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

“I’ve gotten away with saying the most outrageous things because I’m not angry. And people listen, and we can have actual dialog.” — Dr. Andrew Weil 

Andrew Weil, M.D. (@DrWeil) is a world-renowned leader and pioneer in the field of integrative medicine.

Dr. Weil received a degree in biology (botany) from Harvard College in 1964 and an M.D. from Harvard Medical School in 1968. After completing a medical internship at Mt. Zion Hospital in San Francisco, he worked a year with the National Institute of Mental Health, then wrote his first book, The Natural Mind. From 1971-75, 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 1971-84 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 University of Arizona Center for Integrative Medicine, where he also holds the Lovell-Jones Endowed Chair in Integrative Rheumatology 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.

A New York Times best-selling author, Dr. Weil is the author of 15 books on health and well-being, including Mind Over MedsFast Food, Good Food, True Food, Spontaneous Happiness, Healthy Aging, and Eight Weeks to Optimum Health.

Please enjoy this wide-ranging (and often hysterical) conversation with Dr. Weil!

Listen to the interview on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher, Overcast, or on your favorite podcast platform. 

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


Want to hear another episode on improving one’s health? — In this episode, Dr. Rhonda Patrick discusses best practices for fasting, most important blood tests, smart drugs, and much, much more (stream below or right-click here to download):

#237: Exploring Smart Drugs, Fasting, and Fat Loss — Dr. Rhonda Patrick


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QUESTION(S) OF THE DAY: What was your favorite quote or lesson from this episode? Please let me know in the comments.

Scroll below for links and show notes…


  • Connect with Andrew Weil, M.D.:

Website | Twitter | Facebook


  • How did Dr. Weil’s love affair with plants begin? [06:01]
  • Dr. Weil’s go-to plants for food and medicine. [07:52]
  • On The Doors of Perception, nutmeg, cannabis, and trying to score mescaline from Aldous Huxley’s source. [08:54]
  • Examining the importance of environment and expectation on the effects of mind-altering substances — particularly under observation by “The Man.” [13:54]
  • What was Dr. Weil’s first mescaline experience like? [17:54]
  • While Dr. Weil was once a frequent cannabis user, he says he doesn’t partake much these days. What has changed? [20:19]
  • Dr. Weil describes what Harvard was like during his time there, how it fostered experimentation, and what set/setting means for research in mind-altering substances. [22:35]
  • Guidelines Dr. Weil might recommend for researchers designing studies in these areas today, and why he believes these compounds offer help for more than just psychological issues. [25:37]
  • What drew Dr. Weil to take his explorations to Central and South America, and then eventually back to Tucson of all places? [29:28]
  • Why Dr. Weil believes in a shamanistic approach toward the research of healing science. [32:24]
  • What compelled Dr. Weil to co-author From Chocolate to Morphine, and why was its timing — at the dawn of The War on Drugs — cause for concern to a certain senator? [34:30]
  • What can modern researchers learn from the mistakes of Dr. Weil’s generation to avoid jeopardizing the study of controlled substances? [37:26]
  • Dr. Weil defines integrative medicine. [39:45]
  • How Dr. Weil feels about research that only considers the results of double-blind placebo-controlled studies. [43:06]
  • In what ways do a lot of traditional researchers blind themselves to the full spectrum of what their research might accomplish? Consider how Dr. Weil shed a lifetime of cat allergies in one sitting and learned how to tan in the sun instead of burn. [45:38]
  • A breathing technique Dr. Weil has found useful for reducing anxiety (and an explanation of why he believes it’s so effective). [52:13]
  • What current accepted concepts or practices does Dr. Weil think are going to be obsolete in the near future or significantly revised? [55:02]
  • Books Dr. Weil gifts most to others. [1:04:20]
  • Does Dr. Weil still believe — as he did when he wrote his first book — that non-ordinary states of consciousness are innate to human beings? What does it say about a society that stifles the drive to pursue these states? [1:05:49]
  • Habits and routines that put Dr. Weil in the zone to perform optimally. [1:07:06]
  • Why are dogs such unique companions, how might they help humans heal, and what kind of dogs does Dr. Weil have at home? [1:08:17]
  • What does Dr. Weil’s morning meditation look like? [1:11:17]
  • How the ritual of cooking became meditative for Dr. Weil, and how it led him to become a partner in a chain of True Food Kitchen restaurants that has American kids swooning over — of all things — kale. [1:13:55]
  • Dr. Weil’s best investments of time, energy, or money. [1:19:10]
  • Favorite failures that led the way to later successes. [1:21:27]
  • Once strong-held positions or beliefs that have changed over the years. [1:22:31]
  • New beliefs, behaviors, or habits that have improved the quality of Dr. Weil’s life. [1:24:44]
  • When was the last time Dr. Weil cried tears of joy? [1:25:35]
  • Does Dr. Weil make new year’s resolutions? [1:26:37]
  • What the first hour of Dr. Weil’s day looks like. [1:28:02]
  • Default breakfasts. [1:29:04]
  • Dr. Weil’s first experience with matcha tea in 1950s Japan. [1:29:59]
  • Purchases of $100 or less that have positively affected Dr. Weil’s life in recent memory. [1:33:52]
  • What would Dr. Weil’s billboard say? [1:34:35]
  • Parting thoughts. [1:36:37]