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A Very Vital Vaccine Verdict

A Higher State of Consciousness

Shroom Cults Modern Medicine vs Nature

On the Cover To be completely honest I went through several different iterations for this issue’s cover. I wasn’t satisfied with what I had been working on, a trippy psychedelic bunch of mushrooms with rainbow colors and neon outlines, and at the very last moment changed it to what you see here. It still has the trippy feel to it, but I feel the cosmic vibe meshes well. Mushroom of the cosmos! NASA has tons of beautiful hi-res photos that I incorporated into the piece. It’s science-y and makes me happy. Can you identify the galaxies and nebulas in the cover art? Let us know what they are! CREDITS - COVER IMAGE: ASA/ESA/W. Clarkson (Indiana University and UCLA)/K. Sahu (STScI); NASA/ESA/K. Kuntz (JHU)/F. Bresolin (University of Hawaii)/J. Trauger (JPL)/J. Mould (NOAO)/Y.H. Chu (University of Illinois, Urbana)/STScI; NASA/ESA/M. Livio/Hubble 20th Anniversary Team (STScI); NASA/ESA/Hubble Heritage Team (STScI/AURA) with ESA Hubble Collaboration; NASA/ESA/Hubble Heritage Team (STScI/AURA). DID YOU KNOW: GFDL, CC BY-SA 3.0. Issue 11 | Winter 2014 © 2012-2014 Origins Scientific Research Society, founded by Melanie E Magdalena Copyright: This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 Unported License. Permission of the authors is required for derivative works, compilations, and translations. Disclaimer: The views expressed in this publication are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the position or views of Origins. The publisher, editor, contributors, and related parties assume no responsibility for loss, injury or inconvenience of any person, organization, or party that uses the information or resources provided within this publication, website, or related products.

From the Editor In a world before skyscrapers, the World Wide Web, and 7.1 billion people running about their lives, people used other means to stimulate their lives. With the Milky Way clearly in the the night sky, people could marvel at the natural world and let their minds wander beyond it. Today, life is a fast paced chaos of consumerism. Information, goods, and services are all fastpaced desires: we want it now, not later. But is the desire for rapid and extreme results something new? Or is it simply more prominent with a larger population group to study? This issue brings you drugs. Plain and simple, drugs are stimulants. Whether a pharmaceutical, toad, mushroom, or favorite Friday night cocktail, these substances affect our bodies in different ways. They also change how society thinks about the “good” ones and the “bad” ones. We’ll leave the good or bad decision making up to you. From the Guatamalan highlands and Valley of Mexico, we bring you the ancient Mesoamerican Mushroom cult. From the distant past, we’re also taking a glimpse at just how old all these alcohols we take for granted really are. We’re taking a look at the benefits of modern medicine and the controversies it brings from the current anti-vaccination movement and Big Pharma. Of course, if you get bored you might try licking a toad. We skipped the table of contents this time, but that’s because we trust you to know how to use hyperlinks! (Burntorange is a hyperlink). We’re saving space so you can get to reading, so come back here if you get lost. Again, Happy Solstice and we wish you all a Happy 2015! Melanie E Magdalena Editor-in-Chief

editor and creative director

Melanie E Magdalena copy editor

Margaret Smith graphic design

Ethan Kellogg marketing & public relations

Alex Vosburgh donor relations

Fidel Junco


David Bjorklund Morgan V Courage Steve Maness Karen Meza special thanks to

DID YOU KNOW? Ħaġar Qim is a megalithic temple complex on the island of Malta (3600-3200 BCE) where you can watch the solstice through a special peep-hole in a temple wall. Also, there are two mushroom shaped altars (see left) inside. What these were used for is unknown.

Dr. Mark D Bjorklund Our Patient Readers

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Creature Feature Psychoactive Toads

Fidel Junco To lick, or not to lick

To cure impotence and enhance fertility, you probably don’t find aphrodisiac body parts of frogs and toads at your local convenience store. Since ancient times, these amphibians are believed to have medicinal properties: the liver as a poison antidote, the lung to murder a wayward husband. The hallucinogenic compounds within them are used in shamanic rituals to aid communication with the spirit world. The myth of the “Toad-Stone” during the Middle Ages led people to believe if they wore a stone which grew in a toad’s head, such as a ring or necklace, it would change color if the wearer was near a poison. Frogs and toads are found everywhere except for Antarctica, producing awe and fear in cultures throughout history in medicine, shamanism, and superstitions. If you’re not into eating limbs or organs of a toad, you could always lick it. Why would you ever lick a frog or toad? Urban legend states licking one induces a hallucinogenic state. Unfortunately, a lot of these psychedelic creatures secrete venom! DMT, or 5-methoxy-N N-dimethyltryptamine, produces vivid hallucinations (or “psychedelic trips”). This form of bufotoxin, along with secretions and venom, also triggers chemicals in the brain which

act like adrenaline. A little too much can disturb your heart rhythm leading to ventricular fibrillation or even death. The Colorado River toad (Incilius alvarius), or the Sonoran Desert toad (pictured above), is native to northern Mexico and the Southwest of the United States. It’s skin is both venomous and full of DMT and bufotenin. If venom is collected from the toad, consuming it orally is highly venomous, but smoking the venom gives the user a warm sensation, euphoria, and strong auditory hallucinations. In other words, you really don’t want to lick one! In the United States, laws prohibit removing any of these toads from the state. Also, if you’re caught with the intention of smoking the venom, you can be charged with possession of a controlled substance. \ Origins Scientific Research Society




and the emergence of antibiotics David Bjorklund

Penicillin is an antibiotic that was discovered by Alexander Fleming in 1928. Fleming was in his laboratory when he noticed a Petri dish that had Staphylococcus bacteria had been contaminated with bread mold. With closer inspection Fleming noticed that the area around the mold had a halo of inhibited bacterial growth. This was because the mold/fungi, called Penicillium fungi, that Fleming had seen was producing an antibiotic substance we now call Penicillin. There are different forms of Penicillin that range from Penicillin G to Penicillin V, Procaine Penicillin, and Benzathine Penicillin. Each of these different forms of Penicillin are used in different ways for treating various bacterial infections. Penicillin G is taken intravenously, Penicillin V is taken orally, and Procaine and Benzathine Penicillins are both taken intramuscularly. The reason for these different methods of intake into the body has to do with the relative effectiveness of each different type of Penicillin as it goes through different areas of the body. For example, Penicillin V has a better acid stability which allows it to pass through the high acidic concentration of the stomach. The Penicillin group usually acts as a narrow spectrum antibiotic (affects only specific groups of bacteria) and is therefore very useful in targeted antibiotic therapy for those affected with a bacterial

infection. This is important because as human beings we have need of various other groups of bacteria to help in the digestion of food. Many of these bacteria live within our large intestines and some in our small intestines. Targeted antibiotic therapy allows for the destruction of the bacteria that are making us sick while preserving the bacteria we need that help us break down food into usable energy. How does Penicillin work as an antibiotic? Bacterial cells are different than eukaryotic cells of the human body in that they have cell walls made up of peptidoglycan, while our cells have a cell membrane made up of a phospholipid bilayer. This is very important because Penicillin inhibits the biosynthesis of the peptidoglycan layer in the cell wall. Penicillin is most effective against Gram positive bacteria. Bacteria can be divided into two groups using the Gram staining method. Gram positive bacteria stain violet and gram negative bacteria stain pink. The difference in staining colors is due to the thickness of the peptidoglycan layers in the cell wall. Gram positive bacteria have a thick peptidoglycan cell wall and gram negative have a thin peptidoglycan cell wall. Notable A special thanks to my father Dr. Mark D. Bjorklund for sharing his knowledge on the specifics.

