The use of chemical substances to enhance our lives is a notion that brings up taboo ideas of drug use. But using the properties of items that grow around us is a common feature of everyday living. Herbal medicine such as liquid zeolite, ellagic acid, fish oil and omega 3 are often used to enhance different aspects of our lives and improve our well being. This use of plants and natural flora to help us can also be seen in the indigenous cultures of the Australian and Canadian Aborigines, Native Americans, as well as African cultures. Nowadays, however, the idea of taking certain chemicals has grown to be taboo due to the effects on the mind they are proven to have. Can there be benefits to using these drugs? And should we be considering the safety of legal drugs that are commonly available? Let’s investigate these questions.
Many chemicals are added to drinks and foods for what are basically drug like qualities. The use of guarana in energy drinks, for example, is a well known chemical additive used to enhance the alertness and vitality levels of the drinker. While such drinks are quite legal, they are not recommended for young people or pregnant women, and doctors advise against having a large amount of these kinds of drinks, if at all.
Along with the natural chemicals in the drinks, they are also of course high in caffeine. This is an additive which has become incredibly commonplace. The fact is, of course, that drinking a large amount of coffee or energy drinks will create a reaction in the body that is highly similar to that given by speed or known toxic chemicals. The difference, of course, lies in the view our society has of such chemicals.
This taboo has not always been the case, however. While hallucinogenics are today seen as some of the most dangerous chemicals it is possible to take, the properties of natural drugs such as ayuhuasca and psilocybin mushrooms was commonly used in the shamanic rituals of indigenous peoples.
The idea of beginning use of hallucinogenic drugs to gain the wisdom held by indigenous peoples is a tempting one. But it needs to be remembered that psychedelics were taken by indigenous peoples as part of a wider relationship with nature, these were “local plants” just as animals were local food and everyday life was a local widescreen entertainment system. How can the life changing capabilities of psychedelics be fully realized within such an unnatural environment as the one we live in, beyond the momentary high?
The answer is that with any chemical, it cannot be thought that drugs will be the complete answer. It is only through a deeper understanding of ourselves and our relationship with the Earth that we can begin to explore deeper questions of what it is to be human, and how we can best use our limited time on this planet. The negative effects of all drugs can be easily seen in those who regularly take them, and it’s important to remember the dangers every kind of drug posses.