( CNN) At 91, Queen Elizabeth II of England is the longest-serving monarch in British history, having celebrated 65 years on the throne this year. A glance at her calendar is like entering a Jane Austen novel — with a multitasking heroine. Her listing of duties includes attending dinners and jubilees, appointing officials to obscure high offices, and receiving and entertaining guests including assorted ambassadors, archbishops, pastors, generals, chiefs of state and various excellencies.
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Ayahuasca, known by various names by different indigenous groups in South America, is a generic word usually associated with preparations of the mildly psychoactive vine Banisteriopsis caapi . Ayahuasca literally translates from the Quechua language of the North Andes as soul vine or vine of the dead and “ve always been” consumed by indigenous communities such as the Aruk, Choc, Jvaro, Pano, and Tukano across the upper reaches of the Amazon River system in Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, and Peru.
Ayahuasca is most commonly consumed by indigenous communities in liquid form as part of shamanic rites designed to communicate with celestial supernatural forces-out or the spirits of the forest. The psychotropic effects of the drink are caused by three beta-carboline alkaloids: harmine, harmoline and tetrahydroharmine. Owing to their ability to intensify and prolong this psychotropic consequence, other natural substances such as tree barks and coca or tobacco leaves can also be combined with the vine.
People outside of indigenous groups may come across ayahuasca through a variety of more or less formal context such as new religion motions, enlightenment retreats, neo-shamanic workshops, self-discovery weekends and eco-lodges specialising in spiritual tourism. As with the recent death of Unais Gomes, who was killed while taking part in a shamanic ceremony in the Iquitos region of Peru, most of the fatalities linked with consuming ayahuasca are available in the unregulated and often ad hoc rituals of these latter scenarios.
A shaman performs a ritual therapy after drinking a beverage containing ayahuasca in Lima, Peru. Enrique Castro-Mendivil/ Reuters
Use of ayahuasca began to spread beyond traditional indigenous groups in the latter part of the 19 th century due to inter-marriage and contact with non-indigenous people working in the region.
The most common kind in which ayahuasca passed from indigenous to non-indigenous use was the combination of the vine Banisteriopsis caapi with the leaves of the shrub Psychotria viridis . The foliage of the P. viridis shrub contains the psychoactive agent N, N-Dimethyltryptamine, or DMT, which intensifies and prolongs the psychotropic effects of ayahuasca intake. The chemical structure of DMT resembles that of psilocybin, the compound found in psychedelic mushrooms.
Beyond the indigenous communities of the Upper Amazon Basin, ayahuasca is most popularly devoured in two kinds of ritual practices. The first is within the Brazilian ayahuasca religions of Barquinha, Santo Daime and A Unio do Vegetal. These religions have many of the formal attributes associated with mainstream traditional religions such as Christianity, Islam and Judaism for example the inclusion of prayers, songs and ritual disciplines.
Ayahuasca is also devoured within a variety of more or less formal contexts such as new religion motions, enlightenment retreats, neo-shamanic workshops, self-discovery weekends and eco-lodges specialising in spiritual tourism. As with the recent death of Unais Gomes in the Iquitos region of Peru, most of the fatalities linked with ayahuasca consumption are available in the unregulated and frequently ad hoc rites of these latter contexts.
The Consequences of the Brew
In its most common form, ayahuasca is a strong reeking brown liquid with a bitter savor. In addition to the age, quality, and type of plants use, the psychoactive effectivenes of ayahuasca differs relative to the environmental conditions in which they are grown, the ratio of their combining and the amount of processing they undergo. The size of dose and frequency of intake varies from one ritual context to another. Depending upon individual physiology, ayahuasca begins to make itself felt 20 or 30 minutes after first being ingested, with subsequent dosages increasing its psychotropic effects.
Most renowned for the visual imagery it renders, ayahuasca may also generate auditory and olfactory sensations. The earliest effects of the liquid tend to be a warming of the stomach followed by a spreading impression of physical relaxation and mental pacify. There is, though , no loss of vigor or alertness.
Weaker doses of ayahuasca produce a mild detachment from ones body and surrounds which lets a mental objectification and critical examination of the smallest of details, feelings and thoughts. Stronger different forms of the liquid promote the visual dread of irregular shapes, recurring and colourful geometric patterns, distorted and fleeting images, and out-of-body experiences or dream-like visions populated by the familiar and the fanciful.
Sounds may also be heard as aberrations of external stimulus or self-contained auditory experiences. Likewise, smell and savour may be affected to a more or less pleasant degree. Given its emetic qualities, ayahuasca consumption often induces vomiting and may also result in the involuntary evacuation of the bowels. While these effects may be moderated by practice and dietary regulations, their purgative nature is positively construed as an external physical manifestation of inner spiritual cleansing.
DMT is a proscribed substance in various parts of the world; for example it is categorised as a Class A drug in the UK and a Schedule I drug under UN conventions. Ayahuasca is often subject to many of the same regulations and sanctions as drugs such as heroin and cocaine. Nevertheless, the powerful forces of globalisation are spreading ayahuasca intake beyond its traditional geographical heartlands and this, in turn, is resulting in the legalisation or decriminalisation of ritual employ( but not production) in a growing number of countries( incuding Holland, Italy, Spain, and the United States ).
Ayahuasca is a psychoactive substance to be used with care and, like other psychotropics, should not be consumed by individuals with certain physical or psychological conditions.
