Archaeologists identify contents of ancient Mayan drug containers

Scientists use new methods to discover what's inside drug containers used by ancient Mayan people.

Credit: WSU
  • Archaeologists used new methods to identify contents of Mayan drug containers.
  • They were able to discover a non-tobacco plant that was mixed in by the smoking Mayans.
  • The approach promises to open up new frontiers in the knowledge of substances ancient people consumed.
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How high did our ancestors get? We might soon be able to tell.

Traces of heroin and cocaine have been found in the tartar of 19th-century Dutch farmers.

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  • Archaeologists can now tell what drugs our ancestors used thanks to tooth tartar.
  • For this study, they tested 10 cadavers and discovered 44 drugs and metabolites.
  • This new method will offer us insights into the types of drugs our ancestors used.
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Ginger may guard against the progression of some autoimmune diseases

A new study on mice showed that ginger may counter certain autoimmune disorders such as lupus and antiphospholipid syndrome.

  • A new Michigan Medicine study on mice suggests that the primary bioactive compound of ginger root, 6-gingerol, could help counter the autoimmune disorders lupus and antiphospholipid syndrome.
  • The researchers found that the mice had lower levels of NETs (which play a role in the pathogenesis of lupus and antiphospholipid syndrome by stimulating autoantibody formation) after being giving 6-gingerol.
  • 6-gingerol won't be able to be the primary therapy for individuals with lupus or active antiphospholipid syndrome, but the research team is eager to see if the natural supplement offers help to those at high risk for developing the diseases.
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Chemists modify hallucinogen to treat depression and addiction

A new study explores the therapeutic potential of the psychedelic drug ibogaine, which has been used in Africa for centuries.

Credit: David S. Soriano / Wikimedia Commons
  • For decades, people have reported that the psychedelic drug ibogaine seems to rid addicts of their cravings for drugs.
  • In a new study, researchers created a variant of ibogaine that's less toxic and doesn't cause hallucinations.
  • The results showed that the variant seemed to significantly lower depression and drug relapse rates in tests on mice.
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What will 'psychedelic therapy' look like when it's legalized?

Psychedelic therapy will become legal in Oregon in 2023. That's thanks largely to a renaissance of psychedelic research that's changing attitudes on the substances' medical potential.

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  • In November, Oregon voted to legalize psilocybin therapy.
  • Psilocybin is already being used in clinical research settings, but it remains a controlled substance on the federal level.
  • At the 2020 Web Summit, two experts in the field of psychedelic research and therapy shed light on what the future of psilocybin therapy might look like.
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