Tropane Alkaloids in Ancient Practice and Modern Medicine

Tropane Alkaloids in Ancient Practice & Modern Medicine:

Hidden Healing and Curative Properties of a Demonized Plant

 

"All things are poison and no thing is without poison; the dose makes it a poison or a remedy." - Paracelsus

While the alkaloids of a tropane-based nightshade plant can be considered some of the most devious poisons and feared hallucinogenic substances known to man, there is actually a profound flip side to this equation. The tropane alkaloids- atropine, scopolamine, and hyoscyamine, are also some of the most medicinal compounds when used in smaller amounts.

Tropane Alkaloids in Modern Medicine
Paracelsus

These plants have been used medicinally and as hallucinogens since the very beginning of our recorded history. It is very important to remember that a poison is only a poison in its dosage. All the medications people take everyday, they have dosages for a simple reason that if the medicinal dosage is exceeded it then becomes a poison. Everything is in some way a poison at a much higher dosage than its suggested use, as so eloquently stated by Paracelsus, an early pioneer of herbalism, alchemy, and healing.

The Way of Solanaceae: Ancient Medicine & Powerful Hallucinogen

The medicinal use of compounds from tropane-based plants in the nightshade family, or Solanaceae, literally stretch across to the entire globe. From Japan to India, Russia to all of Europe, North America to Mexico, to South America, and even to Australia, these plants have always been a staple in either medicinal or spiritual applications worldwide.

Gift of the Gods

These plants have been used by shamans and witches for centuries to open channels to the other side. The elements of reality we see are coming through at a certain vibration. My theory is that since the brain has different channels to perceive it can alternate between different dimensions as though they were channels on a T.V. The brain can attune to other dimensions of time and space by altering the rate of vibration with either powerful meditation or in this case from the ingestion of a powerful hallucinogen. This opens the doorway to communication with the underworld in a dimension far removed from our current medium of reality. This can be further explored from my post on Zombie Parties & Phantom Cigarettes: Strange Phenomena in the Realms of the Unexplained.

Tropane alkaloids and Phantom Cigarettes
A Door to the Spirit Worlds?

A shaman never takes a hallucinogen like a recreational drug or just to feel good. A Shaman takes it with an intent and in combination with meditation or spiritual guidance to see into the spirit world to get information or answers to a problem within his living community. Keep in mind that the survival of a tribe or peoples sometimes depended on the guidance of the shaman and sometimes the way a shaman accessed sensitive information was through the use of plants that brought on knowledge given from the Creator, Gods, or Mother Earth.

Whether the information was thought to be contained in the plant itself or the plant loosened the barriers to communicate with the higher intelligence is not entirely clear in every tribe or people. But the usage of hallucinogenic plants to interact with these other worlds is highly documented around the world.

A Most Ancient Medicine

Tropane Alkaloids in Modern Medicine
Atropa belladonna

At the beginning of recorded history solanaceous compounds were being used in medicine. These are truly among the most ancient forms of medicine on record. It was first uncovered that Atropa belladonna was used by the Sumerians as psychiatric medicine to treat conditions brought on by demons that caused depression, psychosis, and delusions.

Whether in India, Japan, Peru, Mexico, Europe, or North America, The indigenous people in these areas all recognize the medicinal value of tropane-based nightshade plants like belladonna, datura, mandrake, henbane, brugmansia, among others. With herbal medicine its application was even more far reaching.

  • Rashes & Skin Inflammation

In South America tribes have used the leaves of Brugmansia suaveolens to treat skin rashes, wounds, ulcers, and snakebites. These were helpful in the treatment of the pain involved and to help speed healing. Since tropanes promote a dryness of fluids, this would make sense.

  • Asthma

In many areas Datura is smoked to relieve asthma. This was practiced in India for a very long time. The leaves are also smoked with other herbs like tobacco, marijuana and opium. Smoked alone it produced a high similar to marijuana.

  • Birth Control
Tropane Alkaloids in Modern Medicine
Brugmansia versicolor

In South America they have employed Brugmansia versicolor in birth control. Although what this did to prevent or reduce the risk of pregnancy is not entirely clear

 

  • Fever and Malaria

In Indian medicine the fruit of Datura metel was used in the treatment of colds, phlegmatic and bilious fevers such as malaria. It was parched in clay pots with cow dung and heated with fire. Afterwards the burnt material was powdered and kept for use in treatment of malaria and fevers alike.

  • Baldness

Datura seeds were used in the treatment of patchy baldness. As Indian Dr. Navin Yoshi points out “A paste made with datura seeds, liquorice, saffron and milk cream is heated in coconut oil thoroughly till the solid mass converts to a charred powder. The oil when applied on bald patches has the power to stimulate hair growth.”

  • Analgesic and Soporific Sponge
Tropane Alkaloids in Modern Medicine
Hyoscyamus niger

Hyoscyamus niger and Mandragora officianarum have been recognized in more ancient European times in the treatment of pain and especially used a soporific sponge- something used to cause a profound sleep before specific medical operations and bone setting. This would be like an anesthesia before surgery.

  • Earache

a concentrated oil made with Datura leaves, swallow wort, and sesame oil was prepared in the treatment of earache. A few drops of this oil was dropped into the ear and it cured earache and other infections in or around the ear.

  • Impotency

The condition of impotency was treated using “The seeds of 15 ripe fruits should be extracted and boiled in eight kilograms of cow’s milk on gentle fire. This milk should then be made into curd in the usual way and churned the next morning to extract butter which is stored in a broad-mouthed bottle. This butter, massaged every morning and evening on the penis and the spine, will provide the desired effect. It is also used as an oral medicine. Four grains with betel leaf can be taken. The use of this butter both externally and internally in this way will gradually promote health and vigor and restore absolute fitness in the body.”*

  • Anxiety

Indian and other traditional Chinese medicine have recognized the power of tropane alkaloids in treating anxiety disorders. Datura metel was the most commonly used Datura plant in Asia. This has been something I have always wanted to see more research on as I believe that the study of anxiolytics is extremely relevant in today’s society. It would be interesting to measure acetylcholine levels during a state of anxiety. And if this shows to have a heightened flow of acetylcholine during such sates then an anticholinergic would make a lot of sense. I tend to think it’s a worthy area of study.

  • Depression

In parts of Africa Atropa belladonna is used in the treatment of depression. This practice, as I stated earlier, originated at the beginning of recorded history with the Sumerians using it to treat depression caused by ‘demons’.

Aside from what you see before you, I’m sure there are even more applications out there in obscure places, but you get the idea. These are some of the best plants to have at your disposal. If you are an herbalist or even a survivalist it would be a good thing to know how to use these plants. I always go with the notion that if you don’t know your poisons and how to use them medicinally, you’re not the healer you could be.

The use of solanaceous compounds by the modern medical industry is almost as diverse and far reaching as its use in traditional herbal and ancient medicine. In our next section we find these plant compounds at work in so many different areas of medicine and as she so ominously prefers it she remains almost hidden in the backdrop…

Tropane Alkaloids in Modern Medicine

The tropane alkaloids – atropine, scopolamine, and hyoscyamine, isolated from plants in the nightshade family like Atropa belladonna, have played such an important part of our modern medical industry in treating a variety of different types of sickness and disorder. In fact, two of these three compounds (atropine and scopolamine) make it on the World Health Organization’s List of Essential Medicines: The most important medications needed in a basic health system.

This is due to the fact that these are extremely effective anticholinergics. As I have stated in a recent post, Lucid Nightmare: Tropane Alkaloids & Acetylcholine:

“Acetylcholine is a parasympathetic neurotransmitter in the brain. I know. it doesn’t really explain things if you aren’t familiar with biology, medicine, toxicology, etc. I will do my best to bridge the gap and put it in such a way that anyone can understand it.

The brain has many important compounds needed to run the body. but for this lesson think of Acetylcholine as say, Windows for a computer. The glue that keeps the system in place to run smoothly. It allows programs to interact with other programs, download information from the net, etc. Much like acetylcholine does within our system. If you removed Windows or OS X from your Computer It would crash.

Parasympathetic means that its actions run “alongside” other transmitters and receptors keeping the nervous systems going. A neurotransmitter is an organic chemical within the brain that relays messages and allows certain functions to occur in the body and mind. Acetylcholine allows calculations and messages to communicate and command important functions autonomously: on its own and without us having to think about it.

Some of these functions include:

  • Muscle coordination
  • Decision making
  • Memory
  • Rest and digest responses
  • Saliva/sweat/digestive glands
  • Breathing
  • Heart rate

It may not be the sole commander in all of these functions but rest assured Acetylcholine makes it all possible. Acetylcholine is a biological necessity in keeping life going.”

The regulation and balance of acetylcholine is extremely important and necessary to maintaining health. That being said, let’s take a look at the ways tropane alkaloids have been useful in bringing our health back into balance…

Asthma

In the medical industry smoking has always been said to be a hazard among people suffering from asthma. But yet interestingly enough, There was a medicine made by the R. Schiffmann Company in the 1800’s called Asthmador. It was a powdered mixture that was added to herbs and smoked as a cigarette. The main ingredients were hyoscyamine and atropine. These ingredients, when smoked, helped the lungs and the bronchial region to breathe better.

