Hallucinogens are substances that produced distortion in perception of reality and hallucination characterized by synesthesia.
Synesthesia means the blending of perceptions and interpretations of visual and auditory images (blending of sensory inputs).
Most hallucinogens are effective when taken orally and do not produce physical dependence.
A- Naturally hallucinogens (plant source):
1- Mescaline from peyotecactus.
2- Psilocybin from psilocype mushrooms.
3- Bufotenine from the seeds and leaves of Piptadenia species, Amanita mushrooms and skin glands of toads.
4- Myristicin from the seeds of Myristica fragrans.
5- Atropine and scopolamine from the leaves of Atropa belladonna and Datuta stramonium.
6- Harmine from the seeds of Peganum harmala.
7- Dimethyl tryptamine (DMT) from the seeds and barks of Virola and Psychotria species.
8- Muscarine from Amanita muscaria mushrooms.
B- Synthetic hallucinogens:
1- Lysergide (lysergic acid diethylamide, LSD) LSD (lysergic acid diethylamide) which was synthesized in 1938 from alkaloids obtained from cereal grain infected with ergot fungus.
2- Cyclidines (e.g., phencyclidine, PCP).
3- Hallucinogenic amphetamines "ring substituted amphetamine).
4- DET (diethyltryptamine) and DMT (dimethyltryptamine), the latter known as the ‘businessman’s special’ because of its brief duration of action.
1- Peyote & Mescaline
Spineless Peyote is a small, spineless cactus, Lophophora williamsii.
It grows in deserts from central Mexico north to southern Texas and New Mexico.
The peyote cactus occurs isolated or in groups usually on limestone soils, on rocky slopes, dried river beds and flatland.
Mescal buttons (peyote buttons), most commonly found in the illicit traffic, are the dried, brown, disk-shaped tops of the cactus.
The top of the cactus above ground (also referred to as the crown) consists of disc-shaped buttons that are cut from the roots and dried.
Active ingredient is the hallucinogen mescaline (3,4, 5-trimethoxyphenethylamine).
The mescaline containing cactus species:
T. peruvianus (F.Cactaceae)
are known to grow in subtropical and temperate areas of south America.
They are called "San Pedro" in Peru and "Aguacolla" in Ecuador.
Several other species of the Cactaceae family also contain phenylalkylamine derivatives, but no mescaline. They are called "False peyote" and belong to the genera of Ariocarpus, Coryphantha, Echinocereus.
- The mescaline is absorbed into blood stream from GIT, but crosses the BBB much more slowly. Therefore, the need for high doses to get hallucinogenic effects.
The hallucinogenic dose of mescaline is about 0.3 to 0.5 grams and lasts about 12 hours.
- Mescaline is eliminated in the urine.
Physiological responses include:
1- The dilatation of the pupils of the eyes,
2- Elevation of temperature,
3- Increase HR&BP.
4- The slightly greater behavioral arousal, reflecting CNS stimulation, is not surprising given the structural similarities between mescaline and amphetamines.
Psychological effects include:
1- Hallucinations in vivid color design, flowers and animals.
2- There are distortion in the perception of colors, time and space.
3- Some individuals experience serious nausea and
4- vomiting with mescaline.
Fresh or dried parts of cactus, e.g., mescal buttons.
Mescaline exhibits in the form of its sulfate or HCl salts, are encountered as powder, tablet, capsules in a single container or package.
Extraction of mescaline
A pure sample of mescaline can be isolated from the plant material or other illicit products by preparative TLC or HPLC.
Major peaks in IR spectrum of mescaline base, sulfate and HCl occur at the following wave numbers (cm-1): 1591, 1513, 1245, 1130.
The characteristic fragment ions in the EI of mescaline are: m/z, 211 (molecular ion), 182 (base peak), 167, 151.
UV spectroscopy is not specific for the analysis of mescaline because other phenylethylamines yield similar results and therefore it is not recommended.
2- Psilocybe mushrooms and Psilocybin:
Genus Psilocybe (F. Strophariaceae) is the most important genus of the hallucinogenic mushrooms.
More than 140 different species are known, 80 of them are known to contain psychotropic substances.
They are found in tropics to temperate areas.
