Rejuvenation, Adrenalized Blood, and Adrenochrome: A Scientific Examination of the QAnon Exsanguination ClaimsRead Now
I discussed some aspects of the QAnon conspiracy in my past post. In this post I will look at the alleged science behind a few of its claims.
As I mentioned before, the central belief of QAnon is that president Trump is battling a worldwide cabal of Satan-worshipping pedophiles (which includes politicians, Hollywood celebrities, company CEOs, and billionaires) who torture children and drink their blood. But this torturing and blood drinking serves more than merely ritualistic purposes. It is claimed that the blood extracted from young people has the capacity to rejuvenate those that consume it. Furthermore, if the young people are terrorized before harvesting the blood, their adrenal glands will secrete adrenaline into the blood. It is alleged that this blood containing adrenaline (adrenalized blood) is exhilarating and addictive, and the person drinking it experiences a high like no other. It is also claimed that the most sought after form of adrenaline is a compound that is extracted from adrenalized blood called “adrenochrome” which when consumed causes extreme hallucinations and feelings of empowerment and euphoria. Adrenochrome purified from the blood of tortured children by the blood harvesters of this satanic cabal is purportedly also sold in the dark market at high prices.
So what does science have to say about these claims? Let’s first look at adrenaline.
Adrenaline (also known as epinephrine) is a stress hormone which prepares the body for the fight or flight response. It increases blood pressure and heart rate, expands the diameter of airway passages and the pupil, directs blood to the muscles, and increases blood glucose concentration. Adrenaline is the active ingredient in “Epipens” which are used as an emergency treatment of severe allergic (anaphylactic) reactions. The effect of adrenaline on the brain is to increase alertness (like an extreme coffee buzz), but adrenaline is not favored as a recreational drug as its effects are short-lived and a far cry from those of other drugs. Adrenaline is not even classified as a controlled substance by the US government, although its administration has side effects that can be dangerous to some people. The argument that adrenaline is addictive comes from the behavior of people whom we call “adrenaline junkies” who engage in thrill-seeking activities. But the inference that injected adrenaline would have the same effect is unwarranted. A person injecting adrenaline in a calm environment lacks the context of a person sky diving or white water rafting. Not only are there many other things going on in the body of a person practicing an extreme sport that are not going on in the body of a person at rest injecting themselves with adrenaline, but the person using the injection, unlike the thrill seeker, is not acting on the effect of adrenaline, which is part of the adrenaline high for the thrill seeker.
As to the exsanguination claims, one of the problems behind the QAnon belief that these people drink the adrenalized blood of children to get high is that scientists have already tried to deliver adrenaline by oral route and found that it is ineffective. This is because adrenaline is degraded by the enzymes of the gastrointestinal tract. If these people were really interested in deriving an effect from adrenaline, then they should be injecting themselves with the blood instead. But adrenaline can be easily synthetized in a laboratory, and chemical companies sell adrenaline at prices around $156 for 10 grams of the compound. Adrenaline synthetized in a lab is just as effective as adrenaline obtained from a natural source such as blood or the adrenal gland. The effectiveness of a compound depends on its purity and formula not on its source. Wealthy people interested in doing adrenaline should have no problem in buying it or having it made. The cost, logistics, and risk of kidnapping thousands of children, torturing and exsanguinating them, and then disposing of the bodies while keeping it all secret just to get high on adrenaline doesn’t make any sense.
What about adrenochrome?
Adrenochrome is a degradation product of adrenaline that is used commercially to promote coagulation and prevent blood loss. High levels of adrenochrome were once proposed to be the causative agent behind schizophrenia, but that theory was not validated. Adrenochrome does not produce the type of hallucinations that other drugs such as LDS or mescaline produce, and it is not used as a recreational drug or even classified as a controlled substance. The false notion that adrenochrome has potent psychedelic effects was created by the writer Hunter Thompson in his 1971 novel Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas which was made into a movie starring Johnny Depp in 1998. As with adrenaline, there is no need to torture, terrorize, and exsanguinate anyone to obtain adrenochrome. It is made by chemical labs and sold at prices of $357 for 250 milligrams.
Finally, does drinking the blood of young people have rejuvenating effects?
Again, drinking blood is useless, but results from animal experiments where young blood is injected point to an effect. This was first observed when the circulatory systems of older rats were linked to those of younger rats (a procedure called heterochromic parabiosis). Sharing a circulatory system with a younger rat did not make the older rat younger, but it did have a rejuvenating effect and increased lifespan. Also blood plasma from young mice can reverse age-related impairments in cognitive decline in old mice. There are ongoing investigations to evaluate if blood from young people could help patients with diseases such as Alzheimer’s although so far it hasn’t worked in small clinical trials. In any case, even if it works, the long-term goal is to isolate those factors in young blood responsible for the effect and use a cocktail of these factors instead of the actual blood. Nevertheless, while the benefits of young blood in humans remain unproven, there is concern that old rich people could try to inject themselves with the blood of young people to increase longevity. However, no kidnapping, torturing, or murder is necessary. You just have to pay the donor, and the process is no different from donating blood for other uses. This also allows the donor to keep coming back to donate more blood and earn more money.
The use of children for the above process would clearly be a different issue, and QAnon believers claim that hundreds of thousands of children dissapear every year (implying that they are used for the purposes of the conspiracy). However, 99% of missing children make it back home. Although some children are indeed kidnapped and abused by perverted people that act alone or as part of pedophile rings, the purpose of these heinous acts is sexual abuse or trafficking for profit. There is simply no evidence for the existence in the US of the massive exsanguination operation that would be required to service the thousands of people that QAnon claim are involved in the conspiracy.
The exsanguination claims of QAnon believers are a mix of some science with fantasy, ignorance, exaggeration, misinformation, and outright lies. It’s a myth, but one that has gained acceptance by millions of people.
Photograph from flickr by RyAwesome is used here under an Attribution-NoDerivs 2.0 Generic (CC BY-ND 2.0) license.