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Psychoactive Drugs and Poisons. The Dark/Fun Side of Botany. What are Psychoactive Drugs?. Drug: A substance which has a physiological effect which introduced into the body

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psychoactive drugs and poisons

Psychoactive Drugs and Poisons

The Dark/Fun Side of Botany

what are psychoactive drugs
What are Psychoactive Drugs?
  • Drug: A substance which has a physiological effect which introduced into the body
  • Psychoactive Drug: A drug which affects the brain and central nervous system, altering mood, behavior, perception, consciousness, and/or cognition in the user.
  • Poison: Any substance which can harm the user if used in the wrong way.
  • Hormesis: Toxic in large amounts, helpful in small amounts – applies especially to psychoactives.
why study psychoactive plants
Why study psychoactive plants?
  • Roth et al 2004
    • They’ve been used for millennia and area still used widely today
    • Psychoactives offer clues to “chemistry of consciousness
    • Peyote – 1898 – chemistry alters consciousness
    • LSD – 1943 – structural similarity to 5HT – 5HT involved in mental disorders
    • Reserpine – 1975 – lack of neurotransmitters leads to depression
    • By studying actions of these chemicals in the brain, we can find new sites for drug therapy
  • 20% of Human Genome = signal transduction
  • GPCR = 3.7% of genome
    • Also most common site of action for psychoactive drugs
    • Also may act proximally through ion channels and transporters
cannabis sativa a k a marijuana
Cannabis sativaA.K.A. Marijuana
  • Cannabaceae
    • Botanical Cousin of Hops (Humulus)
    • A ruderal, weedy species with a worldwide distribution
      • Colonizes disturbed ground, wet areas
    • First grown for its fibrous stems (hemp) – still a very common use
      • Used for clothing, paper, even construction materials
      • Fun Fact: The oldest known piece of woven fabric is Hemp
      • Another Fun Fact: Hemp was America’s 3rd largest crop by 1850

But we’re not here to talk about fiber…

cannabis sativa better known as the chronic
Cannabis sativa(Better known as the Chronic)
  • Marijuana as a psychoactive has been an important part of many cultures, including ours:
    • Herodotus notes that Scythians were hot-boxing by 400 BC
      • Theophrastus, Dioscorides and Galen all recognized medicinal powers
    • Chinese herbalists recognized medicinal properties as far back as 2800 BC
      • Shen-Nung said the plant was superior for those seeking immortality
    • Hindu practicioners in India thought it be a gift from the Gods.
  • Still very popular:
    • Roughly 42% of Americans have tried Marijuana (Time)
    • Marijuana even has its own day: April 20th
      • Thousands gather in Boulder, CO to celebrate
      • Way more popular than Arbor Day.
cannabis sativa the facts
Cannabis sativa : The Facts
  • Names: Weed, Pot, Hemp, Grass, Chronic, Dope, Reefer, Ganja, Bud, Green, Mary-Jane, MJ, Kush, ad-infinitum
  • Chemistry: THC (Tetrahydrocannibinol) – cannabinoid which binds to receptors in your brain, mimicking endogenous cannibinoids.
  • Consumption: Smoked or ingested. THC is lipophilic (fat-loving) and can therefore be cooked into a variety of foods.
  • The High: Not a hallucinogen; classified as a cognodysleptic(plants which induce changes in thought, imagination, and affective functions).
    • Described as Euphoria. Experiences are heightened, and things that you normally enjoy doing become even more enjoyable. Sensory experiences (music, art) become vastly more interesting. The munchies.
  • Toxicity: Unknown. No one has ever died from pot. Many medicinal benefits.
  • Negative effects: Not addictive, but habit forming. Makes some people lazy. Heavy smoking impairs pulmonary function.
cannabis continued
Cannabis continued…
  • Perhaps the most important crop in the United States
    • Domestic yearly production valued at $35.8 billion dollars (ABC News)
  • Now legalized in two states
salvia divinorum diviner s sage
Salvia divinorumDiviner’s Sage
  • Lamiaceae (The Mint Family)
    • Genus Salvia: One of the larger genera (1000 members)
    • No other members are known to have psychoactive effects
  • Salvia originated in Oaxaca, (southern Mexico) from a few cultigens, and is now endangered
    • Possibly a hybrid
    • May have been used by Aztecs
    • Still used by Mazatecs in Southern Mexico
  • Salvia is relatively obscure
    • Legal in many countries and states
salvia divinorum the facts
Salvia divinorum: The Facts
  • Names: Diviner’s Sage, Seer’s Sage, Ska pastora
  • Chemistry: Bicyclic diterpene: salvinorin. Poorly understood, this plant contains no alkaloids, and the receptors it binds to are unknown.
    • Roth – k- opiod receptor agonist
  • Consumption: Smoked or Ingested, sometimes chewed in a quid
  • The High: Not a true hallucinogen, but extremely psychoactive. Users report a warming of the body, introspection, and a wide variety of fantastical experiences, i.e., overlapping realities, fusion with material objects, and reliving childhood memories. This is NOT a party drug – (explains low popularity)
  • Toxicity: Unknown. Salvia is too obscure to have merited extensive study.
  • Negative Effects: Impaired coordination. High strength extracts can produce a “bad trip” and reveal some things about yourself you’d rather not know.
salvinorin a and b
Salvinorin A and B
  • Receptoromics reveal actions of salvinorin
  • A more potent KOR agonist than alternatives
    • De-metabolizes to inactive salvinorin B
artemisia absinthium wormwood absinthe
Artemisia absinthiumWormwood/Absinthe
  • Asteraceae
    • Genus Artemisia contains some other psychoactive plants, herbs
      • Widespread in Northern Hemisphere, common sagebrush (Artemisia tridentata) is a close relative
    • Wormwood has been recognized by herbalists since ancient times
      • Included by Dioscorides in De MateriaMedica
      • Tonics were prepared with Wormwood and Wine
    • Absinthe developed in Switzerland in 1792
      • Thought to be a “cure-all”, and aphrodisiac
      • French soldiers fighting in Algeria (1840) took it to prevent

