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Discover the Sacred Science and the amazing healing powers found in the Amazon jungle with film maker Nick Polizzi…..
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Hey, guys, how’s it going? Yuri here with another episode of the Super Nutrition Academy Health Class, and in just a moment, I’m going to introduce you to my good friend Nick Polizzi. We’re going to be talking about another amazing documentary film that I think will really inspire you.
As you can tell, I really like featuring these filmmakers, these guests who bring these documentaries to life, because not only are they good friends of mine, but they’re really sending and getting a message out to the world in such a great and entertaining fashion. We’re all watching TV, right? Let’s not kid anyone. Unless you don’t have cable, which is fine; it’s probably better. But we probably still have access to Netflix and iTunes and a DVD player, so I think spending an hour a week to watch these kinds of movies can do a lot of benefit.
Before we get to the interview, let me give you a little bit of a background to who Nick is. He has, over the last four years, he’s spent a lot of time, actually, directing and editing feature-length documentaries about holistic alternatives to conventional medicine. Most recently, Nick directed The Tapping Solution, which, if you remember one of our previous guests, Nick Ortner, he’s the CEO of The Tapping Solution, so Nick was the producer of that film. And he coedited another great film called Simply Raw, which is a movie that showed how a number of diabetics reversed their diabetes in the space of a week eating a raw-food diet, which is amazing.
And his current role as a producer of The Sacred Science, which is the movie we’re about to discuss in this interview, stems from a calling to honor, preserve, and protect the ancient knowledge and rituals of the indigenous peoples of the world. I think you guys will get a ton of value out of this interview, and if you want to learn more about the movie, go to TheSacredScience.com, check it out, grab a copy, and you’re going to learn some really, really cool insights into healing above and beyond food.
A lot of times we consider ourselves to be healthy because we eat a clean diet. Well, in a lot of cases, so do a lot of people in this film, and they still suffered from a number of debilitating conditions, which you’ll discover, and they were able, in many cases, to reverse them. Pretty inspiring stuff. Without any further ado, let’s get right into the interview.
Yuri: All right, guys, I’m here with my good friend Nick Polizzi. We’ve just been talking, actually, because he just moved out to the Bay Area recently and he’s enjoying San Fran. He was out in Colorado before that.
If you guys don’t know who Nick Polizzi is, he’s doing some amazing stuff with a movie that I saw about a month and a half ago called The Sacred Science, and it’s awesome, it’s really cool. We’ll let Nick kind of tell us more about it, but, essentially, you did a documentary where you went into the Amazon and took some people in health crises, took them down there, worked with some shamans, and experienced some pretty incredible things.
Why don’t we start off by what was your impetus for—well, first of all, welcome to the call.
Nick: I’m very, very happy to be here.
Yuri: Awesome. What was the drive? What was the impetus for producing and creating this movie in the first place?
Nick: You know, I’d made a few movies beforehand. One is called The Tapping Solution, where people use EFT, which is a technique where you tap on different meridian points in your upper torso and go through traumatic events from your past, and it really unlocks some incredible healing potential in your body. That was just an amazing experience, and we saw some startling results with our patients there.
When I made that film, I started looking into what traditions that technique was rooted in, because it’s not something that just came about in the last few decades. It actually has roots in ancient Chinese medicine. I started getting curious about what traditions are behind what we would consider to be contemporary, holistic medicine. That was really interesting.
And then another movie came about called Simply Raw, which I edited, and that’s about six diabetics that go on all raw-food diet, raw super-food diet for 30 days. The results there were incredible. Five out of six of the patients reversed their diabetes within less than two weeks. Again, looking at some of those techniques and those herbs that were used, they’re not new phenomenon. These are things that if you researched each particular plant, they’ve been being used by indigenous traditions for thousands of years.
Those first two movies really sparked my interest as to what’s really behind a lot of the alternative medicines that we’re all excited about right now. That kind of gave birth to this idea of shamanism, because at the root of a lot of them, even the Chinese medicine—it hasn’t always been called Chinese medicine; Chinese medicine used to be called Chinese shamanism until about a hundred years ago.
