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Full Interview: Dr. Maya Shetreat-Klein

00:00 My name is Maya Shetreat-Klein. I’m a pediatric neurologist from New York City, and I do integrative pediatric neurology and herbal medicine, and I’m an urban farmer.

00:23 I’ve always felt really connected to plants and trees since I was a child. I think when you’re in a relationship with plants, like the plants call you when you are open and kind of willing to hear what they have to say. So, my experience with plants was kind of being drawn closer, and closer, and closer. Even through med school, and residency, and fellowship I always had this little inkling that that was something really important to me. Then I started to train in herbal medicine.

01:00 Eventually my son got sick, and at that time … basically as a parent, you’ll do anything to help your child. That was a way that the plants I think really did call me. I ended up traveling to the jungle in Ecuador to I think learn what I needed to learn both to help my son, and to heal myself, and to help my patients.

01:25 About 70% of pharmaceuticals are derived from plants, at least. And don’t be fooled, these guys are sending their scientists to the jungle, where it’s one of the most bio-diverse areas in the world to find unique compounds that are incredibly healing for humans. The trick is that plants are these very complex, living beings that really are a universe in and of themselves. They’re really as complex as we are in their own way.

02:01 So, what the pharmaceutical companies are doing is purifying one incredibly potent compound from the plant, and turning that into a drug.

02:11 The pharmaceutical companies purify one very potent component of the plant to turn into a drug, and then they produce that synthetically. But, actually plants, because they’re so complex, have a whole spectrum of compounds from very potent all the way to very weak. Then they actually have compounds that work against that potent effect of the plant. In that way, plants actually have incredibly diverse and nuanced ways of healing in our body that those drugs never really have.

02:50 So, we’re in a … we have this synchronicity with plants because our bodies have evolved with them, and our bodies recognize the compounds, and all the components of the plant.

03:03 The paradigm in indigenous cultures is so different than our paradigm. They use plants for everything. They use plants for their food, they use plants for their shelter, they use plants for their clothes and their baskets, and their jewelry and what they put on their face. Plants are totally integrated part of their world in every way. So, their paradigm is if you have that relationship with the natural world, and with plants, you won’t get disease. You’ll never get disease because you’re in this synchronicity with the natural world around you, and that’s what keeps you healthy.