malaria, and upon return to Europe, sparked surge in popularity.

        • Loved by artists and intellectuals, may have led Van Gogh to cut off his ear
      • Absinthe was illegal for much of the twentieth century, though new laws have led to a resurgence in popularity
Absinthe: The Facts(Absinthe is a concoction of several herbs and alcohol, which kind of complicates things)
  • Names: Absinthe, The Green Muse
  • Chemistry: The active component is thujone, a terpene with similar structure to THC.
  • Consumption: Next slide
  • The High: Cognodysleptic (like Cannabis), but very distinct. Users report reverie, and cognitive stimulation. May induce auditory or visual hallucinations. Depends on dosage. Hemingway said it “changes your ideas”.
  • Toxicity: Mild. One glass is roughly 1/1200 of a toxic dose. Hard to say, given its use as an admixture with alcohol.
  • Negative Effects: May cause convulsions in high dosages, but the alcohol its mixed with is probably more harmful.
genus psilocybe magic mushrooms
Genus Psilocybe“Magic” Mushrooms
  • Yeah, I know, not plants, but still cool!
  • Most potent member: Psilocybeazurescens(right)
    • Used prominently by Aztecs in a variety of rituals, traded extensively in central America
      • Known as Teonanacatl (The Flesh of the Gods)
      • Eaten at the coronation of Moctezuma II with chocolate (a practice still common today)
    • The Spanish Conquest effectively stamped out mushroom use
      • Inquisitors tortured mushroom priests, saw use as heresy
      • Did a good job; by twentieth century, ethnobotanists thought Teonanacatlreferred to peyote
        • EthnobotanistsSchultes and Wasson proved otherwise
  • Now, “magic” mushrooms are much more common
    • Grow frequently in areas of human intrusion: gardens, flower beds, etc…
harris et al 2011
Harris et al 2011
  • n=30 people
    • Attached to fMRIs and perform a few simple tasks
    • 15 were given a “mild dose” of psilocybin
      • Pharmaco-physiological interaction observed
      • Cerebral Blood Flow and Blood Oxygen Level were measured
        • Both decreased
      • Disconnection in brain
        • Decrease in positive coupling between mPFC and PCC/ACC
psilocybe the facts
Psilocybe: The Facts
  • Names: ‘Shrooms, Magic Mushrooms, “Flesh of the Gods”, The Children
  • Chemistry: Psilocybin degrades to Psilocin in the body, the psychoactive component. Very similar to serotonin, binding to 5-HT receptors in the brain.
  • Consumption: Eaten with chocolate/honey or candy to cover taste. May be ground up into an admixture.
  • The High: Psilocin is a true hallucinogen. Users experience visions, and muscular relaxation. As the Aztec name suggests, the high is said to be both divine and revealing, helping one to achieve spiritual clarity. Interesting patterns may appear on walls and ceilings.
  • Toxicity: Very mild. A toxic dose would be roughly 10lbs of mushrooms. No deaths have been reported.
  • Negative effects: May cause nausea, lower serotonin

levels in bodily organs.