Then it started becoming more clinical, and they wanted to kind of get a better footing on the world stage, so it turned into Chinese medicine. Everything seems to have roots in indigenous tradition, at least when it comes down to alternative medicine, so we started looking at shamanism and what it really is. That kind of led us down to the jungle.
The Amazon jungle is home to over 70,000 species of plants. Only 3 percent of them have been studied for their medicinal value, so that leaves 97 percent of these 70,000 plants that have gone unstudied. The only people who really know what they can be used for are the indigenous people that live there.
And when you’re listening to famous ethnobotanists like Mark Plotkin, he says: “If the Amazon jungle is an encyclopedia of medicinal plants, then the native people that live there are the index and table of contents.” It’s really interesting how much knowledge the folks down in the Amazon jungle have, so we thought it was a no-brainer for us to use it as a setting for the next film.
Yuri: Yeah, I thought it was amazing because you took people down there who were diabetic, had a breast cancer tumor, some crazy issues. First of all, how did you find these, I think it was six people that you took down?
Nick: It was ten people.
Yuri: Ten, okay. Maybe I forgot those last four. How did you find those ten people? What motivated them to say, “Hey, I’m just going to put my life on hold and set up shop in the Amazon for a while”?
Nick: We have such thriving communities around the first two movies, people that are just waiting to see what we’re going to do next, and once we had the idea and once we had the medicine men themselves and really gotten well-footed in that region of the world, we just reached out to our lists, the communities and said, “Hey, here’s what we’ve got going on. It sounds crazy and please only apply if you’re serious because this is not going to be easy.”
We sent out a blast, and we had over five hundred applications in less than two days. Five hundred. And these people were not people who had minor aches and pains.
It kind of goes without saying that if you’re going to risk it all and take the time to get out into nature for that long and work with these indigenous plants and these therapies that are not easy all the time and they’re really going to require some soul-searching, you’re not somebody who’s taking it lightly. Most of the applications we had were people who had serious illnesses, which made it much harder to choose, because you didn’t want to tell people they couldn’t come, especially when they were so desperate.
Yuri: That’s amazing. I think it just goes to show that there are so many people out there that are just desperate for, I don’t want to say “the magic pill,” but that’s, it’s like this solution they’re looking for. I think maybe in this case, this was the solution that they’re hoping for. The medical establishment is not helping them; they’ve probably tried other things in the past that kind of fell through, and this is this kind of new light of hope in their lives.
I could see why so many people would want to jump on that. In fact, my wife did a 30-day water fast in the Panamanian jungle about six years ago.
Yuri: When I first saw the movie, I was thinking, we were watching it together, and she was saying this actually reminds her of her experience in Panama. She went through no food for 30 days, just water. I think the establishment she was in was a little bit more cultlike, fanatical based on the person running it, but nonetheless, her experience was incredible. She just had some amazing moments of clarity and that kind of introspection.
That’s what I found really interesting about some of the people’s experience that you had down there. It’s not so much the physical transformation some of them went through, but also the fact that they’re, in a lot of cases, isolated in their own little cabin for a certain amount of time, and they had a lot of time to deal with their emotions, which—maybe we can talk about that in a second—were kind of at the crux of their health issues. I thought it was great.
Nick: Isolation is a very, very big part of Amazonian medicine. It’s looked at as being a way of digging in to who you really are once you’ve taken all the distractions away. Up here in the West, we have so many ways of sort of taking our attention of who we really are and what our true experience really is, and we wonder why we’re getting sick and why this stuff is all coming up out of the blue.
I guess the way that a shaman would look at it and the way I personally look at it is it’s not really out of the blue. If you tune in to the subtle energies and the subtle messages that your body is telling you, the roadmap is all right there. This isn’t something that should be a surprise if you’ve been living a very disconnected life.
Yuri: Yeah, I think we all know the power of community and, obviously, being around people that support us. How do you find the balance between spending time in isolation and not completely living a life of isolation to find that balance of optimal health?
