Ancestors 'Used Drugs to Survive'

Ancestors 'Used Drugs to Survive'
Posted by FoM on March 30, 2002 at 09:32:32 PT
Coca has been chewed for thousands of years
Source: BBC News
Mind-altering drugs may be so popular because they were once used by our ancestors to survive, two leading anthropologists have argued. Dr Roger Sullivan, of the University of Auckland, and Edward Hagen, of the University of California at Santa Barbara, say there is plenty of evidence that humans have sought out so-called psychotropic drugs over millions of years. These plants are rich in alkaline substances such as nicotine and cocaine that produce a stimulant effect and may have helped to make life bearable in the most harsh of environments. 
For example, until recently Australian Aborigines used the nicotine-rich plant pituri to help them endure desert travel without food. And Andeans still chew coca leaves to help them work at high altitudes. Archaeological evidence shows that drug use was widespread in ancient cultures. Betel nut, for example, was chewed at least 13,000 years ago in Timor, to the north of Australia. Artefacts date the use of coca in Ecuador to at least 5,000 years ago. Ancient 'freebasing' Many of these substances were potent: pituri contains up to 5% nicotine - tobacco today contains about 1.5%. What is more, these drug pioneers sometimes 'freebased' drugs by chewing them together with an alkali such as lime or wood ash. This releases the free form of the drug and allows it to be directly absorbed into the bloodstream. However, Dr Sullivan said that in Pacific cultures where chewing betel nut is still widespread, it is seen more as a source of food and energy than as a drug. Some drugs do have real nutritional value. For example, 100 grams of coca leaf contains more than the US recommended daily intake of calcium, phosphorus, iron and vitamins A, B2 and E. Brain function Dr Sullivan and Dr Hagen believe that eating psychotropic plants may also have played an important role in helping the brain to function properly. They argue that in some particularly tough environments, people's diets may have been so poor that they struggled to produce enough chemicals to help the brain function normally. Consuming plants containing substances that mimic the role of these chemicals could have helped make up for the shortfall. Dr Wayne Hall, of the University of Queensland, who until recently was head of the National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre in Sydney, said the theory was certainly plausible. He said: "There is certainly evidence that plants evolved to mimic the neurotransmitters of mammals. "But the problem today is that we have much larger doses of much more purified drugs." Professor Tonmoy Sharma, a consultant psychiatrist at Stonehouse Hospital, Dartford, told BBC News Online that modern drug taking was more likely to be related to peer pressure. He said: "Historically speaking a lot of people who did abuse drugs seem to be from the higher socio-economic classes who had relative luxuries in their lives. "A lot of people who take drugs are not necessarily getting rid of their problems. It is more a question of fitting into a certain social grouping." Note: Historically speaking a lot of people who did abuse drugs seem to be from the higher socio-economic classes. - Professor Tonmoy Sharma The research is published in the journal Addiction. Newshawk: CharlieSource: BBC News (UK Web)Published: March 30, 2002Copyright: 2002 BBC Website: Contact: Articles:Are We Tolerating The Wrong Drugs? History of Debating Marijuana Legalization
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Comment #11 posted by el_toonces on March 31, 2002 at 11:33:52 PT:
FoM is right...there is no eltism.... her position. I have observed that those who can modify their consciousness in a controlled fashion, especially those who do so with cannabis, are more open minded, open to new experiences, able to positively re-interpret previous experiences, and capable of viewing the world in more than just one way (i.e., they aren't "narrow minded", to use the conventional term). I don't think the ability to learn from modified states of consciousness is a phenomenon limited to any class of people as I have observed it in many classes and cultures to which I have had exposure, though it probably is true that the middle and upper classes are better able to express what they have learned from this type of thing, better able to protect themselves from insecure and envious DARE-like "mind cops" and less likely to get into trouble with addictions or the law because of the socio-economic advantages they do enjoy (and that is just the definition of being in such a socio-economic class rather than a function of the substances themselves or even the relationship people, in any class, might have with a particular substance).It is clear to me, though, that of all the substances useable by humans for this purposes, cannabis is the safest and least likely to cause trouble I have ever known about.Happy Easter (and Renewal) All:).El
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Comment #10 posted by qqqq on March 31, 2002 at 11:20:00 PT
...shame on me...'s a dreadful thing to say,,,,but it's the raw truth...Mind altering substances can bring out special things in people...I"m not trying to say that an altered state is necessary for a person to be creatively outstanding,,,but I think that it would be hard to deny the fact that alot of the best creative minds were inspired by mind altering has been around a long time,,and I doubt Bach or Rubens never copped a buzz,,,and who knows what Van Gogh,Bosch,Magritte,or Dali was on?......And I'm afraid a "drug free" Hendrix,would be a nobody, ,,unless you noticed him at the Holiday Inn lounge in Tacoma....Is there someone who would like to suggest that the Rolling Stones would have been the same or better if they had been "drug free"???........I dont know how anyone could argue that Hank Williams or W.C. Fields would have been the same without liquor!??...,,of course there will be those who try and argue that Mozart,,,Liberace,,and Burl Ives never got drunk.(?),,and what about gymnists and sport stars?,,there aren't too many drunk world champion figure skaters..NFL,NBA ,and other highly paid atheletes have no choice..Physically challenging sports are not really so much creative as they are competitive................but....
