Entheogens, popularly known as psychedelics or hallucinogenics, are among the most powerful and controversial substances known to man, and comprise approximately one-tenth of the 600,000-plus plant species identified so far. These and other mind-altering substances act by intensifying the user's mood and the situation he or she is in when taking the drug; as such, they have often been used in religious ceremonies and, more recently, in therapeutic situations. There may be many more psychoactive plants that have yet to be identified; there are certainly many in which the psychoactive ingredient has yet to be identified. A number of these plants are used by various indigenous peoples around the world in their ceremonies, yet they appear to have no psychoactive ingredient, and the often theatrical and bizarre behavior exhibited by those partaking of the so-called hallucinogen may be due more to social expectations and psychodrama than to any actual pharmacological ingredient. The quality of the experience may reflect the variety and potency of the plant, the method with which it is prepared, the setting or circumstances under which it is taken, and possibly the physiology of the individual taking it.
The following is a description of various hallucinogenics and their effects on the body and the mind.
AKA: Galbulimima belgraveana. A timber tree native to Malaysia and Australia that is related to the magnolias.
Effects: Causes violent intoxication, followed by a deep sleep characterized by vivid dreams and visions. Papuans boil the leaves and bark with the leaves of ereriba to make a drink, or just chew the leaves and bark. Although 28 biologically active alkaloids have been identified, the psychoactive principle has yet to be identified.
AKA: Amanita muscaria (bolond gomba, fly agaric, Gluckspilz, ha ma chun, mukhomor, Narrenschwamm, tu ying hsin), Amanita pantherina (panther mushroom). The amanita family of mushrooms can range from those that are harmless (and actually quite delicious) to those that are deadly poisonous; the above are the only two that are psychoactive. The name "fly agaric" is derived from the fact that flies will drop into a helpless stupor after sucking on its juices. It is also noteworthy that the mushroom is believed to have contributed to the frenzied behavior of the Norse Vikings known as Beserkers. The degree of psychoactivity is related to its color — yellow is the weakest, red is the strongest, and orange is in between — on where and when it is grown, and on what trees it grows near. It can be dried and smoked; eaten fresh, cooked, or dried; or it can be brewed in a tea. In reindeer-hunting communities in Siberia, only the shamans were allowed to eat the fly agaric mushrooms, but others found they could participate in the experience by drinking the shaman's urine; supposedly, the unpleasant side effects of nausea and vomiting were lessened in this manner. This is because the kidneys detoxify muscarine, a toxin found in the mushroom, but allow muscimole, the hallucinogen, to pass into the urine largely intact (reindeer, who aggressively seek out this mushroom, will likewise consume the fly agaric-filled waste, and travelers are advised not to urinate in their presence out of fear for the person's safety). Urine can be recycled four or five times in this manner. In Japan, there is mention in ancient literature of the maitake, or "dancing mushroom," which caused those who ate it to laugh and dance giddily; it has been identified as either Paneolus papilionaceus or Pholiota spectabilis, though the former is also known as waraitake, or the "laughing mushroom," and was once used as a cheap high in the U.S. and allegedly by witches in Portugal. Another "dancing mushroom" is Gymnopilus (Pholiota) spectabilis.
Effects: A pleasant, dreamy intoxication — accompanied by vivid hallucinations and giddiness — that lasts four to eight hours. The main psychoactive ingredients include muscazon, ibotenic acid, muscimole, and bufotenine. It may work synergistically with the juice of the bog bilberry (Vacinium uliginosum).
Precautions: There are often unpleasant physical symptoms. An overdose can produce twitching, trembling, minor convulsions, numbness of the limbs, delirium, paranoia, aggression, nausea, vomiting and even death. Amanita pantherina has been known to make people sick for up to twelve hours, though these side effects usually start and end quickly. Other varieties of amanita (Amanita phalloides, Amanita verna) and other similar-looking mushrooms can be lethal when ingested, so extreme care must be taken when picking them in the wild. Any mushroom should probably be sauteed before eating because in its raw state, it may contain methylhydazines, compounds similar to rocket propellants (which are, of course, carcinogenic and potentially deadly). Mushrooms may also accumulate such toxins as arsenic and cesium, though not in dangerous levels; cooking will not remove or deactivate them. The use of atropine by some medical professionals to treat the negative effects is counterproductive; it intensifies, rather than nullifies, them. Mushrooms should not be combined with alcohol, either.
Dosage: One medium-sized mushroom is taken initally, to determine tolerance, with 1 to 3 mushrooms per dose thereafter. They are thoroughly dried first, and under no circumstances are more than 3 mushrooms taken at any one time.
While it is common knowledge that toad secretions can induce altered states, what is not well-known is that other animals have psychoactive properties, as well. Much of the information is sketchy and anecdotal, however. Ants. Several Native American tribes of Southern California have ingested ants as a means of inducing visions and obtaining supernatural powers, though the particular species has not yet been identified. Bees and wasps. Honey made from the nectar of the belladonna plant will retain some of the plant alkaloids' psychoactive effects. Multiple bee and wasp stings can induce euphoria and heighten the perception of colors and geometric forms. Cobra. Indian holy men supposedly smoke the dried venom of the king cobra (Ophiophagus hannah) and the common cobra (Naja naja). Fish. The puffer fish is supposedly one ingredient of the Haitian zombie drug. A species of Kyphosus (possibly Kyphosus fuseus or Kyphosus vaigiensis) of Norfolk Island in the Pacific, two species of mullet (Mugil cephalus and Neomyxus chaptalli), and two species of goatfish (Mulloidichthys samoensis and Upeneus urge) are known by some as "dream fish" or "nightmare fish." That the effects are genuine — as evinced by infants who have shown all the classic signs of nightmares after consuming it — and that it is not an allergic reaction— as non-toxic species produce no reactions in those who have also eaten the toxic ones — has been proved, though the exact psychoactive principle remains a mystery. While German anthropologist Christian Ratsch states that the fish may contain DMT, others are not so sure (Jonathan Ott asserts that the DMT would not be psychoactive if taken orally, and would not exist in sufficient quantities to produce the required effects if it were), though bacteria from decay and algae eaten by the fish are two possibilities that are also considered unlikely. Disagreements by various Pacific Islanders concerning the physical characteristics of the relevant fish and the specific parts of the fish purported to be psychoactive only add to the confusion. The surgeonfish (Acanthurus sandvicensis) and the rudder fish (Kyphosus cinerascens) are also rumored to be hallucinogenic. Giraffe. A drink, called umm nyolokh, made from the liver and bone marrow of a giraffe, is said by the Humr people of the Sudan to induce hallucinations and vivid dreams. Richard Rudgely speculates that the bone marrow may harbor DMT. Moth larva. It has been said that a "bamboo grub," called bicho de tacuara by the Malalis of Brazil and identified as the larva of the Myelobia smerintha moth, induces an opium-like sleep filled with vivid dreams. Salamander. It is possible that medieval alchemists had been able to extract some form of psychoactive substance from the salamander. The secretions have been found to contain steroid alkaloids, one of which is a neurotoxin that can cause convulsions and death. Scorpion. One researcher has reported that those stung by a scorpion experience hallucinations. An analysis of such poisons has yet to be conducted to determine if they have psychoactive properties. Spanish fly. This notorious aphrodisiac, also known as cantharides, is actually the wings of the Cantharis vesicatoria beetle, though its use can cause toxicity in sufficient doses.
AKA: Latua pubiflora, Latua venenosa, latue, latuy, Lycioplesium pubiflorum, sorcerers' tree. Related to the nightshade family, it is the only known species of latua and is used by the medicine men of the Mapuche Indians in central Chile.
Effects: Causes hallucinations because of the alkaloids hyoscyamine and scopolamine.
Precautions: Also causes delirium and insanity, which may be permanent, depending on the dosage.
Dosage: The dosage is a closely guarded secret, though the medicine men can reputedly control the duration of the madness quite accurately.
Effects: The nuts of this New Britain palm are said to be psychoactive.
AKA: Banisteriopsis caapi (caapi, oco-yaje, yage, yaje, yaje-uco), Banisteriopsis inebrians, Banisteriopsis martiniana, Banisteriopsis muricata (mii, sacha ayahuasca), Banisteriopsis quitensis, bejuco de oro, cadana, dapa, Diplopterys cabrerana (Banisteriopsis rusbyana, chagropanga, chacruna), kahi, mihi, natema, pilde, pinde, tiger drug, yake. Ayahuasca and caapi are two species (of approximately 100) of a South American liana, or jungle vine.
Effects: Causes a pleasurable intoxication and colorful visual hallucinations lasting six to twelve hours, reportedly without the subsequent hangover, followed by a deep sleep. It also increases visual acuity and sensory awareness, and acts as an aphrodisiac. It is said to endow the user with telepathic abilities, but there is no scientific evidence to support this claim. The main psychoactive ingredient is the alkaloid harmine. There is another type of caapi made from the vine Tetrapteris methystica, popularly known as caapipinima (painted caapi). The drink, made from the bark by the Maku Indians on the Amazon in northwestern Brazil, has an odd yellowish color and tastes very bitter.
Precautions: The initial effects are nausea, dizziness, intense vomiting and diarrhea. An overdose can result in nightmarish visions, violent intoxication, recklessness, and subsequent feelings of sickness. It is an MAO inhibitor, and so should not be combined with any substances contraindicated for this type of drug, as it could cause headaches, heart problems, and death. It should not be combined with avocados, ripe bananas, broad beans, aged cheeses, chicken liver, excess amounts of chocolate, cocoa, dill oil, canned figs, pickled herring, excess amounts of licorice, milk or milk products, nutmeg, parsley oil, sauerkraut, wild fennel oil, yeast extract; amphetamines, antihistamines, ephedrine, sedatives, tranquilizers; or alcohol, excess amounts of caffeine, mescaline, or narcotics. Combinations of tropical plants containing DMT and beta-carbolines may produce similar effects to ayahuasca, and are occasionally passed off as such on the underground drug market. These are sometimes referred to by ethnobotanists as ayahuasca analogues or ayahuasca borealis.
Dosage: The bark can be made into a drink, the bark and stems can be chewed, or the plant can be made into a snuff. Various other plants are often added to the drink depending on the region, some of which, like Diplopterys cabrerana (a third species, called oco-yaje by Colombian and Ecuadorian Indians along the Amazon) and various species of Psychotria, may be psychoactive themselves. Diplopterys cabrerana contains DMT (N,N-dimethyltrypta-mine) as well, producing higher, clearer visions, as the yage inactivates the stomach enzyme that usually destroys DMT. An average cup of the native decoction can contain 400 mg of psychoactive alkaloids. The fact that it is prepared with other plants could present additional problems. William Burroughs describes his experiences with yage in The Yage Letters.
AKA: Bebai, Cycas circinalis.
Effects: The pollen of this New Guinea plant is said to induce narcosis. Another member of the Cycas genus, locally referred to as budzamar, is used by magicians on islands in the Torres Straits to enter an altered state.
AKA: Apples of Sodom, Atropa belladonna, banewort, beautiful lady, black cherry, deadly nightshade, death's herb, devil's herb, dwale, hound's berries, morrel, murderer's berry, naughty man's cherry, petty-morrel, poison black cherry, sorcerer's cherry, witches' berry. A member of the potato family, it is used in various medications including sleep remedies, cold remedies, treatments for ulcers and stomach problems, and some asthma drugs.
Effects: Hallucinations, which may contain elements of ecstasy and eroticism. It contains the psychoactive alkaloids atropine, scopolamine, and hysoscyamine, along with traces of nicotine.
Precautions: Contains the dangerous alkaloid apoatropine. Side effects include dry mouth, hot skin, rash, blurred vision, fear, restlessness, confusion, vomiting, convulsions, learning impairment, permanent eye damage, permanent brain damage, and death from heart failure.
