Rhododendron adamsii - new entheogen?

Discussion in 'Ethnobotanicals' started by psychedelaholic, Apr 5, 2006.

  1. psychedelaholic

    psychedelaholic Titanium Member

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    Just searching around the internet and stumbled across this:
    "Rhododendron adamsii is a small, very beautiful and specific ever-green blooming shrub. It is the endemic alpine plant native to high mountains situated around great Siberian lake Baikal. The attempts to cultivate this species in botany gardens had no success.

    All rhododendrons have been known from the ancient times as poison and heavy-stoning plants. For instance, Xenophontus, Greek historian (380 BC) wrote about infection of the whole squad of Greek warriors by poisonous honey which put them into sleepy, dreamlike state and left them unable to fight.

    Rhododendron adamsii has been mentioned in three Tibetan medical treatises as adaptogenic, stimulating and tonic plant. It considered that leaves and flowers of this plant possess the magic power to grant to a man vitality, to strengthen workability and bearability, to improve the potency. It has been applied when chronic diseases accompanying with general decline of living powers, headaches, sleeplessness, exhaustion.

    This plant is known under many names which reflect its famousness among different people thanks to magic, ritual and medicinal properties. Russian population of Baikal area calls it “flavourful tea”, buryats call it “sagan-da-li” that means “white wing”, tofa people call it “ak kaskara”, Mongols – “dal’ garbo”, Tibetans – “ba-lu”, “da-lis”.

    In folk medicine of Russia and indigenous tribes of Eastern Siberia Rhododendron adamsii still uses to cure heart, nervous and stomach illnesses, and also as diuretic, sweating and lowering fever measure. So broad application of a plant is connected with belief that it acts immediately on the human body as whole system.

    WARNING: LEAVES OF SAGAN-DA-LI CONTAINS HIGH LEVEL OF ETHER OILS AND RARELY STUDIED ALKALOIDS WHICH PRODUCE HALLUCINOGENIC EFFECTS CONNECTED WITH CHANGING IN PERCEPTION OF COLOURS. THE PLANT IS SUBJECTED TO FURTHER INVESTIGATIONS."

    Anyone know anything else about it?
     
  2. Nagognog2

    Nagognog2 Iridium Member

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    I know this: Rhododendrons contain nitriles. A nitrile is organic chem-speak for cyanide. I'm sure cyanides would alter ones perceptions. As for color changes - yes you will turn blue (cyanosis) from having the oxygen stripped out of your blood. That's how it kills you. I would strongly suggest these be left in the garden.
     
  3. psychedelaholic

    psychedelaholic Titanium Member

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    That sounds like no fun at all lol
     
  4. Alfa

    Alfa Productive Insomniac Staff Member Administrator

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    I have been looking into this species a while ago. Although I found no data on this species containing cyanide type substances, most of the rhododendron genus does. Therefore I left this one be until more data is available.
     
  5. genaro

    genaro Iridium Member

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    Ok I have some very reliable toxicology book about toxic plants (this books describe the alkaloid content, toxic dose, side effects & symptoms, and suggested treatment of intoxication for each toxic plant that was repertoried).
    The author is Jean Bruneton (thanks so much to this guy)
    Here's what is said about Rhododenrdon spp.


    The Rhododendron chapter starts with an antique quote from "Xenophon" (quite a fun read):

    In 401 before J.C. Cyrus The Younger did lead an army against his brother (in order to clear up some misunderstanding about inheritance)...they crossed the Taurus, went along the Euphrate river in direction of Babylone. The battle took place in Couaxana, they won but Cyrus was killed during the battle. His distraught troups withdrew along the Tiger river and eventually got lost in the eastern territories...they finally ended up in Trapezonte creek (now called Trébizonde), on the Black Sea coast. There, once arrived at the summit, they could find several villages where there was a lot of food avalaible and didn't notice anything unusual exepting that there were quite a lot of hives around and the soldiers who ate some honey from it went into "transports of mind" (lol), threw up, eliminated by their back (loool, I love how he tells it), and none could stand up on his legs. The ones who ate only a little appeared completely drunk, those who ate a lot were raving mad or even looked just like moribunds. In such a state, many remained on the floor, just as after a defeat, and there was a huge despondency among the troups (hahahhaha)...The day after, none of them had died and the "mind transport" stopped approximatively at the same time of the day it had begun on the day before (that's a 24h deliriant trip!). On the third and fourth day, they were weakened as they were waking up, just as if they had been provided medecine (he's talking about ancient medecine/surgery practice here when he says "medecine").

    So now let's enter the toxicology part of the text:

    the plant:
    Rhododendrons are members of the Ericaceae familly.
    There are over a thousand rhododendron species (most of these beeing localised in the sino-himalayan area and secondarly in new-guinea), and even more hybrids are beeing either cultivated in parks and gardens or sold at garden stores as pot plants all around the world.

