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| Entheogenic Herbs |
Answered by: Conrad Richter
Question from: Doug Daugherty
Posted on: February 5, 1999
Are there herbs that can be smoked to get that high feeling?
There are many plants that are known to have euphoric and hallucinogenic effects. Of course, illegal drugs such as cannabis and opium have been used for hundreds, if not thousands, of years. These plants were often associated with religious or ritual use by early shamanic traditions around the world. The plants and traditional sacred uses is throughly explored by Richard Evans Schultes and Albert Hoffmann in their beautiful book, "Plants of the Gods: Their Sacred Healing and Hallucinogenic Powers" (available from Richters).
Many of the herbs used for sacred purposes are prepared as infusions or decoctions, or simply ingested raw or dried. Relatively few are smoked like cannabis or tobacco. The delivery route depends on the uptake chemistry of the active constituents. If the active constituents can be volatilized without denaturation when smoked, smoking is often the preferred route because active constituents enter the blood stream through the lungs very quickly.
Among the herbs new to Richters is the visionary plant, diviner’s sage, Salvia divinorum. This Mexican plant has been used by the Mazatec Indians to induce visions for religious purposes. For example, health problems could be resolved, or lost objects found, while under the influence of this herb and under the guidance of a curandero. Diviner’s sage is ingested as an infusion or in extract form, but salvinorin A, the main active constituent is rapidly taken up when smoked, so smoking is the preferred route. Detailed accounts of visionary experiences using diviner’s sage have been published in the journal, "The Entheogen Review" (ISSN 1066-1913).