How opium, caffeine and mescaline shaped the world – and made us crazy


Farmers working in illegal poppy fields in Myanmar

Ye Aung Thu / Afp Via Getty Images

This is your heart for plants: opium, caffeine, mescaline
Michael pollan
Allen Lane

Consider the areas where the plants did not benefit us, and you will probably run out.But not only do they provide us with food, medicine and textiles Psychotropic drug.. These mind-bending and state-changing substances are lurking in plants everywhere. For thousands of years, they have been working on the human spirit, behavior and lifestyle.

Still, we are just beginning to understand how this relationship shaped our history, says journalist Michael Pollan. This is your heart for plants.. In his memoirs, stories that are part of reportage, he explores this complex relationship and how and why such plants were embedded in our lives.

Paulan examines the sedative morphine contained in poppies.Stimulants caffeine, Included in tea and coffee. And the hallucinogen mescaline found in certain types of cacti. All three are bitter alkaloids, evolved by plants as a form of defense. But, as Paulan reveals, they have become an important part of human culture.

The first section of the book, Opium, is spoken primarily through Paulan’s eyes and is based on an article he wrote in 1997, when the US drug war peaked.Paulan explains how he tried to grow poppies after he came across a book. Opium for the masses According to Jim Hogshire, who taught people how to extract opium from poppies at home.

What follows is a turbulent journey into the legitimate, dark but opium world of the time. Paulan found that it was allowed to buy poppy seeds and grow plants, but beyond that the rules became more opaque.He succeeds Nurturing (And sampling) His homemade version of the drug.

Caffeine is the most widely used substance in the Paulan trio and 80 percent of the world’s population consuming it.. Many are crazy about its ability to stay alert to us – including Paulan.

To investigate the effects of caffeine on the mind and body, he decided to temporarily stop drinking it while exploring the rich and often shocking history of coffee and tea. Their vibrant influence boosted learning and thinking progress, and the enormous consumer demand led to an increase in the Atlantic slave trade. For example, Brazilian coffee growers took enslaved people from Africa to farms.

New Scientist default image

Coffee has a rich and often shocking history

Brian Jackson / Alami

Caffeine is what Paulan calls “one of the smartest evolutionary strategies plants have ever found by chance.” “These two have also helped build a civilization that will allow them to prosper most,” he writes, thanks to his global reliance on coffee and tea.

The last section is about mescaline, which changes consciousness. psychedelic It is found in cactus species such as Peyote and San Pedro Cactus. It focuses primarily on the religious, spiritual and cultural importance of medicine to Native Americans.

Mescaline has been used by these groups for over 6000 years and is the oldest known psychedelic drug. The effect is told through Paulan’s experience and use in traditional ceremonies.

In that sense, This is your heart for plants We will provide more of the title through anecdotes and self-experiments of Paulan and others, rather than providing solid facts. The book points to the widespread impact (and sometimes dominance) of botanical drugs on human history, culture, and thinking, and Polan seems to support the personal use of plant-derived drugs. is. As he writes, “When we take these plants into our bodies and make them change our minds, we naturally in one of the most profound ways possible. I came to understand that I was involved. “

“Coffee and tea plants have helped build the most prosperous civilizations.”

Ultimately, his book has been thoroughly researched, but may not satisfy those looking for accurate scientific details about what it does in our minds.

Details of these topics: How opium, caffeine and mescaline shaped the world – and made us crazy

Back to top button