Adopt a Medicinal Plant

Afew months ago, when I was mailing a curandero about his listing at, a contact was established between me and a NGO called Etnopharmakon. This NGO really caught my attention, and I decided to learn more about its work.

I found out that Etnopharmakon is involved with research regarding the therapeutical use of Ayahuasca. The NGO is creating an ethnobotanic reservation in Peru, called the Amarumayo project, with the intention of creating a basis for the protection of medicinal plants, while performing studies and research at the reservation. What really caught my attention was the fact that this NGO strives to conduct research in ethnobotany while focussing on harm reduction. Furthermore, through the Amarumayo project they aim at promoting the safeguard of local medical cultural and the local population.

I was fascinated by this project since I believe that both people and plants will benifit from this initiative. It resonates with the values and mission of Open Mind Trips, since we too wish to promote the therapeutical uses of Ayahuasca, while focusing on sustainability. I therefore contacted Federico Giudici, the executive director of Etnopharmakon, to invite him to an interview with me, where he could explain more about the work of Etnopharmakon and their Amarumayo project.

map ayahuasca peru

Federico, can you please tell us what Etnopharmakon is and why you decided to establish it?

Etnopharmakon is an NGO born by the will of its founders to promote studies and practices deriving from traditional and unconventional medicine. Although these objectives have been carried out across several years and in different areas of the society by the team of Etnopharmakon, it was not until 2014 that they decided to formally join forces and work together to achieve a common goal. This was the beginning of the first projects, which is based on a decision of working on several fronts and from different corners of the world. Italy, Spain and Peru are chosen as the starting points for the development of our activities.


medicinal plant

What do you wish to achieve with your work?

Our purpose is promoting traditional medicine from the base, through joint work with all the actors involved in these practices, collaborating with the entire community, which becomes the protagonist of the positive changes implemented in its own field of action. In fact we believe that the community itself is the only agent capable of creating a real and lasting change - being everyone from local people to the ones interested in the use of traditional medicines, the ones who facilitate them and researchers who study their potentials. We hope to become a gather point for these realities in order to help promote the study and the practice of traditional medicine without harming the environment, and through the respect of the local population. In fact, we are very concerned about the possible future scenario of the Ayahuasca use in South America. In the last decade, we have seen how the “Ayahuasca phenomenon” has spread through the Western Culture, creating a growing demand of retreats. This demand could be very dangerous for the preservation of the traditional medicine, as we consider that the probability of a “cultural exploitation” is very high. With all the implications on the social fabric of the native populations and the negative effects that an unconscious tourism can bring to the delicate amazonian environment. Our projects aims to set an example of a collective work where the local people is actually implicated 100% in the creation of a knowledge-sharing space, respecting the will of preserving the local tradition and implementing the wellness of the region with effective actions, like the creation of a botanical reserve.

What is the Amarumayo Project and how does others benefit from it?

Amarumayo is a project of social and environmental safeguard that aims to protect and promote the Amazon traditional medicine as the environment where this was generated.
The project aspires to intervene on the environmental and cultural level, promoting knowledge through a perspective of integration, both at international and local leve. The knowledge it aims to promote is that of medical culture and biodiversity, is still partially unknown, and which we are guiltily abandoning to a destiny of destruction. We believe that the valorisation of the cultural patrimony of Amazonian traditional medicine could be a very important factor in the global movement for the preservation of the Amazonian region. With the deforestation of the Rainforest habitat, we are destroying thousands of living creature for each square meter, but we are also destroying thousands of years of biological evolution of plants with amazing curative properties. We are speaking of the natural pharmacopeia of a huge traditional medicine knowledge that could be lost in the future decades if we don't fight back against this global drama. Through the creation of a botanic reserve, we hope to be a part of this necessary change, creating an example of an “alive", preservation where the care of the plants and the territory is the first step to a virtuous circle involving the local population, different experts in traditional medicine, and people who is genuinely interested in it. We strongly believe that this simple step, could start something that could improve the life of the Amazonian communities, as the promotion of their traditional medicine knowledge could transform our current model of development. It could make us more aware of cultural patrimony seen as a precious good to preserve, expand and share it inside and outside these communities, through mutual respect and benefit. All together, we can collaborate to create a new and more conscious way to see the possibilities that this beautiful region gives to us, which in return, we offer with a simple gesture of love and respect, the responsibility of preserving the unique plants that creates this natural treasure.

ayahuasca field

Why is it essential for you to involve the community?  

For us it is essential to continue to be independent in our work, and this is only possible through the support of people who believe in what we do, who are in line with our vision and eager to work together to create a solid and lasting project capable of generating positive change, both for the environment as for the creatures that inhabit it. Moreover, since the beginning of the project, the support of the people has been the engine that has allowed us to move forward and overcome the difficulties in our path. We are confident that this support will continue to grow in the future, allowing us to proceed with our preservation efforts of the ethnobotanical legacy of the Amazon forest.

This is why we have started our “Adopt a plant campaign”, where we encourage you to support our project by adopting a medicinal plant.

Please help support the work of Etnopharmakon and their Amarumayo project by
Adopting a Medicinal Plant here!

adopt ayahuasca plant