The tradition of alchemy in India
by
Mahdihassan S
Institute of Medical Pharmacology,
University of Rome La Sapienza, Italy.
Am J Chin Med 1981 Spring; 9(1):23-33


ABSTRACT

The Aryan of ancient times was a nomad who lived mainly by hunting. The aged, incapable of partaking in such activity, were considered parasites and were exiled as lonely ascetics to the forest. The ascetic began searching for a strength-giving drug so that he could collect edible plants from the forest. He discovered ephedra or the soma plant as an energizer-cum-euphoriant. Feeling stronger and happier he entertained the idea of a drug of rejuvenation. The Aryan nomad as a hunter often over-exerted himself and became exhausted. He then took soma juice thrice daily to prevent exhaustion. With such benefits soma became a popular drink in the Aryan community as a whole. When the Aryans entered India soma became unavailable. Its need persisting, the ascetic substituted ephedra with a mixture of other drugs. If soma was Rasa, or the juice, the substituted medicament was called Rasayana, signifying "juice-incorporate". Rasayana again was geriatric medicine which promised rejuvenation. Later came contact with the Chinese and their use of mercurials. These proved to be efficient energizers and were accepted as Rasayana. Then Aryan medicine first extolled ephedra, next some herbal drugs, and finally mercurials. As energizers-cum-euphoriants, both ephedra and mercurials are anti-somnolents, a feature absent in intoxicants and narcotics.
Soma
Alcohol
Opioids
Options
Reward
Serotonin
Dopamine
Tryptophan
Cocaethylene
Drugs for alcoholics
Drugs for mental illness
Pleasure, decision and desire
Drink, drugs and sex in antiquity


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