Wine could also contain a recreational drug - really you may ask?
By Peter Petterson
First published at Qondio
Imagine my surprise when I read in my Sunday newspaper supplement that a local wine-writer had discovered and written about the possibility of wine being a drug.
Now I'm not a wine aficionado - I prefer European - style beers myself- but a few of my friends,acquaintances and others definately are.
Research in Britain has shown that there is some minuscule traces of a class B drug Fantasy in wine. Fact or fantasy would be the initial response of many. Just what is this concentration?
It is very difficult I know to accept that a drink that has been around for thousands of years and drunk by millions, has an active ingredient of gamma-hydroxybutyric acid(GH, or its precurser gamma-butyrolactone(GBL).
The concentration of GHB ranged from 4.1mg to 21.4mg per litre of wine, with the greatest concentration found in reds. Contrast that with the 500mg to 3000mg doses in recreational drugs and what do we really have? Is this a comparatively strong concentration, or a minor one?
Previously buried medical research undertaken in the UK in 2005 came to light showing alcoholic drinks made through the fermentation of white and red grapes actually contained small traces of a drug known as GHB, or Fantasy.
New Zealand researchers subsequently examined ethanol (the normal alcohol in wine) and published their findings in the international Journal of Psychopharmology in 2009. This showed that ethanol posed the same risks to public health as Fantasy.
The UK finding that wine contains Fantasy raises the intriguing situation that NZ wines contained a prohibited Class B drug. It would be appropriate for the NZ government to sponsor further research.
Little is known about the specific synergistic effect effect that ethanol mixed with Fantasy has and exactly what doses the mixture of the drugs is important to researchers.
What is the mixture? 1/50th of an intoxicating dose of Fantasy in a 750ml bottle of wine; more likely red than white. This shows the inconsistency of New Zealand's drug laws. How does the international community stack up against NZ laws?
GHB has been used in a medical setting as a general anesthetic, to treat conditions such as insomnia, clinical depression, narcolepsy, and alcoholism, and to improve athletic performance. It is also used as an intoxicant (illegally in many jurisdictions) or as a date rape drug. GHB is naturally produced in the human body's cells and is structurally related to the ketone body beta-hydroxybutyrate.