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Hallucinogenic botanicals of America: A growing need for focused drug education and research

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Abstract

Botanical sources for medicines in America have been known since long before the arrival of Columbus. Nevertheless, both scientists and the general public are often unaware that some of these botanical drugs are also potent intoxicants. We provide a quick overview of hallucinogenic and dissociative drugs harvested from nature or that are openly and legally cultivated in the United States. Examples of harmful outcomes reported in the media are contrasted with existing responsible ingestion by others, some of whom have the protected right to do so for traditional or sacramental religious purposes. Despite an ongoing and expensive effort to warn people of the potential harms of recreational drug use, little is known about the extent of use of these psychoactive botanicals, and the recent explosion of information available via the Internet could herald a storm of morbidity to come. Mounting more targeted research and educational efforts today may reduce later use and abuse, inform society about the special circumstances of religious use, and better prepare clinicians and other health care providers about the issues involved when people choose to indigenously source psychoactive drugs for human consumption.

Halpern, J. H., & Sewell, R. A. (2005). Hallucinogenic botanicals of America: A growing need for focused drug education and research. Life sciences, 78(5), 519-526. https://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.lfs.2005.09.005
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