Men hallucinate after eating fish

By Abrad · Apr 20, 2006 · Updated Apr 20, 2006 · ·
  1. Abrad
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    Men hallucinate after eating fish
    April 19, 2006 -

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    Rabbit fish are one of several species of fish known to cause
    hallucinatory fish poisoning, but the problem is very rare outside
    the Indo Pacific.

    Two men have suffered terrifying visual and auditory hallucinations after eating poisonous fish in Mediterranean restaurants.

    According to a clinical study on the patients, which is due to be published in the journal Clinical Toxicology, the men started seeing and hearing terrifying things after contracting a rare form of hallucinogenic poisoning from the fish they were dining on.

    Ichthyoallyeinotoxism, or hallucinogenic fish poisoning, is caused by eating the heads or body parts of certain species of reef fish and has previously only been recorded from the Indo Pacific.

    The effects of eating ichthyoallyeinotoxic fishes, such as certain mullet, goatfish, tangs, damsels and rabbitfish, are believed to be similar to LSD, and may include vivid and terrifying auditory and visual hallucinations. This has given rise to the collective common name for ichthyoallyeinotoxic fishes of "dream fish".

    Pommier and de Haro of the Toxicovigilance Centre Antipoison at Marseille's Hospital Salvator, who undertook the study, said that the men had both eaten a fish called Sarpa salpa, and subsequently suffered from CNS disturbances including terrifying hallucinations and nightmares.

    One of the men, a 40-year old, was admitted to hospital suffering from a digestive problem and terrifying visual and auditory hallucinations, which took 36 hours to disappear. The second man, a 90-year old, suffered from auditory hallucinations a couple of hours after eating the same species of fish, followed by a series of nightmares over the next two nights.

    The poisoning can start to cause vivid hallucinations within minutes of eating a poisonous fish and may last for days, often with no other effects. There is no antidote.

    Indoles, with similar chemical effects to LSD (lysergic acid diethylamide) are believed to be responsible and may be consumed when the fish eat algae or phytoplankton containing the chemicals.

    Others have claimed that different species of ichthyoallyeinotoxic fishes, such as Kyphosus fuseus, contain much more potent hallucinogens, such as dimethyltryptamine or DMT, which is considered to be one of the world's most mind-bending hallucinogenic chemicals.

    Sarpa salpa
    The hallucinogenic fish consumed by the men was a member of the Sparidae family and is commonly known as the Salema porgy.

    The fish reaches a size of around 50cm/20" and occurs through much of the eastern Atlantic and Mediterranean.

    For more details on the hallucinatory fish poisonings see the paper: de Haro L, Pommier P (2006) - Hallucinatory fish poisoning (ichthyoallyeinotoxism): two case reports from the Western Mediterranean and literature review. Clin Toxicol (Phila). 2006;44(2):185-8.

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  1. Nature Boy
    Very interesting. If more research was made, dosage and controlling the poison could be determined and this could turn out to be a new recreational psychedelic. I wonder if it can be synthesised. Anyone know more about these mysterious fish?
  2. Abrad
    Seems to be some kind of tryptamine. Perhaps it has already been syntesised.
    I really hop somebody tries to find out.
  3. Nagognog2
    Soon To Be Heard Department: In Great Britain young violent street peddlers are now offering Fish & Trips to unsuspecting, and hearing-compromised, members of Parliament. The effects have been quite ugly. Aside from having sexual encounters with sheep in the House of Commons - the poor wretched victims have actually introduced legislation to rescind the laws on Cannabis and Mushrooms!

    Fresh Fish! Fresh Fish! Just for the Halibut! Fresh Fish!

    (and that is Kyphosus Fuscus)
  4. snapper
    Don't they already have sex with sheep at the house of commons ?

    Anyways, no one has ever published an isolate from any of these fish. I was always hoping there would be a trout's notes on the subject, but not yet. It is most likely associated with a bioconversion of something the fish consumed and is most certainly not DMT since the duration is longer than all but the alpha substituted tryptamines; my guess is it is not even a tryptamine. Many animal based hallucinogenic and other bioactive molecules are peptides or proteins. A good example of this is Phyllomedusa bicolor, which has a long acting, active molecule in its skin which is a peptide (short protein). Yet another example is dermorphin, found in the skin of another treefrog and an active at the microgram level narcotic (one of the most potent). It is also a peptide and the backbone for a whole new class of small protein narcotics. Only given intrathecally though.
    If it was a small molecule, it would already be in the literature, but peptides are harder to work with, requiring a biochemist or molecular biologist, not an analytical chemist, to isolate.

  5. kemistudent
    How odd, I see fish like the one pictured above at pet stores selling fresh water fish. I suppose once I fully detox from my SSRI meds I can buy one and eat it and see what happens.

    This sounds like the blowfish you can order that numbs your lips after you eat it, they call it the kiss of death as the poison, if made right, is just enough to numb the lips and not kill you.
  6. Alfa
    Nowhere is said that the depicted fish is actually the hallucinogenic fish.
  7. GDxCAT
  8. snapper
    Keep in mind that organs and other parts of many reef fish are poisonous, not hallucinogenic. The puffer you're referring to contains tetrodotoxin which is deadly at the microgram level. The pricure is of a rabbitfish, but probably not the one eaten, and they are considered poisonous.

  9. raven3davis
    Sounds interesting but could it be DMT is dmt is not active orally? Maybe the fish has an MAOI in it also :) Seems very interesting hopefully SWIM will get one of these on a sandwich or something!
  10. Benga
    Fugu chemistry is something to look into as well. Some people actually enjoy the paralysis it causes in measured doses...
  11. LowExpectations
    It could be a DMT derivation, there are many forms (5-Meo-DMT, etc...). I find it fascinating that the fish have psychedelic properties, but I doubt anything new will be found. Shulgin and the like have isolated innumerous substances, so many that it would be quite revolutionary to find a new one.
    If it's a tryptamine, it's been done.
  12. Sklander
    This is very cool.

    SWIM would love to eat this fish... probably the only type of fish SWIM would enjoy eating!
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