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Psychoactive Plants Bibliography

There are at least 400 species of psychoactive plants.

Note: book cover sizes in the list below are shown relative to each other. The list is organized by primary author. Some out-of-copyright books are available free at the supplied links.

Plants and the Human Brain

Author(s): Kennedy, David O.

Publisher: Oxford University Press, 2014

ISBN: 978-0199914012

View at: Amazon

Comments: This is an amazing book, a scholarly masterpiece. Kennedy sifts through a huge volume of data on the biochemicals created by plants that influence the operation of our brains. He covers a wide spectrum of drugs, including hallucinogens, cannabs, nicotine, opioids, and caffeine. The writing is dense and quite technical, but lucid. It helps to have a backgroud in biology and neuroology, but it isn't mandatory. 379 pages.

This is Your Mind on Plants

Author(s): Pollan, Michael

Publisher: Penquin Press, New York, 2021

ISBN: 978-0593243787

View at: Barnes & Noble, or Amazon

Comments: Micahel Pollan has written many thought-provoking and highly readable books about botanical subjects. From the book’s summary: “... Pollan dives deep into three plant drugs—opium, caffeine, and mescaline—and throws the fundamental strangeness and arbitrariness of our thinking about them into sharp relief.” He examines the cultural implications of these drugs, interwoven through human history.

How to Change Your Mind: What the New Science of Psychedelics Teaches Us About Consciousness, Dying, Addiction, Depression, and Transcendance

Author(s): Pollan, Michael

Publisher: Penquin Books, 2019

ISBN: 978-0735224155

View at: Amazon

Comments: Michael Pollan, author of several well-regarded and readable books on botantical subjects, set his sights this time on psilocybin (a genera of psychoactive mushrooms), and LSD, a psychoactive drug first synthesized by accident. With the gradual relaxation of laws demonizing these drugs has come a flood of new or revived interest in examining their potential benefits. Pollan describes completed or ongoing studies showing encouraging results for those suffering from depression, anxiety, addiction, or coping with end of life challenges. He also describes how some researchers believe these drugs may return our minds to the neuroplasticity of childhood, perhaps contributing to creativity or new understanding. He describes his own experiences with these drugs. I found this a fascinating read. 464 pages.

The Encyclopedia of Psychoactive Plants: Ethnopharmacology and its Applications

Author(s): Rätsch, Cristian

Publisher: Park Street Press, 1998

ISBN: 978-0892819782

View at: Barnes & Noble, or Amazon

Comments: Amazing. You can almost count on one hand the number of botanical books that are absolutely authoritative about their subject area, and this is one of them. There are some 400 species of psychoactive plants, not the 25 or so that I might have guessed. This volume describes their identification, native uses, distribution, psychoactive ingredients, preparation and dosage, etc., with comprehensive thoroughness and extensive photographs and illustrations. In addition to covering its subject matter well, this book is a masterpiece of graphic design, one of the most beautiful books I have ever seen. Descriptions are readable for amateurs, but detailed enough to appeal to pros as well. If the subject interests you, this is the book to have. 942 pages.


The Drunken Botanist

Author(s): Stewart, Amy

Publisher: Algonquin Books, 2013

ISBN: 978-1616200466

View at: Amazon

Comments: When you actually know about the botanical cornucopia of ingredients that go into mixed drinks, you have a whole new appreciation of plants. And a sense that we have just scratched the surface, exploring the potential of plants for medicine, food value, structural materials, or simply a bit of indulgence. This book contains recipes and a look at their botanical background. 400 pages.

Dangerous Garden: the Quest for Plants to Change Our Lives

Author(s): Stuart, David

Publisher: Harvard University Press, 2004

ISBN: 978-0674011045

View at: Barnes & Noble, or Amazon

Comments: If you are curious about the ways in which plants have been used, both successfully and catastrophically, for medicinal or recreational purposes, you'll really enjoy this book. Paradoxically, the most toxic plants are among the first to attract attention for medical experimentation, among both quacks and serious researchers. This book is richly illustrated and very well written. It is not a guide to identification.

The North American Guide to Common Poisonous Plants and Mushrooms

Author(s): Turner, Nancy J.; von Aderkas, Patrick

Publisher: Timber Press, 2010

ISBN: 978-0881929294

View at: Amazon

Comments: It isn't often when an academic treatise is approachable enough to read from cover to cover, but I found that to be the case here. The authors cover mushrooms in detail, as well as other plants. They include coverage for some molds, some toxic algae, lichens, ferns—about 300 species in all. Descriptions for identifying these species are thorough, often accompanied by photos. They also describe symptoms, toxic agents, and treatment protocols. The discussion encompasses not only human poisoning, but plants that are toxic to pets and livestock. This is a very useful addition to any forager's library, as well as a helpful tool to those who treat victims of poisoning. 375 pages.

North America