A couple of months ago, it was brought to our attention that there is a new trend going around: a legal party drug that somehow replicates those feels of the, well, illegal party drug we know as MDMA or Molly. After seeing other EDM news dabble in the newfound KATY substitute and grant it rave reviews (one of which doubled as sponsored content), I skeptically decided it was time to give it a try myself. For science…or something.
My KATY Experience
First, I’ll start where I began: Receiving the little package of capsules in the mail. After thoroughly reading the included pamphlet, I removed the clear blue tube (meant to keep KATY safe so when you’re out dancing, you won’t crush them) from the box. The pamphlet was concise and clear, but it was quite odd what it said. Unlike MDMA or many other supplements, you have to keep KATY refrigerated. (Ed. note: Some common supplements must be refrigerated after being unsealed.)
Personally, I took that as a red flag right away. What could possibly be in the ingredients in the capsule that needed to be refrigerated? Either way, I did as I was told and refrigerated them immediately. Being the rebellious 20-something that I am, I had already decided to proceed on this little adventure with KATY without a consequence in mind.
The second, and more troubling, red flag was that the directions actually encouraged users to drink alcoholic beverages with the supplement to “enhance” the experience. Point blank, when someone tells you to combine pills and liquor, they’re usually leading you wrong. Many drugs and supplements can amplify the depressive qualities of alcohol, and taking them in concert can cause serious damage to the liver. For the sake of our experiment, I downed a few drinks anyway, and off I went to go take KATY out on the town.
As it is with any mood-altering substance, you want to be doing something: Dancing, moving, being social, etc. Right before entering the club we decided to take 1 capsule each (Ed. note: A completely legal quantity). A weekend prior to my own experience, a good friend said she hadn’t felt it at all. I wasn’t expecting to feel it either but promised myself to go in with an open mind.
We were waiting in line, and the anticipation was killing me. I was waiting for something along the lines of a warm and fuzzy feeling in the pit of my stomach, or perhaps a heavy-but-light feeling in my feet. After a short 10 minute wait, we entered the club and let the sounds of the bass take us away (with another drink in hand, as instructed). We danced for nearly an hour without any noticeable effects.
I was starting to get weary, and my hope began to fade. I was getting a slight buzz, but not much more than that. We made sure not to mix other substances like marijuana with the supplement, to ensure what we were feeling was 100% KATY. After an hour and a half, there was a little warmth beginning to surface. I was expecting to start having visuals… but sadly, there were none. My friend said to wait just a little bit longer, but she wasn’t feeling anything at all for the second time trying it herself.
Two and a half hours had flown by at that point, and all I can say is that KATY reminded me of the pre-workout I use for the gym. Juiced, but not high. I left the club feeling disappointed with KATY. After reading all of the reviews and researching it myself, I struggle to understand how people compare this supplement to MDMA. At the very least, I hope to have gotten my vitamin intake for the week.
KATY could have very well been “the more you take, the more you’ll feel it”. But speaking personally, I don’t want to be ingesting a large quantity of unfamiliar somethings that seem to push the boundaries of what should be taken in excess, especially when combined with alcohol. While nootropics are generally considered safe, there are concerns that taking them in excess can be dangerous.
A Deeper Look at KATY
DMNW has been following and researching Limitless Life (formerly Limitless High), KATY, and the ingredients found in the supplement since June 2016. In that time we’ve seen the supplement alter its formula at least 3 times. Some of these changes have been welcome, removing possibly dangerous ingredients like 5-HTP. (Ed. note: 5-HTP should not be taken in concert with many prescription drugs, as it can cause Serotonin Syndrome) Others seem to be changes for no apparent reason beyond attempting to quell skepticism by constantly “updating” the formula to be better.
The main ingredient in KATY is a mindfulness and workout enhancement supplement called NooSpark. While Noospark does not contain any illicit or known dangerous substances, its safety as a compound has not been evaluated by the FDA or any other independent body. There is certainly no data supporting the claim that Noospark is safe to consume with alcohol.
We asked Dolan Ramsay, the founder of KATY, if and how they had arrived at the conclusion that his pills are safe to consume with alcohol. “This is correct and in fact it enhances the experience. We have tested this on ourselves and through different groups of customers along the way. We do not have any official research that people can look at to support this (emphasis ours) accept[sic] what can be found on Examine.com and Wikipedia for each individual ingredient.”
Readers, you should be wary of a supplement whose creators don’t understand the psychopharmacology of their creation. When asked about their medical qualifications, Ramsay said, “Other than our extensive personal experience and current RnD[sic] we do not have any medical certifications or qualifications. We do have a team of doctors on our board that we work with in developing our products but they are not officially part of the team.”
So, Can Anybody Just Sell Pills?
In a word, yes. In the United States, the Food and Drug Administration regulates consumables, but foods and OTC drugs are treated very differently. While pills categorized as pharmaceuticals are subject to rigorous testing standards, supplements are considered “food items” and are thereby subject to significantly less scrutiny. Because KATY is classified as a “proprietary formula,” legally it doesn’t even have to disclose how much of each ingredient is present in the compound.
To sell supplements, a company needs only to adhere to food-handling guidelines and not misrepresent the substances in their supplement. However, according to NSF “In most cases, the FDA does not test dietary supplements or authorize their use prior to their being marketed. The FDA can order the removal of a dietary supplement from the marketplace, however, if they feel it is unsafe for consumers.”
These facts alone do not mean you shouldn’t trust supplement merchants like Limitless Life. They mean you should be skeptical of companies telling you products are “safe” when those products have not been subjected to even cursory peer-reviewed research or regulatory verification. For instance, in 2009 The Wall Street Journal found the undisclosed presence of steroids in at least trace amounts in 25% of the 52 athletic supplement samples analyzed. Skepticism should always be practiced when putting something into your body.
Circling back to our night with KATY: The real kicker here is that for months, Limitless Life was representing this supplement as “legal MDMA” (that marketing has since been rolled back). In my case, I only took one capsule, but even that carried inherent unknowns. These capsules are every bit as legal as Vitamin C supplements or a pre-workout stack, but that’s despite the fact that much of the early marketing billed it as a safe and legal party drug. Factor the regulatory ambiguity in with a constantly-changing formula users have no way of knowing the exact specifics of, and you begin to see the risks of KATY—especially when paired with alcohol.
We do not condone trying KATY for yourself. Although it is totally legal, there is far too much we don’t yet know about its long-term effects or the psychopharmacology of nootropics. If you are going to use KATY, please, as always, proceed with caution and use your best judgement. From my own experience, I can’t recommend you try it—just that you should always be skeptical of what the back of a bottle says, no matter how “safe” and consequence-free it claims to be.
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