Tropane Alkaloids in Modern Medicine
Asthmador Cigarettes

Kind of a paradox in how we understand asthma and smoking today but its the smoking of these horrible commercial cigarettes that made smoking with asthma so horrible. Commercial cigarettes have all sorts of additives that are extremely toxic and unhealthy to the body and especially the lungs. So it is no wonder why smoking with asthma was seen as so destructive. But if the cigarettes were medicated and smoked with herbs known to be easy on the lungs then it can be understood why it happened to be so widespread at one point. But as always with the spirit of Nightshade, she prefers to function in a paradox realm…

Stomach & Digestive Disorder

Many stomach and digestive disorders, diseases, and infections can be alleviated by introducing tropanes into the equation. Because the regulation of the digestive tract is directly regulated by the flow of acetylcholine, administering tropane-based medications can clear this up extremely well, in most cases. These would be disorders such as:

  • Irritable Bowel Syndrome
  • Gastritis/Colitis (inflammation of the digestive tract)
  • Crohn’s disease
  • Stomach ulcers (sores in the digestive system)
  • Stomach spasms/pain
  • Diarrhea
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting

Some of these medications employ tropane alkaloids, which were generically named belladonna alkaloids, and mixed with a sedative barbiturate like phenobarbital. This combination became a most prescribed drug for such disorders under the brand name Donnatal. The belladonna alkaloids are potent in their dosage guidelines and only small amounts of it would be administered in each tablet or elixir dose. This would be a typical dosage of Donnatal:

Tropane Alkaloids in Modern Medicine

Motion Sickness & Nausea

Scopolamine has a large place in the medicinal prevention of motion sickness, and especially so with the nausea associated with post-surgery sickness. There is a transdermal scopolamine patch under the brand name Scopoderm. This is a small, clear patch placed behind the ear and allowed to absorb and distribute 1.5 mg of scopolamine over the course of 3 days.

Atropine: The Antidote for Nerve Gas Poisoning

Atropine is an extremely effective antidote for nerve gas poisoning. In the military field many soldiers are equipped with an atropine injection shot that would be administered in the event of nerve gas poisoning.

MARK I Kit, is United States military nomenclature for the “Nerve Agent Antidote Kit”. It is a dual-chamber auto-injector: Two anti-nerve agent drugs — atropine sulfate and pralidoxime chloride — each in injectable form, constitute the kit. The kits are only effective against the nerve gents tabun (GA), sarin (GB), soman (GD) and VX.

If you read my post on acetylcholine and how tropane alkaloids tend to block the flow of acetylcholine, you will understand how this works. A nerve agent is an acetylcholinesterase inhibitor. This inhibits the acetylcholinesterase enzyme from properly breaking down acetylcholine, thereby flooding the brain with too much acetylcholine. As a result, You will have such effects:

Tropane Alkaloids in Modern Medicine
Advertisement for DuoDote: an atropine and pralidoxime injection
  • Runny nose and eyes
  • increased salivation, drooling, foaming at the mouth
  • sweating
  • small, constricted, pinpoint pupils
  • headache, fatigue
  • Nausea, vomiting,
  • muscle tension
  • seizures

So with an anticholinergic agent like atropine, this will halt that overflow of acetylcholine in the brain, thereby bringing the affected person back to health

Twilight Sleep & Child Birth

Scopolamine is also used in combination with morphine to induce a “twilight sleep” while a mother was giving birth. This would combine a shot of analgesia with amnesia. Pain relief and no memory of the event. Once a sought after method, but not without some residual downsides. Removal from the birth experience was important to many mothers. And the primary concern was the effect scopolamine had on the newborn. This would sometimes produce a drowsy, depressed baby with abnormal breathing, and some difficulty in resuscitation.

Hyoscyamine & Parkinson’s Disease

Hyoscyamine is another tropane alkaloid useful in many of the above ailments and disease. But Hyoscyamine is also recognized to help in reducing the effects of Parkinson’s Disease. These include things like drooling, muscle tremors, twitching, etc.

The Future of Tropane Alkaloids in Modern Medicine

This next section will take a look at the potentials of tropane alkaloids in the areas of medicine that are needed most in this troubled world. I believe that these compounds have a much needed place in helping some of the sick in our society. I believe that there is promising research to be done with tropane alkaloids in the treatment of:

  • Drug addiction & withdrawal
  • Anxiety disorders
  • major depression

Drug Addiction & Withdrawal

Its no secret that society in all areas of the world has been riddled with the unfortunate problem of drug addiction. Adding to these already deadly behavior patterns are the agonizing withdrawals produced by opiate-based drugs like heroin, morphine, Oxycontin, fentanyl. Sometimes even more long and drawn out with opiate-derivative drugs like Methadone and Suboxone.  There are also a wide variety other drugs that can bring on extremely unpleasant experiences similar to these.

  • muscle aches                                      
  • restlessness
  • anxiety
  • runny nose & eyes
  • excessive sweating
  • inability to sleep
  • diarrhea
  • abdominal cramping
  • goose bumps on the skin
  • nausea and vomiting
  • rapid heartbeat
  • high blood pressure

Now let’s look at scopolamine as a potential treatment for this issue.

We know that scopolamine is used for intestinal disorders. This will stop:

  • diarrhea
  • abdominal cramping

Notice how some of these effects have some common effects of nerve gas poisoning. We know that tropanes like scopolamine and atropine dry up the system. This will take care of:

  • runny nose & eyes 
  • excessive sweating.

We know that scopolamine is used to treat motion sickness. This would remove:

  • Nausea and vomiting.

We know that Hyoscyamine is used to treat muscle issues and general restlessness in Parkinson’s Disease. So this could also play a part in relieving:

  • Muscle aches
  • Restlessness.

We know that scopolamine is used to put mothers in child birth into twilight sleep. It is generally known to have sedative qualities that would reduce agitation/anxiety and enable one to sleep. This would reverse:

  • Inability to sleep
  • Anxiety

Now we are left withTropane Alkaloids in Modern Medicine

  • High blood pressure
  • Rapid heartbeat
  • Goosebumps on the skin

These could be probably be managed with some other medications and it is possible that the general sedative quality of scopolamine could bring these things down but as far as alleviating the suffering of withdrawal is concerned, this is very promising. I’m very surprised that the medical industry has not run any clinical trials, considering how many people are affected by opiate addiction today. It has become like an epidemic here in the United States.

There is however, promising research already done by a group of doctors in China who actually ran the trials with much success and it seems that he is using that method regularly now for opiate addicts. I found this information in a published medical journal entitled:

Clinical study of scopolamine detoxification for the treatment of heroin addicts

This was run by a Dr. Yang G., Xu K., and Luo Q. at the Ningbo Drug Withdrawal Research Center in Ningbo, China.

The trial was as follows:

OBJECTIVE:
To evaluate the efficacy of treatment of heroin addicts (n = 100) by scopolamine detoxification (10 days program).
METHODS:
Methadone detoxification (10 days program) group (n = 50) and clonidine treated group (n = 50) served as controls.
RESULTS:
The scores of abstinence syndrome in scopolamine detoxification group were lower that those in clonidine treated group in the first three days of protocol, but this difference disappeared in the late stage of treatment. While scopolamine detoxification was effective as methadone detoxification in the control of abstinence syndrome during the first five days of treatment but the difference in the scores of abstinence syndrome between scopolamine and methadone group was observed during the late five days of protocol. The side-effects produced by scopolamine in general were dry mouth, somnolence, tachycardia, blurred vision and so on, which relieved gradually or disappeared with decreasing of its doses.
CONCLUSION:
Scopolamine does not result in potential dependence and has definite curative effect in the treatment of heroin addiction.

So here we have it that in fact scopolamine is very useful in the treatment of opiate withdrawal and the management of the early stages, without having to resort to keeping patients on more addictive opiate based medications like Suboxone and Methadone.

There are also a few other articles I found in published medical journals on these same principles and some by the same doctors:

The combined use of scopolamine, naltrexone and naloxone as a rapid, safe and effective detoxification treatment for heroin addicts
Alkaloids from Brugmansia arborea (L.) Lagerhein reduce morphine withdrawal in vitro

Tropane Alkaloids & Anxiolytics

The use of solanaceous compounds could be a very promising road for those who suffer from anxiety disorders if the medical industry found it a worthy road for research. I’m actually very surprised it hasn’t been studied already. I had been wondering for some time now if there’s a relationship between acetylcholine & anxiety. I would bet to say there is a definitive link.

Tropane Alkaloids in Modern Medicine
A link between acetylcholine and anxiety?

I was talking to a Dr. Marina Picciotto, PhD from the Yale School of Medicine in recent months about tropane alkaloids in the study of anxiolytics, or anti-anxiety medication. She did some research earlier in her career with anticholinergics in the treatment of depression. I asked her if there was any research done on anticholinergics in treating anxiety. She was not aware of any research being done on humans but her response is telling because apparently there was some research done on mice and found that link between acetylcholine and anxiety:

Acetylcholine blockers have not been tried for anxiety in humans, that I know of, but increasing acetylcholine in mouse brain increases behaviors related to anxiety. This could be an interesting direction for human anxiolytic development.

