Here is a little something I pulled off Canadian juice monsters on GHB, it sure clears up a lot of missunderstanding and media missconceptions regarding this compound, much like steroids…
GHB (gamma-hydroxybutyrate) Information
First synthesized in the early 1960’s, GHB is structurally similar to the neurotransmitter GABA and triggers a variety of effects in the body, apparently by temporarily increasing the supply of both GABA and dopamine in the brain.
At moderate doses, GHB induces a state of relaxation, euphoria, and disinhibition similar to alcohol. At higher doses, GHB induces a sleep so deep it has been mistaken for coma.
GHB was originally developed as an anaesthetic, but was withdrawn due to unwanted side effects. The only legal use of GHB has been as in investigational treatment for the treatment narcolepsy.
In Europe, GHB has been used as an anaesthetic and experimentally to treat alcohol withdrawal (Gallimberti, 1989).
GHB has been marketed in England as an anti-aging medicine which allegedly increases the libido, decreases body fat, aids alcohol withdrawal, and induces sleep.
In the United States & Canada, GHB has been marketed illicitly 1) to body builders as a growth hormone stimulant and 2) as a replacement for L-tryptophan, a food supplement which reportedly induced sleep and was withdrawn in 1989 due to complications (MMWR, 1990).
Sold over the counter as a dietary supplement for years, distribution was halted by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in 1990.
Since then, sale has been banned nationwide, while possession remained legal until individual states began banning it in 1997, due to its links to incidents of date rape.
Why do people take it now? Mainly to get high. And among other things, GHB and its analog products claim to fight stress and depression, induce deep sleep, relieve anxiety, enhance sexual feeling, enhance athletic performance, and as an anti-depressant.
Brief Description Of GHB
GHB is usually available as an odorless, colorless, and nearly tasteless liquid. Sometimes the substance is available as a powder, or in a capsule.
At small doses, GHB encourages a reduction of social inhibitions, similar to alcohol, and an increased libido. At higher doses, this euphoria gives way to feelings of sedation.
Reported symptoms include vomiting, drowsiness, dizziness, vertigo, and seizures. After excessive use, some users have experienced loss of consciousness, irregular and depressed respiration, tremors, or coma (MMWR,1990).
The substance is currently circulating within the dance music scene (at raves and night clubs) as an alternative to Ecstasy or Amphetamine Sulfate (speed). GHB, which is easily home-brewed in basement chemistry labs, is often used in conjunction with alcohol.
When used properly GHB is one of the safest substances ever used as a recreational drug.
For the first 30 years that GHB was used, there was not a single recorded death. Compare this to the 100,000 people killed every year due to alcohol, or the 400,000 that die every year from tobacco.
To say that GHB is dangerous is clearly laughable; to say that it is new is ridiculous. Yet the sale of GHB was banned in 1990 by the FDA.
This was only one of many moronic decisions made by that organization; remember, these are the same people who decided that L-tryptophan, an amino acid (one of the molecules that make up the proteins that are in every cell of every living organism), was too dangerous for human consumption.
It is important to remember that at the time of the FDA ban, there was not a single death associated with GHB use. There were some bad reactions, but they were all due to people mixing GHB with alcohol, people taking unmeasured doses, or epileptics taking GHB.
For thirty years prior to 1990, the scientific papers on GHB were unanimous in reporting numerous beneficial physiological effects and the absence of long-term negative effects.
In 1964, Laborit listed very low toxicity as one of the principle elements of the compound’s pharmacology. In a 1969 report on GHB’s anesthetic uses, Vickers referred to GHB as a truly nontoxic hypnotic and repeatedly emphasized its lack of toxicity.
Vickers cited evidence that GHB demonstrates no toxic effects on the liver and kidney. In 1972, Laborit described the body’s metabolism of GHB and stressed the absence of any need of detoxification by the organism.
As recently as 1989, this scientific consensus on GHB’s benign nature remained unchanged. Gallimberti’s study from that year on its uses in treating alcohol withdrawal in humans notes that GHB’s action …seems to be without serious side effects.
His almost off-hand reference to the safety of GHB shows how well-established this property of the nutrient had become.
Why Was GHB Banned?
It seems likely, then, that at least some of the motives behind the 1990 FDA ban of GHB were other than those of public safety. Such a ban constitutes the only means of Federal control of a substance neither scheduled by the DEA nor approved by the FDA as a drug.
In the absence of a genuine public-health concern, such control might have been motivated by a desire to protect the pharmaceutical industry (with which the FDA is closely intertwined) from competition from a safer, more effective and less expensive alternative to sleeping pills. Is it a coincidence that the FDA has also banned L-tryptophan, another nutrient that functions as a safe and effective sleep aid?
What Are the Real Concerns?
