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Strychnine in LSD?
Collected by Lamont Granquist
Originally published in the Hyperreal Drug Archives and alt.drugs
Citation:   Granquist L. "Strychnine in LSD?". 1994.
Newsgroups: alt.drugs
Date: 8 Apr, 1993

On the issue of strychnine in LSD:

The following text was written by Alexander T. Shulgin in response to the overwhelming misconception that strychnine is commonly found in street samples of LSD:

"The observation of strychnine as being present in any street drug, as a by-product, or a contaminant, or an impurity has never been documented. It is a natural plant product, as are the ergots which are used in the synthesis of LSD. But they come from totally unrelated plants; there has never been a report of strychnine and an ergot alkaloid co-existing in a single species. So if the two materials are together in a drug sample, it could only be by the hand of man. I have personally looked a large number of illicit street offerings and have never detected the presence of strychnine. The few times that I have indeed found it present, have been in legal exhibits where it usually occurred in admixture with brucine (also from the plant Strychnos nux-vomica) in criminal cases involving attempted or successful poisoning.

The same argument applies to the myth that occasionally surfaces, that strychnine occurs in the white tufts of peyote. This is equally fraudulent -- it has never been reported in that cactus or any other cactus."
Furthermore, it should probably be spelled out that strychnine is not needed to bond LSD to blotter paper, nor is strychnine a breakdown product of LSD. these are probably the two most commonly repeated gross misconceptions.

The source of the "strychnine is commonly found in LSD" myth may be somewhat grounded in truth. For example, in "LSD: My Problem Child" Albert Hofmann cites a case in the late sixties of Strychnine being found in an "LSD" sample that was a white powder. However, what is commonly claimed is that strychnine is found in a significant percentage of LSD, specifically blotter LSD, which is *not* true. Shulgin's note that he has analyzed many samples of LSD and never found strychnine is backed up by published analyses done by PharmChem and the LA County Street Drug Analysis program, which likewise never found any strychnine.

This is intuitively backed up by the fact that a 5mm x 5mm "standard" square of blotter LSD only weights about 2 mg and if the paper itself was made completely out of pure strychnine it is still on the very low end of Strychnine's threshold of activity.

Strychnine is not the cause of tracers, cramps, nausea, or amphetamine-like LSD-effects. Its possible that poorly synthesized LSD might have other ergot derivatives in it, which might contribute to the harsh body load that some get on taking LSD. Also, the very close chemical relatives 1-Methyl-LSD and 1-Acetyl-LSD (which break down into LSD in aqueous solution) might be present in some street samples and might contribute to the harsh body load. (Petter Stafford has claimed in his _Psychedelics Encyclopedia_ that 1-Acetyl-LSD is supposedly "smoother" than d-LSD -- thus "strychnine laced acid" may acutally be pure d-LSD, while "pure lsd" may be 1-Acetyl-LSD or some substitute). And the chemicals iso-LSD and lumi-LSD which are breakdown products of LSD might contribute to the body loading on some trips, particularly via a hypothetical synergistic effect. Given this plethora of possible chemicals in street "LSD", its not needed to look to a chemical which has hardly ever been found in analyzed samples to explain variations in the strength and "cleanliness" of street acid.

Its also possible that LSD itself simply causes adverse physical effects, particularly muscle cramping, in persons suceptible to it. The reported side effects of LSD (the nausea and apparent CNS stimulant effects) are commonly reported side effects of seritonergic drugs such as fluoxetine (Prozac) and buspirone (Buspar), and also are commonly reported (and typically more severe) with other psychedelics like Mescaline.

Or its quite likely that the "strychnine" reactions to LSD are entirely psychosomatic. Both Leary ("The Psychedelic Experience") and Lilly ("Programming and Metaprogramming...", "Center of the Cyclone") have each observed this reaction in people who cannot handle the surge of emotion associated with a trip.

Further advice would be to avoid methylxanthines (caffiene, theophylline in tea, etc) prior to dosing. Some have noted a possible synergistic effect between them and LSD causing, or contributing, to a harsh body load during a trip. And prior use of dramamine may alleviate the nausea sometimes associated with LSD, and other psychedelic drugs (although it may also effect the quality of the trip -- Shulgin has noted in PiHKAL that he shuns the use of anti-nauseants in order to experience the effects of the psychedelic, both good and bad, with no possible interference).

