Chris Kilham in Vanuatu

Chris Kilham

“We are destroying the world’s greatest pharmacy. It is very important that we protect the rainforest in everything that we do.” — Chris Kilham, NBC Nightly News

Chris Kilham is a medicine hunter, author, educator and yogi. The founder of Medicine Hunter Inc., Chris has conducted medicinal plant research and sustainable botanical sourcing in over 45 countries.in over 45 countries. Chris works with companies to develop and popularize traditional plant-based food and medicinal products into market successes. These include ashwagandha, kava, maca, rhodiola, schisandra, tamanu oil, cat’s claw, dragon’s blood, ayahuasca, and hundreds of other plants. Chris also works to bridge worlds, regularly sharing information about other cultures through presentations and media. The New York Times calls Chris “part David Attenborough, part Indiana Jones.”

Chris has appeared on over 1500 radio programs and more than 500 TV programs worldwide, with features in The New York Times, ABC News Nightline, Forbes, The Wall Street Journal, The Dr. Oz Show, NBC Nightly News, Good Morning America, ABC 20/20, Psychology Today, Outside Magazine, Newsweek, CNN, FOX News Health, LA Yoga, LA Weekly, New York Magazine, Boston Magazine, UTNE Reader, Playboy, VICE, Prevention Magazine, Business Inside, Oprah & Friends, PBS Healing Quest, Woman’s World, and many others. He has additionally appeared on PBS, CNBC Power Lunch, CNN, MSNBC, BBC, NPR, CCTV, France 2, Chelsea Handler's “Chelsea Does”, and The Preachers. As a TV correspondent and guest he speaks about medicine hunting, traditional botanical medicines, nutraceuticals, psychoactive plants, environmental and cultural preservation and other related topics for a broad and diverse variety of audiences. His latest book, The Lotus and The Bud: Cannabis, Consciousness, and Yoga Practice, offers an in-depth guide to blending the practice of yoga with cannabis.

Chris appears on TV both online and in US and international television markets. Chris also writes articles on plant medicines for several publications, and was a special guest, correspondent and weekly contributing writer for FOX News Health for 9 years. Chris was a regular guest on The Dr. Oz Show and served on The Dr. Oz Show’s Medical Advisory Board.

Chris is currently engaged with Berkem of Bordeaux France, a high-quality botanical extraction and science innovation company. Chris works on chain of trade, botanical field exploration, new product development, marketing and communications. Berkem is a leader in polyphenol science since the 1960’s and is one of the very first to develop OPC (oligomeric proanthocyanidins) extracts from grape seed and Maritime pine bark. The company has developed novel portfolios of botanical extracts for a wide range of health needs, and Chris is involved with many of those botanicals.

In conjunction with Royal Botanic Gardens Kew in Richmond outside of London UK, Chris is providing a large library of images from decades of field research, for the Kew digital image database. Focusing on medicinal and otherwise beneficial plants, people who work with them and the places from which they derive, the image database supplies Kew researchers with outstanding visual materials for publications, presentations and various forms of ongoing communication.

Chris is Explorer In Residence for Purity Products, a collaboration that brings to market health-promoting herbal concepts that Chris supports. These products are largely based on his findings on botanical expeditions.

Chris served as Brand Ambassador for KSM-66 Ashwagandha, the finest Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera) root extract in the world, for 6 great years. KSM-66’s certified organic, whole ashwagandha root extract sets the high bar for traceability, manufacturing excellence, superior composition, and clinical studies.

For 21 years, Chris conducted medicinal plant research for Naturex of Avignon, France, one of the leading botanical extraction companies in the world. On their behalf he headed new botanical discovery, helped to develop sustainability programs, and developed videos, presentations and communication programs about medicinal plants. He is widely known throughout the botanical, natural health and sustainability sectors for his global explorations.

“Starting in May of 1995 with a kava project in Vanuatu South Pacific, and finishing up two weeks ago with a Pathfinder project for tea in Sichuan China, my time with the company has enabled me to work in about 40 countries, with dozens of various botanicals, and with people of diverse cultures,” says Chris, “This has led to a number of market successes for Naturex, and has enabled us to expand our sustainable activities globally. All of this has contributed to the cause of natural health through the use of botanicals.”