..minds that did drugs discovered DNA,computers,E=mc squared,electric guitars,black holes,Pink Floyd,,and on and on.......
...I'm not trying to say that drug are necessary to create things that are good and cool,,,in fact,,if you cant be creative without drugs,,then you should probably only use drugs to relieve pain,or relax..I dont want anyone to think that I'm suggesting that the right drugs may "bring out the Hendrix in them"......come to think of it,,,if I had never done drugs,I might be able to coherently wrap up this akward commentary in a graceful and understandable manner....too mind is obviously shot,and I'm wondering if I can sue the government for not warning and protecting me sooner... they seem to think that is their job nowdays.
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Comment #9 posted by observer on March 31, 2002 at 09:20:32 PT
There are people I believe born with a natural desire to expand their mind. To think deeper then many. I haven't met a person who has been a smoker of Cannabis that doesn't have those characteristics. Studies suggest insight as to why conservatives have focused so much of their attention on drugs. One scaled 4-year-old children on an index of creativity and adventure seeking to find that such characteristics are the greatest predictor of recreational use of marijuana in subsequent high-school years. Drug users are perhaps by personality disposed to be the least obedient to orthodoxy and convention just as the orthodox are most disposed to believe that social rules must be reinforced with persecution of the non-conformists. Conflict over drug use is the great continuation of the unending dialectic between what Freud called anal retentive personalities and their natural opponents, the oral compulsives. Rule lovers are in a constant effort to bring rule breakers to task, while rule breakers seek new horizons for their will to creative non-conformity. Drug Hate and the Corruption of American Justice,Drug Hate and the Corruption of American Justice, David Sadofsky Baggins, pgs.98-99 ; 
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Comment #8 posted by dddd on March 31, 2002 at 01:50:01 PT 3 cents.....
....EJ,,,you remain quite cool from my point of view....I like your summarization; "Plants aren't stupid. They know what they need to survive, after all.."......I must agree....I believe plants have a certain 'intellect'....They are not stupid............If you hate them,,then they will probably grow ,just to make you mad...If you love them,and tend to their needs,and care about their health,,then they will also grow,(as long as you dont piss them off.){?}
...I've always thought that there is a fine line between what we define as a "weed",or a "plant"....A "weed",is nothing more,(or less),than a plant that someone doesnt want,or like......however,,,I refuse to feel guilty about hurting plants or bugs by thinking that they feel pain.....My cruelty threshold has become cold and ruthless over the years.There was a time ,,as a youngster,,that I condsidered the concept of bugs feeling pain,,and the surreal possibiities of plants screaming out in imperceptible cries of pain,as they were slaughtered and poisoned in agricultural mayhem...Blameless,kind,well meaning farmers,,,murdering billions of plants!..Plants that might have personalities and names like in those Round-Up TV ads,,,or bugs,,,I remember the time my friends tarantula died....He had named him 'Earl',,,and he was devistated...We were about 9 or 10 years old,and I remember how I was having some problems dealing with the questions of whether bugs had 'spirits',that could go to heaven,,,or if they were like plants,and ,which I assumed were incapable of having spirits that had meaning and significance in the spiritual realm.....The bottom line,,,in my way of thinking,would seem to be,that only Humans are given the specialness and significance to exsist in a spiritual realm!...I would like to think that my Dog will be going to heaven,,but I think that his exsistance in heaven,,,will only be in my mind,,,this is assuming that you believe in heaven,and the specialness of being Human.,,,..........I could go on,,,but I have already gone too far,,,and next time I'm gonna charge alot more than 3 cents!....shit,,I think that the "my 2 cents worth",slogan,,,should be changed to "my 20 bucks worth"....after alll,,ya cant even get a decent piece of gum for 2 cents nowdays.....dddd
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Comment #7 posted by goneposthole on March 30, 2002 at 14:38:00 PT
socio-economic class
You mean 'Social Darwinism'"Historically speaking alot of people who did use drugs did seem to be from a higher socio-economic class."Why are the prisons filled with people who do not fit the above description?