In summary, it can't be said that we know specifically why sometimes acid feels "cleaner" than other times. However, based on the availability of plausible explanations, and the evidence of drug analysis, and general implausiblity of the whole strychnine concept, we can conclude that it isn't due to any concentration of strychnine. Also, while it can't completely be ruled out, the presence of strychnine in LSD is so minimal that the majority of LSD users will never once come across it.

From: Colonel Mode
Subject: There is no strychnine. None, none, none.
Newsgroups: alt.drugs
Date: 6 Mar 1992

To my knowledge, the only plants that contain strychnine are the Asian tree, Strychnos nux-vomica, and perhaps a few close relatives in the genus Strychnos. This is not to say that there are definitely no plants outside of the genus Strychnos that contain strychnine, but all of the posts to this newsgroup that claim strychnine is found in "X" that I have read have been false.

Strychnine is not found in Hawaiian baby woodrose seeds, peyote, LSD, discount luncheon meats, Chilean grapes, or even modern-day rat poisons.

The most likely place to find strychnine is in myths posted to alt.drugs based on hearsay and other unreliable sources.

Read "The Botany and Chemistry of the Hallucinogens", by Richard Evans Shultes and Albert Hofmann. They are respected scientists who know what they are talking about. Don't take my word for it. Certainly don't take the word of authors of flakey pamphlets or usenet randoms who spout myths heard from their friends.

From: George Root
Subject: Re: What are the different kinds of LSD?
Newsgroups: alt.drugs
Date: Thu, 20 Oct 1994

From 1972 to 1977 i was Director of Florida's anonymous street drug testing program (Clearwater Free Clinic/Drug Analysis Project) and later was a research associate with UpFront, Inc. in Miami (1978 & 79). During this period of time i was directly familiar with the results from our analytical labs and those operating in California, Oregon and Detroit. I recall NO instances of samples of (actual) LSD being combined with strychnine, brucine or amphetamines and derivitives of amphetamine. (Which is not to say that there were no instances of people intentionally co-dosing with other drugs such as amphetamine; seems to me there were some clinical experiments where such a combination was tested and i recall people telling me about instances when they had done the same.)

Of course, there were samples that were out-and-out misrepresentations. Generally these were easily distinguished from legitamate LSD by such signs as dosage quantity and form. Strychnine, brucine and amphetamine are typically active at dosage levels in the milligram ranges which are considerably higher than that of LSD. I also recall that there was a time when "white crosses" were analyzed to be brucine rather than amphetamine.

In the early 70's the typical dosage range of LSD on the street was from ~100 ug to ~300 ug. From the late 70's to the present (far as i know) the typical dosase is ~40 ug to ~100 ug (with some exceptions, the "Bay Area" blotters are typically in higher dose ranges than that of "Southern Cal.")

It may well be, from what folks tell me, that typical dose ranges have crept up again from the typical lows of the 80's. It has been many years since i have been directly involved with qualitative/quantitative analysis programs.

The physiological signs which people attribute to being due to "bad acid" or to stychinine, amphetamine and the like seem to show up in the literature for clinical experimentation with LSD. So, it is likely that to some extent these effects are potentially found in association with LSD itself. Although, based on field work and other experience i am inclined to think that factors such as dietary, endocrine rythems & diurnal cycles, as well as set & setting influence the extent to which undesirable effects may exhibit with various entheogens. The Yachajruna (Quijos, Ecuador) who was my informant was very particular about diet and lunar phase when using (enetama) Banisteriopsis sp. Many traditional users of entheogens (i.e., shaman's as categorized in anthropology) insist on "purification(s)" being performed before utilization of an entheogen.

Further, there are possibly effects which might be attributed to the agent (LSD) such as by-products of synthesis and degradation products. It seems reasonable that this would increase the likelyhood of undesirable effects... yet even this is not real clear as there is so much variation between individuals and individual trips. I have observed people who had signs of discomfort yet reported no subjective discomfort and vice-versa.

All exogenous agents seem to produce varying degrees of desirable/undesirable effects.