A new film looks at the work of a Canadian doctor and author who travelled to the Amazon to learn about a psychotropic medicine that may help drug addicts to recover.

Vancouver's Dr. Gabor Maté learned about ayahuasca, a hallucinogenic plant concoction used at a clinic in Peru. At the clinic, the cure rates for addicts is many times the average found in North America and Europe.

CBC's The Nature of Things joined Maté in South America and traced his efforts to treat addicts in Vancouver with ayahuasca, which occupies a grey area of the law in Canada.

Maté is determined to apply to what he's learned to his patients, but he knows it will be a challenge.


Dr. Gabor Maté knows it will be a challenge to try ayahuasca with his patients. (The Nature of Things)

"Personally, I can see that it works and I can also see why it works, but proving it to colleagues that's another question entirely," Maté said in the documentary.

Psychedelic researcher Dr. Charles Grob, a professor of psychiatry and pediatrics at the UCLA School of Medicine, and his colleagues interviewed members of the Brazilian ayahuasca religion. They found several had histories of serious drug addiction and alcoholism that seemed to remit once they used the drug ceremonially twice a month.

"I think there really is some valuable potential here that should be pursued, we also have to keep in mind that mainstream conventional medicine still does not offer very much in regards to treatment of chronic alcoholism or chronic drug addiction," Grob said in an interview.

With files from CBC's Kelly Crowe