Some 3,500 years ago, in the middle of the second millennium before Christ, a people that called themselves Aryans swept down from the north through Afghanistan and occupied the valleys of the Indus. They spoke an Indo-European language. They were hard fighters driving horse-drawn chariots. They sowed grain and bred cattle, horses, and sheep.
“Shamans are healers, seers, and visionaries who have mastered death. They are in communication with the world of gods and spirits. Their bodies can be left behind while they fly to unearthly realms. They are poets and singers. They dance and create works of art. They are not only spiritual leaders, but also judges and politicians, the repositories of knowledge of the culture’s history, both sacred and secular.
As the source of the most powerful natural hallucinogen known, salvia is drawing scrutiny from U.S. authorities who want to restrict this Mexican herb, now used recreationally by some. But neuroscientists worry that controlling it before studies have determined its safety profile is premature and could hamper research of the drug’s medicinal value. Increasingly, evidence is piling up that it could lead to new and safer antidepressants and pain relievers, as well as even help in improving treatments for such mental illnesses as schizophrenia and addiction.
The early work known as the Codex Sinaiticus has been housed in four separate locations across the world for more than 150 years. Starting Monday, it became available for all to see and translate at will at http://www.codexsinaiticus.org so scholars and other readers can get a closer look at what the British Library calls a “unique treasure.”
In a moment of delightful whimsy in the annals of drug history, Albert Hofmann, after purposely ingesting LSD for the first time, rode his bicycle home and experienced all manner of beatific and hellish visions. Hofmann, a chemist with Sandoz Laboratories in Switzerland, had recently synthesized the compound lysergic acid diethylamide (a/k/a LSD, or “acid”) from ergot fungus.
Gov. Tim Pawlenty vetoed a bill to legalize marijuana for terminally ill patients late Friday evening, saying he sides with law enforcement opposition to the bill. Bill proponents say they will introduce a constitutional amendment to bypass the governor, noting overwhelming popular support in the state on the issue.
Obama’s newly appointed drug czar, Gil Kerlikowske, says that the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy will change priorities to focus on prescription drug abuse, and favors a public health approach that emphasizes treatment and prevention over prison for drug abusers.
For much of the 20th century, mainstream science shied away from studying spirituality. Sigmund Freud declared God to be a delusion, and others maintained that God, if there is such a thing, is beyond the tools of science to measure. But now, some researchers are using new technologies to try to understand spiritual experience.
If nothing else, a century of prohibition on absinthe gave it the sort of aura of dissolute glamour that would-be brooding artists would drown their agents for. The two faces of absinthe offered possibilities to idealists the world over, searching for a muse or testing the limits of their risk-taking.
“The narcotic herbs were originally used in spa parlors as fragrance, but it later occurred to someone to smoke grass, and that’s how it all started. One gram of weed costs 900 rubles ($27), and this dose is enough for five adults. We have been receiving many calls lately from people who suffered from smoking these herbs. It is possible to develop an addiction to this kind of smoking.
The coca bush originated in the rain forests of the Andes, and has been cultivated in South American for many purposes for thousands of years. The earliest evidence of coca leaf chewing comes from about 3000 B.C.E. In the Peruvian lowlands, many pre-Colombian graves have been found to contain the remains of coca leaves, lime, and artifacts used for coca consumption. However, such remnants are rarely found in the Andean highlands, mostly due to clumsy excavation methods.
The findings were published in the April 2009 issue of The Journal of Clinical Investigation. The study showed, conclusively, that THC (the active alkaloid in Cannabis) caused brain cancer cells to undergo a process called autophagy. This process causes cells to feed upon themselves, thereby destroying them, and not only did researchers witness this process, the specific route by which the autophagy process unfolds was isolated as well.