Mood enhancing drugs nothing new

  • Cacao is an attractive and interesting addition to your garden. If it grows and produces well for you, consider growing the small trees for your own supply of chocolate. If you have the space, consider commercial production. (Voltaire Moise/Special to West Hawaii Today)

Coca, opium, marijuana and hundreds of other plants used to alter our perceived reality are nothing new to earlier cultures and civilizations. We often think of mood altering drugs with trepidation but they have been part of the human condition for thousands of years. Marijuana, opium poppies and coca leaf have been used as were certain mushrooms and even the sap of the angel trumpet tree. As in the case of the angel trumpet, it can be also very poisonous so only the shamans of South and Central America might be trusted with its use. Many of the substances derived from these plants are now illegal in some countries due to the possibility of dangerous misuse. In the case of angel trumpet sap, it can easily kill you if ingested. Others are so much a part of our culture that we hardly give them second thought. These include coffee, tea and chocolate.