Dr. Lynn Marie is back with us on the show to share the latest updates on her life after quitting the VA and starting Plant Medicine Podcast and Plant Medicine.org to bring scientific researchers, practitioners, and those who have been personally affected by the healing powers of these plants together to help educate the public on what is possible and help further research and decriminalization of these substances.
Meeting Lynn at Paleo f(x)
Mike: So what I want to talk about today is so we met at Paleo f(x) in April and we met… one of the reasons we met was because you had met Danny and Danny, one of my buddies, and you were talking about quitting. Quit Happens is one of your podcasts, and Danny goes, "You should meet Mike, he's great at quitting."
Lynn: My boss is a great quitter.
Mike: Yeah, and so we met there and it was a pretty quick exchange. We hung out with a group at dinner one night, and then I drove you home and I learned that you live in San Diego and I'm like, "Oh, we'll hang out." But that happens a lot. With a lot of people it's like, "Oh, yeah, we'll hang out. I met you at this conference, dah, dah, dah." By the way, I met Valerie at a conference in Phoenix and ended up hanging out with her in San Diego too. It's not like it never happens, but there's a lot of people, people know how it goes. So, yeah, we'll do it and then never follow up. But we follow it up and we had a good time. When we met, you were just doing Quit Happens, and so since then you… even before then, you had this interest in Plant Medicine.
What I've witnessed is you've made a big shift in where your attention is going, which is primarily Plant Medicine like 99% and you left the VA. So there was a lot of Plant Medicine stuff you could not participate in because you're with the VA, so how long has it been? It's been eight months?
Lynn: I have not done that math but, yeah, it was my last day was May 29th. So about eight months.
Mike: Yeah, it's been about eight months, and in that amount of time, you dove straight in hardcore. One of the things I really love about what you're doing at plantmedicine.org… By the way, Plant Medicine podcast, plantmedicine.org, people hit me up all the time with psychedelic questions, Plant Medicine questions. Now, I've never been able to have a single source to send people, now I just go plantmedicine.org, you can find it there.
Lynn: I love that. Thank you, Michael.
Quitting Her Job At Veterans Affairs
Mike: Yeah, and what you're building is amazing. It's gotten a lot of traction really fast. I want to hear your story about you actually quitting the VA?
Lynn: Right, my own quit happens.
Mike: Your own quit happens and all that.
Lynn: A few. I think starting Paleo f(x) is a great place because when I met you, say Thursday or Friday at Paleo f(x), was less than a week before the decision, before I put in my one month's notice at the VA. But when I met you, there was still no intention to do that. What had happened right before meeting you… So to give everybody just the five second blurb, I've worked at the VA for nine years doing compensation and pension. It's an exam that you do if you're a service member as you're leaving so that you get benefits. Those of you who've been in service, you will know that, the whole spiel. I was doing it because I didn't love medicine and it was essentially the least medical thing I could do. In the nine years, I was trying… I went to law school I was like, "Maybe law will get me out of medicine." I tried doing start up. Go ahead.
Mike: What did you not like about medicine?
Lynn: I do not have patience for patients. It's all it boils down to. I'm fine in many situations if I'm teaching or advising a large group. But sitting in a room one on one with somebody, especially, the way medicine is today where you have like 15 minutes to solve all their problems. You know you have 15 minutes and yet… By the way, this is a really terrible place to start this interview where I'm like, "This is why medicine is terrible." But, regardless, you got 15 minutes to see a person and they start with, "Last Tuesday, when I got out…" You're like, "Please get the point, I have 15 minutes to try and…"
Mike: Because they don't know that?
Lynn: Well, they either don't know or they don't care because they've been waiting so long to see you, and it's just a setup to fail. For all of my colleagues still in medicine, I know their frustration, I see it every day. They're seeing like 40 people a day, it's really difficult.
So just all of that was just not my jam. So working at the VA, the appointments were longer and I was not actually practicing medicine, I was just doing an exam that would get them benefits. There was no call, there was no prescribing medicines. It was only two days a week, and so it was one of these golden handcuffs jobs that you hear about because everybody's like, "Why would you quit that? You're making a full time salary on like 10 hours a week." I kept saying that to myself as well, I kept trying these other things, maybe they'll get me out of medicine. But hang on to that VA because it's paying your Southern California rent and your extreme student loans and all those things. But what had happened right before we met is I had done a microdose, my first time I'd ever microdose psilocybin.
