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2-on, sleeping pill, tranquilizer,
Substance type: benzodiazepine
Diazepam, better known as Valium, was originally
synthesized in the laboratory and introduced as a
therapeutic drug (psychopharmaca, tranquilizer)
in the 1960s. The substance produces sedative,
euphoric, and especially anxiolytic (anxietyreducing)
effects (Henningfield 1988, 17,35*).
During the investigation of diazepam's
pharmacology, it was discovered that the human
nervous system has a special receptor for this
molecule, known as the benzodiazepine receptor
or the [3H] -diazepam receptor. Luk et al. (1983)
found three isoflans in the urine of cattle that may
possibly dock (as neurotransmitters) in the
benzodiazepine receptor. It is known that the
kavapyrones (cf. Piper methysticum) bind to the
[3H] -diazepam receptor. Recently, flavonoids in
the buds of the South American linden tree (Tilia
tomentosa Moench; Tiliaceae; cf. tila) were found
to bind to the benzodiazepine receptor. A
substance found in Passiflora caerulea 1. (cf.
Passiflora spp.), 5,7-dihydroxyflavone, also docks
to the same location (Viola et al. 1994).
The benzodiazepine receptor has been shown
to be present in all vertebrates, suggesting that it
appeared at a very early date in the evolution of
the nervous system and has been preserved into
the present. This indicates that it plays an
important function in the nervous system and that
there are endogenous substances that bind to it in
order to transmit certain messages (Muller 1988).
But what do these substances look like? At first
they were thought to be polypeptides, but then
traces of diazepam and desmethyldiazepam were
discovered in the brains of humans and other
animals. Because diazepam and its initial
metabolite appear in breast milk and the placenta
after the ingestion of Valium (Wessen et al. 1985),
it was first believed that the diazepam must have
been introduced into the body from outside" But
when diazepam was subsequently also found to be
present in brains that dated to a time before the
discovery of Valium synthesis, it was concluded
that diazepam was not a synthetic chemical at all
but a naturally occurring neurotransmitter in the
nervous system (Muller 1988). Thus it was
demonstrated that "Valium, the very symbol of
chemical psychopharmaca" (Zehentauer 1992,
121 *), is actually a natural substance.
Pharmacologists were surprised when subsequent
research demonstrated the presence of diazepam
and desmethyldiazepam in potatoes (Solanum
tuberosum 1.; cf. Solanum spp.) and in such diverse
grains as wheat (Triticum aestivum 1.; cf. beer),
corn/maize (Zea mays), and rice (Oryza sativa 1.;
cf. sake) (Muller 1988). Valium, in other words, is
a natural active constituent in plants. However, the
concentration in these plants is so low that a
person would likely not notice any Valium effects
even after consuming a whole sack of potatoes.
Valium is one of the most widely used sedative
drugs in modern society and is normally prescribed
for the treatment of anxiety and sleeping
disorders.498 Not surprisingly, Valium also finds
use as a recreational drug in some circles, particularly
in combination with other substances. Its
euphoric properties can be greatly affected by
alcohol, which can at times counteract the sedative
properties, resulting in powerful stimulating effects.
Valium is one of the more commonly used
psychopharmaca in the music scene. Several rock
bands, including the classic "space rock" band
Hawkwind CValium 10," 1978), have dedicatedtitles to the substance.
|Commercial Forms and Regulations
Valium is available by prescription only. In the
United States, it is listed as a Schedule IV drug
under the Controlled Substances Act.
Flesch, Peter. 1996. SchlafstOrungen bei iilteren
Patienten: Auf Benzodiazepine kann meist
verzichtet werden. Jatros Neurologie 12:6-7
Henningsfield, Jack E. 1988. Barbiturates: Sleeping
potion or intoxicant. The Encyclopedia of
Psychoactive Drugs. London, Toronto, and New
York: Burke Publishing Company.
Luk, Kin-Chun, Lorraine Stern, Manfred Weigele,
Robert A. O'Brien, and Nena Sprit. 1983.
Isolation and identification of "diazepam-like"
compounds from bovine urine. Journal of
Natural Products 46 (6): 852-61.
Muller, Walter E. 1988. Sind Benzodiazipine 100%
Natur? Deutsche Apotheker Zeitung126 (13): 672-74.
Viola, H., C. Wolfman, M. Levi de Stein, C.
Wasowski, C. Pena, J. H. Medina, and A. C.
Paladini. 1994. Isolation of pharmacologically
active benzodiazepine receptor ligands from Tilia
tomentosa (Tiliaceae). Journal of
Wesson, Donald R, Susan Camber, Martha Harkey,
and David E. Smith. 1985. Diazepam and
desmethyldiazepam in breast milk. Journal ofPsychoactive Drugs 17 (1): 55-56.