Friday, December 12, 2008



When I recently discovered that quite a few girls and young women were spiking their water, juice or coffee with Visine because of its laxative effect, to say that I was stunned is an understatement.

A great misconception is that laxatives cause weight loss, and many children, teens and adults consume vast amounts of laxatives in an effort to lose weight. What they don't realize is that laxatives do not cause weight loss. Why? Take a moment to read this excellent article on the ANRED website: Laxatives and enemas: not the way to go.

So, what on earth gave these girls the idea to use Visine as a laxative? Visine is for "getting the red out." But to use it as a laxative???

Well, it wasn't too long before I found what I believe is the answer. The movie, Wedding Crashers, featured a prank where some drops of Visine were put in a guy's drink and he ended up with raging diarrhea.

What the movie failed to address were the serious consequences when one ingests a few too many drops of Visine.

Here's what can happen:


Difficulty breathing
No breathing

Eyes and skin:

Blurred vision
Blue lips and fingernails
Change in pupil size


High blood pressure (at first)
Low blood pressure (later)
Rapid heartbeat

Stomach and intestines:


Nervous system:



Low body temperature

The above are symptoms of poisoning as a result of ingesting Visine, which contains tetrahydrozoline.

And it's not just Visine which contains tetrahydrozoline. Nasal sprays and other over-the-counter eye drops like Tyzine, Eyesine, Murine Tears Plus, Optigene 3, Geneye, Visine Original and Advanced Relief) also contain tetrahydrozoline.

A case report from the The National Institute of Health:

"Pediatric Visine (tetrahydrozoline) ingestion: case report and review of imidazoline toxicity.

Daggy A, Kaplan R, Roberge R, Akhtar J.

Emergency Medicine Residency Program of the University of Pittsburgh, USA.

Visine, an over-the-counter, tetrahydrozoline topical ophthalmic decongestant, possesses central and peripheral alpha2-adrenergic properties. We present a case of accidental pediatric oral exposure with resultant neurological and cardiovascular complications..."*

(*Note: tetrahydrozoline is a derivative of imidazoline)

Many incidents of tetrahydrozoline poisoning have been reported in the news. Here are just a few:

From the Mail Tribune:

"Visine-laced drinks lead to charges

Former Manor workers had a grudge, cops say
By Chris Conrad
Mail Tribune
May 26, 2007 6:00 AM

A feud between coworkers at the Rogue Valley Manor earlier this month boiled over when two employees poisoned two others by allegedly spiking their strawberry soda with Visine, which could have had serious consequences, authorities said.

Shani Rachelle Davis, 36, who was an office supervisor at the Manor, and employee Christina Laura Bongcayao, 27, were each arraigned Friday in Jackson County Circuit Court on two counts of second-degree assault.

The poisoning capped a long period of bad blood between the suspects and Irene Seaver, 47, and Corrin Parker, 47, both of Medford, according to police.

"It's been pretty rough in our office for some time," Seaver said.

Seaver claims that she had witnessed various infractions by Davis and Bongcayao, sparking the vendetta.

On May 3, Davis and Bongcayao brought strawberry soda to work for their fellow coworkers. Both Seaver and Parker drank the soda, not knowing that it had been laced with Visine eye drop solution.

A popular urban legend says that Visine causes diarrhea when ingested, as seen on the film "The Wedding Crashers."

The actual symptoms of Visine poisoning can be much more serious as the active ingredient Tetrahydrozoline can cause breathing difficulties, severe headache, seizures and possibly coma, according to the University of Maryland Medical Center's Web site.

After drinking the tainted soda, both women became lethargic and could hardly stay awake, Seaver said.

"I was going through periods when I literally couldn't function," she said. "It felt like my bones were made of rubber."

They next day they were able to narrow down the source of the malady.

"The only thing we shared all day was the strawberry soda given to us by (Davis and Bongcayao)," Seaver said.

Both Davis and Bongcayao were fired from the Manor and Medford police detectives became involved. They found two empty bottles of Visine that had come from the Manor's pharmacy, Seaver said.

Bongcayao remained lodged in the Jackson County Jail late Friday on $25,000 bail. Davis was cited and released."

From the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel:

Photo Credit: Jack Orton

Whitnall High School students Timothy Hertell (from left), Anton Lak, Andrew Michaels, Andrew Ryback (black shirt) and Scott Miller (far right) leave a Milwaukee County courtroom after being given probation and, in Ryback's case, house arrest. They pleaded guilty to putting Visine in a classmate's drink, sending him to a hospital.