For those of you not familiar, it's the ingredient in magic mushrooms, and so there's some crushed magic mushrooms my friend had given me and we were in Tahoe and we went snowshoeing. I didn't feel anything, it was nothing perceptible and we get back and I was like, "I didn't feel those." He's like, "Here, try some more." I take some more and then we went rock climbing. I remember on the way home I was like, "I didn't feel those either." He says to me something that I've never heard since, and as a doctor it didn't make a whole lot of sense, but he said, "A lot of times I'll feel the effects 48 hours later." I was like, "Huh, I don't even understand out of Berkeley how that's possible but, okay, noted." Just like piece of noted. That was on a Sunday. Monday I come home Monday, I go to the VA, I work, Tuesday I go to the VA, I work.
Somewhere near the end of the day, somebody sends me an email, my boss, and it made it seem like she was targeting me to fire me. I have been there for nine years, I've been there longer than most people were there. I was by the book all the time, there was nothing to fire me over. I was all of a sudden panic-stricken like somebody's going to take away my golden handcuffs. By the way, they weren't, it was just like an email, but I just started crying. I have to pull together to see another patient. Again, why I don't like medicine because you have to put on your good face all the time, take everybody else's trial and energy all day, every day, you cannot. There's no release for your own emotions, which we'll talk about later. But I just started crying. I pulled together, I see last patient, I go home, I just cry for like 12 hours. I'm just saying to myself like, "I don't even know what's happening, I can't make this stop." Then, finally, at like 2:00 in the morning I was like, "Oh my gosh, it was 48 hours after I took those mushrooms." It all just kind of clicked to me that I was pretty sure that the mushrooms were showing me how sad my soul was being trapped in medicine. It was like this is your soul is crying all the time. You just have engineered your life in a way that you're telling yourself that you need this money in that scarcity mindset, blah, blah, blah. This is what you're really suffering through.
Lynn: At that point I had just spoken at a conference called Physicians Helping Physicians, and there was somebody there who did this thing for pharma called Medical Science Liaison. It's where doctors just tell other doctors about a drug, they're not selling it. But it's just the premise is doctors don't want to hear it from a drug rep, they want to hear it from one of their own. There's these doctors that just talk about drugs, and I thought, "Okay." I talked to the guy there who did that and he's like, "You'd be perfect for it." He told me how to start applying, and so my first thought was, "Okay, clearly, I need to get out of this job. I will actively start looking for a medical science liaison job in pharma, and then that's when I'll leave the VA.
Lynn: Also, I realized after I got out because there's just was like a cloud of, I don't want to call it depression, but I can't think of another better term that it was just hanging over me all the time from being so out of alignment. Being in a job I didn't love and having a podcast and a book on quitting, quitting things you don't love. But here I was like, "No, no, I'll quit eventually." I mean, I was all over following my own advice like, "I'm going to strategically quit my job, but that means I have to have another job lined up, etc., etc."
However, the one caveat I always do give when I give talks on quitting is that if your health is suffering, do not wait for that backup job. Always say that. Because suicide is an epidemic among physicians, and so if the option is you can't take another day on earth because your job is so bad, quit immediately.
But I'd always looked at that only in extreme circumstances and not necessarily in my own.
How Plant Medicine Podcast Was Born
Lynn: I made a mission statement for myself, and it was like, "I have been doing psychedelics since 2000-, like say, -13, Ayahuasca since 2018, now it's 2019 and I have been muffled this entire time despite the fact that I knew the healing powers. Think about how the veterans I could have talked to about Ayahuasca but couldn't say a thing. I said, "That's been my main sticking point with my job the whole time." It's like, "I can't be myself." I'm like, "I'm going to be myself out loud and I'm going to promote these things that I haven't been able to talk about." But Plant Medicine promoter is not exactly like one of those jobs you find in the Career Center, you know what to do with that. What I did do was, like I said, I worked a ton until May 29th, that was my last day. I said, "I'm going to give myself," and that entire time I'm still applying for pharma, by the way.
