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5% Discount on Legal Highs, Salvia Divinorum and Everything Else From The Coffeesh0p

Cannabis Reclassification


Cannabis is now Class B

Don’t worry though! Our awesome Smoking Mixtures do the trick and are totally legal!
According to our government, amphetamine (speed) is as bad for us as cannabis – what other message could reclassification send?

Your typical cannabis smoker tends to

  1. stay indoors
  2. chillax
  3. get through a lot of crisps

Your typical whizzkid tends to

  1. go out a lot
  2. get somewhat overconfident and aggressive
  3. listen to awesome drum ‘n’ bass
  4. approach the speed of light (literally*)

*Not literally

I’m not necessarily knocking amphetamine or it’s users, just pointing out that drugs are a class apart. Oh no, wait.

Check out the (now out of date) graph below, placing drugs from most harmful on the left to least harmful on the right.The score assigned to each drug takes into account harm to yourself and to society as a whole, and what’s that… alcohol and tobacco are more harmful than the class A drugs LSD and ecstasy! Considering that the link between cannabis and schizophrenia is as tenuous as ever (why isn’t the Netherlands one big psych ward?), why is our government ignoring it’s own scientists? Religion has more regard for evidence than Mr. Brown (and that’s saying something!) If you want to learn more about just how stupid our current classification system is, you can watch this episode of BBC’s Horizon, which tackles each drug in turn. (49 mins)


Posted in Legislation | Tagged alcohol, amphetamine, cannabis, horizon, reclassification, tobacco |

Coffeesh0p Is Doing Great

So, I’ve been playing around with Excel (read: procrastinating) a lot lately and produced these lovely looking graphs. Since they do look ever so lovely, and without revealing too much, I thought I’d post them here, along with a healthy dose of good advice. Also, the second two show the first month’s results from my little article experiment.

The X axis represents the months from Jan 2007 until Dec 2008. The extrapolated curves of best fit do not take into account December’s data.
I guess this first graph shows we’re here to stay – this is the number of orders placed with us each month. While the number of orders placed last month is a little lower than November’s data, this is consistent with most other e-commerce sites, who all see a slump in traffic (and sales) over the holidays. Who’d have thought people would prefer to spend time with their families rather than shop online? The same thing also occurs during December of last year. Still, not bad for a recession.


This graph shows overall traffic to the site. Internet marketeers may be interested to learn that the distinct peaks represent my limited foray into social bookmarking. Notice how the same months in the previous graph do not show any similar increases in the amounts of orders placed. This just goes to show that social bookmarking is shite for e-commerce.

One final point: traffic dropped significantly in December – far more than you’d expect over the holidays. Fortunately, this was exactly as I’d planned. December was when I moved all the old articles over to this blog, and articles are big traffic-generating machines. Take note, budding marketeers – article marketing can really drive traffic to your site! Compare the month of December on both graphs so far though – while traffic dropped significantly, the number of orders decreased only slightly. There are also plenty of other things you can do with old static content, so make sure you don’t let things stagnate.


This final graph shows each month’s conversion rate – that is, the percentage of visitors who go on to place an order. December’s data shows a significant increase as soon as I moved those articles, which just goes to show – traffic isn’t everything! It surprised me that before then, the conversion rate was still continually on the rise. I must have been doing something right. Unfortunately though, many, many things can affect your conversion rates, none of which have a particularly large effect. Here’s a great post on 108 ways you can increase your conversion rates.

Why I should Be Worried

There’s no doubt about it – our little herbal highs hobby is kicking some ass, but it’s not all good news. More orders means more work, and right now me and my girlfriend are in the last term of our final year at university, so time is not something we have in abundance.

We might have to hire someone….

Posted in Internet Marketing | Tagged article marketing, coffeesh0p, conversion rates, e-commerce, traffic |

How To Grow Salvia Divinorum: A Rough Guide

Green Fingers

Buying Your Plant

The most expensive part of growing Salvia Divinorum on a organic/semi-organic basis is actually buying a cutting or whole plant. I managed to get my plant for £12 including postage and packaging. After this follows compost and a suitable size pot.

There are many places to find salvia plants/cuttings, not only at local plant nurseries, but all over the internet; there’s at least one salvia plant on ebay at any one time. It’s worth noting that prices can vary significantly with little variation in quality, so make sure you shop around.

Try and buy a plant locally if you can. If not, definitely buy from a website based in your home country to minimise the time it spends in an envelope.

Growing A Cutting

When your cutting arrives, remove it from it’s packaging extremely carefully and let it sit in luke warm water. Assuming your cutting already has roots, leave it in the water for a couple of hours. If no roots are present, leave it in the water for a week or so until there’s enough root growth present to allow for potting.

After it’s sat in water for a while, it’s time to plant it. You’ll need a pot at least 20-30cm wide to allow your cutting to grow without having to be repotted every couple of months. The first thing to do is place some gravel or broken crockery into your pot up to about 5cm from the bottom. This thin layer allows for superior drainage after watering. After that, fill the pot up with your loam based compost available from any gardening store and dig a little hole in the centre where your plant will sit. Next, take your cutting, splay out the roots gently with your fingers and place the cutting into the hole you provided. Backfill the hole with more compost and compress down lightly around the stem of your plant.

Travelling through the mysteries of the postal service and being stuck in some soil is thirsty work for a plant. Imagine you have been slaving away all day in the blistering sun, doing vast quantities of manual labour. How badly are you gagging for a pint at your local? This is how your plant is feeling right now. Although your plant needs a drink, don’t feel obliged to buy it any peanuts. Now your plant is potted, give it enough water so that excess water will drip from the bottom of the pot.

From here, I advise you to put the plant in a humid environment, at least at first, to promote healthy growth. Just like a fat kid loves cake, Salvia Divinorum loves indirect sunlight. This can be anywhere such as a light room with no direct sun blazing down on it all day, or even directly in the sun, but behind a net curtain. Provided your plant is not exposed to too much direct sunlight, it will do all right.

