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Thursday, 26 June 2008

The future of humanity-the brain stimulants?

Recently, I stumbled upon few articles that raised one very interesting question. The question of drugs and stimulants. Have the humanity reached the moment when it will start using stimulants in order to get the most out of our abilities? You mights say no, but read the following articles.

First, it seems that some athletes are able to give negative doping tests even after the use of drugs. The second is about the father of LSD who died at 102! What about it? Well, nothing. But the guy took it over 100 times. And obviously that didn't make him live less. Though I must admit , he appears to be a spiritual dude.

The last two are about the use of brain enhancing drugs to sleep less and concentrate more. And the use of the latter from scientist. Which I find rather disturbing. I don't take pills even for headache. And what if everybody starts using them? How will I manage the competition? That's what I really don't like. I prefer to upgrade my brain the natural way-trough meditation and work. Not trough pills. But it seems like the pills are already all around us. Just like love. But not so healthy.

And one more question that these facts raise. What about the dependency from pharmacist industry? Because you cannot go in denial in this-if everybody use certain medicament in their everyday life, that's a huge power in the hands of those companies. Because if something goes wrong, we can get to the level of idiots. And to screw the whole society with that.

Some Athletes’ Genes Help Outwit Doping Test

April 30, 2008

The 55 men in a drug doping study in Sweden were normal and healthy. And all agreed, for the sake of science, to be injected with testosterone and then undergo the standard urine test to screen for doping with the hormone.

The results were unambiguous: the test worked for most of the men, showing that they had taken the drug. But 17 of the men tested negative. Their urine seemed fine, with no excess testosterone even though the men clearly had taken the drug.

It was, researchers say, a striking demonstration of a genetic discovery. Those 17 men can build muscles with testosterone, they respond normally to the hormone, but they are missing both copies of a gene used to convert the testosterone into a form that dissolves in urine. The result is that they may be able to take testosterone with impunity.

The gene deletion is especially common in Asian men, notes Jenny Jakobsson Schulze, a molecular geneticist at the Karolinska University Hospital in Stockholm. Dr. Schulze is the first author of the testosterone study, published recently in The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism.

Dr. Schulze learned from an earlier study that about two-thirds of Asian men are missing both copies of the gene, as are nearly 10 percent of Caucasians. The prevalence in other groups is not known.

“It’s disturbing,” said Dr. Don Catlin, the chief executive of Anti-Doping Research, a nonprofit group in Los Angeles. “Basically, you have a license to cheat.”

Should athletes give DNA samples for scientists to analyze as genes like the testosterone-metabolizing one are found to be important?

Testosterone and substances that act like it are the most frequently detected drugs in screening tests of athletes. The antidoping agency reported that these drugs have been implicated in 43 percent of its positive doping tests.

Researchers have long known that some men, Asians in particular, seemed to be able to take the drugs without getting caught, although no one had identified the cause of the phenomenon. Without gene testing, there is no way to know whether any athletes have exploited this doping loophole, but Dr. Catlin says he suspects some athletes discovered their invulnerability by accident and took advantage of it.

Men with the gene deletion still metabolize testosterone, Dr. Schulze says. But, she adds, she does not know where the hormone goes.

The gene in question adds a chemical, glucuronide, to testosterone. That converts it from a substance that dissolves in oil into one that dissolves in water and urine.

The testosterone screening test looks for testosterone and another substance, epitestosterone, that is produced in parallel to testosterone but does not have testosterone’s effects. The antidoping agency considers a testosterone to epitestosterone, or T to E, ratio of four or greater a positive test and follows it with a more expensive and definitive test that asks whether the excess testosterone is of human origin or whether it is from plants. The testosterone used in doping usually comes from plants.

To test their hypothesis, the Karolinska scientists injected the men with 500 milligrams of testosterone and looked at T to E ratios over the next 15 days as the testosterone was metabolized.

The men with two normal copies of the gene had T to E ratios that soared to 100; those with one copy of the gene had ratios that reached 50; those with no copies had almost no rise in their ratios and 40 percent of them had a ratio that never reached 4.

Dr. Schulze and her colleagues suggest that athletes be tested to see if they have the testosterone-metabolizing gene. Others said the testing of athletes for this and other genes may be coming soon.

The World Anti-Doping Agency is studying instead the athlete’s passport. It hopes to keep track of each athlete’s drug tests to see if any results suddenly change compared to before.

Dr. Rabin is less enthusiastic about genetic testing because, he said, it raises ethical questions.

But in either case, it is not clear what to do if an athlete has a genetic feature that makes doping tests turn out negative when the athlete is using drugs. The testosterone follow-up test is technically complex and expensive, raising questions about whether it is feasible to use it for as many as two-thirds of Asians and 10 percent of Caucasians.

And the newly discovered gene deletion may be just one reason the T to E ratio test may fail in some men.

There may be more than a dozen testosterone-metabolizing enzymes, said Dr. Shalender Bhasin, a testosterone researcher at Boston University School of Medicine, and it may be necessary to examine all of them to see if gene variations affect test results. He added that there may be differences in the way men and women metabolize testosterone, so a separate study on women would be necessary to determine whether the gene deletion affects their testosterone tests the same way.

Still Dr. Catlin said, the work by the Karolinska scientists offers hope for the future, showing that the doping world is entering a new era.source

Аlbert Hofmann, the Father of LSD, Dies at 102

Published: April 30, 2008
PARIS — Albert Hofmann, the mystical Swiss chemist who gave the world LSD, the most powerful psychotropic substance known, died Tuesday at his hilltop home near Basel, Switzerland. He was 102.

