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“Ethnopharmacology of sacred psychoactive plants used by the Indians of Mexico”.
Annu Rev Pharmacol Toxicol. 1977;17:647-75.
Plants regarded as sacred or magical, which function as intermediaries between a person and his deity, have proved to contain psychoactive agents and therefore have been a source of extensive pharmacological scrutiny. The study of these plants has covered, as well, other areas of research from ethnology to botany, chemistry, neurochemistry, and psychiatry. An interdisciplinary research field, properly named ethnopharmacology, has recently developed in an attempt to integrate the methods of these disciplines in order to put our understanding of biodynamic plants used by native peoples in a broader perspective.
Some Indian groups of Mexico have searched extensively for psychoactive plants in their natural habitat. We know of about forty plants belonging to some fifteen botanical families that are used ritually or regarded as sacred by these groups. Some of the plants have been studied intensively but many others still present novel and interesting topics for further research.
The body of this paper covers the general historical, botanical, and ethnological aspects of the Mexican magic plants. A classification of the drugs based on their reported uses and subjective effects is proposed in a section on psychopharmacology. The specific ctymological, botanical, ethnological, pharmacological, and chemical information is summarized in a table.
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