Historical Background of Herbal Drugs of Abuse

Quit Marijuana The Complete Guide

New Treatment for Cannabis Dependence

Get Instant Access

The use of psychoactive plants for mind-altering purposes has a long tradition. Archaeological evidence shows the use of psychoactive plants by humans for many thousands of years, often in a highly ritualized and ceremonial context [3].

The earliest archaeological evidence of a potential psychoactive plant in a cultural context is from a Neanderthal burial site in northern Iraq. Large quantities of pollen of different plants (including Ephedra spp.) have been found in the soil surrounding a male Neanderthal burial [4]. The pollen was dated to more than 50,000 BCE.

This finding might indicate that the body was deliberately, perhaps ritualistically, buried on a bed of plants [4].

Evidence of the use of cannabis found in Taiwan has been dated to approx. 10,000 BCE. Cord-impressed pottery with possible fiber evidence has been found in early postglacial fishing sites [3].

Preserved remains of plant and animal material including seeds of Papaver som-niferum were found in ruins of a Stone Age settlement in Italy. The seeds were presumably cultivated for food, medical, and possible cult use and were dated to 5500 BCE [3].

Table 19.1 Herbal drugs of abuse sorted by their scientific name, including English name, common use, and most important active compound

Scientific name

Common English name

Common use

Active compound (most important)

Atropa belladonna

Deadly nightshade

Oral ingestion (infusion, berries)

Atropine, scopolamine

Banisteriopsis caapi

Ayahuasca

Oral ingestion (infusion)

Harmine, harmaline

Brugmansia spec.

Angel's trumpet

Oral ingestion (infusion), smoking (leaves and flowers)

Atropine, scopolamine

Cannabis sativa

Cannabis

Smoking, oral ingestion (cookies)

A9-Tetrahydrocannabinol

Datura stramonium

Thornapple

Oral ingestion (infusion), smoking (leaves and flowers)

Atropine, scopolamine

Ephedra spec.

Ephedra

Oral ingestion (infusion, herbal pills)

Ephedrine

Erythroxylum coca

Coca

Smoking, intravenous abuse, snorting (freebase)

Cocaine

Ipomea tricolor

Morning glory

Oral ingestion (infusion, seeds)

Ergine

Myristica fragrans

Nutmeg

Oral ingestion (infusion, seeds)

Myristicin, safrole

Papaver somniferum

Opium Poppy

Intravenous abuse, oral ingestion (tablets), smoking

Morphine, codeine

(common in Asian cultures)

Piper methysticum

Kava

Oral ingestion (infusion, herbal pills)

Kavapyrone

Psychotria viridis

Ayahuasca

Oral ingestion (infusion)

N,N-Dimethyltryptamine

Rivea corymbosa

Morning glory

Oral ingestion (infusion, seeds)

Ergine

Salvia divinorum

Salvia

Smoking, chewing (leaves)

Salvinorin A

Tabernanthe iboga

Iboga

Oral ingestion (roots)

Ibogaine

Recently, the presence of a psychoactive compound in a 5700-year-old dried cactus "button" found in a cave in Texas has strengthened the evidence that humans recognized the psychoactive properties of plants at that time [5].

Approximately 3000 BCE P. somniferum was described as the "plant of happiness" on a Sumerian tablet [6]. Much evidence of the medical use and abuse of opium can be found in Egyptian, Greek, and Roman reports between 3000 and 1000 BCE [3]. Also, artifacts including vases and ornaments filled with crude opium were found and dated to this time frame [3].

In the Middle Ages, authors such as the Arabic scientist Avicenna (980-1037) and the German abbess Hildegard von Bingen (1098-1179) described numerous plants and their effects, including their psychoactivity. The description of plants including their psychoactivity was mainly continued in the 16th century by the so-called founding fathers of botany. These were the botanists Hieronymus Bock (1498-1554), Leonhart Fuchs (1501-1566), and Otto Brunfels (1488-1534). The first published systematic study of psychoactive plants was published in 1855 by Heinrich von Bibra. His book described 17 narcotic and stimulant plants including their effects on the human body [6].

The abuse of herbal drugs initiated the first treaty of international drug control. In 1912 the International Opium Convention was signed by 13 countries to provide control over the distribution of morphine and cocaine. In 1925, the convention was revised by the addition of the prohibition of hashish due to its common abuse. Today, many herbal drugs of abuse are controlled by national and international conventions and laws.

Was this article helpful?

0 0
Defeat Drugs Death

Defeat Drugs Death

This Book Is One Of The Most Valuable Resources In The World When It Comes To Helpful Info On Avoiding And Beating A Fatal Drug Addiction!

Get My Free Ebook


Responses

  • anke
    Can papaver somniferum pollen be smoked or snorted?
    8 years ago

Post a comment