We have long thought of herbs as something that can do not much more than make a tea relaxing or uplifting. But there are herbs out there that can completely change your whole idea of relaxing and uplifting, as well as your perception of the world, time and space, and your place in this beautifully structured chaos altogether.

Only recently have we started to learn about these mysterious herbs whose roots lead to the very center of the universe and its secrets. But long before our time, ancient cultures and tribes have explored those magical properties to find purpose, heal their spirit and soul, hear the whispers of divinity, and see the world for what it really is – just a beautiful fraction of what is really out there.

Here are a few ancient drug practices from around the world.

Maeng Da Kratom

Maeng Da Kratom, faithful to its family, has very strong pain-relieving properties, but they don’t come in the form of sedation. On the contrary, this strain provides a strong, stimulating kick, and a very clean and channeled one at that, with no frantic or jittery reactions.

Maeng Da Kratom is meant specifically to combat the heat and humidity of Indonesia.  


Peyote is a hallucinogenic cactus and one of the better-known special herbs thanks to the iconic scene in the famous movie The Doors, which shows Jim Morison on a peyote trip in the middle of the desert that looks almost as introspective and mind-altering as The Doors’ music itself.

The cactus is found in the deserts of northeastern Mexico and southwestern Texas, and Aztecs, Mexican Indians, and Native Americans have all used it to fill those barren landscape with transcendent meaning and metaphysical and spiritual understanding of life.


Timothy Leary was probably the first man from the modern world to make the leap of faith into the magical world of psilocybin mushrooms, and by famously advocating their wondrous properties in the Harvard Psilocybin Project, he almost single-handedly turned them into the staple of counter-culture and psychedelics they are today.

Before the 1950s when Leary discovered “magic mushrooms”, for centuries they had been a central part of the traditions of the Mazatec, who inhabit Oaxaca in Southern Mexico.

The customs involve a hut and a shaman who guides participants through the trip, while the mushrooms are seen as medicine for the mind and soul, dissolving the mental restraints people are normally bound by and thus helping their consciousness seep through regular dimensions and into states of transcendent knowledge, spiritualty, and empathy.

However, mushrooms can be traced much further back, to Mesolithic rock paintings left from the Capsian culture, depicting shamans using mushrooms, and similar themes in Mayan temple ruins in Guatemala.


Rather than a plant, ayahuasca is actually a brew of two plants – the ayahuasca vine, and chacruna leaves, which contain DMT, the psychoactive compound which is actually naturally produced in our bodies.

While DMT is metabolized too fast by our organisms to have any psychedelic effect, the ayahuasca vine inhibits these metabolic processes, causing DMT to build up enough for the desired effects to spill over and flood our consciousness with simply astounding visual and aural hallucinations that can transport to you a whole different world altogether, filled with geometrical patterns of beauty and grand meaning.

Many scientists and experts consider this experience to be a glimpse into the afterlife, the beginning of our souls’ journey once they leave our bodies. After all, it has been proven that DMT is released when we die, and ayahuasca is actually a combination of two Spanish words that can be interpreted as “vine of soul” or “rope of the dead.”

To make it all even more mystifying, this complex combination wasn’t conceived by a scientist or someone with comprehensive knowledge of the chemical processes going on in our bodies – on the contrary, behind this creation are the indigenous people in the Amazonian rainforests, who say they were told what to do by the plant themselves.

Now, many people are willing to travel to the Amazon to have an authentic ayahuasca experience, which entails bouts of vomiting and diarrhea, in a hut, guided by a shaman who sings ceremonial songs.


Kava makes for a more chilled out experience, quite in line with the mild, but deeply spiritual way of life which the Pacific Islands like Hawaii, Vanuatu, and Fiji are famous for.

The Kava high is a very pleasant and unusual mix of relaxation and euphoria, perhaps comparable to that deep, calm sense of existential happiness you get when you’ve just received a sign, in whatever form it may be, that you’re on the right path in life.

Consuming a bit more can put you in a deeper state of relaxation that’s often described as waking sleep, from which you may come back with a refreshed mind and perhaps even an epiphany.

We are finally beginning to learn just how much spirituality, ancient traditions, and science interplay under the word “high,” when used in the context of herbs and plants Mother Nature has graced us with.


Published by Derek Lotts