Monday, January 23rd 2012
Supplement helps drug users beat blues.
An over-the-counter supplement is being taken by Ecstasy users to counteract problems experienced by post drug-use. The supplement 5-HTP is sold in most pharmacies and supplement stores for between $20 and $60 and is used predominantly to combat insomnia, depression and as an appetite control.
It works by stabilizing the serotonin levels in the brain, the same chemical that is stimulated by common recreational drugs like Ecstasy and cannabis.
New Zealand Drug Foundation executive director Ross Bell says: “It is used by people coming down off a lot of different drugs to replenish their serotonin.”
Ecstasy works by inducing surges of serotonin although once the body’s sources are depleted drug-users then experience the low moods and sleeplessness known as the “come down”. “There are a few different ways for them to deal with the Tuesday blues,” Mr Bell says. “Caffeine and energy drinks are other ones,” he says.
Successful police raids on Ecstasy producers have left few “true” Ecstasy pills on the New Zealand market, Mr Bell says. And Mr Bells says much of what is now sold as Ecstasy actually contains little to no MDMA – the main stimulant producing the high after which Ecstasy is named.
“Ecstasy these days is a whole lot of other chemicals mixed together and passed off as the same thing,” Mr Bell says. “People taking what they think is Ecstasy are finding it is giving them all kinds of unexpected and unwanted effects and so are using 5-HTP to cope with it,” he says.
Pharmaceutical Society of New Zealand chief pharmacist Euan Galloway says 5-HTP is not a registered medicine in New Zealand and is sold as a dietary supplement. Mr Galloway was not willing to comment on the misuse of 5-HTP but says the society looks forward to the government progressing the Natural Health Products Bill to regulate the supplement industry.
“The market needs regulating because there are no controls as to how and where they are manufactured and how safe they are,” Mr Galloway says. “There is no certainty ingredients are safe and effective and distributors make unsubstantiated claims of health benefits,” he says.
When the North Shore Times spoke to local pharmacies most were not aware that 5-HTP was being brought by Ecstasy users.
A Northcote pharmacy says they have heard of it but find is difficult to tell between someone on Ecstasy and a customer that is experiencing insomnia or depression from other causes. Ecstasy is classed as a B1 drug under the Misuse of Drugs Act 1975 and has become one of the most commonly used recreational drugs in New Zealand.
Mr Bell says that sudden explosion of “fake” Ecstasy onto the market has led to the popularity of online forums where drug-users can share their experiences. “We by no means condone drug use but regardless of the law people are going to take drugs and it’s important they have access to reliable information. “One of the best ways is for people to share what has happened to them on the street by communicating online and warning of certain pills that may be particularly dangerous,” Mr Bell says.
He says the sites provide valuable and quick information.
Sourced from North Shore Times, January 19, 2012. By Maryke Penman
Footnote from Ideal Health:
We have long promoted the use of 5 HTP as a way for those who take drugs like Ecstacy and Meth or P to help to replenish their depleted serotonin levels. We have found good to excellent results in these people, with a mood change evident in as little as 1 week.
5 HTP should not be used by anyone who is taking an anti depressant medication. If you suffer from anxiety, seek advice before taking 5 HTP.
The following products are all useful for Anxiety and Depression
If you need help or advice, you are welcome to email our naturopathic team with your health question.
Disclaimer: The health information presented here has been written for the New Zealand health consumer. It is of a general nature and is only intended to provide a summary of the subjects covered. The information is not intended to be comprehensive or to provide medical advice to you. While all care has been taken to ensure the accuracy of the information, no responsibility or liability is accepted, and no person should act in reliance on any statement contained in the information provided. All health ailments should be treated by a qualified health professional.
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