Dosage: Some people in Asia and the Middle East eat or smoke the dried, crushed leaves (30 to 200 mg) or the root (30 to 120 mg). Toxicity may vary from plant to plant and from person to person, but can be as little as one berry.
AKA: Areca catechu, areca nut, betel nut, ping lang, supari. A favorite stimulant for thousands of years, it is still one of the most widely used drugs in the world, as popular in Asia as tobacco is in the West.
Effects: The stimulant is the alkaloid arecoline, which increases energy, elevates mood, and acts as an aphrodisiac, though this last effect may just may be an indirect result of the first two. The arecoline that is swallowed can rid the body of some intestinal parasites.
Precautions: Constant use will stain the teeth, mouth, and gums a dark red or black. An overdose can weaken the sex drive and create other unwanted side effects. Ingesting too much arecoline, or betel that is not yet ripe, can result in a feeling of drunkenness, followed by dizziness, vomiting, diarrhea, and possibly convulsions.
Dosage: A slice of betel nut is mixed with part of a leaf from the Piper betel vine and a piece of lime, plus cloves, nutmeg, tamarind, turmeric, cardamom, and sometimes resins, then placed in the mouth and chewed or sucked on for hours.
Effects: The bulb of this South African plant is hallucinogenic, and is used by the Basuto people for its male initiation rite, and some Zimbabweans to communicate with the dead.
Precautions: The Basuto also use the bulb as an arrow poison and as a method of committing suicide.
AKA: Lochroma fuchsioides. A member of the nightshade family that is native to the highlands of South America.
Effects: Supposedly made into a hallucinatory drink by the Sibundoy Valley Indians of southern Colombia. The psychoactive principle has yet to be identified.
AKA: Ipomoea carnea, matacabra ("goat killer").
Effects: A psychoactive plant with ergot alkaloids found in Ecuador.
Food sources: Bissy nut, chocolate, cocoa, coffee, gotu kola, guarana, mate, soft drinks, tea (excluding many herbal teas), some stimulant drugs sold by mail or over-the-counter, and many overthe- counter medications.
Effects: Caffeine is one of the most powerful legal stimulants; it gives a mental boost by releasing adrenaline and noradrenaline into the bloodstream. It interferes on a cellular level with the compound adenosine, in effect flatlining the body's state of arousal, allowing the body to shift into high gear. It may also affect dopamine, acetylcholine, and other neurotransmitters. All coffee, including decaffeinated, contains at least three compounds that act like opiates, or heroin, on the brain. It improves typing skills, mental alertness, energy, reaction time, concentration, and accuracy in performing tasks, and relieves fatigue, mainly by causing the release of norepinephrine in the brain. It improves physical endurance by stimulating the skeletal muscles, increases the production of stomach acid and urine, causes bowel movements, and dilates the bronchial tubes (making it easier to breathe). According to studies, it has no effect on memory or clarity of thought. In addition, the presence of polyphenols in coffee and tea may prevent cancer by inhibiting the conversion of highly carcinogenic nitrosamines in the body. A few cups of coffee a day can help prevent gallstones in men, and four to five cups a day can reduce colorectal cancer by 24 percent.
Precautions: It should not be taken by anyone who is allergic to stimulants, has heart disease or irregular heartbeats, who suffers from insomnia, anxiety, or panic disorders, or has a peptic ulcer of the stomach or duodenum. A physician should be consulted first if any of the following conditions are present: hypoglycemia, epilepsy, or high blood pressure. To discontinue use, gradually decrease the amount over a month or more, or headaches, irritability, and drowsiness may result. Not all researchers are convinced of its mental benefits. Some studies show no improvement in recall or response time, and others show that high doses can impair a person's ability to work with numbers. And it may have a negative effect on a person's ability to quickly process ambiguous or confusing stimuli. Any improvements in mental functioning may peak at a certain dosage, then decline with increasing consumption. Overall, caffeine may benefit the performance of simple tasks but have no effect on more complex ones such as reading comprehension or advanced mathematics. Though it is readily absorbed into the bloodstream, researchers still do not understand its full effects upon the human body. Caffeine can lead to a condition in coffee drinkers called coffee intoxication, in which more than four or five cups a day results in irritability, muscle twitches, rambling speech and thought, and trouble sleeping. It can also worsen existing health problems, and may contribute to birth defects, bladder and colon cancer, kidney disease, osteoporosis, hypertension, abnormal heart rhythms, stomach ulcers, and heart disease, though more recent studies refute these findings. When combined with sugar, as in many cola drinks, it can be particularly addictive or habit-forming. It does not replenish a person's noradrenaline once it is used up, and either depletes or limits the absorption of many vitamins and minerals. Withdrawal symptoms can begin 12 to 36 hours after the last dose, and can include lethargy, irritability, severe throbbing headaches, anxiety, depression, fatigue, and possibly even nausea and vomiting; symptoms can last from one and one-half to seven days. Other adverse effects include heart palpitations, high blood pressure, muscle twitches, rapid heartbeat, low blood sugar, nervousness, insomnia, increased urination, anxiety, indigestion, increased production of gastrointestinal acid, rectal itching, constipation, impaired concentration, a weakened immune system, bladder irritation and urinary problems (especially in women), and interference with DNA replication. It has been shown to trigger panic attacks in susceptible people — which it does by lowering the body's production of DHEA and increasing its production of cortisol — and interfere with the ability to sleep in most coffee drinkers. Decaffeinated coffee still contains some caffeine and can also cause these symptoms. More severe and infrequent symptoms include confusion, nausea, stomach ulcers, indigestion, and a burning feeling in the stomach. Overdose symptoms include excitement, insomnia, rapid heartbeat, confusion, fever, hallucinations, convulsions, and coma. More than five cups a day can increase the heart attack risk to three times that of a non-coffee drinker. Long-term high-dose caffeine intake can promote calcium loss due to its diuretic effect, weakening bones. The lethal dosage has been estimated to be about 10 grams. If caffeine must be consumed, it should be derived from plant sources, as the synthetic form does not have the fatburning properties the natural form does. As for the natural forms, kola nut and yerba mate are the best caffeine sources, guarana is adequate, and tea and coffee rank lowest. Boiled or percolated coffee can increase serum cholesterol levels and the risk of heart disease; drip coffee does not, as the paper niters absorb the harmful oils in the coffee grounds. Food and drug interactions are also a cause for concern. Grapefruit juice can increase the level of caffeine and extend its effects by up to one-third. Certain antibiotics such as Cipro (ciprofloxacin) and Penetrex (enoxacin) can significantly intensify and prolong the effects of caffeine. Consuming it with other caffeine-containing drugs, central nervous system stimulants, or sympathomimetics can result in overstimulation; with Cimetidine (Tagamet), oral contraceptives, or Isoniazid, increased sensitivity to the effects of the caffeine (Tagamet can increase caffeine levels by as much as 70 percent); with sedatives, sleep inducers, or tranquilizers, increased sensitivity to the sedative or tranquilizer; with MAO inhibitors, dangerously high blood pressure; and with thyroid hormones, an increase in the thyroid effect. Combined with caffeinated beverages, caffeine is likely to be more stimulating. Taken with alcohol, caffeine can slow a person's reaction time and intensify the effects of alcohol; with cocaine, it can lead to convulsions or extreme nervousness; with marijuana, it can lead to an increased effect of both substances along with a rapid heartbeat; and with tobacco, it can lead to an accelerated heartbeat and a decreased caffeine effect. Some mail-order "look-alike" drugs that mimic amphetamines have reportedly triggered strokes and irregular heartbeats that ultimately led to death, but this may be blamed more on the stimulant phenylprolanolamine (PPA) than on the caffeine and ephedrine found in these drugs. Still, the health problems associated with ephedrine and caffeine have led the FDA to ban drugs and diet aids that contain these two ingredients.
Dosage: The majority of the research shows that healthy people can consume up to two cups of coffee (200 mg) a day without suffering any ill effects; more than 300 mg of caffeine a day, however, is not recommended. Green tea, in addition to containing about 100 mg of caffeine per serving, contains polyphenols, or strong antioxidant nutrients (which protect against arterial damage that can eventually result in heart attacks or stroke), making it preferable to black tea. Adding milk ties up some of the beneficial chemicals, rendering them useless.
AKA: Acorus calamus, flag root, grass myrtle, myrtle flag, rat root, sweet calomel, sweet cinnamon, sweet flag, sweet grass, sweet myrtle, sweet root, sweet rush, vacha.
Effects: Stimulates, energizes, and in high enough doses, produces a psychedelic effect similar to LSD. It contains the substance asarone, which is similar to mescaline and amphetamines, but may not create the feeling of tension that amphetamines do. It is used by some to treat such ailments as asthma, bronchitis, diarrhea, fever, hangover, headache, and toothache. According to James A. Duke, Ph.D., the root can kill lice when ground into a powder and applied to the infected area.
Precautions: It may cause vomiting in high doses. The plant is very similar in appearance to the highly poisonous blue flag. The calamus leaves give off a sweet smell when scratched and the roots have a pleasing aroma and sharp taste; blue flag does not give off any smell, and the roots have a bitter, unpleasant taste. The various species native to India, Europe, and North America may each have very different pharmacological properties. MAO inhibitors should not be taken less than a week before or a week after taking calamus.
Dosage: An initial dose should be a 2-inch length of root the thickness of a pencil, which can either be chewed or brewed in a tea. This will produce stimulation and euphoria. A 10-inch length is said to produce mild LSD-like hallucinations. It should be taken on an empty stomach to prevent vomiting. The root should not be stored for more than a few months, as it will lose potency.
AKA: Bitter grass, Calea zacatechichi, leaf of God, Mexican calea, thle-pela-kano, zacatechichi. A member of the daisy family that grows from Mexico to Costa Rica and is used by the Chontal Indians of Oaxaca.
Effects: Calea may produce a sense of calm, drowsiness, a clarity of the senses, vivid dreams, and hallucinations lasting for a day or more. The psychoactive property has not been identified, though William Emboden and Jonathan Ott say there is none. It is also used to treat fever, nausea, and mild diarrhea.
Dosage: Two tablespoons of dried leaves brewed for five minutes in a pint of boiling water, which is then slowly sipped. The Indians are said to finish off with a few puffs of calea leaves rolled into a joint.
AKA: Eschscholtzia californica.
Effects: A mild marijuana-like high that lasts for about a half hour. It is not related to the opium poppy, but apparently does contain several psychoactive alkaloids.
Dosage: One joint per day — smoking more does not seem to extend or intensify the high. The leaves and petals are dried and rolled into joints.
Effects: A hallucinogen.
AKA: Chawe, Pachycereus pectenaboriginum. A giant cactus found in Mexico.
Effects: Contains phenethylamine alkaloids, but it is not known if they are psychoactive. The Tarahumara Indians crush the branches in water to make cawe, a ceremonial beverage. It is sometimes added to San Pedro.
AKA: Brunfelsia chiricaspi, Brunfelsia grandiflora, Brunfelsia tastevinii (keyahone). This genus of 40 species of South American and West Indian shrubs belongs to the nightshade family.
Effects: Used by several South American Indian tribes to make a hallucinogenic drink that takes effect in about 15 minutes and has a duration of four to five hours. The psychoactive ingredient has not yet been isolated. The plants are also used to treat fevers, snakebite, and rheumatism.
