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New mescaline concentrations from 14 taxa/cultivars of Echinopsis spp. (Cactaceae) ("San Pedro") and their relevance to shamanic practice.

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Found this article, not sure if it's already been posted. Pretty interesting read, especially that several varieties/cultivars of pachanoi had the highest concentrations of mescaline of all species/cultivars tested.

Here's the abstract:

New mescaline concentrations from 14 taxa/cultivars of Echinopsis spp. (Cactaceae) ("San Pedro") and their relevance to shamanic practice.

Ogunbodede O, McCombs D, Trout K, Daley P, Terry M.

Sul Ross State University, Department of Biology, Alpine, TX 79832, USA.

Abstract

AIM OF THE STUDY: The aim of the present study is to determine in a procedurally uniform manner the mescaline concentrations in stem tissue of 14 taxa/cultivars of the subgenus Trichocereus of the genus Echinopsis (Cactaceae) and to evaluate the relationship (if any) between mescaline concentration and actual shamanic use of these plants.

MATERIALS AND METHODS: Columnar cacti of the genus Echinopsis, some of which are used for diagnostic and therapeutic purposes by South American shamans in traditional medicine, were selected for analysis because they were vegetative clones of plants of documented geographic origin and/or because they were known to be used by practitioners of shamanism. Mescaline content of the cortical stem chlorenchyma of each cactus was determined by Soxhlet extraction with methanol, followed by acid-base extraction with water and dichloromethane, and high-pressure liquid chromatography (HPLC).

RESULTS: By virtue of the consistent analytical procedures used, comparable alkaloid concentrations were obtained that facilitated the ranking of the various selected species and cultivars of Echinopsis, all of which exhibited positive mescaline contents. The range of mescaline concentrations across the 14 taxa/cultivars spanned two orders of magnitude, from 0.053% to 4.7% by dry weight.

CONCLUSIONS: The mescaline concentrations reported here largely support the hypothesis that plants with the highest mescaline concentrations - particularly E. pachanoi from Peru - are most associated with documented shamanic use.

J_Ethnopharmacology-2010-131_356-362.pdf

Edit: another interesting point I found in the article was the confirmation that T. santaensis is active. Also interesting that T. scopulicola ranked as the 4th highest mescaline bearing cactus that was tested and that while the T. peruvianus they tested was a "KK242", it clearly was not a T. peruvianus var. cuzcoensis.

It should be kept in mind that only a single plant of each species/cultivar was tested, so the results are not without flaw.

J_Ethnopharmacology-2010-131_356-362.pdf

Edited by tripsis
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For those confused by the seemingly abnormal numbers it helps to know that 'chlorophyllaceous parenchyma' is scientist for the green bits, just the green bits, no white flesh or core.

The two real shames are that there were so few E. lageniformis ascessions tested, and that there were no E. terscheckii tested.

The variability in E. pachanoi makes me happy looking at my seed grown long-spines :)

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worship.gif thanks this is new to me. might print that off actually.

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01b.jpg

Photo showing this plant (Matucana Pachanoi) (2nd from right)

with 4 other cacti employed by Peruvian shamans as "San Pedro".

:o

Look at how black that one is! No wonder it was so strong.

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I took another look at this study and think it suffers from some serious flaws:

--Only single specimens of the accessions were studied, this means that we cannot extrapolate anything really meaningful from it, in particular when you realize that the only study i am aware of that checked multiple specimens found a 22-fold difference in what was reported as a single species. this means that such variation may occur within species, so while this study has some value in terms of clones it is nearly worthless in terms of species, for example if only one specimen were studied of T scopulicolus it is both premature and perhaps foolish to take the result as indicating the typical or usual recovery for that species, the study itself acknowledged this flaw, a flaw that totally undermines the goal of the study

--The goal of the study was to see if mescaline concentration could be correlated with Shamanic use and it assumes that it substantiated the hypothesis that increased mescaline content was found among forms/taxa known to be used, however among the highest scoring plants includes T scopulicolus, which has no history of use, more than that there is a strong indication of variance among populations, something which undermines any conclusions, the author neglects to mention that this result contradicts both the hypothesis and conclusion of the study.

