Dr. Andrew Weil — The 4-7-8 Breath Method, Cannabis, The Uses of Coca Leaf, Rehabilitating Demonized Plants, Kava for Anxiety, Lessons from Wade Davis, The Psychedelic Renaissance, How to Emerge from Depression, Tales from 50+ Visits to Japan, Matcha Benefits, and More (#615)

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“[The 4-7-8 breath] is the most powerful method I’ve found to access the relaxation response, and it’s the most powerful anti-anxiety measure I’ve ever come across.”

— Dr. Andrew Weil

Andrew Weil, MD (@DrWeil) is a pioneer in the field of integrative medicine. He has been named one of the 100 most influential people in the world by Time magazine.

Dr. Weil received a degree in biology (botany) from Harvard College in 1964 and an MD from Harvard Medical School in 1968. From 1971 to 1975, as a fellow of the Institute of Current World Affairs, Dr. Weil traveled widely in North and South America and Africa, collecting information on drug use in other cultures, medicinal plants, and alternative methods of treating disease. From 1971 to 1984 he was on the research staff of the Harvard Botanical Museum and conducted investigations of medicinal and psychoactive plants.

Dr. Weil is the founder and director of the Andrew Weil Center for Integrative Medicine at the University of Arizona, where he also holds the Lovell-Jones Endowed Chair in Integrative Medicine and is Clinical Professor of Medicine and Professor of Public Health. Through its fellowship and Integrative Medicine in Residency curricula, the Center is now training doctors and nurse practitioners around the world.

New York Times best-selling author, Dr. Weil has written 15 books on health and well-being, including Mind Over MedsFast Food, Good FoodTrue FoodSpontaneous HappinessHealthy Aging; and 8 Weeks to Optimum HealthHe is also co-founder of the restaurant chain True Food Kitchen and co-founder of Matcha.com, which offers extremely high-quality matcha that is difficult to find outside of Japan.

Please enjoy!

Listen to the episode on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Overcast, Podcast Addict, Pocket Casts, Castbox, Google Podcasts, Stitcher, Amazon Musicor on your favorite podcast platform. You can watch the interview on YouTube here.

Brought to you by Levels real-time feedback on how diet impacts your health, Athletic Greens all-in-one nutritional supplement, and LMNT electrolyte supplement. More on all three below.

The transcript of this episode can be found here. Transcripts of all episodes can be found here.

#615: Dr. Andrew Weil — The 4-7-8 Breath Method, Cannabis, The Uses of Coca Leaf, Rehabilitating Demonized Plants, Kava for Anxiety, Lessons from Wade Davis, The Psychedelic Renaissance, How to Emerge from Depression, Tales from 50+ Visits to Japan, Matcha Benefits, and More

This episode is brought to you by Levels! I wrote about the health benefits of using continuous glucose monitors (CGMs) more than ten years ago in The 4-Hour Body. At the time, CGMs were primitive and hard to use. Levels has now made this technology, and the unique insights that come from it, easy and available to everyone. Levels is making glucose monitoring simple, helping you see how food affects your health through real-time feedback. I started tracking my glucose years ago to learn more about what I should and shouldn’t be eating (including quantities, time of day, etc.), based on objective data from my own, unique physiology. Keeping my blood sugar stable is critical to my daily and long-term health and performance goals. Furthermore, poor glucose control is associated with a number of chronic conditions, such as diabetes, Alzheimer’s disease, heart disease, and obesity. It’s important.

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This episode is brought to you by LMNTWhat is LMNT? It’s a delicious, sugar-free electrolyte drink mix. I’ve stocked up on boxes and boxes of this and usually use it 1–2 times per day. LMNT is formulated to help anyone with their electrolyte needs and perfectly suited to folks following a keto, low-carb, or Paleo diet. If you are on a low-carb diet or fasting, electrolytes play a key role in relieving hunger, cramps, headaches, tiredness, and dizziness.