PENICILLIN | 7 gram positive bacteria are group A Streptococcus, responsible for Strep throat and Staphylococcus aureus responsible for many serious infections and skin abscesses. It is important to note that treatment of group A Streptococcus with antibiotics such as Penicillin is important in prevention of rheumatic fever. Rheumatic fever is caused by an autoimmune response to the bacterial infection which causes pharyngitis (sore throat) and can occur between two and four weeks after initial infection of group A Streptococcus. Left untreated rheumatic fever can cause valvulitis (heart valve damage), carditis (inflammation of the heart) and migratory arthritis (moving joint pain). Penicillin is a small molecule and as a result can breach the cell wall of a bacterial cell. Once inside the bacterial cell, the Penicillin binds with the enzyme DD-transpeptidase which is responsible for catalyzing the formation of crosslinks (connections) between individual polymers of peptidoglycan that make up the bacterial cell wall. Once the Penicillin binds with the enzyme it blocks the active sites making the enzyme useless to the cell. The result is a weak cell wall which, with time, will burst due to increasing osmotic pressure on the cell wall. Another result is a bacterial cell with no cell wall, also called a protoplast. This occurs when a bacterial cell tries to undergo cell division. The cell wall in the newly divided cell cannot form because of the presence of Penicillin and thus forms without one. With no protective barrier between the cell and the environment the cell dies.

Alexander Fleming in his lab.


Penicillum mould. SCIENCE MUSEUM LONDON | CC BY-SA 2.0

Since Penicillin came out as a medical drug in the 1940’s bacterial resistant strains have appeared. This has made it a priority for the creation of new types of antibiotics which can combat Penicillin resistant strains of bacteria. One way bacteria are able to become resistant is by creation of Penicillinase, an enzyme that breaks down Penicillin. The bacteria can then spread this genetic code/knowledge to other bacteria through conjugation (genetic transfer via plasmids by direct cell to cell contact), transformation (direct uptake of extracellular genetic material), or transduction (genetic transfer via viruses). Once a bacterial group becomes resistant to an antibiotic like Penicillin that drug will become useless with time. It is important to use our antibiotics sparingly and only when needed to prevent the creation of multi-drug-resistant (MDR) bacteria. Because of this doctors are told to wait 10-14 days if someone has a cold before administration of antibiotics because almost 99% of the time colds are viral infections and not bacterial infections which usually get better within a two week period. Using preventative measures such as washing your hands before you eat and after using the bathroom will help keep you and others from getting sick and will reduce the need for treatment of an illness with antibiotics. \ Origins Scientific Research Society



or hundreds of years, the human race has been using vaccines in order to fight off disease. Vaccines were first used to fight off smallpox, which killed millions of people over the years. By crushing up smallpox scabs and blowing the powder into a person’s nose, the first vaccine in known history was made over a thousand years ago. Later, in 1798, a british doctor created a vaccine by injecting patients with cowpox to create smallpox immunity. By 1979, smallpox was eradicated worldwide. In 1988, the World Health Assembly vowed to eradicate polio, and although the disease does still exist in parts of the world, the number of cases have dropped from 350,000 to 187. These are just two examples of the effectiveness and life saving potential of vaccines, yet there is a recent trend of many parents refusing to vaccinate their children. Parents are choosing not to vaccinate their children for various reasons that include: the belief that vaccines cause autism; belief that natural immunity is better or more effective; belief that diseases like whooping cough, measles, and chickenpox are not that bad for children to catch; belief that vaccines are not effective, vaccines are not safe or tested enough; scientists and doctors will not admit there are side effects to vaccines; the aluminum, mercury, or other chemicals in vaccines are harmful; the vaccine schedule is too difficult for a child’s immune system; or that since everyone else gets vaccinated, there is no reason that their child needs to. These are all valid reasons for parents to be concerned about their child’s health if they are not well informed. However, none of these reasons or beliefs are accurate or causes for concern. First off, vaccines do not cause autism. The belief that they do stems from a study completed in 1998, commonly known as the Lancet study. This study consisted of twelve children, eight of which it claimed had autism which could be linked to the MMR vaccine. This study sparked a series of other studies which have included over a million children, yet none have found any correlation or causation between the MMR vaccine and autism.

The Lancet study has been investigated and it was found that some data and the testimonies of the parents involved were falsified. Since the Lancet study, many parents and anti-vaccination groups have protested that the thimerosal and mercury in vaccinations caused autism, but in 2003 they were both removed from all vaccines except for the flu vaccine, and there has been no drop in the amount of children diagnosed with autism. Next up, natural immunity is not better than vaccination. Natural immunity can cause complications because it exposes children to the full force of the disease. The reason vaccines were developed in the first place is that a high enough number of people were dying from the disease itself, since natural immunity was not enough to fight it off. Natural immunity puts a higher toll on the body for no reason. Vaccines are found to be 95% effective, and although children injected with the vaccine can become sick, they are exposed to a weakened form of the disease, making it easier for the immune system to fight it off. Exposing children to the full force of a disease puts that child at a higher risk of dying from that disease. But giving that same child a vaccine would give their body the immunity against having to fight through the disease’s full strength.

Starting with the smallpox vaccine in 1798, medicine has advanced enough to provide us with a multitude of other vaccines to prevent and fight against diseases. Which of the vaccines up next do you have?

Refusing Vaccinations A Personal Right or a Vehicle for Mass Murder Margaret Smith


nother common misconception is that some parents believe that diseases like whooping cough, chicken pox, measles, mumps, and rubella are not that big of a deal. If children are exposed to them, they will get sick for a bit and then get better. They are either under the impression that these diseases are not common enough to worry about, or that these diseases will not have long lasting impacts on their children. In many cases, both of these opinions are false. Again, these vaccines were created for a reason. People often died from these very diseases. While it is true that measles, mumps, chickenpox, rubella, and whooping cough are not common in the United States anymore, that is only the case because of common vaccination practices. However, these diseases have not yet been completely eradicated. They still exist within the United States and are quite common in some areas of the world.

Smallpox in History Fray Bernadino de Sahagun describes Nahuas suffering of smallpox: “. . . [The disease] brought great desolation: a great many died of it. They could no longer walk about, but lay in their dwellings and sleeping places, no longer able to move or stir. They were unable to change position, to stretch out on their sides or face down, or raise their heads. And when they made a motion, they called out

Florentine Codex, Book XII, folio 54 (16th century)

As reproduced in: Fields, Sherry (2008). Pestilence and Headcolds: Encountering Illness in Colonial Mexico, Gutenberg e-series, e-book edn. New York: Columbia University Press.

