Tyler first traveled to the Amazon at the age of 19 to research indigenous languages. Having grown up in suburban California, his exposure to tropical landscapes was notably limited, but the stories of indigenous Amazonian traditions called him after his freshman year at Brown University. 

While living in the rainforest among the Shipibo and Kichwa people in Peru and Ecuador, Tyler developed close relationships with many farmers, hunters and healers who work with medicinal plants as their lifeblood. Tyler saw numerous patients from across the world receive effective treatments from traditional healers, and gained an appreciation for the potential of Amazonian plants to contribute to modern medicine.