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View Diary: Pique the Geek 20090621.  Drugs of Abuse III:  the Psychedelic Indoles (143 comments)

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  •  Cool stuff as usual (4+ / 0-)

    on toads ... I have read that the poison dart frog (ok frog, not toad) is one of the most poisonous creatures on Earth.  I think I read that at the Central Park Zoo.

    A more pertinent question - how about a diary in this series on "contact highs" and on the panacea effect wrt psychedelics (or other drugs of abuse or not).

    Most people worry about their own bellies and other people's souls, when we all ought to worry about our own souls, and other people's bellies.

    by plf515 on Sun Jun 28, 2009 at 07:21:17 PM PDT

    •  An interesting note about the poison (6+ / 0-)

      dart frogs:  if kept in captivity and fed a "normal" diet of fruit flies, they lose their toxic action over time.  It turns out that the food sources in South America actually create the toxic materials, or at least their precursors, and the frogs merely concentrate them into their skin.

      I will consider your suggestion, but frankly, I have been writing about drugs since winter and I yearn to move onto another topic.

      Warmest regards,


      Time for real health care reform, not just to patch the patches.

      by Translator on Sun Jun 28, 2009 at 07:25:52 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Other topics are fine too (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Translator, willb48, Otteray Scribe

        Drugs are not the most interesting scientific topic, to me.

        Most people worry about their own bellies and other people's souls, when we all ought to worry about our own souls, and other people's bellies.

        by plf515 on Sun Jun 28, 2009 at 07:32:52 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  As a chemist and student (5+ / 0-)

          of pharmacology, they do hold a good deal of scientific interest to me, but, honestly, I can only talk about the 5-HT2A receptors for so many times.

          Suggestions by all for future topics are solicited.  I would like to be able to write some single posts to cover a topic, and a few multipart ones to go more deeply into others.  I do not think that I want to write a series this long for some time.

          Warmest regards,


          Time for real health care reform, not just to patch the patches.

          by Translator on Sun Jun 28, 2009 at 07:37:11 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  OK ... (5+ / 0-)

            Children's conceptions of science

            The connections between science history and general world view

            The history of particular scientific ideas - e.g. changing conceptions of burning (from Phlogiston to oxidation, if that's the right word).

            Was Isaac Newton the "first scientist" or the "last magician"?

            Strength of materials

            Most people worry about their own bellies and other people's souls, when we all ought to worry about our own souls, and other people's bellies.

            by plf515 on Sun Jun 28, 2009 at 07:45:06 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  I really like phlogiston. (5+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              G2geek, plf515, C Barr, willb48, Otteray Scribe

              That theory is an excellent example of a theory that explained everything well, until new observations were made.  Then bizarre ideas like negative mass were invoked to keep an obviously theory propped up, but to no avail.

              Newton was an enigma.  I have it on good authority that a certain Time Lord climbed a tree and threw apples at him once.

              Those all are excellent suggestions.  If I can pull the final installment of this series off for next week, I may use one of them.

              Warmest regards,


              Time for real health care reform, not just to patch the patches.

              by Translator on Sun Jun 28, 2009 at 07:49:04 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  Good luck on the nicotine thing! (3+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                Translator, C Barr, Otteray Scribe

                I tried quitting with the GUS group, but experienced extreme panic after only twenty hours.  I'm on three psychiatric drugs (Lamotrigine, Trazodone and Lexapro - the psychiatrist refuses to prescribe clonazepam due to my bad lung function, but I have a stash), and at the time I quit, I was out of Lamotrigine.  Even clonazepam couldn't calm me down.

                I was going cold-turkey without nicotine-replacement.  My niece responded almost instantly to my call for help.  Ah, sweet tobacco, how would I live without you?

                I'm going to try again next week, but with nicotine patches and gum, and an ample supply of lamotrigine.  Nicotine replacement seems self-defeating, since the addiction is still fed.  The smoke is so toxic, anything else is preferable.

                There's a new pill - can't remember its name.  The good doctor says I can't take it safely, given that it sometimes induces depression and suicidal impulses.  

                The kingdom of the father is spread out upon the earth, and men do not see it. Peace.

                by willb48 on Sun Jun 28, 2009 at 08:07:16 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  Chantix is the new (3+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  G2geek, C Barr, Otteray Scribe

                  anti-nicotine drug.  Middle Son tried using it and it drove him next to madness.  There are lots of reports coming in to FDA about suicidal ideation and depression associated with it.

