H.B. Woodrose Seeds
Citation: Anonymous. "Learning to Respect Ergot Alkaloids: An Experience with H.B. Woodrose Seeds (exp1934)". Erowid.org. Jun 19, 2000. erowid.org/exp/1934
How I learned to loathe myself and respect ergot alkaloids
Here's the situation, kids; see if you can find where I went horribly, tragically wrong: Several weeks ago, over a period of a couple of months, my lover and I of four and a half years broke up, I lost my job and subsequently my home, and had a brief fling which punched holes in my reputation and self-image.
Still managing to convince myself that I was the free-spirit, untouched by the illusionary material world, I put on a happy face et cetera. A few days ago, however, I started to dwell on thoughts of self-doubt, worry, mild paranoia, and depression.
Drum roll please.
So I thought I'd take a psychedelic drug and see if that helped to put things back in perspective.
WRONG! What, was I out of my mind? Lesson number one in the psychedelic universe: Don't use a psychedelic drug as a mood-lifter, to escape bad feelings, or to make a bad situation better. It don't work that way.
The pharmacological details: A couple of days prior to the experiment, I ground up fifty Hawaiian Baby Woodrose (Argyreia nervosa) seeds in a mortar and pestle, and put the resulting powder into gel caps. There were about 3.5 seeds per gel cap, with even potency across all of the gel caps.
Part of the motivation for my experiment was to test the potency/toxicity of the seeds taken in this manner. I had taken ten seeds, cracked in water, and had a terrific trip; and I had taken twelve seeds in a similar way and been wracked with nausea, stupor, and a generally bad time.
So I took two capsules, what I expected to be about 2/3rds of a real dose. My notes follow (indented) with comments (not indented):
1:00 PM - two caps
I had also been taking ginseng fairly regularly for the previous week or two, and I don't know how these two drugs might have reacted. What I believed I had been noticing from the ginseng were the following symptoms: a) increased creativity, b) more alertness without caffeine jitteryness, c) slight paranoia. Of course any of the above could also be the result of a placebo effect, or of the emotional turmoil in my life.
I was not taking any other drugs at the time. I had smoked a good hunk of weed the previous afternoon.
1:30 - slight runs, tight bridge of nose
The slight runs were slightly loose bowels, I included them in my notes without knowing whether or not they represented the first symptoms of nausea. In the aftermath, I'd say that it was just coincidence. The tight bridge of nose was one of those bells that goes off in my mind and says to me, 'remember, you just took a psychedelic and here it comes!'
1:35 - tight top of head
1:45 - stomach grumbling
This was probably caused more by the drug, but I'm not sure. There wasn't much nausea (thank God) at all this time. A little bit hit me at one point, but nothing in itself particularly bothersome.
2:40 - very slight nausea twinge, some peripheral visual distortion[, ] cold feet
There is the nausea I was talking about. By 'twinge,' I mean that it was noticable, but not lasting. A moment would come and I would say, 'gee, I feel kind of sick to my stomach,' but then it would go away. Could be explained by just the psychedelic coenesthetic fuzziness, but I don't think I was tripping that hard yet. Cold feet was a 'just in case' marker for me. Stafford's 'Psychedelics Encyclopedia' mentions that ergot alkaloids like those in HBWS and MGS can at higher doses cause the limbs to turn bluish. (See: ergotism). So far this hasn't happened to me, but I try to be alert for the effects. It was a chilly day, and my feet were propped up, so I think it was not a drug effect.
2:50 - More tummy rumbles.
3:00 - Take 500 mg C - folklore
I'm two hours into the dose and not getting much out of it but some slight peripheral vision fuzziness and motion, and a weird overall feeling. So I try to augment the trip with Vitamin C. I have no idea if this works or not, but it's everpresent acid folklore, and it's harmless as far as I know.
4:15 - Tired, amotivational[, ] Somewhat trippy.
I think the trip started right about here - three hours and fifteen minutes after taking the powdered seeds. That's something I should stress right off the bat about HBWS - the curve is very very different from that of LSD. On LSD, you accelerate quickly to the peak (within an hour or two of taking the drug), and then spend another couple of hours or more at the peak before sliding slowly down to baseline.
With HBWR, you spend the first three to six hours just climbing to the peak, and then a shorter time falling back to baseline. I don't think I reached the peak until six or seven at night - five or six hours after taking the capsules. Quite a long ride, with none of the 'it's all downhill from here' sense that you get if things get confusing on acid.
6:00 - emotionally depressed - No, make that fucking despondent
By this time things had started to go bad. I tried all of the traditional things to swing things around: Went to the bathroom, made some food, took a walk in the fresh air, turned on more lights, changed the music. Nothing worked.
I was feeling the beginnings of what would be a very panicked depressive episode. Nobody loved me, even the people I thought were my friends were really annoyed with me and talked about me behind my back, my pretensions had become such an integral part of my self-image that seeing them shattered was destroying my identity. I felt that if people knew who I really was, they would be disgusted or frightened and run away, and so I had to wear a mask, which of course was another way of keeping people at a distance from my real self, so there was no way I could win...
