IBOGAINE – A Miracle or a Curse?

imagesIsolated as a psychoactive alkaloid that originates from the bark of a West African shrub called Tabernanthe iboga, ibogaine is a drug that’s been the center of controversy for decades.

With a rich history of use in ancient African spiritual rituals and the Bwiti rite of passage into adulthood—a tradition derived from the Pygmy people—this drug achieved fascinating infamy in modern history as well.

The drug was re-discovered in 1962 by Howard Lotsof and studied for several years as and_209 effective treatment for heroin, cocaine and other opiate addictions. The drug is reported to alleviate the physical symptoms of withdrawal (detoxification) from opiates by resetting the opiate receptor sites in the brain. Ibogaine blocks the receptors that trigger cravings for these and other addictive drugs.

The rate of relapse from opiate addition treatments after one year is rather high—ranging from 70% to 90%, depending on the study. Reports indicate that ibogaine will effectively remove the addiction once and for all with just one or two treatments. Once the therapy process is complete, no further ibogaine treatment is necessary.

Ibogaine is non-addictive and there is no need to continue taking ibogaine after the treatment process of cleansing the body of the addictive drugs and resetting the brain’s neuro-chemistry to remove mind and body drug dependency for whatever drug the individual was addicted to.

Does this sound too good to be true? Maybe, but research studies throughout the 1960s and up into the 1990s showed the drug to be reasonably safe and effective. However, since 1967 the United States government has banned the use of ibogaine and labeled it as a Schedule 1 narcotic (a DEA category reserved for drugs illegal for use in the US because of their psychoactive qualities and their potential for abuse).

Ibogaine is a psychedelic agent with dissociative properties. But because of its dramatic benefits to shutting down one’s craving for harmful and addictive drugs, other countries around the world have approved ibogaine for use as an effective drug withdrawal option.

illicit_drugs-300x200Most notably, drug withdrawal treatment clinics in Mexico abound. Additionally, such ibogaine treatment clinics are located in Canada, South Africa, the Netherlands, Norway, the United Kingdom as well as a handful of other countries.

In the United States, the issue of FDA approval for commercial use of this drug seems to center mainly on research funding obstacles. Most drug funding involves money from Big Pharma and, since ibogaine is a one- or two-dose therapy regimen, continuing therapy is not necessary and therefore the return on investment is not there.

Congressional lobbying efforts have not been effective to date, quite possibly because the US Congress does not respond well to pleas from heroin (and other addictive drug) addicts for government funding of drug research.

It’s important to note that Ibogaine drug treatments are not without risks. These include seizures associated with abrupt withdrawal of certain addictive drugs. Additionally, since ibogaine appears to inhibit cardiac ion transport in the usual dosage concentrations, administering this drug can initiate cardiac arrhythmias.

And, of course, the recovered addict must adjust his/her lifestyle away from the source of c4191bb7ae39e5a215368e889ffd2f62the addiction to prevent treatment failure.

As a mystery writer, this drug intrigues me, not only for use as a possible murder weapon, but also as part of an intricate “when-it-all-goes-wrong” plot that involves drug manipulation with an international flair.

I might just have to pull out my storyboard and start plotting out scenes!

Thoughts? Comments? I’d love to hear them!


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A short, snappy, unique, entertaining murder mystery. Think “Murder She Wrote” meets “CSI”

Posted in A Free Short Story Offering, A How To Blog on Murder Plot Ideas, About James J. Murray, About Murder, Blog Writers, Blogging, Bloodless Death Scene Writing, Botanical Murder Weapons, Botanicals That Kill, Designing Murder Plots, Drug Abuse, Drugs For Murder Plots, Drugs Used For Murder, Heroin Addiction and Ibogaine Therapy, Ibogaine and Drug Addiction, Ibogaine Clinics, Ibogaine Therapy, Ideas for Murder Scenes, James J. Murray Blog, Murder Mayhem and Medicine, Murder Weapons Discussed, New Blog, New Book Release, New Free E-Book, New Methods of Murder, New Murder Mystery Novel, Plotting Interesting Murder Scenes, Prescription For Murder Blog, Successful Drug Addiction Treatment, The Science of Murder, Tools of Murder, Ways to Murder, Why Not Use Ibogaine Treatments for Drug Addiction?, Writing Dramatic Murder Scenes | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Race To Death With Racing Fuel

