The Brain twisters:Peyotes, Psilocybes, Cannabis and LSD
Drugs.Hallucinogens.Psychoactive. Psychedelic.Brain. Neurotransmitter. Braintwister. Dissociative. Ancient History. Behavior. Drug Addiction.
The coming off 21st century ushered the birth of a multi-billion dollar industry-drugs, that fuels violence and crime like no other substance on the planet. Considered also as the "white gold" that brought vast wealth to a few and untold misery to millions of human beings. Broadly categorized as Hallucinogenic and Dissociative drugs (NIH-NIDA,2014, USDA Forest Service,2014, Nichols, 2004) Psychoactive (History Cooperative, 2015), and Psychedelic drugs (EHSAS, 2015) among others and have been defined in many ways, moreover, regardless of what they are, they have a commonality of effects to humans and manifested as,somatic symptoms, perceptual symptoms, and psychic symptoms and boil down to the same site of action- the Brain, the very center of Human Nervous System. Likely, the terms mentioned are interchangeably used in the discussion and again can be further decomposed as "Brain twisters".
Human beings has been associated with drugs since the Neolithic era, during the hunting/gathering phase of their existence may have accidentally introduced them to mushrooms in the meadows or in the forest floors, the "harvest of food" given by gods and this was manifested in their figurines, the mushroom head of their gods, attest to their veneration and worship of the mushroom.The Aztec god- Xochpilli also known as the "Prince of Flowers"was the Mesoamerican god of summer, flower, pleasure, love, dancing, painting, feasting, and creativity in other words a vibrant symbol of all good things in life. The statue of Xochpilli however, carry a decorative symbol of a mushroom- Psilocybe sp. a hallucinogenic mushroom use in their religious rituals to communicate with Xochpilli spiritually. Semilar figures
were also discovered in Guatemala City dating 100-300 BC years old.The native Indians used Peyote cactus while the Mayans was hooked to the mushroom Psilocybe, and the Chinese is credited to have the earliest record of the use of psychoactive drug Cannabis (3,000 BC). The Psychedelic drug like Soma was not foreign to ancient Indians as venerated in their Vedic hymns. Moreover, the use of these "brain twisters" coincide with exact moment that is during religious ceremony, to ask favor, commune with the spirits among others is the responsibility or under the supervision of the Shamans or Priests.to interpret "visions" during the state of altered perception,thoughts or feelings that are not experienced otherwise in dreams and religious exaltation.
Today, these "brain twisters"- hallucinogens, dissociative, psychoactive, or psychedelic drugs are branded by law enforcement as the most dangerous drugs.
Dangerous drugs- What are they?
The United States Enforcement Agency, classified dangerous drugs that falls in these three categories; a) drugs that has no current medical value in the US, b) there is a lack of safety of the drug even under medical supervision, c) the substance has potential for abuse. So, drugs labelled as hallucinogenic, dissociative, psychoactive and or psychedelic are considered dangerous. For the sake of discussion and clarity, Peyotes, Psilocybes, Cannabis, and LSD will be only considered. Peyote is a cactus plant, Psilocybe is a mushroom, Cannabis, a shrub and LSD is a drug derived from Lysergic acid from a fungal infection of the grains of rye or wheat called Ergot. Overall, we have two example from the Kingdom Plantae and also two from the Kingdom Fungi. To avoid confusing terms, we shall label them all as Brain Twisters(BI) in a lay man's terms.
Clinical effects of Hallucinogens
altered shapes and colors and rarely synesthesia
altrerations in moods (happy, sad, irritable at varying times)
dfficulty in focusing on objects
tension, distorted time sense
tremors, blurred vision
sharpened sense of hearing
difficulty in expressing thoughts
According to Nichols (2004), the clinical effects of hallucinogens can be categorized into; somatic, perceptual and psychic symptoms. The table shows the various symptoms.It should be noted that hallucinogens (brain twisters) have a unique and powerful ability to affect the human psyche. They may alter one's concept of reality, may change one's vision of life and death and can challenge one's most cherished beliefs (Ibid).
