Archive for ‘Drugs’

April 19, 2013

Bicycle Day

hofmann

Bicycle Day is April 19, 1943; Swiss chemist Albert Hofmann performed a self-experiment to determine the true effects of LSD, intentionally ingesting 250 micrograms of the substance, an amount he predicted to be a threshold dose (an actual threshold dose is 20 micrograms). Less than an hour later, Hofmann experienced sudden and intense changes in perception.

He asked his laboratory assistant to escort him home and, as use of motor vehicles was prohibited because of wartime restrictions, they had to make the journey on a bicycle.

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April 17, 2013

Korova Milk Bar

korova

The Korova Milk Bar (‘korova’ is Russian for ‘cow’) appears in the novel and film ‘A Clockwork Orange’ by Anthony Burgess. It is a twisted version of a milk bar (general store) that serves milk laced with drugs. The novel begins with the droogs (friends) sitting in their favorite hangout, drinking milk-drug cocktails, called ‘milk-plus,’ to hype themselves for the night’s mayhem. The protagonist and narrator Alex lists some of the (fictitious) ingredients one can request: vellocet (opiate), synthemesc (synthetic mescalines), drencrom (adrenochrome). For another ingredient he advises to, ‘(drink the milk) ‘with knives in it,’ as it ‘would sharpen you up.” By serving milk (instead of alcohol), the bar is able to serve minors. In the film, the bar has furniture in the shape of naked women and the milk is served from their nipples.

There was a bar in New York City’s East Village named the Korova Milk Bar styled after the bar in the film. The bar closed in 2006; it had served as a gathering site for the city’s goth, punk, industrial, metal, hardcore, and fetish subcultures for many years. It reopened the following year in White Plains, New York. Korova is also the name of a bar and music venue in Liverpool, founded by members of the band Ladytron. The earlier Liverpool band Echo & the Bunnymen were also signed to a record label of that name.

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March 24, 2013

Chifir’

chifir

Chifir’ is a type of strong tea brewed in Russia. The etymology is uncertain but is thought to come from the word ‘chikhir” meaning a strong Caucasian wine, or a Siberian word for spoiled wine that has become sour and acidic. Chifir’ is typically prepared with either two or three tablespoons of loose tea per person poured on top of the boiled water. It is brewed for 10–15 minutes without stirring – until the leaves drop to the bottom of the cup. Chifir’ drunk without sugar is highly unpleasant; sweets can be held in the mouth before, during or after drinking to soften its bitter taste.

It is similar to Egyptian Sa’idi tea, a somewhat similar beverage (essentially a 1/9-strength recipe, but consumed in larger quantities).

March 11, 2013

Owsley Stanley

owsley by jody hewgill

Owsley Stanley (1935 – 2011) was a figure of the San Francisco Bay Area counter-culture, playing a pivotal role in the counterculture of the 1960s. As a crafts-person, he became best known simply as ‘Owsley’ – the LSD ‘cook’ (underground chemist). Stanley was the first private individual to manufacture mass quantities of LSD. Between 1965 and 1967, Stanley produced more than 1.25 million doses of LSD.

Under the professional name of ‘Bear,’ he worked with the psychedelic rock band the Grateful Dead’s international fan ‘family.’ Bear was an early soundman for The Grateful Dead, a band he met when Ken Kesey invited them to an Owsley Acid test party. As their sound engineer, Bear frequently recorded live tapes behind his mixing board and helped The Dead become the first performers since Les Paul to custom-develop high-fidelity audio components and sound systems.

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March 10, 2013

Graham Hancock

graham hancock by nelson blake

Graham Hancock (b. 1950) is a British writer and journalist specializing in unconventional theories involving ancient civilizations, stone monuments or megaliths, altered states of consciousness, ancient myths and astronomical/astrological data from the past.