We know from earlier in this post that some of the traditional medicine of India and surrounding areas have utilized Datura metel in the treatment of anxiety for many years. There is only one rationale explanation for their continual practice of using it to treat anxiety: it works.

the solanaceae and Major Depression

It is a fact that when the brain produces too much acetylcholine this can result in depression. So if that is true an anticholinergic must be of some use. After all, it has been used in traditional medicine for such a condition. Earlier in this post we saw how some of the earliest known people, the Sumerians, used Atropa belladonna for this condition. This could very well be the earliest known treatment for depression.

Fast forward to current time, as I stated just above that a Dr. Marina Picciotto, PhD from Yale had initially done some research in this area of anticholinergics for the treatment of depression. How far she went with this is currently unknown to me, but how she came to the conclusion that an anticholinergic could possibly be a remedy for depression is still unclear. Perhaps it was the research done on what happens in the brain when acetylcholine production is on overdrive that brought her to this conclusion. What is rather telling, given that Ms. Picciotto is unaware of the Sumerian people’s remedy for depression, Atropa belladonna as an anticholinergic, may be more revealing than meet’s the eye. Perhaps the Sumerians were not as primitive as we originally thought?

A Sacred Plant long demonized

It seems to sometimes be forgotten that the Dark Lady that is the Spirit of Nightshade is not always as mean and sinister as she is painted to be. She gets a bad rap because unsuspecting teenagers and thrill seekers don’t treat her with respect. They go tear off a few seedpods from a neighbor’s datura plant because they heard one could ‘trip’ or ‘get fucked up’ off it. The next thing you know one kid is dead and two surviving friends come back with a horror story of an intense hallucinogenic experience of what her world was like.

Then there is the criminal element of scopolamine. How dangerous her gifts can be when used for criminal intent or even murder. But this again, is misuse of the plant and it cannot be held against her because people have malice in their hearts.

I once came across someone in a forum on a psychedelics website who blamed the Manson Family murders solely on the fact that months before the Tate Murders they had used jimsonweed excessively. That this was the cause. Charlie did not brainwash them. She made them do it.

Tropane Alkaloids in Modern Medicine
Datura discolor “Sacred Datura”

So quick to place blame on these compounds and on her in general but not many seem to recognize all the good that she has brought our species. How painful things like bone setting would have been if not for the soporific sponge of nightshade plants like henbane and mandrake. How horrible a death would have resulted on the killing fields if not for atropine to reverse the deadly effects of nerve agents? The people of indigenous tribes have always recognized the  tropane-based nightshade plant as a sacred plant. This was a gift of the Gods and for a plant that can bring so many things to both shaman and his people as both entheogen and medicine, it was right to embrace it as such. Our current paradigm, far removed from the give and take of nature, loses so much in denying our connection to sacred plants. And as far as sacred plants are concerned, the Nightshade family is one of a kind. For what plant could open the doors of death as well as it opens the doors to life?

———————————————————-

Sources:

Ayushdarpan. “Medicinal Importance of Thorn Apple/Datura Metel/Angel’s Trumpet.” YouTube. YouTube, 2012. Web. 02 Aug. 2016.

Cleversley, Keith. “Atropa Belladonna – Belladonna – Entheology.com.” Entheologycom. N.p., 2002. Web. 02 Aug. 2016.

Cleversley, Keith. “Brugmansia Suaveolens – Angel’s Trumpet – Entheology.com.” Entheology.com. N.p., 2002. Web. 02 Aug. 2016.

Cleversley, Keith. “Datura Metel – Indian Thorn Apple – Entheology.com.” Entheology.com. N.p., 2002. Web. 03 Aug. 2016.

Jackson, Mark. ““Divine Stramonium”: The Rise and Fall of Smoking for Asthma.” Medical History. Medical History, 2010. Web. 03 Aug. 2016.
“Potential Root Cause of Depression Discovered by NARSAD Grantee.” Brain & Behavior Research Foundation (Formerly NARSAD). N.p., n.d. Web. 03 Aug. 2016. Asthma.” Medical History. Medical History, 2010. Web. 01 Aug. 2016.
“Twilight Sleep in Obstetrics.” MedicineNet. N.p., n.d. Web. 29 July 2016.

Jimsonweed: A Manson Family Recipe

Jimsonweed: A Manson Family Recipe

The Hidden Ingredient Behind the Creation of the Manson Cult & the Infamous Murders of the Late 1960’s
Jimsonweed and the Manson Family
Crime scene of the 1969 Manson murders

The summer of ’69 began a wave of fear into the minds of Americans as it closed the doors on good vibes from a decade of love and peace. The Age of Aquarius ushered in with cult-like status for a debauched, violent culture soon to come. The celebrity slaughter of actress Sharon Tate and the rest of the household at 10050 Cielo Drive in Los Angeles, California reads like the scene of a horror movie, as bodies lay strewn about the house and on the lawn. Pregnant Sharon Tate lay bound gagged and stabbed repeatedly to die in a pool of her own blood. Writing on the walls from the blood of the victims. Like a scene in Hollywood that had no set or stage and only its movies could match.

Leslie Van Houten
Leslie Van Houten

Charles Manson’s ‘Family’ was comprised of the muscle of then devil’s-rejects like Charles ‘Tex’ Watson, Paul Watkins, Bobby Beausoleil, and Steve Grogan. And Manson had among himself an heir of young high-school dropouts like Leslie Van Houten, Patricia Krenwinkle, Susan Atkins, and Linda Kasabian. Charles Manson, The self proclaimed savior and prophet, led his followers into a mind-controlled cult meaning conditioning took place through installation of fear, trauma, end times prophecy, preparation for war, and occult brainwashing.

Manson’s hold and the directing of his followers was not made over night. And it can be noted that although we see the side of a more emaciated, rambling madman, Manson had an intelligence that very few men have today. His ability to take control of a group of people, brainwash them with mind-control techniques, drugs, and trauma to carry out the slaughter of innocent people cannot be understated.

Jimsonweed and the Manson Family
Charles Manson brought into custody 1969

Charlie is what you would call a dominant 5% personality meaning 1 in 20 individuals even in the primate and animal world have the traits and personality to take control of a group and direct as leader.  This is usually accompanied by elements of sociopathic and psychopathic nature. When you have no empathy or remorse for taking advantage of people it allows you to hone in on controlling the collective of a group at the expense and suffering of its individual parts. 

Most people today who know a little about the Manson murders and his creation of a drug-crazed, Helter-Skelter cult was their use of LSD as a main component of the madness they were involved in. But what’s generally less known and perhaps more devastating than the LSD is their use of the deadly hallucinogenic deliriant Jimsonweed, which they had been mistakenly calling belladonna (although both have the same compounds and end result) . This would have greatly gone unnoticed but in the trial testimony of Paul Watkins, he describes the plant which is a sure match for jimsonweed:

“Q: When did you, Mr. Watkins, first become aware of belladonna?

A: When I was about 16 years old.

Q: Where?

A: In a Hopi Indian reservation in northeastern Arizona.

Q: Did you ever see belladonna while at the Spahn Ranch?

A: Yes.

Q: When?

A: In the spring of 1969 I went out and — I saw it along, because it grows all around there.

Q: What form does it take?

A: It takes a form of a green plant, but it has got heart-shaped leaves and big white lillies (sic)

Jimsonweed seed pods
“prickly balls” Watkins describes matches Datura, common in Arizona

Q: Some kind of a flower plant?

A: Big prickly balls.”

Clearly he is describing Jimsonweed in this testimony, otherwise known as Datura. The exact species is unknown. But I am going to bet that he was describing Datura discolor or Datura inoxia, Because of their pronounced heart-shaped leaves. Datura plants are fairly common plants in places like Arizona. It has also been recognized in some circles that the Hopi medicine men employed the use of this plant although it was probably much more widespread in earlier times.

Here is where the jimsonweed comes into play for the Manson Family. Charlie had a grudge against a man that had kicked him off his land. Naturally, Charlie had to get even. He then asked Paul Watkins if he knew where he could get a hold of some poison. Affirmative. Watkins finds the Jimsonweed, digs it up, brings it back and they begin making large amounts of tea.

Tex Watson leaves chewing a piece of the root and disappears for three days:

jimsonweed intoxication
Tex Watson Mugshot under the influence of jimsonweed

“I was hitchhiking and nearly crawling on my knees, and my mouth was foaming cotton, my body was sort of red and I fell down three or four times before I got the cycle cranked up and then I couldn’t stand. The last thing I remember was blaring down the road in the daytime…and the next thing I remember, the police were dragging me out of some car..in the valley. I was in Van Nuys Jail the next morning. Three guys in the cell jumped me and beat me up. They said I was very strong; they took me to the hospital to have my right eyebrow sewed up.”

When we look closely into Watson’s mugshot his pupils are extremely dilated which one would come to expect with an overdose of tropane alkaloids. Extreme mydriasis where the pupil is almost completely covering the iris. This is the hallmark signature of tropane intoxication.

Here we have the testimony of Paul Watkins on the story of jimsonweed (although they mistakenly call it belladonna) within the Manson Family:

Q: When did you, Mr. Watkins, first become aware of belladonna?

A: When I was about 16 years old.

Q: Where?

A: In a Hopi Indian reservation in northeastern Arizona.

Q: Did you ever see belladonna while at the Spahn Ranch?

A: Yes.

Q: When?

A: In the spring of 1969 I went out and — I saw it along, because it grows all around there.

Q: What form does it take?

