Altered States

Dr. Andrew Weil — The 4-7-8 Breath Method, Cannabis, The Uses of Coca Leaf, Rehabilitating Demonized Plants, Kava for Anxiety, Lessons from Wade Davis, The Psychedelic Renaissance, How to Emerge from Depression, Tales from 50+ Visits to Japan, Matcha Benefits, and More (#615)

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“[The 4-7-8 breath] is the most powerful method I’ve found to access the relaxation response, and it’s the most powerful anti-anxiety measure I’ve ever come across.”

— Dr. Andrew Weil

Andrew Weil, MD (@DrWeil) is a pioneer in the field of integrative medicine. He has been named one of the 100 most influential people in the world by Time magazine.

Dr. Weil received a degree in biology (botany) from Harvard College in 1964 and an MD from Harvard Medical School in 1968. From 1971 to 1975, as a fellow of the Institute of Current World Affairs, Dr. Weil traveled widely in North and South America and Africa, collecting information on drug use in other cultures, medicinal plants, and alternative methods of treating disease. From 1971 to 1984 he was on the research staff of the Harvard Botanical Museum and conducted investigations of medicinal and psychoactive plants.

Dr. Weil is the founder and director of the Andrew Weil Center for Integrative Medicine at the University of Arizona, where he also holds the Lovell-Jones Endowed Chair in Integrative Medicine and is Clinical Professor of Medicine and Professor of Public Health. Through its fellowship and Integrative Medicine in Residency curricula, the Center is now training doctors and nurse practitioners around the world.

New York Times best-selling author, Dr. Weil written 15 books on health and well-being, including Mind Over MedsFast Food, Good FoodTrue FoodSpontaneous HappinessHealthy Aging; and Eight Weeks to Optimum HealthHe is also co-founder of the restaurant chain True Food Kitchen and co-founder of, which offers extremely high-quality matcha that is difficult to find outside of Japan.

Please enjoy!

Listen to the episode on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Overcast, Podcast Addict, Pocket Casts, Castbox, Google Podcasts, Stitcher, Amazon Musicor on your favorite podcast platform. You can watch the interview on YouTube here.

Brought to you by Levels real-time feedback on how diet impacts your health, Athletic Greens all-in-one nutritional supplement, and LMNT electrolyte supplement. More on all three below.

#615: Dr. Andrew Weil — The 4-7-8 Breath Method, Cannabis, The Uses of Coca Leaf, Rehabilitating Demonized Plants, Kava for Anxiety, Lessons from Wade Davis, The Psychedelic Renaissance, How to Emerge from Depression, Tales from 50+ Visits to Japan, Matcha Benefits, and More

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Want to hear the most recent time Dr. Weil was on the podcast? Listen to our conversation here, in which we discussed go-to plants for food and medicine, trying to score mescaline from Aldous Huxley’s source, the importance of taking a shamanistic approach toward the research of healing science, how Dr. Weil shed a lifetime of cat allergies in one sitting, the intrinsic nature of non-ordinary states of consciousness in human beings, the healing power of dogs, and much more.

#350: Dr. Andrew Weil — Optimal Health, Plant Medicine, and More

What was your favorite quote or lesson from this episode? Please let me know in the comments.



  • Connect with Dr. Andrew Weil:

Website | Twitter | Facebook


  • [07:56] What is the 4-7-8 breath?
  • [10:15] As an early advocate, what is Dr. Weil’s current relationship with cannabis?
  • [11:28] Overcoming the stigma of coca leaves to realize their medical benefits.
  • [14:17] What is The Beneficial Plants Research Association?
  • [16:30] Thoughts on kava and its effect on sleep quality.
  • [19:49] Where to learn more about kratom and mitragynine.
  • [20:51] Andrew’s experience with Bufo alvarius.
  • [22:05] Why Andrew and Wade Davis are reviving The Beneficial Plants Research Association.
  • [25:27] Andrew recounts a Richard Evan Schultes story.
  • [27:13] Andrew’s brief career as a letter-writing prankster.
  • [29:06] Covering the first wave of psychedelic research at Harvard.
  • [34:15] The positives and negatives of psychedelics going mainstream.
  • [36:11] Taxonomy and the origin of Psilocybe weilii.
  • [37:58] How did Andrew emerge from dysthymia in his early fifties?
  • [39:54] Lessons learned on visits to Japan and Okinawa.
  • [45:19] Health benefits of fermented turmeric and matcha tea.
  • [49:50] How L-theanine modifies the effects of caffeine.
  • [52:19] How Andrew’s parents encouraged him to always be curious (but careful).
  • [55:36] Getting older and future plans.
  • [58:11] Why you should check out The Andrew Weil Center for Integrative Medicine.
  • [58:54] What Andrew believes gets missed most by current psychedelic exploration.
  • [1:02:00] Parting thoughts.


“On the second day that I was in Japan, back in November of 1959, my host mother took me next door to meet her neighbor who was a tea ceremony practitioner. So the three of us sat around, and this woman did a tea ceremony and presented me with a bowl of matcha. And I was completely taken by it, first by the color, also by the chasen—the whisk—which I just thought was marvelous, and the taste of it. I fell in love with it.”
— Andrew Weil

“I think the more people who have positive psychedelic experiences—that may lead to the change in consciousness, which I think is the only thing that can turn things around for us.”
— Andrew Weil

“There are no good or bad drugs; there are just good and bad relationships with drugs. I think you can broaden that to plants as well—coca being a prime example. We’ve said that is a bad plant, the source of all sorts of trouble. But the problem is how we’ve related to that plant.”
— Andrew Weil

“I have a very good friend, a cardiologist who’s the same age as me, who said that his mother always told him, ‘Joe, don’t get old. You won’t like it.’”
— Andrew Weil

“[The 4-7-8 breath] is is the most powerful method I’ve found to access the relaxation response, and it’s the most powerful anti-anxiety measure I’ve ever come across.”
— Andrew Weil

“I think it would be a great thing for people to have access to coca. It’s not cocaine. It has distinct effects. It has unique medical effects. We should have access to it, not to mention the fact that this is the sacred plant of a great many indigenous people in South America.”
— Andrew Weil

“[Kava] functions as a social stimulant and lubricant, but it is a natural sedative and calmative, and probably the most important anti-anxiety natural product out there, extremely useful and essentially no toxicity. And it does not interact with alcohol. It does not interact with other sedatives. It’s quite safe, and I recommend it very frequently to people.”
— Andrew Weil


The Tim Ferriss Show is one of the most popular podcasts in the world with more than 800 million downloads. It has been selected for “Best of Apple Podcasts” three times, it is often the #1 interview podcast across all of Apple Podcasts, and it’s been ranked #1 out of 400,000+ podcasts on many occasions. To listen to any of the past episodes for free, check out this page.

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