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Zuba D, Byrska B, Maciow M. 
“Comparison of 'herbal highs' composition”. 
Anal Bioanal Chem. 2011 Apr 22;400(1):119-26.
Popularity of new psychoactive substances, known as legal highs or herbal highs, is continuously growing. These products are typically sold via internet and in so-called head shops. The aim of this study was to identify active ingredients of herbal highs and to compare their chemical composition. Twenty-nine various products seized by the police in one of the "head shops" were analysed. Herbal mixtures (0.2 g) were prepared by ultrasonic-assisted extraction with 2.0 ml of ethanol for 2 h. The extracts were analysed by gas chromatography coupled to mass spectrometry (GC/MS). The main active compounds of the herbal mixtures were synthetic cannabinoids: JWH-018, JWH-073 and cannabicyclohexanol (CP-47,497-C8-homolog). Their content differed between the products; some contained only one cannabinoid whereas the others contained two or more. Cluster analysis and principal component analysis revealed that chemical composition of many products was very similar. The similarity was connected with their flavour and not the common name. This statement was true for the synthetic cannabinoids, other potential agonists of cannabinoid receptors (amides of fatty acids) and ingredients of natural origin and confirms that herbal highs are a threat to human health because the purchaser has no information on their real composition.
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