Please enjoy this transcript of our interview with Dr. Nisha Khanna.
Dr. Nisha Khanna blends Western medicine with the ancient practice of Ayurveda to create holistic health—emotional, mental, physical, and spiritual. Her focus is on getting to the root cause of disease and correcting imbalance, not just covering up the symptoms. In this episode, Nisha and Paul discuss recognizing your higher self, disconnection as disease, and the role of psychedelics in whole-being health.
How Ayurveda complements traditional medicine.
The wisdom of ancient healing techniques.
Addressing the root cause of disease, not just patching the symptoms.
Viewing health through the lens of nature, and ourselves as part of the ecosystem.
How to get started with an Ayurvedic approach to wellness.
Elemental imbalances and how they affect your health.
What Ayurvedic medicine and psychedelic journeys have in common.
Nisha’s treatment protocol—the five koshas.
How psychedelics fit into treating the mind, body, and spirit.
Why disconnection is disease.
Are you actually short tempered and judgmental, or do you just need a gut cleanse?
Psychedelics as a treatment for inflammatory diseases.
Responsibly tapping into the universal consciousness grid.
Reclaiming your mental, physical, emotional, and spiritual health so you can pursue your joy and share your gifts.
0:00:00.0 Paul Austin: For today’s podcast, we have Nisha Khanna, MD, a board-certified internist who has been practicing medicine since 2005. As a western-trained physician, she learned the strengths and limitations of the modern medical system and sought to reach beyond its boundaries. Because she was exposed to Ayurveda at an early age, she has drawn on its timeless wisdom for self-healing for over 20 years. So we get into the intersection of Ayurveda, psychedelics, and healing in today’s episode.
0:00:28.9 PA: Welcome, to the Sporestore podcast. I’m your host, Paul Austin, here to bring you cutting edge interviews with leading scientists, entrepreneurs, and medical professionals who are exploring how we can integrate psychedelics in an intentional and responsible way for both healing and transformation. It is my honor and privilege to bring you these episodes as you get deeper and deeper into why these medicines are so critical to the future of humanity. So let’s go and let’s see what we can explore and learn together in this incredibly important time.
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0:04:00.0 PA: Hey, listeners. And welcome back to Sporestore’s podcast. As always, I’m your host, Paul Austin, here with episode 111. And we have a very special guest for today’s episode, Nisha Khanna, who is a medical doctor and integrates functional Ayurveda into her practice. And Nisha is a board-certified internist. She’s been practicing medicine since 2005. And when conventional clinical experience convinced her that she had to offer more to her patients, a return to Nisha’s roots showed her a powerful path to healing the entirety of people’s being. So Nisha pursued her formal Ayurvedic education in Albuquerque, New Mexico under Dr. Vasant Lad, the world-renowned Ayurvedic physician and educator, and she has since returned to Austin, and integrated functional medicine and Ayurveda into her practice as a bridge between modern medicine and ancient healing. So about a month ago, maybe a month and a half ago, I connected with Nisha. She’s also an advisor to Sovereignty, and Sovereignty is a supplement that we’ve talked about on the podcast before that I’ve worked with extensively. They have two supplements, PURPOSE and DREAM, and these supplements integrate Ayurvedic ingredients, and they also integrate things like CBG and CBN and other adaptogens. And it was by far the best supplement that I’ve ever worked with.
0:05:20.9 PA: And so as part of our agreement with Sovereignty, we decided to have Nisha on the podcast to talk about what is the intersection between Ayurvedic medicine and psychedelics and what commonalities do they share for the healing process, and also just what are some of the specifics around Ayurveda because we haven’t had anyone in the podcast yet to talk about Ayurvedic medicine, and this is one of the most ancient healing modalities that we have as a human species.
0:05:47.8 PA: Ayurveda has been going on for over 3,000 years. There’s incredible timeless wisdom within that practice. So what better than to have a board-certified internist who’s born in India, experienced with Ayurveda, also understands psychedelics, to come on the podcast and talk about the intersecting worlds between all of that. So this was as always an incredibly insightful conversation, and if you’re a healer, a therapist or a doctor, or just someone who is interested in continuing your healing journey, I think you’re gonna learn a lot in this episode about the potential of Ayurveda, the usefulness of Ayurveda, in particular, how it relates to someone’s psychedelic journey as they’re continuing to heal and transform. So without any further ado, I bring you, Nisha Khanna.
0:06:33.3 PA: So Nisha, I just wanna thank you for taking the time to come on Sporestore’s podcast. Welcome.
0:06:37.7 Nisha Khanna: Thank you. I’m so excited to be here.
0:06:39.9 PA: The first thing that we’d love to dive into when it comes to the podcast is just hearing a little bit about your story. So you have a background as an Ayurvedic practitioner, you also are a board-certified internist, you’ve been practicing medicine since 2006, I believe. So I would love just to start a little bit with your origin story. How did you sort of find your way into Ayurvedic medicine? How did that sort of align with a more traditional sort of medical doctor approach? And then sort of leading into where you’re at right now, in terms of offering consultations, in terms of having a practice, how that relates potentially to Sovereignty? We just love to get into a little bit of that origin story to start off with.