    Active principles:
    flowers, leaves and nectar (and therefore honey made from it) contain diterpenes called "grayanotoxines", the main constituent beeing "grayanotoxine I" (aka andromedotoxine aka acetyl-andromedol ...what a beautiful name!) which is responsible for the toxicity of Rhododendron spp.
    This molecule increase specifically the sodium ions permeability of membranes, depolarizing about any cells that can be electrically stimulated
    ...I love this, I wanna get depolarized my neurones! ...whatever this means...sounds like some kind of fantastic "non-linear cycloidal magnetic accumulator laser ray effect" from starwars lol :))

    A note about toxicity of honeys:
    Lots & lots of honey induced intoxications were reported in Turkey as Rhododendron Ponticum and Rhododendron Luteum are very common there. The accidents are all the more frequent as these honeys are used in folk medecine to treat stomach ulcers & hypertension (be careful here as this would mean there is a cardiovascular effect, which could be dangerous with excessive dosages).
    Other states reported contamination of traditional home made honeys in areas were Rhododendrons are widely spreaded, including the North-East of USA and Canada. In the East of Canada, another familly of plants called "Kalmias" (latifolia L., angustifolia L.) contain the same diterpenes as rhododendrons
    and therefore can cause the same accidents involving home-made honey (I love this book, it's overloaded with useful infos such as this one)

    The observed symptoms:
    Symptoms appear quite fast, about 1/2h to 2h after ingestion (with doses ranging from 1 to 5 tablespoons of honey). In every listed cases, the patient is hypotensed = low blood pressure (at 50-60 mm Hg systolic pressure) and the bradycardia (= low heart rate) is all the more pronounced as the ingested dose was bigger: 48cycles per minute for 50g of honey, 52cycles per minute for 75mL of honey, 26 to 40 cycles per minute in the most serious cases. ECG also shown various anomalies of the rythm (nodal rythm, auriculo-ventricular blocks, Wolff-parkinson-white syndrome). Nausea, vomiting and vertigo were noted in 75 to 90% of the cases. Headache, tingling sensations in the extremities, muscular weakness and blackouts were also reported. Most of the patients are very tired and agitated, some do blackout, also visual changes were noted.

    note that I don't like the "tingling sensations part" as this can be a sign of peripheral vasoconstriction due to the hypotensive effects, and I once had quite a few vasoconstrictive/cardiovascular troubles (really freaky ones) out of hypotensive subtances, which I'm quite sensitive to (dramamine pills). Every symptoms I experimented were pretty much the same than those described with rhododendron so be very careful with this one, increase dose slowly, don't ever double dose!

    Suggested treatment: I'll go short on this part of the text as I'm getting bored with translating all of this !
    Bradycardia is usually treated with atropine, 0.25-0.5mg IV or through the saline and /or glucose perfusion that is used to correct the hypotension.
    More rarely, an anti-hypotensive is precribed (beta-adrenergique).
    the cases involving auriculo-ventricular block are treated with isoprenaline or with temporary use of a stimulator. The grayanotoxines are quickly metabolized so in every cases the patient would rapidely come back to base line within 24hours.
    If there wasn't any spontaneous vomitting induced by the intoxication effect, then it might be useful to proceed to a stomach washout (= pumping somebody's stomach), however some noted that Ipecac syrup could make the cardiac troubles worse and therefore should be avoided.

    So now you can get high on rhododendron, and if anything goes wrong, you just say the doctor: "listen...bradycardia is usually treated by...if auriculo ventricular block then just..." (you will probably know better than him what to do about rhododendron poisoning hahaha)

    Toxic doses
    The study of rhododendron spp nectar toxicity showed it would vary greatly from one specimen to another, some beeing non-toxic, other showing toxicity that varies from 1 to 10 (that means that a given specimen can be 10 times more toxic than another one)
    LD50 of rhododendrons diterpenes were evaluated in mice parenterally:
    1.28mg/kg for the "grayanotoxine I" and 0.91mg/kg for the "grayanotoxine III", In the same series of evaluations, "grayanotoxine II" showed not to be toxic at 4mg/kg.
    A sample of nepal honey that had been responsible for transitory mild heart attack in 4 dutch studiants was analysed turned out to contain 30ppm of grayanotoxines : 20g of this honey were enough to induce bradycardia (38cycles per minutes), pain in the heart area, headache and muscle weakness.