AKA: Chocolatl, Theobrama cacao. Though it is an addictive psychoactive which some believe mimics the effects of marijuana, not much is known about its pharmacology and cognitive effects. Caffeine may account for some of its psychoactive properties, but some researchers state that most of its effects are attributable to theobromine, an alkaloid found in chocolate that is similar to caffeine but which does not have as strong an effect on the nervous system. Researcher Daniele Piomelli has found that chocolate contains anandamide, a natural chemical also found in the brain, which reacts the same way marijuana does; it also contains two other ingredients that inhibit the natural breakdown of anandamide. Still, researchers agree that the "high" produced by chocolate is extremely mild; in fact, researcher Christian Felder of the National Institute of Mental Health calculates that a 130-pound person would have to eat the equivalent of 25 pounds of chocolate in one sitting to get anything close to a marijuana high. Theobromine mainly affects the muscles, kidneys, and heart. In addition to providing proteins, vitamins, and minerals (calcium, iron, niacin, potassium, riboflavin, sodium, thiamine, and vitamin A, among others), it may also have a sexually stimulating effect caused by theobromine and the possible ingredient B-phenethy-lamine, the latter a biochemical manufactured by the brain of a person in love. Chocolate can neutralize the effects of sugar, reducing tooth decay. A 1998 Harvard study by Dr. I-Min Lee of 7841 older men found that those who ate chocolate lived longer than those who didn't, with those eating just three chocolate bars a month living the longest. Some have questioned the results of this study, as eating more chocolate was not correlated with longer life, and three chocolate bars a month was too little for it to be perceived as having any significant effect. (Chocolate does contain antioxidants known as phenols, but this alone could not account for the increase in life expectancy, and there are no other known chemicals that could account for this effect.) Chocolatl is a bitter Aztec drink made from the cacao beans and flavored with pepper, vanilla, and other spices.
Precautions: It is addictive, and has a high (40 to 60 percent) fat content. Chocolate and nuts should be avoided by those with herpes, as the high arginine content can aggravate the symptoms. It should not be taken by anyone with allergies, as it can worsen symptoms, or anyone with canker sores, as it can delay healing. Sensitivity to chocolate can trigger migraine headaches. It can decrease the effectiveness of antihistamines, tranquilizers, sedatives, and relaxants, and can cause severe hypertension in anyone taking an MAO inhibitor or antidepressant. It can deplete the body of inositol and the B vitamins, particularly B-l, and partially prevent the absorption of calcium. It also has significant levels of caffeine, which can place stress on the endocrine system and deplete the body's stores of potassium and zinc. ClMORA A hallucinogenic drink consumed by the Indian witch doctors in Peru and Ecuador, who use it to foretell the future and diagnose their patients. Of its several ingredients, the main psychoactive ones are datura and San Pedro.
Effects: Supposedly induces strange dreams and hallucinations.
Precautions: It may irritate the skin or, if ingested, cause a burning feeling in the mouth.
AKA: Lycopodium complanatum, Lycopodium selago, wolf's foot.
Effects: Lycopodium selago can induce a mild hypnotic narcosis or a comatose state, depending on the dosage taken, yet Lycopodium complanatum can have a stimulating effect. In Peru, another species of club moss is often added to San Pedro.
Precautions: James A. Duke, Ph.D., has found that Chinese club moss (Hu-perzia serrata) and Lycopodium club mosses both contain the beneficial compound huperzine; however, for psychoactive effects, it appears each species is distinctly different from the others, and different parts of each plant are used.
Dosage: According to William Emboden, three stems of Lycopodium selago will induce a hypnotic narcosis.
AKA: Erythroxylum coca. The psychoactive ingredient of the coca leaf is cocaine, only one of over a dozen compounds in the coca leaf which have a similar effect. There are several different varieties of coca, none of which is related to cocoa.
Effects: It has been used for centuries as a gentle stimulant by indigenous peoples of South America, who use it to treat altitude sickness and brew it into a tea called mate de coca. Coca usually contains less than 0.5 percent active cocaine — because of this, and because it enters the body through the mouth and stomach, rather than through the more direct routes of the lungs and bloodstream common to cocaine users, it is rarely addictive. It contains many vitamins, including thiamine, riboflavin, and vitamin C, along with many compounds that modify the cocaine, rendering it safer to the user; all this is lost when it is refined into cocaine. It helps the body dispose of toxic metabolites, including uric acid. It appears to keep the teeth and gums healthy, have a positive effect on respiration, and alleviate somewhat symptoms of altitude sickness. According to its users, it increases the life span. It has not yet been determined whether it improves any mental functions, though its stimulant effect gives one the feeling of being smarter and mentally sharper.
Dosage: The average Indian consumes about two ounces of dried leaves a day, or about 0.7 grains of cocaine.
AKA: Coleus blumei, coleus pumilus.
Effects: Despite the fact that the Mazatecs of Oaxaca, Mexico, use these mint plants in the same way they use the hallucinogenic hojas de la Pastora, no hallucinogenic agent has been isolated in either of them or in any of the 150 species of coleus. William Emboden states that researcher R. Gordon Wasson has reported mind-altering effects, but these have not been verified by others. However, Young et al. claim that only the fresh leaves exhibit psychoactive properties, and that it takes 50 to 70 to do the trick, which manifests itself as a "trippy, psilocybin-like state, colorful visual hallucinations and patterns, and telepathic and clairvoyant insights" for a duration of some two hours.
Precautions: Brief nausea a half-hour after consumption.
Dosage: Between 50 to 70 large fresh leaves; dried leaves will not do. They can be chewed, smoked, or steeped in lukewarm water for an hour and drunk as a tea.
AKA: Erythrina flabelliformis.
Effects: A feeling of drunkenness accompanied by hallucinations.
Precautions: The toxic dose is very small. Some species of Erythrina are known to contain isoquinoline-type alkaloids, which produce effects similar to the arrow poison curare. Symptoms include vomiting, a pounding heart, and convulsions, and death may result. The appearance of the bean is very similar to mescal beans —they are often mixed together by herb merchants, and both may be called by the same common name, colorin —and piule seeds (the Rhynchosia species — Young et al. in fact confuses these two).
Dosage: One-quarter to one-half bean; any more could trigger the toxic effects mentioned above. Use is not recommended.
AKA: Methysticodendron amesianum, mitskway borrachera. The only known species of its genus, it may be a distant, and extremely divergent, relative of datura.
Effects: Excitement, hallucinations, and delirium.
Precautions: It is extremely potent, with 80 percent of its alkaloids consisting of scopolamine. Use can result in delirium and coma.
AKA: Cestrum laevigatum.
Effects: Sold in Brazil as a marijuana substitute. No psychoactive ingredient has yet been isolated, though a related species, Cestrum parqui, is said to have psychotropic properties.
AKA: Turnera diffusa. Effects: A mild marijuana-like high for about an hour. It is said to induce a restful sleep filled with sexually oriented dreams when taken an hour before going to bed, and said to act as an aphrodisiac when taken an hour before sex. The psychoactive ingredient is not known. Said to work synergistically with a teaspoonful of dried saw palmetto berries.
Precautions: Overuse may cause liver damage.
Dosage: It can be smoked like marijuana or brewed as a tea. Combining the two can supposedly increase the high.
AKA: Borrachera, borachuela, cizana, ivraie ("inebriating"), Lolium temulentum, tares, taumellolch ("delirium grass").
Effects: An inebriant with narcotic properties, this common wild grass contains psychoactive alkaloids. Loline, the main alkaloid, has been found to be nontoxic in doses of up to 200 mg per kilogram of body weight when injected into mice.
AKA (Datura): Concombre zombi (zombi's cucumber), Datura alba, Datura arborea, Datura aurea, Datura Candida, Datura ceratocaula (tornaloco), Datura discolor, Datura dolicho-carpa, Datura fastuosa, Datura ferox, Datura inoxia (Datura meteloides, dekuba, toloache, toloatzin, wichri, wysocean), Datura metel (dhatura, dutra), Datura sanguinea, Datura stramonium (devil's apple, devil's trumpet, devil's weed, James Town Weed, jimson weed, loco weed, qui-qui-sa-waal, stinkweed, thorn apple, white man's plant, yerba del diablo), Datura suaveolens, Datura versicolor, Datura volcanicola, Datura wrightii, jouzmathel, man-t'o-lo, tolouaxihuitl. AKA (Brugmansia): Borrachero, Brugmansia arborea, Brugmansia aurea, Brugmansia Candida, Brugmansia insignis, Brugmansia sanguinea, Brugmansia suaveolens, Brugmansia vulcanicola, buyes, campanilla, chamico, floripon-dios, huacacachu, huanco, huanto, huantuc, huanduj, kinde borrachero, maicoa, maikoa, misha toro, munchiro borrachero, tanga, toa, toe, tonga, tree datura, yerba de huaca. A member of the nightshade family, the many varieties are divided into the plant forms and the tree forms, the latter of which is native only to South America and now considered to be a distinct genus: Brugmansia. The task of classifying the numerous species is made even harder by the ability of the indigenous people to produce hybrid plants. Datura was just one of the psychoactive plants used by European witches, and — according to Wade Davis — is used as an antidote to the zombi drug in Haiti. Scopo-lamine, one of the main psychoactive alkaloids, was tested as a "truth serum" by both the Nazis and the U.S. during World War II to unsatisfactory results.
Effects: Deep sleep and hallucinations. The main psychoactive alkaloids are hyoscyamine and scopolamine; the minor ones are atropine, meteloidine, and norscopolamine. Used by many shamans to foresee the future, speak with the dead, and diagnose illnesses. It has also been used in initiation ceremonies, to treat a number of physical ailments, and Datura fatuosa was once used by Incan priests to sedate patients during surgery.
Precautions: The main alkaloid is scopolamine, which is highly toxic; it has proven to have a negative effect on serial learning in doses as low as 0.5 mg. Initial intoxication may be so violent that the user may have to be physically restrained. Other side effects include diarrhea, nausea, confusion, incoherence, dizziness, agitation, and loss of motor coordination. Overdose symptoms include convulsions, coma, intoxication lasting days (up to twenty days in some cases, according to Richard Rudgley), permanent damage to the eyes, heart, and brain, and death. The side effects of Datura stramonium include fever, chills, loss of coordination, a dry burning in the mouth, difficulty swallowing, hot dry skin, rash, dizziness, pressure in the head, vomiting, loss of memory, agitation, and a blurring and distortion of vision. Overdose symptoms include mental disorientation, panic, convulsions, and coma. Like Rohyp-nol, the "date rape drug," it was once used by criminals to incapacitate their victims. Similar methods of incapacitating a person occur in Fiji, where datura is sometimes added to kava, and Africa, where it is added to beer or wine. Carlos Castaneda's The Teachings of Don Juan and subseqent books dealing with datura make up a fictional framework on which hang numerous bits of information cribbed from some 200 esoteric works, much of it inconsistent and inaccurate. The film based on Wade Davis' The Serpent and the Rainbow bears only a passing resemblance to the book, reinforcing old stereotypes; and Davis' conclusions about the ingredients of the zombi drug itself have been attacked by some as reliant on too little evidence.
Dosage: It can be smoked, eaten, drunk as a tea, or taken as an enema. In Africa and Asia, it is often combined with cannabis or tobacco and smoked, and in Tanzania it is added to beer. Datura suaveolens is often added to ayahuasca. The ground seeds are often added to maize beer and, in Mexico, the dried leaves of Brugmansia are added to tobacco to induce diagnostic visions for treating various diseases.
Custom-made synthetic drugs made by chemists. They may have names like MMDA, TMA, PMA, 2CB, and 2CT2.
Precautions: They can vary widely in potency, duration of effect, and type of effect.
Effects: Oil of dill will produce hallucinations.
Precautions: The level needed to induce hallucinations is very close to the toxic level. Side effects include epileptic-like convulsions, kidney damage, and liver damage.
Dosage: 5 to 20 drops of oil taken orally.
AKA: Coryphantha macromeris. A small spiny cactus found in southern Texas and northern Mexico.
Effects: Similar to mescaline, but about 1/5 as potent. The hallucinogenic trip begins after about an hour or two and lasts for about twelve hours.
Precautions: Nausea and vomiting may result if taken on a full stomach. An overdose can be dangerous. It should not be combined with any MAO inhibitors.
