Ethnobotanical Newslet 5: Boophane, Alchornea, and Mostuea - African Entheogens

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Ethnobotanical Newslet 5: Boophane, Alchornea, and Mostuea - African Entheogens -

Post by DrBarton » Sat Aug 26, 2006 11:49 am

Although much of entheogenic literature is currently focusing on the Americas, the Dark Continent, Africa, is not without its contributions to the field. Four of these (none of them Iboga) are discussed in P. A. G. M. De Smet's article, "Some Ethnopharmacological Notes on African Hallucinogens" (J. of Ethnopharmacology 50 (1996) 141-146.

Boophane distiche
Be warned, this would appear to be a dangerous hallucinogen. B. distache is a member of the Amaryllidaceae family (which contains a number of plants with potentially interesting alkaloid contents). It is most often used as an arrow poison and a means of suicide. However, it was also used during manhood initiation ceremonies among South Africa's Basuto. B. distache bulbs were mixed with food and served to the boys. They are told that the food will imbue them with the qualities of their ancestor and that intoxication is a sign that the spirits of their ancestors have entered them. It is not stated if the intoxication involves visual hallucinations.
The bulb can contain ~0.3% alkaloids (11 detected) of which buphandidrine, undulatine, buphanisine, buphanamine, and nerbowdine are the major alkaloids.
The hallucinogenic properties of this drug are known to the Gutu district people but overdoses have put people in the hospital with tachycardia, high blood pressure, and labored respiration.

Alchornea floribunda
This plant is known as an aphrodisiac (called niando) in Zaire. It is known as a narcotic (however that's defined in the original article) among the Fang of Gabon.
At one time, it was believed that the aphrodisiac properties of A. floribunda was due to yohimbe However, a study in 1965 did not detect this alkaloid in the bark (presumably the part of the plant indicated as used). However, another alkaloid, alchorneine, was detected in ~0.05% levels in the dried leaf. This alkaloid is also a major constituent in a related south american plant, Iporuru (fact file) which has been used in some ayahuasca mixtures.

Monadenium lugardae
This plant is used as a medicine in the Eastern Transvaal region. Sufficiently large doses are said to induce hallucinations and delerium. A piece of the root is swallowed (chewed as well?) by local diviners to enable their visionary abilities.
Alkaloids have been detected in this plant and, given the hallucinogenic alkaloids in other Euphorbiaceae (such as Alchornea above), this would seem the most likely source of the visions induced by this plant. The aerial parts of this plant exude a latex which, unextracted, has insecticidal activity. When the latex has been extracted with methanol, the extract has had contractile activity in guinea pig ileum at low doses and relaxing activity as higher doses. Given the toxic and dermatological propeties of many other latexes, I would suggest that the aerial parts should probably not be ingested. This review article does not mention if the latex is also present in the roots.

Mostuea Species
Pieces of the root of this plant have been used as an aphrodisiac in Gabon. There it is called Sata mbwanda or Sete mbwunde. The action has been described as similar to that of Tabernanthe iboga (Iboga) and, indeed, is often mixed with it. During the ceremonies in which this is used, it not only dispels sleep but increases sexual excitation.
When chewed it is, at first, very bitter, but, then, settles down to a taste similar to fresh kola nut. Taken this way, it is somewhat euphoric to intoxicating as dose increases.
The roots contain ~0.2% alkaloids. The leaves contain ~0.08%. The alkaloids found were sempervirine in the roots and gelsemicine, 14-hydroxy-gelsemicine, 20(N-4)dehydrogelsemicine, and mostueine in the leaves and stems. Another study detected 0.3% alkaloids in the root bark, 0.15% in the roots, and 0.06% in the leaves. The mean lethal dose (LD50) was 0.25 g/kg in mice administered subcutaneously administered.
A note of caution: The presence of sempervirine and gelsemine alkaloids in Mostuea species might suggest investigating Gelsemium sempervirens (Yellow Jessamine (1, [url=http:///]2[/url])) for hallucinogenic properties. However, that species has records only of poisonings at higher doses with no indications of hallucinations. On the other hand, extended use of Gelsemium may cause a narcotic-like habituation. Although not explicitly stated in this review article, this suggests that it is used by humans as a narcotic. Other web references list it as central nervous system depressant.

This article mentions several other plants. There is a discussion of Voacanga bracteata and shorter mentions of Mesembryanthemem species and Pancratium trianthum (an Amaryllidaceae) which I haven't detailed here because they are discussed as a possible entheogen elsewhere. Cymbopogon densiflora is mentioned briefly as a dream enhancers (this may be the origin of the information I presented in Ethnobotanical Newslet 4. Helichrysum species (e.g., Strawflower and Curry Plant) are mentioned as used by Zulu shamans to help them enter their trance.

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Re: Ethnobotanical Newslet 5: Boophane, Alchornea, and Mostuea - African Entheogens -

Post by RifeHeretic » Sat Aug 22, 2009 10:41 pm

This is good information.

I think research of african entheogens will prove worthwhile

it's a shame the world is so ignorant of the vast continent's gifts

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