0:07:23.3 NK: So for me, I think I’ve always been on a healing quest to understand my own body primarily, and then from there, be able to share that knowledge, that experience, that understanding, and that’s what drove me into medicine, to begin with. And I feel that I definitely learned anatomy and the basics and pathology and how things function in Western medicine, and it was a really great foundation, however, it left a lot of holes, a lot of answers that medicine didn’t have the answer for, and they were conditions that were diagnosed or called idiopathic, and there was a lot of labeling without a lot of treatment. There were so many things, anything from headaches and body pain to chronic conditions that just really seemed like we were skimming the surface and patching up band-aids. And after practicing for, let’s see, about five years, I had the opportunity to dig deeper and actually go back to a system that I had sort of implemented for myself. I had self-study Ayurveda, worked with some practitioners, and used that as my own healing system for when I didn’t feel well or if I was working on something. And so it made a lot of sense to me to return to this alternative system of healing to really round out my ability to help people, and that’s why I returned.
0:08:57.6 NK: I was working for several years in hospital settings, in clinics, and it wasn’t really a very traditional path to then go back to school after working, but I did. You think about completing medicine and you do the four years of medical school and the three years of residency, and usually people are about done by that and then they’re not gonna go back to school again, so it was unusual. But it was that moment in time for me where I felt like the world opened up and I had this intense sense of passion and purpose that just came about, whereas prior to that, I’d felt like I was wandering a bit like I kind of was interested in this or that, and kind of just really skimming the surface, but then it felt like so much alignment when I actually went to study Ayurveda like “Oh wow, that’s the reason you’re on the planet. That’s the reason you’re here,” is to really embody this knowledge and be able to bring it forth and integrate it for people, so that they don’t have to necessarily choose, “Oh, I’m gonna just go the traditional Western way or I’m gonna go completely holistic,” but really be that bridge and be able to draw from both modalities and see what’s needed when. So it really was a journey of passion for me to really find out what is that thing that lights me up, and what is my purpose here and what’s my… Why am I here? What am I here to share? And so that’s sort of the answer to your question, I think.
0:10:28.9 PA: And what was it about Ayurvedic medicine that created that alignment? What did you sort of learn from it? What were the insights? What helped to cement that path for you when it came to Ayurvedic?
0:10:40.7 NK: Well, I think it’s the simplicity of it and how easy it is to understand a few very basic principles and then be able to really take off with your own healing. There’s no one modality that I’ve learned that covers everything and gives you the answer to everything. And I think maybe each ancient system of healing had that, but over time, so much of it was passed on through the tradition of like oral tradition of passing down information that some of it was lost or maybe some of it’s hard to decipher. So I feel like, over time, there’s been a wearing away where even if you study a modality, you may not get the complete, whole, and so it’s almost like we need several modalities to really get to a greater sense of whole. And so for me, Ayurveda helped fill in those gaps because it was providing another system, another framework of looking at things, and it was very much in alignment with nature, so we can look at ourselves as very much a part of the ecosystem that we’re in. And I think having that holistic approach was so different than the segmentation of Western medicine, but it was just very thrilling to have yet another piece of the puzzle.
0:12:01.6 PA: So a lot of our listeners, they either have no understanding of Ayurvedic medicine or maybe they have sort of a passing understanding of psychedelic or of Ayurvedic medicine. We have yet to have a medical professional come on the show to talk about it. What’s the basic 101 of how to understand and to sort of get started with an Ayurvedic approach to healing and general wellness?
0:12:23.9 NK: So that’s a good question. How do you break down this huge body of knowledge to maybe [chuckle] a few quick nuances?
0:12:31.1 PA: Like what’s the three to five… You can do it. What’s the three to five-minute sort of or even longer, but just sort of like… Especially for people who are new to this, what are sort of the most important things for them to understand as to how it relates to the more sort of Western way of healing or medicine.
0:12:47.6 NK: Okay, so there’s this great sutra. So that’s like a little rhyme or a phrase from the ancient text that says [unclear speech]. And this means everything that you can perceive is composed of the five elements. And so every substance, whether that’s a food, whether that’s a plant, whether it’s a person, whether it’s the weather, whether it’s the season, whether it’s a crop, anything is composed of a ratio of these elements. And so those are ether, air, fire, water, earth. And so when we talk about those three constitutions you mentioned, they have a predominance in one of these elements. So whether that be air or fire or earth.
0:13:34.7 NK: And it’s easy to do a quick quiz online and find out what elements you’re predominant in for your unique body-mind type. And once you know what your… The way I usually approach it is that most people, it’s a fun thing for them to find out what their constitution is, but what’s more important is what imbalance are you manifesting? So I’ll give you an example. So say someone’s having anxiety or insomnia. We, in Ayurveda, we look at everything in terms of the qualities of that thing. And so there’s 10 pairs of opposites, so like light and heavy, or dry and moist.
0:14:17.5 NK: And so we look at everything in terms of opposites. And so when you apply this really basic principle in Ayurveda, which is like increases like and opposites balance, you can look at the qualities of a substance or an emotion or a thing and balance it with its opposite. And so I think that’s probably the most important principle in Ayurveda. And so then going back to that example of anxiety and insomnia, when you think about someone who’s anxious, they’re very much in their mind. So you think of this lighter quality versus being in your body, which would be more heavy. And you think of mobility, thoughts that race from one thing to the next, and maybe even a roughness where they’re not really able to carry a thought forward. So there’s a choppiness to it. And so let’s say that that anxiety has the qualities of mobility, rough, and light. So then what would you do to balance it? The opposites. So you do heavy, you do moist, and by moist in Ayurveda, it’s actually more oily and more sumptuous or the opposite of broth being of slimy.
