Shipibo Medical Approach

In the Amazonian medical tradition, healers take into account all aspects of the human organism, which encompasses the physical body and its complex inner workings, as well as psychological, emotional and behavioral patterns. From this holistic perspective, psycho-emotional trauma is seen to create physical illness over time and, conversely, physical disease can eventually manifest psychological imbalances.

Some modern medical researchers are beginning to reach similar conclusions about the psychogenic origins of chronic diseases through conducting studies of the impact of psycho-emotional stress on biological processes. Psychoneuroimmunology is a case in point. Often described as “mind-body” medicine, research in this field analyzes the interaction of psychological processes and the nervous and immune systems of the human body. Depression, stress, and hostility are seen to decrease the function of the immune system, while positivity and optimism for one’s healing significantly improves the body’s ability to overcome and resist illness.

Some modern medical researchers are beginning to reach similar conclusions about the psychogenic origins of chronic diseases through conducting studies of the impact of psycho-emotional stress on biological processes. Psychoneuroimmunology is a case in point. Often described as “mind-body” medicine, research in this field analyzes the interaction of psychological processes and the nervous and immune systems of the human body. Depression, stress, and hostility are seen to decrease the function of the immune system, while positivity and optimism for one’s healing significantly improves the body’s ability to overcome and resist illness.

Healers of the Amazonian tradition understand that symptoms are the markers of systemic imbalance in the body. While conventional medicine aims to suppress or eliminate symptoms (such as providing steroids to decrease inflammation or analgesics to alleviate chronic pain), Amazonian medicine zeroes in on the root cause of the disease, found at the intersection of the physical body, cognitive processes and emotional patterning.

Plant medicines in their pure, complex forms (as opposed to chemical extracts) in conjunction with proper diet and spiritual therapies work to treat core misalignments directly.

While words like “shamanism” have been used to encase the medical traditions of Amazonian communities in a realm of mysticism and anthropology, the wide array of healing techniques employed by healers constitute a highly sophisticated, effective, and time-tested body of medical knowledge. The Shipibo people, an indigenous Amazonian group that lives along the Ucayali river in northeastern Peru, are widely renowned for their mastery over the science of utilizing plant medicines to cure disease.