Edward Jenner, the pioneer of the smallpox vaccination, used ivory points to give the vaccine. The ivory points were rubbed, scratched on, or inserted into a cut in the skin in order for cowpox to enter the person’s body, providing a form of immunity to smallpox. Ivory points made in 1821, England, now in the Science Museum, London. Image courtesy of Wellcome Images | CC BY 4.0

Shitala, Hindu Goddess of sores, ghouls, pustules, & diseases Her name comes from Sanskrit, meaning the one who cools. This young maiden carries a short broom to dispel germs, a pot of pulses (or the diseases), and cold water, her healing tool. Sometimes she is depicted holding neem leaves (Azadirachta indica), an Ayurvedic medicial herb with healing properties for skin diseases. She is worshipped to prevent or cure from smallpox. Kalighat painting of Shitala courtesy of Redtigerxyz | PD-Art US

loudly. The pustules that covered people caused great desolation; very many people died of them, and many just starved to death; starvation reigned, and no one took care of others any longer. On some people, the pustules appeared only far apart, and they did not suffer greatly, nor did many of them die of it. But many people’s faces were spoiled by it, their faces were made rough. Some lost an eye or were blinded.”

Roughly 3 million children are saved every year because of vaccinations. Unfortunately, 2 million lives are still lost every year from preventable diseases because they have not been vaccinated. These preventable deaths are happening not just to developing countries around the world, but in the US as well. By September 25, almost 8,000 cases of pertussis, or whooping cough, have been recorded by the California’s Public Health Department for the year of 2014. Out of these 8,000 cases 250 children have been hospitalized with 58 requiring intensive care. How has whooping cough managed to infect so many children? Well, it is not surprising that the majority of those infected live in Los Angeles, which has the lowest immunization rates. When parents choose to not vaccinate their children, these kids don’t have the tools to fight off many deadly, yet preventable, diseases. Some parents choose not to vaccinate their children because they believe vaccinations are not effective. As stated previously, vaccines are 95% effective. While it is true that they do not work on a very small percentage of the population, they do work on the majority. More importantly, not receiving vaccinations increases the chances of a child catching the disease. For example, children who do not receive the vaccination for whooping cough are 24 times more likely to be infected. Not vaccinating a child puts their lives in danger. Another argument against vaccines is that they are unsafe. The fear is that these vaccination are not tested enough or have unknown side effects. This is completely false. Vaccines are scrutinized more than any other form of medicine. There are multitudes of studies done on the effectiveness and side effects on every vaccine. While some parents are concerned that doctors do not admit vaccines have side effects, it is widely accepted in the medical community that vaccines do have side effects, all of which are well documented. Most side effects are mild and not permanent, though there are a few long lasting extreme side effects that occur in very

VACCINES | 11 rare cases. However, those instances should not be a cause for concern, both due to their rarity and how much worse the complications can be from not getting a vaccination at all. There is also the complaint about the amount of aluminum or other metals present in vaccines. This is also not a valid concern because the amount of aluminum in vaccines is insignificant compared to the amount of aluminum found in other common substances, including breast milk. There are trace amounts of all chemicals found in the human body naturally due to simple exposure. However, this is completely safe. The only times there are ill effects from these substances is when a person is exposed to high concentrations of it. Vaccines are rigorously tested and created to be well below these levels. For those who do not have a rudimentary knowledge of the immune system, there are concerns that the vaccine schedule is too rigorous for a child’s immune system. If your child does have weak immune system, an autoimmune disorder, etc. it is important to consult with your pediatrician about your child’s vaccination schedule. In these specific cases, it could be possible that your child should not be apart of the regular vaccination schedule or not be getting vaccines at all. In general, children will have no problems with the vaccine schedule. Children are exposed to new pathogens, viruses, and bacteria everyday that their immune system has to fight off, yet children are not constantly sick. Vaccines are dead or weakened bacteria or viruses, so most children’s immune systems will have no problems fighting it off. Sometimes, they will get sick or experience side effects, but this does not mean their immune systems are not ready to fight of the disease. It does not matter what age a child is exposed to the vaccine, it is likely that their immune system will react the same way. The final reason for a parent to not vaccinate a child is the idea that everyone else is getting them, so why should their child have to get them? This recklessly endangers the lives of everyone around them. As mentioned previously, Origins Scientific Research Society


L earn M ore !

Austism & Vaccines:

Missing Immunizations is deadly:

History of Vaccines:

Outbreaks interactive map:

some children can not receive vaccinations because they are too young, have an autoimmune disease, or receive chemotherapy. These people either cannot receive vaccines at all or have to wait until they are older to receive them, so they rely on herd immunity in order to keep them safe. Remember the handy statistic from earlier as well. Only 95% of vaccinations are effective. The remaining 5% of people who receive a vaccine will not have long lasting immunity from diseases. These people are also relying on herd immunity. By purposely refusing to receive a vaccine, parents are endangering the lives of all of these people. Imagine, if you will, a child whose parents have opted out of getting them all their vaccinations travels to the Netherlands for the holiday and their child is exposed to measles. They then bring measles back with them and go back to school or daycare until they got sick. At the child’s school, there is a another child who either has an autoimmune disease, just survived from cancer, is too young to get the vaccine, or is one of the unlucky few whose vaccine was ineffective. That child gets sick and tragically dies. The parent who purposely chose not to vaccinate their child has now unintentionally caused the death of another. How is this parent going to be held responsible for this? Unfortunately, there is no clear way for the courts to decide on this dilemma. Should parents who willingly decline vaccines be held accountable if this causes the death of another? There is the terrible potential that a disease which can be prevented through vaccine unintentionally cause the death of those who can not get vaccines in the US or the rare few whose vaccines did not create long term immunity. If these diseases become prevalent in society again, who is to be held responsible? Those who made the conscious decision not to vaccinate their children? Or those who advertise and campaign against vaccination. Cases are popping up all over the US of people, particularly children, who have been infected with vaccine preventable diseases. How long will it take for this to become a large enough issue to be taken seriously? \


Alcoholic Origins Karen Meza Cherit › Beer is one of the oldest beverages in the world, believed to be invented in Mesopotamia in 10,000 BC. With the main ingredients barley, water and yeast, hops was added in the fifteenth century. Currently, beer is a preferred alcohol with a variety of flavors from different hops. › From the fermented grape in 7000 BCE, the great Greek and Roman civilizations gave us wine. The first fruits of the vine which gave way to the creation of wine lie in the Caucasus, near the Black Sea. Wine was stored in amphorae decorated with a variety of geometric patterns or scenes. › After Christopher Columbus arrived in the New World, the alcoholic properties of sugar cane came to light. Out of Barbados in 1650, the rich flavor of rum from fermenting cane juice, molasses, and cane syrup soon became an important economic factor in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. › Russia, in the thirteenth century, created vodka. Distilled grains or potatoes (ethanol), combined with water, created a substance with high alcohol content (ranging from 70-80%). The high alcohol content resulted in it being banned for import for a time, but reached global expansion during World War II. › Made primarily from fermented rice, sake originated in 4800 BCE in China before being exported to Japan. The processing techniques improved as the years passed, increasing the alcohol content while reducing the acidity of the beverage. › Out of the Popol Vuh, balché is considered one of the oldest Mayan drinks. Consumed in ceremonial rituals, the drink earned its fame from taking the consumer closer to their gods. Balché is made by fermenting the tree bark of a leguminous tree (Lonchocarpus violaceus) after being soaked in honey and water. › From the Mexica empire, the retired from public life, the elderly, and those about to be sacrificed were offered pulque. This fermented beverage is made from maguey leaves. Later in the seventeenth century, the Spanish made a different maguey drink called mezcal. Mezcal was used for ceremonies, a holiday drink, and as a form of medicine. \ IMAGES COURTESY OF RADIO TONREG (CC BY 2.0), RICARDO ANDRE FRANTZ (CC BY-SA 3.0), THAMIZHPPARITHI MAARI (CC BY-SA 3.0), RASBAK (CC BY-SA 3.0), FASTILY (CC BY-SA 3.0), RAINALDO AGUILAR (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0), AND ALEJANDRO LINARES GARCIA (CC BY-SA 3.0).

