In 1962 A Hoffer published The Effect of Adrenochrome and Adrenolutin on the Behavior of Animals and the Psychology of Man, in volume four of the International Review of Neurobiology. This blog post summarizes his findings and analyzes the implications. As an aside, my qualifications include a medical degree. (MD)
The field of psychiatric research is difficult due to the restrains on studying the function of emotion. Unlike a cardiologist, who can study the heart, emotions are not visualized. In 1942 Stoll and Hofmann discovered the hallucinatory action of d-lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD) and later that of psilocybin contained within the "magic mushroom". The agents were referred to as psychotomimetic (psychotic producing) chemicals.
What is "Psychosis" exactly? Psychosis is a symptom caused by many things. Diseases such as schizophrenia can cause psychosis. Drugs can cause psychosis. Emotional states can cause psychosis. It's characterized generally as a break with reality. Individuals can have difficulty determining what is real, and what is not. Delusions exist, such as being hunted by Russian spies, and hallucinations ; auditory such as hearing voices, visual, and even olfactory (smell). Thought is often disorganized and this can be noted in the speech with derangements such as "Word Salad" in which an individual strings words together in a nonsensical fashion. "Car tree brown walking walking car tree brown." Abstract thoughts are typically interpreted literally. So when asked why people in glass houses shouldn't throw stones, they would answer, "Well because it would break the wall."
In 1952 Osmond and Smythies considered that overproduction of a natural psychotomimetic within the body might be the cause of schizophrenia. Epinephrine (adrenolin) is secreted by the adrenal gland stimulates the sympathetic nervous system. This is the "Flight or Fight" center. Epinephrine is in a class called indoles. LSD is also an indole. Could there be a product similar to epinephrine that caused psychosis?
In that same year (1952) Osmond and Holler presented their findings to the Dementia Praecox Committee, Scottish Rite Masons, New York; and in 1954 Hoffer et al published their first formal report on Adrenochrome.
Adrenochrome is the metabolic byproduct of epinephrine.
The fact that adrenochrome reduces to melanin is curious. Do individuals with darker skin have more adrenochrome? I have been unable to locate any research addressing this.
Adrenolutin in a metabolite of adrenochrome.
I would comment that his judgement was also likely affected given that this was a medical intern, in the hospital, performing medical procedures and knowing he was under the influence.
To this point adrenochrome and adrenolutin have been administered intravenously. But what of mucosal absorption? Sublingual absorption (under the tongue) would bypass liver metabolism.
Adrenochrome is real. It can be ingested. It is the metabolite of epinephrine which is produced in the human adrenal gland and therefore serum concentrations should be higher under conditions of stress such as fear, anxiety, and pain. It's postulated that individuals of darker skin may possess higher quantities of adrenochrome, since the degradation of adrenochrome results in the formation of melanin. I find no scientific proof of this.
What is of interest is the relative paucity of research done since the 1960's. As, well the degree in which it is regarded as an urban legend surprises me. In the book Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas written by Hunter S. Thompson, he describes taking adrenochrome procured by his attorney. The scene is considered myth. Is it? As a side note, more information is coming out on Hunter S. Thompson. Reports have emerged he paid money to be the killer in a snuff film. Having read most of his books, it would not surprise me.