Sunday, 21 July 2013

Snowdrops

Galanthus nivalis

BACKGROUND

Extracts of snowdrops are used in mainstream pharmaceutical medicine. Galantamine is one, and is the only substance found so far that can reverse dementia. (Edit 8-10-15 Coconut oil has also been shown to reverse dementia) It's recently been given the go-ahead to be used within the NHS. Also, snowdrop lectin is being researched as an agent in combating retroviruses such as HIV/AIDS.

In the 1950s, snowdrops were used in the treatment of polio in Bulgaria. Those treated with it made a full recovery, with none of the resultant paralysis so often seen on this side of the iron curtain. It is therefore of interest to aid those recovering from neurological disease, such as Lyme, neuroborreliosis, MS, ME/CFS, Parkinsons etc.

It's likely that snowdrops were used medicinally by our ancient forebears, though the knowledge was subsequently lost. It's now generally accepted that snowdrops are the "moly" that Hermes gave Odysseus to counteract the sorcery of Circe, when she turned his men into swine.

THEORY

Galantamine
The neurotoxins associated with some chronic disease can affect vital neurotransmitters in the brain and nervous system. In my experience, the main one is acetylcholine, which is necessary for thought, memory and movement. I had previously gained huge benefit from the muscarine in fly agaric mushrooms. The muscarine takes on the role of the acetylcholine, to some degree. I therefore looked for more plants that can have a similar effect. Those I found included sage, wormwood and lemon balm. However, I was most interested in the possibilities of the galantamine in snowdrops.

It's unclear whether the neurotoxins affect our ability to produce sufficient acetylcholine, or whether they cause it to be broken down too quickly. Perhaps different neurotoxins perform both actions. Acetylcholine is naturally broken down by acetylcholinesterase. Without this ability, we would soon become paralysed. But when the acetylcholine is broken down too quickly, we get chronic fatigue and dementia, a loss of will. The galantamine in the snowdrops (and some daffodils) inhibits the action of acetylcholinesterase, meaning that the acetylcholine we have produced stays around for longer, improving cognition, memory and energy.

In addition to this benefit, galantamine stimulates nicotinic receptors (one of two kinds of acetylcholine receptor - the other is the muscarinic receptor that responds so well to the muscarine in fly agaric mushrooms), which are extremely numerous in muscle (as well as being found throughout the brain and body). It seems to me that it is this stimulation that so improves chronic fatigue.

Snowdrop Lectin
Another constituent of snowdrops is snowdrop lectin. This inhibits protein synthesis, meaning that it can potentially affect the reproduction of some microbes. Indeed, current research is evaluating its efficacy in battling retroviruses (viruses that mutate easily) such as HIV/AIDS.

Because I don't really understand whether snowdrop lectin might inhibit my body's own ability to synthesise proteins, I determined to "pulse" the snowdrops - take them for a few days then break for a day or two before beginning again.

Recovery from Neurological Disease
It is probably the galantamine that's responsible for the improved recovery from neurological disease. From BBC website Lancashire:
Galantamine has also been used for treating neurological conditions such as post-polio paralysis and myasthenia gravis. However, because of its effect in enhancing neurotransmission in the brain, the primary use of galantamine throughout Eastern Europe in the last half-century has been for the treatment of poliomyelitis. There is some indication that, for some time before this, peasant people had been using snowdrop bulbs to treat children suffering from poliomyelitis, who recovered without showing any signs of paralysis.

IDENTIFICATION

Snowdrops are probably well known by most inhabitants of northern Europe. They are probably not indigenous to Britain, likely brought here and used medicinally by monks, but are now generally considered naturalised. It is a bulb and flowers in late winter/early spring.

COLLECTION

Galantamine and snowdrop lectin are found in the leaves and bulbs of the snowdrop. However, snowdrop bulbs are poisonous, and people have died from eating them when mistaking them for onions.

I gathered the whole plant and used it in the tincture, but you may well prefer to just use the leaves (and flower, if in flower). This is a very experimental treatment. A tincture made from the leaves alone may well offer the same benefits as a tincture made from the whole plant, without any undue risks from the toxic bulb.

Collect either the whole plant or just the leaves/flower when they plant is in leaf in late winter/early spring. Snowdrops cluster together in clumps of bulbs, so it's possible to take several plants from a clump, leaving the others to multiply.

PREPARATION

1. Wash the plants thoroughly, removing any dead material.

2. Chop finely and place in a jar.

3. Cover with vodka or other spirit.

4. Leave for around two weeks, shaking every now and again.

5. Strain through a muslin cloth. Squeeze the muslin to harvest as much liquid as possible.

6. Put into a bottle or jar and store in a cool dark place.

Keep the used plant material, as it can be applied externally for pain relief. Indeed, it is from watching Bulgarian peasants rubbing snowdrop leaves into their skin for pain relief that alerted the Bulgarian pharmacologist to their potential use as a treatment. This led to a paper published in 1951 by two Russians, with the first chemical description of galantamine.

DOSAGE

This tincture is extremely strong. I've been taking it for several months now, and still only take a few drops at a time. If you're going to make and take this tincture, please be very careful and start with just a drop or two. It would be really helpful if you could let us know your own dosage by making a comment. In the meantime, I largely only have my own experience to go on.

3 drops, 3 to 6 times a day. 3-5 days on, followed by 1-2 days off

Edit 22/12/13: I was reinfected with a tick bite in the summer, and my health deteriorated markedly. In the end I threw caution to the wind and increased the amount of snowdrops to 10 drops, around 8 times a day. I have been taking it at these levels for a few months now, non-stop rather than pulsing it. I have had kidney and liver function tests, and everything is within the normal range.