Leave it a few weeks and your cutting will start turning into a fully-fledged plant. Keep an eye on the compost, making sure it doesn’t dry up. Water once a week in summer and once every two weeks in winter. Just be careful to never over water your plant, or root rot could set in.

Growing & Maintaining A Plant

Growing an established plant is almost the same as growing a cutting. Salvia Divinorum can be very flexible about its growing conditions, but a quick change in conditions will most likely piss your plant right off. You have to consider that your plant has already been growing for probably quite some time in certain conditions, which it is now used to. These includes, but is not limited to, different light levels, compost, humidity, etc so it is very important to find out as much as you can about these conditions from the plant’s previous owner, then try to match those conditions as best you can. Once the plant has been repotted and is beginning to settle into it’s new environment, then you can slightly alter it’s environment a little each day until you have it growing in conditions easy for you to maintain.

The growth of the plant at first will be slow. Remember, it’s been shoved in an envelope for a few days with no light, so it’ll need to recover from that traumatic experience before it will even think about new growth. This can take up to around 2 weeks before any progress can be seen.

Look out for the leaves and edges of the plant turning brown, this means it is NOT in the right conditions. There are many things it could want, but chances are it’s something to do with humidity. Try misting the leaves if your environment is not very humid, or consider building a humidity tent or moving the plant into the bathroom, where people use the shower frequently. The stem, and possibly the leaves should return to normal in a couple of weeks. If not, cut the leaves off at the stem to facilitate new growth.

Sometimes the leaves might turn a yellowish colour. Never fear, it just means your plant could do with some more sun. This could be because other leaves on the plant are blocking out light, in which case, feel free to remove those other leaves and do with them what you will.

If your plant is wilting, it simply means it could do with more water. And if it’s bent, try rotating the pot 180 degrees. Plants will grow towards the sun, which could be causing the bowing in the stem.

Miscellaneous Tips

Automatic Watering – One method for ensuring your plant always has enough water is by setting up a low maintenance automatic watering system. You’ll need some organic rope (NOT plastic), a drill and a tray. Firstly drill two holes near the base of your pot in the side and push your rope into one side and out the other. Make sure there is plenty of slack inside the pot. The next step is to pot your plant or cutting as described above, only this time, wrap the slack from the rope around the root system of your plant before you pack it out with soil. You should now have one plant in its pot with two bits of rope hanging down from either side. Finally, place a couple of bricks, a lump of wood, or some other object into your tray and fill the tray up with water. Place your pot onto the bricks, wood, or whatever and allow the two pieces of rope to dangle into the water. This will automatically deliver enough water to the plant all the time.

Pinching – Pinching is a method to promote bushiness and outward growth in your plants instead of growing too tall. At the tip of each branch, there is a section called the apical meristem. This is where all the new growth comes from and is responsible for regulating a plant hormone called indole-3-acetic acid (IAA). This hormone promotes the growth of the main stem and inhibits sideways growth from nodes along the stem. If this hormone weren’t present in the plant, it would grow outwards instead of upwards, so it follows that if you remove the apical meristem, this hormone will no longer be produced and your plant will bush out instead of grow tall.

When your plant has reached the desired height, cutting off the top of the main stem with a clean sharp pair of scissors will safely stop the plant from growing taller, while maximising leaf output.


Posted in Drugs | Tagged cultivation, cuttings, growing, pinching, salvia divinorum |

Animal Testing & Species Differences

Today, I thought I’d share another one of my essays I had to do recently. This one looks at animal testing, problems concerning species differences and what we can do to avoid them. This essay is a little more sciency than my other one on living forever, so I’ll include the references this time. Here goes:

The use of non-human animals in the drug development process can attract criticism due to the issue of species differences. How significant is this problem and what strategies can be employed to minimise the impact of species differences?

lab ratAnimal testing is a major tool in the drug development process, required by law before any new drug can enter the market. Animal models are set up to not only test the efficacy of a compound for its intended effect, but also to observe any potential side effects, to calculate a safe dosage for humans and to check for any addiction potential. Although animal testing is a legal requirement, implemented for our own safety, it is still only a model; a substitute for human physiology, whose results could be completely erroneous if they were derived from a poorly planned experiment. Differences between species are always a concern when setting up an appropriate animal model, and a lot of time is spent agonising over them to ensure any results obtained are both accurate and applicable to humans. When it comes to experimental design, species differences can be broadly classified into the following categories: anatomical/physiological differences, differences in metabolism and subsequent toxicity, pharmacological differences and behaviour.

Anatomical/physiological Differences

This is perhaps the most obvious class of species difference. It is no good testing a drug on an animal and looking for effects that are physically impossible for the animal to manifest. Any tests carried out on one species with implications for another must only test parts of the physiology common to both species, or identify an analogous symptom that corresponds to the effect you are looking for.

A prime example of this kind of difference crops up when investigating the emetogenic potential of a drug – unfortunately, evolution has not provided rats with a vomiting reflex, so an different model would have to be devised looking for an alternative behaviour or using another species with a physiology closer to ours.

Metabolism & Toxicity Differences

Different species also metabolise drugs differently – either via different metabolic pathways or with different kinetics. As such, a drug toxic to one species may have little effect on another, which is particularly important when trying to determine the toxicity in humans. A drug’s LD50, the amount required to kill 50% of subjects in a particular sample, is usually given in mg/kg of body mass, scaled up from animal experiments. If a drug’s toxicity or pharmokinetics are only determined from one animal species and extrapolated for the average human, the data would not take into account any differences in metabolism that may be present, resulting in potentially extreme inaccuracies.

For example, dogs should never be given coffee or chocolate, as they are poor metabolisers of theobromine1, a xanthine alkaloid occurring naturally in both, as well as being a metabolite of caffeine. As little as 50g of chocolate can result in theobromine poisoning for small dogs, while humans can metabolise it fast enough without issue.
Similarly, metabolism of NSAIDs shows a huge variation across different species. The plasma half-life of aspirin ranges from 1 hour in ponies up to 37 hours in cats2, due to their poor glucuronidation ability, while dogs are more susceptible to aspirin’s gastrointestinal side effects3.