One of the main themes running through many of his books is the possible global connection with a ‘mother culture’ from which he believes all ancient historical civilizations sprang. Although his books have sold more than five million copies worldwide and have been translated into twenty-seven languages, his methods and conclusions have found little support among academics, his work being labelled ‘pseudoarchaeology.’

March 10, 2013

Pharming

pharming

Pharming is a portmanteau of farming and ‘pharmaceutical’ and refers to the use of genetic engineering to insert genes that code for useful pharmaceuticals into host animals or plants that would otherwise not express those genes, thus creating a genetically modified organism (GMO).

The products of pharming are typically recombinant proteins (or their metabolic products), which are proteins that result from the expression of recombinant DNA (molecular cloning in a laboratory brings together genetic material from multiple sources, creating sequences that would not otherwise be found in biological organisms). Recombinant proteins are most commonly produced using bacteria or yeast in a bioreactor.

February 13, 2013

Head Shop

psychedelic shop

A head shop is a retail outlet specializing in drug paraphernalia, as well as counterculture art, magazines, music, clothing, and home decor. 

February 12, 2013

Melatonin

pineal

Melatonin [mel-uh-toh-nin] is a naturally occurring hormone found in animals, plants, and microbes. In animals, circulating levels of melatonin vary in a daily cycle, thereby allowing the entrainment of the circadian rhythms of several biological functions. Many biological effects of melatonin are produced through activation of melatonin receptors, while others are due to its role as a pervasive and powerful antioxidant (a molecule that neutralizes free radicals), with a particular role in the protection of nuclear and mitochondrial DNA. Products containing melatonin have been available over-the-counter in the United States since the mid-1990s. In many other countries, the sale of this neurohormone is not permitted or requires a prescription.

Melatonin has been identified in many plants including feverfew, St John’s wort, rice, corn, tomato, and fruits such as bananas and cherries. The physiological roles of melatonin in plants involve regulation of their response to photoperiod, defense against harsh environments, and to function as an antioxidant. The latter may be the original function of melatonin in organisms with the others being added during evolution. Melatonin also regulates plant growth by its ability to slow root formation, while promoting above ground growth.

February 10, 2013

Naked Lunch

naked lunch

Naked Lunch is the 1991 film adaptation written and directed by David Cronenberg, of William S. Burroughs’ novel of the same name. Rather than attempting a straight adaptation, Cronenberg took a few elements from the book and combined them with elements of Burroughs’ life, creating a hybrid film about the writing of the book rather than the book itself. Peter Weller starred as William Lee, the pseudonym Burroughs used when he wrote ‘Junkie.’ Lee is an exterminator who finds that his wife Joan is stealing his insecticide (pyrethrum) to use as a drug. When Lee is arrested by the police, he begins hallucinating because of ‘bug powder’ exposure. He believes he is a secret agent whose controller (a giant bug) assigns him the mission of killing Joan, who is an agent of an organization called Interzone Incorporated. Lee dismisses the bug and its instructions and kills it. He returns home to find Joan sleeping with Hank, one of his writer friends. Shortly afterwards, he accidentally kills her while attempting to shoot a drinking glass off her head in imitation of William Tell.

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February 10, 2013

Naked Lunch

the naked lunch

Naked Lunch is a novel by William S. Burroughs originally published in 1959. The book is structured as a series of loosely-connected vignettes. Burroughs stated that the chapters are intended to be read in any order. The reader follows the narration of junkie William Lee, who takes on various aliases, from the US to Mexico, eventually to Tangier and the dreamlike Interzone (international zone, a type of extraterritoriality governed by international law). The vignettes (called ‘routines’) are drawn from Burroughs’ own experience in these places, and his addiction to drugs (heroin, morphine, and while in Tangier, ‘Majoun’—a strong marijuana confection—as well as a German opioid, brand name Eukodol, of which he wrote frequently).

