Scopolamine: The Definitive Answer

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  • Post last modified:January 19, 2011
  • Post category:Travel

You’ve all heard the stories — business cards or pamphlets being passed, having it blown from a beautiful woman’s palm like pixie dust, and being slipped into drinks and food in bars. If you speak to locals, it runs rampant in Colombia, as is as much of a boogie man as the one hiding in your closet. The fact is, if your friend has told you stories of getting hit by Scopolamine after touching a business card, he was most likely actually snorting the shit thinking it was Colombian cocaine. The drug carries a lot of urban myths with it, so without making you read the Wiki article let’s copy out some of the facts. First let’s start with the goods of the drug.

The Good

  • Due to its effectiveness against sea-sickness it has become commonly used by scuba divers
  • In October 2006 researchers at the US National Institute of Mental Health found that scopolamine reduced symptoms of depression within a few days, and the improvement lasted for at least a week after switching to a placebo
  • Scopolamine is found worthwhile as a treatment for irritable bowel syndrome
  • Treatment of intestinal cramping
  • Treatment of nausea and motion sickness

The Bad

  • Approximately one in five emergency room admissions for poisoning in Bogotá have been attributed to scopolamine.
  • There have also been reports of [edit: Colombian] tourists being robbed after having scopolamine slipped into their food or drink. Recently, these incidents have been reported in Thailand.

The Legend

  • There have been a number of unfounded circulating rumors that Colombian robbers were using a transcutaneous delivery mechanism involving business cards, pamphlets or flyers laced with the drug. However, In actual fact, the quantity of toxin diffusing through the skin barrier after one short contact of the fingers with an object is much too small to be readily absorbed in the body and to have any significant effect.
  • Scopolamine poisoning is sometimes reported by the media as method by which people are raped, killed, or robbed, although largely exaggerated in many unfounded rumors
  • The inclusion of belladonna/datura type plants amongst the dozens of ingredients in the Haitian zombie drug is thought by some authorities to be at least somewhat likely, although scopolamine-bearing plant matter is almost certainly not the main active ingredient, which has been theorised to possibly be Tetrodotoxin or a related substance

Further Facts

  • It’s used recreationally (in the form of Datura preparations) for the deliriant and hallucinogenic effects
  • However, scopolamine as a truth drug was not seriously tested for this purpose until the 1950s when it was experimented on by various intelligence agencies, including the CIA
  • In Fear and Loathing In Las Vegas by Hunter S. Thompson, Dr. Gonzo mentions an incident in which he was given an entire datura root as a gift, ate the entire thing at once, and subsequently went blind, had to be taken back to his house in a wheelbarrow, and started making noises like a raccoon

Everything in here was pulled directly from Wikipedia, I just tried to simplify it to something more manageable. If you’re interested in reading mode, I encourage you to do so.

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