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The Heimia salicifolia FAQ - By Rev MEO

Heimia salicifolia FAQ
from Xenopharmacophilia Experimentations
by Rev. MeO - v 1.0 - June 1, 2000

i. What is Heimia salicifolia?
ii. What does Sinicuichi look like?
iii. What chemicals are in Sinicuichi?
iv. How do I use Sinicuichi?
v. What will Sinicuichi do to me?
vi. What type of side-effects should I expect from using Sinicuichi?
vii. Is all this safe?
viii. Is all this legal?
ix. How do I get my grimy little hands on Sinicuichi?
x. How can I grow Sinicuichi?
xi. Where did YOU get all this information?

i. What is Heimia salicifolia?

This plant was called ‘Sinicuiche’[or sinicuichi] by the Aztecs and is still used by Mexican shamans as a trance-divination catalyst. (Jim DeKorne, PSYCHEDELIC SHAMANISM)

Lythraceae (Loosestrife). Heimia salicifolia grows to 10 feet and has small yellow flowers. (Erowid Herb Vaults)

Heimia salicifolia is still used by some Mexican shamans as a tool for divination. (Horizon Herbs)

Heimia salicifolia is native to most of the tropical regions throughout the Western Hemisphere, specifically Texas, Mexico, El Salvador, and all areas between Colombia and Argentina - most commonly found in ditches and other wet soils. (KENT UNIVERSITY BIOLOGY PAGE)

ii. What does Sinicuichi look like?


Heimia salicifolia is a bush with numerous small dark green leaves, and often dozens of tiny bright yellow flowers. It can grow to well over 4 feet in height, with just as large a circumference.

Technically speaking:

Shrubs, 1-2(-4) m, stems numerous from the base, glabrous, the youngest portions 4-angular. Leaves opposite or subopposite, sessile, broadly to narrowly elliptic, 20-100 x 5-15 mm. Inflorescences leafy racemes, flowers solitary in the axils, pedicels 1-4 mm long. Flowers 6-merous, campanulate, 5-8 mm long, calyx lobes ca. 1/4 the length of the floral tube; appendages prominent, horn-shaped, ascending; petals 6, bright yellow, 6-14 mm long; stamens (10)12(-18), exserted; ovary 4-carpellate; style exserted; nectary absent. Capsules globose,included within the persistent floral tube, loculicidally dehiscent; seeds many, obpyramidal, 1 mm long. n = 8. 3 spp/1NAmer. Flowering and fruiting throughout most of the year. (KENT UNIVERSITY BIOLOGY PAGE)

iii. What chemicals are in Sinicuichi?

Five quinolizidine alkaloids have been found in Heimia salicifolia. The major psychoactive alkaloid appears to be cryogenine [Vertine]…(Shultes, R.E., THE NEW WORLD INDIANS AND THEIR HALLUCINOGENIC PLANTS)

WARNING: According to the Legal Highs FAQ, Sinicuichi contains 1-carbamyl-2-phenylhydrazine. While 1-carbamyl-2-phenylhydrazine is another name for Phenicarbazide, and Cryogenine, it is not found in Heimia salicifolia, and is indeed, a synthetic chemical. This is a distinction that, as far as I know, has yet to be discussed directly. Searching MedLine for information about Cryogenine, you will get numerous reports about possible carcinogenic activity. These reports are talking about the synthetic hydrazine derivative, 1-carbamyl-2-phenylhydrazine.

There is a chemical called ‘cryogenine’ present in Sinicuichi, however, the more apt name (to eliminate further confusion) for this item is Vertine. As Dr. Alexander Shulgin made clear to me, there are two different chemicals known as ‘cryogenine,’ and this has caused a bit of confusion.

Both chemicals known as ‘cryogenine’ have potential as antipyretic drugs, but keep in mind, cryogenine (hydrazine derivative) and cryogenine (vertine, the quinolizidine alkaloid) are NOT related.