That was still what I thought was going to happen because it's an easy job, it makes a ton of money, you could do it from home, blah, blah. I said, "I'm going to give myself one week off of doing any work." I'm not going to do podcasts, I'm not going to be searching for a job. One week of legit vacation. This Michael Bledsoe character was supposed to record a podcast with me before that week and he was like, "Can I schedule it for June 6th?" I was like, "Ah, that's the week I promised myself I would take off. But, no, I'll let him come over."
That was on the Friday of that week, and that morning, I was about to go outside and do breath work with my feet on the ground. So grounded breath work, which is one of my favorite things. If people out there are looking for things to add to their morning routine. I was pulling up on my phone the breath work thing I listen to, and I happen to have Instagram open and I see this meme. It was after they had decriminalization of psilocybin had happened in Denver a bit before this. I was like, "Oh, that's cool." But this meme, on the top, it shows Denver like the skyline and it says, "Denver, we decriminalize psilocybin." On the bottom there's a picture of Oakland and it says, "Oakland, hold my Ayahuasca."
I was like, "What?" I just stopped, everything stopped and I was just googling, googling. I was like, "Oh my gosh, Oakland decriminalized all entheogenic plants?" Essentially, something said to me, "It's go time. Whatever your Plant Medicine thing you want to do, you got to do it now, this is happening." I went on to do my breath work, and while I was doing breath work, I thought like, "How do I become an expert in this?" Because I'm definitely not, this is not taught in medical school and I've only just recreationally done my own things. I was like, "Okay, I need to interview people who are experts." I was like, "Hold it, I'm interviewing people who are experts, why am I not recording them and putting them on a podcast? I already have a podcast, I know how to make a podcast."
That's how the idea for the Plant Medicine podcast was born. Then you came over later that day and I told the idea to you, and I think you were in support of it. So then that night we did mushrooms, the second time we ever hung out.
Becoming a Medical Director at MarijuanaBreak
Mike: What's your life been like the last eight months?
Lynn: Right, so what's going on in my life is that some very fortuitous thing started happening once I declared what my mission was. As I started looking through, yeah, I'm still on LinkedIn looking through pharma things and I find an advertisement, a job ad, for medical science liaison, which was the job I kept looking for but it was for cannabis and it was Australia.
But I somehow just tweaked my LinkedIn a little bit, put something about Plant Medicine on there. Then one of my friends owns a CBD company, he's like, "Will you make some videos for us, I'll pay you?" I was like, "Okay, yes." At this point, savings is running out, that would be awesome. I do those videos. Then somebody finds me on LinkedIn from a website called marijuanabreak.com and asks if I will edit some of their articles, and they need a medical editor and I was like great.
So I started editing the articles and they just kept sending me more and more. I really thought it was like a scam at first because she literally… I get this random thing on LinkedIn that says, "How much would you charge us for editing an article and what is your PayPal? We will send you that money right now." I was like, "What?" All of a sudden, there's a couple hundred bucks in my PayPal. I was like, "Well, if it's a scam, I'm benefiting so let's keep doing this."
Mike: I love this scam.
Lynn: This scam is my favorite. Seriously, because the people putting it into the PayPal was called some technology company but I literally no idea who I was doing these for. I was just figured there was some cannabis mafia I was working for, but they were paying the bills and I was happy about it. Then one day I wrote to them and I said, "Hey, I think legally you should change this and this on these articles." They wrote back like, "Oh, we're looking for a Medical Director." Then, finally, this woman's like, "Will you meet with the CEOs?" I'm like, "I would love to know who they are. I would love to know who I'm working for. That'd be great." All of a sudden I'm meeting with the CEOs of marijuanabreak.com, they're in Israel, and they offered me the job to be Medical Director. So now I keep marijuana, I am part of the team that keeps marijuanabreak.com medically accurate.
Mike: You're doing that, and simultaneously going all-in on plantmedicine.org?
Lynn: All in, yes.
What should people know about Plant Medicine?
