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Psychedelic Plants

What Makes a Psychedelic Plant, Psychedelic?

Psychedelic plants are part of a wider class of plants known as hallucinogens. The name for this group of plants comes from the Greek word psykhe meaning "mind" and delosfor "clear." Known for their mind altering properties, psychedelic plants affect humans in a variety of different ways that include sensory effects and perceptual visions. For this reason, psychedelics have had a long history steeped in medicinal and religious contexts. The active ingredients in these plants such as DMT, LSD, and alkaloids like lysergic acid amide are what makes them hallucinogens. They can be smoked, eaten, drunk, snuffed, mixed, or blotted. Their effects on the mind include changes in perception, thought, and mood, distortion of time and space, new colors and forms, and prolonged flashbacks (DEA). Referred to sometimes as psychoactive plants, psychedelics are important due to the plethora of ways in which one can use its power, be it positive or negative.

Certain chemical compounds in plants can have prodigious effects on the central nervous system of the animal or human that ingests it. Plants that have these specific compounds are referred to as psychoactive plants and are categorized into three distinct properties: hallucinogenic, stimulants, or depressants. It is not rare, however, for certain plants exhibit more than one of those three categorical distinctions. These compounds are used because most people are interested in altering their state of “reality.” Psychedelic plants have been used for thousands of years and that trend is likely to continue. One can argue that these plants have an almost symbiotic relationship with humans and various other animals because they are used so frequently worldwide. People incorporate these plants into many religious ceremonies, health and medicine, and recreational use.

Religious Uses

Human's extensive knowledge of psychedelic plants largely due to religious uses and experimentation. Religious ceremonies that featured psychedelic plants were not at all uncommon. The plants were used for healing and communication with deities in ceremonies. Given their risky nature, their use was restricted to highly trained and specialized peoples such as priests, shamans, special dignitaries, and other spiritual healers. Hallucinations are a predominant effect of these psychedelics and would allow them to achieve the heightened awareness they needed to be in the presence of their gods. Furthermore, psychedelic plants were necessary for rituals, ceremonies, and divination because it opened the human mind and body for direct possession. In a religious and cultural context, this is how ancient religions and peoples communicated messages from the gods. For an in-depth Wiki on psychedelics in religion, check out Plants in Religion.

Controversy/Legal Issues

Psychedelics are perhaps best known as a hallmark of the Hippie counterculture that was prominent through the mid-1960s and 70s. During this time young people rebelled against all things mainstream and instead embraced freedom, spirituality, exploration, and expression.

The use of most hallucinogens and psychedelic plants is illegal in the United States. Many of the hallucinogens in psychedelic plants are classified by the Drug Enforcement Administration as Schedule I under the Controlled Substances Act. Being a Schedule I drug specifies that it has high potential for misuse. Currently, no psychedelic plant serves medicinal purpose in the United States. Even if not extracted from plants, the properties can be synthesized in illegal drug labs (Drug Enforcement Administration).

There is a Yin and Yang relationship in many states where some of the psychedelic plants listed here are used for ornamental purposes: Morning Glory, Blue Lotus. At the same time it is illegal for humans to consume the plant for its hallucinogens.

The average consumer believes that some homegrown psychedelics are safer to use than other drugs and are ignorant of the fact that any drug property can be abused. However, the past has shown that homegrown psychedelics can be abused. Since the 1960s, there have been numerous reported instances where adolescents have been sent to the hospital due to misuse of hallucinogenic substances such as Morning Glory and Blue Lotus. The seeds of psychedelic plants such as these ones can be legally purchased. As a result, almost everyone has access to obtaining these seeds. It is the easy access of obtaining these seeds that has caused multiple cases of misuse to occur (Vargas, 2006).

Morning Glory, Pedro Acevedo-Rodriguez @ USDA-NRCS PLANTS Database

Morning Glory by Jessie Ngo

yopo tree.jpg
Yopo by Sean Cawley

Blue Lotus by Monica White

Kratom by Gunlee Segrain

"Anadenanthera peregrina flowers", 24 April 2013.
Drug Enforcement Agency. "Drug Fact Sheet: Hallucinogens",
"Mandelbrot Set",
Vargas, T. (2006, 3) Washington Post: Breaking News, World, US, DC News & Analysis. A '60s Buzz Recycled. Retrieved April 26, 2013, from