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Want to hear the most recent time Dr. Weil was on the podcast? Listen to our conversation here, in which we discussed go-to plants for food and medicine, trying to score mescaline from Aldous Huxley’s source, the importance of taking a shamanistic approach toward the research of healing science, how Dr. Weil shed a lifetime of cat allergies in one sitting, the intrinsic nature of non-ordinary states of consciousness in human beings, the healing power of dogs, and much more.

#350: Dr. Andrew Weil — Optimal Health, Plant Medicine, and More

What was your favorite quote or lesson from this episode? Please let me know in the comments.



  • Connect with Dr. Andrew Weil:

Website | Twitter | Facebook


  • [07:56] What is the 4-7-8 breath?
  • [10:15] As an early advocate, what is Dr. Weil’s current relationship with cannabis?
  • [11:28] Overcoming the stigma of coca leaves to realize their medical benefits.
  • [14:17] What is The Beneficial Plants Research Association?
  • [16:30] Thoughts on kava and its effect on sleep quality.
  • [19:49] Where to learn more about kratom and mitragynine.
  • [20:51] Andrew’s experience with Bufo alvarius.
  • [22:05] Why Andrew and Wade Davis are reviving The Beneficial Plants Research Association.
  • [25:27] Andrew recounts a Richard Evans Schultes story.
  • [27:13] Andrew’s brief career as a letter-writing prankster.
  • [29:06] Covering the first wave of psychedelic research at Harvard.
  • [34:15] The positives and negatives of psychedelics going mainstream.
  • [36:11] Taxonomy and the origin of Psilocybe weilii.
  • [37:58] How did Andrew emerge from dysthymia in his early fifties?
  • [39:54] Lessons learned on visits to Japan and Okinawa.
  • [45:19] Health benefits of fermented turmeric and matcha tea.
  • [49:50] How L-theanine modifies the effects of caffeine.
  • [52:19] How Andrew’s parents encouraged him to always be curious (but careful).
  • [55:36] Getting older and future plans.
  • [58:11] Why you should check out The Andrew Weil Center for Integrative Medicine.
  • [58:54] What Andrew believes gets missed most by current psychedelic exploration.
  • [1:02:00] Parting thoughts.


“On the second day that I was in Japan, back in November of 1959, my host mother took me next door to meet her neighbor who was a tea ceremony practitioner. So the three of us sat around, and this woman did a tea ceremony and presented me with a bowl of matcha. And I was completely taken by it, first by the color, also by the chasen—the whisk—which I just thought was marvelous, and the taste of it. I fell in love with it.”
— Andrew Weil

“I think the more people who have positive psychedelic experiences—that may lead to the change in consciousness, which I think is the only thing that can turn things around for us.”
— Andrew Weil

“There are no good or bad drugs; there are just good and bad relationships with drugs. I think you can broaden that to plants as well—coca being a prime example. We’ve said that is a bad plant, the source of all sorts of trouble. But the problem is how we’ve related to that plant.”
— Andrew Weil

“I have a very good friend, a cardiologist who’s the same age as me, who said that his mother always told him, ‘Joe, don’t get old. You won’t like it.'”
— Andrew Weil

“[The 4-7-8 breath] is is the most powerful method I’ve found to access the relaxation response, and it’s the most powerful anti-anxiety measure I’ve ever come across.”
— Andrew Weil

“I think it would be a great thing for people to have access to coca. It’s not cocaine. It has distinct effects. It has unique medical effects. We should have access to it, not to mention the fact that this is the sacred plant of a great many indigenous people in South America.”
— Andrew Weil

“[Kava] functions as a social stimulant and lubricant, but it is a natural sedative and calmative, and probably the most important anti-anxiety natural product out there, extremely useful and essentially no toxicity. And it does not interact with alcohol. It does not interact with other sedatives. It’s quite safe, and I recommend it very frequently to people.”
— Andrew Weil


The Tim Ferriss Show is one of the most popular podcasts in the world with more than 900 million downloads. It has been selected for "Best of Apple Podcasts" three times, it is often the #1 interview podcast across all of Apple Podcasts, and it's been ranked #1 out of 400,000+ podcasts on many occasions. To listen to any of the past episodes for free, check out this page.