Dosage: The spines are removed from 8 to 12 fresh cacti, after which the plant can be chewed thoroughly and swallowed or consumed as a tea; this latter method involves boiling in water for an hour and straining before drinking.
AKA: Akurjua, ebene, hakudufha, nyakwana, parica, Virola calophylla, Virola calophylloidea, Virola carinata, Virola cuspidata, Virola divergens, Virola elongata, Virola loretensis, Virola melinonii, Virola multinervia, Virola pavonis, Virola peruviana, Virola rufula, Virola sebifera, Virola surinamensis, Virola theiodora, Virola venosa, yakee, yato, yopo. A tree found in the rain forests of Colombia and Brazil, it is a member of the nutmeg family.
Effects: The hallucinogenic effects take hold almost immediately and lasts about thirty minutes. The chief psychoactive ingredients are DMT and 5-MeO-DMT.
Precautions: Indigenous peoples of Colombia and Brazil usually mix it with water and take it as an enema to avoid the side effects associated with snorting. Side effects include uncontrollable trembling for five minutes, followed by headaches and confusion for another ten minutes. It can also cause numbness of the limbs, facial twitching, loss of muscular control, nausea, and irritation of the mucus membranes, resulting in uncontrollable sneezing. Epena can exaggerate any existing pain, and taking it on a full stomach can cause nausea. If combined with any other MAO inhibitors, headaches, vomiting, heart problems, and death may result.
Dosage: Though preparation varies from one area to another, generally the thick red resin is scraped from the inner bark, dried or boiled down to an amber-red crystalline state, then ground and sifted. The resultant snuff is then blown into the nostrils with a tube. Other regional plants may also be added to vary the effect. Some people eat the resin in the form of pellets, and there are reports that it is even smoked.
AKA: Homalomena belgraveana, Homalomena ereriba. Research on the Homalomena genus is limited, despite the identification of over 140 species from South America to Asia.
Effects: Said to be a narcotic, the leaves of which are combined with the leaves and bark of agara or Galbulimima belgraveana, though no psychoactive compounds have yet been isolated from it. Natives of New Guinea use Homalomena cordata for "rain magic" and Homalomena versteegii for "love magic."
Precautions: The Malaysians use Homalomena rubescens as a fish poison which they call ipoh.
AKA: Cecropia mexicana, Cecropia obtusifolia.
Effects: A marijuana-like effect when smoked.
AKA: Argyreia nervosa, baby Hawaiian woodrose. Despite its popular name, it is not a member of the rose family, but is a woody liana in the morning glory family.
Effects: Similar to that produced by morning glory seeds. It is said to take effect in an hour and can result in an LSD-like trip that lasts a few hours. It may be accompanied by a feeling of contentment that can linger for a few days. Contains the highest amount of lysergic acid amines of any of the morning glories (0.3 percent), as well as several other alkaloids. In addition to Argyreia nervosa, a dozen other species of Argyreia contain lysergic acid amines (acuta, aggregata, barnesii, capitata, hainanensis, obtusifolia, osyrensis, pseudorubicunda, speciosa, splendens, and wallichii).
Precautions: The white fuzz on the seeds, containing strychnine, are removed (often with a toothbrush). Filtered, cold-water infusions of the ground seeds are said to prevent fewer hazards than ground seeds eaten whole. Extreme nausea might be the result of strychnine ingestion. According to William Emboden, side effects include a hangover characterized by blurred vision, vertigo, and physical inertia. High doses could result in death. It should not be confused with the Hawaiian woodrose (Ipomoea tuberosa), which is not psychoactive.
Dosage: 4 to 8 seeds. Cleaned seeds are chewed and swallowed or ground into a powder and put in gelatin capsules.
AKA: All-heal, English valerian, German valerian, great wild valerian, phu, setwall, turnsole, valerian, Valeriana officinalis, vandal root, Vermont valerian, wild valerian.
Effects: A fairly strong sedative and tranquilizer.
Precautions: The tea's aroma is intolerable to most people; its taste is slightly less objectionable. The tea is not drunk more than twice a day for more than two or three weeks at a time, as overuse could cause poisoning.
Dosage: Half an ounce of roots or rhizomes boiled in a covered pot for five minutes and drained, then consumed as a tea. It can also be boiled down to a viscous residue and, with a small amount of flour added, can be put into gelatin capsules.
AKA: Bang (bangue, bengi), black henbane, castilago, devil's eye, fetid nightshade, goat's joy, henbell, henquale, hog bean, Hyoscyamus, Hyoscyamus niger, insana, lusquiamus, Jupiter's bean, poison tobacco, sakiru, sakrona, shakhrona, stinking nightshade, stinking Roger. A member of the nightshade family, it was one ingredient in witches' brews in the Middle Ages.
Effects: Hallucinations involving all the senses, along with a feeling of drunkenness and sedation. Various ancient cultures have used it as an anesthetic, or to treat various disorders. It is chemically similar to datura, containing high amounts of hyoscyamine — similar to atropine, but twice as powerful — plus scopolamine and several other active alkaloids. It has traditionally been used in combination with the fly agaric mushroom in Afghanistan, occasionally smoked with tobacco or marijuana in Kashmir and Pakistan, and added to alcoholic drinks by Indians in California and Mexico.
Precautions: Side effects include dry mouth with accompanying thirst, hot dry skin, fever, profuse sweating, dilated eyes, inability to focus the eyes on close objects, rapid heartbeat, dizziness, confusion, nausea, diarrhea, constipation, difficult urination, throbbing headache, problems with ejaculation, restlessness, disorientation, delirium, irrational behavior, blackout, and temporary amnesia. It is very dangerous.
Dosage: The seeds and dried leaves can be smoked, or the crushed root can be brewed into a tea. HlERBA LOCA AKA: Huedhued, Pernettya furens.
Effects: Intoxication and hallucinations.
Precautions: It can cause mental confusion, madness, and permanent insanity. HlMANTANDRA BELGRAEVEANA
Effects: The Gimi people of New Guinea use the bark of this tree to induce trance states.
AKA: Hojas de la Maria Pastora, Hojas de Maria Pastora, pipilzintzintli, Salvia divinorum, shka- Pastora, Ska Maria Pastora, Ska Pastora.
Effects: An effect similar to sacred mushrooms, but not as intense or as long (about two hours). No psychoactive component has yet been isolated.
Precautions: The extremely bitter taste can trigger vomiting. Some nausea may also occur.
Dosage: Though common doses are said to range between 20 and 80 pairs of leaves (approximately 50 to 200 grams), one researcher experienced hallucinations after only 3 pairs of leaves. The leaves can be nibbled and held in the mouth, or the plants can be ground up, soaked in water for an hour, then filtered for use as a drink. Recent experiments with smoking the leaves has shown that this can also produce a short-term trip, and that the leaves can retain their potency even when dry, despite a commonly held belief to the contrary.
AKA: Humulus lupulus. A member of the hemp family, it is used to add flavor to beer.
Effects: Contains THC, the psychoactive ingredient in marijuana. It acts as a sedative and, in higher amounts, can produce a mild marijuana-like high.
Precautions: It may amplify feelings of depression. Overuse can cause dizziness and symptoms of jaundice.
AKA: Hydrangea arborescens, hydrangea paniculata grandiflora, seven barks, wild hydrangea.
Effects: A pleasant, marijuana-like high accompanied by a slight feeling of drunkenness.
Precautions: Contains a cyanide-like compound which can result in death.
Dosage: No more than one joint of leaves; smoking any more than that could result in severe toxicity.
AKA: Eboga, eboka, Tabernanthe iboga. The only member of the dogbane family known to be used as a hallucinogen.
Effects: Hallucinations similar to LSD, but stronger; shamans who use it claim to contact the dead. It is also said to act as a stimulant and aphrodisiac, and to increase muscle strength and stamina. The psychoactive ingredient is ibogaine, which can also be made synthetically. At the turn of the last century, it was used briefly as an antidepressant, and at least one psychotherapist (C. Naranjo) has found it to be useful in inducing fantasies and childhood memories. Early research indicates it may be a treatment for opiate addiction, though Jonathan Ott calls this "a dubious proposition."
Precautions: In high doses, it can cause vomiting, loss of motor coordination, convulsions, paralysis, respiratory failure, and death.
Dosage: One gram of bark or roots can heighten feelings of sexuality and awareness — users claim that they can engage in sex for up to seventeen hours and remain awake during hunting for two full days. Doses of 3 grams or more are needed to induce hallucinations; unfortunately, this is also very close to the toxic dose, and indigenous peoples use this high a dose only on rare occasions. The roots can be chewed or swallowed, or the roots and bark can be boiled into a tea. lOCHROMA AKA: lochroma fuchsioides.
Effects: Used by Kamsa Indian shamans of Colombia as an inebriant. It may also be used as an additive to ayahuasca.
AKA: Ajuca, caatinga, jurema branca, Mimosa hostilis (Mimosajurema), Mimosa nigra, Mimosa pudica (dormilona, duermidillo, espina dormilona, guaring, muigin, pinahuihuitztli), Mimosa somnians, Mimosa tenuiflora (tepescohuite), Mimosa verrucosa, vinho de jurema.
Effects: The roots of this shrub in eastern Brazil said to produce a "miraculous drink" called ajuca or vinho de jurema. This once popular hallucinogen is now rarely used. The main psychoactive ingredient appears to be DMT.
AKA: Galanga, gisol, Kaempferia galanga, maraba. A member of the ginger family commonly used as a condiment in Asian cooking. This and related species are used in cough medicines, stomach and headache medications, and perfumes.
Effects: Used by people native to New Guinea as a condiment and to treat boils, burns, and wounds. It is rich in essential oils, but appears to have no psychoactive ingredients, despite its local reputation as a hallucinogen and dream enhancer.
AKA: Channa, gauwgoed, kaugoed, Mesembryanthemum expansum, Mesembryanthemum tortuosum, Sceletium expansum, Sceletium tortuosum, Sclerocarya caffra, Sclerocarya schweinfurthii, umganu. There is some confusion about which of the above plants the Hottentots used to achieve an altered state.
Effects: Said to induce euphoria, giddiness, and hallucinations. The two species of Sceletium are known to contain an alkaloid which induces sedation.
Precautions: Side effects include headache, listlessness, loss of appetite, and depression. An overdose can result in delirium and loss of consciousness.
Dosage: About 5 grams of the alkaloid will induce lethargy; it is not known how much more is needed to produce hallucinations. The roots, leaves, and trunk can be chewed or smoked.
Effects: The roots and leaves of this plant are said to have psychoactive properties.
AKA: Castanopsis acuminatissima.
Effects: The seeds of this tree, when steamed and eaten, are said to induce an altered state.
AKA: Green, Ketaject, Ketalar, ketamine hydrochloride, special K, super K, vitamin K, Vetalar. A close relative of PCP, it was first used as a surgical anesthetic in the Vietnam War. It is also used as an animal tranquilizer.
Effects: Produces a vivid 30- to 45-minute LSD-like experience characterized by a dream-like state with intense visual images. Its potency is about 5 to 10 percent that of PCP.
Precautions: Side effects may be similar to those of PCP: loss of the ability to talk or communicate, rigid muscles, confusion, agitation, and paranoia. Heavy users may experience prolonged speech and memory impairment, which may persist even after use is discontinued. An overdose can cause respiratory failure.
Dosage: About 50 mg. It can be taken as pills, snorted as a powder, injected as a liquid, or even smoked in a cigarette; taking it orally is said to result in a high that lasts longer and is less intense than with the other methods. Surgical doses of the injectable liquid range from 400 to 700 mg. Medical researcher John C. Lilly describes his experiments with ketamine in The Scientist: A Novel Autobiography.
AKA: Gomortega keule, hualhual. Found only in a small section of central Chile, it is the only known species of tree in the rare gomortegaceae family, which is related to the nutmeg family.
