Christian Rätsch


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Christian Rätsch (20 April 1957 – 17 September 2022) was a German anthropologist and writer on topics like ethnopharmacology, psychoactive plants, and animals. Rätsch was born in 1957 in a Bohemian community in Hamburg, Germany. His father was an opera singer, and his mother was a ballet dancer. He started learning about shamanism and sacred plants at 10 and had his first drug experience at 12.

Rätsch earned a doctorate in Native American cultures. He conducted field research for three years while living with the Lacandón Indians in Chiapas, Mexico investigating shamanism first-hand, and completed his doctorate on their incantations and spells. Rätsch resided in Hamburg with his wife, Claudia Müller-Ebeling. He is the founder and co-editor of The Yearbook of Ethnomedicine and the Study of Consciousness.

Rätsch died at age 65 from an undiscovered stomach ulcer, which he had staunchly tamed over the years. Christian Rätsch's The Encyclopedia of Psychoactive Plants describes the botany, history, distribution, cultivation, preparation, and dosage of more than 400 psychoactive plants (while not strictly plants, the encyclopedia also includes psychoactive fungi). 

The encyclopedia also offers ritual and medicinal use information (see ethnopharmacology). The encyclopedia features 168 detailed monographs on the major psychoactive plants (e.g., Cannabis, Datura, and Papaver) as well as 20 full monographs on psychoactive fungi (e.g., Psilocybe and Amanita). 

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