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Encyclopedia Of Psychoactive Plants [Hardcover]

Christian Ratsch
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
List Price: CDN$ 175.00
Price: CDN$ 109.72 & FREE Shipping. Details
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Book Description

Aug. 30 2004
The most comprehensive guide to the botany, history, distribution, and cultivation of all known psychoactive plants.

• Examines 414 psychoactive plants and related substances.

• Explores how using psychoactive plants in a culturally sanctioned context can produce important insights into the nature of reality.

• Contains 800 color photographs and 670 black-and-white illustrations.

In the traditions of every culture, plants have been highly valued for their nourishing, healing, and transformative properties. The most powerful plants--those known to transport the human mind into other dimensions of consciousness--have traditionally been regarded as sacred. In The Encyclopedia of Psychoactive Plants Christian Ratsch details the botany, history, distribution, cultivation, and preparation and dosage of more than 400 psychoactive plants. He discusses their ritual and medicinal usage, cultural artifacts made from these plants, and works of art that either represent or have been inspired by them. The author begins with 168 of the most well-known psychoactives--such as cannabis, datura, and papaver--then presents 133 lesser known substances as well as additional plants known as "legal highs," plants known only from mythological contexts and literature, and plant products that include substances such as ayahuasca, incense, and soma. The text is lavishly illustrated with 800 color photographs--many of which are from the author's extensive fieldwork around the world--showing the people, ceremonies, and art related to the ritual use of the world's sacred psychoactives.


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Encyclopedia Of Psychoactive Plants + Psilocybin Mushrooms of the World: An Identification Guide
Price For Both: CDN$ 134.76


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Review

“. . . this superb academic reference is the first comprehensive work devoted to psychoactive plants. Ratsch, an anthropologist, ethnopharmacologist, . . . includes more than 400 traditional and modern substances that ‘affect the mind or alter the state of consciousness’. . . .Each major monograph contains the plant’s scientific and common names, chemical structure, history, distribution, cultivation, appearance, preparation and dosage, ritual and medicinal uses, commercial forms and regulations, and effects, as well as research literature references. . . .This book offers something for everyone. . . . Highly recommended.” (Andy Wickens, Library Journal, August 2005)

“R䴳ch’s Encyclopedia is massive in scope, exhaustively researched, heavily referenced, user-friendly, authoritative, and beautifully illustrated. It belongs on the bookshelf of everyone with an interest in psychoactive plants--from those with only a casual interest to veteran researchers.” (Rick Strassman, M.D., University of New Mexico School of Medicine, and author of DMT: The Spirit Mol)

“It is a truism in anthropology that virtually all cultures utilize plants and mushrooms for their psychoactive effects. The impulse to achieve altered states of consciousness is universal. Several previous books on psychoactive plants have become classics on this subject. While valuable historic additions to the library, they must now move over. This encyclopedia is truly destined to be the most authoritative reference on natural psychoactive substances for years to come.” (Mark Blumenthal, founder and executive director of the American Botanical Council, and editor of Her)

“In the realm of psychoactive plants, Christian R䴳ch is the world’s most knowledgeable person. Here is his magnum opus--a veritable treasure trove of information about the most fascinating members of the plant kingdom. As the “teachers” and the gatekeepers to the spirit world, psychoactives help us cleanse the lenses of perception. No one interested in natural ways to expand consciousness should be without this magnificent volume.” (Ralph Metzner, PH.D., psychologist, author of Green Psychology, and coauthor of The Psychedelic Expe)

“Christian R䴳ch’s remarkable Encyclopedia of Psychoactive Plants is an essential and comprehensive work that explores not only the expanse of plants that affect human consciousness but the genetic necessity for humanity to experience wide-ranging flexibility in consciousness. The plant world is basic to us, the foundation of our food, clothing, and shelter. But Christian’s book reminds us that human/plant interactions reach much deeper than these three needs; plant intelligence reaches deep within us and teaches us to see, hear, and understand the deep meanings in the world, meanings that we need, and are meant, to encounter in order to remain human.” (Stephen Harrod Buhner, author of The Secret Teachings of Plants and The Lost Language of Plants)

". . . the granddaddy of all drug books." (Charles Hayes, High Times, Nov 2005)

"A premier work, and important to have and refer to if you have any relationship to the world of psychoactive plants." (Mark Stavish, Institute for Hermetic Studies, April 2006)

"This encyclopedia is a large and somewhat intimidating book, but the format is friendly and embellished by many beautiful photographs and drawings. . . . this is a major work that will be an essential reference to those interested in cultural and historical aspects of psychedelics." (Herbalgram, No. 79, Aug - Oct 2008)

“This book covers pretty much every psychedelic/psychoactive plant out there, including several that people may not realize have psychoactive properties...For anyone interested in learning more about psychoactive plants this book will likely answer all your questions and more. It's a great complement to other books on the subject as well as a stand-alone book for your education on this expansive and important topic.” (Entheoradio, August 2013)

About the Author

Christian Ratsch, Ph.D., is a world-renowned anthropologist and ethnopharmacologist who specializes in the shamanic uses of plants. He is the author of Marijuana Medicine and coauthor of Plants of the Gods, Shamanism and Tantra in the Himalayas, and Witchcraft Medicine. He lives in Hamburg, Germany, and lectures around the world.

