Doonesbury

by Garry Trudeau

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nothim's hap-pbnín6 ! N07MN61 this is the mxst stuff i've fver had in my life j uh..mr. du kb?.. mr.. duke?

97 Psychedelics, or Hallucinogens tablets of all colors and tiny transparent gelatin chips ("window-pane") to pieces of paper soaked in solutions of the drug or stamped wTith ink designs containing it. The windowpane and paper forms are likely to be the purest, since they are too small to contain contaminants.

Despite loud arguments and much bad publicity about the medical dangers of LSD in the 1970s, there is no evidence that it damages chromosomes, injures the brain, or causes any other physical harm. *

Morning-Glory Seeds

The closest substance to LSD that occurs in nature is a chemical called ergine, or lysergic acid amide, found in the seeds of certain morning-glories. Indians in southern Mexico were eating morning-glory seeds for ritual purposes before the Spanish arrived, and some still use them today.

Not all the varieties of morning-glories available from seed companies are psychoactive. Of those that are, the best known are Heavenly Blue (with large blue flowers), Pearly Gates (white), Wedding Bells (pink), and Flying Saucers (blue with white stripes).

Because the concentration of LSD-like activity in the seeds of these plants is low, it takes a great many to produce a noticeable psychedelic effect, even up to several hundred, or a whole cupful. The seeds, which have hard, indigestible coats, must be cracked or ground up to release the drug. Also, they are mildly toxic, frequently causing nausea, vomiting, and other uncomfortable side effects. For these reasons they are not popular; even the Mexican Indians who use morning-glory seeds regard them as a back-up psychedelic, taking them only when they can't get the hallucinogenic mushrooms they prefer.

One species of morning-glory that is stronger than others is the Hawaiian Baby Woodrose, a creeping plant that covers many Hawaiian beaches and whose flowers are often dried and sold by florists. A dozen of the large, hard seeds will produce a strong intoxication, but they, too, frequently make people feel sick.

Devotees of psychedelics say that morning-glory seeds are definitely second-rate, producing too much discomfort relative to effects they like. Another problem is that many commercial morning-glory seeds are now dipped in poisons to discourage people from eating them — sometimes without any caution to the buyer.

'Like other ergot derivatives, LSD causes contractions of the uterus. Pregnant women should not take it.

From Chocolate to Morphine 98

Hawaiian Baby Woodrose (a species of morning-glory, Argyreia nervosa). (From Familiar Indian Flowers by Lena Lowis, London, 1881. Courtesy of Dr. Otto Solbrig, Gray Herbarium, Harvard University. Photograph by John Lupo)

Mushrooms (Magic Mushrooms, Psilocybin)

Mushrooms are the most important natural psychedelics of southern Mexico, used in ceremonies so sacred that Indians carefully concealed them from Europeans until the present century. It wasn't until the 1950s that descriptions of Mexican mushrooms came to the attention of the world. Soon after, botanists began to identify the mushrooms in use, and chemists found that their psychoactive properties came from psilocybin, an indole hallucinogen similar to LSD but with a shorter duration of action: four to six hours.

99 Psychedelics, or Hallucinogens

Mexican mushroom ceremonies are conducted by shamans, usually women, and are held for purposes of treating illness, solving problems, foreseeing the future in visions, and putting people in contact with the supernatural world. They take place at night, by candlelight, and today are curious blends of shamanism and Roman Catholic ritual.

For some years, scientists believed that mushrooms containing psilocybin grew only in southern Mexico, and during the late 1960s and early 1970s thousands of people, mostly from Europe and North America, traveled there to take magic mushrooms in remote Indian villages. For a time, several Swiss pharmaceutical companies manufactured pure psilocybin, supplying it to researchers. As with LSD, some of this material eventually found its way to the street, but underground chemists never manufactured it because the synthesis is too costly.

As natural substances with a reputation for producing interesting experiences and fewer bad trips than LSD, magic mushrooms have been in great demand on the black market. For a long time they were unavailable, though unscrupulous dealers often sold ordinary supermarket mushrooms laced with LSD and other drugs at high prices to unsuspecting customers.

Since the late 1970s this situation has changed. In the first place, psilocybin mushrooms have been found in great numbers in many parts of the world. One of the principal species, called Psilocybe cubensis, is a large mushroom that grows in cow pastures in warm climates. It occurs in Southeast Asia, in Central

In this drawing from an Aztec manuscript of the sixteenth century, a man eats a pair of sacred mushrooms while a god stands behind him. Three more mushrooms grow in front of him. (Courtesy of the Biblioteca Medicea Laurenziana

From Chocolate to Morphine 100

Psilocybe cubensis growing in cultivation on grain. (Jeremy Bigwood)

and South America, all along the Gulf Coast of the United States, and in many southeastern states. More than a dozen species of psychoactive mushrooms grow in fields and woods of the Pacific Northwest. Some grow in Europe as well. In certain areas, the mushrooms are so abundant that collectors can easily gather enough for sale as well as for their own use.

Needless to say, collecting wild mushrooms of any sort requires knowledge and practice, because some mushrooms are very poisonous. No one should attempt to pick magic mushrooms without knowing how to recognize them.

