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Gamma-hydroxybutyrate (4-Hydroxybutanoic acid, C4H8O3) is a drug, based on a naturally occurring component of mammalian metabolism. It is used most commonly in the form of a chemical salt (Na-GHB or K-GHB). It temporarily inhibits dopamine release and stimulates pituitary growth hormone (GH) release.

Structural formula of gamma-hydroxybutyrate
It has been used as a general anesthetic, as a hypnotic in the treatment of insomnia, but also in the treatment of narcolepsy, by body-builders for its boost to GH release, in the treatment for alcoholism, to aid child-birth, or recreationally as an intoxicant (as GHB, G, Liquid X, Liquid E, GBH, Gamma-oh, Blue Verve).

GHB was first synthesized in the early 1960s by Dr. H. Laborit to use in studying the GABA neurotransmitter. It quickly found a wide range of uses due to its minimal side effects and controlled action, the only difficulty being the narrow safe dosage range.

Its use recreationally and as a date rape drug in the 1990s led to it being placed in the US on Schedule I of the Controlled Substances Act in March 2000. In the UK it was made a class C drug in June 2003.

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