Th most significant dangers of BI's, however, appears primarily in their psychological effects. The BI's can induce a distortion of experiences, otherwise observed only in psychoses such as alleviation of cognitive functions and depersonalisation. They can catalyze the onset of psychosis as depression which can sometimes lead to suicide or bodily harm.
The nature of Brain Twisters (BT's)
The brain twisters (BT's) such as Peyotes, Psilocybes, Cannabis and LSD are among the oldest drugs used by a man that has the ability to alter human perception and thinking. The BT's has been used in medical, social, and religious practices, moreover, law enforcer called them dangerous drugs (NIH-NIDA,2014).
Peyotes (mescaline), also known as buttons, cactus, mesc among others.
- a small spineless cactus scientifically called Lophophora williamsii
- mescaline is the active ingredients
- used by the natives in Northern Mexico and the Southwestern United States in their religious ceremony
- the top or "Crown" of the Peyote cactus is disc- shaped buttons and are cut-out, dried and usually chewed.
- also, soaked in water to produce an intoxicating liquid, the extract is bitter
- some prefer tea by boiling the plant for several hours
- mescaline can be produced by laboratory synthesis
Psilocybe or magic mushrooms (4-phosphoryloxy-N, N-dimethyl-tryptamine)
- also known as magic mushrooms, shrooms, boomer, or the little smoke
- extracted from a certain type of mushroom found in tropical and sub-tropical regions of South America, Mexico and The United States
- There are several species of Psilocybe, example Strophoria cubensis.
- It appears that the effects of psychoactive compound vary from species to species
- the active compound is Psilocybin
- during religious ceremony Psilocybin is ingested, it can be dried or fresh and eaten raw
- picking of this mushroom is dangerous if one is not familiar with it, might pick-up the wrong one that may cause serious harm when ingested
- Believed to have originated from Central Asia of the old world but has strongly spread across Asia and the New World
- Brain twister, Cannabis is composed of several species occurring worldwide.The psychoactive compound is called Cannabinol found in Marihuana and Hashish, is capable of psychedelic effects on humans.
- Considered as "social drug" or "recreational drug" is popular among young and adults worldwide
- One of the World's best cordage is Cannabis hemp and paper before the advent of synthetic ropes and other fiber crops until it was banned.
- Despite prohibition, there is an increasing demand for Cannabis in medicine for a variety of disorder, including alcoholism, heroin and amphetamine dependence, emotional disturbance and even glaucoma (Furst, 1976)
- The early use of Cannabis in medicine can be traced in Chinese Pharmacology dated 2,737 BC during the reign of the legendary Chinese Emperor Shen Nung. Considered as the "Gateway" to other addictive drugs.
LSD- lysergic acid diethylamide
- Discovered in 1938 by one of the Swiss Pharmaceutical Laboratory in Europe from one of its derivative Lysergic Acid.
- Lysergic acid was isolated from a fungal disease called Ergot that attacks the grains of Rye and wheat
- The psychedelic effects of brain twister LSD reside on its ability to block the function neurotransmitter Serotonin in the Brain
- also, known as acid, blotter, doses, hits, microdots, sugar cubes, tops, tabs, and window panes is the most potent mood and perception-altering hallucinogenic drug. Considered as the Psychedelic drug of the 60's.
Site of action- The Human Brain
The human brain is the most complex organ of the human body.This three-quarter pound mass of gray and white matter sits at the center of all human activity- to drive a car, to enjoy meal, to breath, to create a masterpiece, and to enjoy everyday activities. In other words, the brain regulates the body's basic functions, enables one to interpret and respond to experiences, and shapes thoughts, emotion, and behavior (NIH-NIDA, 2014).
To understand how the nervous system works, the brain is composed of different parts and assume varied functions but at the same time is also the site of action for BT's. Brain areas affected by BT's:
- The Brain Stem. Controls basic function critical to life such as- heart rate, breathing, and sleeping
- The Cerebral Cortex. Different areas process information from the senses, enabling us to see, feel, hear, and taste. The front part of the cortex or forebrain is the thinking center of the brain. It powers our ability to think, plan, solve problems and make decisions.