Psilocybin mushrooms can also be cultivated. Although growing mushrooms from spores is much harder than growing green plants from seeds, many people have mastered the technique. Psilocybe cubensis is the easiest variety to grow; in recent years, kits that include spores of the mushrooms have been widely sold through the mail and in stores. Since the spores didn't contain psilocybin, they weren't illegal. Taking advantage of this loophole in the law, thousands of people have produced and distributed magic mushrooms. Real, unadulterated mushrooms are now obtainable on the black market.

Both wild and cultivated mushrooms vary greatly in potency. One medium-sized mushroom of a potent strain may give the same effect as twenty of a mild strain. It is important, therefore, to get advice on potency and dosages before eating mushrooms in order to avoid unpleasant effects from too high doses.

101 Psychedelics, or Hallucinogens

Many wild mushrooms arc hard to digest raw, and some are mildly toxic until they are cooked. Psychedelic mushrooms may taste better and are less likely to cause discomfort if they are dried or lightly cooked before being eaten. Still, mushrooms are generally easier to take than the other hallucinogenic plants. One reason people prefer mushrooms to other psychedelics is their ease of consumption. Another is that the effects are shorter, usually ending after six hours, and therefore are less demanding on the body. People usually feel sluggish the day after taking LSD or other long-acting psychedelics. This is less common with mushrooms.*

Ibogaine

Ibogaine is the active principle of the African hallucinogenic plant iboga. Though the iboga root is almost unknown outside Africa, the pure drug can be made synthetically and sometimes appears on the black market. It is a long-acting psychedelic resembling LSD in effect, but it is an even stronger stimulant. Africans who drink iboga in all-night ceremonies that include vigorous dancing may stay up the next day and night until the stimulation wears (Copyright € 1982 Home-off. Eventually they fall into a deep sleep. stead Book Company)

Recently, ibogaine has been in the news as a possible new treatment for opiate addiction. After several heroin addicts discovered that a single ibogaine session eliminated their cravings for narcotics, scientists began to study this exotic drug in animals. Early reports suggest that it may work, but much more research is needed before ibogaine becomes an accepted treatment for addiction.

DMT (Dimethyltryptamine) and 5-MeO-DMT (5-Methoxydimethyltryptamine)

DMT is the drug responsible for the hallucinogenic properties of several plants used by South American Indians. It is a simple chemical closely resembling certain hormones made in the brain, and it is likely that the brain also produces DMT itself. DMT may be our own endogenous psychedelic. It is a compound easily made in laboratories; in the 1960s synthetic DMT was sold in quantity on the black market.

DMT is peculiar among the psychedelics in that it cannot be taken by mouth; an enzyme in the stomach breaks it down before it can enter the bloodstream. Indians who use DMT-containing

'Amanita muscaria, the bright-red fly agaric (mushroom) with white dots on the cap, is not a true hallucinogen. It is discussed in Chapter 10, along with other deliriant drugs.

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101 Psychedelics, or Hallucinogens

Many wild mushrooms are hard to digest raw, and some are mildly toxic until they are cooked. Psychedelic mushrooms may taste better and are less likely to cause discomfort if they are dried or lightly cooked before being eaten. Still, mushrooms are generally easier to take than the other hallucinogenic plants. One reason people prefer mushrooms to other psychedelics is their ease of consumption. Another is that the effects are shorter, usually ending after six hours, and therefore are less demanding on the body. People usually feel sluggish the day after taking LSD or other long-acting psychedelics. This is less common with mushrooms.*

Ibogaine

Ibogaine is the active principle of the African hallucinogenic plant iboga. Though the iboga root is almost unknown outside Africa, the pure drug can be made synthetically and sometimes appears on the black market. It is a long-acting psychedelic resembling LSD in effect, but it is an even stronger stimulant. Africans who drink iboga in all-night ceremonies that include vigorous dancing may stay up the next day and night until the stimulation wears ¡Copyright© 1982 Home-off. Eventually they fall into a deep sleep. stca(J Book Company)

Recently, ibogaine has been in the news as a possible new treatment for opiate addiction. After several heroin addicts discovered that a single ibogaine session eliminated their cravings for narcotics, scientists began to study this exotic drug in animals. Early reports suggest that it may work, but much more research is needed before ibogaine becomes an accepted treatment for addiction.

DMT (Dimethyltryptamine) and 5-MeO-DMT (5-Methoxydimethyltryptamine)

DMT is the drug responsible for the hallucinogenic properties of several plants used by South American Indians. It is a simple chemical closely resembling certain hormones made in the brain, and it is likely that the brain also produces DMT itself. DMT may be our own endogenous psychedelic. It is a compound easily made in laboratories; in the 1960s synthetic DMT was sold in quantity on the black market.

DMT is peculiar among the psychedelics in that it cannot be taken by mouth; an enzyme in the stomach breaks it down before it can enter the bloodstream. Indians who use DMT-containing

'Amanita rnuscana, the bright-red fly agaric (mushroom) with white dots on the cap, is not a true hallucinogen. It is discussed in Chapter 10, along with other deliriant drugs.

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