Mike: What should people know about Plant Medicine that you're finding is because you're posting a ton of Instagram, you're doing these podcasts, you're interacting with people who are in the psychedelic community who have been exploring psychedelics for decades. Some of these people are just like they are true experts in this. You're interacting with them and you have this filter from your own life that is perfect for getting this to the public. What are you noticing that people need to hear about Plant Medicine?
Lynn: I'd say the big push now and that I agree with, and that I'm glad that there's this emphasis on is integration. I say this in a period as we are integrating from the Medellín Ceremony we just did in Colombia. For those of you don't know, Yagé is what they call Ayahuasca down here or is the version of Ayahuasca. I mean, every version of Ayahuasca is a little different.
Mike: It's brood differently. But even, yeah, but even within Ayahuasca can be different.
Lynn: Yeah. but Michael and myself and two other friends, we were just in the jungle in a mountain doing four days of Yagé. Afterward, we came straight to Medellín for integration. If somebody's like, "What's integration?" Well, you're going to get all kinds of lessons, most likely, when you do one of these Plant Medicines. It's like learning, learning, learning, learning, and then you return to your regular life and it's like how do I apply what I've learned? Also, how does my brain reconcile? If you had it, you might have just had like ego disillusion. That's something big to reconcile, you just got a glimpse of what it means to be you without being the you that you've identified with right now. Just to be like this floating soul in space. I remember my first Ayahuasca journey when I had ego disillusion. I was like, "So do I never care about likes anymore?"
That's my first thought because when you have all these podcasts and you're trying to get engagement and engagement eventually means more listeners and then more listeners may mean more income. It's not just like a dopamine hit, it's a like could be dollars down the road.
Lynn's Yagé Experience
Mike: How is this Yagé experience? You've done Ayahuasca before, how is this experience here in Colombia?
Lynn: Well, as I told you, I told myself I would never do Ayahuasca in the jungle. That was my mindset going in was like, "I know this is going to be rough." Because I have been realizing, as of late, how much I will do to avoid discomfort. I've done Ayahuasca in mansions in California. Somebody in Airbnb rented a nice house, the bathroom is right there, it is not a hole in the ground. There are no mosquitoes, there is not a rooster that will come up. There's not a chainsaw from the neighbor farm cutting down a tree. There were so many things that made this difficult, and it was during the day and there was no music. I'm a musician and music is everything for me and every psychedelic journey. To have a completely silent journey was very different. Also, it was a little rough on the stomach compared to the other Ayahuasca I'd had, and so I spent four days just feeling very uncomfortable.
Mike: That's one of the differences with the Yagé versus a lot of other Ayahuasca is it's supposed to be more purge oriented.
Lynn: Purgative, yes, which I learned five days after returning from the jungle when I interviewed Dr. Joe Tafur, he's like, "Oh, it's like [foreign language 00:50:42]." I was like, "Oh, that makes so much sense." Because, yes, it does.
I was like, "Oh, good, mosquitoes and vomiting. Awesome." Because regular Ayahuasca you vomit a little bit but this stuff was insane. For me, it just it was like other journeys had been more blissful and this one just showed me a lot of what was holding me back in life. Then the first day when I did purge, because they finally forced purged me with some aloe and they made me smell the Ayahuasca again which is the worst and I'm purging. Then as they're like these two medicine women, lovely-
Mike: Yeah, but some people it's enjoyable all the way through so there's no telling, and it's good to know that it can go this way or that way.
Lynn: Right, this is the thing, my first two Ayahuasca, my first one was complete bliss, complete bliss. There was nothing difficult about it. The second one I didn't purge, so there was some stomach pain, but many points of bliss, learned a lot of lessons. This time was just no bliss, many lessons, lots of stomach pain. There's just different varieties, and it's good, especially, in what I do to know all the different possibilities. I need to experience drugs working, I need to experience them not working, I need experience side effects, I need to experience a bad challenging trip or whatever. It's all part of the plant's plan for me. But, yeah, so I was purging and/or they're trying to make me purge.
