Plants of Power was originally a
radio series on BBC World Service
written and produced by Nick Rankin

Experts discuss how different cultures throughout history
have used mind altering plants for intoxication.

Play this page as a RAM playlist

Plants of Power: how is the brain affected?
Why does the human brain respond to plants of power? And do other animals have the same response?

With Dr Andrew Weil, author of The Natural Mind: A New Way Of Looking At Drugs And The Higher Consciousness. Neuro-scientist, Dr Clive Coen, from King's College, London; Pharmacology Professor Susan Greenfield, from the University of Oxford; and artist and zoologist Jonathan Kingdon, whose latest book is The Kingdon Field Guide To African Mammals. 20:17 Terence McKenna talks about he alien intelligence of plants and plan plant planet 'nature is trying to communicate with human beings'.


Plants of Power: in nomadic societies
Have all societies used mind altering substances and how do shamans and healers use intoxicating plants to wield power in their communities?

With anthropologist Richard Rudgley, author of Alchmey of Culture: Intoxicants in Society. Ethnopharmacologist Christian Ratsch, author of the Encyclopedia of Psychoactive Plants, Cho, Hung-Youn Cho, Professor of Cultural Anthropology at Hanyang University, Dr Ron Siegel and Professor Susan Greenfield.


Plants of power: a special case: opium
Opium has been cultivated for thousands of years for food and for use as a pain-killer. Find out how it is synthesized from poppies, the revenue the British Empire raised from opium sales, and how heroin use flourished in the nineteenth century.

With William Emboden, author of Narcotic Plants. Professor Roy Porter of the Wellcome Institute for the History of Medicine in London, Dr Andrew Weil and Wade Davis.


Plants of Power: when is a plant a drug?
Is coffee a drug? Is sugar a drug? Which substances do different societies around the world view as drugs?

With Andrew Sherratt, from the the Ashmolean Museum in Oxford, co-editor of Consuming Habits: Drugs in History and Anthropology. Edward Behr, author of Prohibition: The Years that Changed America. Animal researcher, Dr Ron Siegel author of Intoxications and Fire in the Brain, Dr Andrew Weil and Jonathan Kingdon.


Plants of Power: how do they work?
Which plants are produce the chemical substances that make up all major drugs? And just how do these chemicals affect the body?

With Dr Randolph Nesse, Professor of Psychiatry at the University of Michigan and co-author of Evolution and Healing:The New Science of Darwinian Medicine and Ethan Nadelmann, head of the Lindesmith Centre, the Open Society Institute's drug-policy think-tank in New York City.


Plants of Power: in traditional American communities
Hear the history of plants of power in the Amazon, studied by the famous Harvard ethnobotanist Richard Evans Schultes, and find out how todays global drug trade has grown out of traditional coca-chewing in the Andes.

With anthropologist Wade Davis, whose biography of Richard Evans Schultes, is called One River. Emeritus Professor of Botany William Emboden, author of Narcotic Plants. Anthony Henman, author of Mama Coca and Big Deal:The Politics of the Illicit Drugs Business. Colombian economist Oscar Rodriguez Aguilar, Raymond Kendall, Secretary General of INTERPOL, the International Criminal Police Organisation and Ethan Nadelmann.