Chris Kilham with mothers and children. Shipibo village, Ucayali River, Peru. Photo by: Zoe Helene

The Quest for Medicinal Plants in Peru
Ode Magazine
by Chris Kilham

How the indigenous people of Peru are growing medicinal plants to preserve their livelihoods-and their fragile ecosystems—a travel journal story for Ode, the magazine for intelligent optimists.

“Exploitation of natural resources is the name of the game in Peru. If it can be caught, cut down, drilled or dug, it will be. Entire mountains are coming down for the mining industry, and the forests of the Amazon have been cut back hundreds of miles. Wildlife is disappearing, and the coastal waters of Peru are being fished heavily. Sustainable business of any kind helps, in at least some small way, to mitigate widespread devastation.” - Chris Kilham, Ode Magazine

“Ayahuasca is the greatest of enigmas. How, in a forest of at least eighty-thousand plants, did anybody figure out to use one particular species of vine and one leaf, cooked down into a concentrated psychoactive potion? The very notion of trial and error falls apart. Shamans uniformly insist that the plants communicate their uses directly.”Chris Kilham, Ode Magazine

March 2009