Nick: I don’t know that it necessarily means that we all need to live out in the middle of nowhere forever or if that means we need to sort of go on our own path and walk through the woods for the rest of our life. I think that just taking the time, even once a week, to be removed from everything and everyone and be in the middle of a natural environment, I think that could work wonders. Just starting with that and seeing what comes up.
It’s very interesting what happens when you can’t turn to the television or the book you’re reading or the work you need to do. It’s really funny because a lot of the patients who came down to the jungle, they thought that it would be absolutely fine for them to bring a journal, writing utensils, painting utensils, things they could do.
They all knew they were going to be on their own in the middle of the woods, so they were trying to figure out ways of not passing the time necessarily, but there’re things they could do to kind of bring themselves comfort while they were alone, and I think it was a rude awakening when they got there and all of those things were taken away. They’re like, “This isn’t bad. This isn’t my cell phone; this isn’t my iPod; this isn’t my laptop. This is just an organic thing that I like to do.”
Again, the healers that were there insisted upon it being absolutely tranquil; no distraction whatsoever. Even a book; even a book on healing; even a book that has everything to do with shamanism. They’re like, “We need that. We’ll take that. We’ll give it back to you when you finish the thirty days here.” So, it’s really interesting what we think of as being an okay distraction and what can really get in the way of us tuning in to who we are.
Yuri: It’s almost like a 30-day walking/living meditation…
Yuri: …where you’re just kind of, you’re stuck with yourself.
Nick: And not only that, you’re being given these really powerful plant teas and different types of food and herbs that are definitely cleansing you. And that’s not always a comfortable process either. It isn’t like it’s a pain-free thing. You’re going through it and you’re not really able to kind of put your Walkman on and listen to some even to some spiritual music or a positive talk by one of your favorite experts.
It’s absolutely you and nature and the medicine men who are visiting you a couple times a day. And then a few times a week, you come together in more of a communal situation and participate in more intense, overnight ceremonies. That’s a whole other aspect of it. For the most part, you are out there, and the idea is to meet yourself and really confront maybe some of the negative stimuli behind the illness or challenge that you’re struggling with.
Yuri: From your experience down there with those individuals, what’s the biggest, when you came out of there, when you flew back home and you’re thinking about the experience, what was the big takeaway for you out of that?
Nick: The big takeaway for me was that in order for us to truly heal, we need to be okay with vulnerability. I feel like vulnerability and surrender are a gigantic part of that school of healing.
The idea that you’re going to be engaging in processes and experiences that will take you beyond your comfort zone, and although it’s scary, the benefits and the rewards to that are infinite. When you open yourself up with the right intention to experiences that are going to push you past your comfort zone, it seems like that’s part of the gateway to healing.
Yuri: Definitely. I remember some moments with, I believe it was the gentleman from Australia, was it, who was having some real kind of breakdown, meltdown moments trying to come to grips with who he saw himself as. I think he was a business professional. And then seeing himself in this new light was a really interesting process he went through.
Nick: Yeah, it’s funny. With John from Australia, he definitely lets it all hang out. For a lot of the movie—it’s funny, the Q-and-A’s after the film festivals we’ve been, and people really relate to him because he’s kind of one of those characters that you get frustrated with sort of in the middle of the movie and in the beginning of the movie because he’s just really going through it and he’s not afraid to talk about it, but it’s really interesting to see how astounding his healing results are.
He has prostate cancer—I’m not afraid of giving a little bit away. There’re so many things that happen in the film that it’ll be really hard for me to really spoil the plot too much, even by giving some results away for a patient or two.
His results from his prostate cancer was absolutely, I haven’t seen much like that before. I think it really does come down to the fact that he had to confront who he really was. In his situation, one of the breakthrough moments for him was just coming to grips with the fact that he’s always viewed himself as a loner and he’s never really wanted help or wanted to feel like he needed help.
His 30 days in the jungle made him realize that that was one of the shadows that came knocking at his door. It’s just a good example of what happens when you take distractions away. He’s a businessman, he’s sort of a self-proclaimed nutritional guru, and he’s a great guy, but when you take it all away and you take him out of his comfort zone, the things that came knocking are things that he’d never had to deal with before. And once he went through it and actually had to process those things, he came out of it a new man.