I was crying because I was so tired of them force feeding me things to purge that like that's another type of purging, is the crying. I realized in that first stream of tears, and this is on day one, that I was just crying out the sadness of being in medicine for all these years. Because 14 years of seeing patients… Like at the VA, I see vets and vets have been on a battlefield and we know that a lot of them have suffered trauma. But doctors have been on a totally different type of Battlefield. We might have been in the ER, we're seeing 40 patients a day, we're taking the traumatic stories from all those patients and inputting them into ourselves and there's no output.
There's no way to process and we just we have to put on a good face for the entire day. We can't have any emotions, and think about as I'm crying it out, I was also in shock back into I was a first year med student in Ecuador and I was there as a translator for a medical team. I was an actual doctor but I was just one year through med school, barely any knowledge, and I'm translating. All of a sudden, they say, "We need you to go see somebody in the village." Me and the doctor go and I'm going, obviously, going as a translator." They said, "She has a problem with her leg." I assume it's like an old lady who has a broken hip. As we're walking, I start asking, "How old is this woman?" They said, "17." I was like, "Oh, no." We get there and it's the 17-year-old girl laying in a bed with his massive osteosarcoma. Like it's a massive bone tumor on her leg.
The rest of her is [inaudible 00:54:05] like she is wasted away to nearly nothing. They, essentially, the entire village is there and they look at the two of us and they're like, "You're American doctors, you're our last hope." I have to take them outside. Again, I have been in medical school one year, I have not seen a patient and I have to take these villagers outside and tell them in a language that is not my first that this girl is going to die. That was 19 something years ago, and that's the kind of low level traumas that we go through the whole time. Being there in the jungle, I was just shot back to being in Ecuador where I had to have that conversation. It was so much sadness that we take in and, sorry.
And so that really got me thinking of how much I would like other doctors because there's a lot of military groups popping up to bring vets down to do Ayahuasca. But doctors need it too because we're the ones that have to go back and keep healing people. If we never get any healing ourselves, this is just a bad cycle. So that was what I purged the first day, and then the other days was just a lot of lessons about who I am. Like I said, where I'm leaking energy like, "Oh, I'm going to try to control all the variables of this thing. Control is an illusion, stop wasting your energy trying to control the variables. You're in the jungle, you cannot control the chainsaw, you cannot control the rooster, you can only control how you respond to them.
It kept coming to me over and over and over, when you try to change the things that cannot be changed, the only thing that changes is you for the worse. Over and over, that just kept coming back. I was getting really poignant messages, they were just they're kind of like, "It's time to woman up Morski. If you're going to take this Plant Medicine badge and run with it, you've got to endure a little pain, you've got to endure a little discomfort." Now I'm going to travel more, but I do not like traveling, I'm not a big fan of being in a new place every five minutes and not knowing is this place going to be loud or quiet or have 400 mosquitoes in it or whatever. But to do what I need to do, and also to find love. I'm looking for love and with love there will be pain, it's there will be arguments, or this or that.
I'm pretty sure that somewhere along that line, my avoidance of pain has something to do with why I haven't found love. It's like it was just essentially me being face to face with my fears and mostly fear of pain and attempts to control things so that I won't feel pain. I learned a ton and I'm very grateful for it. It wasn't pretty, but I am very grateful for the experience.
Mike: But anything else you learn in Yagé really stuck out?
Lynn: It was mostly it told me some positive things about myself, which were nice. It's weird to say these things out loud. Welcome ladies. I'm 42, and I've got a scar on my face from something I take off and my hair rolled at some point in time and get gray. It's at the point where things are going to start changing, and it showed me, it said, "Your brain is like a supercomputer and your value is in your ability to access information and love super hard." Because the brain is also where the love comes from, it just is. I guess there's a heart but anatomically, and it said, "You can love hard, you're so great at accessing information and using it and processing it and helping people. Like that's your value, not what you look like. Looks fade, intelligence grows, and so for those of you, not only just ladies, anybody who's approaching this point of their life where they're like, "Oh, signs of age are starting to show etc, etc."
That's not where your value is, and obviously we know that. But, again, society can tell us all the time, "Beauty is on the inside or whatever." But sometimes you need the plants to come in and have you tell it to yourself in a way that you're going to understand.