A Window Into Sustainable Alternatives to Recreational Substances
(12 min read)
Steaming underground bass-driven garages in Detroit, hilltop gatherings in Goa filled with psychedelic rave music from outer space, the eclectic memories of Woodstock, promiscuous dancefloors in Berlin, and the new age dystopias of Burning Man.
All of these scenes come close to describing the quintessence of the ‘rave party culture’ that exists in the 21st century.
Consistent gatherings of people from all countries, cultures and creeds. A world infamous for counter-culture and hedonistic exploration.
A common thread that runs steady here is the use of illicit substances or ‘party drugs’.
With modern legislature finally catching up with academic research, we are seeing more and more of these substances being absolved of their demon status and offered more gratifying connotation (due to their therapeutic potential).
With this being said, (and without obliging the use, or abstinence of these substances), many recreational substances still pose a threat and are not sustainable if used regularly. Their [side] effects on our body and mind cannot be understated.
But it is not the end of the road. There are many natural substances available which can offer benefits catered for the rave with little to no side effects, and no harm in consistent use.
Below we will discuss just a few non-psychoactive as well as mildly psychoactive herbs which can be incorporated into your next outing to the dancefloor.
Cordyceps is an entomopathogenic, medicinal mushroom which is fast becoming one of the most popular supplements in today’s health and wellness sector.
Cordyceps has been a revered herbal medicine in Traditional Chinese Culture for centuries and is used to the day to treat a number of ailments, including chronic and adrenal fatigue, impotence and immune-deficiencies.
This strange mushroom is a powerful supplement for increasing physical energy and stamina, improving sexual performance and boosting the immune system. Its ability to increase the production of Adenosine Triphosphate (our primary energy transporting molecule) allows for a boost in energy which is non specific to the nervous system – this means that you won’t expect a crash or any ‘anxious energy’.
Furthermore, Cordycepin – one of the main phytochemicals present in cordyceps, mimics the molecular structure of serotonin which can assist in boosting our mood.
A truly magical addition for late nights and multiple days of dancing.
Best Form: Hydro-Ethanolic extract/tincture
Reliable Supplier: Aether Apothecary
Cacao needs little introduction to this list. The raw form of our much beloved chocolate, this powerful superfood has been used for centuries by mesoamerican cultures as a food, sacrament and even currency.
Its vast plethora of alkaloids make it one of the most nutrient rich foods available. Most notable is the presence of theobromine (a powerful vasodilator and stimulant) and phenylethylamine (a precursor chemical to our love hormones).
Raw Cacao is a great energy booster, empathogen, aphrodisiac and mood booster.
An appropriate alternative to a night of amphetamines.
Read more about this wondrous bean in our recent Cacao Blog.
Best Form: Raw Mass or Raw Powder as a warm beverage
Sceletium, one of Southern Africa’s most revered herbs known for its medicinal and recreational use by the Khoi and San tribes, is growing in popularity as both a natural alternative to modern day Western medication as well as a safe alternative to stimulants.
Sceletium contains the alkaloids mesembrine and mesembrenone which are responsible for the psychoactive, sedative and euphoric effects of this herb.
Sceletium can be consumed in a variety of forms- each with its own unique effect.
For the more calming and sedative effects, brew a mild sceletium tea before bed or sprinkle some dry sceletium in your smoke mix.
To activate the more stimulating and mood enhancing effects (often compared to MDMA) of Sceletium, it is best to consume it (at higher doses) in the form of reliable extracts and products.
The natural way to an euphorik day.
For more information refer to our Sceletium Tortuosum blog post.
Best form: Tea/ Tincture/ Extract
Reliable Supplier: Euphorika
Probably the most recognisable of the bunch. Most of us are no stranger to caffeine – probably on a daily basis even.
Caffeine is the most common nervous system stimulant in the world and has been consumed as far back as we can record.
Usually as a component of some ancient and revered drinks, like coffee and certain teas, caffeine has been a strongly desired chemical in keeping us awake, sharp and energised.
Today you can access caffeine as an isolated supplement, or in a variety of energy drinks and other performance based products.
Consistent and excessive use of caffeine will likely lead to a strong tolerance. This means that this might not be an as effective supplement with strongly noticeable effects for some with high tolerances. However for those few who don’t religiously engage in a morning coffee or black/green tea, caffeine can be a great addition to your party.
A familiar friend which could just be your secret weapon for the long haul.
Best Form: Coffee, Tea (namely black and green) – avoid energy drinks.
Reliable Supplier: Personal preference – aim for organic and fair trade always. We love Cammissa, Rosetta and Espresso Lab for coffee, and Nigiro Tea Merchants and Cosmic Bazaar for our teas.
