Tropane Alkaloids & Acetylcholine
“I’ve done many psychedelics like acid, mushrooms, and DMT, but this was too real!” This is the hallmark and signature characteristic of tropane alkaloids when used by thrill-seekers for a “trip”. These alkaloids can bring a 360 degree change of scenery, lasting anywhere from 12-72 hours and in some cases up to a week or more. The aftermath can bring residual effects like vision problems, lingering hallucinations, and a variety of other cognitive deficiencies. On the other hand, used at just a slightly higher dose can spell death. Sometimes a permanent psychosis can even plague a surviving individual from there on out. Lady Nightshade plays hard and many times for keeps!
At this point you may be asking yourself:
- How can these compounds bring such vivid hallucinations?
- What is it about these compounds that cause so much devastation to the body and brain?
I have spent a fair amount of time in the last year trying to pin down exactly how these compounds go to work on the brain and why they can be so dangerous. (I am not a student of science or medicine so please don’t hold it against me if any of my terminology appears out of place.)
Anyway, after countless hours piecing it all together, I am going to try and explain it in the simplest of terms so that you can understand it as much as humanly possible. I will do my best to avoid mistakes, misinterpretations, and so on. I have never really had just one article to get an all-inclusive, full spectrum explanation of the effects of the tropane alkaloids (scopolamine, atropine, and hyoscyamine) and how they go to work in the brain. Hopefully my research and subsequent explanation will do some justice here.
Before we explain this, however, I need to explain a vital neurotransmitter and part of the brain that allows us to keep our system operating to run smoothly in the mind and body:
Acetylcholine is a parasympathetic neurotransmitter in the brain. I know. it doesn’t really explain things if you aren’t familiar with biology, medicine, toxicology, etc. I will do my best to bridge the gap and put it in such a way that anyone can understand it.
The brain has many important compounds needed to run the body. but for this lesson think of Acetylcholine as say, Windows for a computer. The glue that keeps the system in place to run smoothly. It allows programs to interact with other programs, download information from the net, etc. Much like acetylcholine does within our system. If you removed Windows or OS X from your Computer It would crash.
Parasympathetic means that its actions run “alongside” other transmitters and receptors keeping the nervous systems going. A neurotransmitter is an organic chemical within the brain that relays messages and allows certain functions to occur in the body and mind. Acetylcholine allows calculations and messages to communicate and command important functions autonomously: on its own and without us having to think about it.
Some of these functions include:
- Muscle coordination
- Decision making
- Rest and digest responses
- Saliva/sweat/digestive glands
- Heart rate
It may not be the sole commander in all of these functions but rest assured Acetylcholine makes it all possible. Acetylcholine is a biological necessity in keeping life going.
When we enter sleep, There is a preliminary stage called NREM (Non-Rapid Eye Movement) sleep. In the two stages of NREM sleep, there is light NREM sleep and deep NREM sleep. In both of these stages the brain has been observed to decrease acetylcholine production. Much more in deep NREM sleep than light NREM sleep. But in REM (Rapid Eye Movement) sleep, the acetylcholine production is high like it is in our waking hours. The acetylcholine in sleep is produced in different parts of the brain than it is in wakefulness, at least that’s what I have come to understand.
Going a step further since the state of REM is so active and transfers to work in a different section of our brain when we wake up we only remember our dreams in detail for a very short amount of time and if we do not write them down we just as easily forget what they were. This is where the memory formation comes into play. When we shut down or restrict the flow of acetylcholine when we are awake (through drugs like scopolamine) we have ‘missing time’ or black outs where memory is very faint or almost not even formed. Perhaps the acetylcholine has switched to the same part of our brain as sleep?
tropane alkaloids: effects on the brain
Tropane alkaloids like Scopolamine, atropine, and hyoscyamine are referred to as anticholinergics. An anticholinergic agent is a drug that breaks down and reduces the flow of acetylcholine in the brain and body. This can be extremely helpful in small doses. In larger doses, however, this can be catastrophic and fatal.
