Blue Lotus, Legal High or Fecal Pile?

Blue Lotus aka Blue Lily of the Nile

This is one of the original triad of drugs that was marketed to kids in the nineties.  It is dried plant material of the Nymphaea Caerulea or jolly lotus plant. 

 

Like many of the drugs that are talked about as being "legal highs," the blue lotus is a part of traditional Chinese medicine.  This fact, in itself, doesn't give much credibility for it's potential to induce a positive effect.  However, it does contain two alkaloids that may be of medical use.

 

Nuciferine

The most prevalent alkaloid of interest in this plant is nuciferine.  This is not because it is considered the more potent of the two main alkaloids, but because it is the most prevalent in the plant and in plant derived products being sold.  Nuciferine is a a 5-HT2A antagonist (among other things) and has been studied a little bit. 

According to Martilia S. Farrell et al.(2016) "The molecular profile of nuciferine was similar but not identical to that shared with several approved antipsychotic drugs suggesting that nuciferine has atypical antipsychotic-like actions." (1)

 

Apomorphine

Apomorphine is a non-selctive agonist of the dopamine receptor, as well as an antagonist of 5-HT2 and adrenaline receptors with a high binding affinity.  It is NOT related to morphine physically or in it's action (as it does not bind to opioid receptors).

Apomorphine is used clinically to induce vomiting in animals, primarily dogs.  It has also been used for treatment of Parkinson's disease.

 Additionally, apomorphine (in vitro and in animal studies) up-regulates nerve growth factor, and glial-cell derived neurotrophic factor. (2)

Conclusion

While there is some potential use for the alkaloids in this plant, most of the "drugs" that were marketed to us as kids were over-hyped at best, or snake oil at worst.

I have tried to smoke the dried plant material with little effect.  After consuming a large amount of the plant via smoking, it seems to have a small calming effect that is substantially less than CBD.  In my opinion, CBD is over-hyped so any effects I may have perceived from Blue Lotus use may have been placebo.

With that being said, I have not tried an ethanol extraction or any other methods of concentrating the plant.  These days, there are extracts of this plant of all types are being sold online.  I have not tried any of these either.

The fact that proponents and salesman are recommending to make this into a tea does not bode well.  The alkaloids are not very water soluble and don't survive first-pass metabolism very well.  Apomorphine when used clinically is given subcutaneously.  I will at some point do an ethanol extraction and try to get high on this purple flower. 

For now, my conclusion is that the Blue Lotus can take a one way trip down the Nile and never come back, and whoever was authoring those websites in the early nineties and selling us this crap can smoke my banana.  

 

Citations

 (1)

 In Vitro and In Vivo Characterization of the Alkaloid Nuciferine

Farrell MS, McCorvy JD, Huang XP, et al. In Vitro and In Vivo Characterization of the Alkaloid Nuciferine. PLoS One. 2016;11(3):e0150602. Published 2016 Mar 10. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0150602

(2)

 Apomorphine up-regulates NGF and GDNF synthesis in cultured mouse astrocytes

Ohta M, Mizuta I, Ohta K, Nishimura M, Mizuta E, Hayashi K, Kuno S. Apomorphine up-regulates NGF and GDNF synthesis in cultured mouse astrocytes. Biochem Biophys Res Commun. 2000 May 27;272(1):18-22. doi: 10.1006/bbrc.2000.2732. PMID: 10872797.

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