The word "soma" has four distinct meanings:
- The plant, or the intoxicating juice of the plant, used in ancient Indian religious ceremonies. Inevitably, given the Indian tradition, the plant and its juice were personified as a god, Soma.
- The imaginary "ideal pleasure drug" in Aldous Huxley's novel Brave New World (1932). Its chemistry and pharmacology are undefined. As described, the drug resembles a hangoverless tranquilliser or an opiate.
- "Soma" is the most common brand name of the muscle-relaxant carisoprodol, otherwise known as N-isopropyl-2-methyl-2-propyl-1,3-propanediol dicarbamate. Soma is marketed by Royce Laboratories, Inc; it was FDA-licensed in 1996. Soma/carisoprodol is broken down in the body into the active metabolite meprobamate. Meprobamate is a Schedule IV sedative-hypnotic, an anticonvulsant and anxiolytic muscle relaxant. It was first marketed in the USA from 1955 under the brand name Miltown as an anti-anxiety agent. The "miracle drug" of its era, Miltown was (it is sometimes claimed) immortalised by the Rolling Stones as "Mother's Little Helper", though diazepam (Valium) is also credited.
- the body of an animal or plant excluding the germ cells.
The Historical Soma
Aldous Huxley on Heroin
Soma in Brave New World
Aldous Huxley Photogallery
Shiny Happy People by REM
Soma: alternative candidates
Who's Who in Brave New World
Brave New World by Aldous Huxley
Critique of Huxley's Brave New World