On the smaller scale, tropane alkaloids can be extremely helpful to stomach and digestive problems. With things like stomach ulcers, Irritable Bowel Syndrome, overactive bladder, these are highly effective compounds. Also there are things like overactive sweat glands (hyperhidrosis), or excessive drooling (hypersalivation). These functions are all controlled by the flow of acetylcholine. Reducing the flow of acetylcholine would put the brakes on these overactive processes. So these anticholinergic compounds can work wonders. Motion sickness and nausea can also be treated effectively using tropane alkaloids like scopolamine and hyoscyamine. Perhaps you have used a scopolamine patch on a vacation cruise or in trips where you endure periods of motion sickness.
Atropine has a wide variety of use not only in ophthalmology to dilate the pupils but also in the military field as an antidote to the chemical agents of nerve gas. When these agents enter the system It disrupts the acetylcholinesterase, The transmitters responsible for the regulation of acetylcholine, therefore flooding the system with excessive amounts of acetylcholine causing the victim to start drooling, constricted pupils and vision problems, involuntary urination (pissing your pants), overproduction of lung/bronchial fluids, respiratory failure resulting in convulsions and death. Atropine will remove this overdose of acetylcholine bringing the victim back from the clutches of death. A poison on its own. A lifesaver for other poisons
the poison of the underworld
the tropanes are truly devious in their poisoning effects on the body. For what other ingredients can literally bring you to the gates of Hell before you die?
“There was lightning all around me, the sky was ripped apart and clouds sweeping by quickly, they were tinged with red. All around me (its 8.00 pm) the normally deserted park is filled with people; horrible gray shadows with back holes for eyes, there are thousands of them. The trees are dripping with blood and the ground is littered with body parts. These people are laughing at me, but I can only hear them in my head, they scream at me, horrible things about the universe coming to an end. I remember grabbing my head and screaming.”**
Keep in mind this scenery seems entirely real to the person experiencing such a poisoning. Think of it along the lines of a lucid nightmare. Although there is danger in any experimentation with the tropanes, there is a serious danger in experimentation with these compounds when:
A) You are not familiar with how your body tolerates tropane alkaloids.
Your body can be extremely sensitive to these compounds, or resistant causing you to think you need a lot more than it really indicates.
B) When you are just guessing at dosage without any point of reference.
This is by far the most definitive factor in why people end up dead and/or admitted to the ER with extreme delirium and psychosis when messing with the Nightshade plants. As I said before, she enjoys a chance to take advantage of you when you give her that option. She does not play gentle. Guessing at a dosage is just plain stupid.
C) Unaware of the potency of the plant material
Just as in any plant based substance, different strains and species can be vastly different in alkaloid. For instance, Datura stramonium is not nearly as potent as something like Datura discolor or Datura ceratocaula. On top of that some of the same strains grown in different regions or at different times of the year can be quite different potencies. She is unpredictable. That’s my point!
Now I am not suggesting anyone should experiment with the tropanes but I do realize people will do as they wish, so I might as well put some relevant information out there. On the one hand, I think it is extremely irresponsible to play with high doses of these agents without some kind of preliminary testing. When you have no reference point there is simply no way to tell how much devastation it can produce, and this is the anatomy of fatal consequence.
On the other hand, some people exaggerate the danger adding even more ignorance to the topic. Talking about any and all doses like some kind of comic book super-villain does no justice. There are numerous factors that come into play. Some dangerous. Some not so dangerous. But the truth is: there is definitely risk involved in all cases until you know how your body reacts to low doses and how potent your plant material is then there is no telling the outcomes of larger dosage. When small dosage outcome is established, the safer way to go is working up incrementally using the same plant material. By incrementally I mean in baby steps not giant leaps.
Getting to know this plant means understanding it in as many ways as you can. This is why I believe it is important to grow your own plants. For one, you are developing a relationship with this plant. Your loving care for this plant goes a long way with the tropane mistress. I believe in the spiritual aspects involved. You are stupid not to, seeing as though this is a living being.
I live very closely to all of my plants. Most of my plants live right in my room with me. This may be too close for comfort for some of you. But these plants and their study is pretty much my life so I am more than comfortable being so close to them. These plants enter my dreams quite often. So this has not much difference to me. I prefer it actually.