--Seasonal variation was not considered, this was mentioned, but additionally environmental aspects such as feeding regime, fertilizer type, root biomass (relevant to metabolism) etc were also totally absent from the study, also absent is a consideration of the establishment of the plants in terms of the size of the plants, a clear correlation between phenotypic factors and size is well known in these plants and this again has the capacity to undermine the legitimacy of the study

While i feel this study is a step in the right direction, it suffers from flaws so serious that they undermine it almost entirely. How can this be inferred as providing meaningful data or being a sound basis for making inferences for or against the hypothesis? While the study is of virtually no use to those who have an active interest in the plants, including shamanic practitioners, it does have the capacity to be used to persecute collectors and growers of forms of these plants, which until this study had no published information about several of the forms and species it provides limited information about. In terms of the community it has more capacity to do harm than it does to help, combined with the flaws of the study it seems unfortunate to have been published at all. :BANGHEAD2:

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Aside:

What are those 5 species of cactus there? From the left:

1) Looks Trichocereus, peruvianoid?

2) ??? What on earth!?

3) Trichocereus pachanoid I think

4) Trichocereus pachanoi, but why is it so dark?

5) ??? Ribs look thinner than trichocereus. I'd say it looks more Cereus than Trichocereus.

Edit: I have searched for ages for what they might be.

#2 could be a Cleistocactus of some kind. The shape and spines look similar to plants like these:

http://cactiguide.com/cactus/?genus=Cleistocactus&species=plagiostoma

http://cactiguide.com/cactus/?genus=Cleistocactus&species=fieldianus

#5 I thought might be an emaciated peruvianus. But I don't think the new-growth spines are the right colour.

Could someone knowledgeable please put me out of my misery and identify them. :P

I agree that the scope of the study was narrow, and essentially they ignored all prior research showing significant variations in alkaloid content. Maybe a solution would be one greenhouse growing all the plants from seed or tiny cuttings (i.e. plan to do the study 5 years before doing it). I also have known plants that have large variation within the plant itself. One such plant was growing next to a deck, and grew limbs under the deck that increased their chlorophyll content markedly, and subjectively the other content as well. I also think that the literature regarding shamanic use is not as reliable as it could be. It seems to me that this study was more of an exercise in analytical chemistry than anything else. :)

Edited by bluntmuffin

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it does have the capacity to be used to persecute collectors and growers of forms of these plants, which until this study had no published information about several of the forms and species it provides limited information about. In terms of the community it has more capacity to do harm than it does to help, combined with the flaws of the study it seems unfortunate to have been published at all. :BANGHEAD2:

--The goal of the study was to see if mescaline concentration could be correlated with Shamanic use and it assumes that it substantiated the hypothesis that increased mescaline content was found among forms/taxa known to be used, however among the highest scoring plants includes T scopulicolus, which has no history of use, more than that there is a strong indication of variance among populations, something which undermines any conclusions, the author neglects to mention that this result contradicts both the hypothesis and conclusion of the study.

 

It does not have the capacity to persecute anybody.

It is nongovernmental research. It has no official status.

You can not take any published unofficial info, and persecute anybody, it has no legal status for that.

For example-

I could tomorrow publish in internet an article about that lawn grass contains psychoactive alkaloides,

and then anybody can be persecuted for growing lawn grass?

T. Scopulicolus is Bolivian origin, it does not occur in Peru,

so it has no relevance to Shamanic use, because in Boliva there are no shamans which use cacties in their practice.

And T. scpulicola is rare even in Bolivia, I can not find any picture in its native habitat.

Edited by BBGONE

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It does not have the capacity to persecute anybody.

It is nongovernmental research. It has no official status.

You can not take any published unofficial info, and persecute anybody, it has no legal status for that.

 

you are totally wrong about that at least in regard to the United States

a fine example of this is Sasha Shulgins work, it has become the basis of many anti-drug laws here

I wish you were correct, but it does not have to be government research to be used in a court of law here in the USA, nor does it need to be government research to be used in legislation.

Official status has nothing to do with it here, maybe in Europe it is different.

As for publishing online, that has been used against people to, even this forum is known to be watched by law enforcement

however peer reviewed journals are treated differently here (in the USA) than online publications are

if a publication demonstrates that a specific taxa contains a controlled substance, then it can be used to incriminate and persecute people

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if a publication demonstrates that a specific taxa contains a controlled substance, then it can be used to incriminate and persecute people

 

To where the world goes :BANGHEAD2:

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The article came up once before here. Clearly there are some issues with the study. Unfortunately these numbers are going to end up being repeated in perpetuity with little mention of the studies protocols and areas of concern, of which there are many (I think I addressed these more in another forum).

bluntmuffin, be sure to click the link for those five plants' names.

T. Scopulicolus is Bolivian origin, it does not occur in Peru,

so it has no relevance to Shamanic use, because in Boliva there are no shamans which use cacties in their practice.