There was an intriguing, and yet startling, report in the news recently about two teenagers who died when they decided that drinking a mixture of racing fuel and Mountain Dew wasdFhYlrf a great way to get high. The notion that all racing fuels contained only pure ethanol was a lethal mistake and became their death sentence.

While it’s true that many racing fuels on the market today are made with ethanol (the kind of alcohol that we drink), it’s also true that many racing fuels still use methanol as the combustion source—as well as other additives that may make them unsafe to consume.

Methanol—alternately called methyl alcohol, wood alcohol and wood spirits—is not safe for human consumption and can be lethal in sufficient quantities. Methanol is the kind of alcohol used in anti-freeze products and to denature ethanol that is used commercially (the “denature” term meaning to make it unpleasant and dangerous to consume, and thus bypassing the excise taxes placed on the ethanol used for consumption as well as the abuse potential).

When methanol is consumed, it rapidly metabolizes via the liver into first formaldehyde and then into formic acid. Formic acid is a lethal chemical that causes permanent optic nerve damage and blindness, as well as kidney damage. Literature states that as little as 10ml (2 teaspoonfuls) of methanol can cause blindness.

clear-liquid-pouring-beaker-slow-motion-43369446The lethal dose of methanol is reported to vary from as little as 30mls (one ounce) to up to certain death if 100mls are consumed. With the consumption of a reasonably large quantity of methanol, a human being will rapidly progress to unconsciousness and death.

The symptoms of methanol poisoning include headache, dizziness, nausea and the usual symptoms of alcohol poisoning—extreme sleepiness, confusion and lack of muscle coordination. The degrees to which these symptoms exhibit are directly related to the dose and over what period of time the chemical was administered.

Fortunately, there are treatment options for methanol poisoning. The drug fomepizole is an antidote and its method of action is to inhibit the enzyme that transforms methanol into first formaldehyde and then into lethal formic acid.

Administering ethanol (the regular drinking alcohol) is also effective to some extent since ethanol reduces the rate by which methanol is transformed into lethal formic acid, thus allowing much of the methanol to be excreted from the body before it’s metabolized into formic acid.

Hearing this news report reminded me that so many readily available commercial items could be used as murder weapons. Certainly in the case of these teens, it’s thought that the poisoning was accidental and unintentional. However, methanol poisoning would be85 an effective method of murder since it is virtually colorless, and the look and odor is very faint and almost identical to ethanol. The dose is within the range that one might consume in a night of socializing and the initial symptoms are very similar to those experienced by someone who “has had a few too many” alcoholic beverages.

Thoughts? Comments? I’d love to hear them!


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ALMOST DEAD – A Gift To My Readers

No, No, No . . . I don’t want my faithful readers almost dead. I want you very much alive and reading my novels!

Leathal Medicine CoverWhat I mean is that my new novel Almost Dead debuts today and my special gift to you is that the eBook is available as a FREE DOWNLOAD to you for a limited time.

My first blog of the new year centered on suggestions for creating an action-packed new year by 1) making realistic goals, 2) planning them logically, and 3) keeping yourself on track to meet those goals.

In 2016, my personal goals are to publish more novels that center on unique murder plots, involve interesting characters and contain story arcs with tantalizing twists.

Almost Dead is the first of two new novels I have coming out before summer and both do just that.

ALMOST DEAD is a short—snappy—unique—entertaining murder mystery. I’m so excited to share it with you that I want to offer it as a FREE EBOOK.