The Spirit of Lady Nightshade is intense, powerful, some might even say overkill. She is the epitome of power and intensity. Everything she does is characterized by this energy. Dark. Rugged. Raw. If you attempt to communicate or interact with her in an irresponsible manner, she will not respond lightly. Expect a tidal wave of energy. Her elements are no different. How you allow yourself to be directed by this force is no simple task. Curiosity and thrill-seeking are not the means by which to approach these beings. Careless mistakes can be fatal. If its a trip you’re looking for, there are safer substances out there. Of course, you can always grow her and admire her beauty without trying to gain carnal knowledge by ingesting her. Treat her with the proper respect and you will have nothing to worry about.
Lets talk about how tropane poisoning is reversed. So we have already established that when someone is poisoned by tropane alkaloids they have restricted the flow of acetylcholine and the system begins to malfunction and ultimately shut down if too much has entered the system.
The initial effects of tropane exposure will be:
- Dry Mouth
- Heavy Eyelids
- Mydriasis (Dilated Pupils)
The deeper exposure will result in:
- Redness and Flushing of the skin
- Difficulty walking/balance/muscle coordination
- Limited Reaction to External Stimuli
And further exposure will culminate in:
- Multiple Organ Failure
- Respiratory Failure
- Increased salivation and body fluids
- constricted pupils
- Stomach Pain
So this would be the case if we did not have extreme deficiency of acetylcholine by ingestion of an anticholinergic like scopolamine or atropine. But if a person has ingested these tropanes and the anticholinergics cause the resulting poisoning, administering physostigmine would reverse the effects and put the much needed acetylcholine back into the system.
Another recognized antidote is Pilocarpine. This is a compound isolated from the Pilocarpus genus of plants in South America more commonly called Jaborandi. These are another source of acetylcholinesterase compounds (promoting the flow of acetylcholine).
Another known compound for treating the anticholinergic effect is a drug called scopoletin. This can be isolated from multiple plants like Scopolia, chicory, Artemesia scoparia, Passionflower, and most commonly Brunfelsia. I can personally attest to the fact that Brunfelsia will reverse the initial effects in low doses of tropane alkaloids.
Due to stomach/digestive problems, I ingested a small number of Datura stramonium seeds, which I had carefully dosed through numerous small dose experiments. After reaching a medicinal dosage guideline, I ingested a few more for the purpose of this experiment. After a while, My eyelids got heavy, my mouth became fairly dry, and pretty much my whole system dried up. I could drink a lot of fluid with barely any urination. This is what I was aiming for. Next, I made tea with about 15-20 leaves of Brunfelsia grandiflora. Upon drinking this concoction, I could feel my mouth producing saliva again. I could somewhat feel my body producing fluids again. Or rather, I could feel the initial effects of the Datura seeds containing tropane alkaloids reversing as I continued to drink the Brunfelsia tea.
I can’t say for sure how effective this would be at higher levels of tropane exposure. I’m sure you would need to drink a fair amount more than one cup. But this is just my experience at low doses. I would not recommend trying it because as I said before: There is a great amount of Risk involved in consuming high amounts of tropane alkaloids and the same is true of Brunfelsia and scopoletin. My point being, you are walking into uncharted territory and I have no way of telling you what could happen because these are both poisons in their own right!
I hope this post gives you a more in-depth understanding of the Nightshade plants, tropane alkaloids, and their effects on acetylcholine in our brain. I hope you find these plants as awesome and inspiring as I do, but at the same time I hope you approach them with respect as I do. While I do not encourage ingesting them to my audience, I can’t tell you not to because that would be somewhat hypocritical. But what I will say is please, please don’t be foolish by guessing at dosage or thinking you have balls by taking large amounts. These are dangerous compounds. Overdosing and dying is a very real risk. Or maybe worse than dying, permanent psychosis, brain damage, and vision impairment is always another plausible scenario. So if reading this isn’t enough for some of you crazy cats then just please be very, very careful!!
**taken from ‘Screaming Voices’ report of a belladonna user’s trip entry