q + a




newq + atestingarticlesbooksexperienceslinks

Nut allergies and ecstasy. Is there a risk?

I have noticed that one of the main base components in the manufacture of Ecstasy is nut oil. Nut oil produces an allergic reaction in some 1/10000 people. With this in the back of my mind, and also media sound-bites of 'allergic reactions' of users to MDMA/MDEA etc. I wonder if there could be a link between the handful of 'E' deaths every year, and nut allergies.

Reply from an expert

The key starting material obtainable from essential oils is safrole. While this component is present in oil of nutmeg (*not* "nut oil"), there is only about 6% present. A much better source of safrole is oil of sassafras, where it is present at about 80%. Safrole is usually converted to isosafrole for MDMA synthesis. MDMA and MDEA are very different both chemically and in terms of their physiological effects from safrole and it would be a stretch to link allergies to oil of nutmeg with allergies to MDMA/MDEA, but I know of no studies which have looked at this.

That said, people can have severe allergic reactions to nuts, e.g. peanuts, and indeed to peanut oil. Potentially, these persons may be allergic to other nut oils (e.g. oil of nutmeg). It is not clear that if one is allergic to a particular nut oil, that person would also be allergic to other nut oils as well. If a person *is* allergic to oil of nutmeg, then that person could potentially be reacting to the safrole present in nutmeg and could, in turn, be sensitive to MDMA or MDEA.


Nicholas V. Cozzi, Ph.D.
Department of Pharmacology
University of Wisconsin Medical School
1300 University Avenue
Madison, WI 53706