lophophora williamsii peyote
  • Cactaceae
    • Many other genera of this family contain psychoactive compounds
      • Peyote is most well-known member
      • Once grew across the Southwest, but now restricted to primarily two counties in Texas and a few places in Mexico.
  • Likely used by a variety of southwestern peoples for the past 10,000 years.
    • Found in cave near Coahuila, Mexico with beans, dated to 8500BC
      • Probably the oldest hallucinogenic plant to be used by humans.
      • Ritually used by Aztecs and other Central American peoples
        • Like Psilocybe, popular use was stamped out by the Spanish, leaving only a few obscure tribes to practice peyote use.
        • Many of these tribes were centered around Peyote’s native region in northeastern Mexico – The Huichol, Cora, and Tarahumara
          • Helped to establish prominence of peyote in native religion
peyote and the native american church
Peyote and the Native American Church
  • Peyote was consumed for centuries in elaborate ceremonies by tribes in Northern Mexico, like the Carrizo.
    • A new ceremony was developed by the Carrizo in the 18th or early 19th century.
    • This ceremony involved sitting around a “cleansing fire”, consuming peyote, and burning incense while beating a drum and offering prayers to God.
      • Likely a fusion of Indian and Christian traditions
    • The Carrizo shared the ritual with their neighbors, the Lipan Apache
      • Spread across border to the Mescalera Apache in Texas and New Mexico, and eventually the Kiowa-Apache and other tribes in Oklahoma.
      • This ritual is unique, as it constitutes a distinctly indigenous North American creation.
peyote and the native american church1
Peyote and the Native American Church
  • Oklahoma Territory was the true center of peyote’s diffusion
    • Quanah Parker advocated its spread to other tribes
      • Parker was one of the last Comanche warriors to submit to US – 1875
      • Became critically ill, cured with Peyote
        • Brought peyote and ceremony back to his people
    • Anthropologist James Mooney was also an early advocate
      • Convened a pan-tribal meeting in Oklahoma, 1918 with representatives from many plains tribes
        • Wrote charter for Native American Church, and was recognized by OK
  • Peyote and the Native American Church were spread by individuals
      • People moving between reservations (exile, marriage) brought tradition with them, shared, as Quanah Parker did
    • The Native American Church is now Pan-Tribal, across US and Canada
      • Practiced in South Dakota
      • Native American Church now consumes 5-10 million peyote tops a year
        • Not cultivated, wild populations decreasing, prices going up
peyote the facts
Peyote: The Facts
  • Names: Peyote, Peyotl, Hikuli, “The Medicine”
  • Chemistry: 57 different alkaloids are found in Peyote, the

most prevalent being 3,4,5-trimethoxy-phenethylamine (Mescaline) which is

hallucinogenic (5-HT receptors, remember?)

