Sports | January 17, 2020 1:15 pm

Former Jets, Cardinals Player Kerry Rhodes Touts Ayahuasca Benefits

The psychedelic might offer specific benefits to former athletes

Kerry Rhodes in 2012
Former football player Kerry Rhodes discussed his experience with ayahuasca in a new documentary.
Christian Petersen/Getty Images

Dock Ellis famously pitched a no-hitter while on LSD, but other than that, the overlap between professional athletes and psychedelic drugs is a fairly small one. The Guardian reports that that might be about to change, however — a onetime NFL star is not speaking out about the benefits he’s experienced through ayahuasca.

The article, by Aaron Timms, focuses on the experiences of Kerry Rhodes, whose career as a safety in the NFL spanned from 2005 to 2012. He’s now one of the subjects of the documentary The Medicine, which explores ayahuasca’s ability to treat depression, PTSD and other health issues. And it’s his experience documented in the film that Rhodes spoke with The Guardian about.

As part of the documentary, Rhodes traveled to Costa Rica to undergo therapy with shaman Taita Juanito Guillermo Chindoy Chindoy. He described his visions, which included vomiting a fetus into a bucket, in the interview; as it transpired, that deeply visceral image was a way for him to reconnect with a resonant experience from early childhood. 

“I realized that I didn’t need anyone,” Rhodes told The Guardian. “The thumb grew and it killed that moment – it killed that need.”

The blend of intense bodily reactions and healing imagery is similar to other accounts of ayahuasca therapy, including a long essay by Sean Illing that Vox published in 2018. And Rhodes’s description of the lasting effects of his treatment certainly speak to the therapeutic experience he had.

Rhodes also spoke candidly with The Guardian about his fears regarding CTE, and how ayahuasca may help combat its effects. Timms writes, “[t]he real power of ayahuasca, some believe is in its effect on hippocampal neurogenesis.” 

Might this unconventional therapy be able to mitigate some of the damage of a high-impact career? We’re a long way from knowing that yet, but Rhodes’s experience offers grounds for optimism.

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