Benzylpiperazine (Molecule of the Month for December 2005)
BZP, piperazines, p.e.p pills
Benzylpiperazine (BZP) is a recreational drug with euphoric, stimulant effects. Though banned in many countries, it is legal in some others for example New Zealand. The effects of BZP are reportedly similar to, although somewhat more subtle than, the effects of ecstasy and methamphetamine. Users report arousal, euphoria and a general feeling of well being. However, there appear to be significant side effects associated with BZP use. BZP reportedly produces a severe hangover after the drug effect wears off. Other side effects include dilated pupils, dryness of the mouth, and problems with urine retention.
BZP was originally used as a worming treatment for internal parasites in cattle - many piperazines have anti-parasitic effects; they paralyse the parasites and allow them to be flushed out of the host body. However, it turned out that BZP was fairly ineffective and had significant side effects.
BZP has been shown to have a mixed mechanism of action, acting primarily on the serotonergic system. This means that there is an increased level of serotonin to act on surrounding serotonin receptors.
BZP is often marketed ostensibly as a "dietary supplement" to avoid meeting stricter laws that apply to medicines and drugs. This is despite the fact that BZP has no dietary value. Producers frequently claim that BZP is a "natural" product, describing it as a "pepper extract" or "herbal high". In fact, the drug is entirely synthetic, not occurring naturally in any plant.
Formal Chemical Name (IUPAC)
Update by Karl Harrison
(Molecule of the Month for December 2005 )