Some science behind the scenes
Rotenone is a neurotoxin. Neurotoxins are an extensive class of exogenous chemical compounds that can adversely affect function in both developing and mature nervous tissue.
It is an odourless chemical that occurs in the roots and stems of a number of plants.
But it has also been extracted and is used commercially as a broad-spectrum insecticide, and pesticide. Rotenone is sold as an organic pesticide dust for the garden. Unselective in action, it kills potato beetles, cucumber beetles, flea beetles, cabbage worms, raspberry bugs, and asparagus bugs, as well as most other arthropods. Rotenone is also used in powdered form to reduce parasitic mites on chickens and other fowl.
Rotenone is very poorly absorbed by the gastrointestinal tract of humans, but if it enters the blood stream via, say smoking, or via a wound it can due a large amount of damage. It works by interfering with the electron transport chain in mitochondria.. This interferes with NADH during the creation of usable cellular energy (ATP).
Environmental toxins and Parkinson's disease: putative roles of impaired electron transport chain and oxidative stress - Abdulwahid Arif I, Ahmad Khan H; Environmental Analysis Unit, Prince Sultan Research Chair for Environment and Wildlife, College of Sciences, King Saud University, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.
Despite recent advancements in the biomedical fields, the etiology and pathogenesis of Parkinson's disease (PD) is still poorly understood, though the crucial roles of oxidative stress and impaired mitochondrial respiration have been suggested in the development of PD. The oxidative modification of the proteins of mitochondrial electron transport chain alters their normal function leading to the state of energy crisis in neurons.
Exposure of environmental chemicals such as 1-methyl-4-phenyl-1,2,3,6-tetrahydropyridine (MPTP) and rotenone in mouse produces the symptoms akin to PD and therefore these neurotoxins are commonly used in experimental studies on PD. Another environmental toxin, paraquat (a commonly used herbicide) has also been implicated with the onset of PD. The neurotoxicity of these chemicals is accompanied by the blockade of electron flow from NADH dehydrogenase to coenzyme Q. The agents with the ability to improve mitochondrial respiration and ATP production have been shown to exert beneficial effects in PD patients as well as in the animal models of PD.
This review summarizes the current research implicating the impairment of mitochondrial respiratory chain and the role of environmental toxins in the pathogenesis of PD.
In 2010, a study was published detailing the progression of Parkinson's-like symptoms in mice following chronic intragastric ingestion of low doses of rotenone. The concentrations in the central nervous system were below detectable limits, yet still induced PD pathology.
In 2011, a US National Institutes of Health study showed a link between rotenone use and Parkinson's disease in farm workers.
In this case therefore, rotenone poisons, but it poisons slowly and rather than attacking the liver, for example, or the kidneys, it also attacks the brain. Thus any spiritual experiences obtained are due to poisoning and brain damage [see brain damage for more detail].
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