Joe Tafur’s interest in complementary and alternative approaches to health management took root in 1997, at the Pacific College of Oriental Medicine. It deepened during medical school at the University of California, San Diego (UCSD), continued during his Family Medicine residency at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), and has become the primary focus of his medical career.
After his residency, Dr. Tafur completed a two-year Post-Doctoral Research Fellowship at the UCSD Department of Psychiatry. While working as a Family Physician in the U.S., he began exploring indigenous medicine in South America. 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.
In 2017, Dr. Tafur stepped down as a business partner at Nihue Rao in order to focus on new projects. In March of the same year, he published his book The Fellowship of the River: A Medical Doctor’s Exploration into Traditional Amazonian Plant Medicine. Highly-acclaimed with a foreword written by Dr. Gabor Mate, the book describes Dr. Tafur’s unique journey into spiritual healing work, his years of study in the jungle forest, and the power of nature to heal complaints that have widely evaded Western medical approaches.
Together with a team of world-class colleagues, Dr. Tafur started Modern Spirit, a 501c3 nonprofit organization dedicated to demonstrating the value of spiritual healing in modern healthcare. In addition to education and community-building projects, the organization is currently focused on the Modern Spirit Epigenetics Project, a groundbreaking and now funded 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 health clinic in downtown Phoenix, Arizona. The Ocotillo Center offers naturopathic medical services, integrative medical consulting, counseling, health education and hands-on-healing.
Dr. Tafur also continues to lead Journeys to Latin America, where he guides small groups in a comprehensive experience of Traditional Amazonian Plant Medicine and Ayahuasca curanderismo. Dr. Tafur is particularly interested in education. At the still-thriving Nihue Rao, he has supervised indigenous learning opportunities for a number of U.S. medical students and therapists.
Building on the ideas presented in his book and working to bridge the paradigms of modern science and traditional healing, Dr. Tafur developed a series of lectures and presentations. He has been Speaking at 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. In addition, Dr. Tafur has been the primary host of the Modern Spirit Podcast, which explores the intersection between biology, emotion and spirituality.
Dr. Tafur is also a leader in his spiritual community at the Church of the Eagle and Condor (CEC). Learn more at the CEC Website.