A: It takes a form of a green plant, but it has got heart-shaped leaves and big white lillies (sic)

jimsonweed and the Manson Family
Datura stramonium ‘jimsonweed’

Q: Some kind of a flower plant?

A: Big prickly balls.

Q: What did you do with it?

A: Well, I used to dig it up, and it has roots that are like yams — and chop the roots up and make tea of the roots and drink the tea.

Q: You sort of brew it up, then?

A: Yeah.

Q: Was that done at Spahn Ranch, if you know?

A: Yes.

Q: On how many occasions?

A: On one occasion.

Q: Was that when you did it?

A: That’s when I did it.

Q: What year was this, or what month?

A: Spring of ’69.

Q: And where was it done at the ranch?

A: In the semi-trailer.

Q: Now, is the only way one takes the plant by brewing the roots?

A: By brewing the roots.

Q: Can you chew the root, too?

A: Yes.

Q: Did you ever do that?

A: Yes.

Q: On how many occasions?

A: A dozen occasions.

Q: Was that while you were around the ranch, also?

A: No, I never took it around the ranch. I only did it because they asked me to.

Q: Who asked you to?

A: Charlie asked me to.

Q: Manson?

A: Yes.

Q: Was there some sort of a group gathering when this was done?

A: Yes, people were watching what I was doing.

Q: Were you the one who was actually brewing it up?

A: Yes.

Q: I think you told us you had used it, what, a dozen times before this occasion; is that right?

A: I had used it about 20 times before that occasion.

Q: But 12 times by chewing the roots?

A: Approximately.

Q: And the rest by stewing or by brewing?

A: Drinking the tea or eating the seeds.

Q: What effect did it have on you?

A: Very, very, very strong drug effect.

Q: Like what?

A: Like, first noticeable effects are very, very thick saliva forming in your mouth, and you have a hard time swallowing.

Q: Is that saliva condition something you could call cotton mouth?

A: Yes, you just get a very bad cotton mouth and a very awful odor, then you get nauseous, really nauseated, that lasts for three or four hours, and then depending on the dose, it will lay the body down.

Q: In other words, you would pass out?

A: The trip will continue.

Q: How long does the trip continue?

A: Three days to a week.

Q: In lighter quantities, what happens short of passing out?

A: In the lighter quantities you could still walk around.

Q: Function?

A: Walk around and function.

Q: Did the drug have a tendency to dehydrate you, Mr. Watkins, if you know?

A: Belladonna?

Q: That is what I am talking about? Belladone.

A: Yes.

Q: You get very dehydrated?

A: Yes.

Q: Emaciated?

A: Emaciated?

Q: You know, kind of dried up?

A: Yes. You can say it emaciates you if you want to, I guess. I am not sure what that words means.

Q: Just being very dry?

A: I always carried a canteen whenever I would take that.

Q: To replenish what? The bodily fluids?

A: Yes.

Q: With water?

A: Yes.

Q: How often would you take it when you did take it?

A: One time I took it — it would vary. I would go on a binge and maybe take it every three or four days, in order to stay constantly on it. Spread it out over two or three weeks. Or I would take one very strong trip and then not take any for a few months, then take another one and not take any for a week. There was no pattern to how it was done.

Q: Is the effect pretty much the same, whether you drink the juice or chew the root?

A: Well, all except for the physical effect. If you chew the root, you get a root in your stomach that you are likely to throw up.

Q: Is the physical reaction to the drug the same?

A: Yes.

THE COURT: Would this be a good time to recess, Mr. Bubrick?

MR. BUBRICK: Yes.

THE COURT: Ladies and gentlemen of the jury we will recess at this time until 1:30. Once more, please heed the usual admonition.

CROSS-EXAMINATION (Resumed) BY MR. BUBRICK:

Q: Mr. Watkins, I think this noon when we broke we were talking about belladonna and you were telling us about the batch you were brewing up in Spahn Ranch.

Do you recall that?

A: Yeah, I recall that.

Q: And you said that it was being prepared in some sort of a tea form, something to drink, I take it?

A: Yes.

Q: Now, when that was being prepared, was Mr. Watson there, if you know?

A: Yes, he was there.

Q: And did you see him do anything about the belladonna you were using?

A: Yes.

Q: What did he do?

A: He took a chunk of root about three-quarters of an inch long and about an inch in diameter and walked off chewing on it.

Q: Did you see him again that day?

A: No, saw him three days later.

Q: Three days later?

A: Yes.

Q: And what, if anything, did you notice at that time?

A: I noticed that he was bruised, was cut from one end to the other and had a big blackened, red and blue eye, looked like he had been in a heck of a fight.

Q: Can you fix the time of the year that this occurred in?

A: Yeah, it would be spring of 1968 — no, ’69.

There is a question of whether or not they were on jimsonweed the night of the murders. I don’t believe they were and here’s why:

Tropane intoxication incapacitates the user. Carrying out anything in this state is next to impossible. Especially commands and instructions. Another problem they would have is keeping balance. As Tex said he was “nearly crawling on my knees”. The loss of coordination and balance is a common effect of the drug because the acetylcholine has been reduced to a state where the balance cannot be properly assimilated. This, in my opinion, would never work. I think it was used to sort of break them down and get them a little cooked up so they could be manipulated with ease.

It is important to remember that you can’t really blame drugs on the events that took place on that horrific summer of ’69. You have to understand that Charlie was using these as tools to gain a tight grip around his followers. Of course the media is going to blame the LSD. Mainly because LSD is on the list for the phony ‘War on Drugs’ so of course that will have to be brought to the surface, unjustly. They seemed to overlook the jimsonweed, and I think mostly because they have no idea what it is and what it can do

But I guess that’s how Lady Nightshade does it. She prefers to make her presence known in the most powerful ways and then after the smoke is cleared she blends into the backdrop undetected and back to the dark Underworld that is her kingdom…

Paul Watkins introduced Charlie to jimsonweed and from that point on Charlie utilized it with great efficacy to intensify the fear and trauma, cultivating an aura of unpredictability and instability, thereby making the ‘Family’ more controllable.

Then we get down to the after effects this drug. It is clear from Watkin’s testimony that they were using this stuff heavily and for long, drawn out periods. This would very likely result in some form of lingering psychosis and therefore much more suggestible by someone like Charlie Manson.

Charlie had a perfect tool to keep his followers in check…

jimsonweed & the Manson family
Jimsonweed: the Underworld botanical
Jimsonweed and the Manson family
Charles Manson: Cult Leader and Mind Manipulator

 

 

 

 

Zombie Parties and Phantom Cigarettes

Zombie Parties and Phantom Cigarettes

Strange Phenomena in the Realms of the Unexplained
Tropane alkaloids and Phantom Cigarettes
The Nightshade Family: A gateway to other dimensions?

The psychoactive realm of the Nightshade family truly stands in a league of its own. There is nothing more powerful than tropane alkaloids when it comes to inducing vivid hallucinations. The hallucinogenic experience under the influence of these compounds are described as extremely real. Sometimes they can be crazy trips where the person is overloaded with frightening imagery (mainly when misused and abused; not respected). Other times it can take a much lighter note with the user having imaginary get-togethers with old friends and strangers, sharing many laughs, deep conversations, and phantom cigarettes. There is no telling which direction it will go if you are to just start consuming it like this. The type and range of interaction in these realms is exceptionally various.

But here’s where it gets tricky. The hallucinations can be a 360 degree change of scenery, or even just partial change of scenery blending into the scenery we are really in. People show up and look just as real as anyone who is physically there with them. You lose the ability to distinguish the real from the unreal in this realm.  She can be quite cunning in this respect

There is also some very strange phenomena that seem to happen when under the spell of tropanes. Among some of the most common themes that seem to repeat themselves are:

  • Phantom Cigarettes:

The smoking of imaginary cigarettes that many times seem to fall out of their hands on the floor leaving the user to look frantically around for the burning cigarette only to realize later that they were never actually smoking one!

  • Imaginary parties and get-togethers:

Seeing old friends and people they haven’t seen in a really long time. Spending hours together laughing, drinking, smoking, socializing, only to find out later that no one was ever at the house and the people from the experience were nowhere near the vicinity at the time.

  • Interaction with the deceased:

Reports of dead friends, relatives, and pets interacting within the experience, sometimes bringing closure, and sometimes leaving a disturbing memory to haunt them from there on out.

  • Functioning in the same hallucination as other users with them and telepathic communication

reports of users functioning within the same framework of hallucination passing cigarettes to each other, seeing the same imaginary people involved in the same conversations. At times there have even been reports of users being able to hear each others’ calls between a far distance or without verbal communication.

Many users had no knowledge of the common phenomena among others’ experiences before the experience. The ways a hallucination can interact on such similar terms and on multiple users at once within the same hallucination calls many things about the framework of reality and our understanding of the hallucinatory experience into question. Most users leave Lady Nightshade’s arena with a vivid memory of something extremely powerful and “not of this world”.

Nightmarish scenery and phantom cigarettes
Some of the darker landscapes of a Nightshade deliriant

First time users greatly underestimate the power and potential of these powerful compounds. Keeping themselves under wraps in a public setting or at home around family members becomes almost impossible. Most of these reports end up in hospitalization because of the user’s bizarre behavior. Family members are  freaked out by the delirium of their teenager, unaware that they have consumed something of this magnitude. Essentially, they are living in a dimension of their own (or perhaps a very real dimension we cannot see from this one- like the dreamscape while physically awake) all the while ignorant of the dimension of real world reality. A few cases end up with police involvement and come out facing charges.  This is greatly due to the fact that They had no idea how out of touch with this dimension they would become while on that much of the drug, so when confronted by police or medical staff users have been known to be aggressive and sometimes violent.