And T. scpulicola is rare even in Bolivia, I can not find any picture in its native habitat.

 

BBGONE, there is quite clearly a use of at least Trichocereus bridgesii in Bolivia, unless the plants in the witches markets, sold among the shamanic tricks of the trade, are there purely for the gringos...something I doubt, though I still think they probably sell a few to them. But you are right about the lack of pictures of T. scopulicola in Bolivia, in fact the only photos of the species I am familiar with, outside of Ritter's work I think, are from Chile, and likely cultivated (see the torrent of the photos I've collected). But just because photos are lacking doesn't mean that the species is rare, only that many people don't find their way to the habitat, or else they get there and just don't take photos. I just suspect the area is remote and there isn't much reason for either the prospector or tourists with cameras to be there for.

~Michael~

Edited by M S Smith

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see the torrent of the photos I've collected

 

I often use them for reference, and downloaded himself a bunch of them.

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Something to keep in mind on Ogunbodede's work is he had limitations placed on him. He was working on a degree in botany not chemistry.

He was not permitted to look at anything lacking some sort of collection data linking it to a wild population (Juuls was approved anyway based on its resemblance to known plants in Peru and also the two bridgesiis due to some claims surrounding those two clones) AND he was required to both work with, acquire and submit clones as living voucher material for anything he looked at AND it had him only assaying for one molecule to stay narrowly constrained within the topic of his thesis.

That is a heck of a combo in terms of limiting the data pool a bit.

I believe that those 5 san pedros should be viewed with some reservations I had that picture for several years before posting it. The person taking it has proved to be dishonest about a variety of things including identities of materials he sold and I reached the conclusion that anything he said should be viewed with at least some distrust. I almost did not post that picture for this reason. While he said some things that were true so much was not it was an uncomfortable post for me and I would suggest distrust of anything we can't find out more concerning. I'm not sure this was not constructed and fed to the person I initially got it from based on what he read in the literature available to him in Peru and what he could locate (ie Wade Davis and Caycho Jimenez). It would not be the first instance of someone being told what they wanted to hear. There were additional photos of cacti beyond those five cuttings. One I'm now convinced is either a hoax attempt or an instance of what I just mentioned. Maybe I'm growing too cynical.

There were more peruvianus that could be looked at but the time available for a student's project is limited so those and yet other cacti, including the two odd ones in that 5 san pedro photo, were not examined. This was simply a student's master's thesis paper not a dissertation or an open ended large research project so he needed only to write a paper that was acceptable enough to enable him to graduate. Some people might not understand the difference between what is attempted in a master's thesis compared to a doctoral dissertation? It would be nice if some DOCTORAL candidate started looking into the comparatie biochemistry of cacti looking at alkaloid composition profiles not just simple concentrations.

People can be as critical as they like about what it did not look at or care about but I'd suggest it would be better for any of those critics to actually do something themselves in this area rather than expect someone else to do what they want to see.

The claim is that the bridgesii in Bolivian witches markets are there entirely for sale to gringos. I've heard this from so many people now who have actually spent time in Bolivia that I have to believe it (some who are there looking for new food crops but others are professional anthropologists and botanists). One thing thoroughly supporting it is the existence of multiple witches markets only some of which are on the tourist trails. The ones that are off the beaten path were claimed to consistently lack bridgesii cuttings. Some years ago Miguel Kavlin tried to determine if there was use of bridgesii in Bolivia (he is Bolivian) and could find no evidence for it despite the common knowledge of it causing a type of drunkenness. He published an account of that and his work in Shaman's Drum some years back.

There does appear to be some use of taquimbalensis in one region of the Bolivian countryside. Whether it is a recent or older practice I do not yet know.

I do though need to visit here more often as a huge host of questions we all have had for years and which I see people are still discussing in assorted threads - all of which have been answered since last summer.

Edited by trucha
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People can be as critical as they like about what it did not look at or care about but I'd suggest it would be better for any of those critics to actually do something themselves in this area rather than expect someone else to do what they want to see.

good point.

i must admit that one of the most valuable criticisms in this area is that the work can be used against collectors and enthusiasts, to actually do what is preferable in this situation is to either silence and prevent the publication of information in a format that can be used against people, or to change the political climate regarding these matters in general

It is hard to get funding for a thorough study of these cacti, there is no way an individual can facilitate a meaningful study in an independent way

I do though need to visit here more often as a huge host of questions we all have had for years and which I see people are still discussing in assorted threads - all of which have been answered since last summer.