The book was originally published with the title ‘The Naked Lunch’ in Paris in by Olympia Press. Because of US obscenity laws, a complete American edition did not follow until 1962. It was titled ‘Naked Lunch’ and was substantially different, because it was based on an earlier 1958 manuscript in Allen Ginsberg’s possession. Burroughs states in his introduction that Jack Kerouac suggested the title. ‘The title means exactly what the words say: naked lunch, a frozen moment when everyone sees what is on the end of every fork.’ In a 1960 letter to Allen Ginsberg, Kerouac said he was pleased that Burroughs had credited him with the title. He states that Ginsberg misread ‘Naked Lust’ from the manuscript, and only he noticed; that section of the manuscript later became Queer, although the phrase does not appear in either of the two final texts of that novel.

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February 2, 2013

Capsaicin

Scoville scale

Capsaicin [kap-sey-uh-sin] is a chemical substance. It is responsible for the sense of hotness found in chile peppers. In mammals, it causes a sensation of burning of the tissues it comes in contact with. Capsicain, and other similar substances called capsaicinoids are produced by chile peppers and other plants, probably as deterrents against certain herbivores and fungi. Pure capsaicin is a hydrophobic, colorless, odorless, crystalline to waxy compound. Capsaicinoids are added to food to make it have a hot taste, but it can also be used as an analgesic (painkiller). Such painkillers are often directly used on the skin. The burning of the capsaicin masks the real pain. Capsicaicin is also the main agent in pepper spray. Capsicain is not soluble in water; it binds to oil and fat. Soap can be used to wash it off. In 2006, it was discovered that the venom of a certain tarantula species activates the same pathway of pain as is activated by capsaicin, the first demonstrated case of such a shared pathway in both plant and animal anti-mammal defense.

Capsaicin is present in large quantities in the placental tissue (which holds the seeds), the internal membranes and, to a lesser extent, the other fleshy parts of the fruits of plants in the genus Capsicum (peppers). The seeds themselves do not produce any capsaicin, although the highest concentration of capsaicin can be found in the white pith of the inner wall, where the seeds are attached. The seeds of Capsicum plants are predominantly dispersed by birds, which do not react to capsaicin. Chili pepper seeds consumed by birds pass through the digestive tract and can germinate later, but mammals have molar teeth, which destroy seeds and prevent them from germinating. Thus, natural selection may have led to increasing capsaicin production because it makes the plant less likely to be eaten by animals that do not help it reproduce. In addition, there is evidence that capsaicin evolved as an anti-fungal agent. The fungal pathogen, Fusarium, is known to infect wild chilies which reduces seed viability. Capsaicin deters the fungus, and in doing so limits this form of predispersal seed mortality.

January 22, 2013

CoQ10

coenzyme

cofactor

Coenzyme Q10 is an oil-soluble, vitamin-like substance present in most eukaryotic cells, primarily in the mitochondria. Enzymes are protein molecules which work as catalysts (accelerating chemical reactions); coenzymes are are non-protein compounds bound to an enzyme. They are sometimes referred to as ‘helper molecules.’ CoQ10 aids in cellular respiration (the conversion of sugar into usable energy). It is a component of the electron transport chain and participates in aerobic respiration, generating energy in the form of ATP. Ninety-five percent of the human body’s energy is generated this way. Therefore, those organs with the highest energy requirements—such as the heart, liver and kidney—have the highest CoQ10 concentrations.

CoQ10 was first discovered by Professor Fredrick L. Crane in 1957. In 1958, its chemical structure was reported by Dr. Karl Folkers and coworkers at Merck. In 1961 Peter Mitchell proposed the electron transport chain (which includes the vital role of CoQ10) and he received a Nobel prize for the same in 1978. In 1972, Gian Paolo Littarru and Karl Folkers separately demonstrated a deficiency of CoQ10 in human heart disease. The 1980s witnessed a steep rise in the number of clinical trials due to the availability of large quantities of pure CoQ10 and methods to measure plasma and blood CoQ10 concentrations. The antioxidant role of the molecule as a free radical scavenger was widely studied by Lars Ernster. Antioxidants are molecules that can slow or stop the oxidation, or loss of electrons, of other molecules; by, for example, donating electrons to free radicals (molecules with an unpaired electron), which left unpaired can cause cellular damage.