0:15:41.4 NK: Then what activities have the qualities of heaviness and oiliness and slimy and moistness. And so if you think about food then, you would eat foods or maybe root vegetables that were cooked in this warm soupy stewy fashion with healthy fats. The tendency, however, is that if someone is imbalanced, there is the tendency to be craving activities and foods that drive you out of imbalance. And so that person who’s anxious and having insomnia is more likely to be drawn to eating popcorn and crackers and [unclear speech]. It’s almost like they propagate their own issue because they’re doing like increases like versus opposites balance. And so if that person were to try to slow down, balance that mobility, have less things going on, not be multitasking, just really focus on one activity at a time, try to get into some meditative practice, whether it’s meditating throughout their day by just being present to each moment, or whether it’s being really attending to one thing at a time and eating the foods like I described, warm-cooked soupy, healthy fats, avocados, things that are just heavier, nut seeds are heavier, even proteins, whether that be meat protein or other plant-based proteins.
0:17:15.6 NK: And so they’re gonna be able to balance their imbalance. It’s just a bit of a conundrum oftentimes, because when you’re craving the thing that drives you further away from balance, unless you know these principles to use the opposite to balance, you’re gonna just be stuck. And so oftentimes I see patients who are anxious and having insomnia, but they’re all vegans. And that’s really not supportive to them, and it may be something that they can do in the future, but it’s not good for that individual with that current pathology. So does that make sense?
0:17:54.5 PA: Yeah, and I think the question that comes up for me then is how do you train an intuition to come back into balance? So in other words, if you have someone who is more anxious prone and they are a raw vegan diet, why are they choosing to be raw vegan rather than maybe having this intuitive understanding that, “I need something that’s a little heavier, a little more nourishing, a little more sustenance,” ‘Cause it feels like anything that distracts you from that intuition or pulls you out of that intuition in terms of how to eat, how to take care of yourself feels like an element… It feels pathological or comes from some sort of trauma in itself. So how do you perceive that cultivation of the inner knowing so that when you start to work with clients, they can make better and better decisions for themselves as they’re becoming closer to balance again.
0:18:47.4 NK: When the system is… When it does return to balance, then it craves the things that are gonna keep it in balance. So it’s almost like whatever state you’re in, you’re gonna propagate that state. And you almost have to put energy in and go against what you might think is a intuitive craving to do what you know is right, to correct the imbalance and then you can begin to trust your intuition again, once you’re back in balance. So if you’re feeling great, then you’re like, “Oh okay, I think I feel like having a little salad today.” That’s probably an intuition that you can trust.
0:19:23.0 PA: If we go back to the example of someone who’s more anxious prone, who isn’t sleeping as well, but who’s also raw vegan, the decision to become a raw vegan oftentimes comes from a healthy place. People think that it’ll be more nutritious, people think that it’s better for the environment, whatever the sort of rationale is, and yet in this case that we talked about, it’s not. So let’s say you’re working with a client or an individual who truly believes that they are eating the right foods or whatever it is, how do you direct them into the understanding that, “Actually where you’re at right now, raw veganism isn’t best for you. This sort of way of eating or dieting might be best for you,” and then help them to recognize sort of beyond when they’re working with you, sort of continue to come to those own understandings themselves, so they can stay in that place of balance.
0:20:20.1 NK: Yeah. I think a few key things is, one, recognizing that there is no one right or healthy diet or food for anyone. I think in general, we try to come up with these conclusions, and it becomes almost fad like. You know, that first everybody was into soy and then everybody was into almond milk and then it was coconut oil or goji berries, or whatever the trends are, acai, and it’s like these foods and how they’re prepared are wonderful, and yet it’s like everything can be a poison and everything can be a medicine, depending on which person, which time of year, what’s going on with them. In Ayurveda, there is that tailoring of beliefs where you have to see and so if that patient was coming to me and they’re doing everything they thought was healthy, I would ask them the question, “Well, is that working for you? You take this thing, this diet, and how do you feel with it?” If you’re feeling wonderful and you have no problems then it’s working for you, but if it’s not working for you, then something needs to change because that thing may not be wonderful for you.
0:21:36.5 PA: That can sometimes be a difficult assessment for people to make on themselves because we all have these different perspectives of what is healthy, how do we feel, what are the right feelings to have? Some of us have become so sort of accustomed to feeling anxious that it feels normal. And so to actually be led to a place that’s not anxious can be difficult at times. There could be resistance by the ego, so to say there can be resistance by the personality to let go of that to settle into a healthier way of being. So I think in speaking about this what comes up for me is a big part of this is trust in the practitioner. If someone is coming to you to work with you, knowing of your background, and recognizing that they do have a problem or an issue, I think there’s a healthy relationship and a healthy bond that can be created in that way, which is they’re saying, “Okay, I don’t know what’s wrong, with Nisha with her background as a functional medicine doctor, with Ayurvedic, I trust her perspective and her words, and so I’m going to sort of follow her lead on this and work with her in that way.”
0:22:39.3 PA: And I think this in some ways, has a lot of overlap with even something like psychedelics, for example, where so much of a psychedelic experience is about set and setting, and when you go into, let’s say, a mushroom experience with a guide, you don’t know what’s gonna be on other end of that because you’ve never tried mushrooms before, but the guide has been there, sort of understands the flavor and the nuances of the experience, and can ensure that it goes safe, that it goes well, that they can hold your hand through that process, even if there’s a lot of unknowns, or uncertainty for you in moving through the healing with, whether it’s psychedelics or whether it’s with an Ayurvedic medicine or whatever the sort of catalyst or thing is that you use to help the healing process.