Origins Scientific Research Society

Steve Maness earned his BA in University Studies with an emphasis on Ancient Studies from University of New Mexico in 2013. He is currently pursuing his MA in Latin American Studies concentrating in Anthropology and Art History. He works under the leadership of Dr. Margaret Jackson, Assistant Professor, while he serves as Research Assistant to Dr. Loa Traxler, Director of Museum Studies. Recently, Steve was the recipient of the 2014 American Alliance of Museums Fellowship.

Mesoamerican Mushroom Stones


Steve Maness

16 | ORIGINS From the Heart


G u at e m a l a

In the Guatemalan highlands, near modern day Guatemala City, rests the ancient Mayan archaeological site Kaminaljuyu. Built up in a series of architectural phases, the signature stepped platform pyramids have revealed a diverse material record during excavations. Some burials contained a rich cache of offerings, such as ceramics, obsidian, and feathers. In these caches, much to the initial surprise of archaeologists, curious sculptures of volcanic rock carved into a mushroom shape with human faces and tripod feet came out of rubble in a wall (Kohler 1976; Kidder 1946). These curious figurines were labelled by scholar Stephan F. De Borhegyi as “mushroom stones” in 1961. Gordon Wasson pursued the idea of a mushroom cult from the 1950s until the late 1980s. With an age from the Preclassic (1000-500 BCE), the mushroom stones were part of the Mayan cultural florescence–agricultural intensification, drainage schemes, population doubling, and depictions of ritual activity in sculptural representations (Wasson 1980; Lowy 1971; Borhegyi 1961, 1963; Evans 2013; Sharer and Traxler 2006). Because a large majority of the items discovered have been documented by later Mayan sculptures, paintings, and stelae as ritual accessories (Ardren 2012), the “mushroom stones” are believed to be ritual tools. This critical time marks the end of the Formative period in Maya culture history, and has shown to be a time of cultural transition toward statehood and deeper social stratification marked by an intensification of ritual activity. The artifacts have had limited scholarly review since their discovery and remain a mystery. Other known ritual items, such as stingray spines and jade are ritual tools that are documented in other Mayan construction sites such as Yaxchilan, Tikal, and Palenque. It is through existing scholarship of these sites that scholars have concluded that important deified chiefs were often entombed in large constructions with sacrificial victims and cached goods of stingray

Cerro Kaminal, Kaminaljuyu, Guatemala spines, jade, sculptures, ceramics and sacrificial victims (Evans 2013; Sharer and Traxler 2006). The most popular example of these activities and practices being Palenque’s tomb of Pacal the Great. Structures were constructed on top of hills, strategically laid out in axial alignments (Townsend 1992), similar to the features of Kaminaljuyu. Kaminaljuyu’s burial goods have garnered theories ranging from a mushroom fertility cult practice (Wasson 1980), allegorical phallic implications (Ardren 2012), and unsubstantiated, scholarly dismissed, assertions of Eastern European connections attempting to explain their meaning, function, and ideological placement in Maya culture. Working from the known information may be useful toward delineating the purpose, function and use of the curious sculptures. The “mushroom stones” had tripod bases, which are important ideology markers of the mythic, allegorical implications on ceramics (Marcus 2003), cooking hearths, sculptural renderings and sacred cosmology through the time of


MUSHROOM CULTS | 17 Spanish conquest (Wertime and Schuster 1993). Therefore, some element of meaning connected to these stones survived past the use of mushroom shaped stone usage, and may provide a link toward knowing why they were included in the burial offerings. The tripod connection may also provide an indication to the function of these objects at the time of burial when examined as part of a ritual suite with other burial goods and burial practices common to Maya. Newer scholarship by scholars such as E. W. Andrews (1941, 1943), Amrhein (2001), Ardren (2001, 2008) with Hixson (2012 with Ardren) have added great depth by looking at the archaeological record through the lens of gender and identity. The insights have implications on how we see phallic, and (previously assumed) feminine concepts as they relate to mythical tradition and allegorical implications in the ethnohistory.




Funerary activities appear to increase in importance with larger quantities of grave goods and dedicated burial structures for special individuals. Marked individuals often are enshrined with luxurious caches of prestigious goods from afar and labor intensive craft items. One particular mound burial provided an unknown individual a rich offering of goods, the details of which continue to remain a mystery to scholars. Mound burial E-111-3 was contained within a built structure 66 feet high and covering a base area of 295 feet. Technology advancements, since the time of De Borhegyi, narrowed the burial date between 750 to 700 BCE. The burial itself contained a litter with an individual who had been wrapped in cloth, then covered with cinnabar, a known ritual burial rite. Further, additional skeletal remains of sacrificial victims accompanied the large cache of ceramic vessels, various beads, tools of bone, soapstone obsidian, jade and bone, as well as quartz crystals, stingray spines, painted gourds, and sheets of mica (Sharer and Traxler 2006; Kidder et. al. 1946).

Learn more about the significance of red cinnabar in burials with Mike Williams:

Today, we will revisit scholarship, applying updated knowledge in order to articulate symbolism, usage, and function, or uncover the significance of these funerary artifacts from Kamilanjuyu’s burial. By utilizing known histories and scholarly supported culture analogies, the burial significance of these artifacts may become clear. Additionally, by understanding these curious grave goods, larger cultural trends can become clearer and offer insights into the ritual connections of Mayan culture history, including later evidence of a break in tradition between the archaeology and ethnohistory. Finally, to conclude, I offer additional questions that are yet to be addressed by scholarship, in hopes that further study will be successfully undertaken. Mushroom Sacrality The nine artifacts that captured the attention of Stephan Borhegyi from 1961 to 1965 were from a private collection whose owner claimed the cache to be from the “Verbena cemetery at Kaminaljuyu,” despite that “[t]he exact location was not disclosed” (Kohler 1976; Borhegyi 1961). Seizing the numerological coincidence of the Origins Scientific Research Society





Alex Vosburgh Some mushrooms have been used for recreation or even religious rituals for hundreds, if not thousands of years. But what is it that actually makes them work their magic? Well, the answer lies in two compounds: psilocin and psilocybin. Psilocin in particular is the compound that contains the psychedelic properties. However, it is also highly unstable. Instead, it is stored in psilocybin, which has a phosphate group attached, thus making it much more stable. This is then easily broken down to psilocin when ingested. So what makes psilocin so groovy? The answer lies in the chemical structure of the molecule. It is very similar to serotonin, which allows it to act on the serotonin receptors while leaving dopamine receptors alone, meaning it is not addictive and has a lethal dose that is higher than caffeine. It is also mainly active in the prefrontal cortex of the brain, which is the basis for many of the reported effects of taking the drug, including hallucinations, sensory distortions of vision and time, tactile sensations, altered thought patterns and much much more. \