One final example would be the varying MPTP toxicity between species. MPTP can be formed as an unintended byproduct in the manufacture of MPPP, a synthetic opioid with great potential for abuse. MPTP on its own is not harmful, but MPP+, the natural metabolite of MPTP, is a potent neurotoxin. MPP+ is produced via MonoAmine Oxidase B in neuroglia and the capillary endothelia comprising the blood-brain barrier, and results in rapid-onset Parkinsonian symptoms barely indistinguishable from typical Parkinson’s disease4. These symptoms are also reduced by L-DOPA, a drug commonly used in Parkinson’s disease. Rats, however, are almost entirely immune to MPTP toxicity, most likely due to a different level of expression of MAO B5. Mice, on the other hand, do produce MPP+, but clear it from their brain in a matter of hours, unlike the primate brain, in which clearance can take days.

Pharmacological Differences

The chemical pathways and their associated protein machinery will not necessarily be structurally identical, or indeed act in the same way. Pathways may be more or less complex, depending on the species, with more or less scope for modulation by other factors. Receptors too may also differ in structure, ligand affinity and the type of G proteins they may couple with. All of these factors may be of huge importance when designing a drug with a particular molecular target in mind.

A few interesting cases have resulted from these types of differences. For a while, Leptin was theorised to suppress hunger, as knockout mice that did not express leptin or its associated receptor got fat. Giving leptin to those that could not express it themselves, but still possessed the appropriate receptor, caused them to lose weight6 – a potential gold mine if the results were also applicable to humans. Unfortunately, they were not. Leptin showed little effect in humans, as weight problems tended to concern signal transduction rather than a lack of leptin7, in much the same way as insulin-resistant diabetes.

Another, rather more serious example is that of TGN1412, a monoclonal antibody with not only a high affinity for the human CD28 receptor, but a strong agonist ability too. Originally intended to help patients with rheumatoid arthritis and B cell chronic lymphocytic leukaemia, TGN1412 was initially tested on animals and an apparently safe dosage calculated. Of the 6 volunteers hospitalised, each given a dose 500 times smaller than that given to their animal counterparts, 4 developed multiple organ failure as a result of cytokine storm8. Hopefully, this example highlights the importance of species difference; that it is a real issue and not just a theoretical concern.

Behavioural Differences

hedgehog ballThe final category, and perhaps least obvious, is that concerning animal behaviour. Unfortunately for us, animals are not able to clearly express their feelings, so we are left to try and interpret that behaviour, which can be particularly difficult. Humans seem to have an intrinsic penchant for anthropomorphism – we are always unconsciously trying to attribute characteristics that are uniquely human, such as complex emotions or intention, onto animals and even non-living objects. Children are especially guilty of this, smacking a rock, perhaps, as a punishment because it tripped them up. It is only as we grow older and put in a little more thought that we realise that perhaps the rock was not to blame. With animal models, we must also put in that extra thought when it comes to interpreting an animal’s behaviour, instead of opting for the instinctive, humanised interpretation.

Other problems are encountered when we assume a particular behaviour is a result of a particular effect. For example, in the tail flick assay, designed to measure effects on nociception, analgesia is associated with an increased latency in moving the tail away from a heat source. Approving a new drug as an analgesic based on only this interpretation could be disastrous if the increased tail flick latency was instead due to a loss of muscle control or paralysis.

One final thought concerning animal behaviour, is that some behavioural responses may be unique to the species in question. For example, a hedgehog might curl up into a ball as a typical fear response. While this may be easy to interpret, other idiosyncratic responses may not.


A number of strategies have been devised for combating the issues species difference brings up, ranging from simple common sense to the rather more complex. An in-depth knowledge of the species under investigation is a good start. Experience and familiarity with a particular species will naturally lead to a better ability to read an animal’s behaviour, just as we become better at reading the people around us the longer we spend in their company. Someone new to animal work will be more likely to anthropomorphise, drawing instead from their experience with other people, whereas someone with ample experience could make a more accurate judgement. Another benefit from experience is that any of the more subtle differences between that species and us is more likely to spring to mind, reducing the risk of something important being overlooked. For example, rat models are a useful tool when studying the intestinal bioavailability of drugs, but are a poor choice when it comes to intestinal metabolism9.

Another strategy to reduce the risks imposed by any unknown or overlooked differences, and one that is required by law, is to test on more than one species. Doing so greatly reduces the chances that any observed response is unique to one species in particular, and is therefore likely to be exhibited by humans too.

Although there are an incredible number of individual species, some proteins remain relatively conserved. Working with these specific proteins that share a great deal of similarity between their human counterparts will likely lead to more reliable results. For example, the muscarinic receptor family has remained much the same throughout evolution such that the human and rat receptors share a very similar agonist/antagonist profile10. It is very likely that something acting on rat muscarinic receptors will elicit the same response in humans, making this an accurate model.

More recently, the latest tools and techniques of the genetic engineer promise to make animal models even more relevant. Genetic manipulation has already delivered knockout animals, not expressing particular genes, and transgenic animals, expressing genes belonging to another species, but in 2008 a chimeric mouse with 90% human hepatocytes (liver cells) was produced11. Until now, the best tool for studying the effects of drugs on the liver would be to use actual human liver (another strategy for overcoming species differences is to use human cells if possible), but the chimeric mouse has already shown great potential. The liver is mainly responsible for the pharmacokinetics of a drug, as it is the primary place that drugs are metabolised, which has subsequent effects on the toxicity and efficacy of that drug. The chimeric mouse has shown a similar pharmacokinetic profile to the human donor, as well as human-specific metabolites not ordinarily found in mice, making this an excellent model with which to study pharmacokinetics and toxicity. This advancement brings with it all the benefits of testing drugs on an actual human target, without any of the ethical considerations raised with human testing.

