Media Alert: Doctor Gabor Maté ordered by Health Canada to stop
Doctor Gabor Maté ordered by Health Canada to stop sessions treating drug addicts with ayahuasca, an ancient Amazonian medicine
The full story of Mate’s work told in:
The Jungle Prescription
a documentary on CBC’s Nature of Things
Thursday, November 10th, 2011, 8pm EST
Vancouver’s Dr. Gabor Maté, who has used a traditional Amazonian tea to help drug addicts has been ordered by Health Canada on November 7th, to end the treatments or face criminal prosecution. Dr. Maté had been using ayahuasca, a powerful psychotropic plant-based tea, to help uncover painful memories in the addicts. Re-considering these memories may help the patients control or stop their addictive behaviour.
“Naturally I will have to comply with the regulations as I received them, and I intend to,” Maté said. “It’s not a big personal loss for me because it’s a small part of what I do. But it’s a loss for the people who can benefit from this work and we have people whose life could be saved by it.”
Dr. Gabor Maté believe in what some may see as a revolutionary idea: to treat addicts with compassion. His work as the resident doctor in Vancouver’s Portland Hotel - a last-chance destination for lifelong drug abusers - has been courageous, but incredibly frustrating. Maté hears of an ancient medicine beyond his imaginings: one that could provide his patients with a solution. Its name is ayahuasca: the vine of the souls. Deep in the Amazon jungle, French doctor Jacques Mabit is using this medicine to treat hardcore addicts. Mabit runs a detox centre in the Amazon (Takiwasi or “The House That Sings”), using the plants and methods of traditional medicine. Ayahuasca is a visionary formula that unlocks emotional memory; causing life-changing catharsis in those who drink it. Success rates for curing addicts at Dr. Mabit’s detox centre are quadruple the average. Inspired by Mabit’s centre, Mate will risk his career trying to establish a similar program in Canada.
Since the publication of his award-winning book, In the Realm of Hungry Ghosts, Dr. Gabor Mate has been one of Canada’s leading thinkers on addiction and its deeper causes. The experience of making the film has had a profound impact on him: “As a physician all too aware of the limitations and narrowness of Western medicine, I have learned much from working with this plant. The Jungle Prescription took me far physically, but even further in the spiritual realm where our deepest humanity resides. The plant, and the experience with the plant, is no panacea. There are no panaceas. But as an opening to human possibility, even in the face of lifelong trauma and desperation, it offers much. Seeing people open to themselves, even temporarily, has been a teaching and an inspiration.”
Directed and photographed by Mark Ellam, the film is the result of a ten-year journey by the filmmakers deep into the Amazonian rainforest, to understand what lies at the heart of traditional medicine. Ellam’s unique cinematic vision has helped to create a number of award-winning films for cinema and television, including The Take(directed by Avi Lewis and written by Naomi Klein), Big Sugar(Prix Gemeaux and Golden Sheaf Award for best documentary), Empz 4 Life (Allan King’s final film), A Promise To The Dead(shortlisted for the 2008 Academy Award for Best Documentary). Mark was associate director and cinematographer on RIP: A Remix Manifesto– winner of the Volkskrant Audience Award at IDFA and the first open-source documentary for theatrical release by the National Film Board of Canada, the Doc Channel and EYESTEELFILM.
Since1997, Nomad Films has produced factual programming for film and television that focuses on a wide range of compelling stories about social and political change, adventure, the environment, the arts, indigenous culture and science. Recent titles include: Disfarmer, (TVO, AVRO Netherlands, SVT Sweden and SBS Australia), Empire of the Word, (the epic television series about the history of reading, TVO, TFO SBS Australia, TG4 Ireland) and the feature documentary, When We Were Boys(official selection at Hot Docs 2009 and distributed in theatres by KinoSmith).
Details here. Keep an eye on our Facebook group for broadcast dates on other countries and territories outside of Canada.
See the Official Film Site for The Jungle Prescription