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Psyche Delicacies: Coffee, Chocolate, Chiles, Kava, and Cannabis, and Why They're Good for You Hardcover – November, 2001

4.2 out of 5 stars 5 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Need a lift? Human beings have always been attracted to "psychoactivity," says author Chris Kilham, and have searched out mind-altering and mood-modifying plants throughout history. Psyche Delicacies explores the five most commonly used psychoactive plants: coffee, chocolate, chiles, kava, and cannabis. All are "exquisite works of nature" that "can fit well into a healthy, active lifestyle with little or no harmful effects," writes Kilham, a biological researcher and author of several books, including Tales from the Medicine Trail.

"We are built for pleasure," writes Kilham, who approaches his subject with passion. "Coffee is good for you, good for you, good for you." Chocolate is the "blissful food of the gods." Kava is the "peace plant of paradise." Hell is a place with eternally bad coffee. Kilham describes the history, lore, chemistry, cultivation, and benefits of his chosen plants, including his own personal experiences with them. (You'll never forget to wash after handling chiles after reading about Kilham's restroom experience!) He is opinionated ("I cannot in good conscience say anything good about decaffeinated coffee") and teeming with fervor. If you love any or all of these psychoactive plants, Psyche Delicacies is as entertaining as it is educational, and a terrific gift book. --Joan Price

From the Inside Flap

In Psyche Delicacies, globetrotting medicine hunter Chris Kilham presents passionate portraits of five widely used psychoactive plants that, he argues, have affected the course of human history. From the lush coffee orchards of Hawaii's Kona Coast to the cannabis-covered hills of the Indian Himalaya, Kilham takes readers along on a world tour to meet the people and places that make coffee, chocolate, chiles, kava, and cannabis what they are to us today. Employing evocative and sometimes provocative prose to weave history, folklore, and science into a dazzling whole, Kilham presents a mind-expanding case for the enthusiastic, guilt-free use of these much-loved plants and their various preparations.

Few adults haven't partaken of at least one of the featured psyche delicacies, and that's the author's point. Maintaining that we all can benefit from the reverie induced by consuming these mood-altering plants, Kilham presents clinical and academic evidence to handily dispatch the notion that these agents of nature, taken in moderation, are some-how bad for us. Instead, he asserts that they refresh both body and mind, helping us to achieve the very highest order of healthfulness.

Whether you are an avid coffee drinker, a hot-chile devotee, a casual cannabis user, or just curious, you'll be surprised and delighted by all you experience when you read Psyche Delicacies.


Product Details

  • Hardcover: 220 pages
  • Publisher: Rodale Press; First Edition edition (November 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1579543472
  • ISBN-13: 978-1579543471
  • Product Dimensions: 9.3 x 6.4 x 0.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,552,556 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

About Chris Kilham (AKA "Christopher S. Kilham", AKA "The Medicine Hunter")

Medicine Hunter

"Part David Attenborough, part Indiana Jones, Mr. Kilham, an ethnobotanist from Massachusetts... scoured remote jungles and highlands for three decades for plants, oils and extracts that can heal." - The New York Times

Chris Kilham is a medicine hunter, author and educator. The founder of Medicine Hunter Inc., Chris has conducted medicinal research in over 30 countries. Chris is The FOX News Medicine Hunter and appears on FOX News Health TV both online and in US and international television markets. He also writes a weekly FOX News Health Column and is on the Medical Advisory Board of The Dr. Oz Show. As Explorer in Residence for Naturex of Avignon, France, Chris conducts medicinal plant research for the largest botanical extraction company in the world. He is also an advisory board member of the Naturex Foundation, which funds community development projects in various countries.

Chris works with companies to develop and popularize traditional plant-based food and medicinal products into market successes. These include kava, maca, rhodiola, schisandra, horny goat weed, catuaba, tamanu oil, herbal beverages and dozens of other plants. He is currently working to build market demand for cat's claw and dragon's blood, both strong medicinal plants from the Amazon rainforest.

Chris is the author of fourteen books, including Hot Plants, The Five Tibetans, Psyche Delicacies, Tales from the Medicine Trail and Kava, Medicine Hunting in Paradise. Chris also writes articles on plant medicines for several publications, and is a contributing columnist for FOX News Health.

"I love adventure! That's why I love teaming up with The Medicine Hunter, Chris Kilham." - Dr. Manny Alverez, Fox News Health

Chris lectures extensively on holistic health and botanical medicines, throughout the United States and the European Union, Hong Kong, Thailand, Dubai, Australia, Peru, Vanuatu and many other countries. Recent appearances include The Vitamin Shoppe, In Cosmetics, American Herbalists Guild, Missouri Botanical Garden, Atlanta Botanical Garden, Medicines of the Earth Symposium, Natural Products EXPO East, Natural Products EXPO West, Southwest Yoga, Midwest Yoga, Plant Teacher's Convergence, University of Massachusetts, Evolvers, Geneva Vitafoods Conference and HBA New York.