Yuri: And I remember that was interesting because he was mentioning how he was on a high-fruit or high-raw diet for a number of years, and in spite of that, he had prostate cancer. I think one of the things that I’ve realized in my time is that as healthy as you are from a nutrition standpoint and working out, these emotional and kind of deeper issues I believe are the biggest reasons why we get sick in terms of these bigger diseases.
From your experience down there with these individuals, were most of them, I mean, other than some of them who didn’t obviously have as healthy lifestyles as some others, were a lot of them healthy to begin with lifestyle wise and just weren’t aware of these deeper issues that they had to confront?
Nick: I think that most of them were very healthy, just because we visited them all beforehand in their homes. Just walking through their homes, their homes looked a lot like mine, just in terms of what I saw in their kitchen. The same kinds of super foods, the same kind of whole-foods fare that they ate. It didn’t seem like any of them, really, were engaging in the SAD diet, standard American diet.
A lot of them had very active yoga practices. Yeah, I think for the most part, they were what you would consider to be healthy individuals. Again, the stuff that I think really made a difference was processing trauma, whether it was childhood trauma, whether it was trauma that had happened four or five years ago. It was them realizing that in trying to be so good, in trying to be such well-functioning adults, they had sort of glossed over and shoved into the corner a lot of emotional baggage that needed to be dealt with.
Yuri: We talked with Nick Ortner and Carol Look on a couple episodes a while ago now about the power of tapping and EFT for dealing with these kinds of emotional issues. I’m a huge believer and practicer of EFT on a daily basis, because I think it’s just so powerful.
I realize even for myself, as clean as I eat, as much as I exercise, if I don’t recognize and come to terms with some of the issues that we all face—and, obviously, I’ve got my own issues too—that’s the kind of stuff that, over time, builds up and gets stuck. Louise Hay talks about it in her book You Can Heal Your Life.
Each of these diseases that we have can be related to different emotional states, whether it be resentment or anger or all this kind of stuff. It’s so crazy how you can see this time and time again in different patients with different diseases. I think that’s just fascinating.
Nick: Just to add to that, something that I love about shamanism in general but more specifically Amazonian shamanism is when you’re talking to the medicine man down in the jungle about what he thinks the contributing factors are to this particular condition that this person’s going through, “Hey, what do you think? Is it something with their diet? Is it something with their family? Is it something with emotional trauma? Do they need to tap into their soul and get down into their spirituality and who they really are?”
This happened a few times while we were shooting the film; they kind of just shrug and say, “We don’t really see the difference in any of these things.” This is one thing. You are one organism that needs all of this. You can call food something that’s just you put in your mouth, but we look at nutrition and food as anything that you’re exposed to in your environment, whether it’s food that you pick off a tree, whether it’s the amount of care and nourishment you got as a child from your parents, or whether it’s something negative that you’ve been feeding on, like defeating thoughts and just terrible memories that you haven’t fully processed.
It’s all the same to us. It’s one big pool that you need to be looking at when you’re trying to analyze disease. It’s kind of a beautiful simplicity because to them, it really all contributes, and they don’t have clear lines as to what category each thing falls into. They just look at it as one big thing, and they pick and choose what they want to sort of prescribe you based on that.
Yuri: For those of our listeners who don’t know what a shaman is, can you briefly describe? They’re kind of like medicine men of the jungle. Is that how you describe them?
Nick: Yeah. The word shaman is actually a Siberian term. Siberia is where a lot of shamanism, many think that Siberia is where shamanism originates.
The way that it would be defined in Siberia by some of their tribes that live there is: One who holds sway in both the physical and the spiritual realm. It’s somebody who is in the community, much like a doctor, much like a priest, who is the go-to guy for something that we would look at as being a therapy issue, something that we would like as being a spiritual, coming-to-God issue, and also somebody who just needs to be prescribed a specific medication. Obviously in Siberia that would be an herb or something that could be found in nature, but they’re sort of the all-in-one, one-stop resource for healing.