Effects: The fruit is said to induce intoxication, though it is unknown whether this involves hallucinations or whether there is even a psychoactive ingredient.
AKA: Catha edulis, chat, kat, miraa, qat, quat, tchat, tschat.
Effects: An Ethiopian shrub that is said to produce bliss, clarity of thought, euphoria, excessive energy, and hallucinations because of its amphetamine-like alkaloids cathine, cathidine, cathinine, norpseudoephedrine, and ephedrine, among others. It also contains high levels of vitamin C.
Precautions: Though it is not believed to be physically addictive, regular users do develop a dependence. Instead of the effects mentioned above, users may experience dizziness, stomach pains, weariness, and depression. Overuse can cause tremors, loss of appetite, heart trouble, and loss of sex drive.
Dosage: The buds, leaves, and stems can be chewed (the leaves are even swallowed, though they lose their potency when they dry out), or they can be brewed into a tea. KlERI AKA: Hueipatl, kieli, Solandra brevicalyx, Solandra guerrerensis, tecomaxochitl.
Effects: Used by Indians in northern Mexico as "visionary inebriants." Studies have shown that it contains some psychoactive alkaloids. KiKISIRA AKA: Bubbia.
Effects: The bark of this tree causes a dream-like state when smoked with tobacco.
AKA: Bissy nut, caffeine nut, Cola nitida, cola nut, cola vera, guru nut.
Effects: Can stimulate the central nervous system and improve mood. It contains about 2 percent caffeine, or as much as coffee, along with theobromine.
Precautions: Overuse can cause insomnia, nervousness, and loss of sex drive. Studies with animals have shown that, while low doses may be stimulating, high doses can have a depressive effect.
Dosage: The nuts can be chewed, or brewed into a tea consisting of 1 teaspoon of nut to one cup of water. More than one or two cups a day may be dangerous. Cola drinks contain very little kola.
AKA: Tanaecium nocturnum.
Effects: Altered states.
Dosage: The leaves are roasted and pulverized and mixed with tobacco that is then used as a snuff. Tea made from the root-bark is also said to be psychoactive. Researchers have said that even smelling the plant can induce altered states but as yet no studies have been done to determine the psychoactive elements of this plant.
AKA: Gratom, kutum, mambog, Mitragyna speciosa. A member of the coffee family that is sold as an opium substitute in southeast Asia. Kratom refers to the leaves, which can be smoked like a joint or chewed, and mambog refers to the thick syrup made from the leaves.
Effects: A state of euphoria not unlike a very mild effect from hallucinogenic mushrooms or LSD. The psychoactive ingredients include the indole alkaloid mitragynine and eight other alkaloids, which act on the central nervous system and the autonomic system. While the leaves produce a stimulating effect, mitragynine itself is a depressant, which suggests that the other alkaloids play an important role. Because it can mimic other hallucinogens unrelated to each other, it is considered by William Emboden to be "one of the most complex of the hallucinogens."
Precautions: Though it does not appear to be addictive, it is habit-forming. Prolonged use can result in emaciation, a distended stomach, pallor, darkened lips, dried skin, numbness in the peripheral regions of the body, twitching, and unusual cardiac disorders.
Dosage: The leaves can be smoked, chewed, or prepared as an infusion.
AKA: Diospyros species. Effects: A New Guinea plant said to induce altered states.
AKA: Pancratium trianthum.
Effects: Though nothing is known of its psychoactive properties, it is considered a hallucinogen by Botswana Bushman, who rub the bulb into incisions cut into the their heads to induce visions. Other species of Pancratium are known to contain psychoactive alkaloids, though some may cause death (especially among people with heart conditions) or paralysis of the central nervous system.
Precautions: Though it is not known what toxic effects, if any, kwashi may have, William Emboden considers it "perhaps one of the most unusual hallucinogens in terms of mode of use, and one of the most dangerous." More recently, Jonathan Ott questions whether this is, in fact, a true hallucinogen.
A drink composed of barley mixed with ergot, water, and the mildly psychoactive mint Mentha pulegium that was popular in ancient Greece and Rome.
Effects: Said to produce bliss and hallucinations.
Precautions: The ergot, eaten whole, can interfere with blood flow, and cause muscle spasms, numbness of the limbs, gangrene, and death. Jonathan Ott warns budding experimenters that "ergot has poisoned and killed countless human beings throughout history."
There are 35 different species of this plant that grow from the Middle East to Central Asia.
Effects: Sedation and hallucinations. Russian pharmacologists have found it to have a number of medicinal uses, especially as a treatment for skin diseases, allergies, nervous problems, and glaucoma.
AKA: Lactuca sativa, Lactuca virosa.
Effects: The seeds are said to be psychoactive, producing a high similar to opium, but milder. Why bananas (which have no psychoactive ingredients whatsoever) have gained such a reputation and lettuce has not is somewhat of a mystery. Jonathan Ott says trace amounts of morphine have been discovered in lettuce (lactucarium, or lettuce opium), but then, it is a trace constituent in human milk and cow's milk also, and is a natural product of brain chemistry.
Precautions: It is not addictive, though large doses are toxic.
Dosage: The wild lettuce plant (or the hearts and roots of iceberg lettuce) is liquefied in a blender until about a pint of liquid is produced. The liquid is then left in a bowl under heat lamps or the hot sun until it has evaporated, leaving only a sticky brownish-green residue. The residue is placed in an opium pipe and heated, with the pipe pointed downward so that the residue does not get in the stem. The resultant white smoke is held in the lungs for about half a minute.
Effects: Some varieties of Alaskan lichens are reported to be psychoactive, a belief that has yet to be substantiated.
AKA: Asthma weed, bladderpod, cardinal flower, emetic herb, emetic weed, gag root, Indian tobacco, Lobelia inflata, Lobelia cardinalis, pukeweed, red lobelia, vomitroot, vomitwort, wild tobacco.
Effects: A mild marijuana-like high.
Precautions: Those susceptible to migraines will experience headaches when smoking lobelia. It has an acrid taste when smoked, and causes a prickly feeling in the mouth and throat when consumed as a tea. Casual users sometimes experience vomiting and nausea, even when taken on an empty stomach. More than 15 grams may trigger sudden vomiting, circulation problems, nerve damage, and other toxic reactions. The term "Indian tobacco" may refer to any number of unrelated plants.
Dosage: About 2 tablespoons of crushed leaves and stems in a pint of water, which is simmered and strained. For use in a gelatin capsule, a double dose is boiled down to a gummy residue and mixed with dried leaves. It can also be smoked as a joint.
AKA: Acetyllysergic acid diethy-lamide (ALD-52, N-acetyl-LSD, Orange Sunshine), Acid, Delysid (LSD-tartrate), LSD-25, lysergic acid diethylamide, Methyllysergic acid diethylamide (MLD-41). A semi-synthetic drug first made in 1938 by Swiss chemist Albert Hofmann from the ergot fungus in rye, though he did not become aware of its extraordinary properties until accidentally ingesting some five years later. It is one of the most powerful drugs known, producing a high from as little as 25 micrograms. There are numerous derivatives and analogues of LSD, the effects of which may range from totally inactive to mildly psychoactive (ALD-52 and MLD-41 are two of the more psychoactive ones).
Effects: A trip usually begins 45 to 90 minutes after ingestion, and can last eight to twelve hours. It elevates serotonin levels in every area of the brain except the cerebrum and cerebellum.
Precautions: There can be bad trips, which are sometimes attributable to the general surroundings and atmosphere in which the drug is taken, contaminants (including other drugs) mixed in with the LSD, and the mental instability of the user. After-effects include sluggishness, depression, anxiety, and occasional long-lasting psychological problems. It also causes contractions of the uterus in pregnant women. It could lead to a condition called the serotonin syndrome, where serotonin levels in the body are too high, and which is characterized by restlessness, confusion, sweating, diarrhea, excessive salivation, high blood pressure, increased body temperature, rapid heart rate, tremors, and seizures. There is no evidence that it causes flashbacks, is addictive, or causes damage to the chromosomes, the brain, or the body in general. The original chemical, lysergic acid, will produce many side effects but few of the psychoactive benefits that users seek. It is an MAO inhibitor, and so dangerous when combined with substances contraindicated for this type of drug. John G. Fuller's The Day of St. Anthony's Fire purports to be the story of an entire French town that succumbed to the effects of a naturally occurring LSD in the grain used to make the town's bread. This drug does not occur naturally; the townspeople's hallucinations and temporary madness were the effects of a mercury compound used as a fungicide, the grain having been accidentally ground into flour for bread instead of being planted as seed.
Dosage: Approximately 50 to 500 micrograms will result in altered consciousness, though it could just as well produce a bad trip. The effects peak at 500 micrograms, with the result that the trip will not be longer or more intense with greater dosage. Lethal dosage is unknown, as some individuals have taken as much as 1 to 2 grams and survived.
A spice produced from the outer covering of the nutmeg seed, or Myristica fragrans, that is sometimes used to flavor cakes.
Effects: A high that can range from mild pleasantness to unbridled delirium.
Precautions: The dose needed to get high is close to the toxic level, resulting in a strong hangover the next day.
AKA: Zornia latifolia. Effects: In Brazil, the leaves are smoked as a "marijuana substitute."
AKA: Apples of the fool, apples of the genie, devil's testicle, European mandrake, love apple, mandragon, mandragora, Mandragora officinarum, may apple, Satan's apple, Satan's testicles. "Of all the sedating-tranquilizing-psychotropic plants known," writes William Emboden, "the mandrake ... has the most extensive and bizarre history. ... This member of the nightshade family has been used as a painkiller, sedative, aphrodisiac, trance mediator, and poison." According to the ancient "doctrine of signatures," medicinal plants resembled that part of the human body for which it could affect a cure and, since mandrake resembled the human form, its powers were seen as allencompassing.
Precautions: The dosage needed to produce hallucinations is also close to the toxic dose, which are caused by the potent compound scopolamine. Side effects include a burning thirst, dizziness, fever, dilated eyes, rapid heart rate, severe headache, nausea, diarrhea, constipation, difficult urination, problems with ejaculation, cramps, restlessness, disorientation, confusion, delirium, coma, amnesia, heart damage, insanity, and death. Mandragora officinarum (European mandrake) is a very different plant from Podophyllum peltatum, or American mandrake. Both, however, are very poisonous.
AKA: Leonurus sibiricus.
Effects: Smoked as a marijuana substitute in Mexico. Though it contains alkaloids, it is not known whether they are psychoactive.
AKA: Bhang, cannabis, Cannabis indica, Cannabis sativa, charas, dope, ganja, grass, hashish, hasheesh, hemp, kif, majun, pot, sinsemilla, weed. After considerable controversy about its genus and species, it is now believed to belong to its own genus, Cannabaceae, consisting of one to three species: Cannabis sativa, Cannabis indica, and Cannabis ruderalis. The molecular structure of its psychoactive properties are unique in the plant world.
Effects: Its effects, which can vary widely, are mainly attributable to tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), and mainly involve euphoria, a sense of well-being, intense concentration, perceptual distortions, and — though marijuana is not classified as a hallucinogen — visual and auditory hallucinations for one to three hours. According to Young et al., "marijuana is the least debilitating of all common intoxicants and has never accounted for a substantiated drug death. It does not cause brain damage, sterility, impotence, insanity, or drug addiction. ... Socially and medically, alcohol and tobacco are considerably more dangerous." Pharmacologically, it has been used in various medical preparations since ancient times and, even today, some advocate its use for relieving the symptoms of glaucoma, asthma, stiff muscles resulting from brain injuries and multiple sclerosis, and the toxic effects resulting from chemotherapy.