As a guest expert, Chris has presented across a wide variety of sectors to companies such as; Coca Cola, Pepsi, Unilever, Pfizer, Roche, Beiersdorf, Avon, L'Oreal, Chanel, Clarens, Body Shop, Royal Canin, GNC, and Whole Foods. He is also a regular advisor to Woman's World, Fox News Health, and various industry and trade publications.

Chris has appeared as a guest expert on over several hundred radio and television programs including news programs on The Dr. Oz Show, ABC, CBS, NBC, PBS, CNBC, CNN, MSNBC, BBC, Oprah & Friends, FOX TV, and NPR. He has appeared as a guest on The Dr. Oz Show, and is The Fox News Medicine Hunter. As a TV guest he has spoken about medicine hunting, traditional botanical medicines, nutraceuticals, environmental and cultural preservation and other related topics for a wide variety of audiences. Chris has appeared on over 1500 radio programs and more than 500 TV programs worldwide.

An avid body surfer and adventure traveler, Chris lives and works in Massachusetts with his wife, artist/activist Zoe Helene (cosmicsister.com). Chris advocates sane drug policy and the shamanic and ritual use of hallucinogens. Chris and Zoe travel the globe on Medicine Hunter expeditions, and work together to promote plant medicines, environmental protection and cultural preservation.

CNN calls Chris "The Indiana Jones of natural medicine."

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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
I thought this book was a decent read, and the author definitely knows how to entertain and pique people's interest. But this book seems to have been targeted to the wrong audience or placed in the wrong genre.
Clearly it's travel writing. It's the story of a guy who toured the earth in search of the ultimate buzz. I just wish the author, and/or his publisher, had realized that. This book would have gotten a lot more readers, and fewer complaints about lack of citations or scientific merit, if it had been titled "Journeys of the Mind: Across the world in serach of the ultimate buzz" (or something like that but a little less cheesy), and shelved next to the Lonely Planet guides. If he'd continued on in this theme, adding discussions of a few more drugs and adding another hundred pages or so, TONS of crunchy granola types would pick it up, anticipating long waits in Indian train stations and long days on Thai beaches.
Chris Kilham is clearly not a scientist or a health care professional. People looking for the hard-nosed opinions of such people shouldn't be looking at his book. He's an adventurer and an entertainer. His writing reads like a show on the Discovery Channel, and is clearly intended for people whose interest in science goes little deeper than the Discovery Channel.
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Format: Hardcover
This lively book is fun to read and will supply you with a lot of interesting factoids on its assortment of topics. Chris Kilham writes interestingly and well, and one's attention is riveted to his stories and opinions. The biggest problem with this book is that there are no footnotes and no endnotes. Kilham offers a lot of stunning notions, but does not cite his sources. For example, in his chapter on decaf, in his view "coffee interruptus," he asserts that the rate of suicide is higher among drinkers of decaf than drinkers of caffeinated coffee. Citation, please!
Read this book for its stimulating opinions and lively patter and a sort of pop-sci approach to its subjects. According to its author, this book is intended as a reference work. It's fun to page through, but in order to be a convincing reference work it needs the added muscle of citations and a bibliography.
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Format: Hardcover
Having read many adventure travel books, and explorations into ethnobotany, I am a hard marker on books in this genre. I was impressed with Kilham's writing style, narrative drive, ability to quickly sketch colorful characters, and skill at connecting the lives of indigenous peoples and their herb lore to the jaded first-world reader. (He also doesn't skimp on the supporting science, but doesn't bog the reader down in it.) I learned a lot about coffee,chocolate, pot, and other psychoactive plants/pleasures, and had fun doing it. Highly recommended, as a perfect hybrid of adventure travel (replete with very amusing misadventures) and healthy mood-aleration.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Love this book. It has changed my prospective on balanced view of plants, medicine, life, and how to incorporate these 5 plants into your life to improve it, even though my life can be good with or without them. Highly recommend this book. It has given me a proper sense of what plants make you "high" when what it really means is a "Reverie" which is the more low key term for it. Obviously coffee or chocolate doesn't make you high like Marijuana does but they add pleasure, feeling and dimension and deeper meaning into life. You can learn how these commonly known and used plants are just a part of humankind and that they operate in sync with us
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By name on December 30, 2011
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Just started reading but so far this is a great book. Lots of excellent stuff covered here and the price was great.
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