    Toxicity of the plant itself:
    Even if most cases of intoxication that were reported were caused by home made contaminated honeys, the intoxication with the plants itself is still possible:
    In 1973, a 4 years old child ingested leaves and flowers from a non-identified rhododendron specie (dose unknown). Main symptoms were vomiting, drowsiness, respiratory depression, cyanosis, hypotension (80/50 mm Hg) and perturbations of the ECG (irregularities of the cardiac rythm). 4 atropine injections over 12hours got things back to normal
    happy end ! I wanna precise it as this books contains hundreds medical reports involving hundreds of different plants and quite a few unhappy ends storries.
    Another intoxication involving a plant called Pieris Japonica is descibed, similar symptoms and similar treatment, happy end too :) but I'm not describing it here (as I'm terribly bored with translating by now, and anyway they don't tell which substances are responsible for the toxicity of this particular plant so it's of no interest for us)
    However a study carried out by two american poison units around 1980) showed that the intoxication is rarely that serious: 152 cases of ingestion were listed, but most cases are involving very little doses (mostly children that only sucked the nectar from 1 to 5 flowers without ingesting the flower itself) or the consulted doctor has induced vomitting so there were no serious consequences, only 8 cases out of the 152 were a slightly more serious (ingestion of flowers/leaves in small quantities)

    Then comes a particular case about a small Ericaceae called Gaultheria Procumbens (aka checkerberry or creeping wintergreen) that contains monotropitoside (i.e a xylo-glucoside of methyl-salycilate)...I don't really get why this one is speaked of in the rhododendron chapter but I think I already heard of it in the text "natural drugs" or "natural highs" from the internet or something so I thought I should mention that...it is said to be toxic (acido-basic equilibrium perturbation, glucose metabolism perturbated, CNC toxicity, hypertension). Quite a few intoxication from extracted wintergreen essence (extracted from G.Procumbens stem & leaves) were reported, some were deadly(mostly forvery young children or old'ma).


    To conclude with this never-ending translation I would say that even if rhododendron doesn't seem that dangerous as most people recover from it (as long as the dose is little enough not to induce acute life-threatening conditions), one should still be very careful and start very low. Also note that the "mind altering" effect is probably mainly found in a few species while not (or very weak) in others that would only/mostly show bad toxicity.
    So you first need to be sure what specie you're gonna use: I wonder what specie(s) was/were involved in the ancient greek story as this one(s) seems like a damn good trip with low toxicity associated with the psychoactive dose range (while I guess that with some other species, the toxicity level associated with psychoactive effects could be quite high).


    PFEWWwww that's it....at last.

    yess there are quite a few other chapters about many other interesting & rare psychoactive plants in this book but no, don't even think about it, I won't traduce...

    ...now if you guys would wanna make an offering of plants & pills to reward and venerate me for this tremendous contribution to the thread, then be sure I will accept these with much satisfaction :))
     
    Last edited: Apr 7, 2006
    1. 4/5,
      Such an involved post, great info!
      Apr 7, 2006
  6. genaro

    genaro Iridium Member

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    made a few internet searches and found this:

    "poisonous honey is well known in the area of "minor" Asia , it's produced from the nectars of the purple flowers of Rhododendron Ponticum and flowers of the Yellow Azalea which is known as Rododendron Luteum. These two species grow wild only on the turkish coast of the Black Sea which is their original habitat (so I think these two might be the species that were involved in Xenophon report as Trébizonde is now precisely a turkish habour located on the hills boarding the black sea). General symptoms of poisoning are nausea, dizziness, headache, visual troubles, temporary blindness. The severity of the posioning depends of the ingested quantity and indiviual sensitivity."

    I made a few more seraches to see if there would be any other toxic/psychoactive plants in this area that could have been responsible for the toxicity of honey, among the most frequent plants there are a few heather species (including Erica Arborea) which seem to be non-toxic, so R.Ponticum and R.Luteum are probably the only species involved in honey toxicity there.

    Note that other "kinds" of psychoactive honeys have been reported from different parts of the world where bees were collecting the nectar of different widely spread psychoactive plants such as brugmanias & daturas.

    ...I wonder what would happen if one would build a huge greenhouse (just like in the x-file movie) and fill it with hundreds of different psychoactive plants and then set a beehive in the greenhouse, calculating/adjusting the proportion/distributuion of each plant species so the bees would mainly collect nectar from the most valuable psychoactive plants and then secondarly from the most toxic ones (such as rhododendrons and such) so your honey will be containing hundreds of different alkaloids (bees doing all the extraction labour for you), mainly good ones and only little amounts of the most toxic ones (such a scopolamine) that would only be here to add a little "deliriant touch" to the honey....much better idea than beehives carrying any monstruous black oil alien virus isn't it?
    that would be a wonderful plan to be carried out so if anyone wants to set this mega-greenhouse up with me he's welcome hahaha
    ..."sacred honey" is the drug of the future generations...
     
    Last edited: Apr 7, 2006
  7. Salmoxis

    Salmoxis Newbie

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    I live in Siberia, and just had my first tea made from Rhodedendron Adamsii, or Sagaan Dailya as it is locally caled here. I can't say anything about other rhododendrons, but here grandmothers sell it to make tea. Its properties are touted as slowing the aging process, lifting mood, positive for circulation and urinary tracts, and regulation of sleep.

    I made about 1g in 300 ml of water as a tea, and found it a very pleasant, mild but not soporific sedative. In any case, it's a fine plant and seems to have been used for many years around here without negative effect, so I would say that at least this particular species of Rhodedendron is not a cause for fear!
     
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