Yuri: And I’m sure there’ve been some medical doctors who’ve seen this movie. I don’t know if you’ve spoken to any of them, but what do you think, if you haven’t, what do you think their impression would be of what was happening down in the jungle?
Nick: You know what’s cool? Again, going to film festivals is a really interesting experience. The other two films weren’t really in festivals as much because I just don’t know if they were as accessible to the mainstream as this is. I think this has more of a survivor spin, combining survivor with maybe more of the alternative medicine.
We had all these sold-out crowds at these big festivals. At a few of them I was told beforehand, almost warned, “Hey, see the front row? The front few rows, there’s going to be a lot of conventional doctors and surgeons.” Actually, a few neurosurgeons were at one of them. “So, just be ready for some hard questions because this isn’t exactly the school of thought that they come from, and it’s very possible that they’re here to sort of be the counter voice to what you’re proposing in the film.”
And I never really received a lot of callouts, hard questions. Definitely some questions, but I feel like…I guess because the film sort of is a transformative experience in and of itself, I feel like a lot of people get triggered along the way. It’s not saying, “Hey, this is the only way,” or, “Oh my gosh, we can’t believe Western medicine is so blind to these things.”
I feel like it’s evenhanded or at least it doesn’t touch on any of the sore spots of what’s going on currently in Western medicine. We haven’t gotten much negative press or just cynicism from Western medicine on the film.
In fact, a lot of them—it’s really cool, actually—after screening at the Denver Film Festival, we were approached by a neurologist who is part of the team for a major celebrity who is working with Parkinson’s disease. I’m not going to name names, but if you follow pop culture, you probably have an idea of who this is. He approached us afterward and said, “Listen, I heard about the film. You took a Parkinson’s patient down there. I wanted to come see it for myself. Now that I’ve seen her results, I need to talk. Can we meet next week?”
When we met he basically said, “I’m working with this particular celebrity to put together a grant to fund research down at your institute in the jungle, and we’re really, really excited about the possibilities.
Yuri: That’s awesome.
Nick: I feel like in a lot of ways, maybe it’s half that we didn’t try to step on anybody’s toes with the film, but I think it’s also half that maybe we’re ready for this. Maybe even Western medicine is starting to realize that they don’t have the answer to everything.
Yuri: That’s encouraging that you got that kind of feedback from those in the medical establishment. As you said, there’s no bashing of doctors in the movie, which is always good.
Nick: Yeah, I guess something else they appreciated was that we brought two medical doctors into the jungle with us. In the film you’ll see, one of them actually never appears in the film, but one of them does, Dr. Patella.
We have doctors there that are doing blood work and just always visiting and seeing how the patients are doing. I think that might have added a bit of credibility to what was transpiring in the film.
Yuri: It’s really, really cool. Just before we end off, guys, TheSacredScience.com is the Web site. You can check out the movie; you can purchase it from there. You can also check it out on Netflix and pretty much any other service that provides movies that we have nowadays. Before we end off, what do you think are one or two takeaways that people can get out of the movie that they can apply into their own life?
Nick: I think that, there are two I would say. One is just becoming more in tune with what your body’s telling you.
I think that, like we were saying before, going out into nature for 30 days is obviously a good way to get down to the nitty-gritty of who you are, but you can do that in your own home. You can do that with a good meditation practice; you can do that with a good yoga practice.
A lot of people write us and say, “We want to go down to the jungle. How do we get down to the jungle? What does it cost? Can you make room for us? I have X and I really want to get rid of it. I’m so inspired by your film. Please give me details as soon as possible.”
The first thing we say to them is: “What are you currently doing? What do you currently have in play in your life?” A lot of the techniques that we’re using in the film can be used anywhere, even if you wanted to do your own retreat in a place near you. Even if it’s something that’s just like a four- or five-day camping excursion where you set an intention and you bring the right foods and the right herbs with you to just have that experience and really, really wake up to who you really are and what your body’s telling you.
I feel like one takeaway is that you don’t necessarily need to go to the jungle to do this. You’re going to get a lot of lessons from the film on how you can apply these practices, and you can probably take many of them and do them in the town where you live. That’s one.