Detectives Rosie Young and Vince Mendez chase an elusive villain when not one but two victims turn up alive less than twenty-four hours after they are pronounced dead. The body count continues to climb as the detectives investigate how two seemingly unrelated victims share an almost identical near-death experience but have no memory of the event. The trail of evidence leads to startling revelations of deceit, greed and an international conspiracy in this entertaining murder mystery.

Genre: Thriller, Murder Mystery, Suspense (spoiler alert: not about zombies)


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Transdermal Poisoning

One day last week I was talking to a doctor of physical therapy and he asked a most interesting question that I had to think about before attempting an answer.

THe said that he had a patient who could not take her oral pain medication because it upset her stomach and she asked him if she could crushed the tablet, mix in a hand cream and then apply it to the skin.

The patient wondered if the drug would be absorbed adequately for pain relief that way since commercial pain relief creams seemed to be popular with arthritic patients. He told her that he didn’t know if that would work but that he’d find out. He posed the question to me since I’m a pharmacist and he knew of several analgesic patches presently available that effectively deliver pain relief drugs through the skin.

Truly, I had never given much thought to a “do-it-yourself-at-home” drug delivery system such as that. Human skin has a barrier layer of stratum corneum (the outer-most part of the epidermis) that is lipid-rich and penetration of large drug molecules through that layer without expert preparation into a cream would be difficult.

For centuries, poultices, gels, ointments, creams and bath salts have been applied to skin for both cosmetic and health benefits. However, these types of applications are primarily intended for their topical effects with no regard to absorption through the skin’s barrier layers.

As a long distance runner, though, I often soak in a hot Epsom Salt bath (magnesium sulfate) to relieve the soreness in my tired, restless legs and believe that the magnesium absorbs to give a beneficial effect.

In the last couple of centuries, certain botanical medications were incorporated into emulsions (intricate water and oil mixtures that literally wrap water and oil molecules around each other) to create a delivery system that provided some systemic action if the drugs were adequately dissolved in the water or oil before the emulsion was compounded.

The idea of a topical drug delivery system has been expanded by the modernimages-4 pharmaceutical industry and transdermal technology to deliver drugs into the body is a reality today.

Transdermal patches now deliver a wide variety of medications: male and female hormone therapy, both narcotic and non-narcotic pain relieving drugs, contraceptives, motion sickness drugs, smoking cessations drugs, and even medications for Parkinson’s disease.

The first transdermal drug patch was launched in 1979, and presently about 20 drugs are available in transdermal drug patch therapies.

The technology has limitations, however, in that the drug to be absorbed from the patches must be of a particularly small molecule size, they must be soluble in oils and be therapeutically effective in low doses. At one time, research teams attempted to administer insulin to diabetics in this manner, but the insulin molecule is too large to penetrate the skin’s barrier layers.

So the ultimate answer to this patient’s question about crushing and mixing her pain medication into a hand cream would not work well since the pure drug would need to be dissolved into the basic emulsion components (the water, the oil, or a chemical emulsion compound) before actually making the cream. The same principle would apply to an ointment, gel or lotion.

images-2I also joked with my physical therapist friend about using such transdermal technology to poison someone. Although I’ve blogged in the past about several poison compounds that absorb readily through the skin, adulteration of transdermal patch technology was one specific method of murder I had not considered.

Contaminating a drug patch with a poison to either acutely or chronically poison a victim is certainly possible. People have been murdered with various drug patch medications via overdosing on nicotine patches or fentanyl narcotic patches by applying several at a time.

It’s conceivable that someone could discreetly inject a poison into a prescription drug patch to kill a victim. The poison, however, would have to be lethal in minute quantities to do this effectively and have the ability to be absorbed through the skin. I think the concept would make for an interesting and unique murder weapon.

The possible poisons that could taint a prescription drug patch in this way might include anthrax, polonium, various snake and insect venoms, jellyfish and fugu compounds, botulin and various heavy metals (such as dimethyl mercury), and various liquid nerve agents.

There are new transdermal technologies on the horizon that would make transdermalimages-1 poisoning even more conceivable. Second-generation transdermal technology uses micro-ultrasound systems to increase skin permeability and iontophoresis (breaking down a drug molecule into its ion components) to increase absorption rates of drugs.