                  I successfully quit many years ago for 18 months using the gum.  Then I quit the gum, substituting a sugar free regular one for it.

                  Then I got a stressful job, and boom, back to Camel nonfilters.  I have not bought them since March, and am beginning to cut back on Prince Albert.

                  Good luck with your struggle!  I know that it is not easy.

                  Warmest regards,


                  Time for real health care reform, not just to patch the patches.

                  by Translator on Sun Jun 28, 2009 at 08:11:25 PM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  try this... (2+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    Translator, Otteray Scribe

                    The addictiveness of cigarettes is based on the tobacco being blended for ease of inhaling the smoke, thus increasing the bioavailability of nicotine as well as the rapidity of uptake.

                    I'd suggest switching to a pipe.  Can't inhale pipe smoke w/o a coughing fit.  Pipe tobacco has less nicotine, and nicotine uptake via the mucous membranes of the mouth is much slower than via the lungs.  Net result is that the addiction factor will drop off to the point where smoking a pipe is a "take it or leave it" proposition, rather than "all or nothing."  

                    I've been smoking a pipe for almost 20 years (never had a desire to smoke cigarettes), my heart & lung functioning is normal, and it's less addictive than ice cream.  Last week I was working long blocks of stressful time on clients' sites without pause for pipe or food, and I missed the snacks more.  

                    If this interests you, get a couple of inexpensive corncobs and a half pound of Lane's RLP-6 blend (various tobacconists carry it under their own names, you'll have to ask).  Smoke as much as you like so long as you don't inhale.  After a few days you'll find yourself smoking less and less, until it's only a couple of pipefulls a day.  At that point you can quit entirely or keep it around as an occasional indulgence.

                    IMHO one of the problems with tobacco in our culture, is that via cigarettes it has become an all-or-nothing proposition: one is either "a smoker" or "a non-smoker" with the vast gray zone in the middle wholly excluded.  In places where cigars and pipes are more common, you find far more people who occasionally indulge but don't make a habit of it.  

                    By analogy, think of "drinker" and "non-drinker" relative to alcoholism on one hand, and moderate drinking on the other.   A culture where binges and serious drunkenness are the paradigms for drinking behavior, will produce more alcoholics and more non-drinkers.  A culture where people drink in moderation and consume their drinks slowly, will produce far less of either.  

    •  Don't worry too much about distinguishing between (5+ / 0-)

      "frogs" and "toads".  Our English language fails when it comes to naming the tailess amphibians.  There are forty-eight families of the Order  Anura, the hopping, jumping tailess amphibians we consider to be froggish.  Only two of these Anuran families are native to the British Isles, Ranidae and Bufonidae.  Ranids are the classic true frogs such as our American Leopard Frogs or Bullfrogs.  Bufonids are the classic true toads.

      So if you were living in old Britain and saw a tailess amphibian hop or leap into the water, it had to be either a frog or a toad.  But if you get off the British Isles you might encounter members of the other forty-six families of froggish creatures.  But since these others weren't found in Britain, there are no old English names to describe them, and we're stuck with "frogs" and "toads".  So the names can have different meanings in different applications.  If it has a narrow waist and leaps some call it a frog.  If it's fat, squat, bumpy and hops call it a toad.  But what about Hyla californeae, the Canyon Treefrog of Southern California and Arizona with it's bumpy skin and ability to leap from a boulder to the safety of a deep stream pool?  It's a member of the Family Hylidae and common names of "frog" and "toad" are often both used here but have little scientific meaning in this case.  You'll see the name Spadefoot used without the term "toad" afterwards because these fat squat hopping creatures are members of the Family Pelobotidae.  The Poison Arrow Frogs you mentioned are members of the Family Dendrobatidae.

      So it's a language problem.  Words can have different meanings in different applications.  I'm happy to call them all "frogs" unless there is a need for further distinction.  It's likely that some of my numbers and names are now outdated.

      moderation in everything ... including moderation

      by C Barr on Sun Jun 28, 2009 at 08:37:45 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Sometimes my memory seems to be (5+ / 0-)

        too full.  There was an episode of the old Gunsmoke series where Doc Adams, Festus, and Matt were sitting with Kitty at the Long Branch, having a beer.  Festus started talking about "toady frogs" and went on and on as only Ken Curtis, in that character, could.  It was toady frog this and toady frog that for a couple of minutes, until Doc Adams exploded at Festus, as he often did.

        "Festus!  There are toads and there are frogs, but there is no such of a thing as a toady frog!"  Festus seemed a little hurt.