One of the 9 mushroom stones from the private collection studied by Borhegyi, now loacted in the Miraflores Museum, Guatemala.

collection, Borhegyi suggested cosmological connections relating to nine levels in the underworld creation myth Popul Vuh (1961). He believed the stones to be material culture evidence of a mushroom cult. Then, in 1963, Borhegyi later followed his argument in another publication featuring a series of ceramic figurines that featured a mushroom shape. In addition to an added collection from ethnomycologist Gordon Wasson, Borhegyi adding a figurine from Veracruz, Mexico, depicting a female figure with a giant mushroom. He was convinced of an ancient mushroom cult in Mesoamerica. Borhegyi’s argument was met with criticism (Kohler 1976) favoring an alternative hypotheses emphasizing “practical purpose” as usage. The main argument being that the sculptures were used for molding of ceramics and paint pigments, or even use as molds for ceremonial rubber balls (Kohler 1976). Kohler’s argument included the employment of effigy in various other artifacts from Mesoamerica. He further insisted that the artifacts were “not astonishing in the context of a culture in which artistic decoration of utensils [were] not exceptional” (Kohler 1976). His criticism of the Borhegyi hypothesis included a Remojadas style pottery figurine from Tenenexpan, Veracruz, (Kohler 1976:151, Borhegyi 1963:332, Fig. 5) in which Borhegyi had interpreted as having a “hand .. extended upward trancelike or as if praying to the sky,” that he suggested was archaeological evidence of “mushrooms as objects of adoration by initiated ‘curanderas’” in the act of sacred rites (Kohler 1976:151; Borhegyi 1963:329-30). The archaeological evidence proved problematic. Certainly, the Kaminaljuyu investigation discovered piecemeal artifacts of the stones” in the grouting of a platform, or in a ditch” (Kohler 1976:151; Kidder 1946: 142). However, the artifacts were “in a ditch some 30m apart from a mound” (ibid), which Kohler maintains is locative evidence that “had lost their function” and were simply “building material[s] thrown away as waste” and adding “other mushroom stones found in that area” provided “no data on conditions in situ” (1976), which these artifacts so heavily depend upon for interpretive accuracy.

MUSHROOM CULTS | 19 To Kohler’s credit, four pottery mushrooms contained in a midden at Ceiba had been discarded “because their rims [were] broken” (1976; Stirling 1957); and supported by contextual evidence at another tomb excavation at Isla (1976; Stirling 1957). Kohler’s argument stands strongly on evidence from the burial discovered at Kaminlajuyu’s mound E-111-3. In 1946, Kidder, J.D. Jenning, and Shook excavated a (mushroom) carved stone artifact of the highest craftsmanship, in a tomb of a high status individual, that has been assumed to be a ruler, priest or warrior, because of the vast amounts of funerary offerings that had been placed on the floor and tomb walls in such a way “that no further space was available” (Kohler 1976; Shook and Kidder 1952:56-57). However, because a significant portion of the tomb had been destroyed by non-archaeological workmen despite the 250 offerings, (Kohler 1976; Shook and Kidder 1952) Kohler interprets the stone as a present to an important chief (1976: 151). From the standpoint of ritual theory, the stone that was found indeed was used in the context of funerary rites. This context not only categorizes the object as ritual paraphernalia but, in the context of a funerary rite, would infer a positive and negative ritual (Giddens 1978). The sculpture was positive because it was a celebration of life, evidenced by the monument in place as an architectural feature with tomb. However, it was negative by means of being sequestered away from access to the living. In this respect, it also served as a ritual tool for use during a stage of liminality that was constant (Turner 1969). Further, Gannep’s (1920) idea of aggregation comes into consideration because all of the participants of the funerary monument will die at some point, therefore, joining the individual in death. Borhegyi’s diligently attentive pursuit of mushroom cult evidence in 1963 that followed his initial paper on the private collection still was not enough to convince the scholarly community. The stones remained shrouded in mystery and failed to maintain the attention of the Origins Scientific Research Society

Melanie E Magdalena




From the Valley of Mexico The Prince of Flowers of the Aztec, Xochipilli, is the god of flowers, love, beauty, song, and dance. A statue unearthed during the mid-1800s in Tlamanalco on the slopes of Popocatepetl. Xochipilli is seated on a throne or temple-like base. The figure is covered in carvings of sacred and psychoactive flowers. Xochipilli’s earspools and headdress are made of stylized mushroom caps. On his shoulders are morning glory tendrils and over the knees stylized caps of Psilo-

cybe aztecorum. On his lower back are buds of Heimia salicifolia and on the thighs a flower if Heimia salicifolia. Lastly, on the upper thigh are flowers of Nicotiana tabacum and Rivea corymbosa. Researchers have presented that the position and expression of the body is in throes of entheogenic ecstasy. This claim is supported by clear representations of hallucinogenic plants in sacred contexts of the Aztec. \

flower of

Nicotiana tabacum (tabacco) bud of

Heimia salicifolia (sinicuichi)

flower of

Heimia salicifolia (sinicuichi)

stylized flower of

mushroom cap

Rivea corymbosa (morning glory)

cap of

Psilocybe aztecorum tendril of morning glory

Origins Scientific Research Society

22 | ORIGINS archaeological community. The subject was dropped, leaving ethnologists to pursue the debate between the two men. At this point, Gannep’s stages come more into the consideration via the belief (or assumption by them) that the ritual practitioners were using mushrooms to achieve an altered state. Mesoamerican Entheogenic Mystery On May 4, 1915, William E. Safford, a respected United States botanist, delivered an address in Washington D.C. before the Botanical Society, where he firmly charged natives of “confusing the dried cactus peyote (Lophophora Williamsii) buttons with mushrooms” (Wasson 1980:xix). Included in a later publication of Journal of Heredity, which included lush illustrations, the passion for herbal mushrooms became ignited, when an ethnobotanist from Mexico, Bias Pablo Reko, heavily contested the Safford assertions with claims that mushrooms were still being used in the state of Oaxaca (ibid.). Reko soon gained support from others including the botanist from Harvard University, Richard Evans Schultes, who gathered specimens from Juantla de Jiminez, where he and Jean Bassett Johnson (also a botanist) witnessed a sacred ritual performed by a shaman ingesting them (ibid.). Following Schultes and Johnson’s lead, in the 1950’s, R. Gordon Wasson and Valentina Pavlovna Guercken, (his wife) who was a pediatrician, visited Mexico. With the help of Robert J. Weitlaner, an Austrian engineer who studied the indigenous cultures of Mexico, the couple labored for ten years, investigating the different types and uses of mushrooms. During their travels, they had the opportunity to participate in a Mazatec ceremony that utilized the mushrooms of the area by a curandera named Maria Sabina. They were allowed to take photographs, and Maria shared her knowledge about the different uses of sacred mushrooms (Wasson 1980). Wasson recorded the ceremony that took place on July 1, 1956. Later that year, Life Magazine published “Seeking the Magic Mushroom,” putting Wasson and the use of hallucinogenic mushroom center stage of public attention.

