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Short answer The appearance of psychoactive compounds in plants has nothing to do with their addictiveness in man. Background Psychoactive plants were there long before humans. The question therefore should be: "Why would humans evolve brains that exhibit addictive propensity to poisonous compounds abundantly available in nature"? The answer is: because our ...


10

I am providing an example which somewhat contradicts the points mentioned in the other answers regarding toxicity of alkaloids to insects. Caffeine is a stimulant and is toxic at high doses (also for humans) but at low doses it has a stimulating pharmacological effect on the organism. The same principle applies to insects as well. A study by Wright et. al ...


26

As someone commented earlier, chemicals such as nicotine and morphine were products of evolution meant to repel animals. It is explained in more details in this article here. Evolutionary biologists studying plant–herbivore interactions have convincingly argued that many plant secondary metabolites, including alkaloids such as nicotine, morphine and ...


56

It's a matter of perspective. Most of the chemicals that are addictive to us humans (particularly alkaloids), and may be addictive for some other animals as well, are also insecticides. Lots of plants that we consider poisonous are good food for other species, and lots of plants that insects would consider poisonous are treats for us. This is a great ...



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