But again please keep in mind that this is the result of abusing a powerful plant. This is the result of not respecting a powerful force and for that you really can’t put all the blame on the plant here because she is so much more than what the negative results of irresponsible minds do with her… I mean lets face it kids like to get in trouble.

So lets take a look at some of the reports of recreational use and government research. We will see a very strange but very common phenomena experienced in Lady Nightshade’s court:

 Zombie Parties and Friends from Way Back

Reoccurring in many of these trips is the sudden appearance of company that appear into one’s trip. Friends they ‘haven’t seen in a really long time’ and strangers alike magically appear and walk into the house. The user is oftentimes happy to join in and mingle with his guests:

“I looked at the foot of my bed and my two best friends were standing there. I started laughing hysterically at the fact that they would stop by and wake me up at such a late time. I preceded to have a little party in my room with them. They came up and sat on either side of me and we had a great time passing joints and smoking cigarettes. I paused the little shindig and went to the bathroom. I used the bathroom and while washing my hands I looked into the mirror and my face contorted into an impossible shape and I shook myself off and splashed some water on my face, still none the wiser to what was happening. I walked back to my room where at my door my mother was standing. I greeted her and informed her that my friends had stopped by for a late night visit. She gave me the weirdest look I think she has ever given me. I re-entered my room and my friends were nowhere to be found.”Late Night Parties and Everlasting Cigarettes

You can imagine the feeling of fully accepting the fact that you have just held on to a vivid hallucination as though it was fully functioning reality. This where the effect of the drug can play the trickster.

“So began a series of hallucinations. In the house’s second bathroom, I saw Jenny standing next to me, looking at me. I turned to her and resolved to muster a reassuring smile but when I turned I realized that what I had been looking at was my own reflection in the mirror. I was very alarmed and thought “this is madness,” but my reflection was wearing the placid smile I had put on for Jenny and my calm expression was somewhat reassuring.

From that point on I was very messed up and was moving around, bumping into things, hallucinating and tormented by mental confusion. I had minimal short term memory and at one point noticed that I had left the bathroom sink running full tilt for an unknown length of time. Colors and sounds were amplified. There were times when there were lots of people in the room, having a party. When I tried to talk, they’d stop and listen, realize I was incomprehensible and then ignore me and continue their conversations.” – This is Madness

Jimsonweed and Phantom Cigarettes
Jimsonweed: phantom party drug?

” Just then there was a knock at the door, it was my girlfriend wondering where i was, she had brought three friends with her, all people I had went to school with in earlier years and had moved away, this did not seem odd to me at the time. I invited them in and we started talking about something. I can’t remember exactly what, I reached in my pocked for a lighter light a cig my girl had given me, but when I looked up they were gone. I mean VANISHED.”Strongest Thing I’ve Ever Taken

Another says of his girlfriend who had drank tea made from belladonna foliage:

“I asked her about her ‘trip’ and she said that after we left all sorts of people she hadn’t seen in a long time showed up at our apartment, and there was a big party. She actually thought that both my friend and I had come back at some point during the night. She said she had a lot of fun.

We later contacted virtually everyone she saw (some were unreachable as she hadn’t been in contact with them for years) and none of them had come over, most of them were not within 200 miles from our apartment at the time. When she was at work that day she thought that I had come to visit her (she worked alone most of the day as a screen printer in a big shop) and that we talked all day long. She said her boss came in a few times and asked who she was talking to, and anytime he did, she explained that she couldn’t exactly remember. Only shortly after he left did I reappear and she did not at the time (both when it was happening, and again when she was explaining it to me) seem to understand how illogical this was.” –  The Manson Family Killed on this Plant

Some people seem to have glowing experiences in her kingdom for reasons that are vastly unclear:

“I remember walking around my dorm thinking that I was naked, and there were at least 10 people in every room. I didn’t know any of them, but I was able to talk to quite a few of them. They seemed to ignore my nudity, and I understood this to be a sign of friendship. In my room there were four people I’ve never seen before, my little brother, and a hallucinated version of my sober [sitter] friend (who was actually trying to help the other guy [likely in another dorm] tripping on the floor). We talked for what seemed like years, discussing many things from the Roman empire to how butterscotch was made.” –Entering Insanity

One thing is certain, She sure has a sense of humor about Her when She isn’t so sinister to those few folks who aren’t cut out for her realm..

In Chemical Warfare: Secrets Almost Forgotten, James S. Ketchum gives us an invaluable resource during his time as Colonel in the U.S. ARMY. at Edgewood Arsenal in the late 1960’s. These same themes were described  in trial runs given to ARMY volunteers during research into the effects and uses of incapacitating agents like synthetic atropine-derivative, 3-Quinuclidinyl benzilate, also known as BZ: Smoking phantom cigarettes on BZ

“…With regards to persons in his vicinity, recognition may be accurate for individuals whom he has met prior to testing, such as the doctor or nurse; other people may erroneously be greeted as old friends from his outfit, or even relatives. At times, he may react to large objects possessing a vertical shape as if they were people. One subject tried to provoke a fight with a simulated gun mount; another said “Excuse me, Sir” to the water fountain when he accidentally brushed against it. In more extreme states of confusion, he may even initiate conversations with hallucinated individuals. He conducts these one-sided conversations in such a natural, unstudied manner that acting is out of the question…”

Phantom Cigarettes: Now You See Me, Now You Don’t

The hands down most common phenomenon that users report is smoking phantom cigarettes. The user thinks they are completely real until it either vanishes into thin air or falls on the ground never to be found again. It will be some time before they realize that they had never been smoking one to begin with! It is quite comical because it usually occurs indoors in one’s home so they are tearing their room apart because they don’t want to burn the house down. She sure enjoys playing the role of trickster in scenes like this. It is also interesting to note that tobacco is also in the nightshade family

Tobacco and Phantom Cigarettes
Nicotiana tabacum

It really makes you scratch your head when trying to make sense of such things. Why this ‘phantom smoking’ would be such a commonality  reoccurring and not only that but disappearing to involve the user in this wild goose chase looking for it when it disappears!

“Again, like so many before, I found myself searching for dropped cigarettes… but they were burning through and sliding under the sheets. I could feel the burnt holes and heat coming off them, feel the cigarette roll away from me under the sheets. And then it hit me that I never lit a cigarette, but i sure needed one. Forget that I was just thrashing around like a wild man for imaginary cigarettes. it was time for the real thing. I actually smoked the same amount as I normally do (30 to 45 min apart). But I always felt like I had one in my hand. Many times my index, middle fingers and thumb would meet as I spaced off and that would induce a frantic cigarette hunt. It was mostly happening in my left hand which I don’t even smoke with. this is the aspect I am most curious about of all my experiences.” – I’m Eating at McDonalds

“Before I could give a second thought I found myself sitting on the ground of what seemed like the park and I was smoking cigarettes that just kept falling out of my hand or just float away. This little scenario kept repeating itself for most of my memory… …Finally, I woke up in my bed the next morning wondering how I got there and feeling like everything I had just witnessed was nothing more than a long vivid dream. I also realized I was smoking a cigarette and and that I dropped it on my blanket, but when I went to fetch it, it was nowhere to be found, no smoke no burns, nothing.” –The Living Dream

“I lay there for sometime just thinking and soaking everything in. For some odd reason I always had a cigarette in my hand that would never go out or need to be ashed…    …So my attention went from the mirror to my hand where a freshly lit cigarette sat waiting to be smoked. This made me feel all warm and fuzzy inside. I smoked and smoked and smoked and again the cigarette never burned down any.” –Late Night Parties and Everlasting Cigarettes

Another bunch decided to stock up before the event and roll a bunch of cigarettes for the experience. Little did they know…

“Four of us decided to do it together in an abandoned coca cola bottling factory we were squatting. We set up two mattresses on the ground, some rugs, and rolled a ton of cigarettes because we figured we would be too messed up to want to roll cigarettes… [Later during the trip]: …At some points we are all awake, talking, smoking cigarettes, and drinking beer together, passing them around to each other. Sometimes someone drops a cigarette or drink and its gone as soon as it hits the floor. We look around for it but it can’t be found…  The next day when we get up around 2 pm we all feel pretty sober. We realized that no one had come over, we hadn’t drank anything, and that all the cigarettes we had rolled were still there waiting.”Lucid Dreaming

“Next thing I know I whip out a cigarette that I distinctly remember leaving behind my ear. I begin a quest in search for a lighter. I continuously search over and over the same square feet of carpet in front of me for a lighter but I don’t find one. Magically I realize that my cigarette is already lit. ‘Duh!’ I think to myself, and begin smoking it. Moments later it falls on the floor and I start searching for it, but it’s gone. Wtf! WHAT THE FUCK? Take a wild guess what I do next? I reach behind the same ear and find another one; however this doesn’t strike me as slightest bit unusual. I just go on smoking it. Oh… of course- without a lighting it first.”Delerium in Perdition

It can also be further noted that not all the people that experienced the ‘phantom cigarettes’ phenomenon even smoked cigarettes:

“Around about this time, Cal took a draw of and passed me an invisible cigarette, of course I had read about this in other reports, finally it had kicked in! I had not mentioned the phantom cigarette phenomenon to Cal before, nor had he read about it, this is also surprising because he doesn’t smoke. The seeds weren’t fake. I told him he passed me nothingness & he said “No way, I must have dropped it”Not Quite What I Had Expected

This next exhibit is from a piece the news did warning of the dangers of jimsonweed. Below you can see these two being filmed at the police station. They are passing these ‘phantom cigarettes’ to each other flicking them. and it looks as real as a mime acting out his routine. However, they really are smoking in their minds. It is interesting to point out these two are functioning within the same hallucination. If the theory that hallucination is just taking place in the person’s mind, how do you explain two separate minds in the same hallucination? It makes me think about how physicists today talk about many dimensions that share the same space but at a different vibration. Have they tuned themselves to this vibration and opened up the ability to view and function within these other dimensions?

