.
  • You can't do this. . . 

After 2012, she frequented the Valley during summers to do medicine, staying for two to three months at a time. Then in 2016, during a routine summer in the Valley, her heart finally overpowered her mind. She made the startling decision to leave everything (including school, and a house), and found comfort in the fact that she was following her heart and intuition. Her seemingly illogical choice proved extremely challenging as responsibilities clashed, but her decision confirmed her heart's wishes.

Deeper Exploration of San Pedro & Ayahuasca

Now permanently in the Sacred Valley of Peru, she immersed herself in the exploration of plant medicine to an extent she never had before, which she continues to this day. The two psychedelic plants she focuses on, facilitate one's own learning and healing. They are called:

  • San Pedro and
  • Ayahuasca 

Aprile describes San Pedro as the medicine of the heart.

"My belief is that... they [the plants] have a spirit."

When the mind is polluted, as it often is with limiting thoughts of personal potential, it is too easy to manifest those limitations. San Pedro aids in the organization of healthy ​and​ unhealthy thoughts, whilst connecting you with your wisdom, to help you realize your wants and needs.

What to Expect

While San Pedro is most commonly taken during the day, its nocturnal counterpart, Ayahuasca, is meant to be consumed at night. 

The process of drinking the tea-like medicine involves a Shaman, or a facilitator who calls for protection over the space from a spirit(s). After the "tea" is consumed, the Shaman takes into account how each person is doing, whether or not they are experiencing physical discomfort, and stays available as a source for participants to talk to and share with.

However involved the Shaman is, the journey is primarily aimed toward inner work and exploration. With San Pedro, participants have the whole day to exist alone with the medicine. This is followed by a ceremony at the end (when the medicine has "worn off"), as well as the next day, where participants share their experience with the Shaman.

Ayahuasca, on the other hand, is taken at night, while in a circle of other participants. Each person is given a bucket - because the process often involves purging. For the most part, the Shaman does not check on participants, and instead may come around and sit in front of each person, singing songs in order to bring the medicine into effect. Its effects lasts for 2-4 hours.



(1) Who You Drink With 

Aprile stresses the importance of being careful about who you choose to drink with. She also believes the experience should never be "forced or pushed" on others.

"It [the experience] has to come to them."

(2) Mixing Medications

These plants, after all, are very serious and powerful psychedelic medicines. Some people may be more hesitant than others when considering ingesting. It's also important to note that some medications should not be mixed with the plants! For example, those who have bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, and other mental illnesses are not strong candidates, because it may worsen their symptoms. This does not disqualify them altogether, but rather calls for a specialized Shaman that can make the process safer for them.

(3) Religious Beliefs

A person's religious background may keep them from trying plant medicine, because it may be considered as 'interacting with darkness.' While not very religious herself, Aprile had trouble confronting such questions of darkness, when she first set out on her voyage with plant medicine.

With time, Gina explored her fears regarding, and concluded that darkness is a fact, that exists in a balance with light, and reality encompasses BOTH. By exploring our darkness, we are afforded power over ourselves.

"It's just what life brings."

(4) Expectations on the Outcome 

A common misconception with plant medicine is that it will provide an inherent 'Zen' express. While tranquility is achieved sometimes. . . other times it's not! One of the plants' greatest attributes is its ability to bring what it is that you need -- ​good or bad​: It uncovers your fears, limiting thoughts, and traumas in order to heal them, and work with them - instead of against.

(5) Amount & Frequency

Each person approaches plant medicine differently- if at all. Aprile acknowledges how some people drink once, twice, three times per year, whilst some find that doing it once sustains them for a lifetime.

"We are all on different paths, we all have our journeys, we don't all have to immerse ourselves in plant medicine. Sometimes we have different tasks, you know, different jobs. But I believe that even if it's one time that you drink, it still brings a lot of lessons and wisdom."

(6) Do Your "Homework"!

"Do your homework, do research, and make sure the place you are going to has good reviews and is legit."

These plants are, under no circumstances, recreational. Aprile strongly advises people to do their research before partaking. Some 'Shamans' prove untrustworthy and lacking integrity, and some retreats are not credible. She offers herself as a referable source that can point you in the direction of people who do good work and maintain good ethics.

You can contact her through Whole U. email: ​[email protected]​ - where she is happy to answer questions, and tell you more about what she has devoted her life to.


Bringing it Home: Applying Lessons From Plant Medicine 

The experience and lessons that plant medicine brings for everyone who consumes it, is something to bring home and apply to daily life.

The age we live in breeds busy minds, which hinders our ability to look within ourselves. Aprile observes that: many of the people who come to the Valley from Western countries, claim they feel empty because they have lost touch with who they are, despite material success and achievement. Aprile hopes that more people from Western countries will be able to open their minds to plant medicine in order to get to know themselves - because it can serve them now more than ever.

Gina's Core Beliefs

"To me, it's an honor, and my contribution to the world to share my experiences so more people can try this medicine so they can find happiness and healing." 

Gina clarifies that this "happiness" is not defined by naive goodness - but rather the living of life and accepting of what is, challenges, fears, and all. It is only with the realization of who we are and our acceptance of that, that we can direct that positivity outward. Gina believes in the medicine and what it can do for people. 


Follow Gina on Instagram



(p.s. If ever in The Sacred Valley of Cusco, Peru - you may wish to visit this Airbnb - run by Gina and her partner :)


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