Cerebrovascular effects

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Cerebrovascular effects are defined as any uncomfortable physical effect which relates to the brain and its blood vessels.

This page lists and describes the various cardiovascular effects which can occur under the influence of certain psychoactive compounds.

Brain zaps

Main article: Brain zaps

Brain zaps can be described as sharp electrical shock sensations which originate within the head or brain and sometimes extend throughout the body.[1] For many people, it feels as though their brain has experienced a sudden series of brief vibrations or jolts of electricity that can cause intense discomfort, disorientation, and distress.[2]

Brain zaps are most commonly induced under the influence of withdrawal, dose reduction, and discontinuation of antidepressant drugs, including selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) or serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs) such as sertraline, paroxetine, and venlafaxine. Tramadol, an opioid painkiller with SNRI properties, has also been reported to cause brain zaps upon abrupt discontinuation.[3][4] If caused by antidepressant withdrawal, it is strongly recommended that one taper or reduce their dose gradually instead of stopping abruptly. This effect has been reported by anecdotal sources to occur in the days after a heavy dosage of MDMA.[5]

Remedies to lessen the intensity or frequency of induced brain zaps include hydration (drinking enough water), supplementing for possible nutrient, vitamin or mineral deficiencies, getting adequate amounts of sleep, rest and stress relief.[citation needed]

Additionally, several compounds and nutrients have been reported to possibly provide temporary relief from this affliction, although scientific literature supporting this claim is sparse.[citation needed] The list includes:


Main article: Dizziness

Dizziness can be described as the perception of a spinning or swaying motion which typically causes a difficulty in standing or walking. It is commonly associated with a loss of balance and feelings of lightheadedness.

Within the medical literature, this effect is considered to be capable of manifesting itself across the 3 variations described below:

  1. Objective - The first is known as objective and refers to when the person has the sensation that objects in the environment are moving.
  2. Subjective - The second is known as subjective and refers to when the person feels as if they are moving.
  3. Psuedovertigo - The third is known as pseudovertigo and refers to an intensive sensation of rotation inside the person's head.

Dizziness is often accompanied by other coinciding effects such as nausea and motor control loss. It is most commonly induced under the influence of heavy dosages of GABAergic depressant compounds, such as benzodiazepines, alcohol, and GHB. However, it can also occur to a lesser extent under the influence of heavy dosages of psychedelics, dissociatives, and cannabinoids.


Main article: Headaches

A headache can be described as a pain anywhere in the region of the head or neck. It can be a symptom of a number of different conditions. This occurs in migraines (sharp, or throbbing pains), tension-type headaches, and cluster headaches.[6]

It is worth noting that due to its lacks of pain receptors, headaches are not caused by pain within the brain tissue itself, instead, headaches are caused by disturbances of the pain-sensitive structures around the brain.

Headaches are most commonly induced under the influence of heavy dosages of stimulating compounds, such as traditional stimulants, certain psychedelics, and certain dissociatives. This holds particularly true during the offset of the experience and if the person is dehydrated or has not eaten enough food.

Increased bodily temperature

Increased bodily temperature or pyrexia can be described as having a body temperature which is above normal baseline.[7] While there is no universally agreed upon value at which pyrexia occurs, its diagnoses ranges between 37.5 - 38.3°C (99.5 - 100.9°F).[8] For comparison, the average temperature of a healthy person is around 37°C (98.6°F). It is worth noting that a bodily temperature which exceeds 41.5°C (106.7°F) is an emergency which requires immediate medical attention and can potentially result in physical injury, long-term side effects, and death.[9]

This effect is capable of manifesting itself in the two different forms which are described below:

  • Fever is used to describe the body raising its core temperature due to illness. For example, a fever may be caused by a bacterial infection.
  • Hyperthermia is classified as an uncontrollable increase in body temperature that typically originates from an external source. This most frequently involves heat strokes or the use of certain drugs.

Increased bodily temperature is often accompanied by other coinciding effects such as increased perspiration, dehydration, headaches, and serotonin syndrome. It is most commonly induced under the influence of heavy dosages of stimulant compounds which affect serotonin and 5-HT receptors[10], dopamine and D receptors[11] and norepinephrine[12]. These substances include amphetamine, methylphenidate, MDMA, and cocaine. However, it can also occur under the influence of certain stimulating psychedelics such as AMT, 2C-P, and DOC.


Main article: Seizure
Generalized 3 Hz spike and wave discharges in EEG during a seizure

An epileptic seizure (colloquially a fit) can be described as a brief episode of signs and/or symptoms which are due to abnormal, excessive, or synchronous neuronal activity in the brain.[13] The outward effect can vary from uncontrolled jerking movement (tonic-clonic seizure) to as subtle as a momentary loss of awareness (absence seizure).

The following list contains a more comprehensive set of symptoms:

  • Losing consciousness and then exhibiting confusion afterwards.
  • Having uncontrollable muscle spasms which often result in falling.
  • Drooling or frothing at the mouth.
  • Jaw clenching and tongue biting.
  • Having sudden, rapid eye movements.
  • Making unusual noises, such as grunting.
  • Losing control of bladder or bowel function.

The disease of the brain characterized by an enduring predisposition to generate epileptic seizures is known as epilepsy,[14][15] but seizures can also occur in people who do not have epilepsy. Depending on the cause, epilepsy is generally treated with anticonvulsant drugs such as diazepam and pregabalin.

Seizures are most commonly induced under the influence of withdrawals from prolonged chronic benzodiazepine or alcohol usage. However they can also occur under the influence of moderate dosages of stimulants, certain opioids, synthetic cannabinoids, and the 25x-NBOMe series of psychedelics.

See also


  1. Fireworks or brain zaps? | Psychology Today | https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/creativity-way-life/201107/fireworks-or-brain-zaps
  2. Why You Get 'Brain Zaps' After Taking MDMA, and How You Can Stop Them (Vice) http://www.vice.com/en_uk/read/brain-zaps-sleep-paralysis-mdma-ecstasy?utm_source=vicefbuk
  3. "SSRIs and SNRIs: A review of the Discontinuation Syndrome in Children and Adolescents." (2011) by Hosenbocus S, MD FRCP(C) and Chahal R, MSW. | https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3024727/
  4. "Fireworks or Brain Zaps? Antidepressants and brain zapping." (2011) By Jean Pollack, Ph.D. | https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/creativity-way-life/201107/fireworks-or-brain-zaps
  5. Why You Get 'Brain Zaps' After Taking MDMA, and How You Can Stop Them (Vice) | https://www.vice.com/sv/article/bnkv45/brain-zaps-sleep-paralysis-mdma-ecstasy
  6. Head ache disorders (World health organization) | http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs277/en/
  7. Fever (Wikipedia) | https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fever
  8. Hyperthermia (Wikipedia) | https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hyperthermia
  9. Hyperpyrexia | https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fever#Hyperpyrexia
  10. Serotonin and thermoregulation | https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/6793718
  11. Dopamine and thermoregulation | https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/3001601
  12. Thermoregulation and Norepinephrine | http://science.sciencemag.org/content/165/3897/1030
  13. Epileptic seizures and epilepsy: definitions proposed by the International League Against Epilepsy (ILAE) and the International Bureau for Epilepsy (IBE) (PubMed.gov / NCBI) | http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15816939
  14. Epileptic seizures and epilepsy: definitions proposed by the International League Against Epilepsy (ILAE) and the International Bureau for Epilepsy (IBE) (PubMed.gov / NCBI) | http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15816939
  15. ILAE official report: a practical clinical definition of epilepsy (PubMed.gov / NCBI) | http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24730690