The phantom cigarettes were also confirmed again in James S. Ketchum’s  Chemical Warfare: Secrets Almost Forgotten, while administering BZ to the volunteers. He stated:

BZ and phantom cigarettes
3-quiniclidinyl benzilate, or BZ, an atropine derivative

“Hallucinations seem to dominate the field of awareness, and real objects and persons are generally ignored or ludicrously misinterpreted. Touch seems to become the most important sensory system. , and the hands are ceaselessly active, exploring clothing, bedding, walls, floor and crevices of the environment. Smoking and drinking of phantom cigarettes and beverages are very common.”

 In one chapter he describes play-by-play each hour of one volunteer’s experience under BZ:

18:35 –  Nurse asked the aid man how to spell ‘convenienced’ and subject responded “CONVENIENCESHIT!” Smoking imaginary cigarettes. Sitting cross-legged on floor.Picking at ARMY blanket. “Let us spray” (sic)

20:15 –  Once again stated that his hands and feet were very red. Stated that he had eggs for breakfast, and talked of his field jacket. “It isn’t mine and don’t push me brother! Smoking an imaginary cigarette.

40:55 –  Stepping very cautiously about room. Dropping pillowcase over back and round shoulders. Appears to be putting on pack. “Go ahead take it (Blood pressure) while I play with the kittens. Nice kitty.” Fed ice cream. “Gordan will build them if anybody will.” “This country better hurry up or we’ll be in another depression.” “When in doubt, blow it out.” Standing at window smoking imaginary cigarette.

47:30 – Lays down with much insistence to vital signs. It is very difficult to get the subject to do anything at this point. “I’m not sorry I’m married to you I’m really not.” “Here comes Caroline.” Smokes imaginary cigarettes. Talks to imaginary people. While standing, looking at the wall, grabbed nurse’s cap while she was sitting on stool. Twisted stethoscope around her neck. “Oh, I thought you were a truck driver.” walked over to window. “I hope they don’t have this damn door locked.” “Hey a pack of cigarettes, if you can read Mexican.”

You can’t buy comedy like this in the real world. But it certainly leaves one with more questions than answers. Does the drug activate something in our mind that deals with habitual daily activities thereby creating these imaginary ‘phantom cigarettes’? And Then how do we explain the whole aspect of the cigarette’s cat-and-mouse game with the user. Is this the spirit and antics of Lady Nightshade playing pranks on these users for kicks?

Conversing with the dead: Closure and Chaos in a Strange Land

Spirit Communication and Phantom Cigarettes
Communion with the dead in the Nightshade Realms

One of the less common re-occurrences but highly worthy of study is the appearance of deceased friends and relatives. There have been reports describing closure after seeing late friends, surrounded by their energy and later coming to understand that they still existed, just in a different form. Perhaps death is not the end of existence:

“I also continuously heard voices calling to me, usually calling my name, and I know that I experienced them during my first ‘trip’. However, this time around there was a much more personal connection; about the half the time that I heard my name being called it was the voice of my dear friend Jul, who died this past winter. Every time I heard it I knew it was him, and I could feel his presence all around me. This reminds me, I also heard my aunt’s voice during my first experience; she died a couple of years before, and was my closest relative outside of my nuclear family (in emotional terms). Before either of my trips I read many reports because i am highly interested in the specific effects of every plant or chemical I try, and because it is necessary to my survival. I am now convinced that when this Nightshade doesn’t kill you, it offers access to the land of the dead. I must stress this is not an experience that everyone is ready for, or even meant to have…

…I have grown from both of these experiences [belladonna]; especially the latter, as I was shown that my friend is happy where he is. I am an atheist, but I believe that our bodies are energy, and with death that energy must move somewhere. I was shown that he is living everywhere, but that he was very much living in me, especially due to the energy I put into my love for him. I had a dream in the days afterwards, in which I was chasing my friend. I got to a point where I was so close to catching him, and a man stopped me; he held me by the shoulder and only shook his head slightly. But I could tell just by looking in his eyes that I wasn’t meant to go forward. I was filled with a sense of understanding and happiness, and it was like a weight was being lifted from me.” The Land of the Dead

Other times, however, the experience with the deceased was not so pleasant and brought more trauma than closure:

“I appear in my old house in Tampa and my friend that died like 2 years ago is there and I’m a ghost and we take for a while and he is real mad at me and said I killed him but I didn’t and he casts me to hell. THIS IS WHERE IT GETS BAD. I’m in a room where the corners of the room are flashing bright red and every time they flash it hurts a lot. And I cover my eyes but nothing I can do stops the light and I can see it in the same spot no matter what I do and my friend’s parents are there yelling at me and crying saying that I killed their son and hitting me with those glow wands from Demolition Man.” –World of Pain

“After this I found myself at my friend Jessie’s old house where she moved away from some time ago, yet there she was along with her grandfather who had passed away about a year ago. I remember that he spoke in the most horrifying, miserable voice and I couldn’t bear to hear it.”The Living Dream

Our deceased pets even tend to show up in some reports:

“A dog ran out in front of me, it was my old dog, which had long since passed away. For some reason I thought this was real, it seemed so real. My head was full of static noise as I followed my dead dog down to the park where I had originally taken the deadly nightshade into my eye. As I walked my legs would fall out from under me causing me to go crashing into the road, but my dog would always wait for me.”Screaming Voices

“I reached over to pet my dog, which is strange considering my dog died when I was twelve.”Strongest Thing I’ve Ever taken

A Change of scenery and telepathy

Some of the reports will involve being in a completely different landscape than the one they were physically functioning in. These are tactile hallucinations (with emphasis on touch and feeling). You could physically be in your living room but experience yourself at say, a beach:

“I swear I remember [in the trip] when I was at the beach and I really felt like I was there. No messin’ around I’m serious. What I’m sayin’ seems to be hard to believe but I was actually trippin’ that hard… ….I kept getting memory lapses and thinking I was at the beach again. I actually remember stepping on the sand and feeling the sand.”Not Doin This Shit Again

tropane alkaloids and phantom cigarettes
Acetylcholine the neurotransmitter broken down during ingestion of tropane alkaloids

[user is at hospital psyche ward] …From this point onwards, things get real fucking weird. I get up off my bed and search through all my drawers on my study desk in my room at home in search for my glasses. No luck. So I turn around and rummage through through my bedside table. I can’t find them anywhere. All of a sudden I realize that I am actually standing in front of the wall in the hospital ward.”Delerium in Perdition

Later on this same user, along with two of his buddies also admitted to the psyche ward, are separated from each other in different wards. They each experience the same hallucinations and one of the buddies hears his friend yelling from his solitary confinement, even though they are in separate wards and too distant to hear him:

“I think that I have done some seriously bad crime (eaten the bad fruit) and this was my punishment: solitary confinement for the rest of my existence, which to me at the time- meant eternity. Those thoughts made me angry, so I yelled for a while until I felt tired, and eventually settle into bed…  …I lay down and stare at the clock on the other side of the room. It says 4:30… …I take a step back and look at the clock on the wall. But it’s not there anymore… …Next delusion- my hospital band strapped around my wrist becomes a Falls Festival wrist band (a yearly 3 day music festival that everyone in Tasmania goes to)… …[after released] I rendezvous with the other fools from my share house. They all look exhausted, and majorly fucked. Funny thing was, all three of us shared some same hallucinations, even though we were put in different wards, and I was confined in a solitary room. C, B, and myself, all imagined the wristband was a Falls Festival band, and also saw that same white clock on the wall that said 4:30. Quite scary actually. C also mentioned that he receives messages telekinetically, and heard me yell out to him and his friend B, even though there was no possible way of him being able to hear me from that afar. Strange. Strange.” –Delerium in Perdition

Mirror Realities: The Taste of Fear

My personal feeling on the difference of experience is found within the person. The kind of personality and character you have will more or less reflect your embracing or fearing life. Those of us who do not face our fears, work through our mental and emotional baggage, will be face to face with them in these realms. And as they manifest in similar ways within our dreams as nightmares, perhaps those same manifestations of fear and negative clutter will also be true in this landscape.

The first account user seems to have a much more accepting and embracing view on life than the second. I would say the second has a lot of hidden emotion and it is making itself known in his experience with these plants. This is not set in stone however, because even though we think we have worked through many of our fears, there is still much below the surface. But I would venture to say that it would be more likely to work in your favor than not.