Psilocybe mushrooms from left to right: P. hoogshagen The specific mushroom used by Maria Sabina was the Psilocybe caerulescens, which is a variation of the mazatecorum called “Landslide Mushroom” by the Mazatec people (Wasson 1980; Guzman 2008). In addition to presenting his research in his book Wondrous Mushroom, published in 1980, and again recently in 2012, Wasson included an exhaustive litany of evidence to back his claims. Wasson passionately argued his belief, even though several claims were interpretively subjective and not widely accepted by scholars. Despite the scholarly community’s reception to his work, a record of his night with Maria was duplicated in vinyl in 1975 by Folkways Records, featuring seventeen tracks of the ceremony. Then, in 1978, a documentary film entitled Maria Sabina Mujer Espiritu was released by director Nicolas Echevarria and Centro de Producción de



nii, P. aztecorum, P. yungensis, P. caerulescens var. caerulescens, P. zapotecorum, and P. mexicana. Cortometraje. Maria used the mushrooms in the ceremony by ingesting them directly. According to Wasson’s interviews, the mushroom speaks through her during these rites (Wasson 1980:34-35). There is the possibility that the face imagery on some of the stones allegorically symbolize a ritual specialist, acting as a conduit for prognostication, with mushrooms as the deity. Wasson’s ethnographic evidence certainly give credence to this hypothesis. From a theoretical standpoint, a feature of this rite is the cohesion, or “humanity,” (Turner 1969) that is fostered by the gathering of people. There is certainly anti-structure in that Maria is no longer merely a woman doing her mundane chores. She is elevated to ritual leader (position of great power) by her role as initiator and practitioner of the sacred mushroom ritual. Further,

she would most likely be considered extremely powerful (hence also dangerous) by participants and believers. There is also a certain profusion of symbols, in that traditionally Christian iconography and ritual practice has been mixed with Spanish songs using native language (all of which are symbolic--music, verbal cues, and Catholic iconography). From a Levi-Strauss’ structuralist viewpoint, the “system” fits well. The Catholic iconography and staging lends itself as a good complement to the indigenous ritual. One person interested in the works of Wasson was Gaston Guzman. The two men met while Wasson was conducting his decade of research in Mexico. Guzman was a graduate student with the National Polytechnic Institute in Mexico. Guzman had read the article published in Life magazine and met Wasson by chance while Origins Scientific Research Society

24 | ORIGINS working on collecting specimens. Wasson and Guzman remained friends for the following twenty five years. Guzman’s latest edition to the subject was a paper entitled New Taxonomical and Ethnomycological observations on Psilocybe S. S. (Fungi, Basidiomycota, Agaricomyetidae, Agaricales, Strophariaceae) from Mexico, Africa and Spain through the Instituto de Ecología in Xalapa, Veracruz in Mexico. In testing, the psilocybe family of mushrooms has been shown to have multiple variations that are used throughout much of Mesoamerica, as well as mushroom iconography frequently being used in other historical artifacts and documents (Guzman 2012). Given the regularity of mushroom imagery and reference, Guzman adds firm foundation to Wasson’s hypothesis of a mushroom cult. Since the article by Wasson was published, public interest skyrocketed. Also, numerous venues for those seeking mind-altering experiences for various reasons have flocked to Mexico in search of the fungi, and in the internet age, millions of outlets have appeared offering bidders the ultimate in entheogenic experience. The mycological popularity continues as of this writing. The frequency of ritual use would certainly make the mushroom (and any ritual object directly connected to it) a candidate in Dirkheim’s idea of “totemism,” (Radcliffe-Brown 1933) due to the mushroom referencing a ritual participated in by the larger group. Furthermore, the iconographic nature of the mushroom itself (Pierce 1991) could explain the carved stone discovered in the tomb at Kaminaljuyu, Guatemala, or explain the collection that was presented to Stephen de Borhegyi. Considering that the ritual no longer has any type of carving used, (i.e. grinding stone [mano or metate]) it could possibly be considered a piacular ritual (Giddens 1978) that has been reconstituted later in time. Also, because many of the stones that have been found have effigy iconography of anthropomorphic or animal nature, E. B. Tyler may have pointed to a “ritual of reversal,” (Turner 1969) because the mushroom (in the mind of believers) is taking the characteristics of human

by speaking through the ritual practitioner. Tyler’s (1974) “Animism” ideation may be a major factor in the mushroom ritual being practiced. Indeed, in this instance, it is believed by the practitioners that the mushroom does have a spiritual essence that makes itself known. In this case, sympathetic magic would be at work because of the ritual specialist ingesting the mushroom to achieve a heightened awareness or spiritual plane. Phallic Allegory Iconography is deeply complex throughout the Classic period. Metaphor was the means to describe complex subjects and ideas (Amrhein 2001). Therefore, a king’s procreative prowess and ability to affect agricultural fecundity was represented allegorically in abstracted symbolism, as noted in earliest European explorations of the northern Maya areas (Ardren 2012; Desmond 1988). Scholars such as Andrews (1941,1943), Pollock (1980), and Amrhein (2001) have continued the conversation regarding “the phallicism prevalent in northern Maya art” (Ardren 2012). In addition to the overt phallic art, linguistic evidence has shown that there was a specific glyph called “sky penis” that was included as part of name phrases (Amrhein 2001). According to J. Eric S. Thompson, “the form of the penis glyph is very similar to the sign for le or lineage” and regularly “carved on lintels, bench panels, altars, stelae and portable objects” (Amrhein 2001 :80; Thompson 1991:361 ). In light of this phallic allegory, it is not a far stretch of the imagination to expect to see phalli used in various contexts. Certainly, in the ritual theory context, the iconographic, combined with indexical (Pierce 1991) markers in glyphic writing and carved on lintels, benches, altars and stelae would serve as both a totem reference to the lineage group (Radcliffe-Brown 1933), and as a subtextual message, or “hidden transcript,” (Scott 1991) regarding the sexual potency, supernatural procreative power, and anxiety of the kings (Scott 1987). Amrhein’s (2001) excellent dissertation discov-


According to Amrhein, phallic allegory became more overt through the Classic period. Following Amrhein, Ardren and Hixson (2006) examined a sample of phallic imagery, providing a table containing site, medium, and association. The table revealed an even distribution; however, the conclusion was that phallic imagery had noticeable significance in the northern Maya lowlands, (2006) which is where proliferous artistic evidence is found for phallic bloodletting. Phallic imagery associations, combined with bloodletting, and the creation myth of “First Father” are specifically mentioned in the Spanish Chronicles of Landa in his Relacion de las Cosas de Yucatan. Landa describes “offer[ing] sacrifices of their own blood, sometimes cutting themselves around in pieces, and they left them in this way as a sign ... slit[ing] the superfluous part of the virile member leaving it” (Tozzer 1966 via Amrhein 2011). The direct phallic reference,


ered that phallic imagery had special associations with the Wacah-Chan cosmological World Tree (2001) which gave motion to the stars in the Popul Vuh creation myth. The allegorical association with the World Tree easily explains the tripod base, given that the World Tree was erected in association with a three-stone hearth. which also caused the motion of the stars in the sky (Amrhein 2001). The other tree connection is of commonly used tree saps with semen mentioned below. Further, erect stones are linguistically associated by the name ta-tun (tree stone) stone stelae (2001). This association is supported by Juteson and Mathews work showing “there is a persistent linguistic association between the meaning of the words ‘penis’ and ‘stone-” (Amrhein 2001; Justesen and Mathews 1983). Additionally, phallic associations connected to complex imagery, including mythical associations, go deeper. They symbolize fertility, as allegorically symbolized by erected state stelae. The allusion connects them to the mattock (planting stick), as provided in the Popul Vuh allusions “to the insemination of the earth with a ‘stick”’ by the Hero Twins as “they simply stuck their mattock in the ground, and the mattock simply cultivated the ground” (Amrhein 2001; Tedlock 1996).