Precautions: A user may experience dry mouth, rapid pulse rate, high blood pressure, tremors, vertigo, loss of coordination, dry reddened eyes, dilated pupils, depression, moodiness, temporary amnesia (because of its suppression of the brain hormone vasopressin), an uncontrollable fear of death, and panic. A1986 Italian study found that smoking one joint can increase melatonin levels in the body 4000 percent. It is not physically addictive, but could result in psychological dependence, and habitual use could require higher and higher doses to achieve the same effects. Hash smoke, especially when combined with tobacco smoke, can result in bronchitis and other respiratory ailments. Additional dangers include buying marijuana laced with other drugs or the herbicide paraquat, or dealing with assassin bugs that tend to inhabit crops. Some growers have been able to produce superpotent strains that contain 20 percent THC, or almost double that of naturally grown plants.
Dosage: The dried leaves can be smoked as a cigarette (joint, reefer), the dried tops of the female plant full of resin smoked with tobacco (ganja, kif). It can be made into a drink with water or milk (bhang), made into a candy (majun), the resin smoked or eaten with spices (charas) or baked into brownies (hash brownies). Since the resin is soluble in oil but not water, it has a longer-lasting (if slower) effect when eaten, but very little effect when consumed as a tea. Hashish, or hash, is the processed resin from the cannabis plant, and contains about 8 to 14 times the THC of marijuana. Hash oil, which is produced by boiling marijuana or hashish in a solvent, contains about 15 to 30 times the THC.
AKA: Bolekhena, curia, Justicia pectoralis var. stenophylla.
Effects: No psychoactive property has yet been isolated from this plant. It is generally mixed with epena, the snuff of the virola tree, though there are Indians in the Brazilian and Venezuelan forests that reportedly use some species of this plant by itself.
Precautions: William Emboden reports that at least three shamans have died from using the snuff of this plant.
AKA: EA-1298; Methylenedioxy-amphetamine; 3,4-methylenedioxyam-phetamine. The oldest and best-known of the synthetic chemical variants of the amphetamine molecule.
Effects: A calm and relaxing feeling, with a sense of physical and mental well-being, lasting eight to twelve hours.
Precautions: Side effects include a rapid pulse, high blood pressure, dilated pupils, insomnia, and loss of appetite. After-effects include a feeling of sluggishness, lack of energy, and inability to concentrate. It can cause orgasm problems in men and women, and erection problems in men. An overdose can result in painful muscular tension, particularly around the face and jaw. Tennis player H. Blauer was killed in 1953 when given an intravenous injection of 500 mg of MDA in an experiment funded by the Army Chemical Corps.
Dosage: 50 to 150 milligrams.
AKA: Adam, E, Ecstasy, Experimental Agent 1475, MDM, Methylene-dioxymethamphetamine,
Effects: Same as MDA, but lasting only half as long. An analogue of MDA, it is usually defined as a psychedelic amphetamine, and releases the neurotransmitters serotonin and dopamine in the body. It has been used in psychotherapy and counseling, as it can enhance empathy between people.
Precautions: Side effects include severe muscle tension, sweating, and blurred vision. There is no evidence to support the claim that it damages nerve cells in the brain, but high doses can cause bad reactions. It could lead to a condition called the serotonin syndrome, where serotonin levels in the body are too high, and which is characterized by restlessness, confusion, sweating, diarrhea, excessive salivation, high blood pressure, increased body temperature, rapid heart rate, tremors, and seizures. It can cause orgasm problems in men and women, and erection problems in men. It produces the same rundown feelings the next day as MDA does, leaving users more vulnerable to colds, herpes outbreaks, and other infections, a problem that increases with the age of the user. There have been reports of dependency problems, and it has been implicated in some deaths, including that of former Dallas Cowboy Mark Tuinei. The MDMA sold on the street can often contain such additives as MDEA (a close relative of MDMA), ketamine, selegiline, caffeine, amphetamine, and other, potentially hazardous, substances. It reacts adversely with alcohol or depressants.
AKA: Coralillo, frijolitos, red bean, Sophora secundiflora, Texas mountain laurel.
Effects: Said to induce hallucinations.
Precautions: None of its alkaloids are known hallucinogens. It contains the alkaloid cytisine, which is highly toxic and has resulted in many deaths. Side effects include over-excitement, headache, nausea, vomiting, sweating, salivation, diarrhea, sluggishness, heart palpitations, convulsions, unconsciousness, paralysis of the respiratory muscles, and death from asphyxiation. The beans are often confused with colorines.
Dosage: No more than one-quarter to one-half bean, which is roasted, crushed, chewed, and swallowed. Even a fraction of a bean more could result in toxicity and death.
AKA: Mescal buttons; 3,4,5-trimethoxyphenylethylamine. Mescaline is chemically similar to the hormone epinephrine and the neurohormone norepinephrine. It is the main psychoactive alkaloid in peyote, San Pedro, and other hallucinogenic plants.
Effects: Hallucinations, which begin one to two hours after consumption, peak after two hours, and last for approximately twelve hours. It has been used in psychotherapy and as a treatment for opiate and alcohol addiction.
Precautions: Use by borderline schizophrenics may worsen their condition irreversibly. Initial side effects include vomiting, nausea, stomach disruption, followed by uncontrollable bursts of emotion that may mimic schizophrenia. Tremors, insomnia, and anorexia may also occur. It is not physically or psychologically addicting, though tolerance does develop rapidly. Aldous Huxley, author of Brave New World, reported on his wondrous experiences with the drug in the equally-famous books The Doors of Perception and Heaven and Hell. Religious scholar R. C. Zaehner, in his books Mysticism Sacred and Profane and Drugs, Mysticism and Make-Believe, strongly disagrees with Huxley's positive assessment.
AKA: Tagetes lucida, tumutsali, xpuhuc, yahutli, yauhtli, ye-tumutsali, yia, yyahhitl, yyahitlm, yyahutli, yyauhtli.
Effects: A narcotic or mild psychedelic that is said to induce feelings of tranquility when smoked. Reports of the effects of this plant vary considerably, and much chemical analysis needs to be done to determine its psychoactive properties.
Precautions: No psychoactive compounds have yet been identified in this plant. One expert has claimed that it is "toxic."
AKA: Ipomoea purpurea, Ipomoea violacea (badoh negro seeds, Ipomoea tricolor, tlitliltzin), Mexican morning glory, piule, Turbina corymbosa (coaxhuitl, Ipomoea sidaefolia, ololiuqui, Rivea corymbosa). Contains a chemical called ergine (d-lysergic acid diethylamide), the closest substance to LSD found in nature. "Morning glory" actually refers to two distinct species which, due to the uncertainties regarding this family, have other botanical names (see above). Although other members of the morning glory family in other parts of the world have higher levels of psychoactive compounds, only in Mexico is it used as a hallucinogen.
Effects: Intoxication and hallucinations lasting four to fourteen hours.
Precautions: They should not be used by anyone with liver problems. They are mildly toxic, producing nausea and vomiting, though taking it on an empty stomach may prevent the nausea (Jonathan Ott states that side effects may be due to the fact that users eat whole ground seeds rather than filtered, cold-water infusions of the ground seeds). Stomach cramps may also occur, though these may pass quickly, especially if the individual lies on his back and breathes deeply. Overdose symptoms may include psychotic reaction, shock, and heart failure. Not all varieties of morning-glory seeds are psychoactive (Flying Saucers, Heavenly Blue, Pearly Gates, and Wedding Bells are among those that are) and, of those that are, it may take a whole cupful to produce the desired effect. Commercially sold seeds may be coated with a poison to discourage use as a psychedelic, and may produce such symptoms as dizziness, diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, chills, and severe abdominal pain.
Dosage: 100 to 300 seeds (about 5 to 10 grams) to produce the same effects as 200 to 300 meg of LSD. The hard seeds must be cracked or ground up to release the ergine, as they will produce no results when eaten whole. Young et al. state that only 15 of the crushed Turbina corymbosa seeds in one-half cup of water will produce the desired effect.
AKA: Liberty caps, magic mushrooms, 'nti-si-tho, Psilocybe cubensis, sacred mushrooms, teonanacatl, tey-huintli. Aside from the fly agaric mushrooms, there are four other genera that have hallucinogenic properties: Cono-cybe, Panaeolus, Psilocybe, and Stro-pharia. They are found all over the world, but only in Mexico are they used in rituals. The Copelandia cyanescens fungus that is cultivated in Bali is more potent than any of these mushrooms. The main psychoactive ingredients in all of these is psilocine and psilocybine, the latter of which can be manufactured synthetically.
Effects: Produces vivid hallucinations similar (though reportedly less intense) to LSD—beginning within a half hour and lasting three to six hours — muscular relaxation, and giddiness.
Precautions: Common side effects include nausea, pupil dilation, rapid pulse, high blood pressure, high body temperature, shivering, anxiety, numbness in the face, dizziness, difficulty concentrating, disorientation, paranoia, panic, and bad trips. Not everyone sees the "infinite clockwork," or the cosmic secrets of the mushroom. According to Mexican Mazatec healer Maria Sabina in de Rios' Visionary Vine, as "the mushroom is similar to your soul. It takes you where the soul wants to go. And not all souls are the same." Potency can vary widely, and they can be somewhat indigestible and mildly toxic if not cooked. An overdose (generally said to be in the 50 to 60 mushroom range) can result in severe poisoning. Prolonged excessive use is said to result in permanent insanity, premature aging, and senility. Mushrooms are usually sauteed before eating as, in their raw state, they may contain methyl-hydrazines, compounds similar to rocket propellants which are carcinogenic and potentially deadly. Mushrooms may also accumulate such toxins as arsenic and cesium, though not in dangerous levels; cooking will not remove or deactivate them. They can easily be mistaken for other, poisonous mushrooms. Some dealers may sell ordinary mushrooms laced with LSD. There is a myth that the mushrooms can be preserved in honey. Jonathan Ott was offered one such sample which, he said, was not only unlikely to contain any psilocybine but was a "disgusting, fermenting mess, crawling with bugs." It is an MAO inhibitor, and so should not be combined with any substances contraindicated for this type of drug. Readers should not be misled by popular books that contain misleading and erroneous information, notably Carlos Castaneda's The Teachings of Don Juan and subsequent sequels, John Sandford's In Search of the Magic Mushroom, John Allegro's The Sacred Mushroom and the Cross, or Andrija Puharich's The Sacred Mushroom: Key to the Door of Eternity.
Dosage: Psychedelic mushrooms can be eaten, smoked or snorted as a powder (it can be years before dried mushrooms lose their potency), or boiled and the liquid drunk with Kool-Aid or injected. 1 to 5 grams (dry weight), 10 to 15 grams of fresh mushrooms, or 5 to 15 mushrooms, depending on the size and species. NlANDO AKA: Alchornea floribunda.
Effects: Used as an aphrodisiac, stimulant, narcotic, and hallucinogen by some Africans.
AKA: Nicotiana attenuata, Nico-tiana benthatniana, Nicotiana bigelovii, Nicotiana gossei, Nicotiana glauca, Nicotiana ingulba, Nicotiana megalosiphon, Nicotiana rustica, Nicotiana tabacum, Nicotiana trigonophylla, Nicotiana velutina. Of the over 500 compounds in tobacco, the alkaloid nicotine is the most powerful, and the only addictive one. In fact, it is one of the most addictive substances known —even more addicting than most hard drugs, such as heroin — and one of the most toxic drugs known. Sources: Bell peppers, eggplant, tobacco, tomatoes.
Effects: It is believed to improve both short- and long-term memory, improve the ability to perform various tasks, reduce the risk of developing Parkinson's disease, help those with Alzheimer's focus better on tasks, prevent toxic chemicals from killing off brain cells, help schizophrenics function better, reduce feelings of hunger, increase tolerance to pain, and reduce stress. It may someday result in drugs that treat Alzheimer's and Parkinson's diseases, schizophrenia, and anxiety disorders. It was used by native peoples throughout the Americas to induce trance states and visions.