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Comment #6 posted by FoM on March 30, 2002 at 12:55:25 PT
My 2 Cents
This sentence says: It is more a question of fitting into a certain social grouping.I agree with this sentence. There are people I believe born with a natural desire to expand their mind. To think deeper then many. I haven't met a person who has been a smoker of Cannabis that doesn't have those characteristics. That makes that group a different social group then what the norm is in my opinion. People that always question why are more prone to experiment with different mind-altering substances. Just my 2 cents though.
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Comment #5 posted by observer on March 30, 2002 at 12:41:56 PT
Marijuana and the Pygmies
Marijuana and the Pygmies
Carl Sagan, The Dragons of Eden, Speculations on the Origin of Human Intelligence "In defense of the Pygmies, perhaps I should note that a friend of mine who has spent time with them says that for such activities as the patient stalking and hunting of mammals and fish they prepare themselves through marijuana intoxication, which helps to make the long waits, boring to anyone further evolved than a Komodo dragon, at least moderately tolerable. Ganja is, he says, their only cultivated crop. It would be wryly interesting if in human history the cultivation of marijuana led generally to the invention of agriculture, and thereby to civilization. (The marijuana-intoxicated Pygmy, poised patiently for an hour with his fishing spear aloft, is earnestly burlesqued by the beer-sodden riflemen, protectively camouflaged in red plaid, who, stumbling through the nearby woods, terrorize American suburbs each Thanksgiving.)" p 191 footnote (pb edition 1978, copyright 1977)
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Comment #4 posted by E_Johnson on March 30, 2002 at 12:30:14 PT
Animal chauvinist
Dr Wayne Hall, of the University of Queensland, who until recently was head of the National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre in Sydney, said the theory was certainly plausible. He said: "There is certainly evidence that plants evolved to mimic the neurotransmitters of mammals.Since plants evolved BEFORE mammals, I have to wonder whether animals took rudimentary plant-evolved signalling chemical systems and used them as part of the evolution towards animal nervous systems.Then after animals evolved, we co-evolved with the plants that remained the most potent utilisers of those neurochemical systems, by eating them, and then we we got civilized, selectively breeding them, to boost or adust our animal chemical systems.Plants aren't stupid. They know what they need to survive, after all.
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Comment #3 posted by JR Bob Dobbs on March 30, 2002 at 12:14:16 PT
Druuuuugs, yet again
>>"But the problem today is that we have much larger doses of much more purified drugs."  Thank prohibition for that. It's easier to smuggle small amounts of concentrated drugs - say, powder cocaine - than the relatively more benign raw materials like coca leaf.
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Comment #2 posted by p4me on March 30, 2002 at 12:02:39 PT
right-wing evolutionist
I do not think right-wing evolutionist is a oxymoron. But do right-wing prohibitionist evolutionist believe we all evolved from criminals?VAAI
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Comment #1 posted by Jose Melendez on March 30, 2002 at 11:14:25 PT:
just say know to drugs
From: How Tobacco Companies Free-base NicotineIn the mid-1970s, the R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company (RJR, makers of Camel and Winston brands) noticed that their competitor's brands, particularly Marlboro (a Philip Morris brand), were experiencing much higher sales than their brands. Determined to find out why their brands were doing so poorly compared to the others, RJR chemically "deconstructed" Marlboro cigarettes with the aim of finding out just how they were different.
	RJR soon discovered that Philip Morris (PM) had made a "deliberate and controlled" chemical change in the smoke of their cigarettes. PM was fltering the smoke pH by adding ammonia to 
the tobacco, which made the smoke more alkaline. Why? Because in a more alkaline atmosphere, more of the nicotine "...occurs in 'free' form, which is volatile, rapidly absorbed by the smoker, and believed to be instantly perceived as nicotine 'kick'." 	
Putting more of the drug into a vapor form that is rapidly taken up by the body is known as "free-basing" a drug. Some of you who are old enough may recall that years ago comedian Richard Pryor set himself on fire while trying to free base cocaine. This is the same chemical principle. 	This paper, marked "SECRET," discusses RJR's discovery of this sales-enhancing chemical change, and how they could mimic the freebasing technique that Philip Morris was using. 
	Now, as the industry calls it, employing ammonia technology" is state of the art in cigarette manufacturing. In essence, all cigarette companies now freebase nicotine, to give the user a faster, harder "kick" after lighting up. The industry calls it "increasing customer satisfaction." Others view it as markedly increasing the addictiveness of cigarettes. [1]. 
download the complete report in PDF format
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