January 2, 2013

Conjugated Linoleic Acid

CLA

Conjugated linoleic [li-noh-lee-ikacids (CLA) are a family acids found mostly in the meat and dairy products derived from ruminants. CLAs can be either cis- or trans-fats. In 1979, researchers from the University of Wisconsin applied a beef extract to mice skin. The mice were then exposed to a strong carcinogen. When the researchers counted the number of tumors developed by the mice 16 weeks later, they found to their surprise that the mice exposed to the beef extract had 20% fewer tumors. The identity of this anticarcinogen was not discovered until almost a decade later, in 1987. Michael Pariza, the scientist who discovered CLA, later remarked that ‘few anticarcinogens, and certainly no other known fatty acids, are as effective as CLA in inhibiting carcinogenesis in these models.’ CLA has also shown promise in treating inflammatory bowel disease, and it is also known for its body weight management properties, which include reducing body fat and increasing lean muscle mass.

Conjugated linoleic acid is both a trans fatty acid and a cis fatty acid. The cis bond causes a lower melting point and ostensibly also the observed beneficial health effects. Unlike other trans fatty acids, it may have beneficial effects on human health. CLA is conjugated, and in the United States, trans linkages in a conjugated system are not counted as trans fats for the purposes of nutritional regulations and labeling. CLA and some trans isomers of oleic acid are produced by microorganisms in the rumens of ruminants. Kangaroo meat may have the highest concentration of CLA. Food products from grass-fed ruminants (e.g. mutton and beef) are good sources of CLA, and contain much more of it than those from grain-fed animals. In fact, meat and dairy products from grass-fed animals can produce 300-500% more CLA than those of cattle fed the usual diet of 50% hay and silage, and 50% grain. Eggs are also rich in CLA, and CLA in eggs has been shown to survive the temperatures encountered during frying. Some mushrooms are rare nonanimal sources of CLA.

December 19, 2012

Edgewood Arsenal

edgewood

The Edgewood Arsenal experiments (also known as Project 112) are said to be related to or part of CIA mind-control programs after World War II, such as MKULTRA. Journalist Linda Hunt, citing records from the U.S. National Archives, revealed that eight German scientists worked at Edgewood, under Project Paperclip (the US program recruiting Nazi scientists after the war).

The experiments were performed at the Edgewood Arsenal, northeast of Baltimore, Maryland, and involved hallucinogens such LSD, THC, and BZ, in addition to biological and chemical agents. Experiments on human subjects utilizing such agents goes back to at least World War I. In the mid-1970s, in the wake of many health claims made from exposure to such agents, including psychotropic drugs administered in later experiments, the U.S. Congress began investigations of misuse of such experiments, and inadequate informed consent given by the soldiers and civilians involved.

December 6, 2012

Cannabinoid

cannabinoids

Cannabinoids [kuh-nab-uh-noid] are a class of diverse chemical compounds that activate cannabinoid receptors (molecules on the surface of a cells in the brain and throughout the body, which receive chemical signals). After the receptor is engaged, multiple intracellular signal pathways are activated; researchers are still unraveling the precise mechanism at work.

Cannabinoid receptors are activated by endocannabinoids (produced naturally in the body), phytocannabinoids (found in plants), and synthetic cannabinoids (produced chemically in a lab). The most notable cannabinoid is the phytocannabinoid tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the primary psychoactive compound of cannabis. However, there are known to exist dozens of other cannabinoids with varied effects. Before the 1980s, it was often speculated that cannabinoids produced their physiological and behavioral effects via nonspecific interaction with cell membranes, instead of interacting with specific membrane-bound receptors.

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