Third-generation transdermal technology includes thermal ablation (outer layer tissue destruction with micro-bursts of heat) and micro-needles imbedded into transdermal patches to not only increase absorption rates, but also to include classes of drugs (or poisons) previously unable to be absorbed through the skin with traditional drug patch technology.

These enhanced transdermal options increase the potential of drug patch technology being used as dramatic alternatives to oral delivery and hypodermic injections as a method of poisoning the villain in your next thriller.

Thoughts? Comments? I’d love to hear them!

Posted in A How To Blog on Murder Plot Ideas, A How To Blog on Murder Weapons, About Medications/Pharmacy, About Murder, All About Murder, Blog Writers, Blogging, Bloodless Death Scene Writing, Chemical Poisons, Chemicals Used For Murder, Choosing How a Character Should Die in a Story, Contact Poisons, Designing Murder Plots, Developing Storyline Ideas, Dramatic Murder Weapons, Drug Patches For Murder, Drugs For Murder Plots, Drugs Used For Murder, How to Choose a Murder Weapon for a Plot Idea, Ideas for Murder Scenes, Instruments of Death, James J. Murray Blog, Killing Off Characters in Writing, Killing Off Characters in Your Novel, Lethal Agents and Murder, Making Your Own Topical Drug Therapy, Murder Mayhem and Medicine, Murder Weapons Discussed, New Blog, New Methods of Murder, New Methods To Kill Characters in Your Novel, Plotting Murder Scenes, Poisons in Transdermal Patch Therapy, Poisons Used For Murder, Prescription For Murder Blog, The Science of Murder, Tools of Murder, Transdermal Patch Therapy, Unique Murder Plots, Unique Murder Weapons, Ways to Murder, Writing Death Scenes, Writing Dramatic Murder Scenes | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

COPPER SULFATE – The Green Chemical

copper-sulfate-flameCopper sulfate is a fascinating substance that burns with a green to aquamarine colored flame. Often it’s used in high school chemistry classes to demonstrate just such a phenomenon. It’s also considered a “green chemical” in that the US agricultural industry has used copper sulfate in pesticides since 1956. It is approved for use even in organic farming.

The copper in copper sulfate binds to proteins in bacteria, fungi and algae. It damages their cells, causing the organism’s cells to leak and die. Copper sulfate especially inhibits the growth of Esherichia coli. E. coli is an aggressive bacterium that is often the source of96599-382x255-Japanese_Farmer contamination in commercially grown produce.

Agricultural products containing copper sulfate are available in liquids, dusts and crystals. Copper sulfate can be toxic—and even lethal—if large amounts are absorbed through the skin. Accidental poisoning with this chemical has been reported occasionally among farm workers.

Workers can be exposed to the chemical as it comes into contact with skin. The dust can be breathed in, or the accidental contamination of food or drink can occur. That’s an interesting idea for the genesis of a murder mystery or thriller plot!

images-2The chemical appears as a pale green powder, but when mixed in water it turns the liquid a bright blue—a telltale sign of the presence of copper sulfate.

Although copper is an essential element and required by the body for proper health, the human body has internal mechanisms to maintain proper copper equilibrium. Excess copper is not stored in the body but excreted in solid wastes. The body cannot handle sudden large doses of the chemical, however. It overwhelms the body’s defense mechanisms, resulting in tissue damage or even death.

As with most toxic chemicals, the degree of harm is proportionate to the dose. Smaller doses of copper sulfate cause nausea and vomiting, loss of appetite, shock and diarrhea. Larger doses can lead to tissue damage, destruction of blood cells and moderate to severe damage to the liver and kidneys. Lethal doses result in multi-organ failure resulting from the chemical binding to proteins in different organs.

An ingested dose of 15-20mg of copper sulfate causes mainly gastrointestinalimages-3 symptoms, but higher doses can be lethal. Acute liver failure is the primary result of severe poisoning.

