The answer is yes, a very strong type of hallucinogenic. As a hallucinogen, saffron would cause people to lose part of their brain. It would cause them to drift towards madness. A friend tells me that saffron was discovered by the Portuguese around the time of the Black Death. People living in Portugal drank saffron root and developed a psychotic break. This was because they couldn’t get the roots of saffron. All they could do was drink the leaves. Now, there are stories of Portuguese men drinking the leaves to clear their minds.
The French used saffron before they were invaded by the Scots, during the 13th century, and they also ate it. In the Middle Ages, they made saffron a sign of victory. But saffron doesn’t have its own national holiday. And it was used for a very different purpose.
In ancient Persia, saffron was used to treat cancer, epilepsy, and heart disease. It is used in traditional oriental medicine to treat asthma and to remove dead skin cells from the body. In India, saffron was used during the Hindu festivals and its leaves were taken at night because the sun is a symbol of divine protection during religious rites.
Saffron is said to have a powerful hallucinogenic effect. I have heard that during the Islamic Holy War, the Persians used saffron to give warriors the feeling of ecstasy. A man from the town of Khajuraho in Iran, told me that when the Muslims besieged a town, the inhabitants would throw saffron leaf into the city to give the fighting men the feeling of an imminent battle. According to a story he told me, a person who had survived the war came back to his home town and found his wife and son had been killed. He said there was a man named Muharriqa sitting in front of him in an enormous saffron carpet and he sat with an empty glass in his hand, and when Muharriqa began to sing, that glass flew out of his hand into the air and hit Muharriqa in his head.
Saffron is used to help a woman with infertility, it also helps heal the skin disorder called henpeck. It is also being used in an herbal treatment to heal the liver.
I am told that the ayahuasca vine is made from the branches of an Amazonian tree called Erysimum, or Erythrox
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