Espand is the divine plant believed to be the key ingredient of Haoma, and has been used for 5,000 years medically for its analgesic, antihypertensive, and antibacterial and apotropaic properties. Haoma, as referred to by the Pagan and Zoroastrians of Ancient Iran (Persia) and written in the Old Avestan religious texts, is also known as Soma by the Vedic tribes of India as written in their sacred Hindu text the RgVeda (and was co opted as the name of the happiness drug in Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World) .
Long before Haoma was incorporated into religious ceremonies for the pursuit of wisdom, truth and spiritual immortality (1900 BCE), Espand, also known as Peganum Harmala or Harmel, had been used medicinally in Ancient Egypt and Mesopotamia dating back to 3,000 BCE. Religion and medicine in early societies across the globe were inseparable as interwoven means to treat illness, enhance life, promote transcendence, and escape death. To the Daoist shamans of Ancient China, the medicine men of the Mayan Civilization, and the alchemists of Medieval Europe, religion and medicine were an inseparable amalgam of astrology, superstition, social morality, agriculture, and pharmacology with the goals of minimizing suffering and pursuing immortality .
The terms “plant medicine” or “herbal medicine” have come to be used interchangeably and synonymously with “natural medicine” in our modern lexicon, with more than 80% of people worldwide relying on them for some part of primary healthcare . Today, the concept of “food as medicine” sits at the intersection of nutrition and healthcare, which were as synonymous in early times as religion and medicine. The world’s earliest known pharmacopeia, The Divine Farmer’s Materia Medica, is attributed to Shennong Ben Cao Jing who is believed to have lived from 2737-2697 BCE, and is the legendary father of both medicine and farming in China.
Two millennia before Hippocrates declared “let thy food be thy medicine and they medicine by the food” , the priests and shamans of our Eastern Ancestors from Sumeria, to Iran, Bactria and China understood that healing took many forms:
– Physiological, such as the use of henbane (which contains scopolamine) for treating toothache
– Mental, such as the use of sage for treating headaches and anxiety 
– Spiritual, such as the use of haoma in Zoroastrian priests rituals
Plants: Our Ecosystem’s Primary Producers
While fungi and animals are incapable of making their own organic matter and must consume other organisms, plants are capable of producing organic matter through the process of photosynthesis which makes them the basis of the food chain. Like animals, plants:
- – Perceive environmental stimuli (e.g. climate, temperature, predators) through somatic, auditory, and olfactory sensors 
- – Possess memory and the ability to learn and adapt through epigenetic gene modification in response to environmental factors 
- – Communicate with each other chemically  and electrochemically via neurotransmitters similar to those from the human nervous system , and symbiotically through fungal mycelium networks
If plants are our ecosystem’s producers, fungi are its decomposers and recyclers capable of forming new compounds from dead organisms. Beginning 400 million years ago, plants, fungi, and animals co-evolved in forming a symbiotic and sometimes thriving / sometimes destructive relationship with each other . This co-evolution took a stepchange 750,000 years ago with the entrance of homo sapiens who learned to manipulate plants and fungi for food, medicine, clothing, shelter, tools, and fuel.
Psychoactive Plants and Fungi
As plants and fungi advanced together with humans, evolution selected for more than edibility and physiological nutrition but also spirituality, sociality, and psychological nutrition. It was for this reason that psychoactive plants and fungi that contain the same or similar neurotransmitter compounds as the animal kingdom thrived, even in the absence of nutritional value . Medicinal plants and fungi containing psychoactive compounds that act on the body’s central nervous system played a critical role in the symbiotic development of advanced societies across the world . In today’s jargon, plant medicine is usually referred to psychedelic plant medicines and the setting that these psychedelic are taken are called plant medicine ceremonies.
Psycho*active plants and fungi can be thought of as:
- Adaptogens, that help the mind and body adapt to and cope with stressors.
- Nootropics, that enhance brain health and cognitive performance.
- Psychedelics, including hallucinogens, dissociatives, and deliriants that significantly alter sensory perception and trigger non-ordinary states of consciousness.
Common plant/fungi adaptogens include:
- – Ginseng, which contains ginsenosides 
- – Rhodiola, which contains salidroside 
- – Cordyceps mushrooms, which contains cordycepin 
- – Ashwagandha, which contains withaferin-A and withanone 
- – Turmeric, which contains curcumin 
Common plant/fungi nootropics include:
– Reishi mushrooms, which contain peptidoglycans and triterpenes 
– Lion’s Mane mushrooms, which contains erinacines and hericenones 
– Bacopa Monnieri, which contains bacosides 
– Gingko biloba, which contain terpene trilactones 
– Huperzia selago, which contains huperzine A 
Common plant/fungi psychedelics include:
– Psilcoybe Cubensis, the most common strain of psychedelic mushrooms that contains psilocybin
– Tabernanthe Iboga, a tree native to Central Africa whose bark contains ibogaine
– Peyote and San Pedro cacti, native to North and South America that contain mescaline
– Ayahuasca, a brew indigenous to South America that is made from the tree bark of Psychotria Viridis (known as Chacruna), a source of DMT, and the vine of Banisteriopsis Caapi (known as Yage), a source of Beta-Carbolines
– Amanita Muscaria, a mushroom that grows in high elevations around the world, and contains muscimol
Ancestral Supplement for The Good Mind: MAGI
Beyond the hallucinogenic effect of Haoma for otherworldly journeys by the Zoroastrian priests of Ancient Iran, Espand, (also known as Peganam Harmala, Syrian Rue, Harmel (Arabic), or Besasa (Egyptian)) was used religiously and medically for treating 72 varieties of ailments across the Middle East / North Africa, ranging from leprosy to intestinal pain . Espand is also believed to be the legendary plant moly, as written in Homer’s epic poem The Odyssey, which was given to Odysseus by Hermes (the Greek god of speed) to protect him from the magic of the sorceress Circe. Even the Koran states that “Every root, every leaf of harmel, is watched over by an angel who waits for a person to come in search of healing.” 
While its mind-manifesting ritualistic use has been lost to time, Espand’s legacy has persisted culturally from its Zoroastrian roots to modern day Iran. Espand seeds are still burned in homes as incense to ward off the curse of the “evil eye”, particularly on special occasions such as Nowruz (Persian New Year)., at weddings or the birth of a new child.
Although its ancestral roots may have been forgotten, Espand’s pharmacological benefits inadvertently persist in modern Iranian culture through its use as an incense. Studies have shown that the smoke of Espand possesses antioxidant and angiogenesis properties , and also serves as an antibacterial and antimicrobial agent . Chemically, Espand is one of the richest sources of Beta-Carbolines, a class of naturally occurring organic compounds with psychoactive and neuroprotective properties. It is thanks to modern science that we now understand what our Eastern ancestors discovered thousands of years ago, which we have brought to you with Magi Ancestral Supplement nootropics.
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