We humans are an animal species like any other, and we may have our own species-specific responses that are impossible to capture or anticipate with any animal model. It is important to remember that an animal model is just that – a model. Species differences will always be an issue; there are even idiosyncratic reactions to drugs within the same species, such as some humans being allergic to penicillin, so we can never eliminate these differences completely. Increasing research, awareness, criticisms from the animal rights campaigners and new genetic techniques will continue to help us reduce the severity of these issues until they can be reduced no further.


  1. Kahn CM, editor. The Merck Veterinary Manual. 9th Ed. New Jersey: Merck & Co., Inc; 2008.
  2. Boothe DM. The Analgesic, Antipyretic and Anti-inflammatory Drugs. In: Adams HR, editor. Veterinary Pharmacology and Therapeutics. 8th Ed. Iowa: Iwoa University Press; 2001. p. 433-454
  3. Crosby JT. Veterinary Questions and Answers – Can you give a dog or cat aspirin? [cited: 2008 Sept 02] Veterinary Medicine. Available from:
  4. Langston JW, Ballard P. Parkinsonism induced by 1-methyl-4-phenyl-1,2,3,6-tetrahydropyridine (MPTP): implications for treatment and the pathogenesis of Parkinson’s disease. Can J Neurol Sci. 1984 Feb;11(1 Suppl):160-165.
  5. William Langston JW. The Impact of MPTP on Parkinson’s Disease Research: Past, Present, and Future. In: Factor SA, Weiner WJ, editors. Parkinson’s Disease: Diagnosis and Clinical Management, New York: Demos Medical Publishing, 2002. p. 407-436
  6. Pelleymounter MA, Cullen MJ, Baker MB, et al. Effects of the obese gene product on body weight regulation in ob/ob mice. Science. 1995 Jul 28;269(5223):540-543
  7. Considine RV, Sinha MK, Heiman ML, et al. Serum immunoreactive-leptin concentrations in normal-weight and obese humans. N Engl J Med. 1996 Feb 1;334(5):292-295
  8. Suntharalingam G, Perry MR, Ward S, et al. Cytokine storm in a phase 1 trial of the anti-CD28 monoclonal antibody TGN1412. N Engl J Med. 2006 Sep 7;355(10):1018-1028
  9. Hurst S, Loi CM, Brodfuehrer J, El-Kattan A. Impact of physiological, physicochemical and biopharmaceutical factors in absorption and metabolism mechanisms on the drug oralbioavailability of rats and humans. Expert Opin Drug Metab Toxicol. 2007 Aug;3(4):469-489
  10. Venter JC, Eddy B, Hall LM, Fraser CM. Monoclonal antibodies detect the conservation of muscarinic cholinergic receptor structure from Drosophila to human brain and detect possible structural homology with alpha 1-adrenergic receptors. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA. 1984 Jan;81(1):272-276
  11. Katoh M, Tateno C, Yoshizato K, Yokoi T. Chimeric mouse with humanized liver. Toxicology. 2008 Apr 3;246(1):9-17


Posted in Essays, Pharmacology | Tagged animal testing, drug development, ethics |

Psychoactive Mushrooms Presentation

What with the holidays and the decision to move all the articles from Coffeesh0p over here, it’s about time I posted something with a bit more meat. Having said that, this post is also suitable for vegetarians, so read on!

As I mentioned briefly before, I had to give another presentation to my neuropharmacology class in a similar vein to the one on Salvia divinorum I published earlier. In the end, I chose to talk about psychoactive mushrooms, so here’s the slides and a bit of bloggified talking along with each. Before we begin though, I’ll just say this was the worst presentation I’ve ever given – I (probably) had the most severe case of flu ever recorded and only managed to summon the courage to deliver it with Beechams flu plus, aspirin and a cheeky dihydrocodeine. Without these unsung heroes, this talk would not have been possible!

Oh, you can also click on the slides to enlarge them. Without further ado:


I’ll be talking about both the traditional “Magic Mushrooms” and the fly agaric mushroom, which is less well known, but is actually pretty culturally significant. For both of these, I’ll touch on a bit of history and tradition, pharmacology and a few other interesting bits and pieces.
mushrooms-presentation-slide3The typical magic mushrooms are actually many species of the Psilocybe genus with each species having its own subtle differences. There are 60 species of Psilocybe mushrooms growing throughout the united states, of which 25 are hallucinogenic. These mushrooms will grow in nearly any kind of habitat, apart from arid deserts, so are found throughout the world. The greatest species diversity falls within the neotropic climate zones, encompassing much of South America.

mushrooms-presentation-slide4These mushrooms were traditionally used by the native peoples of middle America for divination & healing purposes as well as religious communion. In fact, these people referred to the mushrooms as “God flesh” in their native language. Traditional use continued until the Spanish invaded, bringing European culture with them in the 14-1500s which pushed mushroom use underground. In 1955, Robert Gordon Wasson was the first westerner to take the mushrooms, and since then, western interest has exploded.

mushrooms-presentation-slide5Some of the positive effects brought on by these mushrooms include a euphoric change in mood accompanied by giggling and laughter, as well as an increased flow of ideas and tendency to think “deep”. Objects and lights also appear more interesting and colourful. The neutral effects include a general shift in consciousness, as with most other psychoactive substances, but also an increased emotional sensitivity, pupil dilation & photosensitivity, lethargy and time dilation – the feeling that time is passing faster than it actually is. The negative effects of mushroom use can include intense fear, a headache as the effects begin to wane, gastrointestinal discomfort such as cramps & nausea, anxiety, confusion and fainting. There has been no evidence of organ damage following use.


