Heiner Dörfler

Heiner Dörfler

Heiner Dörfler

Resident physician at the Psychiatric University Clinic Zurich/Switzerland since 2015
– Research assistant in neuroscience / psychoactive drugs at the Beckley Foundation in Oxford and London 09/14-03/15
– Ph.D. (published in 2015): conduction of a qualitative field study in Colombia (2008-2010) “Indigenous medicine in the medical setting of Colombia – ayahuasca-rituals in the city”
– study of use of yagé in Inga (Mocoa), Siona (Puerto Asis) and Cofán (Orito, Sucumbios) communities in Colombia 2015 and 2016 – working in support of medicinal and educational projects
– study of medicine at Martin-Luther-University of Halle-Wittenberg/Germany
– free time activities: Capoeira, meditation


TITLE: Yagé medicine, its way into Western society and the conservation of traditional knowledge
The thesis highlights the ayahuasca-practice in a medical and psychotherapeutic setting in Bogotá, the capital of Colombia. Five case studies exemplify the intercultural symbiosis of knowledge and practice which is taking place with the collaboration of physicians and indigenous healers. Ayahuasca can facilitate reflective processes of self-awareness and -acceptance which can lead to an improved coping and healing of diseases. The patients’ everyday improvements include perceived clarity, serenity and composure, as well as enhanced relationships, awareness and increased self-confidence. The current trend toward integrative medicine is encouraging further research into the ritual use of ayahuasca, and the associated psychological effects and legal issues. Establishing research in complementary and traditional medicine, as well as implementing social and cultural approaches, can facilitate the de-stigmatization of ayahuasca as a drug and the acceptance of traditional ways of gaining knowledge. Ayahuasca (Yagé) use is spreading around the world. Traditionally, only taitas (healers) are permitted to conduct sacred ceremonies to give ayahuasca and their apprenticeship takes many years to complete. The elders of the Amazon are concerned about the commercialization and the inappropriate use of ayahuasca by „false taitas“. After years of independent research suggesting that ayahuasca may have various healing effects, it is now time to open new avenues of clinical research in Europe. The interest of Western mainstream culture to this potential medicine is increasing. How can we conduct research while respecting traditional knowledge and culture? In order to preserve traditional education, knowledge of medicine and ecosystems, we should work in collaboration with the indigenous communities to spread the use of this Amazonian traditional medicine.