As with most substances, unpleasant and possibly dangerous side effects can be associated with excessive doses of GHB. A dose usually only about twice the amount required for relaxation or a prosexual effect can, as one user put it, knock you out but fast.
In this respect, GHB is probably comparable to alcohol: if you drink twice as much as you normally would, you probably wouldn’t function very well. Despite its general safety and lack of toxicity, the safe use of GHB requires information, preparation, caution, and good judgment. In other words, follow the usage guidelines!
How Does It Feel?
Most users find that GHB induces a pleasant state of relaxation and tranquility. Frequent effects are placidity, sensuality, mild euphoria, and a tendency to verbalize. Anxieties and inhibitions tend to dissolve into a feeling of emotional warmth, wellbeing, and pleasant drowsiness.
The morning after effects of GHB lack the unpleasant or debilitating characteristics associated with alcohol and other relaxation-oriented drugs. In fact, many users report feeling particularly refreshed, even energized, the next day. The effects of GHB can generally be felt within five to twenty minutes after ingestion. They usually last no more than one and a half to three hours, although they can be indefinitely prolonged through repeated dosing.
The effects of GHB are very dose-dependent. SMALL INCREASES IN THE AMOUNT INGESTED LEAD TO SIGNIFICANT INTENSIFICATION OF THE EFFECT. Higher levels feature greater giddiness, silliness, and interference with mobility and verbal coherence, and maybe even dizziness. Even higher doses usually induce sleep.
The Actions of GHB in the Body
GHB temporarily inhibits the release of dopamine in the brain. This may cause increased dopamine storage, and later increased dopamine release when the GHB influence wears off [Chin and Kreutzer, 1992]. This effect could account for the middle-of-the-night wakings common with use of higher GHB doses, and the general feelings of increased well-being, alertness and arousal the next day.
GHB also stimulates pituitary growth hormone (GH) release. One methodologically rigorous Japanese study reported nine-fold and sixteen-fold increases in growth hormone 30 and 60 minutes respectively after intravenous administration of 2.5 grams of GHB in six healthy men between the ages of twenty-five and forty [Takahara, 1977]. GH levels were still seven-fold higher at 120 minutes.
The mechanism by which GHB stimulates growth-hormone release is not known. Dopamine activity in the hypothalamus is known to stimulate pituitary release of growth hormone, but GHB inhibits dopamine release at the same time that it stimulates GH release.
This suggests that GHB’s GH-releasing effect takes place through an entirely different mechanism [Takahara, 1977]. At the same time GH is being released, prolactin levels also rise. Serum prolactin levels increase in a similar time-dependent manner as GH, peaking at five-fold above baseline at 60 minutes [Takahara, 1977].
This effect, unlike the release of GH, is entirely consistent with GHB’s inhibition of dopamine. Other compounds which lessen dopamine activity in the brain (such as the neuroleptic Thorazine) have been shown to result in prolactin release. Although prolactin tends to counteract many of the beneficial effects of GH, the sixteen-fold increases in GH probably overwhelm the five-fold increases in prolactin.
GHB induces remarkable hypotonia (muscle relaxation) [Vickers, 1969]. It is now gaining popularity in France and Italy as an aid to childbirth. GHB causes spectacular action on the dilation of the cervix, decreased anxiety, greater intensity and frequency of uterine contractions, increased sensitivity to oxytocic drugs (used to induce contractions), preservation of reflexes, a lack of respiratory depression in the fetus, and protection against fetal cardiac anoxia (especially in cases where the umbilical cord wraps around the fetus’ neck) [Vickers, 1969; Laborit, 1964].
GHB is completely metabolized into carbon dioxide and water, leaving absolutely no residue of toxic metabolites [Vickers, 1969; Laborit, 1972]. Metabolism is so efficient that GHB can no longer be detected in urine four to five hours after it is taken by injection [Laborit, 1964]. GHB activates a metabolic process known as the pentose pathway which plays an important role in the synthesis of protein within the body [Laborit, 1972].
It also causes a protein sparing effect [Laborit, 1964] which reduces the rate at which the body breaks down its own proteins. These properties, along with GHB’s effect on growth hormone, underlie its common use as an aid to muscle-building and fat loss.
Anesthetic (large) doses of GHB are accompanied by a small increase in blood sugar levels, and a significant decrease in cholesterol. Respiration becomes slower and deeper. Blood pressure may rise or fall slightly, or remain stable, but a moderate bradycardia (slowing of the heart) is consistent [Vickers, 1969; Laborit, 1964]. A slight drop in body temperature also occurs [Laborit, 1964].
GHB also stimulates the release of acetylcholine in the brain [Gallimberti, 1989].
GHB and Sleep
GHB has been called almost an ideal sleep inducing substance [SMART DRUGS II, p245]. Small doses produce relaxation, tranquility and drowsiness which make it extremely easy to fall asleep naturally. Higher doses increase the drowsiness effect and decrease the time it takes to fall asleep. A sufficiently large dose of GHB will induce sudden sleep within five to ten minutes [Laborit, 1964].