The second one is that we need to—I shouldn’t put it so definitively, but in my opinion, I really feel like we need to start paying attention to the indigenous cultures that are living among us. I don’t care where you live. I can probably point to a place where you can learn from indigenous within 40 or 50 miles max from where you live right now. Honestly, the more remote of a location you live in, the better probability that you live even closer to a place where you can practice with or at least visit with and honor some of the indigenous traditions that are still alive among us.
I think that there’s a beautiful coincidence that the very people who hold this indigenous wisdom are the very people who need our respect and our support more than ever right now. This knowledge is in danger of being wiped off the face of the planet because the people that hold this knowledge live in areas that are being exploited for natural resources, their cultures aren’t being taken seriously, and I think that we really need to do our part to preserve this knowledge.
Yuri: Sure, that’s a great thing that I don’t think really…that’s something I never even considered or thought about, and I’m sure a lot of people haven’t even thought about that either, so thanks for bringing that up; that’s a really good point. I know where I live, I’m literally a five-minute drive from an Indian reserve, and I’ve never been over there. There’s a casino over there; I’ve been to the casino once for lunch I think, but I’ve never really kind of gotten into that culture or thought it was as accessible as it maybe is.
That’s definitely something I’ll look into, because that’s a great idea. Again, it allows you to kind of connect with people who are from this area originally and seeing what is it that they’ve been doing for centuries and centuries and centuries, which I think is great, so that’s a great piece of advice.
Nick: A lot of the gurus that I’ve had the good fortune of coming in contact with and becoming friends with over the last decade, this was kind of part of the motivating force behind this film. When I talk to them or I get to spend time with them one on one just kind of casually, a lot of them refer to these traditions.
A lot of them refer to, “Super-food nutrition, that’s awesome. You want to know where I’m really getting a lot of my nourishment spiritually and physically? I’m getting them from X tribe or this documentary on these people who live over here. Now I’m working with a medicine man over here who I met through so-and-so.”
I feel like a lot of the people that we respect and really look up to in the wellness world, these are their go-to people, and they have their connections in the indigenous community. It’s really cool. I really feel like this is something we’re going to be hearing a lot more of in the coming years.
Yuri: Yeah, and thanks to movies like yours, which I think, again, anybody should watch this. As far as I’m concerned, you can never read enough books, and you can never watch enough of these documentary movies, because it’s pure inspiration and sometimes a kick in the butt to take action in the right direction.
I think most people are going to watch an hour and a half or so of TV a day, so why not put something good on the tube, which would be this type of movie? TheSacredScience.com is the Web site. Nick, thanks again for taking the time, buddy. It’s been a lot of fun conversing with you and catching up with you after having watched the movie. I thought was great and I think you guys did a great job on it.
Nick: Yuri, always a pleasure. Always a pleasure, man.
Yuri: Awesome, buddy. Good talking to you; we’ll talk to you soon. And for everyone else listening or reading this on the blog, go over to TheSacredScience.com, grab a copy of the movie, and, yeah, it’s just awesome.
You guys just have to watch. There’s so much stuff we haven’t even talked about in this interview, like all the different plants and herbs that they used, which you can check out in the movie. It’s great, check it out, and I look forward to seeing you guys in the next episode.
So, there we go, another great interview. I hope you guys enjoyed that one with Nick. Again, let me know your feedback. Pop in to iTunes, leave a review, leave a rating for the podcast.
Again, I really appreciate all the amazing reviews and ratings we continue to get on this podcast. It goes to show me that you guys are really digging this stuff. As I mentioned before, the more ratings and reviews and the stuff we can get behind this podcast, again, with your help—I’m not the one posting the reviews on my behalf—with your help is really the way we can get this message and these empowering nutrition messages out to more people, so I’d really appreciate if you take the time to leave a review and rating on iTunes.
Remember that you guys can also get the full notes/transcript of this interview on the blog over at SuperNutritionAcademy.com. You guys can go ahead and do that today as well, assuming you’re not in the car driving as you’re listening to this.
And that’s all for me today. I hope you enjoyed this interview. Have a great day and I look forward to seeing you in the next episode. Keep it healthy.
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