Customer Reviews

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Most helpful customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Beautiful and Comprehensive June 21 2014
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Readable, thorough and absolutely beautiful I have immensely enjoyed owning this book. Fun to flip through on a sunny day and useful when I am hunting for something specific it is a fantastic overview of the field, covering many different aspects of an immense array of psychoactive plants- their traditional use, conditions of growth, methods of preparation, psychoactive components, subjective effects, etc.

Ratsch is clearly a master in his field and an appreciable expert in many others to produce such a comprehensive book. I only wish it were easier to find many of these plants in modern living!
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5.0 out of 5 stars Simply Amazing March 18 2014
By D.
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
The only Encyclopedia of its kind that has this wide a scope. If this is a subject that you are fascinated about this is a unmissable addition to your library.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.8 out of 5 stars  58 reviews
90 of 92 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A comprehensive reference guide to psychoactive plants May 26 2005
By Rob-cubed - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
At over 7 pounds, this book is packed with information! The first 700 pages of it are individual profiles of a wide range of psychoactive plants and fungi--including info on their active constituents, history, usage, and cultivation. The remainder of the book is broken into two sections, one describing major classes of chemicals, and the other focused on plant mixtures and legendary compounds like soma. This is primarily a reference work, but it's more entertaining and comprehensive than Ott's Pharmacotheon.

It's only major flaw is failing as an effective identification guide. All of the images are small, about 2" x 2" and relegated to the margins. While peppered with Ratsch's own photos which are unavailable elsewhere, there are few botanical illustrations other than some of the commonly seen historical woodcuts.

Ratsch chooses to give us a comprehensive view of the information available rather than leaning towards practical application. Plants like monkshood and Datura are mentioned as dangerous only in passing. Dosage guidelines in general are rather vague. Heimia salicifolia and puffball mushrooms are included based on their rumored effectiveness--along with research that contradicts it. He typically presents all the evidence and leaves it up to the reader to make their own educated decisions.

Ratsch does a superb job collating all the data currently available from various sources and adds to it his own research and insights. And unlike most other books on entheogens, he also covers stimulant and sedative plants and even some of the less psychoactive herbals. In spite of it's lack of illustrations, if you buy one reference on psychoactive plants this is the book you'll want.
23 of 23 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Takes the lead by far for entheogen reference compendiums Aug. 12 2005
By Michael Hoffman - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
This is an unprecedentedly massive reference work centering on visionary plants. It's an order of magnitude larger than previous comprehensive entheogen reference works such as the High Times Encyclopedia of Recreational Drugs, Hofmann's Plants of the Gods, Ott's Pharmacotheon, and Stafford's Psychedelics Encyclopedia.
20 of 21 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Best Book Ever Made on Psychoactive Plants Jan. 21 2007
By Justin Case - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
This review will be short and to the point. There is no greater single book on psychoactive plants than this book. Ratsch has done an amazing job. His book is mind-bogglingly thorough and exhaustive. It beats "Pharmacotheon" (Ott), "Plants of the Gods" (Ratch, Hofmann and Schultes) or any other book I have ever seen that attempts to be a complete source of information of psychoactive plants. I have been waiting for a book like this for years. I don't think this book could possibly be out-done for decades. At best, we can only hope to see books that would be something like supplimentary information in comparison to this book.

If you want all of the information on psychoactive plants that you can possibly get in one book, this is the one and it is definately worth the admittedly huge price tag. I would not be surprised if this book will be sold for many hundreds of dollars if and when it is sold out. Let's hope it is reprinted for a long, long time.
10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A MUST for any herbalist and/or ethnobotanist Jan. 19 2008
By Melissa - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
I am a Certified Master Herbalist always seeking information in my field. To earn my degree and satisfy my personal quest for knowledge I've read over 100 books concerning the modern and historical use of herbs. This book is pure gold, not only for its pharmaceutical information, but for the historical and spiritual knowledge/wisdom it imparts. This is a book for any herbalist seeking to understand the history of their craft. READ THIS BOOK!!!!
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars better than the internet for info Feb. 11 2012
By Max Power - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Have you ever tried looking for info on natural drugs on the internet? It is nearly impossible to find information on a rarely touched topic. Sites like erowid and wikipedia attempt to touch the topic, but they rely mostly on user feedback which can often be very questionable, sometimes flat out urban legend. The number of pictures in the book is astonishing, probably 2 per page for 900 pages.

One plant can include family, forms and subspecies, synonyms, folk names, history, topographical distribution of the plant, cultivation, appearance, sometimes preparation and dosage, ritual use, artifacts, medicinal use, constituents/alkaloids responsible for effects, effects of the alkaloids, commercial forms and regulations, and references to related literature in addition to a small picture or two, and a picture of alkaloid molecular structure.

It covers everything to devoting 17 pages to peyote, 6 pages to coffee, 4 pages to camphor (found in lip protectant and vicks vapor rub), to 2 pages on the blue lotus flower. One thing missing is lethal doses of these things, even with peyote which has a officially established lethal dose of mescalin that is lab researched. So if you plan on using this book as a complete personal reference guide for personal use or cultivation, you will need additional material. It focuses more on culture, history, natural habitat, and traditional ritual uses.. which I think is what makes the book so good. It is like an art book. Each plant a painting. Well put together, well researched, and well thought out, with a truly massive amount of information.
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