The species grow on the soil and on a variety of organic substrates such as dung, rotting wood and on clumps of mosses.
The most important three species are:
1- Psilocybe semilanceata
2- Psilocybe cubensis.
3- Psilocybe mexicana
In few years ago, a marked increase has been observed in the abuse, by ingestion of the fresh or dried fruit bodies, of these potent psychoactive mushrooms which are controlled in many countries.
Psilocybe semilanceata known as "Liberty Caps", is the most widespread psilocybin containing mushroom occurring in north and middle Europe, north America, Russia, and Australia.
Psilocybe cubensis: is known to grow in south and central America, southern Mexico, west India, Florida and south eastern Asia.
It grows singly or in small groups, usually on dung or rich pasture soil.
Psilocybe mexicana is known to grow in southern Mexico and Guatemala, growing isolated or sparsely in moss or herbs along roadsides and in the neighbourhood of pine and oak forests.
The main alkaloids present in these species are:
1- Phosphorylated indoleamines, psilocybin (4-phosphoryloxy-N,N-dimethyltryptamine).
2- Baeocystin (4-phosphoryloxy-N-methyltryptamine, norpsilocybin).
The latter being possibly the direct biochemical precursor of psilocybin.
3- Psilocin (4-hydroxy-N,N-dimethyl-tryptamine), the dephosphorylation product and hallucinogenic metabolic of psilocybin, is usually present only in trace amount.
It is formed enzymatically or more often as a result of inappropriate drying and storage.
Therefore, psilocybin and psilocin are considered, from the aspect of drug abuse, as the chemical constituents of forensic significance.
After oral ingestion, psilocybin is converted (through dephosphorylation) to the more lipophilic psilocin. The latter is rapidly distributed through the body including CNS.
The duration of action is from 2-4 hrs (much shorter than that for lysergide and mescaline).
Psilocin produces characteristic physiological effects that precede the psychological ones (psilocin is about 200 times weaker than lysergide).
Psilocybin exhibits as a powders, tablets or capsules in a single container or package or the material may be inside a number of packages. Both products are potent hallucinogens after 30 min of oral administration.
Presumptive color tests:
To small amount of the suspected material (powder, tablets or capsules) placed in a spotting plate, add 2 drops of Ehrlich reagent (dissolve 1g of ρ-dimethyl-aminobenzaldehyde in 10 ml MeOH, then add 10 ml orthophosphoric acid).
A violet to grey violet color appearing after few mint indicates the possible presence of psilocybin or psilocin. The detection limit is about 1ug.
For psilocybin tablets and capsules:
Extract a sample of the finely powdered tablets or the content of capsules by shaking or sonicating with methanol to obtain, after filtration, a solution of about 1mg/ml.
Spotting and development:
Prepared methanolic extract are spotted on silica gel GF254 plates alongside standard solutions of psilocybin and psilocin (1mg/ml). the spotted plates are developed in the solvent systems:
a- n-butanol:acetic acid:water (20:10:10)
b- MeOH:NH4OH (100:1.5)
Allow the plates to dry at room temperature.
Observe the plates under UV light at 245 and 365nm, then spray with Ehrlich reagent or ρ-dimethyl aminocinnamaldehyde reagent (0.5g/50 ml methanol, then add 10 ml HCl)
Dark blue spots appear at 245 and 365 nm on the fluorescence background.
Both reagents give grey violet to violet color with psilocybin and baeocystin and blue color with psilocin, but 2nd reagent is more sensitive and yields better color stability.
The detection limit for this reagent is 20ng for psilocybin and 10ng for psilocin.
Is an indoleamine alkaloid obtained from the seeds and leaves of Piptadenia pregrina and P. macrocarpa (Mimosaceae).
It is isolated from Amanita muscaria and from the skin glands of toads (Bufo species).
It is a white crystalline powdered practically insoluble in water, freely soluble in ethanol.
Chemically bufotenine is a psilocin isomer and it is 5-OH-N,N-dimethyltryptamine.
It is a less common hallucinogen.
1-All are most popular illicit drug.
2-Natural hallucinogens have long histories of use, whereas synthetic hallucinogens are relatively recent phenomena