Trigger warning: This interview includes topics of sexual assault.
For over a decade, Chantel Robertson experienced a variety of ailments including kidney disease, tumors and heart issues. After exhausting her options in Western medicine, in 2017 she traveled to the jungles of Honduras to embark on a healing journey that centered on plant medicine. Early in 2018, Upful Blends, a line of organic, wildcrafted, and ethically grown tea blends and supplements, was born, and Robertson began engaging her social media community about her journey and her life.
In 2019, she traveled to the Amazon rainforest where she lived among a local tribe (totally naked) while learning about ways to heal naturally through fasting and medicinal plants.
Now in its fourth year, Chantel, who is Afro-Latina, has partnered with local Indigenous tribes throughout South America and Africa to raise awareness for natural medicine.
When did you feel that you’d exhausted your options with Western medicine?
CR: I felt this when doctors began saying I’m a tumor farm. When they exhausted my insurance to the max that left me with no extra funds to contribute to further testing. When I was provided more medication for fibroids than advice on how to stop them from growing. I felt that I exhausted my options once I felt exhausted. Every part of me was weak, tired, and almost beaten spiritually. During each of those moments, although feeling defeated by Western Medicine and the doctors who utilize it as a holy grail, I chose to nurture the mustard seed size of faith I held to empower my life, my spirit, and my body again. (Editor’s note: Several health issues are more prevalent in Hispanic people than the general population).
Tell us more about your brand and its point of view.
CR: Upful Blends is a lifestyle brand, corporation, and community. Not only do we manufacture our own herbal blends and supplements, but I also bring the collective [on social media] in to ride this wave of life with me! I am super transparent on social media, some feel I’m too transparent sometimes, however, I love connecting with the community and allowing for my experiences to be of inspiration to others. Ever since 2018, when I began broadcasting my journey, it’s been this way. Upful lifestyle means living life in a heightened state of consciousness in all areas of life.
What was it like being totally naked in the Amazon rainforest? Did it change your view of your body in any way?
CR: Absolutely! “Empowered, liberating, home” — those are the words that could describe that moment. I’ve done somatic healing work a handful of times with spiritual guides before the Amazon, which have supported me in coming home to my absoluteness as a human being, especially having experienced rape in addition to the different forms of the disease.
I now see the beauty, royalty, exquisiteness of the human body and how we get to honor it! Thousands of years ago, and even now in some indigenous cultures for example, in the Amazon, clothes were not needed. Clothing, socks, sneakers are the cultivation of societal standards and can in many ways be a form to hide behind states of trauma, resistance, and control. Being naked in the Amazon further breathed life into this perspective of life, the love for my body, and the love for self as an extension of all that is.
How do you think attitudes toward plant medicine may change in the next 10-15 years?
CR: I see it now happening and it’s going to shift tremendously within this time frame, as a reflection of where we’re headed as a species. This will be the new way of healing vs being named “alternative medicine.”
What I do trust that remains neutral is how we honor the Earth. This is huge as we enter this phase. This means planting new seeds when we harvest, sustainably sourcing, and not engaging in plant medicine ceremonies for the hype of it all, but that the medicine calls out to you. We can deplete the Earth like cancer in that way, it’s all about intentionality and giving as we receive.
(This interview has been edited & condensed)