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III. Psychoactive Plants



a) Stimulants
b) Hallucinogens
c) Depressants
a) Stimulants
Coca (Erythroxylum coca)

Source of cocaine
 Main ingredient in original Coca Cola
Khat (Catha edulis)

Leaves are chewed
 Known as “Flower of
Paradise” in Native
Africa
 Active ingredient is
the alkaloid,
cathione, a natural
amphetamine
Coffee (Coffea spp)
Tea (Camellia sinensis)
caffeine

Coffee made from
roasted seeds
 Tea made from leaves
 Caffeine main
stimulant
 See Table 17.1 for
other plants
theobromine
Cacao (Theobroma cacao)

Seeds
source of
powdered
chocolate
 Contains
caffeine and
theobromine
 Name
means food
of the gods
Tobacco (Nicotiana spp)

Nicotine, an alkaloid
is main stimulant in
leaves, may also act as
a depressant or
tranquilizer
b) Hallucinogens
Peyote (Lophora williamsii)

Eaten as mescal
buttons or dried
portion of plant
 Active compounds are
mescaline and other
alkaloids
 Causes nausea, visual
disorientation, mental
clarity, visualizations,
and paralysis of the
central nervous system
Nutmeg (Myristica fragrans)

Seeds are source of
myristicin, an aromatic
volatile (amphetaminelike substance)
 Causes powerful
hallucinations,
hypnotic trances and
euphoric bliss
(Ecstasy)
 Side effects are
headaches, dizziness,
nausea and sickening
hangovers, can be toxic
Morning Glory ( Ipomoea
violacea)

Seed contain an
alkaloid, Dlysergic acid
(LSD is a
synthetic form)
 Causes
hallucinations
similar to peyote
Belladonna (Atropa belladona)
Part of the very dangerous Solanaceae family which have the Tropane
Alkaloids





Contains an alkaloid called
scopolamine.
Highly hallucinogenic and
toxic
Used by witches in Europe
Stimulates and depresses
medulla and higher cerebral
centers
Relaxes smooth muscles and
alters heart rate
Jimson Weed (Datura
stramonium)

Contains Tropane
alkaloids
 Causes hallucinations,
headaches, delirium,
convulsions and coma
Marijuana (Cannabis sativa)

Tetrahydrocannabinol
(THC) formed when
plant is dried
 Common form here is
an escapee used for
hemp with 0.2 to 1%
THC
 Asian forms contain
3.4 to 6% THC
 Treatment for nausea
and glaucoma
c) Depressants

Alcoholic beverages
Kava (Piper methysticum)

Drink made from root
or rhizomes
 Active ingredients are
kavapyrones
 Causes relaxation,
sleep and pain relief
 Used in South Pacific
Islands
Opium Poppy (Papaver
somniferum)

More than 25
alkaloids including
morphine and codeine
 Effects central nervous
system and intestines
 Acts as painkiller,
depresses respiration,
decreases digestive
juices and intestinal
peristaltic contractions
 Highly addictive!
Take Home Message


Plants contain many secondary compounds
used for defense, but have medicinal, toxic
and psychoactive properties to us;
sometimes all within the same plant
BE CAREFUL what you eat or drink!
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