Another thing to consider when we are using an entheogen is, what are we taking it for? When we use any substance for a spiritual purpose, it’s important to understand that the experience alone is not going to bring us enlightenment or answers. A substance is only a means to carry out works, meaning we have to do the work ourselves, the plant is only a channel to work through, and certainly not the only channel.

Nightmare landscapes, phantom cigarettes, and tropane alkaloids
The Nightshade Realms: The landscape reflecting our subconscious fears as nightmares?

But looking at how similar these reports are and what they mean challenges many things about our understanding of the reality of other worlds. But at least now physicist have been recognizing this possibility of a multidimensional universe. I believe that we are essentially crossing frequencies. Using a plant like datura or belladonna acts as a key or gateway for inter-dimensional travel. You are open to its rate of vibration and yet you are still within the physical realm you operate from originally. When we die, it would make sense that our consciousness changes it’s rate of vibration as we are removed from the body we used. So it might be safe to assume that should we fail to work through that mental and emotional baggage from our time here, we will be face to face with them when we die. This would be a close description to the Hell of various religious mythology.

This is why I believe it is extremely important to use our time in this life wisely and work through whatever challenges and fears we face here. Stop running from your problems. They will catch up to you. Perhaps Lady Nightshade is only reflecting that side of us we hide from ourselves. Those inner fears that we spend our whole lives running from. It certainly makes you wonder…

 

Sources:

All trip reports courtesy of erowid.org

Ketchum, James S. Chemical Warfare Secrets Almost Forgotten: A Personal Story of Medical Testing of Army Volunteers with Incapacitating Chemical Agents during the Cold War (1955-1975). Place of Publication Not Identified: James S. Ketchum, 2006. Print.

Lucid Nightmare: Tropane Alkaloids & Acetylcholine

Lucid Nightmare:

Tropane Alkaloids & Acetylcholine

Tropane Alkaloids - poisonpath.com

“I’ve done many psychedelics like acid, mushrooms, and DMT, but this was too real!” This is the hallmark and signature characteristic of tropane alkaloids when used by thrill-seekers for a “trip”. These alkaloids can bring a 360 degree change of scenery, lasting anywhere from 12-72 hours and in some cases up to a week or more. The aftermath can bring residual effects like vision problems, lingering hallucinations, and a variety of other cognitive deficiencies. On the other hand, used at just a slightly higher dose can spell death. Sometimes a permanent psychosis can even plague a surviving individual from there on out. Lady Nightshade plays hard and many times for keeps!

At this point you may be asking yourself:

  • How can these compounds bring such vivid hallucinations?
  • What is it about these compounds that cause so much devastation to the body and brain?

I have spent a fair amount of time in the last year trying to pin down exactly how these compounds go to work on the brain and why they can be so dangerous. (I am not a student of science or medicine so please don’t hold it against me if any of my terminology appears out of place.)

Anyway, after countless hours piecing it all together, I am going to try and explain it in the simplest of terms so that you can understand it as much as humanly possible. I will do my best to avoid  mistakes, misinterpretations, and so on.  I have never really had just one article to get an all-inclusive, full spectrum explanation of the effects of the tropane alkaloids (scopolamine, atropine, and hyoscyamine) and how they go to work in the brain. Hopefully my research and subsequent explanation will do some justice here.

Before we explain this, however, I need to explain a vital neurotransmitter and part of the brain that allows us to keep our system operating to run smoothly in the mind and body:

Acetylcholine

Acetylcholine is a parasympathetic neurotransmitter in the brain. I know. it doesn’t really explain things if you aren’t familiar with biology, medicine, toxicology, etc. I will do my best to bridge the gap and put it in such a way that anyone can understand it.

The brain has many important compounds needed to run the body. but for this lesson think of Acetylcholine as say, Windows for a computer. The glue that keeps the system in place to run smoothly. It allows programs to interact with other programs, download information from the net, etc. Much like acetylcholine does within our system. If you removed Windows or OS X from your Computer It would crash.

Parasympathetic means that its actions run “alongside” other transmitters and receptors keeping the nervous systems going. A neurotransmitter is an organic chemical within the brain that relays messages and allows certain functions to occur in the body and mind. Acetylcholine allows calculations and messages to communicate and command important functions autonomously: on its own and without us having to think about it.

Some of these functions include:

  • Muscle coordination
  • Decision making
  • Memory
  • Rest and digest responses
  • Saliva/sweat/digestive glands
  • Breathing
  • Heart rate

It may not be the sole commander in all of these functions but rest assured Acetylcholine makes it all possible. Acetylcholine is a biological necessity in keeping life going.

When we enter sleep, There is a preliminary stage called NREM (Non-Rapid Eye Movement) sleep. In the two stages of NREM sleep, there is light NREM sleep and deep NREM sleep. In both of these stages the brain has been observed to decrease acetylcholine production. Much more in deep NREM sleep than light NREM sleep. But in REM (Rapid Eye Movement) sleep, the acetylcholine production is high like it is in our waking hours. The acetylcholine in sleep is produced in different parts of the brain than it is in wakefulness, at least that’s what I have come to understand.

Going a step further since the state of REM is so active and transfers to work in a different section of our brain when we wake up we only remember our dreams in detail for a very short amount of time and if we do not write them down we just as easily forget what they were. This is where the memory formation comes into play. When we shut down or restrict the flow of acetylcholine when we are awake (through drugs like scopolamine) we have ‘missing time’ or black outs where memory is very faint or almost not even formed. Perhaps the acetylcholine has switched to the same part of our brain as sleep?

tropane alkaloids: effects on the brain

Tropane alkaloids like Scopolamine, atropine, and hyoscyamine are referred to as anticholinergics. An anticholinergic agent is a drug that breaks down and reduces the flow of acetylcholine in the brain and body. This can be extremely helpful in small doses. In larger doses, however, this can be catastrophic and fatal.

On the smaller scale, tropane alkaloids can be extremely helpful to stomach and digestive problems. With things like stomach ulcers, Irritable Bowel Syndrome, overactive bladder, these are highly effective compounds. Also there are things like overactive sweat glands (hyperhidrosis), or excessive drooling (hypersalivation). These functions are all controlled by the flow of acetylcholine. Reducing the flow of acetylcholine would put the brakes on these overactive processes. So these anticholinergic compounds can work wonders. Motion sickness and nausea can also be treated effectively using tropane alkaloids like scopolamine and hyoscyamine. Perhaps you have used a scopolamine patch on a vacation cruise or in trips where you endure periods of motion sickness.

Mydriasis - poisonpath.com
mydriasis from atropine

Atropine has a wide variety of use not only in ophthalmology to dilate the pupils but also in the military field as an antidote to the chemical agents of nerve gas. When these agents enter the system It disrupts the acetylcholinesterase, The transmitters responsible for the regulation of acetylcholine, therefore flooding the system with excessive amounts of acetylcholine causing the victim to start drooling, constricted pupils and vision problems, involuntary urination (pissing your pants), overproduction of lung/bronchial fluids, respiratory failure resulting in convulsions and death. Atropine will remove this overdose of acetylcholine bringing the victim back from the clutches of death. A poison on its own. A lifesaver for other poisons

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the poison of the underworld

the tropanes are truly devious in their poisoning effects on the body. For what other ingredients can literally bring you to the gates of Hell before you die?

There was lightning all around me, the sky was ripped apart and clouds sweeping by quickly, they were tinged with red. All around me (its 8.00 pm) the normally deserted park is filled with people; horrible gray shadows with back holes for eyes, there are thousands of them. The trees are dripping with blood and the ground is littered with body parts. These people are laughing at me, but I can only hear them in my head, they scream at me, horrible things about the universe coming to an end. I remember grabbing my head and screaming.”**

Keep in mind this scenery seems entirely real to the person experiencing such a poisoning. Think of it along the lines of a lucid nightmare. Although there is danger in any experimentation with the tropanes, there is a serious danger in experimentation with these compounds when:

A) You are not familiar with how your body tolerates tropane alkaloids.

Your body can be extremely sensitive to these compounds, or resistant causing you to think you need a lot more than it really indicates.

B) When you are just guessing at dosage without any point of reference.

This is by far the most definitive factor in why people end up dead and/or admitted to the ER with extreme delirium and psychosis when messing with the Nightshade plants. As I said before, she enjoys a chance to take advantage of you when you give her that option. She does not play gentle. Guessing at a dosage is just plain stupid.

C) Unaware of the potency of the plant material

Just as in any plant based substance, different strains and species can be vastly different in alkaloid. For instance, Datura stramonium is not nearly as potent as something like Datura discolor or Datura ceratocaula. On top of that some of the same strains grown in different regions or at different times of the year can be quite different potencies. She is unpredictable. That’s my point!

Now I am not suggesting anyone should experiment with the tropanes but I do realize people will do as they wish, so I might as well put some relevant information out there. On the one hand, I think it is extremely irresponsible to play with high doses of these agents without some kind of preliminary testing. When you have no reference point there is simply no way to tell how much devastation it can produce, and this is the anatomy of fatal consequence.

