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Alberto’s Journey

You can grow a new body.

I did.

Ten years ago everything was going well for me. I was a best-selling author, a medical anthropologist, a teacher and healer with a following worldwide. The Four Winds Society that I founded had more than 10,000 students. I was married to the love of my life.


Just when it looked as if life couldn’t get any better, I was suddenly in a fight for survival that called on everything I’d learned in 30 years of studying with some of the world’s most gifted healers. You see, I am trained in neuroscience but I am also a shaman, initiated in the healing ways of the indigenous peoples I studied in the jungles and mountains of South America. My extended stays in the jungle exacted a heavy price. I had picked up a long list of deadly bugs. My heart and liver were close to collapse, the doctors said, and my brain was riddled with parasites.


When I heard the words, “It’s your brain, Dr. Villoldo,” I sank into despair. The irony was I had just published a book entitled Power Up Your Brain: The Neuroscience of Enlightenment. The doctors advised me to get my name on a liver transplant list. Maybe my heart would recover, but where was I going to find a good brain?


My journal entry for that night reads:

I knew I had to go to the jungle. Otherwise I would be looking for my medicine in the wrong place. I am with the woman I love, returning to the garden where I first found my spiritual path.


In the Amazon, the shamans welcomed me. That night there was a ceremony with the ayahuasca, the vine of death. I was too weak to participate, so Marcela went for both of us. I could hear the shaman whistling, and his haunting songs wafted across the river.


Hours later Marcela returned smiling. Mother Earth had spoken with her that night: “I make everything on the earth grow. I am giving Alberto a new liver. He knows how to heal everything else.”


My return to the Amazon was the beginning of my healing journey. But first I had to hack my biology to switch on the genes that create health and that would help me to grow a new brain, a new heart, and a new liver. 


The spiritual healing I received in the Amazon was powerful, but I had to complement it with Western science. The doctors put me on a worm medication—the same type I give my dogs—and on antibiotics to kill the parasites. My brain was on fire with inflammatory agents produced by the medications and by the dying parasites. I would have to detox my brain to avoid going completely mad.


I called my friend David Perlmutter MD, a neurologist who was the co-author of my book Power Up Your Brain. Together we crafted a strategy with potent antioxidants and extreme ketosis (where the body begins to use fats instead of sugars for fuel) to trigger the production of neural stem cells to repair my brain.


I learned how trauma and  toxic emotions create disease.


I knew I had to make friends with eternity. I had a choice. I could choose to remain in the world of Spirit. But a voice was telling me that my work was not done.


My good friend Mark Hyman MD, who wrote Food: What the Heck Should I Eat? helped me put together a nutritional plan for healing my body. Mark and I co-lead 7-day detox programs in exotic locations including Los Lobos. His plan for me included green juices in the morning and superfoods and supplements that detoxify the liver and brain.


I turned off my phone and email and went on a three month retreat at our home in Miami to recover my health and heal my broken spirit.


Today, I’m a new person. My mind is functioning at a higher level than it has in decades. My brain is upgraded and so is my heart. And I have a new liver—not a transplant, but my own, fully regenerated. I was able to grow a new body.


I discovered that you grow a completely new heart every 15 years, your bones are only 2 years old, your lungs and skin are around 2 to 4 weeks old, and your intestines have changed all their cells within the last 3 days. With my own recovery, I began to understand that aging is what happens when your body loses its ability to regenerate, when healthy cells no longer replace sick and dying ones.


The secret was the plant medicine that could help you to break-in to the password-protected regions in your DNA where the instructions to grow a new body are stored. But the plants (you can buy these at any health-food store) were not enough; they simply opened the vault where the codes were kept. Their power was unleashed by the energy medicine, by erasing the imprints for disease in the human energy field.


I call this One Spirit Medicine because it enlists the power of Spirit for renewing the body.


Diet, vitamins, supplements, and superfoods alone will not do it. It requires the experience of Oneness, the awareness that our separateness from Spirit and each other is an illusion—a trick of the mind.


We truly are One with Nature.


My health crisis was extreme. But the fact is, we’re all in a life-and-death struggle with the toxins and poisons in our modern world. Fifty percent of otherwise healthy 85-year-olds are at risk for Alzheimer’s disease.


I believe that the dreaded dementia and health statistics are preventable, and we can escape that fate. The Grow a New Body program can help you heal from the illnesses that are ravaging civilization today—but it can do even more.


The shamans of old were masters of prevention. But you had to root out the physical toxins, the emotion pain, and the spiritual solitude to restore balance to your life. You can grow a new body that heals rapidly and ages gracefully.


I did.

To find myself, I had to

become  my own hero

Marcela’s Journey

In 1992 I arrived in hippie California at age twenty. Wheatgrass juice, hang-loose surfing, and women’s hairy armpits offered me a freedom I did not know was possible. Studies of yoga, massage, and Ayurveda, opened my eyes to a healthy life. Despite all these studies, my marriage and prompt motherhood triggered unhealed childhood traumas. At age thirty, while drowning in the dark pool of my fears, I washed up exhausted on the shores of the shaman's way. With the force and the speed of lightning, my life took a turn towards my own healing and understanding of the hero’s journey.


After a decade I had completed the core work of transforming my pain and sorrows into sources of wisdom and compassion.


I was initiated into the mystery teachings at the Four Winds Society, and by the wisdom keepers of the Peruvian Andes and Amazon jungle.

During all these years, my eagerness to connect with the deepest truths kept opening my heart. In my forties, I took up tantric and Buddhist practices which I weave with love and joy with the rest of my teaching.

Today my passion is to share the maps that guide us towards self-realization, and to craft rites of passage for women to step into their own beauty, power, and wisdom.


When I am not writing, I love landscaping , walking with my dogs, and consciously dreaming my destiny with my beloved husband.

Dr. Alberto Villoldo is the author of more than 20 international bestsellers including Shaman, Healer, Sage, and One Spirit Medicine. He is a fellow of the Explorer's Club


Marcela Lobos is the author of Awakening your Inner Shaman, and co-author of the Mystical Shaman Oracle Cards. Marcela guides our sweat lodge ceremonies and the women’s programs


We have three dogs, four children, and live in Miami, Florida. We receive guests only three months of the year.

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