"Visine prank leads to day in court
5 plead no contest to imperiling classmate
By Derrick Nunnally of the Journal Sentinel

Posted: Nov. 15, 2006

In the film "Wedding Crashers," a scatological prank involving a few drops of Visine in an unwitting man's drink is played for comedic effect, but five Whitnall High School students nearly killed a classmate by imitating it at school in June.

On Tuesday, they found themselves apologizing to a judge and pleading - successfully - for leniency, including the opportunities to avoid jail time and have their misdemeanor convictions expunged.

"Basically, it was a prank that went wrong, and nobody intended for any real harm to come to anybody," said Andrew Ryback, 17, who had brought the Visine to school June 2to help with his allergies.

That day, he and friends had recalled how the "Wedding Crashers" Visine gag led to sudden digestive distress and decided to see if it would play out like that in real life.

Ryback said he surreptitiously poured "like a quarter of the bottle" of eyedrops into the classmate's water while the other four friends at the same lunch table observed. He was singled out by Milwaukee County Circuit Judge Charles F. Kahn Jr. to serve 25 days on house arrest and two years on probation.

The other four students involved - Timothy E. Hertel, 17; Anton J. Lak, 18; Andrew J. Michaels, 18; and Scott T. Miller, 17 - each got 18 months on probation and 60 hours of community service. All five had pleaded no contest to misdemeanor counts of battery and disorderly conduct after initially being charged with felony counts of placing foreign objects in edibles, and each faces up to a year in the county House of Correction if he violates conditions of the probation.

"We all intended a little stupid joke, but we never intended to send him to the hospital," said Michaels, who noted that he is supposed to set a better example as the only senior on Whitnall's basketball team.

According to the criminal complaint filed in the case, they were contemplating possible victims when one classmate sitting nearby had gotten up to go get a cookie, leaving his bottle of Propel Fitness Water untended. It was passed across the table to Ryback. The other boy then got back and was goaded into a chugging contest.

Two classes later, he was woozy and headed for the school's health room when someone tipped him off that Visine had been planted in his drink. He was sent to Children's Hospital of Wisconsin, where it would take several days and intensive-care treatment for him to recover from poisoning reactions that included dangerously low heart rate and blood pressure.

A doctor said the student could have died if he hadn't gotten medical treatment, and his mother told a prosecutor that the boy had required a defibrillator while at the hospital. He didn't attend Tuesday's hearing.

Assistant District Attorney Megan Carmody told Kahn the boy suffered no residual effects and didn't hold a grudge against the five who had a hand in poisoning him.

None of the five students charged in the case had a prior criminal record, and their attorneys told Kahn their records of community service and solid classwork, as well as their college plans, meant expunction of their convictions would help their life prospects dramatically. Each had also already served a three-day suspension from school.

"This is a prank that just, obviously, went much awry," said D. Michael Guerin, attorney for Miller.

Kahn agreed and said each would be eligible to wipe his record clean if probation is completed successfully."

From gothamist:


Kristine Anzalone

December 6, 2007

Roommate's Revenge Plan: Visine Poisoning, Dog Fight

We always thought that Visine poisoning was an urban legend, but a crazy story from Long Island seems to suggest otherwise. Twenty-four year-old Kristine Anzalone has pleaded not guilty to second-degree assault and third-degree criminal mischief after being arrested for allegedly spiking her roommate's drink with Visine and then agitating his dogs to get into a fight.

According to Newsday, Anzalone and her husband Christopher lived with a male roommate in a North Bellmore home for a few months. But the three squabbled over rent as well as the roommate's smoking while Anzalone was pregnant. Last June, she allegedly gave the roommate an iced tea with "unknown amount of Visine," which does contain the chemical tetrahydrozoline. The roommate suffered intestinal distress, including vomiting and rectal bleeding, plus had trouble breathing and was admitted to the hospital.

Then, a few months later, after returning from a business trip, the roommate found his Chihuahua had been killed by his pit bull. A witness told him Anzalone used a cane to provoke the pit bull into attacking the smaller dog.

And then the roommate took the couple, now living in East Rockaway, to small claims court when Christopher Anzalone took his big screen TV. The Nassau police say that assault charges took time because of "reluctant witnesses" (the roommate found out about the Visine poisoning from friends). Anzalone's lawyer said, "The facts will show that she had nothing to do with this."


If you have deliberately (or accidentally) swallowed Visine or any other eye-drop or nasal product containing tetrahydrozoline, please do the following:

From NIH:

"In the US, please call The National Poison Control Center (1-800-222-1222), which can be called from anywhere in the United States. This national hotline number will let you talk to experts in poisoning. They will give you further instructions.

