Source Datura flower
Being a entheogenic and psychedelic enthusiast, I have always been on the lookout for local plants that can help achieve altered states of consciousness. I had been introduced to Datura Stramonium, called chamico in Chile, in a Shamanic Literature workshop. Since then I have always been in the search for valuable information about it’s preparation and dosage, as well as possible effects.
One of the things that called my attention was that children of different native cultures were given a preparation from the plant and then observed to determine what their roles in the community would be, according to the behaviour they presented. For example, a kid who went violent would be a warrior, while one that showed insight and connection to the spirit world could become a healer and spiritual leader.
In India, Datura flowers are used as an offering to Lord Shiva. I have read this in many places though I lack an “official” source, so I’ll quote an answer posted on Quora from the user Swati Mukhopadhyay Roy on why this is:
“Coming back to as to why Lord Shiva is offered Datura, while the Samudra Manthan (the churning of the ocean) was taking place, Shiva drank the Halahala poison and Datura flower came out of his chest. It is therefore considered to abate the effect of poison, possessing some poisonous qualities itself. By offering the Datura plant to Lord Shiva, we pray him to remove the toxins like jealousy and envy from our body and soul”.
Datura is a plant fogged in mystery with very contrasting opinions about it’s consumption. A superficial search will immediately take away any desire to get close to it because most mainstream information only talks about how deadly it is and how it’s just not worth the risk.
However, the deeper you go down the rabbit hole you will find that Datura has a very intriguing history and that there are plenty of people claiming to have entered altered states with very positive results for their lives and spiritual growth. It is also a plant that has been holding hands with magic, witchcraft and esoteric practices for a very long time. If you wish to know more on this I recommend this video (a bit long but very complete research!):
The reason Datura is considered so dangerous goes beyond the risk of overdosing yourself, but rather to it being a deliriant. A delirium is different from a hallucination. You know when you are hallucinating, but in delirium you can’t tell reality apart from dream. So you could end up picking up shards of glass and eating them thinking they were food.
It’s highly recommended to have a tripsitter while taking Datura to avoid hurting yourself or others. Despite the risks, you should never enter altered states of mind full of fear. If you are decided to do this you should fill yourself with the confidence that all these experiences are for your growth and learning.
Source Datura seedpod, green and not ready for harvest
The chemistry behind Datura Stramonium
The main compounds responsible for the effects in Datura plants (there are many besides Stramonium, such as Ferox, Metel or Inoxia just to name a few) are scopolamine and atropine. According to PubChem, this alkaloid actually has medical properties:
“Scopolamine as a natural plant alkaloid that has potent anticholinergic effects and is used to treat mild to moderate nausea, motion sickness and allergic rhinitis. Scopolamine has not been implicated in causing liver enzyme elevations or clinically apparent acute liver injury.”
Scopolamine, also known as burundanga, is famous for being used by criminals to lower their victim’s willpower and talk them into handing over their goods or other unwanted behaviour. A common after-effect is amnesia so the victim usually doesn’t remember the previous events.
This chemical is also used in anesthesia practice, but ScienceDirect says it is:
“Also more apt to produce the phenomenon known as emergence delirium than either atropine or glycopyrrolate. Because this reaction, which involves vivid dreaming, nightmares, and hallucinations, develops most often in very young and elderly patients, the use of scopolamine in patients younger than 6 years and older than 65 years is discouraged”.
We can get another perspective on what scopolamine can produce by reading a few notes on a psychonauts trip report who took a dose of the isolated alkaloid:
+2 hours: Muscles almost completely relaxed, so that walking is now impossible (can barely crawl, however). Forehead feels feverish. Hearing is impaired. Pupils are monstrously dilated. Colors are very rich and bright, as with Cannabis intoxication. Visual perceptual resolution is poor; text appears blurry no matter how hard subject squints or concentrates. Depth perception is severely impaired, making it impossible to appropriately reach for even nearby objects without over- or under-reaching.