The pharmacology – The important constituents are two compounds in the tryptamine family, psilocybin and psilocin. Psilocybin is not actually biologically active – rather, it’s a prodrug that gets dephosphorylated by the body to form psilocin, which is psychoactive. I’ve also put a model of 5-HT on there for comparison. Psilocin is an agonist at 5-HT 2A, 2C and 1A receptors, but it’s hallucinatory effects are due to the binding to 5-HT2A receptors in the brain. Psilocin shows no effect on dopaminergic pathways, and only affects noradrenergic pathways in high doses. It is believed to be the degradation of psilocin into some kind of blue pigment responsible for the characteristic blue/black bruising of these mushrooms following handling. The ease at which they bruise is a good indicator of the mushroom’s potency. One species will even turn blue from just blowing on it.

mushrooms-presentation-slide8While there are no recognised medical uses of magic mushrooms, they have been used as an experimental treatment for a number of disorders. There’s significant anecdotal evidence to suggest that mushrooms can abort the period where people with cluster headaches are prone to attacks and also prevent relapses. Cluster headaches are quite a serious condition, being described as more painful than childbirth (by women!), so it’s no wonder people are willing to break the law to treat themselves. There are also currently studies under way on the effect of these mushrooms at easing the psychological suffering associated with cancer.

There’s not a lot more to say about these mushrooms, only that making them illegal naturally hampers research into a potentially useful drug.


The Amanita muscaria mushroom is a whole different kettle of fish. Here’s a few pictures so you know what I’m talking about.


Also known as the Fly agaric, this mushroom is the archetypal toadstool of the fairy tales, and is native to many places throughout the northern hemisphere, where it has been used ceremonially and recreationally for thousands of years. The mushroom, when freshly picked, is poisonous, but with careful preparation, the mushroom loses its toxicity. Unlike its psilocybin containing counterpart, this mushroom is completely legal.


Amanita have a long past, appearing in artwork from as long ago as 3500 BC. They also appear in paintings from the renaissance period, becoming more prominent during the Victorian era. This mushroom is associated in particular with fairies, elves and little people in general. They also began appearing on Christmas cards as a symbol of luck, and models of the mushroom were hung on Christmas trees as decorations. This could be due to the natural association between these mushrooms and pine forests.

It’s also been suggested that Santa Clause himself is modelled after the fly agaric mushroom, with his red ‘n’ white suit. Reindeer have also been observed eating this mushrooms in the wild and becoming intoxicated, so could that be behind the stories of flying reindeer? In fact, here’s another article on Amanita muscaria & Christmas – a very interesting read. Alice in Wonderland by Lewis Carol seemed to draw it’s inspiration from Amanita muscaria too.

Here’s a few images of this mushroom appearing in art through time. The top left one is from Disney’s Fantasia from 1940 – another example of just how widespread this mushroom has become within our culture.

mushrooms-presentation-slide14Use of these mushrooms has been as widespread as their geographic distribution, but heavy use has been recorded in Siberia in particular. The Siberian shamans use the fly agaric as an alternative method to drumming and chanting to enter a trance state, but in eastern Siberia, the mushrooms were used by everyone both religiously and recreationally.

mushrooms-presentation-slide15These mushrooms have a much more of a sedative effect with less hallucinations than the psilocybin containing counterparts. The positive effects include euphoria, analgesia, trance-like states being achieved, synaesthesia, and seeing “little people”. Maybe that one’s not so positive… The neutral effects include sedation, although some people can feel particularly energetic, along with changes in body perception, blurred vision and such. The most common negative effects associated with fly agaric use are nausea & gastrointestinal discomfort, but a powerful dissociation and delirium can occur at higher doses.

The active compounds in Amanita muscaria are Ibotenic acid and it’s derivative, muscimol. Ibotenic acid is a neurotoxin, which has since found a use in research, being a good inducer of brain lesions. This is the compound responsible for the toxic delirium resulting from ingestion of the fresh mushrooms. When dried in a particular manner, the ibotenic acid is decarboxylated into muscimol, making the mushrooms a lot safer to eat.

mushrooms-presentation-slide17Muscimol itself is a selective agonist at the GABA-A receptor and a partial agonist at the GABA-C receptor. Muscimol’s effect profile is the sum of its actions at both these receptors, where it binds to the GABA site rather than that of an allosteric modulator, such as benzodiazepines or barbiturates. These GABAergic effects alter neuronal activity in many regions of the brain including the cerebral cortex, the hippocampus and the cerebellum. Muscimol is not metabolised further by the body, but is excreted in large quantities, as we shall see…

mushrooms-presentation-slide18Time for some interesting bits and pieces about muscimol. Alcohol withdrawal can lead to hallucinations of little people much like muscimol. Since alcohol also acts on GABAergic pathways, maybe the effects could be related?

Siberian tribes used to drink the urine of their shaman, as it contains a high concentration of muscimol after ceremonial fly agaric use. I can’t think of any reason someone might find this out in the first place though.

And despite the name, Amanita muscaria have negligible muscarinic effects. They do contain muscarine, but in such tiny quantities to not make a difference.

mushrooms-presentation-slide19Muscimol has also found use as a pharmacological tool, being a GABA agonist. GABA itself plays an inhibitory role, so GABA agonists applied to the brain will also have an inhibitory role. This is a useful method of simulating axon-sparing brain lesions, making reversible inactivation of brain areas a great way to study brain-behaviour relationships, such as where and when neuronal events for learning and memory take place.

And that’s that!

At this point I handed round a fly agaric cap for extra cool points.

The slides are available as a PDF here: Psychoactive Mushrooms Presentation [1.79 MB].

Posted in Pharmacology | Tagged fly agaric, mushrooms, presentation |

How To Make Salvia Divinorum Extract

Have you ever tried making your own crude Salvia divinorum extract at home, and wondered why it looks like a black sticky mess that smokes harsher than a porcupine eating competition? Well, fear not, for this guide will ensure a quality finished product rivalling that of store-bought extracts.

This extract will make approximately 10g of unstandardised 10x extract. Provided you can use a calculator, the quantities detailed below can be jiggled around to make any strength extract you want.