        "Well, Doc, I ain't asure of where you look for 'em, but they's lotsa toady frogs over by the pond."

        Doc Adams just shook his head, took another draught of his beer, whilst Matt and Kitty smiled at each other (they did that often, anyway).

        You point is well made.  This is why we have Latin names.  They keep things in proper order.

        As an aside, I think that Roddenberry used Festus and Doc Adams as the model for the relationship between McCoy and Spock.  The only difference is that the intellectual levels were reversed, but I never thought Festus the fool, just not very educated formally.

        Warmest regards,


        Time for real health care reform, not just to patch the patches.

        by Translator on Sun Jun 28, 2009 at 09:02:33 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Beware of conceptual dualities (4+ / 0-)

          Seldom is reality that simple.

          moderation in everything ... including moderation

          by C Barr on Sun Jun 28, 2009 at 09:06:06 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  It's been a long time since I thought of Festus (3+ / 0-)

          That was quite the show.  The episode you describe must have been fun for both writers and actors.  I think I just might add "toady frogs" to my working vocabulary.

          moderation in everything ... including moderation

          by C Barr on Sun Jun 28, 2009 at 09:23:40 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  The voice of Festus was (4+ / 0-)

            an affectation by Ken Curtis.  Curtis was a baritone (is that next lowest in register to bass?) singer with the Son's of the Pioneers, and had a wonderful, deep speaking and singing voice.

            He came to the fair in Fort Smith, Arkansas one year when I was just a kid.  They interviewed him on the TeeVee (anyone from there remember Pat Porta or Mike Pharis?) and asked him about the Festus voice.

            In perfect, standard English, in his real, deep voice, he said this, and I believe it to be verbatim:

            "Well, when I get into character, I have to get into the Festus voice."  Then the pitch and lilt started to change.  "But a-once that I do, it's kindly hard to stop!", that in the perfect Festus voice.  Curtis was a gem.

            Warmest regards,


            Time for real health care reform, not just to patch the patches.

            by Translator on Sun Jun 28, 2009 at 09:32:10 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

      •  the distinction i use is that... (4+ / 0-)

        ...toads have dry skin and can live in drier environments with access to water; frogs have moist skin and need to live in damp environments or ideally in or near water; and treefrogs have sticky toes and can climb.  

        Wood frogs (Northeastern US) are an interesting exception, as they can be found far from ponds.  Also, oddly enough, the occasional pickerel frog, despite its sensitive skin.

        Bufo Americanus, and another one I can't think of at the moment, used to be common in the Northeast.  (Those are the ones I think of as the classic or archetypal toads.)   Are they still around in large numbers, or have they joined the ranks that have been driven to the brink?  

        •  I really don't know their status (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          G2geek, Translator, Larsstephens

          I live in California and I'm most familiar with what's going on with west coast amphibians.  With out habit of lining riparian zones with concrete for flood control, a lot of habitat is gone.  Cattle also trash streamside environments, collapsing the banks and destroying vegetation which provides cooling shade and hiding spots.  This turns the area into nonnative Bullfrog habitat (they eat other Anurans).  We've lost most of our our southern California populations of Red-Legged Frogs and Foothill Yellow-Legged Frogs... no one is sure why.  In the Sierra Nevada where I live the Yosemite Toads and Mountain Yellow-Legged Frogs which filled the meadows, streams and lake shores when I was a kid are mostly gone from a possible combination of increased ultraviolet exposure, pesticide residue from spraying in the Central Valley, introduced predatory trout, and most definitely the Chitrid Fungus which is implicated worldwide in amphibian declines.  Our Pacific Chorus-Tree Frogs are doing pretty good though.

          Your distinction of aquatic and terrestrial lifestyles in Ranids and Bufonids is spot on.  Bufo-Toads remind me of skunks.  They both cruise about on land with little abiltiy to flee from predators, but most predators know that messing with them may entail paying a very high price.

          moderation in everything ... including moderation

          by C Barr on Mon Jun 29, 2009 at 06:13:11 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  heh, skunks:-) (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:

            Good analogy there.  The first thing many toads do when picked up is to lose bladder control, which is also a useful defense.  The small ones merely taste bad to the average dog, thus getting spat out quickly, whereafter both parties retreat from each other none the worse for wear.  

            BTW, the other one in the Northeast was either Fowler's Toad or the Spadefoot Toad if I recall correctly.  The distinctions between these and the American Toads were fairly subtle, though the Spadefoot toad had a more pronounced bump on its hind feet with which to dig itself into a little burrow by backing in as it dug.

