LIMA, Peru (Reuters) – Peru’s government
warned people to be wary of fake medicine men offering cure-all miracle
herb potions on Tuesday, after a bogus brew killed a man hoping to
shake off a spell of bad luck.
Alternative medicine is popular throughout the Andean nation, where newspapers
are full of colorful ads from self-proclaimed "shamans" offering
to improve anything from customers’ luck to their ability to attract
"Avoid consuming brews made with herbs of questionable origin or
hallucinogenic plants prepared by so-called Shamans," the country’s
Health Ministry said in a statement.
The Dowbrigade spent over ten years in Peru pursuing brews
made with herbs of questionable origin or hallucinogenic plants prepared
by so-called Shamans. One of the reasons we have always loved
Peru is that the entire country from the Selva, over the Andes and
down to the Pacific, is rife with Shamen, curanderos, herbalists, charming
charlatans, blind hueseros, faith healers and magicians. Sprinkled
amongst the tricksters, drunks and fakes are a few real repositories
of arcane powers and wielders of secret knowledge.
The ministry said that genuine Shamans from the country’s north sometimes
consumed natural hallucinogens such as the San Pedro cactus in their
rituals, but did not administer them to patients.
This we know to be untrue. We have seen San Pedro
administered as a diagnostic as well as a treatment, orally and nasally.
Still, San Pedro (one old San Pedro cactus can contain as much
mescaline as several hundred
peyote buttons) and
should not be consumed from a cart on a street-corner like some psychedelic
smoothie. It requires cleansing, preparation and trust in the Shaman
But when it’s done right, it is the closest thing to walking with
the gods available in a reliable round-trip.