“Two alkaloids from Heimia salicifolia, cryogenine [vertine] and nesodine, were respectively 2.48 and 2.24 times as potent as aspirin as inhibitors of prostaglandin synthetase prepared from bovine seminal vesicles. Reference compounds, indomethacin and phenylbutazone, were respectively 2800 and 8.75 times as potent while a synthetic analogue of cryogenine, JB-1-0, was 0.656 times the potency of aspirin. This activity may help to explain the traditional medicine use of H. salicifolia in the Americas.” (Prostaglandin synthetase inhibition by alkaloids of Heimia salicifolia. Lema WJ, Blankenship JW, Malone MH)

Looking further into the chemical make-up of Sinicuichi, we come across not only the anti-inflammatory nesodine, but lyfoline and lythrine as well. As presented below, lythrine holds potential as a hydrodiuretic.

“Its four most studied alkaloids are vertine, lyfoline, lythrine and nesodine. Most of the animal studies discussed here have focused on the ataractic, antiinflammatory and antispasmodic potential of vertine and on the hydrodiuretic potential of lythrine and decine, a structurally related alkaloid found in Decodon verticillatus. The ataractic activity of vertine does not appear to be dependent on the depletion or blockade of catecholamines, while its antiinflammatory capacity seen in both exudative and immunologic systems seems to be dependent in part on an intact pituitary-adrenal system and in part on inhibition of prostaglandin synthase. The antisplasmodic activity of vertine has been demonstrated on many isolated tissues using different agonists, but appears to be largely musculotropic in nature. Only lythrine and decinine have been shown to be true hydrodiuretics and may prove to be useful in treating Addison's disease and general nephrosis. A number of synthetic 4-arylquinolizidines and related compounds appear to possess antiinflammatory potential.” (Heimia salicifolia: a phytochemical and phytopharmacologic review. Malone MH, Rother A)

The following quote falsely mentions both cryogenine and vertine as components of Sinicuichi, thus giving the impression that they are two separate chemicals within the plant, when indeed, they are one and the same as far as H. salicifolia goes.

“Leaves contain the potent tranquilizer sinicuichine which relaxes muscles, relieves experimental anxiety, and stabilizes blood pressure. Several alkaloids are reported: abresoline, anelisine, cryogenine, dehydrodecadine, heimine, lyofoline, lythridine, lythrine, nesodine, sinine, and vertine.”(Dr. James Dukes CRC HANDBOOK OF MEDICINAL HERBS)

The fact that the above reference has so blatantly (but unknowingly) confused vertine and cryogenine is a prime example of what is found in much of the literature available on this plant. This snafu needs be hollered about from roof tops, before confused psychonauts start ingesting pure 1-carbamyl-2-phenylhydrazine.

iv. How do I use Sinicuichi?

Traditionally, the leaves are removed and allowed to wilt a bit, crushed and combined with cold water, then placed in the sun for a day to make a tea. The following procedure for dried foliage is consistent, and repeated endlessly wherever one finds information about Heimia.

If fresh material is not available, dried herb may be steeped in hot water and allowed to sit in the sun for 1 day before drinking. Ten grams dried herb or equivalent of fresh leaves suggested as starting dose. (Legal Highs FAQ)

Take 10 g. of dried leaves, mix with hot water and put in the sun for one day, then drink the mixture. (NATURE'S TREASURES)

"I decided to make up a tea from 10g. of the leaves. I poured about 3 cupfuls of boiling water over the dried leaves and let them sit for a while. Deciding this was going to be too much to drink I heated the mixture and boiled off perhaps a cup of the mixture. I left it for about an hour. I poured the mixture minus the leaves into two cups.” (KenR, the old EDot forums)

"I always picked fresh leaf by pruning off the top 6" of a bunch of plants grown close together hedge like. I picked the leaves off the stem, allowed them to wilt for about 1/2 hour, then would put em in a blender with a small amount of water. Then I'd put the whole concoction in a closed mason jar and set it outside where it would catch the sun. I'd leave it out for approx. 24 hr. Then I would strain it, squeeze the last of the juice out and drink. I never weighed it, the most I ever tried was a half of a cereal bowl full of fresh leaves." (MrPotato, the old EDot forums)

v. What will Sinicuichi do to me?