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9 Replies to “Dr. Andrew Weil — The 4-7-8 Breath Method, Cannabis, The Uses of Coca Leaf, Rehabilitating Demonized Plants, Kava for Anxiety, Lessons from Wade Davis, The Psychedelic Renaissance, How to Emerge from Depression, Tales from 50+ Visits to Japan, Matcha Benefits, and More (#615)”

  1. Tim,

    I really appreciate the fact that you are a great listener who seeks to understand and explore. That’s a rare trait in an individual, and next to impossible to find in the podcast realm.

    While I understand the “when you get the message, hang up the phone” philosophy, I also deeply resonate with Benny Shannon who, when asked about why he continues to drink ayahuasca, says “ayahuasca is a school”. There is no destination, only the journey.

    We all seek experiences of joy, contentment, happiness, pleasure – whether it is through reading, sex, exercise, food, learning, etc. Until the end of our days. There is a message in that seeking, but receiving that message doesn’t mean you need (or are likely to) stop the seeking. My opinion is that the sublime, ineffable, extraordinary, mysterious experiences that come with psychedelics are inherently valuable in and of themselves. While one can argue that becoming an experience junky is fraught with peril, it doesn’t follow that one should simply avoid experience (of any type). Proceed with caution.

    Deep bows,

    p.s. thanks to Paul for helping me to land this comment in the right place 🙂

    1. Quick comment on your question about Kava and sleep- this is just one anecdotal data point, but I have tried drinking Yogi tea with Kava (78mg) and it is relaxing, but very much caused poor sleep quality for me.

  2. Great episode. Long time Matcha drinker. I use it before and during my workouts mixed with zero-sugar electrolytes. It makes an excellent and cheap workout mixture that has health benefits too. I usually do not have tannin issues. I was happy to hear about Matcha.com as Amazon is hit or miss. Plus, is it really what it says it is?

    I was interested in what you have to say about Kava. I only have anxiety in social settings (severe social anxiety disorder actually).

    The Mayo Clinic notes:

    “Kava. Kava appeared to be a promising treatment for anxiety, but reports of serious liver damage — even with short-term use — caused the Food and Drug Administration to issue warnings about the use of dietary supplements containing kava. While these initial reports of liver toxicity have been questioned, use extra caution and involve your doctor in the decision if you’re considering using products containing kava”

    Has this sense been debunked (no date on the webpage)?

    When I worked as a media developer for U of A, I had a few chances to see, and photograph, Dr. Weil. Having a BS in Nutrition and being a past personal trainer, those were the most interesting assignments. Cheers!

  3. Kava is super interesting. It has come up briefly on a couple of podcast episodes. Would love to hear more about it. Especially since products like Psychedelic Water are going mainstream and contain Kava.

  4. Heya Tim, take a listen to this podcast “9 volt Nirvana” by radiolab/wnyc studios. Have you done or can you do an episode all about tdcs?

  5. Hey Tim, I really loved your interview with Dr Weil. I want to suggest that you interview Ted Kapchuk who has written extensively about the Placebo effect, which such an important factor in so many things you delve into.
    Joshua Wylie MFT

  6. Hey Tim,
    I continue to enjoy your podcast, books and the last 4 parties you’ve hosted. Maybe I can do some magic for you and a few friends over Zoom!

  7. Wow, so complex. Shouldn’t it be considered to just take the time and reverence toward the process of Meditation and Yoga?
    Drugs and additives open ‘the gate’ too quickly leaving you with confusion and unnatural impulse.
    Just do the Yoga (and meditation) and the rest will come.
    There are no easy antidotes.
    Subscribe to the process. It’s lifelong, it’s free and ultimately, blissful.

  8. Hi Tim,

    We loved this episode! We’re pretty sure the Kava + Kratom drink you have is Feel Free which our product. We use only a small amount of full leaf kratom blended with a heavier dose of kava. We would love to have a podcast discussion with you about both ingredients, what we’ve seen our consumers use it for and more! Let us know if there is an opp to partner!