Dennis J. Mckenna Ph.D

Dennis Jon McKenna (born December 17, 1950) is an American ethnopharmacologist and author. His research led to the development of natural products for Aveda Corporation as well as greater awareness of natural products and medicines. He has authored numerous scientific articles and books, including co-authoring the book Invisible Landscape with his brother Terence McKenna. McKenna spent a number of years as a senior lecturer for the Center for Spirituality and Healing, part of the Academic Health Center at the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities. He is now a senior research scientist for the Natural Health Products Research Group at the British Columbia Institute of Technology in the Vancouver area.

Dennis McKenna received his Master’s degree in botany at the University of Hawaii in 1979. He received his Doctorate in Botanical Sciences in 1984 from the University of British Columbia, where he wrote a dissertation entitled Monoamine oxidase inhibitors in Amazonian hallucinogenic plants: ethnobotanical, phytochemical, and pharmacological investigations. His research has included the pharmacology, botany, and chemistry of ayahuasca and oo-koo-hé, the subjects of his master’s thesis. He has also conducted extensive fieldwork in the Peruvian, Colombian, and Brazilian Amazon.

Dennis Mckenna serves on the Advisory Board of the American Botanical Council, and on the Editorial Board of Phytomedicine, International Journal of Phytotherapy and Phytopharmacology. He is a founding board member and Vice-President of the Heffter Research Institute, a non-profit scientific organization dedicated to the investigation of therapeutic applications for psychedelic plants and compounds. He has also served as board member and Research Advisor to Botanical Dimensions, a non-profit organization dedicated to the investigation of ethnomedically significant plants. He was a primary organizer and key scientific collaborator for the Hoasca Project, an international biomedical study of Hoasca, a psychoactive drink used in ritual contexts by indigenous peoples and syncretic religious groups in Brasil. He has conducted extensive ethnobotanical fieldwork in the Peruvian, Colombian, and Brasilian Amazon. He has served as invited speaker at numerous scientific congresses, seminars, and symposia. Dr. McKenna is author or co-author of over 35 scientific papers in peer-reviewed journals. His publications have appeared in the Journal of Ethnopharmacology, European Journal of Pharmacology, Brain Research, Journal of Neuroscience, Journal of Neurochemistry, Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease, Economic Botany, and elsewhere.

  • McKenna, Dennis J. (2004) Clinical investigations of the therapeutic potential of Ayahuasca: Rationale and regulatory challenges. Pharmacology and Therapeutics. 102:111-129.
  • Dennis J. McKenna (1999) Ayahuasca: an ethnopharmacologic history. In: R. Metzner, (ed) Ayahuasca: Hallucinogens, Consciousness, and the Spirit of Nature. Thunder’s Mouth Press, New York.
  • Callaway, J. C., D. J. McKenna, C. S. Grob, G. S. Brito, L. P. Raymon, R.E. Poland, E. N. Andrade, E. O. Andrade, D. C. Mash (1999) Pharmacokinetics of Hoasca alkaloids in Healthy Humans. Journal of Ethnopharmacology. 65:243-256.
  • McKenna, DJ, JC Callaway, CS Grob (1999). The scientific investigation of ayahuasca: A review of past and current research. Heffter Review of Psychedelic Research 1:
  • Callaway, J. C., L. P. Raymon, W. L. Hearn, D. J. McKenna, C. S. Grob, G. S. Brito, D. C. Mash (1996) Quantitation of N,N-dimethyltryptamine and harmala alkaloids in human plasma after oral dosing with Ayahuasca. Journal of Analytical Toxicology 20: 492-497
  • C. S. Grob, D. J. McKenna, J. C. Callaway, G. S. Brito, E. S. Neves, G. Oberlender, O. L. Saide, E. Labigalini, C. Tacla, C. T. Miranda, R. J. Strassman, K. B. Boone (1996) Human pharmacology of hoasca, a plant hallucinogen used in ritual context in Brasil: Journal of Nervous & Mental Disease. 184:86-94. McKenna, DJ (1996)
  • James C. Callaway, M. M. Airaksinen, Dennis J. McKenna, Glacus S. Brito, & Charles S. Grob (1994) Platelet serotonin uptake sites increased in drinkers of ayahuasca. Psychopharmacology 116: 385-387
  • Dennis J. McKenna, L. E. Luna, & G. H. N. Towers, (1995) Biodynamic constituents in Ayahuasca admixture plants: an uninvestigated folk pharmacopoeia. In: von Reis, S., and R. E. Schultes (eds). Ethnobotany: Evolution of a Discipline. Dioscorides Press, Portland
  • Dennis J. McKenna, & G. H. N. Towers, (1985) On the comparative ethnopharmacology of the Malpighiaceous and Myristicaceous hallucinogens. J. Psychoactive Drugs, 17:35-39.
    Dennis J. McKenna, & G. H. N. Towers, (1984), Biochemistry and pharmacology of tryptamine and ß-carboline derivatives: A minireview. J. Psychoactive Drugs, 16:347-358.
  • Dennis J. McKenna, G. H. N. Towers, & F. S. Abbott (1984) Monoamine oxidase inhibitors in South American hallucinogenic plants: Tryptamine and ß-carboline constituents of Ayahuasca. J. of Ethnopharmacology 10:195-223.
  • Dennis J. McKenna, G. H. N. Towers, & F. S. Abbott (1984) Monoamine oxidase inhibitors in South American hallucinogenic plants Pt. II: Constituents of orally active Myristicaceous hallucinogens. J. of Ethnopharmacology 12:179-211.
  • Dennis J. McKenna & G. H. N. Towers (1981) Ultra-violet mediated cytotoxic activity of ß-carboline alkaloids. Phytochemistry 20:1001-1004

Author of (Books)

  • The Natural Dietary Supplements Pocket Reference (Editor-in-Chief, 2002)
  • Botanical Medicines: The Desk Reference for Major Herbal Supplements (Editor-in-Chief, 2002)
  • The Invisible Landscape (co-author, 1975)
  • Brotherhood of the Screaming Abyss (2012)

Author of (Articles)

  • Pharmacokinetics of Hoasca alkaloids in Healthy Humans (1999)
  • Plant hallucinogens: Springboards for psychotherapeutic drug discovery (1996)
  • Biodynamic constituents in Ayahuasca admixture plants (1995)
  • Neurochemistry and neurotoxicity of 3,4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine (MDMA, ‘ecstasy’) (1990)

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