A Chant

to the

Saint Children:

Because I can swim in the immense Because I can swim in all forms Because I am the launch woman Because I am the sacred opossum Because I am the Lord opossum I am the woman Book that is beneath the water, says I am the woman of the populous town, says I am the shepherdess who is beneath the water, says I am the woman who shepherds the immense, says I am a shepherdess and I come with my shepherd, says Because everything has its origin And I come going from place to place from the origin... Origins Scientific Research Society

26 | ORIGINS in association with leadership duties provides additional support for phallic imagery being part of a suite of allegoric iconography within Maya creation cosmology, settlement charters (Amrhein 2001) fertility, and state building. The strategic placement of these items could certainly make perfect sense from a Dirkheimian model. It could certainly have implications on exactly who does what work in the society, and would have connections to Hubert’s ideas about sacrifice (since the penis was the primary sacred (Giddens 1978) location of autosacrifice for elites in power). From the standpoint of gifting a vital part of oneself, Mauss (1990, 1923) and the expectation of supernatural reciprocation by deities would have a major impact on the political structure of power in times of fecundity. Fertility could be perceived as a good king who is fulfilling his promise to the group and nurturing the gods. Also, because of the functional placement (Durkheim) of the ritual being a vital glue that holds the society together, it has implications of all four of Fiske’s (1991, 2005) functions of human relationships: community sharing, authority ranking, equality matching, and market pricing. The bloodletting ritual ( just like the mushroom ritual in Oaxaca, Mexico with Maria) is a form of sharing. The community shares the fruits of the kings sacrifice to keep the sun rising daily via bloodletting (Maria served as the producer of abundance of spiritual remedy and later tourism proceeds). Only the king’s blood would do for the sacrifice/gift; therefore, authority structures were unavoidable. The king was the kexol or replacement equal for the gods precisely because he was

crificing his blood. Market pricing was created in that the blood of a king was valuable to any polity’s sacrifice ritual (which is clearly depicted in many hieroglyphic texts bragging that they had captured and sacrificed the leader of another polity). The mushroom, which is a special mushroom ritually, was more valuable than others because of the psychoactive properties or spiritual essence utilized in ritual activity. What’s more, with both rituals, (bloodletting and mushroom rite) there is an element of identity disclosure, (Fiske 2005) in which the individual is expressing a supernatural ability in front of the group. In that disclosure lies a denial of their own humanity via being able to transcend regular consciousness or by nurturing the gods with one’s sacrifice. This is sim ilar to the Christian doc trine of praying over food, with eating being an act of con fession that the indi vidual is not divine and must eat to live, or die. C u lt o r A l l e g o r y ? Mushroom or Phalli?

Considering the evidence, both mushroom and phalli allusions are highly viable models. From the archaeological findings of Kidder and Borhegyi, the ground breaking ethnographic and botanical explorations and documentation Wasson and Guzman, linguistic evidence from Schele and Freidel with adjunct support from historical texts of Landa, identity archeology from Ardren, and well documented work of Amrhein with Ardren and This Mayan Mushroom stone was found in El Salvador and is currently located at Museum Rietberg, Zurich. PIXELTOO | CC BY 2.0

Hixson lending solid collaborative support, the stones that are popularly referenced as “mushroom” stones could have served an allegorical purpose of recounting the creation myth of Popul Vuh through the use of compound, semasiographic indexing in support of political legitimation. Contextually, because of the environment the stones tend to be found in, one being state formation and kingship propaganda, it is likely that they served in actual ritual activities and as prestige markers for elites. Borhegyi’s first problem of missing context was cleared slightly by the work of Kidder’s excavations at Kaminaljuyu thanks to the early Classic date of the tomb findings. Borhegyi’s report on other mushroom imagery served to inform the scholarly community of the wide distribution of mushroom iconography in the archaeological record and ethnohistorical context. When Wasson added to the conversation with his depth into the ritual aspects of the mushroom, he laid a solid ground that Guzman continues to build upon to date. Given that science is now allowing for deep testing of chemical substance exploration on a microscopic scale, Guzman’s work has shed much light on the psychological implications of Wasson’s ethnographic evidence. Phallic imagery has a direct connection with what the linguistic evidence shows. In combination with the artistic traditions that archaeology has generously shed light on, that phallic imagery does indeed go deeper than simply being an exotic ritual for scholarly fetish. It provides insights into cosmological connections and allusions that Amrhein articulated. Clearly, the ritual significance of the stones found at Kaminaljuyu are very ambiguous without more archaeology and ethnology work to add to the disconnected body of knowledge. It is known that ritual bloodletting was practiced at Kaminaljuyu. But until iconographic (ceramic context or narrative) evidence depicting more information of how the stones would have been used comes to light, scholars are left with hol-

MUSHROOM CULTS | 27 low models that appear to have diverged: one segment going into the Yucatan as phalli representations, and Mexican specialists concentrating on the botanical usages of herbs and flora. More work in all of the above mentioned areas would add focus and clarity to the existing scholarship, and, as usual, add additional questions that have yet to be asked. For now, scholarship could add greatly to the body of knowledge by exploring how mushroom and phallic imagery appears to have split, leaving phallic imagery in mostly the northern Maya lowlands, while mushroom imagery and practice appears to spread north into Mexico. Additionally, why did the segregation of phallic end in the Yucatan where it became more overt, and, in Mexico the phallic implications appear to have almost totally dropped given the female ritual iconography in Veracruz and Wasson’s example of Maria Sabina? Additionally, why have there not been more sculptures found in a context in recent excavations? How did the cult change in such a way that, for whatever reason, it appears to have lost potency with kingship? How does new information regarding the gendering of identity and power politics change our existing scholarship in a way that specifically enlightens new information previously missed due to misinterpretations? Do the interpretations post-gender enlightenment change how we view modern Maya communities today? How so, and to what end? Scholarship is expected to provide insights that are regularly accompanied by additional questions. Aside from fueling further scholarship, the additional questions can often tell much about the popular models being used in respective fields and give significant evidence regarding the mores of the date of the scholarship. Hopefully, there will be additional interest in this fascinating subject, to the end of irradiating the ability of pop-culture and fed religious movements from having much of an impact or result on the way the world views ancient Mesoamerican civilization. Until that time, the only tool at our disposal is critical scholarship in conjunction with scholarly debate and review. \ Origins Scientific Research Society


Institutionalized Murder Morgan v Courage Pharmakeia or pharmakon? Mercury laced flu shots, dental amalgam, thimerosal, warfarin, digitalis, and pharmaceutical synthetics are considered medicine while natural herbs and essential oils are thought of as mere potions or even sorcery by Big Pharma. Biopharmaceutical companies are expensive to run under high risk endeavors, only significant profits will guarantee solvency. Clinical trials and drug development are chosen by the significant profit margin and medical breakthrough. For example, aspirin has been a generic drug since 1919 with a cost less than $6.00 for a year supply and may improve survival and reduce the recurrence of some cancers. But running clinical trials to prove or disprove the benefits of aspirin in cancer treatment will not produce a monetary return of investment, leaving investors with no interest to invest in a pharmaceutical company without a high return of investment.

