Research to feature on Channel 4

Embarrassing bodies shot

Academics from the University of Lincoln’s School of Life Sciences will be revealing their cutting-edge ‘legal highs’ research in the next series of Channel 4’s Embarrassing Bodies.

Dr Mark Baron, Leonie Elie and Mathieu Elie devised a testing method for quick and conclusive analysis of the chemicals used to manufacture ‘legal highs’.

Embarrassing Bodies presenter Dr Dawn Harper visited the University’s science labs and spoke to Dr Baron to learn more about what chemicals could make up some of the many substances that can be obtained legally and claim to provide similar effects to illegal drugs.

A broadcast date has yet to be confirmed.

Lincoln scientist’s ‘legal highs’ research features on The Conversation

Research into the analysis of legal highs by experts from the University of Lincoln’s School of Life Sciences is featured on The Conversation, in an article written by Senior Technician, Leonie Elie.

The Conversation is an independent online source of news and views from the academic community, which aims to unlock expert knowledge and deliver it directly to the public.
Following the pioneering research from the research team at the University of Lincoln, Leonie and Dr Mark Baron were invited by the website to provide an expert contribution on the task of analysing the contents of legal highs.
One of the testing methods devised by Lincoln’s researchers to identify substances in legal highs is now being used in drug analysis laboratories across the world.
To read the article in full, visit:

Legal highs – what it says on the tin?

Recently, there has been an explosion of novel psychoactive substances (NPS) for sale on the internet. Many are banned in the UK but new substances designed to evade existing legislation, so-called ‘legal highs’, are appearing all the time and are easily obtainable.

Legal highs

While labelled as ‘not for human consumption’ and sold as plant food, bath salts or research chemicals, they target the recreational drug use market. NPS are designed to produce effects similar to recreational drugs, and unsurprisingly, there are often reports of serious medical incidents associated with their use.


Dr Mark Baron, Principal Lecturer in the School of Life Sciences, has developed new methods for the analysis of NPS, including fast gas chromatography-mass spectrometry screening and rapid chemical tests based on the formation of distinctive microcrystals. Using these methods, Dr Baron discovered that a number of NPS purchased from the internet do not contain the legal substance advertised and often contain illegal substances.

This research has the potential to pave the way for further legislation to regulate potentially harmful stimulants, prevent the supply of banned substances and decrease the number of harmful medical incidents resulting from the use of NPS.