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Drugs from Mother Nature’s laboratory

Cannabis plant marijuana (Fotolia/Opra)

Not chemists, but nature itself produces the most dangerous substances. Flowers, seeds, and leaves contain the most intoxicating substances – and sometimes the deadliest. Hands off!

Cannabis plant marijuana (Fotolia/Opra)

Drug-added crop

The hemp plant contains psychoactive tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). It induces euphoria, relaxes, and can also relieve pain. The flowers and leaves close to the flowers of the unfertilized female plant contain a particularly large amount of THC. It is mainly used to make hash. There are also types of hemp that do not contain THC. They are used to make fibers, for example.

Opium poppy (picture alliance/dpa/D.Ramik)

Formerly a sleep aid for children

Its name reveals what it was used for in ancient times: the opium poppy. The immature seed pods of the plant are scratched. When the milky sap runs out and dries, raw opium is formed. The brown-black mass contains, among other things, morphine, the strongest painkiller there is. The chemical after-treatment of opium yields semi-synthetic heroin.

Brown-grey roof fungus (picture alliance/dpa/Wildlife)

Would you like a magic mushroom?

Mushrooms are true chemistry artists – no wonder some species also produce psychoactive substances. For example, this gray roof fungus (Pluteus salacious), is a toadstool. He makes psilobycin. The substance causes visual hallucinations that resemble LSD intoxication. Side effects include nausea, panic attacks, and psychosis.

Chewing a coca leaf (Reuters)

Drug snacks for on the go

The leaves of the coca bush contain chemical compounds related to cocaine. They calm pain and have a stimulating effect. Chewing coca leaves is common in many Latin American countries. Fermentation, drying, and chemical processing ultimately result in cocaine.

Angel's trumpet (picture alliance/dpa)

Pretty toxic flowers

Angel’s trumpets are beautiful to look at – but they are poisonous. All parts of the plant contain alkaloids, chemical compounds with powerful effects on the human body. If the plant is eaten or smoked, the heart rate increases, and hallucinations occur. As with all natural drugs, the active ingredient is difficult to dose – therefore fatal accidents are not uncommon.

Atropa belladonna deadly nightshade (picture alliance/Arco Images)

Great cherry

Deadly nightshade also contains toxic alkaloids, especially atropine. It makes the heart beat faster and dilates the pupils. The substance is used in cardiac arrest to resuscitate the patient. Intoxication occurs at high concentrations – but then there are already life-threatening side effects.

Datura inoxia, Datura inoxia, toloache, thornapple (picture-alliance/blickwinkel/R. Koenig)

Horror trip with Datura

The poisonous datura also appears on the Internet as a natural drug: it triggers particularly pronounced hallucinations. According to reports, it should come to a total loss of reality. Not only the poisonous effect itself is dangerous, but also the increased risk of accidents in such uncontrollable conditions.

Silver morning glory, baby woodrose, wood rose, Hawaiian baby woodrose, Argyreia nervosa, Hawaiian baby woodrose, elephant creeper, wooly morning glory (picture-alliance/blickwinkel/R. Koenig)

Hawaiian babies

Contrary to its name, the Hawaiian baby Woodrose comes from Asia. The seeds of the climbing plant contain the LSD-like active ingredient ergin. It triggers colorful visions and euphoria, but also nausea, tingling, and psychosis. Overdoses happen quickly because just one seed is hallucinogenic. In professional circles, the natural drug is also called Hawaiian Babies.

Peyote cactus (picture-alliance/WILDLIFE)

Ecstasy through cactus

The peyote cactus of Central America is loaded with mescaline, a substance covered by the Narcotics Act. It triggers states of intoxication, ecstasy, and feelings of happiness. For this, the cactus is cut into thin slices and eaten or boiled as tea. The rare cactus species is now listed as endangered on the Red List.

Nutmeg (picture alliance/CTK/R. Pavel)

Look harmless, but…

Nutmeg can also act as an intoxicant in large quantities because it contains myristicin, which triggers hallucinations. But don’t worry: If you only use nutmeg as a spice, you will never reach the intoxicating dosage. Wouldn’t be recommended either, because it’s said to cause headaches, vomiting, and diarrhea.

Mitragyna speciosa (picture-alliance/Arco Images/Sunbird Images)

Are these leaves supposed to be psychoactive?

Yes, they are. The kratom tree of Southeast Asia incorporates the intoxicating mitragynine into its leaves. They can be chewed, smoked, and drunk as tea. The indigenous people of Thailand used the leaves to treat diarrhea. Drug cocktails can also be made from it.

Tobacco plant (picture alliance/ZB)

This plant kills millions of people every year

The tobacco plant also produces and stores toxic and addictive chemicals in its leaves: nicotine and other alkaloids. With the poison cocktail, the plant defends itself against animals that want to eat it. Dried and smoked, the ingredients pass into humans – along with many carcinogenic substances that are produced when the tobacco is burned.

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