Part of Kew’s Intoxication Season, which runs from 20 September until 12 October, the workshops are being held in the Secluded Glasshouse on weekends, offering an immersive, theatrical experience for budding plant connoisseurs to expand their minds by learning about other cultures’ perspectives on natural-born plant intoxicants.
Adventurous types will be able to sample a small amount of one of four plant-products that are widely consumed on a global basis, but which we are less familiar with in the UK. Betel nut, kola nut, raw guarana and blue lotus tea are all variously attributed certain psychoactive, mind-altering properties and have been consumed for centuries as far afield as ancient Egypt and the jungles of South America.
With the guidance of ethnobotanists, toxicologists, drugs historians and medics, the sessions will examine our collective attitude to drugs and contrasting our own socially acceptable substances - tobacco, alcohol and caffeine - with other less familiar stimulants and sedatives.
Toxicologist Dr Nick Edwards said: "Though entertaining this is a serious endeavour that provokes participants to think again about societal attitudes to drugs. I'm hoping that this candid and practical workshop opens the doors of perception on the impact of future use of stimulating, mind-altering and possibly consciousness-enhancing substances and the consequences for individuals and society."
Those choosing to sample will be required to sign a disclaimer to confirm they have read and understood the medical guidelines associated with consuming the sample.
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