 

that sounds like it would be nice

I'd like to learn more about why in this study Juuls Giant was shown to contain Mescaline, but that plants from the same source have been negative (as well as positive) in bioassay, and why the GCMS data shows variations in material bearing that name.

I wish i had more data for the study, such as time between acquisition of the material and the tests, time of year or season, and time of day, that samples were taken etc, i feel that the individual who did the study has the capacity to provide data that can make the content of the study more meaningful. Once the damage of publication is done for a species, so to speak, then it seems that further study can do no more harm, but can be of interest.

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scopulicola is believed to be gone from Bolivia. Extirpated might be a better word than gone?

As far as I can determine what is in horticulture came via Ritter's FR991 seeds (or plants descended from them which are now self seeding as is the case in Oz) anytime anything is known about its origin by the grower. Or at least that is so far a consistent result I've encountered. I'm not saying I don't know is not the MOST common answer.

How many plants and how many populations FR991 seeds were harvested from by Ritter for commercial distribution through his sister or Carault de Riviere we may never know.

Prior to Hunt's Lexicon coming out scopulicola was specifically searched for by Taylor and others without any success. More recently our mutual friends looking for new food crops had the same results when visiting the type locality.

The most plausible proposal is likely that it went the way of the type population for Matucana madisoniorum (or at least as that fate was surmised by Paul Hutchinson when he tried to revisit that place a second time). Namely PH concluded that the entire population had been eaten by the goats that he noticed had become abundant in its former habitat (this comment is included in his field notes).

Can't ask the goats about it of course but if goats are present and cacti are missing (as is the case also for scop) its reasonable to suspect the goats. All they would have to do to be thorough would be to eat seedlings for a few years as they came up.

This is a common problem even in California if goats can access trichs. A close friend experienced sheer devastation of his previously thriving bridgesii patch when his goats discovered them.

I had deer eat mine - spines and all (not even passing up the peruvianus) - go figure.

Edited by trucha
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I think the answer on Juuls will prove to be simple once it is ever studied. One of the variants is easy but the other three assays are perplexing if viewed together.

Its not possible to sort out what was published as too many variables exist. However, it would be simple to duplicate it and see if the results were the same.

It IS for certain there are two different things circulating as Juuls Giant. One came from Juul's via Cactus Gems (the old one not the new one) and the other was said to come directly from Juuls but I'm beginning to wonder if the latter is not just something similar that was perhaps snatched from over his fence as there was something else similar present in his garden. Too bad about That place and the Juuls mother of course. Its likely under a new condo already.

Some friends were going to try and do a salvage prior to the construction occurring and I hope they succeeded.

Edited by trucha

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Edited by trucha

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Yes and no on the power of an individual.

I lack resources to do much of anything, sometimes lack the energy and yet I somehow manage to produce something and try to never miss an opportunity to share thoughts and ideas with people who I think are in a position to do something with them. Why should anyone else be different?

I'd suggest everyone out there has more power to contribute something positive to the world than they often believe.

As for research funding, that is certainly everyone's problem.

If though something is really what people WANT to see I'd suggest that resources always materialize to make it real. Its worth noting that the organization Cactus Conservation Institute has always operated entirely with unpaid volunteer labor and PUBLIC funding of the physical costs for their projects. People appreciate what they are doing which permits them to keep doing it. Its a really simple equation.

In instances when funding is required in order for something to exist, yet it does not exist its important to ask the questions why it does not and if it indicates the project is something other people have no interest in or perhaps is not worth doing. It seems important to both ask those questions and listen to the answers. To me it appears what is deemed important by the public can in fact find support to become real and does.

Dennis McKenna is proposing an interesting project to detail the life of Terence and him growing up together discovering the world they went on to write so much about. There is a kickstarter webpage garnering public support for this potential project to be titled Brotherhood of the Screaming Abyss. Support is growing fast but he still has a long way to go and less than two months to accomplish it. http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1862402066/the-brotherhood-of-the-screaming-abyss. Dennis in so many ways is like those old shamans or botanists or explorers we usually read about after something happens to them. Like Schultes and Sasha and so many others, what is still in their head as they get older and eventually die goes with them unless that living library has been recorded somehow in some form of recording media like writing or film, or the memory of another individual as would be more traditional. I for one sure hope Dennis gets a chance to share whatever he is able to create.

Archaea -- email me with a list of specific questions you have on those assays and I'll see how much of that data exists.

