OPEN Foundation

A. Brito-da-Costa

Pharmacokinetics and Pharmacodynamics of Salvinorin A and Salvia divinorum: Clinical and Forensic Aspects

Abstract

Salvia divinorum Epling and Játiva is a perennial mint from the Lamiaceae family, endemic to Mexico, predominantly from the state of Oaxaca. Due to its psychoactive properties, S. divinorum had been used for centuries by Mazatecans for divinatory, religious, and medicinal purposes. In recent years, its use for recreational purposes, especially among adolescents and young adults, has progressively increased. The main bioactive compound underlying the hallucinogenic effects, salvinorin A, is a non-nitrogenous diterpenoid with high affinity and selectivity for the k-opioid receptor. The aim of this work is to comprehensively review and discuss the toxicokinetics and toxicodynamics of S. divinorum and salvinorin A, highlighting their psychological, physiological, and toxic effects. Potential therapeutic applications and forensic aspects are also covered in this review. The leaves of S. divinorum can be chewed, drunk as an infusion, smoked, or vaporised. Absorption of salvinorin A occurs through the oral mucosa or the respiratory tract, being rapidly broken down in the gastrointestinal system to its major inactive metabolite, salvinorin B, when swallowed. Salvinorin A is rapidly distributed, with accumulation in the brain, and quickly eliminated. Its pharmacokinetic parameters parallel well with the short-lived psychoactive and physiological effects. No reports on toxicity or serious adverse outcomes were found. A variety of therapeutic applications have been proposed for S. divinorum which includes the treatment of chronic pain, gastrointestinal and mood disorders, neurological diseases, and treatment of drug dependence. Notwithstanding, there is still limited knowledge regarding the pharmacology and toxicology features of S. divinorum and salvinorin A, and this is needed due to its widespread use. Additionally, the clinical acceptance of salvinorin A has been hampered, especially due to the psychotropic side effects and misuse, turning the scientific community to the development of analogues with better pharmacological profiles.

Brito-da-Costa, A. M., Dias-da-Silva, D., Gomes, N., Dinis-Oliveira, R. J., & Madureira-Carvalho, Á. (2021). Pharmacokinetics and Pharmacodynamics of Salvinorin A and Salvia divinorum: Clinical and Forensic Aspects. Pharmaceuticals (Basel, Switzerland), 14(2), 116. https://doi.org/10.3390/ph14020116

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Toxicokinetics and Toxicodynamics of Ayahuasca Alkaloids N, N-Dimethyltryptamine (DMT), Harmine, Harmaline and Tetrahydroharmine: Clinical and Forensic Impact

Abstract

Ayahuasca is a hallucinogenic botanical beverage originally used by indigenous Amazonian tribes in religious ceremonies and therapeutic practices. While ethnobotanical surveys still indicate its spiritual and medicinal uses, consumption of ayahuasca has been progressively related with a recreational purpose, particularly in Western societies. The ayahuasca aqueous concoction is typically prepared from the leaves of the N,N-dimethyltryptamine (DMT)-containing Psychotria viridis, and the stem and bark of Banisteriopsis caapi, the plant source of harmala alkaloids. Herein, the toxicokinetics and toxicodynamics of the psychoactive DMT and harmala alkaloids harmine, harmaline and tetrahydroharmine, are comprehensively covered, particularly emphasizing the psychological, physiological, and toxic effects deriving from their concomitant intake. Potential therapeutic utility, particularly in mental and psychiatric disorders, and forensic aspects of DMT and ayahuasca are also reviewed and discussed. Following administration of ayahuasca, DMT is rapidly absorbed and distributed. Harmala alkaloids act as potent inhibitors of monoamine oxidase A (MAO-A), preventing extensive first-pass degradation of DMT into 3-indole-acetic acid (3-IAA), and enabling sufficient amounts of DMT to reach the brain. DMT has affinity for a variety of serotonergic and non-serotonergic receptors, though its psychotropic effects are mainly related with the activation of serotonin receptors type 2A (5-HT2A). Mildly to rarely severe psychedelic adverse effects are reported for ayahuasca or its alkaloids individually, but abuse does not lead to dependence or tolerance. For a long time, the evidence has pointed to potential psychotherapeutic benefits in the treatment of depression, anxiety, and substance abuse disorders; and although misuse of ayahuasca has been diverting attention away from such clinical potential, research onto its therapeutic effects has now strongly resurged.

Brito-da-Costa, A. M., Dias-da-Silva, D., Gomes, N., Dinis-Oliveira, R. J., & Madureira-Carvalho, Á. (2020). Toxicokinetics and Toxicodynamics of Ayahuasca Alkaloids N,N-Dimethyltryptamine (DMT), Harmine, Harmaline and Tetrahydroharmine: Clinical and Forensic Impact. Pharmaceuticals (Basel, Switzerland), 13(11), 334. https://doi.org/10.3390/ph13110334

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21 March - Ketamine Discussion with Celia Morgan, Filip Tylš & Will Barone

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