            Bullfrogs have become a pain in the butt in a lot of ecosystems, and eating the native frogs is a particularly nasty habit of theirs.  When I was a kid, green frogs were common (these were mostly brown of course, with green markings near their noses) and bullfrogs were relatively rare.  

            Sorry to hear about the losses in your area, though at least the treefrogs are keeping up.  I'm wondering if that doesn't have something to do with them living above the ground most of the time.  

            I'm not as familiar with the western frogs/toads/treefrogs as the eastern ones, despite living in CA (in the damn city) for 25 years.  Are the Pacific Chorus Treefrogs similar to Spring Peepers?  Reason why is, I was out & about once and found something that looked quite like a Peeper, and of course I picked it up, and the little guy immediately started climbing up my hand and up my arm, as if I was a plant. Wondering if that might have been a Pacific Chorus Treefrog.  

            Dumb Question Department:  has anyone attempted to breed frogs & toads in a quasi-controlled environment?  I'm thinking, an indoor pond in a greenhouse environment, with natural light but the UV filtered out by special glass, and all the non-sprayed bugs they can eat.  The goal being to get thousands of viable tadpoles in each spring breeding season and then when they mature, release 3/4 or so and keep the rest as breeding stock for the next season.  I understand they won't breed in aquariums, but given enough space and something that looks enough like the outdoors, maybe...?

            •  Been away from home and the computer this week (0+ / 0-)

              But maybe you'll see this reply.

              I've always wanted to see a Green Frog.  As a kid, so much of the natural history literature was oriented towards eastern North America, I probably knew more about the flora and fauna back east than I did about my own backyard.

              I'll have to look up Fowler's Toads.  The distinctive characteristic of all Bufo-True Toads is the large paratoid gland along the side of the head behind the eyes.  This gland can really crank out the toxin (bufotin).

              Unless you were along a boulder filled stream, the frog you describe finding in California was undoubtably a Pacific Chorus-Treefrog.  It would have had a dark eyestripe.  They used to be called Pacific Treefogs, Hyla regilla (little king)but then got moved from Hyla (treefrogs)and categorized with the chorus frogs and the name was changed to Pseudacris regilla.  Pseudacris means false cricket.  I had the chance to closely examine a Western Chorus Frog in Flaggstaff, Arizona.  The little guy sure did resemble the Pacific Chorus-Treefrog, but it lacked the sticky toepads for climbing people's arms.

              Actually, UV has been found to be essential for maintaining healthy lizards in captivity.  I don't know its role in amphibians.  Many frogs do bask a lot.  Speculation on its role in frog population declines was oriented mostly to high altitude species that may be pushing their UV tolerance already trying to obtain enough warmth and whatever else they may get from that unshielded fusion reactor in the sky.

              Pacific Chorus Frogs will thrive and breed in a terrarium environment.  Herptile aficianados have really gotten the captive propagation thing down.  Some people are successfully breeding all sorts of exotic frogs.  Once I brought up the issue of captive breeding with a hepetologist when discussing the Red-Legged Frog population behind Santa Barbara.  He was very active in advocating for critical habitat protection.  He thought that captive breeding was an unproductive distraction because it could be used as an alternative to habitat protection by developers.

              That said, in the small town where I now live at the northern edge of the Mojave Desert, we are rewatering the town by running ditches through people's yards which will flow all summer.  One of my hobbies is raising water lilies.  My backyard has a series of pools which the Pacific Chorus Frogs (I want to call them treefrogs so badly)have found and it's an unending orgy out there.  Even with the marauding coons there are skads of froglets amongst the vegetation.  We hope that if enough of us provide these breeding pools the town can once again be filled with frogs.  Now that I have enough sheltering plant cover out back, I hope to bring in some Western Toad tadpoles and get their population going here again.  The guy behind this ditch project grew up here and says that when he was a kid, when it rained the streets would be full of toads.  These could have been Great Basin Spadefoots instead of Western Toads.

              moderation in everything ... including moderation

              by C Barr on Thu Jul 02, 2009 at 10:44:33 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

    •  contact highs... (4+ / 0-)

      ...are not drug effects as such, but more like hypnosis (induction of an altered state via verbal and nonverbal communications).  

      Emotions are highly contagious between people, and states of consciousness (entire cognitive and perceptual configurations) are somewhat contagious.  

      I find it relatively easy to go into certain states of consciousness with other people, and there is quite a bit that could be written on this subject.  

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