+4 hours and onwards: Muscles are so weak that even lifting a finger seems to take superhuman strength. Subject feels an oppressive force pinning him down on the bed, paralyzing him. Visual field is completely obscured by various living forms and blurry splotches. Throat is parched; tongue feels sandy. Subject does not know where he is; does not know whether he is even awake or dreaming, does not know who he is; does not know why he feels so shitty; etc. Subject pledges his soul to the demon who is sitting on him in exchange for a refreshing drink of water. The demon takes his soul, doesn't provide the agreed-upon water. Subject resigns himself to eternal damnation.
+20 hours: Subject comes home, sees a bowl of cooked rice sitting in the refrigerator - does not recall ever cooking rice. Also finds a toothbrush and some floss (most of it pulled out and then wrapped around the dispenser) on his nightstand, and a remote control in the bathroom. Pupils are still fucking hugely dilated. Subject has paranoid ideation about various entities lurking throughout his house, sees fleeting creatures in his peripheral vision.
Personal experiences with Datura
My personal encounters with the plant begin while travelling through Chile as a homeless, penniless walker. Thanks to my experience in trying out plants and having a good intuition for distinguishing those that were edible I relied heavily on going out into nature and foraging for food. It was in these searches for food I begin stumbling constantly into Datura plants which deepened my curiosity for them.
Source Datura seedpod ready to be harvested
At some point I arrived at a city where I was received in a friend’s house. A few minutes walk from the house I found several Datura plants and took some leaves as well as seed pods home. We smoked the leaves along with marihuana and found the effect to be a bit more “spacey”, but nothing remarkable.
On another day I ate some seeds, around 20 of them. It is said that 30 is an effective dose, but it can also be deadly so I went for a safer number. The effects were of drunkenness and a nice high which made for a pleasant walk. No deeper meaning of life though or unexpected insights.
The second time I tried chamico was in the beach after finding a flowered plant. I took the flower and some leaves to make a tea. This time I layed in bed and had a more insightful experience, full of intense body sensations and some wavy patterns on the walls. It seems to me there was no delirium, but who knows? Maybe I’m still tripping.
Another time I ate six seeds before going to sleep. I dreamt of being on a ship during a seastorm with a giant Poseidon-looking fellow attacking us. It was a very intense and vivid dream. It even starred Bjorn Ironside from Vikings which might make it sound a bit goofy but at the moment it wasn’t. What I most recall is how lucid and empowered I was, as well as how real everything looked.
One of the most potent Datura experiences happened one morning when I ate them before going to work. I just put an amount in my hand without counting and trusted it was an appropriate dose.
I can’t really recall much of the visual experience but the sensations were intense. A bit was recorded through a drawing I made of a bird filled with vibrational energy and an infinity loop in the chest (yup, probably wasn’t working very productively that day). I’m not a good drawer but that was pretty decent for my level. Unfortunately I can’t show it to you because I gifted it to who was my partner at the time.
Also I can remember is being extremely sensitive to people’s energies which at first frightened me, but after a while I got the hang of it and it became really easy to be friendly and understanding.
The day I really hit the spot with Datura was when I crushed the seeds and took about a teaspoon and a half of the produced powder. No delirium either, but what a pleasant state of mind! It was as everything I did was filled with pleasure. Every step I took was so precise, gentle and conscious at the same time, that just walking was an amazing experience.
I took similar doses many times and the effects were very much alike, until I ran out of seeds. I haven’t really craved the experience (I have a new stash of seeds but am in no hurry to eat them). However, when I feel the time is right I would like to try taking them and go upping the dose each week, until I can experiment all that Datura is said to offer.
Source Datura plantation, grows easy specially on poor soil. It even helps to degrade the heavy minerals improving the land for other plants to thrive!
For the moment I am glad to have taken small doses as I feel this allows a smoother connection with the plant. It is said that all plants have spirits and that Datura is a very special one that doesn’t treat everyone nicely. It takes a lot of self-knowledge to navigate through it’s confusing haze and it is not for those looking for a nice high, unless you do small doses like me.
So is it medicine or poison?
Well, Paracelsus said a long time ago, "all things are poison, and nothing is without poison, the dosage alone makes it so a thing is not a poison”. The same applies for this plant, it all depends on the dosage. What’s dangerous about Datura is that the dose for the full effects is very near the lethal dose. I recommend that all those willing to dive into this plant take it very slowly and see how their bodies react, upping the dose at a very slow rate.