In sharing my journey through plant medicine education and healing, my hope is that it will not only show you my transparency, but also reduce any fear or misconceptions you might have about plant medicine. Growing up in the 70’s and 80’s, my generation associated psychedelics with the hippie generation. Love and peace for all, but with that also came the stigma that these plants are harmful drugs that could cause you to lose your mind and jump out of a window. My children's generation grew up with “Just Say No” and D.A.R.E. While these were both very admirable and needed campaigns for our children and teenagers, psychedelics were placed in the category of a drug and not a medicine. They were placed in the same category as Methamphetamine and Heroine. The misconception was that these psychedelic compounds were addictive and had no therapeutic or medical benefit. None of this is even slightly true. These plant medicines are not addictive and do just the opposite of damaging the brain. They create amazing neuronal enhancement and cognitive change.
Because our research far succeeds our legislation, the key is to share this research in order to educate and empower people. As counties and states begin to decriminalize and legalize the use of psilocybin across the US, there is hope for change on the horizon. The FDA is now allowing the use of ketamine and MDMA at a clinical level for the treatment of depression, anxiety, and PTSD. I feel now more than ever it is important for you have first-hand knowledge and understanding how these amazing plants can help us heal.
I think it is also very important to differentiate someone taking mushrooms and going to a concert with no intention other than to have a good time, versus someone involved in an intentionally curated program of taking plant medicine. For example, a planned and guided program with plant medicine involves a great deal of work for both the individual and the coach. The coach helps the individual in the preparation of analyzing what they would like to change or accomplish through the medicine. The coach then helps in creating the container through specific guided exercises that create connection, which leads to community and co elevation to support that change. Education is then done around the medicine itself and honoring the earth from which it came. Finally, and most importantly, following the experience with integration work through one-on-one coaching, breath work and meditation.
There is a huge difference in the results that will be achieved between the first scenario of taking mushrooms and going out with friends and the second scenario of doing the work of setting intention and following with integration. Using plant medicine around setting intention and working on the integration will create lasting change in you and the world.
I believe in this medicine and this process so much that I have spent the past six months of time, money, and effort to participate in coaching certification work. I have developed two adaptogen formulations and started a company founded on this work. I have spent the past five years researching and reading the work of amazing scientist and researchers on plant medicine. Now I want to vulnerably share the healing influence plant medicine has had on my life in hopes that it can give you a personal glimpse into its true healing potential
Because everyone has a unique mental, emotional, and spiritual terrain, plant medicine needs to be uniquely tailored to an individual’s experience. One of the jobs of a coach is to help with navigating the terrain of which medicine would be most beneficial for an individual to start with and at what dose. It is not a one size fits all approach by any means. People who report having a “bad trip” on psychedelics either started with the wrong medicine, too high of a dose, or weren't ready to release control. For me MDMA was the right place to start.
In this Stepping Out post I want to teach you about MDMA. While it is considered a psychedelic, it is not a plant-based medicine. It is a synthetic. Many of you may know it as Molly. When I speak of MDMA, I am not speaking of Molly which is a street drug and can many times have other harmful synthetics added to it.
I am starting with MDMA because it has been FDA approved for use in treating PTSD, depression, and anxiety. It was also one of the most transformative experiences in my journey of coming to terms with a very traumatic experience that occurred in my life when I was 16 old. I am going to take a deep breath and dive into this very vulnerable share in just a moment.
However, first I feel it is important to give you a little background on how MDMA and MDMA assisted psycho-therapy helps to heal the Mind, Body and Spirit. One of the most informative books on MDMA assisted Psycho Therapy is A Dose of Hope by Dr Dan Engle & Alex Young. Dr Engle is a psychiatrist who has worked in the mental health field for many years and seen the failures with psychiatric drugs with his patients in not helping to address the root cause of the issue. When I read Dr Engle’s book, which is co-authored by his patient Alex as a self-accounting of his own healing journey, I felt as though I was reading parts of my life. This book and The Drama of a Gifted Child by Alice Miller helped me with my integration process so much after my MDMA experience. I had never thought of myself as having PTSD. Remember, I was on this journey to help other people, because I thought I was completely “fine.” Following my MDMA experience, I was shocked by the memories that came forward. Memories that were buried so far in my basement, I questioned if I was making this up. How could I not remember something so traumatic for almost 40 years? I must be making it up. Nope! There it was for me to process and integrate.
This is where the medicine is truly remarkable. When utilized in a safe environment with the intention of personal healing, this tool can help open emotional blockages in the body and heart, increase feelings of emotional safety and connection to others, help shed light on negative self-talk patterns and help one to move into forgiveness towards self and others. That’s exactly what happened to me. All in the matter of about 6 hours. Check, therapy done and ready to move on. Well sort of. I understood what had happened to me. I was able to see this trauma from a place of love and forgiveness to my father for the events that followed, but the processing of the many layers attached to this new realization and confrontation continue. Not in a painful way, but a in a self-exploration and self-loving way. Without this medicine, I think this memory and huge block that it created in my life may have never come to light. If I had not had this heart opening experience, I think I could have been in therapy for years in trying to understand why. Most of all I wouldn’t be on the other side of it, as I am now.
I want to reiterate again how important the one-on-one coaching and integration work is here to allow us to understand, adapt, and heal past traumas, rather than getting stuck in them.
Research shows MDMA has a 70% CURE (not improvement) but CURE rate for PTSD. After personally experiencing this medicine and doing the integration work, I can absolutely know this percentage to be true.
How does the Medicine work?
MDMA increases oxytocin and prolactin levels which are associated with social bonding and love. It decreases activity in the amygdala, which is the fear center in the brain (overactive in PTSD) and increases activity in the hippocampus
(Involved in processing memories). These two effects allow for better recall of all the associated parts of a particular set of memories without as much fear and resistance. The medicine also increases activity in the prefrontal cortex which helps to process and organize information during a state of reduced fear.
During a guided MDMA session, the inner healing intelligence often helps bring conscious attention to difficult feelings, memories, or body sensations and it allows people to stay present during these challenging experiences rather than avoid or escape from them. According to Dr Engle, MDMA offers a chance for restoration to bring everything up that is weighing on your soul, face it and give yourself permission to heal it and learn from it. This then can lead to greater integration into a more mature, stronger experience of self. When utilized in a safe environment with the intention of personal healing, this medicine can help open emotional blockages in the body and heart, increase feelings of emotional safety and connection to others, help shed light on negative self-talk patterns and help one move into forgiveness towards self and others. CHECK, CHECK, CHECK and YES…AMEN!!!
There is so much I can share around this amazing tool, and I will be sharing more of the layers that came from my personal coaching and integration sessions. For me, it started a cascade of realization and learning about my upbringing that not only affected me, but my cousins with belief systems and ways of parenting that went back for at least 4 generations. While I did not have this experience early enough in my life to change my parenting methods, I have shared this experience with my children in hopes this generational belief will end with them as parents.
I will begin the next Stepping Out Post with sharing my most vulnerable memory and trauma that happened to me at 16. A memory that had been buried for almost 40 years. A memory that I have only shared with my husband and my coach.
Thank you for allowing me to share this moment with you.
With Much Love,
Dr JoQueta Handy
“To continue along the way of integrity, you must go in among the
secret things---that is, the things you’ve been keeping from yourself.”
-Dr Martha Beck
The Way of Integrity: Finding the Path to Your True Self