The tropical jungle keeps its chemical secrets, too

Expats may not realize that they are living amid a varieties of  psychedelic options. The tropical jungle is like a big drugstore.

Plenty of the chemicals found in tropical plants have never been studied. There are thousands.

Amazonian natives have pioneered some of these plants and use them to talk to their gods. Expats could easily find themselves talking to Elvis with the correct dose of  dimethyltryptamine. The chemical is found in  Psychotria viridis and other species.

That chemical is considered one of if not the world’s most powerful mind-bending substance. Online sources call it the Jesus drug because those who take it report having conversations with the Savior as well as any other historical or mythical figure.

Plants do not do chemical tripping, but the substances are there to ward off insect attacks and perhaps competition from other species.

Brian Sedio, a post-doctoral researcher at the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute in Panamá, is trying to figure out what chemicals are found in some 2,000 species of the genus Psychotria,

He has been working on  Panama’s Barro Colorado Island where he has identified  8,000 compounds in the leaves of the island’s 22 Psychotria species, the institute reports.

He also has collected and froze 10,000 insects to see upon which plants they feed, the institute added.

Sedio hopes to identify the roles chemical defenses play in promoting tree species coexistence and preventing a handful of species from taking over a forest, said the institute.

Before expats race to the jungle to munch on plant material, they probably ought to realize that some of the chemicals are highly toxic, so they might end up talking to St. Peter for real.vidridi070815

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