Erowid
 
 
Plants - Drugs Mind - Spirit Freedom - Law Arts - Culture Library  
Modern humans must learn how to relate to psychoactives
responsibly, treating them with respect and awareness,
working to minimize harms and maximize benefits, and
integrating use into a healthy, enjoyable, and productive life.
Newsgroups: alt.drugs
From: dyer@spdcc.com (Steve Dyer)
Subject: Re: Rauwolfia Serpentina Hydrochloride
Message-ID: 
Date: Sun, 27 Nov 1994 07:36:21 GMT

In article <3b92id$me7@ixnews1.ix.netcom.com>,
Jeff Gordon  wrote:
>I obtained A Rawolfia Serpentina hydrochloride alkaloid extraction.  I 
>prepared about 1.5 cocaine lines (15 mg?) and snorted.  The effects were 
>apparent in 5 minutes.  I felt really strange for about two hours and 
>fell asleep with some trouble.  Once asleep my dreams were lucid and 
>weird.  Both involved tunnels.  I was very strong and poweful in both 
>dreams.  Interesting, I remember both as if they really happened.  A 
>friend of mine tells me a good dose is 30 mg and I will try that in about 
>a week.  This hydrochloride extraction is available from a legal, 
>private source, write for detailes.

This sounds really goofy to me; sort of like smoking bananas,
except that this stuff IS psychoactive, and has long term,
potentially dangerous effects.  One would have thought that
rauwolfia was totally without any recreational potential at
all.  Imagine my surprise when I read this note.

The powdered root (Rauwolfia serpentina) generally contains
anywhere from 0.15% to 0.2% active alkaloid (reserpine and
rescinnamine) by weight.  A typical dose of reserpine, the
primary alkaloid of rauwolfia, when used as a drug to treat
high blood pressure, ranges from 0.05 to 0.50 mg/day.  This
would be roughly 30 mg to 300 mg of the powdered root per day.
Back in the 1950's, large doses of reserpine (5-10 mg/day) were
used briefly to treat schizophrenia until the introduction
of chlorpromazine (Thorazine) made this application obsolete.
Assuming the alkaloid extraction was of reasonable efficiency
and your estimates of the dose are correct, you were snorting
a dose similar to that used to sedate schizophrenics in the 1950's.

Let's go a little into the neuropharmacology of the rauwolfia
alkaloids.  Though they might have some minor effects discernable
immediately after they are administered, as you describe above,
for the most part their actions take place over a period of days
and weeks.  When they're given clinically, you don't expect the
effects of the drug or of a dosage adjustment to be manifested
any faster than on the order of a week, and a single dose exerts
an effect over several days.  The reason for this stems directly
from its neuropharmacology.

Reserpine works both in the central and the peripheral nervous
systems to deplete stores of neurotransmitters: dopamine and
norepinephrine at central and peripheral synapses, epinephrine
in the adrenal glands, and serotonin (5-HT) in the CNS.  
A high-ish dose of the drug (perhaps similar to what you took)
might cause an initial effect stemming from the release of
neurotransmitters, though this isn't usually clinically
significant.  Reserpine irreversibly damages the intracellular
vesicles in which neurotransmitters are stored.  The existing
neurotransmitters leak out of the vesicles inside the neuron
and are destroyed by MAO.  Newly formed neurotransmitters can't
be stored for later release.  The drug has a long duration of
action because new vesicles must be synthesized to start storing
neurotransmitters once again--the old ones which have encountered
the drug are permanently broken.

The effects of the drug on the peripheral nervous system stem from
these effects.  With vastly lowered catecholamine stores in adrenergic
nerves and in the heart, heart rate is slowed and peripheral vascular
tone is reduced (capillaries and arterioles open up).  This causes
a reduction in blood pressure.  In the central nervous system,
the depletion of dopamine tends to cause sedation and ameliorate
some of the symptoms of schizophrenia (more modern antipsychotic
drugs block one or more types of dopamine receptors--clearly you
can get a similar effect either by blocking a receptor for a
neurotransmitter or by removing the neurotransmitter.)

Reserpine can cause diarrhea, produce nasal stuffiness and aggravate
an ulcer by enhancing the secretion of stomach acid.  It can cause
nightmares (perhaps this is what you were experiencing.)  More serious,
in doses as small as 0.5 mg/day, but increasingly past 1 mg/day, the drug
will reliably cause mental depression.  In fact, it was its predictable
effect to deplete brain monoamines and the resulting depression that led
to the overly-simplistic monoamine hypothesis of depression (the idea
that too little norepinephrine or serotonin in the brain is the cause
of depression.)

Basically, it's dumb to take something like this for its incredibly
modest effects on dreaming.  It causes long-term changes in the
nervous system which last as long as a week or more.  Using it
every week, not to mention more frequently than this, would have
a cumulative effect, and you'd be open to all of the side effects,
including depression, that I mentioned.  Finally, the kind of "sedation"
these alkaloids produce is not enjoyable at all--it's like getting
a lobotomy.

Why waste your time and money?

-- 
Steve Dyer
dyer@ursa-major.spdcc.com