Maybe you’ve seen the brightly-colored packaging bearing the name Cloud 9 or Ultimate X-phoria at your local gas station. Or perhaps you noticed a link online advertising a cheap, legal high. What is this legal – yet dangerous – substance? And why does it seem to be growing in popularity?
While it comes in many different forms, ranging from pills to cigarettes, it’s called herbal ecstasy. It shares the same name and some of the same effects as its purely chemical alternative MDMA, or “ecstasy,” but it’s an entirely different substance.
What Exactly Is Herbal Ecstasy?
Herbal ecstasy is a blend of herbs and other botanical substances designed to produce feelings similar to the chemical form of ecstasy, MDMA. However, the two are much different.
MDMA, or methylenedioxyphenethylamine, is a chemical compound and is technically classified as an amphetamine. “Herbal ecstasy” is typically a plant mixture and is classified as a stimulant. The two drugs are known to differ drastically in terms of power and effects, but both are dangerous substances. For more information about ecstasy or MDMA addiction, click here.
Herbal ecstasy is often promoted as an alternative to street ecstasy. And although they are different in terms of chemical composition and side effects, neither options are safe.
Herbal Ecstasy Ingredients
The most common herbal ecstasy ingredient is ephedra, an ancient and powerful Chinese herb. It was rediscovered in the 1920s and through the next decades gained popularity in its synthesized form, ephedrine. It was used for many years as a diet aid and energy booster to help burn fat during exercise. Some of the synthetic compounds, such as pseudoephedrine, are used over-the-counter to treat colds.
Many of the possible ingredients in herbal ecstasy are legal, but they’re unregulated plants and herbs. While they may pose no danger at small doses, they become increasingly dangerous when taken together and taken at high doses. At the heart of herbal ecstasy dangers is ephedra.
A Closer Look at Ephedra
Because ephedra is the most common ingredient in herbal ecstasy, it’s worth taking a closer look to understand the magnitude of the drug’s danger.
Back in the late 1990s, ephedra was administered to athletes for training enhancement purposes. Since then, there have been reports of injuries, addictions and fatalities amongst fit persons who have experimented with it and its derivatives.
The drug gained national attention in 1998 when a 15-year old athlete collapsed after taking it. The Los Angeles Times reported on the incident after the teen was pronounced brain dead.
As a controlled substance, synthetic forms of ephedra are often used in small doses to increase respiratory rates in asthmatics. It’s not, however, designed for recreational use, which is why it’s so dangerous. Its propensity to cause feelings of euphoria and giddiness make it appealing for misuse, which is why herbal ecstasy manufacturers choose to base their products around it.
It helps to understand herbal ecstasy dangers by looking at some of the statistics associated with the use of ephedra. Consider the following facts as proof of its danger:
- There were more than 900 reports of possible ephedra toxicity between 1995 and 1997, according to the FDA.
- Of those 900 cases, 37 resulted in either heart attack, stroke or death.
- The FDA banned ephedra in dietary supplements in 2004 because of the associated risks.
You might be wondering why herbal ecstasy is both legal and dangerous. Manufacturers of herbal ecstasy are able to sell it because it isn’t marketed as a diet pill. Every brand or package of herbal ecstasy is likely to contain different ingredients, mostly a variety of unregulated – and powerful – plant-based substances and synthetic variations of them.
Why Herbal Ecstasy Appeals to Teens
Many people seek herbal ecstasy as an alternative to street ecstasy. Some people believe it’s a safe alternative to street ecstasy, but this is not the case. Both drugs – MDMD and herbal ecstasy – are dangerous and can pose serious health risks, including possible death.
Teens in particular are drawn to the brightly colored packaging, which is sold on the Internet, in smoke shops, and even at gas stations around the country.
Packages bearing herbal ecstasy typically include the following selling points:
- Increased energy: It’s for this reason that herbal ecstasy is often taken before going to night clubs or dance parties. Like MDMA, herbal ecstasy is popular in the electronic dance music scene.
- Sexual arousal: Herbal ecstasy is commonly taken for its supposed “mood enhancing” side effects. Users claim to experience sexual arousal within minutes of taking it.
- Spiritual awakenings: Herbal ecstasy is a psychoactive substance, and many users take it to achieve feelings of euphoria and to experience spiritual visions.
How is Herbal Ecstasy Ingested?
Herbal ecstasy can be rolled into a cigarette and smoked, crushed into a powder and snorted, or put into pill form and swallowed. Herbal ecstasy pills are most common. It’s also common for people to use the liquefied form, as it can be mixed into a drink or swallowed in a single shot. Herbal ecstasy can be, but is rarely, injected into the body through a hypodermic needle.
Toxicity from herbal ecstasy usually occurs from overstimulation of the adrenergic system. Depending on how the drug was taken, its effects can begin to take place immediately and last for hours.
