In this episode of host Sam Believ has a conversation with Ian McCall, former UFC champion turned psychedelic activist.

We touch upon subjects of TBI and Psychedelics, Ian’s research on TBI and Ayahuasca, his journey after UFC retirement, overcoming addiction and suicidal ideation.

Find more about Ian at

His charity and research project

Podcast Transcript:

Introducing Ian McCall

Ian McCall, once a formidable contender for the UFC championship, has transitioned from the fierce world of mixed martial arts to becoming a pioneering figure in the field of psychedelic therapy. Known for his resilience and tenacity in the octagon, McCall has now channeled these qualities into advocating for the therapeutic use of psychedelics. His journey is marked by personal battles, including overcoming severe addictions and brain injuries, and his commitment to helping others heal.

From UFC Stardom to Healing Advocate

McCall’s interest in psychedelics began early, but it was his own battle with addiction and brain injuries that truly highlighted their potential. He credits substances like DMT and psilocybin for not only helping him overcome his addictions but also for facilitating profound personal healing. This transformation led him to advocate for the therapeutic use of psychedelics in treating traumatic brain injuries (TBI) among athletes.

Athlete’s Journey Home: A Revolutionary Project

Ian McCall is now at the forefront of Athlete’s Journey Home, a project dedicated to healing athletes using ayahuasca and other psychedelics. This initiative aims to study the effects of these substances on TBIs, leveraging the highest levels of scientific research in collaboration with leading neuroscientists. The project seeks to provide a comprehensive healing process for athletes who have sacrificed their health for their sports careers.

The Science Behind Psychedelics and TBI

McCall explains the science of how psychedelics facilitate brain healing through processes like neurogenesis and neuroplasticity. These substances stimulate the brain’s natural healing mechanisms, making them a powerful tool for treating TBIs. His approach combines psychedelic therapy with other holistic methods such as diet, exercise, and meditation, offering a multifaceted solution to brain injuries.

Overcoming Addiction: A Personal Testimony

Ian’s candid discussion about his struggles with addiction reveals the dark side of high-performance sports. His story of relapse and recovery is a testament to the resilience required to overcome such challenges. Through psychedelics, he found a way to break free from the cycle of addiction, ultimately leading him to a life dedicated to helping others.

A Personal Journey of Discovery and Healing

Ian’s journey with psychedelics began early, with his first experiences at a very young age. His exploration of substances like cannabis, LSD, and mushrooms laid the groundwork for his later therapeutic use. Despite early exposure, it was his later battles with addiction and mental health that drove him to deeper understanding and utilization of these substances for healing. His firsthand experiences and rigorous self-education enabled him to develop the McCall Method, blending scientific insight with personal healing practices.

Family Influences and Early Adoption of Plant Medicine

Ian’s family played a significant role in his introduction to plant medicine. His father’s stories about the healing potential of psychedelics and his brother’s work with DMT extraction profoundly influenced him. These early experiences and familial teachings provided a foundation for Ian’s later use of psychedelics in a therapeutic context, especially in dealing with his daughter’s juvenile rheumatoid arthritis through cannabis oil and other holistic methods.

The Role of Community and Mentorship

Throughout his journey, Ian has been supported by a network of mentors and friends, including notable figures like Joe Rogan. Their support and shared knowledge helped him navigate the complexities of psychedelic therapy. Ian’s relationships with researchers and scientists, like Dr. Sandman and Matthew Johnson from Johns Hopkins, have also been pivotal in refining his approach and validating his methods.

Addressing Controversies and Challenges

Ian also touches on the controversies surrounding the psychedelic community, particularly with organizations like MAPS, and the need for ethical practices in scientific research. He emphasizes the importance of staying true to the mission of healing and the potential pitfalls of commercialization in the psychedelic space. Ian highlights how some organizations may stray from their original mission, influenced by financial incentives, which can undermine the integrity of psychedelic research and therapy.

Call to Action and Support

To further his mission, McCall invites support for his projects, particularly Athlete’s Journey Home. He encourages people to contribute financially or through other means to help gather the necessary data and stories to support the therapeutic use of psychedelics. His goal is to create a sustainable model for athlete recovery and to inspire a broader movement towards holistic healing practices.

Personal Insights and the Broader Impact

McCall shares personal insights into his healing journey, highlighting the profound impact psychedelics have had on his life. He emphasizes the importance of personal research and understanding one’s own body in the healing process. McCall’s work not only aims to heal athletes but also to educate the public about the benefits and science behind psychedelic therapy, promoting a more informed and accepting society.

The Future of Psychedelic Therapy in Sports

Looking ahead, McCall envisions a future where psychedelics are a mainstream treatment for not just athletes but for anyone suffering from TBIs and other conditions. His work aims to demystify these substances and advocate for their scientific validation and acceptance. By sharing his story and the successes of his initiatives, Ian McCall hopes to pave the way for broader acceptance and use of psychedelic therapies in sports and beyond.

Integrating Traditional Practices with Modern Science

McCall emphasizes the importance of integrating traditional practices with modern scientific research in the use of psychedelics. By working with indigenous knowledge and contemporary science, he aims to create a holistic approach that respects both the historical context and the latest advancements in understanding psychedelics. This integration is crucial for developing effective therapeutic protocols that are both culturally sensitive and scientifically robust.

Transforming the Perception of Psychedelics

Through his advocacy and educational efforts, McCall aims to transform public perception of psychedelics. He works to shift the narrative from one of stigma and illegality to one of healing and scientific legitimacy. By highlighting the stories of athletes and other individuals who have benefited from psychedelic therapy, McCall hopes to foster a more accepting and supportive environment for these transformative substances.

Building a Supportive Community for Healing

Ian’s ultimate goal is to build a supportive community that fosters healing and personal growth. Through initiatives like Athlete’s Journey Home and his consulting work, he aims to create spaces where individuals can safely explore psychedelic therapy. By providing education, support, and resources, McCall is dedicated to helping others navigate their healing journeys and achieve their full potential.