Accidental poisonings occasionally happen in the agricultural industry, but fortunately they have been on the decline with better education regarding safe handling of the chemical. Copper sulfate ingestion is also rare, and mainly is limited to the Indian subcontinent. This chemical is easily found in Sri Lanka and sold over the counter in that area of the world. Burning of copper sulfate in houses and shops as good luck charms or for religious activities has been a common practice among local Buddhists and Hindus.

The colorful flames from burning the hydrated crystals are attractive to children and a source of inadvertent ingestion and poisoning. The chemical is also commonly used there in pesticides, in the leather-making industry and for making homemade glue.

For an interesting poison in your next murder mystery, copper sulfate might be the perfect chemical weapon. It’s easy to use, readily available on the Internet and particularly lethal in sufficient quantities.

Thoughts? Comments? I’d love to hear them!


Leathal Medicine CoverCOMING SOON!

I have a new murder mystery novel publishing later this month. The release date is almost here, but I’m too excited to keep this under wraps any longer. I’ll let you know when, where, and how to get your copy FREE in my next couple of blogs.

Posted in A How To Blog on Murder Plot Ideas, A How To Blog on Murder Weapons, About James J. Murray, About Medications/Pharmacy, About Murder, Acute Poisons, All About Murder, Blog About Poisons in Fiction Writing, Blog Writers, Blogging, Bloodless Death Scenes, Chemical Poisons, Copper Culfate, Copper Sulfate Poisoning and Farm Workers, Copper Sulfate Poisoning and India, Ideas for Murder Scenes, Instruments of Death, Interesting Murder Weapons, James J. Murray Blog, Killing a Villain in a Novel, Lethal Chemicals in Murder Mysteries, Methods of Murder, Murder Weapons Discussed, New Blog, New Methods of Murder, New Methods To Kill Characters in Your Novel, Pesticides and Murder, Poisons and Murder, Poisons Used For Murder, Prescription For Murder Blog, The Green Chemical, The Writings of James J. Murray, Unique Murder Plots, Unique Murder Weapons, Ways to Murder, Writing Death Scenes | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Create An Action-Packed New Year!

Before you roll your eyes at yet another lesson about New Year’s resolutions, here are some practical suggestions to help you 1) make realistic goals, 2) plan them logically, and 3) keep yourself on track to meet those goals.

MH900438811First and foremost, take a deep breath and smile! It’s a new year—all fresh and new, and filled with potential. Whatever unfulfilled dreams you had last year is history. Leave them behind and don’t look back.

It’s time to focus on what you want and need to do going forward. And forget about calling them New Year’s Resolutions. It’s a worn out phrase that’s often linked to failure.

Instead, whatever changes you want to achieve should be called New Life Goals. Each New Year is a golden opportunity to make meaningful changes to create a better life. If you’ve read the bio on my website, you’ll know that I’ve had several opportunities to recreate myself. With each one, I’ve had to achieve specific life-changing goals.

From those experiences, I’ve learned that deciding on the right New Life Goals can be aMH900430599 daunting experience. You may have one BIG change you wish to make or you may have many small adjustments you’d like to incorporate into your life. The principles of change are the same for both: Plan, Execute, Evaluate, Adjust and Repeat.

*The key word here is REPEAT!*

In order for meaningful change to happen, you must make that change a habit. If it’s a physical change you wish to make, you must get your body used to whatever you want it to do. I’ll use myself as an example. When I’m not writing, I’m passionate about long distance running. I love the sport so much that I became a certified running coach in mid-2013 and now volunteer my time training others to become better runners.

In training runners, we use training cycles to achieve specific goals, such as running faster or longer distances. We achieve those goals in progressive cycles—called the Microcycle, the Mesocycle and the Macrocycle. But these same principles can apply to other endeavors in your life—no matter whether they are physical or mental changes.

The Microcycle is that initial 5-7 day period when you push yourself to begin that one thing you want to make a part of your life. This is the Planning and Executing part of change.

