The Math Of Medicine

Although in previous posts I have discussed the natural culture of peyote and the role that germinating seeds plays in that process, I haven’t been specific about how this can help alleviate the ecological crisis in peyote’s habitat.

First, a reminder that the scarcer peyote becomes, the average size of plants harvested decreases as well. A single mature peyote plant of proper harvesting size weighs many times as much as a smaller button. And yet the price is the same for a small sack of 1000 harvested plants as that of a large, heavy, sack of larger, mature medicine. So what this means is that plants harvested in natural culture of a mature size equal the same mass as several smaller plants. So the basic point here is that less equals more. But this conservation advantage does not come into play unless only mature plants are taken.

The purpose of natural culture is in replacing at least one less than mature plant, likely several, by utilizing medicine that is full size and sustainably grown. This is basically a numbers game, giving advantage of time and reduced pressure to threatened wild populations. How much medicine can this process be reasonably expected to save? Well, I haven’t done the math fully, but that’s what I’m about to do in the act of writing this post. Ok, here we go…

It begins with a single seed.

A seed is germinated in year one, and by year 4 is beginning to produce its own seeds. In the 4 to 6 following years before this plant is harvested, a very modest estimate of the number of seeds it will generate is 100. The actual amount of seed might easily be twice that much, but let’s use the lower, conservative figure.

Three new tops growing from plant harvested in previous year.

Next, let’s move to years 8 to 10 of our maturing plant. It has created a substantial underground stem which has a high potential of producing 1 to 3, or more, new tops which will also be ready for harvest within another 5 to 8 years following its first harvest. These new tops will also be producing seeds within a year or two of sprouting from the original roots. So that’s, conservatively figuring, at least another 100 seeds produced from the original plant before it is ready for second harvest. So let’s say by year 10 we’ve harvested the original top. That’s one mature medicine plus 100 seeds it produced before harvest. By year 18 we’ve harvested at least one additional mature top from this plant, plus another 100 seeds.

So if we run the numbers, in the 18 years that a child requires to reach voting age, a seed planted at their birth will have produced a minimum of 2 mature buttons and 200 seeds. That may not seem like a lot but hang on. If these seeds are planted as they’re produced, by year 18 you also have another 100 or so plants ready for harvest generated from the first few years of planting second generation seed. Let’s say there are 50 mature offspring now grown from the original, just to be conservative in our figures.

Ok, here’s where it gets interesting. At year 18 you have 2 original buttons harvested, plus 50 second generation plants. That’s 52 plants which weigh and measure at least 3 times the mass of the average sized wild harvested plants. Essentially, you’ve saved a minimum of 150 plants otherwise required to be culled from threatened habitat. In actuality, the numbers are likely twice that, with lots of remaining seed and seedlings which are not yet quite ready for their first harvest, but nearly so. This is a lot of reinforcement for the medicine on the front lines.

And that’s from a single seed. If a moderately sized seedling project produces 75,000 seedlings during its first year, that’s a potential and likely replacement for what sounds like a made up number- basic math says 1,250,000 peyote plants not needing to be sacrificed on the altar of scarcity and negative mercantilism over the duration of a human childhood. This is at, or above, the annual recorded numbers sold to members of The Native American Church for the past several years.

These figures ending in 2016 indicate the decrease in availability as it affects price. Current cost per thousand is $650.

In actuality, our conservative estimate resulting in a million and a quarter reduction in wild harvest numbers is half of actual potential. That’s a lot of medicine! I’m no Luther Burbank but, this is a concept which I strongly believe needs to be literally planted as soon as possible. Otherwise, the math is not working in favor of the medicine, and the people who rely on its miraculous nature in our lives.

Holy medicine, increase your presence in our lives.

For more information about The Seedling Sanctuary project please use the contact link at Morningstar Conservancy’s website.

Click below for next post

Peyote Sunday

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