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Our friend and cannabis historian Chris Bennett has informed us of an elixir attributed to Cagliostro which, while not prepared from acacia or rue, would likely be psychoactive in its own right.

According to Bennett, A Treatise on the Manufacture and Distillation of Alcoholic Liquors (1871) has the following recipe for an ‘Elixir de Cagliostro’ that would likely have had, if not medicinal, a psychoactive effect. The recipe is as follows:

Cloves – 800 grams
Cinnamon – 800 grams
Nutmeg – 800 grams
Saffron – 200 grams
Tormentilla – 200 grams
Socotrine aloes – 2 kilograms, 400 grams
Myrrh – 1 kilogram, 200 grams
Fine treacle – 2 kilograms, 400 grams
Alcohol, 85% – 36 liters

Macerate for 48 hours, and distill gently to obtain 36 liters of spirit; do not rectify; add 50 kilograms of white sugar, dissolved by heat, in the usual quantity of water; mix; and add 15 centiliters of tincture of musk and 3 liters of orangeflower water, and then make up the quantity to 100 liters. Mellow, and color a golden yellow with saffron and caramel; size, and after rest, filter. This elixir is said to be useful in cases of debility, feeble digestion, &c. (Duplais, 1871)

Bennett continues:

Nutmeg contains the “psychoactive chemicals…myristicin and elemicin. These two are similar in their chemical structure to the drug mescaline” (Spinella, 2013). In Living with Drugs, Professor Michael Gossop describes MDA and MDMA as “semi-synthetic drugs…produced by the psychoactive ingredients in nutmeg and mace… Both have been known as psychoactive drugs for thousands of years, though nowadays they are seldom used as a drug of choice.” (Gossop, 2013) Interestingly, Gossop suggests a role for their prophetic purposes. “Nostradamus used various forms of meditation to induce his ecstatic trances and visions. These methods included the mildly hallucinatory powers of nutmeg, and his less well-known medical treatise of 1555 on cosmetics and conserves included a recipe ‘to make perfect nutmeg oil.’

Saffron and cinnamon also contain psychoactive substances that are chemically similar to myristicin. Saffron oil, or safrol, can be processed like nutmeg to produce the narcotic MDA (methylenedioxyamphetamine) which, it should be noted, is a precursor to the popular drug, MDMA or ‘ecstasy.’ Myrrh acts on the opioid receptors, and clove may also have some mild psychoactive effects.

The author then goes on to tell how the restorative effects were employed by Cagliostro to heal a “daughter of Salmon, who had been condemned to be burned alive, and who had just been pardoned by the parliament at Paris.”

Thus ends Bennett's able analysis. The above recipe is of course for the production of thirty-six liters. However, if one divides the ingredients by thirty-six he may arrive at the amounts necessary to produce a single liter of ‘Elixir de Cagliostro.’ Naturally, most do not have access to a still for to distill the spirit. However, a simple infusion of the ingredients for a month or so in a darkened place should suffice to produce the desired strength – assuming the plant remains are properly filtered from the elixir following the infusion. We are currently in the process of doing this ourselves and will comment further on the psychoactivity of the elixir (and the amount required to produce the desired effect) once we’ve produced it.

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Cagliostro Revisited: Elixir de Cagliostro 1998 P.D. Newman 25-Jan-18 16:32

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