In West Africa, this treelike curcubit is known as

pebe. Its seeds are reputedly used to establish

contact with the water spirits (mamiwata).

Apparently they are ingested and also smeared on

the arms. The seeds are used by the Pygmies as a

stimulant and to treat headaches. With a scent

reminiscent of that of nutmeg, they are also used as a substitute for the true nutmeg (Myristica

fragrans) , which may also represent a pebe for

contacting the water spirits (Wagner 1991; cf. also

Ott 1993, 413 f.*). The seeds contain an essential

oil in which myristicin or safrole may be present;

this would make them a useful psychoactive substance.

African slaves introduced the plant into the

Caribbean, where the seeds are used as a spice

(Bartels 1993,69*).

Another curcubit species (Echinocystis Iobata

Torr. et Gray) is rumored to be psychoactive or

even hallucinogenic (Schultes and Farnsworth

1982, 188*; Schultes and Hofmann 1980,367*).

Wagner, Johanna. 1991. Das "dawa" der mamiwata

(Ein moglicherweise pharmakologischer Aspekt

des westafrikanischen Glaubens an Wassergeister.)

Integration 1:61-63.

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