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Herbal Blends: A new drug every week

Herbal Blends: A new drug every week

A new “legal drug” comes onto the market almost every week. Mostly these are herbal mixtures or bath salts that contain synthetically produced cannabinoids in order to intoxicate buyers. In many cases, the health consequences cannot be estimated, because the laboratories of the health authorities are hardly able to examine the substances closely. There are numerous case reports in which consumers suffered considerable physical damage from consumption. This is reported by the Federal Center for Health Education (BzgA) and refers to the first results of the European Drug Monitoring Center EMCDDA and Europol.

Rapid increase in psychoactive drugs
According to the Federal Center for Health Education (BzgA), the drug market in Europe is growing rapidly. In 2009, European authorities recorded 24 new psychoactive substances that were reported to the European Union (EU) early warning system. In 2011 there were already 49 new substances on the market. 23 of the reported products were so-called synthetic cannabinoids, which the manufacturers also advertise as “legal highs”.

With the large number of different mixtures, the health authorities are hardly able to precisely analyze the ingredients and effects of the individual herbal mixtures. The long-term health consequences often show up late and detailed studies are lacking. Before being banned, the products are usually advertised as "herbal mixtures" or "bath salts", whereby in most cases it is immediately apparent to buyers that the "legal highs" are intended for the supposed "legal intoxication by inhalation".

Although there are no clinical studies, doctors keep reporting incidents in which primarily young people had to be treated by emergency medicine. In many cases, the mainly young patients suffered from real panic attacks, cramps and shortness of breath. In severe individual cases, cardiovascular events occurred and the patients suffered a heart attack or respiratory arrest. According to the European Drugs Observatory, suicides from legal highs have even been observed.

However, because systematic studies are lacking, it cannot be clearly demonstrated that synthetically produced cannobinoids "are actually the cause of the described consequences", as a spokesman for the Federal Center said. An all-clear does not mean that, as Prof. Dr. Elisabeth Pott emphasized: “In the case of the so-called legal highs, nothing is generally known about the amount or the composition of the active ingredients used. Anyone who smokes or otherwise consumes the contents of such "surprise bags" takes an incalculable health risk. We therefore strongly advise against the consumption of these substances. "

Herbal mixtures are more dangerous than cannabis
A spokesman for the Bavarian State Criminal Police Office in Munich reports that the herbal mixtures, which are mainly sold on the Internet or so-called "head shops", are "far more dangerous than cannabis". The chemical forensic scientist Dr. Marc Wende recently examined the already forbidden mixture "Lava Red". The expert found the cannabinoid "JWH-122" in it. In addition to psychoses, “severe circulatory breakdowns and loss of consciousness” can also result from consumption, explained the senior emergency doctor at the Großhadern Clinic in Munich, Dr. Stephan Prückner. Accordingly, consumers find themselves in “potentially threatening situations”. Young people cannot take a calculable risk about the dangers. Because hardly anyone knows what is actually contained in the bath salts, fragrance oils or herbal mixtures. The BzgA provides information on the effects and risks of new drugs on the website "Drugcom.de". (sb)

Read on:
Dangerous herbal mixtures confiscated
Herbal mixtures are more dangerous than cannabis
Lava Red can be addictive

Image: Henning Hraban Ramm / pixelio.de

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