  • Consumption: Ingested
  • The High: Peyote often induces nausea and vomiting in users, followed by a “trip” lasting up to 12 hours. Users experience visions, ranging from deep self-realization to conversing with the divine. Sounds may be seen as colors (synesthesia). Users converse with each-other, in utmost honesty. Coming down, they experience life anew.
  • Toxicity: Very low. Long term use has no reported ill effects.
  • Negative Effects: In the Native American Tradition, users must cleanse themselves spiritually beforehand. If done improperly, a very bad trip may result
mimosa hostilis mimosa tenuiflora jurema dmt
Mimosa hostilis(= Mimosa tenuiflora)Jurema/DMT
  • Fabaceae
    • Other species in Mimosa are known to contain DMT, as are some Acacias
    • Occurs regularly from southern Mexico to northern S. America
      • A small, thorny tree
      • Ritual use only occurs in the caatinga region of Northern Brazil, semi-arid
    • The root bark of the tree is pulverized, and added to water to make Jurema (admixture? Who knows!)
      • Though traditionally used by many regional tribes, Europeans eradicated its usage, along with many of the people using it.
        • By now, you should be realizing that the Catholic Church is no friend to Botany
      • Revived in the late 20th century by the Kiriri people, who sought to revisit their heritage
        • Jurema is consumed in the Tore ceremony, where many people gather to dance and become possessed by spirits.
jurema dmt the facts
Jurema/DMT: The Facts
  • Chemistry: Dimethyltryptamine (DMT) is a naturally occurring compound across plants and animals.
    • Fun Fact: DMT was synthesized in a lab 30 years before being discovered in Mimosa hostilis.
  • Consumption: Jurema is drank, but DMT can be smoked, ingested, or injected.
  • The High: Both DMT and Jurema are powerful anti-depressives, giving the user a pleasant cathartic feeling. General feelings of freshness are common, and male virility may be enhanced. Vomiting helps bring about effects.
    • Jurema is not hallucinogenic, though its original form may have been due to admixtures. Needs monoamine oxidase inhibitor to prevent digestion.
    • DMT itself, when smoked or injected, can produce powerful visions and hallucinations
  • Toxicity: Very low.
  • Negative Effects: Jurema may induce nausea, and DMT, as a powerful psychadelic, has the potential to give one a “bad trip”.
banasteriopsis caapi psychotria viridis ayahuasca
Banasteriopsiscaapi+ PsychotriaviridisAyahuasca
  • Malpighiaceae and Rubiaceae, respectively
    • B. caapi is a liana (climbing vine), and many varieties have been identified by native peoples of the Amazon. Other species in the genus have similar psychoactive properties.
    • P. viridis is a large woody shrub, used as the admixture in the drink.
      • “The vine is the master medicine, and is the doorway to others”
      • Neither plant is particularly interesting by itself, but together: Wow!
    • Ayahuasca is used by a variety of native peoples in the Amazon
      • First documented by the famous ethnobotanist Richard Schultes
      • Vine is cut, and placed in pot with Psychotria leaves. Cooked in water for several hours, producing a concentrated, bitter liquid.
        • Used for medicinal and spiritual purposes, like many hallucinogens
        • Performed in complex ceremony
ayahuasca the facts
Ayahuasca: The Facts
  • Names: Yage, The Vine of the Soul/Dead, The Spirit Vine
  • Chemistry: Freaking Cool!
    • B. caapiprovides harmine compounds, alkaloids which are themselves psychoactive, but also contain MAO inhibitors
    • P. viridisleaves contain DMT. The MOA inhibitors allow the DMT to diffuse unmetabolized into the blood, and eventually the brain.
  • The High: This is the granddaddy of all trips. Users often describe the high as a dream, with sensory fusion, and extreme hallucination. Incredible fear, insight, and elation are common. You may see both the beginning and end of the Universe.
  • Toxicity: Unknown, but likely very low. Native users frequently drink two or three cups in a single ceremony.
  • Negative Effects: If you are not a calm, confident, good person, it is likely that you will have a very frightening experience
some things i didn t talk about
Some things I didn’t talk about…
  • Cocaine: A tropanealkoloid synthesized from leaves of the coca plant (Ethroxlum coca). A highly addictive stimulant.
  • Heroin: An opiod analgesic synthesized from opium poppies (Papaversomniferum). A highly addictive depressant.
  • Methamphetamine: An amphetamine psychostimulant, derived from cold medicine (Ephedrine – derived from Ephedra). A highly addictive stimulant.
  • Ecstasy (MDMA): A phenethylamine (like peyote) which is used as a social stimulant. Derived from safrole, a chemical extracted from root bark of the sassafras tree. Possibly addictive.
why i m not talking about them
Why I’m not talking about them:
  • These are highly refined drugs
    • Many of them have medicinal precursors, which Dr. Riley has already covered.
  • They lack a rich cultural heritage
    • All of the plants that we’ve talked about today have spiritual significance to one or many groups of people.
    • These drugs have no religious or spiritual significance.
      • Some cultural significance, but mostly associated with crime, addiction, and the excesses of society.
  • And they’re very, very dangerous!
    • Hallucinogens might eff-you-up a little bit, but these drugs can kill you!
      • Death is the ultimate bad trip.
don t do drugs drugs are bad m kay
DON’T DO DRUGS!!!(Drugs are Bad, M’Kay?)
  • It’s always good to expand your consciousness, but never at the cost of doing anything illegal
    • If you’re going to use psychoactive drugs, always do your research so you know what to expect.
  • Become informed citizens, so that you can take part in the ongoing societal debate concerning drugs
    • Don’t give in to myth and speculation
  • Find other ways to have fun! I use puns…