- The Limbic System. The center for the "reward system" Control and regulate our ability to feel pleasure and to protect behaviors that are critical to our survival. Is activated by healthy life sustaining activities such as eating and socializing but can be activated by drug abuse. Responsible for our perception of other emotions both positive and negative, which explains the mood altering properties of many drugs.
How do brain twisters (BT's) subvert the brain?
A normal brain is a communication center composed of billions of neurons or nerve cells.Networks of neurons carry the messages as electrical impulse throughout the nervous system. The message is brought to the nerve cells through a chemical messenger -Dopamine or Serotonin moreover the two messenger may have similar area of action in the brain, but different function or effects for instance:
- The Dopamine Pathway. Controls reward(motivation),pleasure, euphoria, motor function (fine tuning), compulsion and preservation.
- The Serotonin Pathway. Controls mood, memory processing, sleep, and cognition
Many brain twisters carry similar chemical structure that fits the receptor cells. Since the passage is blocked the messenger can not enter. Then, brain twister assumed the function of either Dopamine or Serotonin. For instance, brain twister-LSD and Psilocybin or Psilocin (the active ingredient in Psilocybes) have a similar chemical structure with Serotonin, while Mescaline from Peyote cactus sequesters Dopamine receptor cells. It appears favorable, but the user ingested, smoked, and or drink more than the amount beyond the normal capacity of the brain.The brain is loaded caused the system to overload- "high wire or short circuit".Therefore, the message is jumbled as manifested in changes in mood, thinking, and behavior of the user.
The Short- term effects of Brain Twisters (BT's)
Upon ingestion, smoke and or drink the BT's, the active ingredient is transformed into psychoactive compounds. Their effects are manifested in the change in mood, perception and or behavior of the user. The National Institute of Health (NIH) and the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) listed the short-term effects of BT's -Peyote, Psilocybes, Cannabis, and LSD
- Increased blood pressure, heart rate, and body temperature
- Dizziness and sleepiness
- Loss of appetite, dry mouth and sweating
- Numbness, weakness and tremors
- Impulsive and rapid emotional shift from fear to euphoria with a transition is rapid that the user may seem to experience several emotions simultaneously.
- Feeling of relaxation (similar to the effects of low doses of Marihuana)
- Nervousness, paranoia, and panic reaction
- Introspective/ spiritual experiences
- Misidentification of poisonous mushroom resembling Psilocybe could lead to potentially fatal poisoning
- Increase heart rate
- uncoordinated movement (Ataxia)
- Profound sweating
- Feeling anxious and agitated
- Having slow reaction time or trouble to pay attention
- Feeling euphoric and disinhibited and having altered sense of time
- Having limited judgement abilities
- Experiencing acoustic, optic, or tactile illusion, experiencing feelings of being separate from the body or reality
- Exhibiting overall impaired physical and mental performance
- Experiencing hallucinations or paranoid delusions
Braintwisters (BT's) such as LSD, Peyote, Psilocybe, and Cannabis among others is a global drug industry that has destroyed humans and had given misery for others. Their ability to subvert or mimic brain function reside on their chemical structure that is quite similar to the neurotransmitters of the brain.The psychoactive ingredient had a similar site of action for senses, cognitive, and behavior among others but alter these function as manifested in the change in mood, perception, and behavior of the user. Drug addiction will be always with us that will permeate and subvert our social, political and economic status as a nation. This is not only the fight of the law enforcing agency but the fight for all. Examining some of the reasons why people turn to drugs, we start with the Family. The family as the basic unit of society will be the first to influence the behavior of the individual. A family that lacks communication, love, and understanding, surely will not yield good children or persons. As young adults or adolescents, they are vulnerable to drugs and addiction. Why do young people turn to drugs? To feel good, to feel better, to do better, or to be accepted are sought outside the family. The strength of the family in moulding a better person is absent and drugs become the comfort and companion of the unguided.
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- How widespread is the abuse of hallucinogenic and dissociative drugs?
- Why do people take hallucinogenic or dissociative drugs?
- How do hallucinogens (LSD, Psilocybe, Peyote, DMT, and Ayahuasca) affect the brain and body?
- What are the effects of common dissociative drugs in the brain and body
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