What is Big Pharma? › This name is given to the FDA and traditional pharmacology business. Big Pharma, derived from PhRMA-the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America. › Big Pharma is worth roughly around $300 billion USD. › It wields enormous influence over modern Western medicine, insurance, litigation, government, and health with leverage from huge profits and lobbyists.

Mercury Mercury is still used in FDA approved flu shots and dental amalgam. Is it safe? Clinical trials and scientific evidence suggest that it is poisonous and has no medicinal benefit to the human body. Dental amalgam is a filling material, known as silver fillings, for teeth containing 43 to 54 percent mercury. Silver in the fillings is a very small, minor percentage of the silver fillings marketed by dentists. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) found little scientific evidence that mercury in dental amalgam is dangerous or a health risk. In 2004, a new report entitled “Review and Analysis of the Literature on the Potential Adverse Health Effects of Dental Amalgam” by the Life Sciences Research Office (LSRO) concluded that there is insufficient evidence to support a correlation between dental amalgam exposure and kidney or cognitive dysfunction; neurodegenerative disease, specifically Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s disease; or autoimmune disease, including multiple sclerosis. The European Commission Health and Consumers found that mercury in dental amalgam can release small amounts of mercury in the body breathing in mercury vapor and by swallowing mercury leaching from the tooth fillings or small pieces that break from the filling release the mercury inside the gut. Workplace exposure on a long-term and regular basis will affect

the central nervous system, kidneys, and cause inflammation of the gums. High exposure to mercury will produce bronchitis and pneumonia. Other than an allergic reactions in some patients, dental amalgam is found to be an effective, strong, durable, and economical tooth filling that will outlast other materials.

BIG PHARMA | 29 Warfarin, Digitalis, and Pharmaceutical Synthetics

Warfarin, also known as Coumadin, is a rat poison and the most widely used anticoagulant. During the 1920s, many cattle in the United States and Canada became afflicted with a disease characterized by fatal bleeding. Sweet The United States Environmental Protection clove was found to have a hemorrhagic factor that reduces prothrombin, an essential blood Agency found that mercury absorbed as a vapor through the lungs can be detrimental to a perclotting mechanism in the blood. In 1948, the son’s healh. These exposures can occur when synthesis of warfarin led to an FDA approved roelemental mercury is spilled or products that denticide in 1952. In 1954, warfarin, named afcontain it break and expose mercury to the air, ter WARF (Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundaparticularly in warm or poorly-ventition) and–arin from coumarin was lated indoor spaces. The symptoms approved for human consumption as a therapeutic blood thinner. One of mercury poisoning are tremors, “Is the role of emotional changes, nervousness, of warfarin’s biggest successes is leading large insomnia, neuromuscular changes, its effectiveness in preventing emheadaches, and changes in nerve bolic strokes in patients with atripharmaceutical responses. Higher exposures may al fibrillation. However, its narrow companies to therapeutic index also makes it cause kidney damage, respiratory failure and death. Mercury poisondiscover life saving number three on the list of drugs ings are caused from unsafe fish, implicated for hospital treatment drugs, or to make of adverse effects. not dental amalgam.


money for share-

Thimerosal, containing about 50% Digitalis, the purple foxglove, digholders through italis purpurea, is an effective carmercury by weight, is a widely used dio-active drug. It is a steroid that preservative in flu vaccines. It is financial exerts specific action on the carmetabolized or degraded to ethylengineering?” diac muscles. The plant has been mercury and thiosalicylate. Ethylused by gypsies and other healers mercury is an organomercurial that Prof. William George, as a remedy for heart problems does not bioaccumulate like methylmercury, making it less toxic to the Harvard Business School for many years. The discovery for human body. Big pharma finds that its use by a medical doctor started in 18th century Scotland by Dr. thimerosal meets the requirements William Withering. In 1775, one of his patients as a preservative by preventing growth of fungi and killing pathogens. Many research studies came to him with a very bad heart condition. Unable to help, his patient went instead to a lointo the effects of safe doses of ethylmercury cal gypsy and took a secret herbal remedy and in vaccinations have claimed that the levels are safe; however, as a precautionary measure, the promptly became well. Dr. Withering found the Public Health Service, the FDA, the National gypsy and finally convinced her to reveal the herbal remedy’s active ingredient, purple foxInstitutes of Health (NIH), the CDC, the Health glove. Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), and the American Academy of Pediatrics urged Since the dark ages, the extract of this plant was vaccine manufacturers to reduce or eliminate used as a poison for the mediaeval ‘trial by orthimerosal in vaccines as soon as possible (CDC deal’, and also used as an external application 1999) and (CDC 2000). Today there are two flu for the healing of wounds. Dr. Withering used vaccines available, one containing thimerosal various formulations of digitalis plant extracts and one without. Origins Scientific Research Society


on 163 patients. The dried, powdered leaf produced amazingly successful results. He introduced its use officially in 1785, and today digitalis is the best treatment to control heart rate by increasing the intensity of the heart muscle contractions and diminishing the rate. Similar to Coumadin, digitalis is also toxic. The FDA approved its use in 1998; however big Pharma does not promote its use due to the promotion of other newly patented drugs. Natural remedies in herbs and essential oils has been used heavily in Egypt, China, ancient Rome, Greece, the Arabian Empire, and Europe during the Dark Ages and Renaissance for medicine, beauty, religion, aromatherapy, and in some cases, as a very valuable form of exchange. Today, many people are also healed and find the more natural remedies and beauty treatments better than a list of chemicals, synthetics, and diluted toxic ingredients with study results. The FDA does not regulate natural herbs and oils and little or no research is conducted to prove or disprove a use for a specific treatment. The purpose and results of the natural substances are not supported by Big Pharma and modern medicine leaving the actual results and use to be determined by marketing and personal testimony. The selectivity and profit of pharmaceutical companies determines what actually is worth the cost associated to run a study and what is not. Is the control on health a form of institutionalized murder by the government and Big Pharma? Prescriptions based on study protocol by pharmaceutical companies controls health care, leaving out other options that may improve or save a life. So what is the Pharmakeia and what is the pharmakon? Who gets to determine it? \

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REFERENCES & FURTHER READING Origins Scientific Research Society

Origins | Winter 2014  

Past and present, drugs are a part of peoples' lives. Why is this? From psychedelic mushrooms to why you should vaccinate your children, thi...

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