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Dr. Joe Tafur

Dr. Joe Tafur


Dr. Tafur has been an Integrative Medicine activist throughout his medical career, while in medical school at the University of California, San Diego (UCSD) School of Medicine, and during his Family Medicine Residency at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA). After residency, Dr. Tafur completed a two-year Post-Doctoral Research Fellowship at the UCSD Department of Psychiatry. After this research fellowship, Dr. Tafur continued work as a Family Physician in the U.S., and then eventually started his work in the Peruvian Amazon. In 2011, he helped to found Nihue Rao Centro Espiritual, a traditional healing center in the Peruvian Upper Amazon. At Nihue Rao, Dr. Tafur underwent traditional apprenticeship in Traditional Amazonian Plant Medicine and Shipibo curanderismo.

After years dedicated to his work in the forest, in 2017, Dr. Tafur stepped down as a business partner at Nihue Rao, in order to focus on new projects. In March of 2017, he published his book The Fellowship of the River: A Medical Doctor’s Exploration into Traditional Amazonian Plant Medicine about his unique journey into spiritual healing work.   

With his colleagues, he also started the nonprofit Modern Spirit, dedicated to demonstrating the value of spiritual healing in modern healthcare. In addition to education and community-building projects, Modern Spirit is currently focused on supporting the Modern Spirit Epigenetics Project, a groundbreaking substudy of the MAPS MDMA-assisted Psychotherapy research trial. 

In 2019, Dr. Tafur and his colleagues Dr. Amalia Baca ND and Ray Baca opened the Ocotillo Center for Integrative Medicine, an integrative clinic in downtown Phoenix, Arizona. The Ocotillo Center offers naturopathic medical Services, integrative medical consulting, counseling, health education and hands-on-healing.

Dr. Tafur continues to lead Journeys to Latin America to experience Traditional Amazonian Plant Medicine and Ayahuasca curanderismo. With his colleagues, he leads groups to Nihue Rao in Peru and elsewhere, guiding individuals through the process of spiritual healing and traditional education.

Dr. Tafur is very interested in education. At Nihue Rao, Dr. Tafur has supervised traditional learning opportunities for a number of U.S. medical students and therapists. Building upon ideas presented in his book, he has also developed several lectures and presentations. Working to bridge the worlds of modern science and traditional healing, he has been Speaking at a variety of conferences across the globe as well as at a number of medical schools, including the University of Arizona’s Center for Integrative Medicine, UCSD, Yale, Southwestern College of Naturopathic Medicine and the Pacific College of Oriental Medicine. Dr. Tafur has also been the primary host of the Modern Spirit Podcast, exploring the intersection between biology, emotion and spirituality.