Several species of lupine (Lupinus albus 1., 1.

angustifolius 1., 1. luteus 1.) are found in the

Mediterranean region. In ancient times, they were

used for medicinal (described in Dioscorides

2.132), ritual, and apparently psychoactive

purposes. The pilgrims who came to the Greek

death oracle of Acheron (near Ephyra, Thesprotia,

northern Greece)-the entrance to Hades-were

required to eat large quantities of lupine seeds so

that they could contact the souls of the dead

(Dakaris 1989). "A strict diet was used to psychologically prepare them for communicating with

the underworld in the narrow passages of the

labyrinthine shrine.... The consumption of the

alkaloid-containing lupine seeds induced in the

pilgrims the state of inebriation that the priests

desired and diminished their faculties of perception,

preconditions that were necessary for the

initiated to be able to feign a genuine communication

with the shadow figures of the deceased"

(Baumann 1982, 146*). Since the oracular priests

jealously guarded their secrets, we unfortunately

know nothing precise about the ways in which the

lupines were actually used (Vandenberg 1979*). It

is likely that, in addition, sulfur was burned as a

fumigant (Dakiris 1989, 160).

According to other sources, the pilgrims ate

not lupine seeds when they visited the oracle but

"pig beans;' which were probably Hyoscyamus.

These induced "states of dizziness, unreal sensory

perceptions, and passivity" (Dakaris 1989, 162 f.).

Lucian described a seance in which the sea onion

was used as a magical plant (cf. moly).

Lupine seeds contain a number of toxic substances:

lupanine, 13-hydroxylupanine, angustifoline,

13-tigloyloxylupanine, albine, multiflorine,

ex-isolupanine, 4-hydroxylupanine, ammodendrine,

anagyrine, and sparteine (Roth et al. 1994,473*).

Lupanine is chemically related to cytisine. A new

alkaloid, (-)-(trans-4'-r3-D-glycopyranosyloxy-3'methoxycinnamyl)-

lupinine, has been detected in

the yellow lupine (Lupinus luteus) (Murakoshi et

al. 1979). However, nothing is known about the

pharmacology of this substance.

Lupine seeds were once brewed as a coffee

substitute (Coftea arabiea). In Mexico, the lupine

species Lupinus elegans H.B.K. is known as hierba

Ioea, "crazy herb" (Martinez 1987, 427*). It may

have inebriating effects (cf. Astragalus spp.).

Dakaris, Sotiris. 1989. Das Totenorakel am Acheron.

In Tempel und Stiitten der Gotter Griechenlands,

ed. Evi Melas, 157-64. Cologne: DuMont.

Murakoshi, Isamu, Kazuo Toriizuka, Joju Haginiwa,

Shigeru Ohmiya, and Hirotaka Otomasu. 1979.

(-)-( Trans-4' -~- D-glycopyranosyloxy-3'methoxycinnamyl)-

lupinine, a new lupin

alkaloid in Lupinus seedlings. Phytochemistry


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