Given the tested and proven euphoric, relaxant and anti-inflammatory properties of Sinicuichi, the following excerpts are reliable.

General relaxation, acoustic hallucinations, improvement of memory performance. (NATURE'S TREASURES)

[The] tea is inebriant, euphoriant, hallucinogenic. (HOW TO STAY HIGH AND HEALTHY; by Edward Everett-Ronning)

Sounds seem to come distorted from a great distance. The natives hold sinicuichi to be sacred, endowed with supernatural powers; that it helps them recall vividly events of many years earlier, that it permits them even to remember pre-natal events. (Shultes, R.E., THE NEW WORLD INDIANS AND THEIR HALLUCINOGENIC PLANTS)

…pleasant drowsiness, skeletal muscle relaxation, slowing of heartbeat, dilation of coronary vessels, inhibition of acetylcholine, enhancement of epinephrine, slight reduction of blood pressure, cooling of body, mild intoxication and giddiness, darkening of vision, auditory hallucinations (sounds seem distant), and increased memory function. (Legal Highs FAQ)

I have been unable to confirm within the scientific literature the above suggestions that the actives of Sinicuichi inhibit acetylcholine and enhance epinephrine. The blocking of acetylcholine has been found with the ingestion of scopolamine and atropine, where the actions of these alkaloids (scopolamine and atropine) cause a heating of the body, an inability to sweat or spit, and dilation of blood vessels within the skin. These side-effects have not been noted with Sinicuichi. As well, enhancement of epinephrine does not cause relaxation or slowing of the heartbeat. (THE SECOND BRAIN; by Michael D. Gershon, M.D.) Additionally, the increased availability of acetylcholine has been found to enhance memory funtion. So, once again, it seems that the Legal Highs FAQ is only partially correct.

"Within 20 minutes, definite effects were being felt, the body initially becoming chilled even in the direct sun. The chill intensified, but not to an unpleasant degree. There was also dryness to the mucous membranes(eyes, nose and mouth). At thirty minutes the body was awash in a pleasant, calm euphoria. Walking around the room was not interesting, and there was a desire to just sit and see what comes. Visual acuity was affected, and at 40 minutes, the "darkening of surroundings" was very noticeable. Closed eyes had no visual interest." (MCsquared, the old EDot forums)

"Personally, I find it to be like a good kava emulsion only more euphoric with special sound effects. It wasn't bitter, but wasn't pleasant tasting. It smelled like the water in a vase of cut flowers." (MrPotato, the old EDot forums)

“As one might expect the brew tasted revolting and was extraordinarily bitter. I proceeded to drink it however, and had finished both cups within say half an hour. Some effects started to manifest within 15 minutes. Notably, a heaviness in the head, sedation and perhaps some pain relieving effect. There was a slight tingling in the extremities at times. I found it difficult to do anything terribly productive, particularly at close range. I don't think my thoughts were particularly affected. There might have been some mild improved sense of well-being. There was little in the way of nausea beyond what was caused by simply drinking the bitter tea. The effects faded within 2 hrs.” (KenR, the old EDot forums)

vi. What type of side-effects should I expect from using Sinicuichi?

Sinicuichi does not seem to take too much out of you as far as energy levels go, and does not have the lingering apathetic tint that Cannabis sometimes can. The only side-effect I have found (that being something which can last many hours after the experience) is that of yellow or light green-tinted vision. But even this is not definite.

“After a dose consisting of a quart-sized jar full of fresh leaves: Slept for four hours, and upon waking there was a remarkable yellow glow or aura permeating everything, which is in accordance with most of the literature, and the name sun-opener. I spent the rest of the day in this glow, which left residuals even the following day, although less intense." (MCsquared, the old EDot forums)

As to long-term heavy use of Sinicuichi, memory problems may persist, however, the number of people who have a history of ‘heavy long-term use’ with Sinicuichi is extremely limited, and this problem will likely never affect 98% of those who try the herb.

vii. Is all this safe?