0:23:26.5 NK: Right, that’s such a great analogy. I think a big part of it is the energy that you hold when you’re with that patient on that first visit. So whether you’re a psychedelic spiritual guide or you’re working with them as a healing practitioner, everything is in your energy and how you see the patient. When I work with someone and they come into my office, I’m completely present with them and I’m holding them in their highest self light. I actually, when I’m looking at them, I’m seeing their light grid around them and holding them in their highest energy, and that’s the heart connection that inspires trust. Because otherwise, there’s so many unknowns and you’re meeting somebody for the first time, the words that you say, even though you might have a great explanation, yes, it’s important to explain the why, but so much of it is just that sense and that feeling in someone else’s presence, and I think that’s a big part of it.
0:24:34.0 NK: And if you can just hold that person in enough trust with you, then it’s kind of amazing because small shifts can go very far. I’m very sensitive in terms of knowing where people are and empathically sort of understanding their facial expressions and things like that, that in the first visit I’m able to really tune in. It’s kind of amazing because it might just be a slight leap in faith to trust you, but once you just get over that tiny hump and I give them their list of treatment recommendations, a few… That we’ll follow up on in a few weeks, they usually go from that place of, “I don’t know about all this,” to that second visit where they’ve actually implemented some of the practices to this complete trust because within just a few short things and few short changes, someone can notice quite incremental benefits. That’s usually my experience is that on that second visit, they’re just completely hard open like, “Okay, whatever you say,” because they’ve had the experience of actually getting some benefit with some changes.
0:25:46.8 PA: And a lot of it then, like you said, is holding a non-judgmental space, is helping people to feel safe in that, because personal health and diet changes and new supplements and all of these things, many of us have gone through many iterations of it, and this didn’t work or this didn’t work or this didn’t work. So a lot of us have lost trust in doctors or the medical establishment or whatever it is. And so I think that even amplifies then the importance of you as the practitioner, how do you communicate that? This is totally in your best interest. It’s what best for you, it’s what’s here to serve you, and then guiding them along that path, even though there might be resistance from the personality, recognizing that their higher self is definitely going to benefit from this.
0:26:35.8 PA: And I think that was a thing that as you were talking about the treatment protocols, we’ve connected initially because of the supplement sovereignty, which both has a morning supplement called Purpose an evening supplement called Dream, both of which I’ve tried and are phenomenal. And then we’ve also talked a little bit about psychedelics, which I wanna eventually get a little bit deeper into our conversation. But I’d love to hear more from you about how do you approach those treatment protocols?
0:27:04.2 PA: Let’s say you have a client who comes to you or someone who is struggling with gastrointestinal issues or struggling with depression or fatigue, or struggling with other health-related issues, is it first immediately, “Let’s look at supplements. Let’s look at drugs. Let’s look at whether they’re psychedelics or other medicines.” Or is it first, “Okay. First let’s assess diet, sleep, exercise. And then once that’s dialed in, then let’s look at maybe the supplements, maybe there’s something else that we might add into that.” How do you approach that treatment protocol process for your client?
0:27:40.0 NK: Have you heard of the koshas in Ayurveda? It’s the layers to the energy field?
0:27:46.9 PA: Could you tell us a little bit about the koshas? Maybe I’ve heard the word once or twice, but I’m not super, super familiar.
0:27:53.0 NK: Yeah. So in Ayurveda and yoga, it’s all kind of a similar discipline in this respect, we think about the koshas or layers to the energy field that make up the aura. And so there’s the annamaya kosha, which is the physical body. And then moving out from that, there’s the pranamaya kosha, which is more of the energy body, meaning the pranic field. And then there’s the manomaya kosha, which is the mental-emotional body where thoughts and feelings are held. And then the vijnanamaya kosha, which is the Buddhic body where the intellect and the processing occurs. And then there’s the anandamaya kosha, which is basically the bliss body.
0:28:37.5 NK: And so, different texts describe these as inner and outer going centripetally or centrifugally outward. The way I learned it is the annamaya kosha or the physical body is closest to the body, and then moving outward from there, the bliss body is the most external layer. And so when I work with a patient… I didn’t actually plan this, but it just ended up being that way. And I was like, “Oh wow. Okay, this makes sense.” Where I’m their first visit, I work on their physical body because I feel like people really need to feel better in order to migrate into the other areas and get the most benefit from that. So that first visit is focused on using supplements, using cleansing practices, dietary shifts to really make a difference in how someone’s feeling, and then on a follow-up visit, we may go deeper by doing… One of the therapies I use is called Marma, which is Vedic acupressure.
0:29:37.8 NK: And so that’s really getting into more of the pranic and the mental-emotional body. And then from there, I might dive deeper into, say, an emotional-heart nourishing treatment, which is the Ayurvedic practice… It’s called the [unclear speech], which basically means holding warm medicated oil at an energy point along the heart center, and this helps to process the past, process emotions, release a lot of that, and then nourish that heart center too. And then I use this practice from NLP called timeline therapy, which helps to release negative emotions. So working from gross to subtle, and then within the plane of mental-emotional, going from gross to subtle as well, to really work on healing the whole aura. And woven into this is pranayama so breath work.
0:30:34.9 NK: It’s just conversations how sharing with people before and after their experience to help them find that connection to the spirit that is that bliss body that connects to the universal consciousness. And if someone does go through this whole process with me, it’s healing on every level. And I think it’s important to work in this auric way of working with a patient versus just take the supplement.