I'd add that you've proposed some suggestions to me that would have you making positive contributions to things YOU want to see happen. Things like that should never be underestimated in terms of their potential power to create something both real and larger than us.

Edited by trucha
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Thanks for the plant IDs Michael. :)

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As for research funding, that is certainly everyone's problem.

If though something is really what people WANT to see I'd suggest that resources always materialize to make it real. Its worth noting that the organization Cactus Conservation Institute has always operated entirely with unpaid volunteer labor and PUBLIC funding of the physical costs for

I'd suggest for a funding (crowdfunding http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Crowd_funding) to create projects on sites

like

http://www.indiegogo.com/

http://www.kickstarter.com/

http://peerbackers.com/

https://www.profounder.com/

Creating project is free,

just publish some info (state the goal) on them and some pictures, place some references on your project funding on different sites.

Many would be glad to help (i suppose)

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Thanks for that last suggestion, I had the same thought as your comments when I saw Dennis' blog a couple of days ago. This approach is really nice in that the public decides what has value to them.

It would be nice to see Sacred Cacti come back into print

Edited by trucha

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KT, lots of great info, especially about the use of T. bridgesii in Bolivia, the state of T. scopulicola, and the possible use of T. taquimbalensis (tacaquirensis/werdermannianus).

I'm extremely curious about your ideas regarding the two apparent types of T. scoipulicola, the normal short spined form and the longer spined form. Here's my longer spined form which came to me as FR991. I've often wondered if the standard short spined form was the real 991 and the number just got attached to the longer spined form since it looked to be T. scopulicola.

Here's my long spined FR991...

post-19-0-10846800-1302362014_thumb.jpg

Here's a couple other shots I've found that you might appreciate. I'll post them here cause I'm sure you will come around to see them...

This is a plant in Cochabamaba, Bolivia. It looks a lot like those other plants from the same area I pointed out to you some time ago.

post-19-0-23161600-1302362837_thumb.jpg

Here's another interesting picture. It is clippings in La Paz, presumably for sale, though both the dehydration and new growth would seem to indicate that no one is buying. What is interesting about this shot is that the plants, particularly the new growth, look identical to PC limbs I've neglected myself, and less like T. bridgesii, particularly in there being no apparent spines. I was thinking they could have been removed, but I doubt removing them could be done so nicely.

post-19-0-52260500-1302363018_thumb.jpg

~Michael~

post-19-0-10846800-1302362014_thumb.jpg

post-19-0-23161600-1302362837_thumb.jpg

post-19-0-52260500-1302363018_thumb.jpg

Edited by M S Smith

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I'm extremely curious about your ideas regarding the two apparent types of T. scoipulicola, the normal short spined form and the longer spined form. Here's my longer spined form which came to me as FR991. I've often wondered if the standard short spined form was the real 991 and the number just got attached to the longer spined form since it looked to be T. scopulicola.

~Michael~

 

I think that long spined form is some hybride of T. Scopulicola (maybe with pachanoi)

because i recently bought some seedlings from collector in Berlin,

he sended me his mother plant picture.

post-7381-0-35436600-1302364829_thumb.jp

he said that it is 50 years old.

So it seems he grown them from authentic Ritter seeds.

This plant has no spines when mature, and the seedligs have short spines (as was described by Ritter).

post-7381-0-35436600-1302364829_thumb.jpg

Edited by BBGONE

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while there is a belief that the appearance of bridgesii in markets in Bolivia is for the tourists

I read that Dickison 1978 (TN3B page 28) found it being sold as San Pedro in Bolivian herb markets

I read Murples comments on another forum many years ago that when he took cuttings from clearly harvested plants he was told by locals something like: "make sure you leave some for us"

I am interested in working on projects and studies and trying to change the political climate regarding these things as well.

Bodes work is a good start in many ways, I was not aware that it was a graduate thesis. I'd like to see more in depth work and have no problem doing it myself if the opportunity arises or can be created. I think we will see that his thesis is only partially correct, that there is less variation and more emphasis upon activity in populations cultivated for shamanic use, but i believe that variation is likely to exist among populations, which are not used in a traditional sense. Also I am aware of many known active forms of cacti, like the pachanot, being grown and harvested/extracted and being totally inactive and providing zero recoverable alkaloid, clearly in some contexts and situations a plant with known activity can be utterly inactive, this may well be the case with Juuls giant. If there is some distinction regarding the clones/forms then i'd expect to see viable seed, i am not convinced that the different forms identified as chemically distinct by Shulgin are genetically distinct, they may well be the same form with some somatic mutation or environmental difference.

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