#173 | Medicine For All: Open-Source DIY Pharmaceutical Production For The Masses w/ Michael Laufer

In this episode, I speak with Michael Laufer — Chief Spokesperson for the Four Thieves Vinegar Collective, a network of individuals that seek to make commonly inaccessible medicines affordable and accessible to public by providing the means to produce pharmaceutical medicines outside of the dominant medical establishment. We tackle the ethics behind the project, the anti-capitalist/anarchist structure of the network, and the various technologies the Collective has been able to make affordable and accessible to the broader public, in order to adequately participate in pharmaceutical drug production in a more direct DIY fashion.

In this discussion with Michael, we get at the various ways the for-profit healthcare system in the United States makes commonly needed medicines practically impossible to access for a wide swath of the population. "The main reasons for people being disenfranchised from medicines are: price, legality, and lack of infrastructure. Medicines like Solvadi which costs $80,000 for a course of treatment, is beyond the reach of most people. Mifepristone and Misoprostal are unavailable in many places where abortion is illegal. Antiretroviral HIV treatments even when provided free, have no way of getting to remote locations in 3rd world countries.”* How can a non-hierarchal network like the Four Thieves Vinegar Collective, comprised of individuals from various backgrounds and specializations, provide the means for the disenfranchised to not only have access to, but also produce, pharmaceutical grade medications in order to maintain the health, and save the lives, of those effectively shut out of the for-profit healthcare system in the United States? I ask Michael to define the ethical obligation those in the Collective feel in providing the means to construct the tools to produce these much-needed medicines, the legality of this project, the anti-establishment ethos that directs the project, and what we can expect from the Collective in the future.

Dr. Michael Laufer a professor of Mathematics at Menlo College, and is Chief Spokesperson and founding member of Four Thieves Vinegar Collective, a volunteer network of anarchists and hackers developing DIY medical technologies outside of the dominant for-profit medical establishment. The Collective is responsible for designing the Apothecary Microlab, a DIY chemical reactor (made with a 3D printer) that can produce pharmaceutical grade drugs for a fraction of the cost, as well as the epinephrine injector dubbed the “EpiPencil” that can be constructed and used for a little over $30 (compared to the EpiPen, which is now around $300 per unit).

*Source: http://bit.ly/FTVmission

Episode Notes:

- Learn more about the Four Thieves Vinegar Collective, their mission, and how to get involved: https://fourthievesvinegar.org

- Follow the Collective on Twitter: https://twitter.com/4ThievesVinegar

- Follow Michael on Twitter: https://twitter.com/MichaelSLaufer

- For those interested in DIY insulin production, Michael mentions the Open Insulin Project: http://openinsulin.org

- Read more about Michael and the Collective in this article on Motherboard: http://bit.ly/2GAynKH

- The songs featured in this episode are “Virus” (the full version and the instrumental) and “Memory Loss” by Deltron 3030 from the self-titled album Deltron 3030.

#139 | Physician, Heal Thyself: Ayahuasca, Epigentics, & Integrative Medicine w/ Dr. Joe Tafur

In this episode, I speak with Dr. Joe Tafur — Family Physician, Shipibo-trained Shaman, Integrative Medicine activist, and the author of ‘The Fellowship of the River: A Medical Doctor's Exploration into Traditional Amazonian Plant Medicine.’ We discuss Dr. Tafur’s years of work integrating Western medical knowledge and practice with traditional Amazonian plant medicine, in particular the administering of the psychedelic brew ayahuasca, and other plant medicines, under the traditional practice of Shipibo shamanism. 

In this conversation, Dr. Tafur discusses how two seemingly different traditions (i.e. Western medicine and Shipibo shamanism) can become more integrated with each other, in ways previously not understood or considered possible, for doctors and shamans alike. Dr. Tafur elaborates on how Western medical research and practice has been successful in very specific forms of healing, while simultaneously failing in many others — hence the widespread, growing interest in traditional plant medicines and healing practices in ancient shamanic traditions, often found outside of the broader Western model of medicine and healing. In particular, we discuss how Shipibo shamanism and the administering of sacred plant medicines within this shamanic practice works on the epigenetic level of the illness, generating dramatic changes within the “emotional body” of the individual, manifesting on the physical level of the body. As someone who is well-educated and well-versed in both of these traditions, Dr. Tafur is revolutionizing the collective understanding of how “modern” medical practitioners have plenty to learn and integrate from the shamanic use of traditional plant medicine, and vice versa. Dr. Tafur expounds upon this subject in this episode.

Dr. Joe Tafur is an Integrative Medicine activist, having studied medicine at the University of California, San Diego (UCSD) School of Medicine. After residency, Dr. Tafur subsequently completed a two-year Post-Doctoral Research Fellowship at the UCSD Department of Psychiatry under psychoneuroimmunology expert Dr. Paul Mills. While in San Diego, he also served on the board for the Alternative Healing Network and on the Steering Committee for the UCSD Center for Integrative Medicine. After his research fellowship, over a period of six years, he lived and worked in the Peruvian Amazon at the traditional healing center Nihue Rao Centro Espiritual. There he worked closely with master Shipibo shaman Ricardo Amaringo and trained in Traditional Amazonian Plant Medicine. At the center, Dr. Tafur completed traditional apprenticeship in ayahuasca shamanism. He is both doctor and shaman. ✦

✦ Source: http://bit.ly/TafurAbout / https://amzn.to/2P3NqyG

Episode Notes:

- Find out more about Dr. Tafur and his work at his website: https://drjoetafur.com

- Learn more, and purchase, Dr. Tafur’s book ‘The Fellowship of the River: A Medical Doctor's Exploration into Traditional Amazonian Plant Medicine’ here: http://bit.ly/FellowshipRiver

- Learn more about Dr. Tafur’s organization Modern Spirit here: https://modernspirit.org

- The traditional healing center Nihue Rao Centro Espiritual: https://www.nihuerao.com

- Watch the presentation “Ayahuasca Shamanism and Epigenetics” featuring Dr. Tafur here: https://youtu.be/QbsXOO7AB_U

- The song featured in this episode is “Ikaro de la Ayahuasca” by Don Evangelino Murayay from the album El Canto del Tiempo/Ayahuasca Ikaros.