42-15622535In running, this is when you actually start training regularly on a track or trail. If you want to lose weight, this is when you start passing up dessert and/or join a health club. If you want to improve your outlook on life, this is when you begin to smile more and attempt to interact better with others. In short, you plan what you want to do and then do it.

The next cycle, the Mesocycle, is a longer period, usually a minimum of three weeks and up to ten weeks. This is the cycle where you attempt to make the change a HABIT. In order for something to become a permanent part of our lives, we must make that thing a routine. We have to make it become so much a part of us that we would miss it if it no longer existed in our lives.

This is where you evaluate how the change fits into your life and where you make smallMH900400498 adjustments to continue the momentum to achieve that goal. If you want to eat less, stop going out to restaurants and control portions. If you have trouble finding time to go to a health club or scheduling a run, get up earlier or give up evening television.

Adjust your life to achieve your goal rather than adjusting your goal. Create a new habit and repeat that as often as possible to make it a part of your life.

The Mesocycle is where you begin to embrace the change to achieve your goal. This is where the runner begins to enjoy the run and the dieter begins to dislike unhealthy foods. The longer you consciously think about what you are changing, the more successful you’ll be.

The last cycle is the Macrocycle and it’s the finishing touch that allows you to own your goals permanently. It can extend for months, years or for life. If you’re trying to lose weight and you achieve that goal, this is where you keep the momentum going to maintain that new weight. If you’re trying to improve a relationship with someone, you don’t stop the process when you feel good about each other. You continue to work at the relationship. You continue to repeat whatever you did to achieve a better relationship, or to maintain whatever specific goal you’ve identified.

MH900423646Meaningful changes in your life happen by identifying goals, incorporating them into your life and making that specific change a habit—and it’s a continual process. And keeping the momentum going in the Macrocycle is as important as that initial Microcycle step to identify the new goal.

If you’ve identified multiple goals for 2016, you’ve created an extra challenge for yourself. You can achieve all of your goals, but you simply have to work on one before starting another. Prioritize each goal and tackle them one at a time.

Attempting to achieve multiple goals at once can be overwhelming and it sets you up for failure. Achieving meaningful change takes focus. Don’t dilute your effectiveness by focusing on several changes at once.

The important thing to remember is that this is a New Year. The slate is totally clean and you have all year to achieve the goals you’ve identified.

Tackle the one goal that’s most important to you first. Attack it with gusto! Achieve it! Own it! Then move on to the next most important goal. Make them part of your bucket list for 2016!

Thoughts? Comments? I’d love to hear them!

Posted in A New Year's Greeting, A New Year's Wish, About James J. Murray, About Running, About Writing, Achieving Perfection, Blog Writers, Blogging, Change in the New Year, Changing Your Life in The New Year, Create a Better You, Creating New Habits in The New Year, Developing Better Life Skills, Forging a Better Life, Growing As A Writer, Happy New Year, How To Change Bad Habits, How to Create a Better Life, How to Create a More Enjoyable Life, How to Create a More Productive Life, How to Create a More Satisfying Life, How to Implement New Year's Resolutions, How to Make New Year's Resolutions, Ideas for Creating Permanent Change, Life Skills, Making Change Permanent, Mastering Your Craft, Meaningful Change in The New Year, Modern Approach to New Year's Resolutions, New Blog, New Life Goals, New Year's Resolutions, Prescription For Murder Blog, Skills to Create a Better Life, The Writings of James J. Murray | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments




May peace break into your home;

May thieves steal your debts;

May the pockets of your jeans

become magnets for $100 bills.

May love stick to you like glue;

May laughter assault your lips.

May happiness spread across your face;

May your tears be that of joy;

May the problems you had this past year

forget your address.

In short . . .

May 2016 be the BEST YEAR OF YOUR LIFE!


To You and Yours!!

Posted in A Holiday Wish, A New Year's Greeting, A New Year's Poem, About James J. Murray, Happy Holidays, Happy New Year | Tagged , , , , , , , | 1 Comment