Nymphaea caerulea – the blue lotus is a flower of great spiritual and cultural importance in Ancient Egypt. Both associated with royalty and dually cherished for its aphrodisiac and mild psychoactive effect. And even thought of by many as the first “party drug” due to its popularity in ancient Egypt.
Chemical analysis of the blue lotus shows that the plant contains more than 20 different antioxidants including phenols, flavonoids, saponins, anthraquinones and anthocyanins. These are present in all parts of the plant, with the highest concentrations in the leaves and the flowers. Most importantly, the blue lotus contains the two alkaloids apomorphine and nuciferine.
Apomorphine has been described as a psychoactive alkaloid and non-selective dopamine agonist, meaning it can bring on happy feelings and can also help with tension. Nuciferine is another plant alkaloid with similar effects, albeit non-psychoactive.
Blue lotus can be made into tea and drunk before bed, it is said to enhance feelings of relaxation and induce lucid dreams. It can alternatively be smoked or found in tincture form.
Blue lotus is a wonderful option for tapping into the lucid dreamscape. A much milder alternative to our common psychedelics, but with enough intention, a very potent ally for out of body exploration.
Blue lotus is often used ceremoniously to shift lower vibrational energy and allow you to access deeper parts of your subconscious. A powerful herb to accompany a more holistic festival.
Journey with her gently.
Best form: Tea/ Smoke Mix/ Tincture
Reliable Supplier: Cosmic Bazaar
Passion flower, also referred to as Passiflora, is the flower of a common passion fruit vine. It has been used in teas and herbal infusions and extracts as a wonderful nervous system relaxant.
It has been known to assist with anxiety and stress by significantly calming the nervous system and aiding in sleep.
This medicine can be used for any stressful or overwhelming moments at a party as well as being a trustworthy ally for sleep after a long night/morning of stimulants and dance.
Be sure to avoid harvesting your own Passion flowers without proper insight as some of the subspecies of this plant can be toxic.
Passion flower can also be used to assist with integration after a party or festival, aiding by promoting calmness and reducing stress.
A hug from mother at a time of need.
Best form: Tea/ Tincture/ Extract
Commonly referred to as ‘The Dopamine Bean’, this humble legume grows natively in Tropical African and Asian regions.
It is famous for being the only food in nature which contains the L-Dopa molecule (which is the main precursor molecule to our trusted happy hormone – Dopamine.)
Often ground into a powder, this herbal medicine is currently being used as a natural mood elevator as well as a nootropic. It is also showing remarkable results in Parkinson’s Disease treatment.
Mucuna powder is a lovely and gentle option to add to your morning smoothie or breakfast at any party or festival as a mild mood booster.
You can even add it to a warm cacao drink and create an ecstatic concoction.
Happiness pure and pristine, with the dopamine bean.
Best form: Capsules/ Powder / with Cacao
Kratom is probably the most intriguing and psychoactive friend on our list. Its phytochemistry is vast and equally complex. Kratom originates in South East Asia and is part of the coffee family, however it differs dramatically when it comes to the presence of certain alkaloids. The two main alkaloids in Kratom responsible for its most psychoactive effects are Mitragynine and 7-hydroxymitragynine.
Kratom is used in many different ways, which is indicative of the type of kratom in question. The main 2 types used today are Red Kratom and Green Kratom. Other variations include white kratom and yellow kratom. All of these different variants are in fact from the same tree. It is a matter of how long the leaves have been aged which dramatically changes the effect of each.
Younger, fresher leaves will yield green kratom – a powerful stimulant, nootropic and mood booster, whereas more aged, mature leaves yield red kratom – a potent pain killer which acts on our opioid receptors (without the addictive properties of modern opiates).
The energy, mood enhancement and sharpness yielded from green kratom is significant and can keep you going strong for hours on end.
In smaller doses green kratom is used as an energy supplement and mild mood booster whilst red kratom is often used for chronic pain.
At high doses both can offer very intense experiences. An intense ‘rush’ and euphoria can be felt at a high dose of green kratom, whilst high doses of red kratom can lead to a more disassociated experience.
We strongly advise that kratom is used tentatively and in low doses unless you are experienced. Nausea is a common side effect for many of this powerful plant. Tread lightly.
Go forth and fly with coffee’s complex cousin.
Best form: Powder/capsules in tea or smoothie
Reliable Supplier: Cosmic Bazaar, Nature’s Kratom
Cordyceps: Pre-pubescent females should avoid regular use
Sceletium: SSRI’s, mood stabilizing medication
Caffeine: Heart medicication
Blue Lotus: None
Passion Leaf: Heart Issues
Mucuna: SSRI’s, Mood Stabilizing Medications
Kratom: Consult your trusted healthcare professional for advice on interactions with any current medication
REFERENCES – https://www.zamnesia.com/content/354-blue-lotus