On the other hand, some people exaggerate the danger adding even more ignorance to the topic. Talking about any and all doses like some kind of comic book super-villain does no justice. There are numerous factors that come into play. Some dangerous. Some not so dangerous. But the truth is: there is definitely risk involved in all cases until you know how your body reacts to low doses and how potent your plant material is then there is no telling the outcomes of larger dosage. When small dosage outcome is established, the safer way to go is working up incrementally using the same plant material. By incrementally I mean in baby steps not giant leaps.

Getting to know this plant means understanding it in as many ways as you can. This is why I believe it is important to grow your own plants. For one, you are developing a relationship with this plant. Your loving care for this plant goes a long way with the tropane mistress. I believe in the spiritual aspects involved. You are stupid not to, seeing as though this is a living being. 

Bedroom Belladonna - Tropane Alkaloids
Bedroom Belladonna

I live very closely to all of my plants. Most of my plants live right in my room with me. This may be too close for comfort for some of you. But these plants and their study is pretty much my life so I am more than comfortable being so close to them. These plants enter my dreams quite often. So this has not much difference to me. I prefer it actually.

The Spirit of Lady Nightshade is intense, powerful, some might even say overkill. She is the epitome of power and intensity. Everything she does is characterized by this energy. Dark. Rugged. Raw. If you attempt to communicate or interact with her in an irresponsible manner, she will not respond lightly. Expect a tidal wave of energy. Her elements are no different. How you allow yourself to be directed by this force is no simple task. Curiosity and thrill-seeking are not the means by which to approach these beings. Careless mistakes can be fatal. If its a trip you’re looking for, there are safer substances out there. Of course, you can always grow her and admire her beauty without trying to gain carnal knowledge by ingesting her. Treat her with the proper respect and you will have nothing to worry about.

the antidote

Lets talk about how tropane poisoning is reversed. So we have already established that when someone is poisoned by tropane alkaloids they have restricted the flow of acetylcholine and the system begins to malfunction and ultimately shut down if too much has entered the system.

The initial effects of tropane exposure will be:

  • Dry Mouth
  • Heavy Eyelids
  • Drowsiness
  • Mydriasis (Dilated Pupils)

The deeper exposure will result in:

  • Redness and Flushing of the skin
  • Difficulty walking/balance/muscle coordination
  • Confusion
  • Limited Reaction to External Stimuli
  • Hallucination
  • Delirium/Psychosis

And further exposure will culminate in:

  • Multiple Organ Failure
  • Respiratory Failure
  • Paralysis
  • Coma
  • Death

 

Now, The recognized antidote by the medical industry is Physostigmine which is produced in nature by the calabar bean, also a poison in its own right. The effects are much like nerve gas poisoning:

  • Increased salivation and body fluids
  • constricted pupils
  • Nausea
  • Stomach Pain
  • Headache

So this would be the case if we did not have extreme deficiency of acetylcholine by ingestion of an anticholinergic like scopolamine or atropine. But if a person has ingested these tropanes and the anticholinergics cause the resulting poisoning, administering physostigmine would reverse the effects and put the much needed acetylcholine back into the system.

Another recognized antidote is Pilocarpine. This is a compound isolated from the Pilocarpus genus of plants in South America more commonly called Jaborandi. These are another source of acetylcholinesterase compounds (promoting the flow of acetylcholine).

Another known compound for treating the anticholinergic effect is a drug called scopoletin. This can be isolated from multiple plants like Scopolia, chicory, Artemesia scoparia, Passionflower, and most commonly Brunfelsia. I can personally attest to the fact that Brunfelsia will reverse the initial effects in low doses of tropane alkaloids.

193px-Brunfelsia_grandiflora_2
Brunfelsia grandiflora

Due to stomach/digestive problems, I ingested a small number of Datura stramonium seeds, which I had carefully dosed through numerous small dose experiments. After reaching a medicinal dosage guideline, I ingested a few more for the purpose of this experiment. After a while, My eyelids got heavy, my mouth became fairly dry, and pretty much my whole system dried up. I could drink a lot of fluid with barely any urination. This is what I was aiming for. Next, I made tea with about 15-20 leaves of Brunfelsia grandiflora. Upon drinking this concoction, I could feel my mouth producing saliva again. I could somewhat feel my body producing fluids again. Or rather, I could feel the initial effects of the Datura seeds containing tropane alkaloids reversing as I continued to drink the Brunfelsia tea.

I can’t say for sure how effective this would be at higher levels of tropane exposure. I’m sure you would need to drink a fair amount more than one cup. But this is just my experience at low doses. I would not recommend trying it because as I said before: There is a great amount of Risk involved in consuming high amounts of tropane alkaloids and the same is true of Brunfelsia and scopoletin. My point being, you are walking into uncharted territory and I have no way of telling you what could happen because these are both poisons in their own right!

I hope this post gives you a more in-depth understanding of the Nightshade plants, tropane alkaloids, and their effects on acetylcholine in our brain. I hope you find these plants as awesome and inspiring as I do, but at the same time I hope you approach them with respect as I do. While I do not encourage ingesting them to my audience, I can’t tell you not to because that would be somewhat hypocritical. But what I will say is please, please don’t be foolish by guessing at dosage or thinking you have balls by taking large amounts. These are dangerous compounds. Overdosing and dying is a very real risk. Or maybe worse than dying, permanent psychosis, brain damage, and vision impairment is always another plausible scenario. So if reading this isn’t enough for some of you crazy cats then just please be very, very careful!!

 

 

**taken from ‘Screaming Voices’ report of a belladonna user’s trip entry

Unholy Alliance: Taming The Devil’s Weed

Taming The Devil’s Weed

Securing an Unholy Alliance with Lady Datura

Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man’s character, give him power.”   – Abraham Lincoln

In 1968 Carlos Castaneda released The Teachings of Don Juan: A Yaqui Way of Knowledge detailing his apprenticeship with a powerful shaman from Mexico named Don Juan.* His apprenticeship consisted of utilizing three powerful psychotropic plants to stimulate his abilities into shamanism: 1.) Peyote 2.) PsylicyIMG_0219be mushrooms and 3.) Datura inoxia. Taming the Devil’s Weed is taming Datura inoxia. The most frightening and dangerous of these channels was of course the Dark Spirit of Datura. She was the elite form of power, but very few could handle Her power. Not only was She powerful, but She was also unpredictable. When one is dealing with intense forms of power such as The Devil’s Weed, You need to be able to predict your calculations. One wrong turn and She would turn unpredictable. Leaving you in the depths of madness… insanity.

Not only does She like to be unpredictable in her effects on the mind but She likes to be unpredictable in her alkaloid content as well. As you may have heard, the tropane concentration in the death-laced Solanaceae can be various in every respect. From plant to plant. From leaf to leaf. From age to weather condition. She truly has the upper hand in the relationship. She seems to decide herself which rule She wants to play by.

You may have to ask: How could She be beneficial at all to one’s work if She is so unruly and dangerous. The answer to this questDatura seedsion I believe lies in your ability to sense what the spirit of the plant thinks of you. Because although we see her having her way and say in all matters, imagine how that could work out if the spirit was extremely fond of you? Now we see it in a much more favorable light. She will then go out of her way to see that you have your way. She will destroy anyone standing in your way. That is the reward of gaining the spirit as an ally, She will make you a power to be reckoned with. You will have immense power through her.

This seems to be one of the pitfalls of her apprenticeship. Keeping your power from corrupting and owning you. When people gain power they lose control of themselves. This leads to instability, decay, and eventual self-annihilation. Power is easily subversive when you become arrogant and proud so you better be well aware of your own well-being if you want to keep those privileges with your Lady friend…

The Devil’s weed had to be experienced in a specific order to gain her abilities:

“The Devil’s Weed has four heads: 1. The Root, 2. the stem and leaves, 3. the flowers, and  4. the seeds. Each one of them is different and whoever becomes her ally must learn about them in that order. The most important head is in the roots. The power of the Devil’s Weed is conquered through the roots. The stem and leaves are the head that cures maladies; properly used, this head is a gift to mankind. The third head is the flowers, and it is used to turn people crazy, or to make them obedient, or to kill them. The man whose ally is the weed never intakes the flowers, nor does he intake the stem and leaves, for that matter, except in cases of his own illness; but the roots and the seeds are always intaken, especially the seeds; they are the fourth head of the devil’s weed and the most powerful of the four.”

Datura inoxia
Datura inoxia

There is a staggering amount of complex and specific instructions to follow when procuring favor with the Devil’s Weed. There was said to be no room for error when working with it. It would be a nerve-wracking feat to undertake. The strange thing about Castaneda’s undertaking was that he made a careless mistake applying the paste to his forehead when he was instructed to apply it to his temples. There was also a ritual he had to do involving lizards for divination, and he made some errors there as well. Don Juan was in amazement that Castaneda had even made it back to tell of these mistakes. She usually always destroys her proteges when they take a wrong turn. And this plays directly into her unpredictability as well as her fondness for Castaneda. Its like I said before, when the spirit favors you she will bend the rules around what she wants to happen, revealing the power and control within the spirit’s domain. Taming the Devil’s Weed would be no easy task…

*The book by Castaneda has been under criticism by academics and scholars. I will say that there is probably both true standing knowledge and application concerning the Devil’s Weed in this book, there could possibly be fictional information as well. So while I am aware, I don’t generally use this as a definitive reference. I cover this as one avenue. So little has been written on the subject but these plants have been utilized for a very long time…