In the course of this work, Chris has traveled over 4 million miles and has spent thousands of days and nights away from home. He has fire-walked in the South Pacific, been made a chief, enjoyed a diplomatic post for three years, has made good friends all over the globe, roamed rainforests and mountains, made best friends with a prince, dined with prime ministers, embarked on ceremonial journeys with shamans, and explored wild places, from deserts to rivers.

“I have gone where few go, seen what few seen, and participated in some highly unusual and memorable scenes,” says Chris. “I have also gotten malaria, contracted numerous tropical diseases, gotten parasites and nerve damage, been chased by pirates, had guns pointed at me, and collected burns, bites, stings, cuts, abrasions, infections, injuries, dysentery. I have broken down in virtually every type of transportation, including a plane. All of this has added texture to this work.”

An avid body surfer and adventure traveler, Chris lives and works in Massachusetts with his wife, cultural activist Zoe Helene. Chris and Zoe travel the globe on Medicine Hunter expeditions, and work together to promote plant medicines, environmental protection and cultural preservation.

See In The Media for more details.

Books by Chris Kilham

“Mr. Christopher S. Kilham is a gentle, grateful, romantic, gigantic genius.”Laurence Cherniak

Chris is the author of fourteen books, including The Ayahuasca Test Pilots Handbook: The Essential Guide to Ayahuasca Journeying, The Five Tibetans, Hot Plants, Psyche Delicacies, Tales from the Medicine Trail and Kava, Medicine Hunting in Paradise. His latest book, The Lotus and The Bud: Cannabis, Consciousness, and Yoga Practice, provides an in-depth guide to blending the practice of yoga with cannabis.

Entrepreneur Richard Branson features Chris in his book, Screw Business as Usual. Chris’ books range from stories about medicine hunting to marketing for the Natural Products Industry, to practical advice on yoga practice and sexual health. A new edition of Chris’ popular yoga classic, The Five Tibetans, has been endorsed by mind/body/spirit leaders such as Deepak Chopra.

See Books by Chris Kilham for more details.

Public Speaking & Education

Chris lectures extensively on holistic health and botanical medicines, throughout the United States and the European Union, Hong Kong, Thailand, Dubai, Australia, Peru, Vanuatu and many other countries. Appearances include, BIDMC & Harvard Medical School - Integrated Medicine, American Herbal Products Association, Bastyr University, International Herb Symposium, Vitamin Shoppe, GNC, In Cosmetics, American Herbalists Guild, Missouri Botanical Garden, Atlanta Botanical Garden, New York Botanical Garden, Medicines of the Earth Symposium, Natural Products EXPO East, Natural Products EXPO West, Southwest Yoga, Midwest Yoga, Spirit Plant Medicine Conference, Visionary Convergence, Healing Powers of Cannabis, Cannabis and Hemp Conference, University of Massachusetts, Evolver, Geneva Vitafoods Conference and HBA New York and many more.

As a guest expert, Chris has presented across a wide variety of sectors to companies such as; Coca Cola, Pepsi, Unilever, Pfizer, Roche, Beiersdorf, Avon, L’Oreal, Chanel, Estee Lauder, Clorox, Glaxo SmithKline, Merck, Clarens, Body Shop, Royal Canin, GNC, and Whole Foods. He is also a regular advisor to various industry and trade publications.

The Shaman's Pharmacy, Psychoactive & Psychedelic Plants

“The ayahuasca journey is a sacred and ceremonial experience. If you are going to engage in such a ceremony, do it right, or do not do it at all.” — Chris Kilham

Chris speaks at the Evolver's Ayahuasca Monologues, where he combines his decades of experience in the field of yoga with his deep involvement in South American shamanism. He is a thought leader in the ayahuasca scene, and has written articles on shamanism for Alternet, Reality Sandwich, Lucid News, and other venues.

Chris is recognized as a chief in Vanuatu, South Pacific, is known as “Niten Rao” (light of the medicine) by Shipibo in the Peruvian Amazon, and “Maxipe” (black vulture) by Macuxi in northern Brazil, and has lived with and visited dozens of native tribes in Amazonia and in other cultures. Shamans in both Brazil and Peru recognize Chris as one of their kind and a bridge between worlds, and have engaged in numerous ceremonies to bolster his energy and support his work with medicinal plants and native cultures.