Precautions: Concentrated nicotine can enter the brain within seconds of smoking a cigarette, even faster than heroin injected into the arm. It is extremely addictive, and may contribute to Alzheimer's disease and other forms of dementia; it is known to stimulate, and then block, sensory receptors, preventing the neurotransmission of new information. Common side effects of smoking are believed to include persistent cough, shortness of breath, elevated heart rate, increased salivation, irritated and damaged lung tissue, increased bronchial secretions, constriction of blood vessels, increased blood pressure, slightly enlarged pupils, overstimulation of the central nervous system, tremors, stroke, heart damage, visual impairment, kidney dysfunction, reduced appetite, increased susceptibility to disease, cancer, emphysema, and death. Overdose symptoms may include delusions and hallucinations. Common side effects of nicotine chewing gum include nausea, vomiting, and upset stomach. Less common side effects include dizziness, lightheadedness, irritability, headache, dry mouth, hoarseness, coughing, high blood pressure, heart palpitations, rapid and abnormal heartbeat, sneezing, sleeplessness, confusion, convulsions, depression, euphoria, numbness, tingling in the hands and feet, fainting, weakness, rash, and a buzzing or ringing in the ears. Overdose symptoms include excessive salivation, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pains, headache, cold sweats, dizziness, hearing and visual abnormalities, weakness, and confusion, followed by fainting, dangerously low blood pressure, a weak, rapid, and irregular pulse, convulsions, and paralysis of the breathing muscles leading to death. The effects of nicotine can be increased when combined with sugar. Nicotine can alter the effects of any central nervous system drug. The cessation of nicotine intake — cigarettes in particular—may increase the effects of many drugs, including Acetaminophen, caffeine, Furosemide, Glutethimide, Imapramine, Insulin, Oxazepam, Pentazocine, Propoxyphene Hydrochloride, Propranolol, and Theophylline.
Dosage: The lethal dose is 50 mg, and just 60 to 120 mg (a drop or two) of pure nicotine can kill the average adult if applied to the skin; in fact, the nicotine in one cigar can kill at least two people, though most of it is destroyed by burning. Chewing tobacco and snuff is not believed to be as addicting, as the nicotine does not enter the brain directly, but goes through the bloodstream first.
AKA: Solatium nigrum. According to legend, it has been used by witches in ancient Greece and medieval Europe, and in the Voodoo and Santeria religions. It should not be confused with deadly nightshade, or belladonna.
Precautions: Contains the alkaloid solanine — also present in green potatoes — which is somewhat toxic, and can cause headaches, fever, and hallucinations. Nt7TM£G AKA: Made shaunda, Myristica fragrans. Called a pseudohallucinogen because its primary effect is delirium, one aspect of which is a form of hallucination. It contains the drug myristicin, which can be converted by the body into an amphetamine-like psychedelic.
Effects: The high can range from mild euphoria to full-blown delirium that lasts four to twelve hours.
Precautions: It should be avoided by anyone with liver problems. Common side effects include severe nausea and diarrhea. Overdose symptoms (above 10 grams) include dizziness, a flushing of the skin, dry mouth and throat, rapid heartbeat, bloodshot eyes, constipation, difficulty urinating, agitation, and panic. The dose needed to get high is close to the toxic level, resulting in a strong hangover the next day, aching muscles, a washed-out feeling for a day or two, and possible liver failure.
Dosage: 5 to 20 grams, though one level teaspoon is said to produce euphoric effects.
AKA: Osteophloeum platyspermum (Osteophloeum platyphyllum).
Effects: Though it was not known as a hallucinogen when Jonathan Ott's Pharmacotheon was published (1993), subsequent research has shown that it is used as a hallucinogen by the Quichua tribe of Ecuador.
Precautions: An overdose can be fatal.
Dosage: The tree sap is heated with pieces of bark, then drunk after it has cooled.
Effects: The powdered leaves are used as a snuff and are reportedly psychoactive.
Effects: The Wopkaimin people of New Guinea induce an altered state of consciousness, called the "Karuka madness," by eating the nuts of this plant. This altered state can last up to 12 hours, its primary manifestations being excitability, restlessness, and violent behavior. Another species of Pandanus on New Guinea has been found to contain DMT.
AKA: Common parsley, garden parsley, Petroselinum sativum, Petroselinum crispum, rock parlsey.
Effects: The oil, when taken orally, can induce hallucinations.
Precautions: Side effects include epileptic-like convulsions and severe damage to the liver and kidneys.
Dosage: 5 to 20 drops.
AKA: Maypops, Passiflora incarnata, passion vine, purple passion flower.
Effects: A mild marijuana-like high when smoked; it even smells like marijuana. The tea produces feelings of tranquility and sedation. Contains the psychoactive alkaloids harmine and harmaline.
Precautions: The psychoactive alkaloids are MAO inhibitors, and when combined with other MAO inhibitors, vomiting and headaches will result.
Dosage: The dried leaves can be smoked or brewed as a tea (one-half ounce of leaves per pint of boiled water).
AKA: Angel dust, animal tranquilizer, hog, peace pill, encyclidine, Sernyl, t-tabs. It has been used as a surgical and veterinary anesthetic (Sernyl and Sernylan respectively) but, unlike most anesthetics, it is not a depressant. Patients who received it during surgery remained aware, but "dissociated" from their bodies, and its use on people was discontinued when patients reported out-ofbody experiences and disturbing visual hallucinations.
Effects: In low doses it can act as a stimulant, but in high doses it can act as a depressant. It produces a strong high with hallucinations (mainly out-of-body experiences and perceptual distortions normally associated with sensory deprivation) lasting one to six hours, though technically it is not a psychedelic. Medically, it has shown promise in protecting against brain damage resulting from stroke.
Precautions: If taken by those with any borderline psychosis, it has a greater chance of worsening the condition than any other drug, including LSD or mescaline. Taking it may produce a dangerous and nasty delirium — according to Ronald K. Siegel, Ph.D., the chance of positive effects is 60 percent, while the chance of negative effects is 100 percent. Its association with violent behavior may be greatly exaggerated, however. Common side effects at low doses (below 5 mg) include sedation, numbness of the extremities, high blood pressure, rapid heart rate, loss of muscular coordination, double or blurred vision, dizziness, nausea, vomiting, flushing of the skin, profuse sweating, apathy, depression, paranoia, despair, a preoccupation with death, and impairment of various mental functions (thinking, concentration, sensory input organization, learning, and memory). It may take at least a day before a person feels normal again. Common side effects at moderate doses include decreased blood pressure, decreased respiration, decreased heart rate, nausea, vomiting, blurred vision, uncontrollable eye movements, shivering, increased salivation, repetitive movements, watery eyes, loss of balance, dizziness, and muscular rigidity. The psychological side effects are the same, except magnified. Common side effects at high doses (above 10 mg) include agitation, convulsions, seizures, a coma that can last for up to 12 hours, schizophrenia-like delusions and mental confusion, and suicidal behavior. Speech and memory problems may persist for some time after use is discontinued. Purity can range from high (white crystals) to low (moist and yellowish) and, on the street, it can often be passed off as mescaline or DMT. There are reportedly some 30 analogues of PCP available. It reacts adversely with stimulants or depressants, though Valium is said to counteract its effects.
Dosage: It can be smoked, snorted, or taken orally, intravenously, vaginally, or rectally. It is dangerous at almost any level.
AKA: Lophophora diffusa (Anhalonium williamsii), Lophophora williamsii (Anhalonium lewinii, Echinocactus williamsii, Peyotl zacatecensis), mescal buttons, peyotl. Peyote is a small cactus with white tufts of hair and no spines; mescaline is its chief psychoactive alkaloid (its principal alkaloid is peyotline, which is not psychoactive), though it contains more than forty other drugs or compounds. Contrary to popular opinion, the white hairs do not contain strychnine (they are cellulose, or plant fiber). In fact, no hallucinogenic cactus contains strychnine.
Effects: It produces a complex high of spectacular hallucinations involving all senses that begins three hours after ingestion and lasts up to 12 hours. A peyote high is much different from a mescaline high. Users claim it has cured illnesses and alcoholism, and has been used to help cure personal problems.
Precautions: It has an extremely bitter taste that makes it hard to swallow and invariably induces vomiting and an hour or two of nausea. The vomiting and nausea can usually be minimized by fasting or taking Dramamine beforehand and remaining perfectly still during the visions.
Dosage: The usual dose is 6 to 12 dried buttons, which are moistened just before eating or, less commonly, chewed dry. Some Indians eat 4 to 30, or more. They can also be soaked in water (they dissolve quite readily) and the liquid consumed as a tea, or used as an enema. PlSHICOL
Effects: A psychoactive cactus: Research is needed to uncover its psychoactive components and effects. PITURl AKA: Bedgery, Duboisia hopwoodii, Duboisia myoporoides, pedgery, pitchery.
Effects: Used by Australian Aborigines to endure long journeys without suffering fatigue, hunger, or thirst. It contains the alkaloids nicotine, d-nor-nicotine (which is four times as toxic as nicotine) and, in the roots, hyoscyamine and scopolamine as well, the latter of which can cause excitement and hallucinations, even in small doses.
Precautions: Larger doses are fatal. The level of alkaloids varies widely from plant to plant.
Dosage: The leaves are roasted, moistened, and rolled into a "quid," which is then smoked. The leaves and stems are also said to be ground or chewed up, and then mixed with an alkaline plant to release the nicotine. Generally, only a tablespoon of leaves and stems are needed to achieve its effects. PlULE AKA: Rhynchosia longiraceomosa, Rhynchosia phaseolides, Rhynchosia pyramidalis.
Effects: It is a narcotic whose effects are similar to curare.
Precautions: The seeds differ from mescal beans and colorines only in the fact that they have a touch of black on the end. The term piule is also used to refer to morning-glory seeds, mushrooms, and other psychoactive plants.
AKA: Batsikawa, kawa kui, matsi kawa, pishikawa, Psychotria nitida, Psychotria viridis (amirucapanga, chacruna, sami ruca). A member of the coffee family that grows along the Amazon.
Effects: Contains the potent hallucinogen DMT. It is often added to ayahuasca. There are numerous species of Psychotria, some of which are as yet unidentified (e.g., batsikawa, matsi kawa) and some which may be devoid of psychoactive alkaloids.
AKA: Licaria puchury-major, pix-uri.
Effects: The seeds are used in Brazil as a sedative and tranquilizer, and have been found to contain safrole, eugenol, and methyleugenol, all of which are psychoactive.
Effects: A plant in West Nakanai, New Britain near New Guinea, the leaves of which are reportedly psychoactive.
AKA: Blind man's ball, Bovista nigrescens, Calvatia utriformis, devil's pepperpot, devil's snuffbox, dusty stars, fallen stars, fistball, fuzzball, pixiepuff, puckfist, Lycoperdon marginatum (gi-i-sa-wa), Lycoperdon mixtecorum (gi-i-wa), Sderoderma citrina (earth ball).
Effects: Lycoperdon is a Mexican fungi that produces auditory hallucinations; Lycoperdon mixtecorum is the more powerful of the two species. Eating half of a Sderoderma mushroom induces visual disturbances and a deep narcosis that lasts approximately two hours. Experiments by Jonathan Ott and others on eleven species of the Lycoperdon failed to discover any psychoactive effects or compounds.
Precautions: They smell like fecal matter.
AKA: Maquira sderophylla (Olme-dioperebea sderophylla). A member of the fig family found along the Brazilian Amazon.
Effects: The fruits of this plant were once prepared and used as a snuff by Indians in the Pariana region of Brazil. The exact method of preparation has apparently been lost over time, and, though no psychoactive property has yet been isolated from it, it has been found to have an amphetamine-like stimulation on the central nervous system of rats.
AKA: Rhododendron ponticum (Azalea pontica, Heradea pontica, Rhododendron caucasicum).
