“In almost any scene or conversation, Dennis will be the most literate, the best informed, the most articulate. Dennis possesses a dazzling mind, a wry wit, and an intrepid personality. He has sailed out past the shipping lanes, and knows the currents.” - Chris Kilham

Dennis McKenna
Company (Other): 
British Columbia Institute of Technology
Ethnobotanical Peruvian, Colombian, and Brazilian Amazon Fieldwork


Dennis Jon McKenna, Ph.D. spent a number of years as a senior lecturer for the Center for Spirituality and Healing, a department within the Academic Health Center at the University of Minnesota. From 2006 to 2008, Dr. McKenna was a visiting senior research scientist with the Natural Health Products Research Group at The British Columbia Institute of Technology (BCIT). He then returned to the University of Minnesota where he currently lectures.

Dr. McKenna received his Master's Degree in Botany from the University of Hawaii in 1979, his Ph.D. in Botanical Sciences from the University of British Columbia in 1984, and continued into post-doctoral research fellowships in the Laboratory of Clinical Pharmacology, National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), and in the Department of Neurology, Stanford University School of Medicine. His research has included the pharmacology, botany, and chemistry of ayahuasca and oo-koo-hé. He has also conducted extensive ethnobotanical fieldwork in the Peruvian, Colombian, and Brazilian Amazon.

McKenna's research led to the development of natural products for the Aveda Corporation, as well as greater awareness of natural products and medicines. He has authored numerous scientific articles and books, including co-author of "The Invisible Landscape" with his brother Terence McKenna. His publications have appeared in the Journal of Ethnopharmacology, European Journal of Pharmacology, Brain Research, Journal of Neuroscience, Journal of Neurochemistry, Economic Botany, Alternative and Complementary Therapies, and elsewhere. Dr. McKenna and two colleagues are co-authors of a widely recognized reference work on herbal medicines, titled "Botanical Medicines: the Desk Reference for Major Herbal Supplements".

Dennis also serves on the Advisory Board of the American Botanical Council, and on the Editorial Board of Phytomedicine, International Journal of Phytotherapy and Phytopharmacology.

The Brotherhood of the Screaming Abyss
A new book by Dennis McKenna

“The McKenna brothers, Terence and Dennis, formed a Livingston and Stanley duo of argonautic exploration. And while Terence became better known as a psychedelic bard, Dennis has made an indelible mark on the world of psychoactive plants and their uses in traditional cultural and experimental settings. In The Brotherhood of the Screaming Abyss, Dennis recounts the escapades that helped to fashion the already keen minds of the two brothers. Dennis is one of the smartest guys in any room, bright, inquisitive, deeply sensitive, and in certain delightful ways a bit mad. Make sure that your seat is in the full, upright position, with your seat belt tightened low across your lap. This is a ride you won't want to miss, and there is no telling where you'll land.” - Chris Kilham