Herbal Ecstasy Dangers
Like any powerful stimulant, herbal ecstasy can have a profound impact on a person’s brain and cardiovascular system. The drug has been known to cause insomnia and paranoia, as well as powerful shifts in perception.
Herbal ecstasy is especially dangerous to people with health conditions such as diabetes, anxiety disorders and heart defects.
Adding to the dangers, it’s often consumed in party settings in conjunction with other substances like alcohol, marijuana or opiates. Combining drugs can cause adverse effects and can significantly increase the likelihood of triggering problematic side effects. It can also lead to lapses in judgment and facilitate further risky behaviors.
Common Herbal Ecstasy Side Effects
It can be hard to tell if a person has taken herbal ecstasy. Side effects can often take on the appearance of other stimulants. For example, many forms of herbal ecstasy are laden with heavy amounts of caffeine.
A person may, for instance, appear to have tremors, as well as a rapid pulse or heartbeat. These symptoms can be accompanied by pale skin, sweating or nausea. People using herbal ecstasy also report feeling intense headaches, especially as the drug leaves the system.
You might also notice behavioral symptoms like restlessness or hyperactivity. A person may appear to be euphoric but have difficulty sitting still or paying attention if they have ingested herbal ecstasy.
Unmonitored use of the drug could lead to unforeseen consequences like coma or death.
Why You Should Avoid Herbal Ecstasy
Herbal ecstasy has proven to be unsafe, and here are some of the biggest reasons why it should be avoided:
The reasons, therefore, are numerous as to why you should avoid this substance. Sometimes depression, anxiety or stress lead people to take drugs like herbal ecstasy. It’s important to understand that there are other forms of treatment available that can help improve the situation. There are other options available besides self-medication. Talk to a physician, counselor, family member or friend for added support.
Tips for Avoiding This Drug
One of the best ways you can avoid the dangers of herbal ecstasy is to avoid putting yourself in situations where it is commonly abused. These places typically include raves and nightclubs.
Participate in wholesome activities like sports, work, school and community centers. One of the best ways to avoid ingesting herbal ecstasy – either willingly or by accident – is to anticipate scenarios where it could be offered to you, and practice saying no.
Teens and young adults could potentially be offered herbal ecstasy at concerts, parties, raves or underground clubs. It can come in many forms, so it’s important to talk to your children about its overall dangers. Even if it’s in something familiar like a cigarette, it’s still extremely dangerous. This could lead to someone unwillingly ingesting the drug.
Be a voice of reason for your friends if you suspect they are getting involved in drugs. Talk to them about the dangers of herbal ecstasy. Let them know that just because the substance may be readily available, it doesn’t mean it’s safe. If you’re worried that your child might be taking herbal ecstasy, calmly confront him or her and have an honest conversation. Make it clear that the drug is not safe even though it’s legal in some places.
Have You Been Experimenting with Herbal Ecstasy?
It’s never too late to admit that you’ve made mistakes and that you need help. Maybe you tried herbal ecstasy once and now it’s become a habit that you’ve been feeding with greater regularity. The sooner you address your addiction, the sooner you can maximize your potential, move forward and live a life that is healthy and drug-free.
Of course, this is sometimes easier said than done. This is especially true if you are surrounded by people who openly support the drugs that are tearing your body apart. Sometimes it can feel like everybody is on drugs. But this is not true. Your perception of the world is simply clouded. But once these clouds clear and you begin to look deeper, you will see that not as many people are abusing drugs as you may think. This can be a powerful and eye-opening realization.
The first step toward recovery from herbal ecstasy abuse is to realize that you can live without the substance. Once you make the decision to live a sober lifestyle, you will learn to look for ways to avoid situations that could lead to potential relapses.
You may also need to seek out the services of a professional rehabilitation clinic. Immersing yourself into a professional rehabilitation center will increase your chances of beginning a new life that is free from the confines of addiction and abuse.
12 Keys Is Here To Help
12 Keys is a cutting-edge rehabilitation clinic located in beautiful Jensen Beach, Florida. Our purpose is to offer a rich, holistic approach to drug treatment in a way that does more than solve a patient’s immediate addiction issues. We aim to repair the underlying issues as well.
12 Keys offers a variety of services, ranging from detoxification to psychotherapy and recreation. Patients are immersed in a caring facility supported by a large and devoted staff of counselors, physicians, therapists and recovering addicts. In fact, 12 Keys offers more one-on-one care than any other addiction recovery facility in the U.S. The wholesome and nourishing environment will encourage personal growth in many different areas of life.
If you or a loved one is experiencing trouble with herbal ecstasy abuse or any other substance, understand that help is available. 12 Keys can help provide a thorough and comprehensive path to recovery.