0:31:10.2 PA: And so you’re really assessing mind-body-spirit.
0:31:13.5 NK: Exactly. That’s an easy way to say it.
0:31:18.7 PA: And where to dial in and where to start. And for a lot of people, that’s emotional trauma. A lot of people have physical issues and physical symptoms that stem from emotional trauma. And oftentimes that emotional trauma has developed because of a lack of ability to access these higher states of being in a more transcendent spiritual state, because most of us have been cut off from them in so many ways. And this is of course to bring it full circle now for our conversation, which I think will lead to a really interesting evolution the next 30 minutes. This is where psychedelics have proven to be really interesting over the last, in particular, the last 10 years with a lot of the clinical research that’s come out. But obviously as human beings, we’ve been using these medicines for thousands and thousands of years. I think in the Upanishads, they talked about Soma, which was a beverage in ancient India that was drunk as part of a ceremony, and many people think that that was Psilocybin mushrooms. So even in terms of potentially with Ayurvedic medicine, there may be some incredible rich history with mushrooms, whether they’re psychoactive or non-psychoactive.
0:32:29.9 PA: And to get back to that point about mind-body-spirit, one of the ground-breaking results of early clinical research with Psilocybin was showing that it could reputably occasion a mystical-type experience. And so that mystical-type experience is essentially the sort of ineffable divine connection to divine, it’s almost impossible to explain. There’s a beautiful noetic quality to it, except that people see God, people experience God, people become God, whatever you wanna call it. And in normal, every day sort of life, about 1% of people have spontaneous mystical experiences, but they showed that with Psilocybin, it could be upwards of 80% of people who could have a mystical experience through Psilocybin. So all that is to say then, when we’re looking at Ayurvedic practice, when we’re looking at the healing process holding people to their highest self, helping them to let go and surrender negative emotions, ensuring that they’re making better decisions as it relates to the food that they’re eating, the exercise that they’re getting, what role, from your perspective, might something like psychedelics play in that healing process?
0:33:39.9 NK: I think they’re really profound in the whole process. And I would say that it’s probably a really great idea to work on the physical layer, like I described, whether it’s cleansing the body or balancing out some supplement deficiencies, mineral deficiencies, whether that’s magnesium or using adaptogens. And you want to be in a strong place where you’re also able to achieve those subtler states without having negative repercussions, because a lot of the foods in the common standard American diet are very dense. And in Ayurveda, we see psychedelics as bringing you more into the etheric space, so bringing more of that ether quality into the body. And so if you’re just bogged down with so much density, toxins, things that have not been processed, whether that’s mental or emotional, then you’re less likely to be able to really hold that etheric space and kinda move within it without kinda knocking into density.
0:34:48.9 NK: And I believe that’s probably part of why there is so much cleansing and dietary guidelines around using certain psychedelics. I don’t think I’ve ever encountered a practice where there wasn’t some guidances to eat a certain way prior to, or don’t eat for several hours before. And so that definitely resonates from an Ayurvedic perspective of, you want to… You wanna cleanse the body first.
0:35:17.8 NK: And so then once you’ve built that foundation and maybe even started in on some of the mental, emotional work, whether that be with the support of herbs like ashwagandha to really balance the nervous system and support it, from there, you can kinda plug in psychedelics at any point. And I feel like the more work you do on a daily basis to process and support your system, the more transcendent the psychedelic experience can be. And that’s not always the case, but it seems to be that that would make logical sense and be a pattern that I’ve experienced.
0:36:00.6 NK: And so I feel that one of the greatest deficiencies in humanity is the lack of that connection to the divine. And whether that’s knowing it in everything or in yourself, it’s almost like that’s the root cause of disease. And I feel like the negative emotions that we experience are a result of the lack of this knowing and kind of holding that knowing where it’s not just something that you tap into once a year, a couple times a year, or if ever, but that you actually hold it multiple times throughout the day, if not a steady state of inner knowing. And so, in Ayurveda, we say that the body is crystallized mind, and the mind is essentially crystallized spirit. So if your spirit is not feeling connected and is not feeling its divinity, then it’s gonna lead to mental pathology, emotional pathology and then physical pathology.
0:37:05.3 NK: So I think that whatever it takes. And like you said, having a spontaneous spiritual experience, not everyone has access to that. And our kind of current society isn’t really conducive to that either. When you think about the lives that most people lead, which are just so full, and there’s very little kind of inherent presence, you kinda get what you start with. So you’re you’re not going to be in a conducive place to having these spontaneous spiritual experiences if you’re never present during the day, because there’s just so much going on mentally or physically. Being able to really tune into an experience through psychedelics is so important for people, because it’s an access point. And I think done in the correct setting with the correct guidance, it can be a really profound place to reverse disease and to really establish almost like a memory for people to tune back into.
0:38:07.6 NK: So even if they’re not having that experience again, they can tune into the memory of it and re-live it and almost have an access point to that divine gate. And I think really ultimately, that’s the root of disease, and that’s also the way back to health.