This is a free and confidential service. All local poison control centers in the United States use this national number. You should call if you have any questions about poisoning or poison prevention. It does NOT need to be an emergency. You can call for any reason, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week."

[Note: For those living outside the United States, please call your local Poison Control Centre immediately]

What to Expect at the Emergency Room

The health care provider will measure and monitor the patient's vital signs, including temperature, pulse, breathing rate, and blood pressure. Symptoms will be treated as appropriate. The patient may receive:

Activated charcoal
Breathing assistance (artificial respiration) if necessary
Methods to cause vomiting
Tube thru the nose into the stomach to empty the stomach (gastric lavage)

Outlook (Prognosis)

Survival past 24 hours is usually a good sign that recovery will follow."


Follow on Buzz


hollyann44 said...

Medusa, thank you so much for posting these stories regarding the dangers of ingesting eye drops as laxatives. I have an acquaintance, whom I am trying to help via FB, who is addicted to laxatives. She is a beautiful 19-year-old college student who ingests boxes of Ex-Lax every day. I am beside myself with worry and fear for this girl's life. I have sent her several links to and from your site, including link to the ANRED article on the myths behind laxatives & weight loss. I hope and pray that she can overcome this addiction to laxative abuse. Thank you for educating so many of the dangers of laxative abuse!

Medusa said...

Oh, Holly, I'm so sorry to hear about your friend. I hope she takes heed to the warnings as her laxative abuse will result in serious medical consequences for her.

Using laxatives to lose weight does not work.



Brandee said...

wow. I thought I heard it all and done it all but never visine. Yikes. I did the ipecac and was a laxative abuser for years. I would take up to 100 a night and drop up to 12 pounds overnight through diarrhea and vomiting from too many chemicals in the laxatives. I would always end up in urgent care with I,V severe chest pains, abdominal cramping, muscle spasms, and passing out. The weight would come right back on as laxatives drain fluids. The food is digested already so all laxatives do is drain fluids which cause severe dehydration and often death. Then when you wean yourself through recovery etc you can't go to the bathroom for weeks. I took a box right before my two month trip to Remuda Ranch and didn't crap near 3 weeks I think and needed gradual natural stuff they gave to even get my system going. The sweats and cramping and passing out on the bathroom floor where friends would find me was incredibly embarrassing but took a while to stop me. The laxatives and diuretics did nothing but cause harm and fluid draining. A waste of money to buy not to menton countless ambulance and urgent care bills as I was without insurance during a lot of that time.
I actually went 7 years without them through 2 pregnancies until I relapsed this year and was so afraid to take the amount I had before so I justified it by up to 10 a day. They didn't work like they had before. I would go then battled constipation, cramping and nausea. While at Reasons Ed I didn't go for 2 weeks and that's without even taking near what I had before. I still don't have normal bowels etc and haven't for years. haven't used them since May and don't keep them in my apartment nor do I take any other pills.
and ipecac was way scary. I would drink the whole bottle and my heart felt like it would jump out of my chest. I had major heart arrythmias as well as passing out, leg cramps, and tingling. I haven't used Ipecac in 7 years.
Thanks Medusa!

Anonymous said...

jesus christ, so many references to a damn movie, the eyedrops in a drink trick is far older than a movie and its high time people stop looking to the media for justification for their actions, ask ANYONE who works in food service industry/bar service and they know of this trick for years

Anonymous said...

it was horrible. my girlfriend was cheating on me and she new i would find out. last spring before she moved out, i had severe headaches, internal bleeding, blurred vision, hives...basically i was bed ridden. in the mornings she was really nice and would make me a smoothie to start the day..unfortunately spiked with visine. two days after she moved out i went to the hospital and they said i had elevated levels of tetrohylozine in my system...enough to kill someone. i have thought about contacting the authorities but i really need to move on in my life.

Anonymous said...

I was living with my fiance for eight months. Three months before she left I was having breathing problems I thought it was the mold in the air conditioning unit. The condenser unit is in the bathroom so I totally cleaned it sealed it. It was not the mold. Two weeks before she left I could not breathe I could hardly sleep afraid I was going to stop breathing. She left on a Monday . I barely made it to work each day I had to walk that Friday I had to take a taxi. Since she has been gone I have no more symptoms when she was here it would take me 20 minutes to walk to work had to stop I couldn't breathe now she's been gone for about a month now it's an 8 minute walk the last person she dated she was living with him just after Christmas he had a stroke he was on a respirator around January 9th they took him off the respirator . The week before January 9th 2017 his one my symptoms got really bad two weeks in bed I was afraid to sleep hi drink 6 bottles of MD everyday just to get some rest. I honestly think she was poisoning me