God help us, another evolution thread…
Okay, my argument: most medicinal plants evolved their active ingredient through self preservation, for example…
Digitalis is a heart medication derived from the foxglove plant. In small doses it dialates the blood vessels, in large it causes violent siezures and death. Same thing with Ephidrine (found in several plants and used for athsma). Quinine, a chemical found in the bark of the Cinchona ledgeriana tree kills both the local weevils and the local malaria parasite.
Now, I can see how plants that produce these bio-active chemicals would survive by sickening the hapless bunnies and bugs who nibbled them. Over countless generations the potent chemicals would be more refined through natural selection.
But what about opium?
I can’t imagine dumb luck caused this plant to create a highly complex chemical wich not only mimics the juice of the primary pleasure centers, but is just different enough to resist the bodies attempts to break it down as well.
So, whats the benifit of creating a substance so good that it will just bring the critters back for more?