Schultes, Richard Evans

Schultes, Richard Evans (1915–2001) – The founder of ethnobotany as a scientific discipline. Much of Schultes’s work was devoted to the discovery of the active ingredients in plants used by shamans. He was initially interested in Amazonia as part of a quest for sources of rubber plants independent of the Southeast Asian (and at that point in World War II, Japanese-occupied) industry. However, his work before and after that frequently engaged with ethnobotany, especially the cultural uses of plants and substances that aided healing. Although many have focused on his work about substances that inspire visions or altered states of consciousness, Schultes’s contribution to medical pharmacology is perhaps more significant both for understanding indigenous doctoring and for modern health care. His research about Mazatec use of mushrooms, for example, has resulted in the development of a heart drug. In addition to his own publications, two of his students have written books about or inspired by Schultes: Wade Davis’s One River (1996) and Mark Plotkin’s Tales of a Shaman’s Apprentice (1994).

SOURCE:

Historical Dictionary of Shamanism by Graham Harvey and Robert J. Wallis 2007

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