0:38:24.2 PA: And this is where the sort of medicalization of psychedelics right now is super interesting, because everything we’ve learned from a Western medical perspective is so reductionist and so granular that we lose scope of why disease occur. The sort of predominant story for the last, I don’t know, 50-60 years has been, at least as it relates to mental health diseases, biological imbalance, so to say, chemical imbalances, issues with serotonin or dopamine or oxytocin or whatever it is. And even physical issues, we’re looking at how do we count calories, how do we get more time on the treadmill, how do we…
0:39:04.3 PA: Maybe do a few more jumping jacks. And these all are sort of, at least from my perspective, questions addressing symptoms rather than questions that are addressing sort of the root cause, the underlying issue, which as you said, disconnection is disease. And if you’re disconnected from spirit, you’re often disconnected from nature, you’re often disconnected from community, from yourself, it’s sort of a fractalization of disconnection that will lead to disease, whether it’s in the physical body, the mental body, the emotional body, the spiritual body, whatever it is. And so this is where I think, going back to the point you made at the beginning of the podcast, what you’re looking to do is really act as that bridge. That’s sort of… It feels like the role more and more of functional medicine. And I think what’s so beautiful about particularly the Ayurvedic practice is there’s also within the Ayurvedic practice such… It’s steeped so much from a historical perspective in spirit and wisdom, which we don’t necessarily see in the sort of Western medical perspective.
0:40:11.8 NK: Yeah, that’s so true. And kind of speaking to your point about balancing neurotransmitters. So I’m sure you guys have discussed on the podcast the importance of gut health, and that meaning anywhere from 70-90% of the body’s serotonin is made in the gut. And I’ve seen first-hand with patients that they self-identified as kind of grumpy, sort of withdrawn individuals, and I just take them through a gut reset, have a cleanse that involves sort of what we call a weed, seed, feed approach, where you sort of weed out the dysbiosis and you propagate with probiotics, and you feed the probiotics what they’d like to thrive on, so that you continue to crowd out the bad guys, and just a month of doing a reset like that, it’s kind of crazy because the patient’s whole personality can shift. And she was a massage therapist, the one I’m thinking of right now was a massage therapist, and her clients were telling her, “You’re so different in how you’re engaging with us.”
0:41:22.1 NK: And I think we can identify certain personality traits, things that we think we’ve always been, but it’s really just the ratio of neurotransmitters that are being produced in our gut or the elements that are imbalanced. The same thing goes from an Ayurvedic perspective, where someone can identify as just being short-tempered, easily frustrated, just real judgmental, and that’s a Pitta imbalance, so an imbalance of the fire quality. You bring that into balance by minimizing spicy foods, sour foods, certain activities to bring them more into the present moment than be out into the future in their head, and their personality shifts. And so I think that that’s where that physical layer comes in. We can do our part with setting stage for everything to work, and then we can tap into the spirit and really just propagate the health that comes from sort of that restoration of, I guess, the fountain of knowing the truth of who you really are.
0:42:27.8 PA: And this is something that I also find to be super fascinating as it relates to psychedelics. I’m so glad that you brought up the gut health imbalance. Psychedelics in some early clinical trials, and they’re doing a lot more research, there’s a company called Eleusis that’s exploring the anti-inflammatory impacts of psychedelics, in particular for Alzheimer’s and dementia, but also for certain gut-related issues. And I think one of the most under-researched, under-talked about areas of psychedelic medicine is the anti-inflammatory impacts. In particular, I’m sort of curious of the role that microdosing… When people microdose, they tend to do it two to three to four times a week, can play in gut health, if that’s helpful, if it’s not helpful, if whatever else it might be. And I think that is another sort of cool thing where we know, yeah, psychedelics, they do something with serotonin, they activate the 5-HT2A serotonin receptor, that leads to more neuroplasticity, and more neuroplasticity means that you are more malleable to change, so you can make better dietary changes, etc, etc.
0:43:32.7 PA: So we kinda gonna have that granular sense, and we know, as we continue to talk about sort of the big transcendence opportunities that happen with psychedelics. And speaking on a personal note, when I first started working with these medicines 11 years ago now, one of the big sort of insights or breakthroughs that I had when I first started to take acid and mushrooms was it sort of peeled off that layer that I thought, oh, I’m supposed to be eating this way, or exercising this way, or doing whatever, and just helped me to really honor and pay attention to what was going on internally. And a huge part of that was switching to basically a paleo-esque diet to reduce inflammation, to ensure that I was more alive, that I was more active, switching to much more of a functional exercise approach. I was doing CrossFit at the time, because that was the most sort of commonly known one. But there were so many sort of downstream shifts and effects that were specifically from those early transcendent experiences that I had with psychedelics.
0:44:35.7 NK: Such a great point. In Ayurveda, there’s a saying that the root cause of disease, all disease, is a term called Prajnaparadha, which means, a crime against your wisdom. And so sort of linking back to what you talked about at the beginning regarding intuition and eating intuitively or making intuitive choices for your life, it’s if someone is able to get better in tune with what they actually need at the amounts and the qualities of what they’re eating, as well as the thing itself, then that’s the root to… That’s one of the pathways back to health. And I think one of the problems that I see so often, and biggest blocks encountered with patients is that very resistance. It’s a resistance to change or it’s a resistance to doing something that maybe they know is good for them, but repetitively do the opposite.
0:45:41.7 NK: And so I foresee a time in the future where psychedelics could be integrated at the onset, because I think people know what their patterns are before they come to see you as a patient, and maybe it’s a sugar addiction or something like that. And actually getting the crimes against wisdom out of the way from the beginning so that that person can be better guided and internally guided. And the thoughts I had as you were speaking is this idea of when you do tap into a psychedelic experience where you’re really increasing the etheric quality, you’re really bringing in more light, you’re bringing in more prana into the cells. And in that light, there’s basically an awareness that enlightens the body to know what is density and what is shadow and what’s actually not gonna work, because it’s just bringing that awareness in through creating more space so that you can actually see what’s not working. Where is the problem? Where is the block? Where is the density?