Rated slightly dangerous, particularly for children, people over 55 and those who take larger-than-appropriate quantities for extended periods of time. (THRIVE ONLINE Health Library)

Take the above warning with a grain of salt…it seems to have been rated as such due to an intense lack of knowledge on the subject.

Continued immoderate use may eventually hamper memory. (Erowid Herb Vaults)

"Classed as a narcotic hallucinogen; long-term use may impair the memory." (Dr. James Dukes CRC HANDBOOK OF MEDICINAL HERBS)

As to the memory dangers, I believe the former excerpt came directly from the latter…likely not an area the casual user need ever worry about.

viii. Is all this legal?

Heimia salicifolia is 100% legal in the United States, and as far as I can tell, throughout the entire world. (Erowid Herb Vaults) Thus, feel free to grow, harvest, extract, consume, etc…

Further, since Sinicuichi is all-natural and does not contain any controlled substances, it should be legal to market as an herbal remedy.

ix. How do I get my grimy little hands on Sinicuichi?

This list is far from complete, and exists merely to show how easily available Heimia salicifolia plants, seeds and foliage are. As prices are likely to change more often than this FAQ will need updating, no prices are given. Only companies that have a good track record are listed.

Theatrum Botanicum offers great quality, inexpensive plants.

Allies P.O. Box 2422, Sebastopol, CA 95473, USA - Catalog: $2 - sells seeds and live plants.

Nestlebrae Exotics (New Zealand)

x. How can I grow Sinicuichi?

Woody perennial, half-hardy. Very small seed must be sprinkled on surface of flat, misted or bottom watered. Despite the small size of the seed, germination is usually quite easy. This is an upright bush, bright green with numberous yellow flowers. Ethnopharmaceutical sources describe smoking of this plant to promote a sense of well-being, vision tinted with yellow, hence the common name, "sun opener." Nice landscaping plant, good for topiary. (Horizon Herbs)

“Planted in the ground in well draining slightly acidic soil. Watered on a daily basis in the spring and summer and fed with miracle grow every 10 days or so, receiving about 4 hours of direct sunlight daily, heavy to partial shade the rest of the time. The plant is now about 4' in height, and almost the same width with a bushy habit and sending out new shoots from the base.” (MCsquared, the old EDot forums)

Indeed, it has been my experience that Heimia salicifolia is an extremely hardy and simple to grow plant! When in partial shade with sufficient water, there’s no stopping it! As well, the plant lets a countless amount of seed, which often you will find have fallen off and sprouted. One sad time, a winter storm hit without any warning…the Heimia outside was covered in ice…I dug it up in an extremely sloppy manner, severing some roots…and the next spring…the plant grew back as strong as ever!

It…needs lots of root space and becomes pot-bound very quickly. (Jim DeKorne, PSYCHEDELIC SHAMANISM)

xi. Where did YOU get all this information?

The old Entheogen Dot Come Discussion Boards (defunct)

Erowid Herb Vaults

Horizon Herbs


Legal Highs FAQ

Nature's Treasures

Thrive Online Health Library

DeKorne, Jim; Psychedelic Shamanism, Loompanics Unlimited, 1994.

Dukes, James CRC Handbook of Medicinal Herbs

Everett-Ronning, Edward How to Stay High and Healthy

Gershon, Michael D., M.D. THE SECOND BRAIN, Harper-Collins, 1998.

Lema, WJ, Blankenship JW, Malone MH. Prostaglandin synthetase inhibition by alkaloids of Heimia salicifolia.

Malone MH, Rother A Heimia salicifolia: a phytochemical and phytopharmacologic review.

This document Rev. MEO

Created 8/14/2001 0:00:16
Modified 8/14/2001 0:13:50
Leda version 1.4.3