This larger dose of snowdrops has had some dramatic results. I had previously noticed that the snowdrops tended to give me bags under the eyes. This is lymphatic related. My lymphatics feel substantially better. I have no idea whether this is a killing or a cleaning function. This is augmented by taking flowering yew tip tincture as well. The yew tip tincture has a similar effect to Banderol on me.

I've found it necessary to drink more water whilst on the higher dose snowdrops. This could be due to microbial die-off, but it could be simply poisoning, so please bear that in mind.

10 drops, around 8 times a day.

The tincture can also be applied externally for topical pain relief (though not on broken skin).

WARNINGS

This is an experimental treatment, and taken at your own risk. This tincture is likely fatally poisonous if too much is taken, especially if made with the bulbs.

If you take too much at a time, the effect can be quite "speedy" for a couple of hours, with increased brain and muscle function.

MY EXPERIENCE

The snowdrop tincture is one of only two treatments I've tried that have had an immediate and quite magical effect on me (the other was fly agaric). It was a feeling like waking from a fairytale enchantment, just like when Gandalf releases Theoden from Saruman's enchantment in Lord of the Rings.

I immediately felt as if I had parts of my "self" back that had been missing for a long time. My cognition and memory were hugely enhanced. I also found that I no longer needed to rest frequently throughout the day - I could just keep going. My nervous system somehow "relaxed". It seems to be always on high alert, and I jump out of my skin at the slightest provocation, but this seems to be greatly diminished now.

As time has gone by on the snowdrops, these benefits have increased. Sometimes I feel as if a few days on the snowdrops has tired me out, and sometimes I think they give me bags under the eyes, but the benefits for me far outweigh this.

The snowdrops seem to have a much more "human" effect than the fly agaric. I find that I'm no longer so scared of human contact. So much of our brains seems to be taken up with social signalling. Without this, we miss vital social signals, or can't respond to them. Other people probably think that it's a personality thing, but it's just that our brains aren't working correctly. Since being on the snowdrops, I find that people respond to me as a normal human being again. After several years largely unable to socialise, it's fantastic to feel part of the human family again.

It's possible that snowdrops can be of benefit to people with various neurological conditions, such as Lyme, MS, ME/CFS, dementia, Parkinsons, autism, OCD, Tourettes, depression etc.

LINKS

acetylcholine-enhancement-galantamine

galantamine-rescues-damaged-brain-cells

galantamine-may-help-in-schizophrenia

real-life-galantamine

Galantamine reduces smoking in alcohol-dependent patients

Someone experimenting with acetylcholine boosters etc

Using galantamine in lucid dreaming

10 comments:

  1. Thanks for sharing the details Sam - really really useful! Are you still taking it?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi! Yes, I'm still on snowdrops every day, though now I make it with just the flowers and leaves rather than the bulbs as well. There is less snowdrop lectin (powerful antibiotic/antiviral) but that seems fine for now.

      Delete
  2. This comment has been removed by the author.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Hi Sam, I came across this post whilst researching on how to safely use snowdrop for its health effects. Thanks for posting this and for your brave and pioneering work! I linked to this page from my article https://thewildpharma.wordpress.com/

    ReplyDelete
  4. thanks, a lot!!! snowdrop bulbs all sold out everywhere!!! got them in my yard tho

    ReplyDelete
  5. thanks, a lot!!! snowdrop bulbs all sold out everywhere!!! got them in my yard tho

    ReplyDelete
  6. HI, are you still using these and any issues?
    Also are you using the drops from the mash that you create when they are squeezed through the cloth?
    I an interested in trying a few drops for lucid dream induction, am very experienced so will know if it works but concerned by potential side effects

    ReplyDelete
  7. Hi. Yes I'm still using snowdrops. I've found it's best to take them no more than twice a week though, as otherwise it can affect your own acetylcholine production. Also, I just make the tincture from leaves and flowers now, not the bulbs. This is because the snowdrop lectin is concentrated in the bulb and, although a powerful antibiotic, can affect the immune system (inhibits protein synthesis).

    Yes I just take a few drops from the snowdrop tincture and hold it under my tongue. It's perfect for lucid dreaming as you can awake after one sleep cycle, take a few drops and go back to sleep.

    You can take other things to stimulate acetylcholine receptors every day, eg fly agaric tincture (again just tiny amounts) and nicotine.

    Hope this helps and good luck! If you're too late in the year for snowdrops, some daffodils contain galantamine. Another popular anti-cholinesterase is canary grass (Phalaris), which you can grow year-round.

    ReplyDelete
  8. Really interesting! Do you know where I can find some scientific research on lectin contents in the bulb, or other information about the constituents, apart from the alkaloids, of galanthus nivalis? I'm doing a herbal course and want to write a monograph about the snowdrop. Lots of information, but mostly about the extracted galanthamine, nearly nothing about using the plant. I would really appreciate to know if you have more sources.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Heidi. Sorry but all the sources I found are linked already. There was one I remember where they were using snowdrop lectin to treat HIV. It's mentioned in this www.mdpi.com/1420-3049/20/1/648/pdf

      I think your best bet for finding information about using the plant medicinally may come from Google searches in languages such as Bulgarian. I've heard of people in the Alps rubbing snowdrops into heads and joints, so maybe searches in German/Italian/French might be worth a go.

      Sorry I can't be more help and good luck with your monograph.

      Delete