0:47:04.3 PA: And that can be the somewhat intimidating part of psychedelics is sometimes they’ll just blast right through that. There’s shadow, there’s something that you’re holding in the subconscious or the unconscious, something that isn’t serving you that needs to be let go. The powerful thing about psychedelics is they can blast through that, and the challenging part is sometimes that structure, that scaffolding had been put in place by the ego to protect some element of the personality, which again, goes back to what we were saying before. That’s why it’s so important that whether it’s an Ayurvedic practitioner, whether it’s a medicine practitioner, whether it’s a psychedelic guide, it’s really critical that people feel held and safe and supported, so that the shifts and the transitions don’t actually lead to even more trauma that they’re, like you said, peeling back of the onion and not just a ripping off the entire…
0:47:54.4 NK: Yeah. I definitely think there has to be a process around it and used judiciously not as an escape, but as a tool to build more awareness and to build more awakening and bringing more help to the systems. So you have to actually see what was the result because I think there can be a tendency to dip in and experience something, not fully process it and then just dip in again. And I don’t think that serves the individual, I think that probably creates more damage because when you are creating more space and more tapping into ether and the universal consciousness grid more often, there’s a lot out there. There’s a lot of positive and a lot of negative, and if you don’t know how to discriminate and decipher for what’s actually serving you, then you can really end up in a worse position than you started.
0:49:01.6 PA: That’s why the tortoise versus the hare fable always comes back. There’s especially in the psychedelic space been a big surge of interest in 5-MeO-DMT, which is Bufo the toad, which just shoots you into unity consciousness just immediately, and it’s so attractive to so many people, ’cause they get to experience unity consciousness, they get to experience God. But it feels much more like the hare than the tortoise approach because you jet up right into it, but sometimes you don’t actually have the necessary structures in place to fully integrate. And that’s where… For anyone who’s listening to this, starting with something like MDMA therapy to deal with trauma is a great starting point first, and then looking at the other substances beyond that.
0:49:49.6 PA: So one last thing, Nisha, that I wanted to dive into before we wrap up the podcast. The Sovereignty represents how we were initially connected, and we mentioned it here and there. But I’d love to just go and do a little bit of a deep dive into it. And Sovereignty, I found out through my friend, Mansel. Sovereignty sponsored some of the podcasts and the newsletter back in October, and it’s the world’s top Ayurvedic-inspired super-supplement with clinically studied ingredients and the world’s best herbs. And they have two of them, Purpose, which I really enjoyed and tried instead of coffee, and then Dream, which using my Oura ring significantly helped to increase my REM sleep and my deep sleep when I was using Dream.
0:50:39.5 PA: So these are some of the top supplements that I’ve ever worked with. And what we talked about before we started recording, Nisha, was just hearing a little bit about your personal experience with them, why you’ve chosen to work with Sovereignty or advise them on the clinical supplements. What does it mean to have an Ayurvedic-inspired supplement in the first place? What does that even mean? So I’d love just to hear us riff a little bit on Ibogaine
0:51:11.6 NK: Yeah. So I actually took some right before our broadcast. Yeah. It’s funny ’cause we’re talking about psychedelics and it’s… Their Purpose formula actually sends me into that bliss state where I just spontaneously wanna sing and create and feel all powerful and all loving. And I think it really depends on your individual constitution and where you start… It can create incredible focus and a sense of bliss, and I think that occurs in most people. But for me, it’s really nice to have just be able to dip into that whenever I feel like I want to, by taking their drink, Purpose, in the morning. I don’t know. Do you ever have that experience of just bliss and just feeling so happy?
0:52:05.1 PA: When I was first doing it, I basically cut out coffee. I was drinking this other thing called Magic Mind and just had that. And it was definitely… I remember texting Mansel and being like, “This feels like I’m microdosing.” It has a very similar feeling to a microdose of LSD or microdose of mushrooms, because it definitely has a mood boost, euphoric sense to it. There’s really great energy, the energy is super clean, it’s not jagged, like coffee. And like you said, just more social, more willing to open, more willing to connect, there’s sort of, this really beautiful, natural energy that comes with it, that I hadn’t really experienced with another supplement. And then with Dream, when taken in the evenings, it just… I’ve tried everything I’ve tried… I usually take magnesium. Natural calm before Bed, most evenings, I wear blue light blocking sun glasses. I’ve now started to lay on a Shakti mat, which is like an acupressure mat. So I really go all out for my sleep and in particular, Dream was, by far the best supplement that I’ve used and I think one thing that I was curious to hear a little bit more on, knowing that we were doing this interview was, I had never seen CBN and CBG before and still have a fairly… I would say… I’m not that familiar at all with the two.