Salvia divinorum Leaf


100g Salvia divinorum Leaf
You can get Salvia divinorum Leaf all over the Internet.
1x Large Saucepan
Just a regular large saucepan. Make sure it’s clean. No one wants to find the remains of burnt on spaghetti in their pipe.
1x Pyrex Tray
A large, wide, glass dish essentially. You might find a casserole dish fits the bill.
1x Small Glass Container
Anything will do, even a jam jar.
1x Tall, Narrow Glass Container
The perfect tool for the job is a boiling tube, but anything remotely similar will do.
1x Pipette
Not everyone has access to calibrated volumetric pipettes so anything that looks like an eye dropper will do. That means, a thin tube with a rubber bit on the end which you can squeeze.
2lt Propane Based Solvent
No not propane, but either propan-2-ol (AKA Isopropanol, Isopropyl Alcohol, Rubbing Alcohol) or propanone (AKA Acetone). They need to be 99% pure at least. Don’t even think about using nail varnish remover.
300ml Naphtha
The best source of commercially available naphtha in the UK is lighter fluid.

Step 1 – Powder Your Leaf

The first thing to do is weigh out your 100g of Salvia divinorum Leaf. Remove 10g of the best leaves from your stash and set them aside for later. The remaining 90g needs to be powdered using your trusty coffee grinder. It’s high RPM motor and stainless steel blades are no match for your dried salvia leaf. It’s worth pointing out that although the leaves may not instantly grind, you’ll have to give them a few minutes, but they WILL powder eventually. Use the grinder in 1 minute bursts, allowing the motor to cool in between. When you remove the lid from the grinder, unless you want to look like Shrek, do it in a fume cupboard. The coffee grinder will reduce the leaf to a flour like consistency which will billow out as soon as you remove the lid, turning everything in the immediate vicinity a sexy shade of green.

Step 2 – Extract The Salvinorin-A

Now you have 90g of powdered leaf, get it in your saucepan and pour in enough solvent to comfortably cover your leaf. Stir it constantly for 5 minutes and then let it sit for 8 hours or so. After that time, enough of the salvinorin should have dissolved in your solvent, so you can now carefully pour off the liquid in your saucepan into your Pyrex tray, being careful enough to leave all the solids behind.

If you’d like to make sure you extract as much salvinorin-a as possible, you may repeat this step once more.

Step 3 – The Waiting Game

As simple as it sounds, you have about 16 hours in which to twiddle your thumbs, watch some paint dry, or whatever you feel like. During this time, don’t even think about touching your extraction, and make sure it’s in a dark place. Light has a nasty habit of destroying salvinorin-a in solution. The purpose of this step is to let any sediment such as tannins fall out of the leaf which are hard to extract later on.

After the 16 or so hours are up, you may pour off the remaining liquid into the original saucepan, provided you emptied out the powdered leaf earlier.

Step 4 – Evaporating The Solvent

This takes forever, is incredibly boring and will give you terrible stomach ache if you don’t do it somewhere well ventilated. The best, safest and longest method of evaporating the solvent is in the dark, in the absence of heat. Remember, the solvent is flammable, so applying heat to it should be avoided. Blowing air across the solvent will speed things up substantially, so if you have a fan, use it, but again, only somewhere well ventilated. If the fan produces a spark, it could ignite the vapour, blowing up both you and your extraction.

When the evaporation is complete, you should be left with a load of black gunk on the inside of your container. This is as far as most people get with their extractions and is the reason why the end result is a black sticky mess. That’s ok for about 5x or 6x extracts, but any stronger than that and it becomes unsmokable.

Step 5 – Purification

When your black gunk is completely dry, you can scrape it out of your container and place it into a tall, narrow container. To this, add 50ml or so of naphtha. The naphtha dissolves the green/black waxes but leaves behind the salvinorin-a. After you add the first lot of naphtha, allow the container 30 minutes or so to settle, then pipette off two thirds of the naphtha and discard it. Repeat this process at LEAST 5 more times until your salvinorin-a is no longer a black colour. If you keep washing with naphtha, it will eventually turn white, however that kind of purity isn’t necessary for making 10x extract. If you were making something like 40x or 60x (not recommended), then the higher the purity, the better.

After the last naphtha wash, remove two thirds one last time and this time, allow the naphtha to evaporate off, leaving you with relatively pure salvinorin-a. DO NOT try and smoke/ingest this, as even a tenth of a milligram can be too much for some people.

Step 6 – Fortification

Now we have the salvinorin-a from 90g of leaf, we shall add it back to the 10g of quality leaf you set aside in Step 1. Although not completely accurate, you can see this is why it’s called 10x extract, as there’s 10x the amount of salvinorin-a in the finished product.

To do this, we place the salvinorin-a we produced in the previous step into the saucepan and add to it the same amount of solvent we used in step 1. Stir it round for a few minutes to ensure it has all dissolved. Next, add the 10g of leaf to your small container and pour the contents of the saucepan over it.

You can now evaporate off all of this solvent as before, until all of the solvent has evaporated.

The finished product is approximately 10g of leaf, looking a little darker than normal, 10 times as strong..

Posted in Teks | Tagged salvia divinorum, salvia extract |

How To Make Hallucinogenic Vodka

Sick of that nauseating feeling and blurred vision from eating Morning Glory (Ipomeia violacea) seeds? Why not try making your own hallucinogenic vodka! Investing a bit of time and money into your Morning Glory seeds will result in a much more refined experience, keeping negative side effects to a minimum.

This relatively straightforward process will give you about 10 trips assuming 6g of seeds for a standard dose.


100g Morning Glory Seeds
You can buy Morning Glory seeds all over the internet or find them growing naturally.
1lt Good Quality Vodka
Since you want to enjoy this, don’t cheap out on the vodka. Ensure at least 40% alcohol by volume.
600-1000ml Naphtha
The best source of commercially available naphtha in the UK is lighter fluid.
If you have lab filters, use ’em. If not, a coffee filter. If you can’t find them, use a tea towel.
Pint Glasses
Don’t worry, you won’t be drinking your product out of these, we’re just using them to hold liquid. If you have access to lab beakers, use those.
1x 2lt Bottle
This can be a plastic pop bottle or anything. You’ll be using it for shaking things up.
1x Coffee Grinder
A small handheld coffee grinder, used to powder coffee beans. You can also get away with a pepper grinder but it takes forever.

