Southampton has become the first place in the UK where officials acknowledge that an Eastern European feminine hygiene product is being abused by people in order to experience a ‘legal high’ from its benzydamine hydrochloride ingredient.
On January 4, 2012, BBC Radio Solent’s newsman Tristan Pascoe reported an exclusive news item about how investigations relating to vandalism in Southampton’s “Old Cemetery” last autumn indicate that the desecrations are probably linked to the first reported case of abuse within the UK of benzydamine hydrochloride by the ingestion of what the BBC referred to as a “feminine hygiene product”.
Pascoe went on to explain how a group of youths had been seen congregating in Southampton’s old cemetery around the time of the vandalism. Shortly after, a cemetery conservation group found empty wrappings from packets of that particular feminine hygiene product in the same area.
The feminine hygiene product coyly referred to above goes by the name of Tantum Rosa. This product is mainly available in Eastern Europe and is sold in the form of a sachet of powder which is re-hydrated and then used as a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory douche based preparation which acts as a cleanser to the vaginal area and is particularly effective after childbirth and gynaecological surgery. During his investigations, Pascoe found the product was available over the counter at a small number of Polish produce shops in Southampton.
However, when re-hydrated and ingested orally rather than applied topically, the benzydamine hydrochloride within Tantum Rosa creates a four-phase chemical “high” according to Internet drug forum Bluelight. The first phase is described as relaxation with a little confusion. The second phase includes visual disturbances. Phase three involves full-on hallucinations, both auditory and visual. The final phase, it seems, comprises the classic drug-induced come-down with symptoms of depression and tiredness yet, contrarily, an inability to actually sleep.
The novel use of this particular gynaecological preparation was first described by medics in Gdansk, Poland in a letter to the editor of Clinical Toxicology of January 2007 (subscription required) and involved:
… a 22 year-old man with a history of cannabinoid and alcohol use who was admitted to the clinic after ingesting 500 mg of benzydamine hydrochloride (Tantum Rosa, a sachet for vaginal douche, 500mg). About two hours before admission he drank one sachet of Tantum Rosa (500 mg of benzydamine for vaginal application) dissolved in about 250 ml of water.
Since then, it seems, the use of this over-the-counter drug for recreational purposes has grown internationally and has now found its way to Southampton resulting in the first official report of criminal behaviour associated with someone under the influence of benzydamine hydrochloride provided by a small set of Eastern European shopkeepers stocking a preparatory vaginal douche.