0:53:36.0 PA: So if you could for our listeners, just explain a little bit about… As much as you know, ’cause it is really complex, sort of, the formulation, so to say, of Sovereignty and how… I know there’s Ayurvedic herbs that are included in it. And then there’s sort of CBG, CBN. If you could just give us an overview of what they’ve included and what your familiarity is with it. And in particular, I’m really curious about CBG and CBN, if you know anything about those two compounds, because for Cannabis and hemp, we know a lot about obviously, THC and CBD, but we’re now discovering more and more cannabinoids. And CBG and CBN are two that I’ve heard quite a bit about, but haven’t yet interviewed anyone as it relates to like, “What are these? What do they do? What are their use cases, etcetera, etcetera… ”
0:54:27.0 NK: So kind of speaking more about the formula now, it has some of the most powerful Ayurvedic herbs created, basically creating this synergistic blend with everything else in there, that’s very potent… Antioxidants. Everything has been researched to be the utmost in each category and so things like… In terms of antioxidants, things like resveratrol has a lot of research behind it, for its potent anti-oxidant activity in the Ayurvedic formula. There’s Brahmi, Ashwagandha and Amalaki. And these… Amalaki is kind of like, the most potent vitamin C available in a plant form and much more potent than the just standard doses of vitamin C. And we know, Vitamin C is a very potent antioxidant. The same for Brahmi, but it also is anxiolytic and kind of, brain regenerative, increasing BDNF, which is brain neurotrophic growth factor.
0:55:39.3 NK: And then there’s Ashwagandha, which has a lot of research behind it too, which is one of the most well-studied adaptogens, which is also a nervine, which basically supports and rejuvenates the nervous system. And so, in terms of the CBD, CBG and CBN, the CBG has been studied to have… And as well as the other effects on the endocannabinoid system, it’s also anxiolytic and muscle relaxing. And so there’s some research with also in terms of its anti-oxidant quality. So in essence, they’ve created this blend, but they’ve tested through bio-feedback, to kind of get the most optimal response.
0:56:29.0 NK: So it’s not just researchers in a lab like, picking this dose or that dose, it’s actually looking at bio-feedback on the body to see like, “Oh, this amount of this herb and this amount of this anti-oxidant and this amount of this CBD, put all together… This is what creates the most aligned response in the chakras and sleep and energy and focus.” And so, I think that’s why it’s so powerful and can really stimulate that microdosing effect because it’s just… It’s synergy and it’s popping up alignment in all these places, that you couldn’t really put and you really can’t get that result with just looking at something as an isolated compound in the lab. Does that help answer about the formula?
0:57:17.1 PA: Totally. And I think the name, Sovereignty, is also… It’s super powerful and super strong. I’d be curious just to hear, you riff on this a little bit, what does Sovereignty mean to you, in particular from a health and wellness and functional medicine perspective?
0:57:34.0 PA: Yeah, so, Sovereignty is really being able to choose what you want and feel like you don’t have any obstacles towards getting it. You know, you… Coming from this really empowered sovereign place to create your life as you choose. And I feel like the biggest issue in health is that, we feel blocked and we feel incapacitated. And we might start off with, maybe not feeling good enough or not having enough self-worth or confidence or whatever, but in time that becomes that same feeling can become paralytic in other ways, where now, “Okay, maybe you can’t walk very well, ’cause our knee hurts”, or “We don’t get enough sleep, so okay, we don’t have enough energy to actually create what we want in our day”. When I think of Sovereignty, it’s really a reclaiming of your mental, emotional, spiritual, physical health, so that you can be fully aligned to… And open and empowered to pursue your joy, share your bliss and really put your gifts out there.
0:58:47.1 PA: I think that’s a beautiful way to end this. This is why, healing and psychedelics, Ayurvedic medicine, any path that involves these things, it’s a lot about freedom, it’s a lot about the ability to choose, the ability to be happy, the ability to feel free and the ability to create… Have sovereignty over our creations and what it is that, we wanna do with it. So Nisha, appreciate you popping in and hopping on the podcast for an hour, sharing so much of your story, sharing so much about Ayurvedic medicine and I think that intersection with psychedelic medicine and a little bit about Sovereignty as well, it really has been such an honor to have you on the show and I’d love if you could just… For any listeners, who want to find out more about your work, where could they… Whether it’s a website or social, what is the best place to connect with you to learn more?
0:59:43.1 NK: Yeah, sure, so my website is just my name, it’s NishaKhannaMD.com. And that’s a great place to connect with any of my healing offerings. That gut cleanse that I mentioned that I take a lot of my patients through. It’s a month reset, I offer that as an online self-paced course. I have a few other healing courses, if people wanna learn more about Ayurveda foundations and how to really apply it to their lives and do an Ayurvedic based cleanse. That’s on the website as well as Ayurvedic beauty and self-care rituals, course, with a lot of video demos, on actually how to implement these Ayurvedic practices for self-healing and nourishment. So that’s a great place to connect, if you’re looking for a healing modality. And you can travel to Texas in person, I’m in Austin. But then just to connect daily, I post, most days on Instagram, just sort of, health tips and my experience of life. So that’s the same, NishaKhannaMD on Instagram. And those are really the only two avenues that… I’m sort of, out there. But yeah, I’d love to connect there, if that’s appealing to anyone.
1:01:10.7 PA: And Sovereignty, the supplements that we’re talking about, Purpose and Dream, that’s at, sovereignty.co. So, NishaKhannaMD.com, Nisha is also on Instagram, where you share your little quotes that are about health and then… I’ve been following you for a little bit now and love what you’ve been posting. Yeah, I just wanna again, thank you for coming on and sharing so much of your wisdom and it was just so lovely to meet and connect with you in this way.
1:01:37.2 NK: Yeah, thank you so much. It’s been really great, thank you.
Transcript: Disconnection as Disease: Ayurveda and the Return to Balance – Nisha Khanna
Please enjoy this transcript of our interview with Dr. Nisha Khanna.