Step 1 – Powder Your Seeds

Simple enough. Take your 100g Morning Glory seeds and grind them into a powder using any means necessary. If you have a coffee grinder, use it. If not, empty out a pepper mill and try that. It might take an age, but the finer ground they are, the higher the quality of the end product.

Step 2 – Get Rid Of The Nasty Stuff

Take your 100g of ground seeds and pour them into your 2lt pop bottle. To this, add your 600-1000ml of naphtha and shake. Shake for as long as possible. Let it sit in the naphtha for about a day with as much shaking as your arms can handle.

Step 3 – Filter And Dry

Yes, it realy is that easy. Filter the contents out using your filter/beaker tea towel/pint glasses and let the seeds dry until they no longer have the slightest scent of petrochemicals about them.

Step 4 – Extract The Good Stuff

First off, clean that 2lt bottle out with plenty of water, then take your litre of vodka and pour it into the 2lt bottle. Add to that the dry seeds from the previous step. Just like step 2, shake this up until your arms hurt and let the seeds sit in the vodka for three days this time, shaking it whenever you can.

Step 5 – Filter

Just like step 3, filter the seeds again. Squeeze all the vodka out of them then throw them away. By this time your vodka should be looking a little cloudy and brown. It will also have developed a somewhat nutty flavour. Let’s hope you like nuts.

Step 6 – Serve Chilled

Measure out 100ml of your vodka and drink it however you like. With coke, over ice or through your eye. You can now enjoy your LSA trip without wanting to throw up..

Posted in Teks | Tagged drinking, hallucinogenic, lsa, morning glory, vodka |

How To Use Salvia Divinorum

This guide is by no means a complete reference for any would-be Salvia divinorum user. It simply describes, compares and contrasts the different methods by which one can experience the effects of Salvia Divinorum. There are other factors which must first be taken into consideration before you should embark on your journey with salvia: don’t take too much. Start off with smaller doses first and get comfortable with the experience, then maybe later, increase that dose slightly. Never jump in at the deep end – it could put you off salvia for a long time. Also, especially if it’s your first time with salvia, or the first time you’ve increased your dose, make sure you have someone sober nearby making sure nothing bad happens. With that warning out of the way, here we go!

The “Mazatec Oldskool” Method

Traditionally, the Mazatec people, indigenous to the Oaxaca region of Mexico where Salvia divinorum was first found, used to use salvia as part of their shamanic practices. It is believed they used to grind up large quantities of Salvia divinorum leaf, which was then added to water and drank. This method leaves a lot to be desired. We know now that salvinorin-a, the active chemical in Salvia divinorum is not very readily absorbed through the stomach, so large quantities of leaf must be used. It also doesn’t taste particularly fantastic. These drawbacks are countered by the fact that the effects from the salvia last much longer than any other method outlined here. The Mazatecs also used to chew fresh leaf for long periods of time, which is still quite popular today. See the Quid method for more details.


  • Safe
  • Doesn’t harm the lungs
  • Longer lasting effects


  • Inefficient – lots of leaves required for desired effect
  • Tastes horrible

Smoking Leaf

Salvia Divinorum LeafSmoking salvia leaf can be effective, but it’s not ideal for non-smokers. The active chemical in Salvia divinorum, salvinorin-a, requires a high temperature to vaporise, so the leaf should be smoked through a pipe or bong rather than rolled as a cigarette. When smoking the leaf through a pipe or bong, you should try and use a torch lighter if possible. The extra heat generated by the torch flame will vaporise more of the salvinorin-a per hit compared with a regular lighter. That said, many users have reported a more relaxed mood shift when smoked as a cigarette, and a more “trippy” high when using it to replace tobacco in a cannabis joint. It’s generally considered harder to achieve the full effects of Salvia divinorum when smoking only leaf, compared with the stronger extracts. This is because the salvinorin-a from the leaf is metabolised by the body rather quickly, so smoking more over a longer duration will only maintain the level of trip, rather than enhancing it. To get the most from this method, it is advised that you take two to three hits from the pipe or bong, each time holding your breath for as long as you can, exceeding 30 seconds if possible. The effects will be noticeable after about one minute, giving you up to about three hits before you should put the pipe or bong down. The effects will remain for up to about half an hour.


  • Quick
  • Easy
  • No bad taste
  • Relatively safe – It’s quite hard to get too much salvinorin-a into your body from smoking only leaf


  • Hard to achieve effects
  • Smoking anything is never good for your lungs
  • Harsh on the throat/lungs – the smoke is very hot
  • Short effect duration

Smoking Extract

Salvia Divinorum ExtractSalvia divinorum extracts are quite simply salvia leaf with a lot more kick. Extracts are prepared by taking the salvinorin-a from a large quantity of leaf and depositing it back onto a much smaller quantity of leaf. For example, one gram of 20x extract is, give or take, one gram of salvia leaf, with the salvinorin-a of 20g of leaf added to it. To visualise it, imagine filling your bowl with 20x the amount of normal leaf, and smoking it all. For more information on the extracting process, you might like this article: How To Make Salvia divinorum Extract. This method ensures you get enough salvinorin-a into your body as soon as possible, opening up the deeper levels of the salvia experience. Unfortunately, due to the strength of some extracts, it can be hard to accurately measure out a correct dose, so you could end up taking in far more than you intended. The extract should also be smoked in a pipe or bong.