For 14 years Chris taught the popular ethnobotany course The Shaman’s Pharmacy through the Department of Plant & Soil Sciences at University of Massachusetts at Amherst. For the last three years he led an intensive immersion course in the Peruvian Amazon. Open to students of the Five Colleges in the Massachusetts Pioneer Valley, the course focused on medicinal plants, the Amazon rainforest, and native culture.

Since 1994 Chris has worked, traveled and studied with shamans in Brazil, Peru and North America. He has participated in many dozens of ceremonies, both with and without the ingestion of ceremonial psychoactive drugs. He is experienced with Sacred Plants, including Ayahuasca, San Pedro cactus, peyote, cannabis, coca, sacred mushrooms, and tobacco.

Chris advocates sane drug policy and the shamanic and ritual use of psychedelics. He is the founder of The Ayahuasca Test Pilots, a collaboration of individuals who engage in the ceremonial practice of ayahuasca journeying with skilled shamans.

Chris Kilham & Cannabis

“Criminalization of cannabis is itself a crime because cannabis is safer than either tobacco or alcohol, both of which are legal and deadly.” — Chris Kilham

As a guest expert on TV in U.S. and international markets, Chris Kilham advocates for traditional botanical medicines, including psychoactive and psychedelic plant medicines such as cannabis. Chris believes the criminalization of cannabis is itself a crime because cannabis is safer than either tobacco or alcohol, both of which are legal and deadly.

An ordained minister, Chris officiates at cannabis weddings and last year performed perhaps the first-ever cannabis soplar, an Amazonian tradition in which shamans blow clouds of tobacco smoke over and around “passengers” to bless and protect them. Chris feels an interchangeability between cannabis and tobacco, making cannabis soplars feel seamlessly right.

Cannabis has been used for thousands of years, and is the most widely consumed illicit substance on earth. Originating from northern Asia, cannabis enjoys many hundreds of studies, and shows numerous benefits for health. Chris shares information on both the cultural and health uses of cannabis and advocates for the complete legalization of this plant and its use.

See Cannabis for more articles and TV segments..

Yoga & Meditation

Chris is also a seasoned speaker and presenter on yoga and meditation, at venues across the United States. Since 1971 Chris has taught yoga to thousands of people in classes at colleges, universities, dance centers, conferences, hospitals and jails. In his yoga presentations, Chris integrates information and methods of yoga, meditation and the martial arts, to enhance mind/body integration and sexual health, and to promote healthy aging. His best-selling yoga book, The Five Tibetans, is published in over 28 languages and was featured on The Dr. Oz Show. Chris is the founder of True Kundalini, a system of yoga employing authentic methods for awakening the kundalini, the primordial spiritual force within us all.

See Yoga & Meditation for more details.

Public Speaking

Chris Kilham is a charismatic public speaker. He regularly presents to a wide variety of audiences, in the following areas of expertise:

  • Medicinal Plants
  • Global Environmental Sustainability
  • Cultural Preservation
  • Ethical World Trade
  • Shamanism
  • Cannabis
  • Ayahuasca
  • Sacred, Psychoactive and Psychedelic Plants
  • Hot Plants (Natural Aphrodisiacs)
  • Yoga and Meditation
  • Adventure Travel
  • Holistic Health/Fitness
  • Natural Products Industry & Organic Trade

A holistic approach to health is a multidimensional endeavor. Eating well, using medicinal plants, exercising, and staying vital in many ways, are all part of total wellness. Additionally, adventure travel, preservation of native cultures and environmental sustainability are at the heart of Medicine Hunter activities. In talks and presentations around the world, Chris shares a deep knowledge of highly integrated holistic health, and the plants, people and places he encounters around the world as a medicine hunter.

“There are few things I enjoy more than speaking about medicinal plants, foreign lands, and native cultures,” says Chris, “An old shaman once said to me ‘You bridge the worlds.’ I never forgot that. It is tremendously rewarding to share what I learn out in the field in far-flung places.”

Today the communication landscape is more diverse than ever before. Topics like shamanism, psychoactive plants, aphrodisiacs and native practices now are received warmly. Speaking from decades of experience, with candor, humor and extraordinary images from the field, Chris compels audiences to embrace natural medicines, environmental preservation and indigenous cultures, to think broadly, and to know more.

For more information, please see Speaking Engagements and Events & Expeditions.

Updated April 2017