alkaloids and hallucinations

   The term alkaloid is indebted to the Latin noun alkali, which in turn stems from the classic Arabic expression al qily, commonly translated as 'he roasted', or 'he grilled'. The expression al qily is said to refer to the scorched ashes of the hairy seablite (i.e. Bassia hirsuta). In biology and biochemistry, the term alkaloid is used as an umbrella term for one of the largest and most diverse groups of secondary metabolites occurring in living organisms. Among the 50,000 or so known natural products, over 12,000 substances are classified as alkaloids. They are defined by the American chemist S. William Pelletier as follows: "An alkaloid is a cyclic compound containing nitrogen in a negative oxidation state which is of limited distribution in living organisms." Using the criterion of psychoactive effect as a guiding principle, alkaloids possessing hallucinogenic properties (when administered in a sufficiently high dose) have been classified as * deliriants. Many — although certainly not all — alkaloids are derived from amino acids. Traditionally, they have been isolated from flowering plants. However, they are also known to occur in micro-organisms, marine invertebrates, insects, and higher animals. Due to their chemical structure, some of the biologically active alkaloids are able to bind to, and interact with, the receptors of neurotransmitters in humans. Thus some of them have the potential to stimulate or inhibit the action of chemical transmitter substances in the CNS such as acetylcholine, epinephrine, nore-pinephrine, gamma-amino butyric acid (GABA), dopamine, and serotonin. Alkaloids have been used since ancient times as poisons, potions, therapeutics, * entheogens, * hallucinogens, and for many other purposes. Assyrian clay tablets from around 2,000 BC are indicative of an early knowledge of alkaloid-containing plants such as Papaver somniferum, Atropa belladonna, and Mandragora officinarum. Some of the alkaloids traditionally used as arrow poisons in Africa and South America have proved to be potent therapeutics. Ouabain and k-strophantin are used to treat acute cardiac insufficiency, quinine to prevent as well as treat malaria, physostig-mine to treat glaucoma and myasthenia gravis, * reserpine to manage hypertension, and ajma-line to treat cardiac arrhythmias. Some well-known alkaloids that are used for both therapeutic and recreational purposes are caffeine (an alkaloid of the purine group), nicotine (pyri-dine group), opium (isoquinoline group), mescaline and amphetamine (phenethylamine group), and psilocybin, dimethyltryptamine (DMT), and bufotenine (indole group). A person intentionally employing alkaloids for the purpose of exploring the psyche may be called a * psychonaut.
   Pelletier, S.W., ed. (1983). Alkaloids: Chemical and biological perspectives. Volume 1. New York, NY: Wiley.
   Roberts, M.F., Wink, M. (1998). Alkaloids. Biochemistry, ecology, and medicinal applications. New York, NY: Plenum Press.

Dictionary of Hallucinations. . 2010.

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  • bufotenine and hallucinations —    Bufotenine is also known as bufotenin, dimethyl serotonin, 5 OH dimethyltryptamine (5 OH DMT), N,N dimethyl 5 hydroxytryptamine, and mappine. The name bufotenine was suggested in 1893 by the French scientists Césaire Auguste Phisalix (1852… …   Dictionary of Hallucinations

  • henbane and hallucinations —    Henbane is known under many names, including stinking nightshade and Herba apollinaris. The term comes from the Anglo Saxon noun hennbana, which means killer of hens. It refers to a compound of Hyoscyamus niger,aplant of the Solanaceae family… …   Dictionary of Hallucinations

  • twilight state and hallucinations —    The term twilight state is used to denote a prolonged state of clouded or narrowed consciousness during which the affected individual is virtually unaware of his or her environment, and typically experiences visual and/or auditory… …   Dictionary of Hallucinations

  • lysergic acid diethylamide (lsd) and hallucinations —    Lysergic acid diethylamide is known under many names, including LSD, LSD 25, and acid. It is usually classified as a semi synthetic psychedelic substance of the family of ergot alkaloids, as a hallucinogen or an entheogen. The ergo tamine… …   Dictionary of Hallucinations

  • atropa belladonna and hallucinations —    Atropa belladonna is known under many names, including belladonna, black cherry, devil s cherries, devil s herb, divale, dwale, dwayberry, great morel, mandragora of Theophrastus, naughty man s cherries, and Solanum lethale. The name Atropa… …   Dictionary of Hallucinations

  • dimethyltryptamine (DMT) and hallucinations —    Dimethyltryptamine is also known as dimethyl tryptamin, N,N dimethyltryptamine, nigerin, nigerine, and nigerina. All six names are used more or less interchangeably to denote a hallucinogenic tryptamine belonging to the group of indole… …   Dictionary of Hallucinations

  • mandragora officinarum and hallucinations —    Mandragora officinarum is known under many names, including mandrake, dragon doll, love apple, fool s apples, Satan s apple, Satan s testicles, and witches herb. In Arabic it is known as Tufah al jinn (meaning apples of the djinn) and Baydal… …   Dictionary of Hallucinations

  • dancing mania and hallucinations —    Dancing mania is also known as dancing plague, epidemic ofdancing, epidemic chorea, and choreomania. According to historical sources, the latter term was introduced by Theophrastus Bombastus von Hohenheim, better known as Paracelsus (1493… …   Dictionary of Hallucinations

  • amphetamine psychosis and amphetamine-induced hallucinations —    Amphetamine is known under many names, including amp, crystal, phenylisopropylamine, speed, sulph, sulphate, and whizz. The name amphetamine is an acronym of alpha methyl phenyl ethylamine. It is used to denote a subgroup of the CNS stimulants …   Dictionary of Hallucinations

  • hallucinogenic salamander brandy —    A name used to denote a distilled alcohol with hallucinogenic properties which is made out of fruit and salamanders and is purportedly produced in the mountain regions of Slovenia. It has been suggested that hallucinogenic salamander brandy is …   Dictionary of Hallucinations

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