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The desire to experience altered states of consciousness is something that has united virtually every human culture and civilization since the dawn of man. Yet we arent the only species to seek out mind-bending substances, and several animals have shown a similar propensity for drugs, whether for medicinal purposes or simply for the thrill of it.
In fact, legend has it that the story of Rudolph the red-nosed reindeer and his flying herd-mates originates in Siberia, where the highly hallucinogenic fly agaric mushroom grows in abundance. Containing the hallucinogenic compound muscimol, the red and white speckled toadstool can be toxic to humans, but is safely metabolized by reindeer.
The animals have often been seen acting high after ingesting the shrooms, giving birth to the notion of Santas flying reindeer. Some Siberian shamans are even said to drink the urine of these intoxicated creatures, as it provides a less toxic source of psilocybin.
The idea of Santa’s flying reindeer may be rooted in the animals’ tendency to get high on magic mushrooms.Shebeko/Shutterstock
Many animals also have a taste for alcohol, with boozy bees being a prime example. When the sugar in nectar is fermented by natural yeasts, it becomes intoxicating to the insects that collect it, causing bees to fall into a drunken stupor.
However, returning to the hive drunk is a major faux pas, and the workers guarding the entrance to the comb will often refuse entry to anyone trying to enter while under the influence.
Another animal that feeds on fermented nectar is the pen-tailed shrew. However, unlike bees, the shrew is able to metabolize this alcohol into ethyl glucuronide, which is then incorporated into its fur.
Vervet monkeys, meanwhile, developed a taste for booze after being transported to the Caribbean from Africa several centuries ago. The early arrivals regularly got completely trolleyed on fermented sugar cane, and recent studies found that most monkeys now prefer alcoholic solutions to sugary water when given the choice.
Aside from rum, Latin Americas other famous export is cocaine, which is produced by the Andean coca plant as a type of pesticide. Most insects die if they ingest it, although a caterpillar called Eloria noyesi is immune to the effects of cocaine, thanks to the fact that its dopamine transporters are resistant to the drugs effects.
The bug has therefore developed a taste for the coca leaf, and the Colombian government has in the past toyed with the idea of unleashing the caterpillar on illegal coca plantations.
And while cocaine may be one of the most addictive drugs of abuse known to man, the coca leaf also has some medicinal value. Chewing it helps to relieve altitude sickness, which is extremely useful in the high Andes. According to some legends, the leafs benefits were first discovered by ancient llama herders, after noticing that the animals became more mobile when chewing on the plant.
The coca leaf can help to alleviate altitude sickness.Yakov Oskanov/Shutterstock
Opioids are another highly addictive class of drugs, and are responsible for a huge number of overdose deaths every year. In Australia, wallabies have been known to act strangely after eating poppies the plant from which heroin is produced. A government official recently highlighted the issue in a parliamentary debate, explaining that the marsupials tend to get as high as a kite and wander around creating crop circles.
Therefore, while philosophers and anthropologists have tended to take the lead in the quest to understand the roots of mankinds ubiquitous fascination with altered states of consciousness, evolutionary biologists may actually be better equipped to solve this riddle. Given the number of different species that use drugs, its highly possible that the impulse to get out of our minds could be a product of our evolutionary heritage.Continue reading
From baked squash to a classic blackberry and apple pie, Observer Food Monthlys selection of the pick of the season Part 2 of this series launches tomorrow
eating pears 4 or 5, slightly under ripe
good red wine 1 bottle
Cut the pears in two, lengthwise, core and peel them and arrange the halves in the bottom of an earthenware or enamelled ironware terrine if they are to be cooked in the oven, Pyrex or porcelain will do as well. Wash the orange to remove any hint of insecticide or preservative, and shave a long spiral from the peel, keeping clear of the white, pithy material. Add it to the pears, sprinkle very lightly with cinnamon, add the sugar and the wine, bring to a boil, and leave, covered, to simmer for about 2 hours (with certain hard varieties of cooking pears, one may allow as much as 6 to 8 hours cooking time), or until they are coated in a thin syrup. Serve them chilled, accompanied by tuiles or other simple cookies.
From The French Menu Cookbook by Richard Olney (Collins, 14.99). Click here to order a copy from the Guardian Bookshop for 12.29
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Westchester Magazine (blog)
Start Living Green With This Zucchini Pasta and Shiitake Mushrooms Recipe
Westchester Magazine (blog)
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Consumers warming up to specialty mushrooms | Packer
North American consumers are increasingly interested in specialty varieties of mushrooms, with positive experiences at foodservice often leading to retail sales.
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Kids say the darndest things, as we all know by now. They are also prone to inadvertently drawing outrageously rude things, as we pointed out in a previous post. Turns that they give hilariously inappropriate greetings cards too!
From innocent, unfortunate spelling mistakes that turn something like word ‘whole’ into a startling insult, to brutally honest take-downs made with the sweetest of intentions, this list compiled by Bored Panda has it all.
Scroll down to check it out, and feel free to add your own funny kid’s cards in the comments!
USA Today 10Best (blog)
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USA Today 10Best (blog)
Coffee is a surprisingly versatile vessel for all sorts of wild food trends. You can marinate cheese in it. It can be served blended with grass-fed butter and coconut oil. And while you're making adventurous coffee choices, please consider sprinkling …
Greenwich Community Gardens will present âMushroom Log Cultivation Workshopâ on Saturday, Feb. 10 from 2:30 to 4 p.m., at Greenwich Land Trust, 370 Round Hill Rd. Learn about the ecological role of native fungi while building your own mushroom log that …