The cause was a heart attack, said Rick Doblin, founder and president of the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies, a California-based group that in 2005 republished Dr. Hofmann’s 1979 book “LSD: My Problem Child.”

Dr. Hofmann first synthesized the compound lysergic acid diethylamide in 1938 but did not discover its psychopharmacological effects until five years later, when he accidentally ingested the substance that became known to the 1960s counterculture as acid.

He then took LSD hundreds of times, but regarded it as a powerful and potentially dangerous psychotropic drug that demanded respect. More important to him than the pleasures of the psychedelic experience was the drug’s value as a revelatory aid for contemplating and understanding what he saw as humanity’s oneness with nature. That perception, of union, which came to Dr. Hofmann as almost a religious epiphany while still a child, directed much of his personal and professional life.

Dr. Hofmann went on to study chemistry at Zurich University because, he said, he wanted to explore the natural world at the level where energy and elements combine to create life. He earned his Ph.D. there in 1929, when he was just 23. He then took a job with Sandoz Laboratories in Basel, attracted by a program there that sought to synthesize pharmacological compounds from medicinally important plants.

It was during his work on the ergot fungus, which grows in rye kernels, that he stumbled on LSD, accidentally ingesting a trace of the compound one Friday afternoon in April 1943. Soon he experienced an altered state of consciousness similar to the one he had experienced as a child.

On the following Monday, he deliberately swallowed a dose of LSD and rode his bicycle home as the effects of the drug overwhelmed him. That day, April 19, later became memorialized by LSD enthusiasts as “bicycle day.”

Dr. Hofmann’s work produced other important drugs, including methergine, used to treat postpartum hemorrhaging, the leading cause of death from childbirth. But it was LSD that shaped both his career and his spiritual quest.

“Through my LSD experience and my new picture of reality, I became aware of the wonder of creation, the magnificence of nature and of the animal and plant kingdom,” Dr. Hofmann told the psychiatrist Stanislav Grof during an interview in 1984. “I became very sensitive to what will happen to all this and all of us.”

Dr. Hofmann became an impassioned advocate for the environment and argued that LSD, besides being a valuable tool for psychiatry, could be used to awaken a deeper awareness of mankind’s place in nature and help curb society’s ultimately self-destructive degradation of the natural world.

But he was also disturbed by the cavalier use of LSD as a drug for entertainment, arguing that it should be treated in the way that primitive societies treat psychoactive sacred plants, which are ingested with care and spiritual intent. source(and I really recommend reading it)

The medicines they use are called cognitive- or brain-enhancing drugs. But you won't find a dedicated shelf in your local chemist's. Instead, healthy people are popping prescription pills designed to treat conditions such as attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), narcolepsy or even Alzheimer's.

The drugs of choice are Ritalin and Modafinil. Prescribed to ADHD sufferers to help calm them down, Ritalin, dubbed "kiddie coke" by some, can boost concentration and alertness in healthy people. Modafinil, meanwhile, is designed to combat narcolepsy, but it can also stave off tiredness in those without a diagnosed sleep disorder.

The British Medical Association believes this kind of drug abuse is growing rapidly, as healthy pill-poppers dupe doctors into writing prescriptions, or buy medicines from unlicensed online pharmacies, usually based abroad.

The true scale of the problem in the UK is unknown but studies in America suggest brain-boosting drug use is rife. A 2005 survey of more than 10,000 US university students found that 4-7 per cent of them had tried ADHD drugs at least once to pull pre-exam all-nighters. At some institutions, more than one in four students said they'd sampled the pills.

Anecdotal evidence suggests as many as three in four classical musicians in the US take beta blockers such as Inderal, which block adrenalin receptors in the brain, helping to control conditions such as high blood pressure, or stage fright in jittery musicians. source

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Poll: Scientists Use Brain-Boosting Drugs

Survey of Magazine's Readers Shows 1 in 5 Take Mental-Performance-Enhancing Drugs
By Daniel J. DeNoon
WebMD Medical News
Reviewed by Louise Chang, MD

April 9, 2008 -- One in five Nature readers -- mostly scientists -- say they up their mental performance with drugs such as Ritalin, Provigil, and Inderal.

The online poll from the British science magazine didn't ask readers how they felt about professional athletes using drugs to enhance their physical performance. But when asked how they felt about professional thinkers using drugs to enhance their cognitive performance, nearly 80% said it should be allowed.

While only a fifth of the poll's 1,400 respondents admitted to drug use to improve concentration, nearly two-thirds said they knew of a colleague who did. And if there were "a normal risk of mild side effects," nearly 70% of the scientists said they'd boost their brain power by taking a "cognitive-enhancing drug."

Scientists from all over the world participated in the poll, but 70% of respondents said they were from the U.S.

The most popular drug was Ritalin, used by 62% of responders. Provigil was the drug of choice for 44% of those polled -- suggesting that many of the users take more than one drug. Beta-blockers, such as Inderal, accounted for 15% of the drug use.

Most respondents said they took the drugs to improve concentration or to improve focus for a specific task. Counteracting jet lag was also a popular reason for drug use.

One alarming poll finding was how often respondents used brain-boosting drugs. It was an even split, with about 25% of users saying they took the drugs daily, weekly, monthly, or once a year at most.

When asked how big an effect the drugs had on their mental function, most users gave them a 3 or 4 on a 5-point scale with 1 being "mild" and 5 being "large." On the other hand, more than half of the users said the drugs had side effects they did not like. source

The conclusion? I think the brain has too many unknown properties. We really should learn how to use them first and then take pills.

1 comment:

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