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Ethnopharmacology – From Mexican Hallucinogens to a Global Transdisciplinary Science

Heinrich, M; Casselman, I; (2018) Ethnopharmacology – From Mexican Hallucinogens to a Global Transdisciplinary Science. In: McKenna, D and Prance, G and De Loenen, B and Davis, W, (eds.) Ethnopharmacologic Search for Psychoactive Drugs: 50 Years of Research (1967-2017). (pp. pp. 316-324). Synergetic Press Green open access

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Abstract

Psychoactive natural substances have been reported from practically all regions of the world, but Mexican indigenous cultures have played a crucial role having influenced medical, toxicological, biological, chemical, pharmaceutical, and, of course, anthropological research. Especially in the 1950’s and 1960’s peyotl, teonanacatl and other psychoactives came to the attention of researchers and revelers alike. In this overview we highlight the developments of ethnopharmacology from the initial development of the term until today using one psychoactive species as an example - Salvia divinorum. In 1962 “ethnopharmacologists”, Albert Hofmann and R. Gordon Wasson, documented and collected a flowering specimen of Ska María Pastora allowing the species botanical description as Salvia divinorum Epling & Játiva. Five years later Efron et al. (1967) organised a symposium “Ethnopharmacologic search for psychoactive drugs” which over the next decades would give its name to a discipline which today is much more broadly defined, dealing with local and traditional medicines, their biological activities and chemistry. Globalisation has resulted in a world-wide commodification of many traditional medicines and psychoactives, as exemplified by S. divinorum. This fascinating Lamiaceae has become globally recognized for its best known active constituent salvinorin A, a kappa-opioid antagonist which has a unique effect on human physiology. While today ethnopharmacology is a thriving discipline, the interest in psychoactive substances is no longer central to the discipline. The search for anti-cancer agents (which also started in earnest in the 1960’s) had been of particular relevance and today includes among its many foci: • The scientific study of local and traditional knowledge not only in remote regions, but for example, also in urban immigrant communities • Research linking ethnopharmacology to biodiversity research both in terms of a sustainable use of natural resources (ecosystems) • Pharmacological studies with the aim of understanding the effects of complex mixtures on specific diseases or disease targets • The safety of herbal medicines • Anthropological and historical approaches on the use of medicinal and food plants and the link between food and medical uses of plants and fungi. / 50 years on ethnopharmacology is very different from what D. Efron and colleagues had envisioned.

Type: Proceedings paper
Title: Ethnopharmacology – From Mexican Hallucinogens to a Global Transdisciplinary Science
Event: Ethnopharmacologic search for psychoactive drugs: 50th anniversary symposium
Location: Tyringham, UK
Dates: 1st June 2017
ISBN-13: 978-0-907791-68-3
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
Publisher version: https://www.synergeticpress.com/shop/dennis-mckenn...
Language: English
Additional information: This version is the version of record. For information on re-use, please refer to the publisher’s terms and conditions.
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Life Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Life Sciences > UCL School of Pharmacy
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Life Sciences > UCL School of Pharmacy > Pharma and Bio Chemistry
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10045856
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