Whew. It was bad, folks. Going for a quick-paced walk helped, but only by keeping my mind busy thinking about route and traffic lights and whether or not it was going to rain. Overall the mood was still bad. I stopped by a donut shop to get a chocolate-covered devil's food donut with chocolate chips. Chocolate is another of my temperamental mood-lifters that I've kept in my bag of acid trips for that rainy day when I need it. But the wisdom of this decision didn't stand up; I thought that when I crashed from the sugar high things would just be that much worse. So I tossed the donut away.
7:00 - Still depressed - some anaesthesia - pinches don't hurt as much as they should. Tripping at about maximum so far, but wish it would stop.
I should note at this point that there is a history of depression in my family, my younger brother is taking medication for depression, and most of the women on my mother's side of the family seem to have had some sort of breakdown in their past. So far, except for a period of bad depression in adolescence (which could have just been adolescence, of course), I've escaped in terrific shape. My mood has been generally good, and my psychedelic trips have been 95% wonderful.
But, after a few hours of this nonsense, I was convinced that my bad mood and such over the previous days was part of a spiral into mental illness and that I was going straight to the funny farm. I was exhibiting a lot of the signs of a panic attack and severe depression, and I wasn't sure how much I could attribute to the drug, and how much was just me.
Remember that I had taken what I thought was 2/3rds of a good dose of HBWS, which I translated as about 2/3rds again of a reasonable dose of LSD. In other words, about half a hit: small potatoes for a veteran tripper.
The anaesthesia I'm talking about was kind of interesting. At one point, I pinched the web of skin between my thumb and finger, and although I could feel the pain, it didn't seem to mean anything to me. So I pinched harder. Sure enough, the pain increased slightly, but it still didn't mean anything to me. So I pinched as hard as I could. Still, no injury I could get excited about, although there was clearly some tissue trauma.
Two things of note: One, this may have been an effect of the drug, and if so, is a new one to me. Two, severely depressed people sometimes engage in self- mutilation, and this may have been an inkling of that for me.
7:22 - Niacin
At this point I remembered another bit of folklore - the 'niacin abort.' I decided to give it a try. I took one 100 mg tablet of niacin. I don't know if it did any good or not.
A little after this point - I was alone in the apartment, and had been alone through the whole trip - I called a very good friend and trip buddy, telling him that 'I'm having a bad trip and I can't get out.' I felt very ashamed, because one of my own rules for drug taking is that I can't use drugs to put obligations on other people. But my friend was happy to help me out, and was a soothing voice and a shoulder to lean on when I really, really needed one.
By this time, I felt like a raving nut. I would prop up my face in my hands, then cover my mouth with my hands, then bite my fingers, then rub my nose, then rub my hands through my hair, then rub my eyes, then bite my thumbnail, then lean my chin on my hand - all in the course of a couple of seconds. I thought that I probably sounded like that woman in the diner in the movie 'Slacker.' ('You shouldn't. You should not. You should't. You shouldn't. You shouldn't traumatize a woman sexually. You shouldn't. You should not...')
Except that my dialogue was at the same time more coherent and more troubled: 'I feel so alienated. I look at people. I look at them talk. I look at people talk and I can't understand them. I mean I understand what they are saying, and I know what the words mean, but I don't understand the transaction that's taking place. I don't know the rules. I try to talk, but people look at me and expect me to say more and I don't know the rules. I look at people and I don't understand. Nobody knows who I am. I can't understand them. I'm trying to say I feel alienated. Like I'm not one of them. They're doing something when they talk and it's not in the words and I can't understand what it is.'
I mean, really, really, bonkers call the men in the white suits stuff. Most of the above was in reference to a party I went to the night before where I didn't know very many of the people in attendance. They had social conventions in common, and shared interests (Star Trek and the Rocky Horror Picture Show) that I did not share with them, so in a way it was as though I'd landed on another planet. But my feelings of alienation had been extrapolated to include the whole human race.
It was bad. I have new understanding for the tales of people who took acid and committed suicide. For a long time I thought of these tales as drug war propaganda or coincidence. Now I have a little more understanding of how a pre-existing depression could be catapulted into a state of absolute hopeless- ness under the influence of a psychedelic.
9:10 - Coming down finally.
And rapidly, too. The whole coming-down time seemed to take about fifteen minutes. One minute I was babbling nonsense and biting my fingers, the next minute I'm sipping tea and putting some Paul Simon on the CD player. Perhaps the niacin took effect, or maybe thats the unfamiliar HBWS curve again.
What lessons can the readers of alt.drugs get from my tale of woe? HBWS did not give me a bad trip. HBWS gave me a powerful trip that was bad because of the soil the seeds were planted in: an emotionally troubled mind. HBWS is powerful juju. It's not a poor substitute for the real thing; it IS the real thing. My recommendation: Do not trip on a psychedelic drug if you're in a bad mood, depressed, or suffering from some sort of emotional turmoil. And, finally, think twice about tripping alone.
Personally, I'm going to stay away from drugs, ginseng, chocolate, and concentrated sugar for a couple of weeks at least, just to do an evaluation of where my head's at and make sure I'm not falling prey to the family curse. I feel much better this morning (last night I was sure I'd never recover), although a bit apprehensive. I'm going to treat psychedelics in a much more reverent fashion from here on out, and tread more lightly on my mind.
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