  • Effects are very easy to achieve
  • Less material needs to be smoked compared to leaf for the same effects


  • Short effect duration
  • Easy to take too much
  • Smoking anything is never good for your lungs
  • Harsh on the throat/lungs – the smoke is very hot

The Quid Method

A “quid” is basically a big wad of leaves. Fresh leaves, if possible, but dry leaves can be used too. If the leaves are dry, immerse them in a cup of warm water for about a minute before you wish to begin – this step is essential, otherwise you’ll be chewing on dry leaf, which will taste just plain disgusting. Take about ten to fifteen fresh or soaked leaves, roll them up into a ball and pop the ball, or quid, into your mouth. Now all you have to do is chew those awful tasting leaves for a good fifteen to thirty minutes. Sounds easy? Well, you have to do it swallowing as little saliva as possible. This method works by a process called “sublingual absorption”: the salvinorin-a is absorbed into your blood through the mouth, so the quid needs to stay in your mouth for as long as possible. After the time is up, you should begin to feel the effects, although rather subtly compared to smoking the leaf or extract. You can now either spit out the contents of your mouth, or swallow it. Swallowing it can be a ghastly experience, but it’s recommended, since any remaining salvinorin-a in your saliva or the leaf will eventually get absorbed through your stomach. Just like the “Mazatec Oldskool” method, the effects last longer than smoking.


  • Safe
  • Doesn’t harm the lungs


  • Tastes horrible
  • Takes longer for the effects to set in
  • Can be harder to obtain full effects

Salvinorin Tincture

Salvia Divinorum TinctureSalvinorin tincture works in the same way as the quid method: sublingual absorption. That is, you let the liquid sit in your mouth for 15 to 30 minutes, allowing the salvinorin-a to diffuse into your blood through your mouth. The tincture itself is an alcohol-based solution of salvinorin-a, meaning doses can be measured more accurately by diluting it, and it doesn’t taste nearly as bad. The effects are also brought about much faster.


  • Quick
  • Easy
  • Relatively safe
  • Tastes nicer than quid method
  • Doesn’t harm the lungs


  • If the tincture is not diluted enough, it can burn the mouth


Many people report a variety of different effects from each method, from nothing at all, to a full-blown shit-your-pants trip. Non-smokers will naturally prefer the oral methods, while smokers would naturally be more comfortable smoking the leaf or extract. It’s also not unheard of for people to combine two or more of the above methods to achieve a greater effect than either on their own..

Posted in Drugs, Pharmacology | Tagged quid, salvia divinorum, smoking, tincture |

Cannabis Cookies

This recipe is just a quick one to follow on from the cannabutter and infamous hash brownie recipe I posted recently. Even without the cannabutter, these cookies are amazing. Here goes:



  • 4oz (115g) Cannabis Butter
  • 8oz (225g) Caster Sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1tsp vanilla essence
  • 5oz (150g) plain flour
  • 1/2tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 1/4tsp salt
  • 2oz (50g) Rice Crispies (or another crisped rice cereal)
  • 6oz (175g) chocolate chips
  • Kitchen Scales
  • Sieve
  • Large mixing bowl
  • Wooden spoon
  • Flat baking tray


  1. First, cream together the butter and sugar until fluffy.
  2. Add the egg, vanilla essence, flour, bicarbonate of soda and salt and fold in.
  3. Next, add the cereal and chocolate and mix thoroughly.
  4. Drop small spoonfuls onto a greased baking tray, around 5cm/2in apart.
  5. Bake at 180ºC (350F or Gas Mark 4) for 10-12 minutes.



Posted in Recipes | Tagged cannabis, cannabutter, cookies, cooking, space cakes |

The Ultimate Hash Brownie Recipe

If you can’t be arsed to cook, check out these Smoking Mixtures instead!


Although I do say so myself, this is the ULTIMATE Hash Brownie recipe. So good in fact, we recommend trying them without Cannabis Butter, because you’ll want to eat so many of them. They’re very moreish so take care if you do make the cannabis version – it can take up to 45 minutes to feel the effects, so don’t just eat more and more – it could get very messy! If you want to learn how to make hash brownies, this is the article for you.


Hash Brownies

  • 4oz (115g) Cannabis Butter
  • 2oz (60g) Self Raising Flour
  • 8oz (225g) Soft Brown Sugar
  • 1.5oz (45g) Cocoa Powder (NOT Drinking Chocolate Powder)
  • 1oz (30g) Ground Almonds
  • 2 Eggs
  • Grated Rind Of One Large Orange (Important!)
  • 1/2tsp Baking Powder

Chocolate Butter Icing/Frosting

Making icing for a cake really isn’t an exact science – it’s difficult to give amounts as you may have a different sized baking tray meaning more or less brownies, or you may just have a different personal preference. The following amounts are a guideline so feel free to tweak as you wish!

  • 4oz (115g) NORMAL Butter or Margarine
  • 1 – 2oz (30 – 60g) Cocoa Powder
  • 8 – 10oz (225 – 285g) Icing (Powdered/Confectioners) Sugar
  • 2tsp Water, as needed
  • Maltesers (optional, but totally worth it)


  • Kitchen Scales
  • Sieve
  • Large mixing bowl
  • Wooden spoon
  • Shallow baking tray
  • Greaseproof paper / Wax paper

Method – Hash Brownie Base

  1. First, sieve the flour, baking powder and cocoa powder into a large mixing bowl.
  2. Add the ground almonds, sugar and orange rind and mix together well.
  3. Next, add the butter and eggs and beat the mixture together until smooth.
  4. Bake at 150ºC (300F or Gas Mark 2), in a shallow dish, greased and lined with greaseproof (wax) paper for 50 – 55 minutes.

Method – Chocolate Butter Icing/Frosting

  1. Just mix together the ingredients in a bowl and spread over the top of the brownie.
  2. As an optional tasty extra, smash up a couple of packets of Maltesers and sprinkle them over the top. Do this straight away so they will stick in the icing rather than just fall off when you try and take a bite!
  3. Cut into at least 16 pieces and serve! If it’s your first time cooking with cannabis, be sensible and don’t have more than one or two in the space of an hour, no matter how absolutely fantastic they taste.



Posted in Recipes | Tagged cannabis, cannabutter, cooking, hash brownies, space cakes |