From Shock to Awe: How Plant Medicine is Healing Veterans with PTSD (with Dr. Janine Sagert and Olivia Broughton)

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What is the root of your deepest trauma? What blockages are you holding physically and mentally that are preventing you from stepping into the next happiest, healthiest version of yourself? What kind of pains, experiences, and memories are you ready to let go of? 

We all have our ups and downs, but how are YOU reacting to yours? What are they attached to? How are they affecting your relationships, your daily routines, and the passion within your pursuits? For many years, I stuffed things away into the back of my mind hoping they would just disappear. On many different occasions, they boiled up into black-out rampages and deep pools of depression. I had no idea how to overcome these things that were crippling me. In reality, I didn’t even know what most of them were. We all experience suffering on a certain level, and no matter what level it is, it’s the hardest thing in the world for an individual when it hits.

My experiences with Ayahuasca and other types of Plant Medicine have been discussed before on this podcast. I am in awe with the love that these medicines represent as well as the deep healing wisdom of their teachings. When I was contacted by the crew behind the Documentary, From Shock to Awe, to potentially do a podcast, I was overcome with excitement and curiosity. 

Dr. Janine Sagert, Executive Producer
Olivia Broughton, Authentic Relating Faciliator

The general question being explored within From Shock to Awe is: How do we heal our deepest traumas and wounds?

Can these medicines help break up, re-pattern, and transform the deepest wounds that exist throughout this complex thing we call humanity? PTSD, suicide, and chronic depression are some of the more notable issues that trauma can instigate. Within the film, these topics and questions are dissected throughout the exploratory and transformative journeys of a few deeply traumatized combat Veterans, as well as their loving and supportive, yet affected, families.

According to Wikipedia, the most recent report published by the United States Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) in 2016 analyzed that an average of 20 veterans a day die from suicide. The current support system in place isn’t working, and changes must be made. Can plant medicines help save lives?

Executive Producer Dr. Janine Sagert joins me on this episode for a cosmic exploration into the powerful transformations of Veterans Matt Kahl, Aimee Kahl, and Mike Cooley. Dr. Sagert spent years as a researcher at Harvard University School of Public Health investigating the role of community cohesion on individual mental health and stress. She received her doctorate from the University of California, Berkeley with sub-specialties in resilience, altered states of consciousness, and Indian culture. We are also joined by Olivia Broughton, a very special guest who has extensive experience with plant medicine ceremonies and authentic relating within the prison system to heal trauma.


“There is really good news on this planet from the ground up, and not from the top down.”

Dr. Janine Sagert

On top of the film discussion, we break down the root causes behind our broken community support systems and open up the discussion for how a massive planetary shift has to start within each individual first.

To date, From Shock to Awe has won the “Mangurama Award for Conscious Documentary Storytelling” at the Illuminate Film Festival and “Best Documentary” at the Psychedelic Film and Music Festival. And it has received positive reviews from critics, experts, and audiences alike.

An Overview of the Veterans and Family Members Discussed in From Shock to Awe

Matt Kahl
Matt Kahl served in the 101st Airborne Division from 2007-2011. When an ambush blew up one of the convoys he was traveling with, instantly killing the driver and seriously injuring the others passengers, Matt’s life changed. After struggling with severe post-traumatic stress, his mission since has been to get off prescription medications entirely, first with the help of cannabis and, eventually, ayahuasca. His healing through ayahuasca was so profound that Matt went on to found Veterans for Natural Rights. VNR is a social welfare and political action organization with deep roots in the veteran population, specializing in helping those with PTSD and other mental/behavior health issues related to trauma, regain their lives, their purpose, and their sense of community.

Aimee Kahl
In 2007, Matt and Aimee were married, and in 2008 he had deployed to Afghanistan with the 101st Airborne Division. In 2009, Aimee noticed Matt detaching and withdrawing. Matt chose his next step on his healing journey: ayahuasca. “I was scared and felt helpless, but at the same time determined not to stand in his way.” Noting that, “Everything he tried previously…all conventional meds, conventional therapy, made it worse.” More than anything, she was continually amazed at the bravery of he and his fellow vets. “They’re brave when they go to war and they’re brave now trying to get better. I admire it very much. I want to get better with them because I realize through all of this, I’m not OK.”

Mike Cooley
Cooley was deployed three times — once to Afghanistan and twice to Iraq — but it wasn’t until he returned home in January of 2009 and found himself suddenly losing his temper with his young stepdaughter that he knew something was deeply wrong. “Ayahuasca is the doorway that’s open to me, and I can accept this doorway, and it can bring peace and healing.”

Brooke Cooley
Brooke Cooley met her husband, Mike, in December of 2007 while working at the 148th MP detachment in HR. After seeing the positive changes that cannabis had on her husband, they embraced the use of cannabis as a medicine, as “an alternative to the pharmaceuticals we were being handed by the hundreds,” says Brooke. “It worked; it worked very well for both of us.”

LINKS FROM THE SHOW:

From Shock to Awe Website: https://www.fromshocktoawe.com

Dr. Janine Sagert’s Website & Bio: https://www.janinesagert.com/bio-1

From Shock to Awe Movie Trailer: https://vimeo.com/ondemand/fromshocktoawe/296063216

Film on Social Media:

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/fromshocktoawe Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/fromshocktoawe/ Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/fromshocktoawe


Ask a Question or Leave a Comment to be aired on the show: www.heatharmstrong.com/voice

Leave a Review and Help Support the school I work with, HELP-UGANDA. For every review, I donate $2 dollars. How to leave a review: www.heatharmstrong.com/review

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