Many other hypnotics interfere with various stages of the sleep cycle thus preventing the body from achieving a complete and balanced session of rest and recuperation.
The most remarkable facet of GHB-induced sleep is its physiological resemblance to normal sleep. For instance, GHB sleep is characterized by increased levels of carbon dioxide in the arteries, as in normal sleep [Vickers, 1969]. During normal and GHB sleep, the CNS continues to be responsive to noxious stimuli (pain and other irritations), a factor which sets limits on GHB’s uses in anesthesia [Vickers, 1969].
GHB facilitates both REM (rapid eye movement) sleep, and slow-wave (non-REM) sleep, the stage of sleep featuring increased release of growth hormone [Laborit, 1972]. And unlike the unconsciousness induced by other anesthetics, that triggered by GHB does not feature a systemic decrease in oxygen consumption [Laborit, 1964].
The primary disadvantage to GHB’s use as a sleep aid is it’s short-term influence–about three hours. During GHB’s influence, sleep is deeper and more restful, but after the GHB has worn off, people have a tendency to wake up. The higher the dose, the greater is this tendency. Some have called this pattern the dawn effect and have speculated that it is related to the release of stored-up dopamine. Some people minimize this effect by taking minimal doses of GHB. Others take advantage of this effect by getting a couple of hours of work done in the middle of the night. Still others choose to take a second dose of GHB to sleep for another three hours.
It should be noted that not everyone can be put to sleep by GHB. We have spoken to three men who have never achieved sleep even with the doses normally used for such purposes. In addition, Takahara  reported that one of the six men in the growth hormone study cited above remained conscious even though he had received two and a half grams of GHB intravenously, a dosage which rendered the rest of the participants unconscious.
Determining the ideal dose is probably the trickiest aspect of working with GHB. The amount required for a given level of effect will vary from person to person, and the dose-response curve is fairly steep. Overestimating the dose can have consequences ranging in seriousness from ruining your plans for the evening to waking up in the emergency ward as a result of panic on the part of concerned-but-uninformed friends or relatives.
Once you have found the levels that give you the effects you desire, they will remain consistent. Tolerance to GHB does not develop. However, recent (not current) alcohol consumption may decrease the effect of a given dose of GHB [Fadda, 1989]. Most people find that a dose in the range of 0.75-1.5 grams is suitable for prosexual purposes, and that a quantity in the range of 2.5 grams is sufficient to force sleep.
Some people think that GHB might lower potassium levels and should therefore be taken with potassium supplementation. Some research papers have identified such an effect, others have not. If you want to play it safe, take a potassium supplement equal to 10% of the GHB dose.
When used properly, GHB is one of the safest substances ever used as a recreational drug. There are only three requirements for a completely safe GHB experience:
You must know how much GHB you are taking.
You must know how much GHB you are capable of taking.
Don’t drink alcohol.
These are very simple requirements, and those who follow them are virtually guaranteed that they will experience no bad reactions to GHB.
A prospective GHB user should first obtain a supply of GHB of known concentration. Then, s/he should take a small amount (about 0.5g, depending upon body weight), and wait to see what the reaction is.
If there is no effect, the user should wait for several hours, then try again, using a slightly higher dose. It is paramount that someone not simply take more immediately, since taking just a little bit more can lead to massive changes is the effect of the drug.
Once the user has a good idea what his/her effective dose is, then that user can safely use GHB for the rest of his/her life. The user’s dosage will not appreciably change over time, nor will s/he develop a tolerance.
There are dangers associated with the use of GHB. First, if you mix GHB with alcohol, you can die. This is not unusual; many OTC drugs (and quite a few prescription drugs) likewise cannot be mixed with alcohol.
If you think GHB is unsafe because of this, then go look in your medicine cabinet. I think you’ll be surprised how many drugs there have similar warnings.
Second, taking too much GHB can cause complications. Usually a user simply passes out, but there have been some severe reactions to extremely high dosages. On the other hand, drinking too much water can kill you.
In fact, every substance known to man can kill you if you take enough of it. Even Tylenol can cause massive damage if you take a relatively small overdose.
GHB does not do any damage to the body when taken in a sane manner. This is in sharp contrast to alcohol, which damages every major organ in your body (even at normal dosages).
It has been reported that some people use GHB as a date rape drug. This is not unique to GHB; alcohol has been used in this respect since the dawn of civilization. To say that GHB is dangerous and should be illegal because of this is clearly illogical.
In conclusion, GHB is the safest recreational drug ever used by humanity. The only dangers are those of ignorance; education, not legislation, is the way to remedy those. The FDA has done enough damage by outlawing the sale of GHB. Let’s not make the situation worse by letting the DEA outlaw it as well.