Effects: Was once used as a narcotic and hallucinogen by people in the northern Caucasus, who used it to induce prophetic dreams. This maybe the same plant referred to by the Greek historian Herodotus, who stated that the burning smoke of the plant was as intoxicating as wine.
Precautions: The nectar may be toxic. Another Greek historian, Xeno-phon, relates how an entire army was poisoned from the honey of this plant.
AKA: Ledum groenlandicum, Ledum hypoleucum, Ledum palustre (marsh cistus, marsh tea, moth herb, narrow-leaved Labrador tea, swamp tea, wild rosemary).
Effects: The smoke from the burning leaves is said to be a narcotic. The Tungus people of Siberia preferred this over the fly-agaric mushroom, and another species is used by the Kwaikutl Indians of British Columbia as an inebriant.
Precautions: Believed to be at least partly responsible for the beserker frenzies of the Vikings. It is known that at least one species, Ledum palustre, produces a honey that is toxic (this plant can be used as a tea, though excessive use may cause toxicity).
AKA: Crocus sativus.
Effects: Saffron oil, or safrol(e), can be processed to make the narcotic MDA.
Precautions: It contains a poison that can affect the central nervous system and damage the kidneys. It can be fatal at doses of 10 to 12 grams.
AKA: Aguacolla, cardo, cuchuma, giganton, hermoso, huando, Tricho-cereus pachanoi (Opuntia cylindrica), Trichocereus peruvianus.
Effects: Contains the alkaloid mescaline, which is a hallucinogen. Though, like peyote, it is a cactus, the two are not related, and San Pedro produces a less stimulating, more tranquil high, reportedly without the nausea. The high, which begins in about an hour and lasts for about six hours, includes mental clarity, more intense auditory and visual perceptions, and brilliantly colored visions. Some medicine men use it for folk healing and divination, and it is probably used in the hallucinogenic drink cimora.
Precautions: It is usually consumed over a 45-minute period to avoid sudden overstimulation. Nausea, chills, anxiety, and feelings of terror may occur. It is not addictive, but psychological dependence may occur with habitual use.
Dosage: The lining of the inner skin wall can be chewed, or boiled in water for at least two hours and strained to make a drink.
AKA: Ague tree, cinnamon wood, gumbo, mitten tree, Sassafras albidum, Sassifras variiflium, saxifrax.
Effects: There is one report of a "visionary experience" after an ingestion of 10 ml of Brazilian oil of sassafras.
Precautions: The oil of any herb in any dose can be toxic.
AKA: Bakana, bakanoa, bakanawa.
Effects: A deep sleep accompanied by vivid hallucinations and bright colors. Said to induce psychic visions.
AKA: Hyoscine. An alkaloid found in belladonna, datura, henbane, and mandrake. In the early 1900s, it was used as an analgesic for childbirth until it was found to cause an abnormally high infant mortality rate. It was tested as a truth serum by the Germans and U.S. in World War II, both of whom found it unreliable. Nevertheless, the Soviets, according to William Burroughs, experimented with it and found that, even though the subject may have been willing to give up secrets, he oftentimes could not remember them. It is still used in some sleeping medications, and cold and allergy remedies, and can also be used to treat asthma, gastrointestinal spasms, and motion sickness.
Precautions: Common side effects include dry mouth, abnormal thirst, hot dry skin, fever, dilated eyes, inability to focus vision, rapid heart rate, constipation, difficult urination, difficult ejaculation, restlessness, disorientation, delirium, and amnesia. It has been found to impair serial learning at doses of 0.5 mg. In high doses it can cause poisoning. The roots of plants contain the lowest amount of scopolamine, the seeds the highest.
Dosage: The roots, seeds, leaves, and flowers can be smoked, eaten, brewed into a tea, or ground up and rubbed on the skin with fat.
AKA: Scopolia carniolica.
Effects: Hallucinations. Contains the psychoactive alkaloids scopolamine and hyoscyamine.
AKA: Broom, Cytisus canariensis, Cytisus scoparius (Scotch broom), Genista canariensis (Canary Island broom), Spartium junceum (Spanish broom).
Effects: Intoxication, relaxation, euphoria, intellectual clarity, and a heightened sense of color for about two hours. It may also produce intense hypnagogic imagery (hypnagogia is the half-awake, half asleep state that can occur just before or after sleep), but not hallucinations. In Europe, it has been used as an ingredient in aphrodisiac drinks. It is used by the Yacqui medicine men of northern Mexico as a supposed hallucinogen, even though its cytisine alkaloid has not been proven to have psychoactive properties.
Precautions: Cytisine is known to be toxic (it is related to nicotine), and to cause overexcitement, a heavy drunken feeling, headaches, nausea, a severe strain on the heart, convulsions, unconsciousness, and death through respiratory failure when it is eaten, though no adverse side effects have been reported when the plant is properly prepared and smoked. Spanish broom contains the toxic alkaloid spartenine.
Dosage: Up to one joint of dried leaves is said to produce a relaxed feeling with no subsequent depression; several joints may produce the effects mentioned above. The blossoms of the plant are aged for about 10 days in a sealed jar until they are dry and moldy, then ground up and rolled into a joint. All 3 varieties (Cytisus and Genista) have about the same potency.
AKA: Peyote, Senecio canicida, Senecio cardiophyllus, Senecio cervarifolia, Senecio gray anus, Senecio hartwegii (pey-ote de Tepic), Senecio praecox, Senecio toluccanus.
Effects: A peyote-like high.
Precautions: It is extremely dangerous, as it contains several chemicals that are toxic to the liver.
AKA: Petunia violacea. A species of petunia, it is a member of the nightshade family and a close relative to tobacco.
Effects: Hallucinations, the main aspect of which appears to be the sensation of flight. The main psychoactive ingredient appears to be an as-yet-unidentified alkaloid.
AKA: Coriaria thymifolia, pinan. A shrub in the Ecuadorian Andes that is toxic to animals.
Effects: Intoxication and hallucinations — including the sensation of flight —which are due to some as-yet-unidentified glycoside.
Precautions: There are cases on record of poisonings from related species Coriaria arborea and Coriaria ruscifolia. SlNICUICHI AKA: Heimia salicifolia, herva da vida, sinicuiche, sinicuitl. Heimia myrtifolia and heimia syphilitica are geographical variants.
Effects: Hallucinations, including the following effects: giddiness, a darkening and shrinking of the surroundings, drowsiness or euphoria, and deafness or auditory hallucinations.
Precautions: Side effects, which include hypothermia, are reported to be rare, but excessive use is said to be harmful. Its supposed hallucinogenic effects are disputed by research. Sinicuichi can also refer to other, unrelated plants.
Dosage: The slightly wilted leaves are crushed and soaked in water, and the juice is placed in the sun to ferment.
AKA: African rue, harmal, harmel, harmul, hurmur, Peganum harmala, rue, spand, spend, techepak, wild rue. Native to India, Mongolia, Manchuria, the Middle East, and Spain, it is unrelated to American or European rue.
Effects: Contains the hallucinogenic alkaloids harmine and harmaline, among others, though it does not appear to play a part in any religious or ceremonial rituals. The seeds are commonly used as a spice, and the oil, sold in Egypt as zitel-harmel, is reputed to be an aphrodisiac. Doses of 20 to 25 mg are mildly stimulating, but can result in drowsiness and dreaminess for an hour or two; doses of 300 to 750 mg may cause hallucinations.
Precautions: The alkaloids are MAO inhibitors and if mixed with any other drug or food contraindicated for this substance, may result in headaches, heart troubles, and death may result.
Dosage: Starting dose should be l/3 ounce of seeds (or 250 mg) — no more — chewed thoroughly and swallowed. If dosage is increased, it should not exceed 1 ounce of seeds.
AKA: Pernettya parvifolia.
Effects: Said to induce hallucinations, though it contains andromedotoxin and arbutin as its active ingredients, neither of which is hallucinogenic.
Precautions: It is toxic and may adversely affect the motor nerves.
AKA: Borrachero de paramo, chapico, Desfontainia hookeri, Desfontainia spinos, michai bianco, trautrau.
Effects: Used as a folk medicine and narcotic in southern Chile. It is not known whether it induces hallucinations or contains any further psychoactive properties.
Precautions: It is related to a family of South American plants from which arrow poisons are made.
AKA: Helicostylis pedunculata, Helicostylis tomentosa.
Effects: The fumes of the latex from this tree is said to be psychoactive. Some Indians of South America use it along with tobacco in shamanistic rituals.
AKA: Bufo alvarius, Bufo marinus, Colorado River toad, Sonoran Desert toad.
Effects: The Sonoran Desert toad of Arizona produces large amounts of 5-MeO-DMT in its venom glands — which can induce a gentle high when dried or smoked — along with small amounts of the narcotic bufotenine, an alkaloid that is also found in some mushrooms and plants and which produces an LSD-like high. The effects, which include auditory and visual hallucinations, take hold in about five minutes and lasts for approximately an hour.
Precautions: Jonathan Ott and others have concluded that 5-MeO-DMT has "little recreational value," essentially agreeing with a colleague who compared it to "having a large elephant sitting on one's head." It should be noted that, since most types of toad venom are toxic, licking toads can be dangerous, causing seizures and resulting in hospitalization, and getting the venom in the eyes or mouth can cause severe poisoning. The venom must be dried and smoked to inactivate the toxins. Wade Davis has reported that Bufo marinus was one ingredient of the Haitian zombi potion. Interestingly, though 5-MeO-DMT is legal, bufotenine is not.
Dosage: Unless combined with MAO inhibitors at a 10 mg dose, 5-MeO-DMT is not active when taken orally. When smoked, it is four times as potent as DMT — experiments have found that smoking 6 to 10 mg of the free base can result in a high that begins within a minute, peaks after two, and lasts twenty. Parenteral injections of 5 to 10 mg were also found to produce results. The venom can remain potent for two years.
AKA: Tabernaemontana sananho.
Effects: Bark extracts of this Ecuadorian tree are used by hunters to sharpen the senses; there is good evidence to suggest that it contains psychoactive alkaloids.
Precautions: Some initial unpleasant effects.
AKA: Lobelia tupa, tabaco del diablo.
Effects: The dried leaves are smoked by the Mapuche Indians of Chile as a narcotic, and by some North American Indians as an ingredient in love magic. None of the chemicals known to exist in tupa are hallucinogenic, though they may have a nicotine-like effect.
AKA: Lagochilus inebrians. Effects: Used as a folk medicine and intoxicant by various peoples of Turkestan. The full extent of its effect is not yet known.
Precautions: It has a very bitter taste.
Dosage: The leaves and stems are boiled in water to make a tea.
AKA: 2,5-dimethoxy-4-bromo-phenethylamine. A designer psychedelic which is DOB without the side-chain methyl group.
Effects: Enhances all the senses without distorting them.
Dosage: It is active in the range of 12 to 24 mg. It is sometimes combined with MDMA.
AKA: Arctostaphylos uva-ursi, bear-berry, kinnikinik, kinnikinnick.
Effects: An intoxication similar to opium. The dried leaves are used as a tobacco substitute.
Precautions: The term kinnikinnick can also refer to other plants and to mixtures of these plants.
Effects: One of the richest sources of DMT (up to 0.22 percent).
AKA: Nymphaea ampla, nymphaea caerulea.
Effects: Hallucinations and narcosis.
Precautions: While it may be useful in treating schizophrenia in low doses, it can induce psychosis in higher doses.
AKA: Leonotis leonurus. A South African member of the mint species.
Effects: Used as an inebriant by the Hottentots.
Effects: The oil, when taken orally, can induce hallucinations.
Precautions: Side effects include epileptic-like convulsions and severe damage to the liver and kidneys.
Dosage: 5 to 20 drops.
AKA: Caesalpinia sepiaria.
Effects: A Chinese vine said to induce visions and "communication with spirits."