Psychoactive plants are plants, or preparations thereof, that upon ingestion induce psychotropic effects. As stated in a reference work:
Several hundred psychoactive plants are known. Some important examples of psychoactive plants include Coffea arabica (coffee), Camellia sinensis (tea), Nicotiana tabacum (tobacco), and Cannabis (including hashish).
Psychoactive plants have been used ritually (e.g., peyote as an entheogen), medicinally (e.g., opium as an analgesic), and recreationally (e.g., cannabis as a drug) for thousands of years. Hence, the sociocultural and economic significance of psychoactive plants is enormous.
Examples of psychoactive plants
In the table below, a few examples of significant psychoactive plants and their effects are shown. For further examples, see List of psychoactive plants.
|Plant||Common preparation||Main active constituent||Psychoactive effects|
|Coffea arabica||coffee||caffeine||stimulant, temporarily warding off drowsiness and restoring alertness|
|Nicotiana tabacum||tobacco||nicotine||stimulant, relaxant|
|Cannabis sativa||marijuana, hashish||tetrahydrocannabinol||euphoria, relaxation, and increase in appetite|
|Erythroxylum coca||coca||cocaine||stimulant, appetite suppressant|
|Papaver somniferum||opium||morphine||analgesia, sedation, euphoria|
In the plant kingdom (Plantae), almost all psychoactive plants are found within the flowering plants (angiosperms). There are many examples of psychoactive fungi, but fungi are not part of the plant kingdom. Some important plant families containing psychoactive species are listed below. The listed species are examples only, and a family may contain more psychoactive species than listed.
- Solanaceae (nightshades)
The active constituents of the majority of psychoactive plants fall within the alkaloids (e.g., nicotine, morphine, cocaine, mescaline, caffeine, ephedrine), a class of nitrogen-containing natural products. Examples of psychoactive compounds of plant origin that do not contain nitrogen are tetrahydrocannabinol (a phytocannabinoid from Cannabis sativa) and salvinorin A (a diterpenoid from Salvia divinorum).
- Rätsch, Christian (2004). The Encyclopedia of Psychoactive Plants: Ethnopharmacology and Its Applications. Park Street Press, U.S. ISBN 978-0892819782.
- Schultes, Richard Evans (2001). Plants of the Gods: Their Sacred, Healing, and Hallucinogenic Powers. Rochester, Vermont: Healing Arts Press. ISBN 978-089281979-9.