It’s a tale as old as time. Since records began, people have been dreaming up new ways to try to experience a different plane of consciousness. These days, some of the odder, more controversial – but doubtless enterprising – methods include “Robo-tripping” (downing cough syrup, traditionally Robitussin), Freon, nail polish remover… There are a baffling range of basically legal, but entirely foolish and dangerous ways to get a buzz for those who want the experience without doing anything illegal. Of course, many of these are just as – if not more – harmful to the brain and body.
But some methods are so ridiculous, so face-palm worthy, that it’s a wonder that they ever gained legitimate traction to begin with. While we’d hope that anyone over the age of 12 probably knows that these 10 methods of getting high have been debunked, it’s possible the following ten elucidations will do some naive readers a public service. Here are the 10 strangest ‘old wives tales’ around getting high that don’t work – so don’t bother even trying to suffer through these weird and cringeworthy acts.
10. Smoking Banana Peels
In 1966, hippie songwriter and flower-power enthusiast Donovan released the hit song “Mellow Yellow.” The song apparently alluded that smoking banana peels was the new way to achieve a hallucinogenic high. The line “Electrical banana, gonna be the very next craze,” was, in particular, the key phrase that turned heads. It was later revealed that Donovan was talking about a vibrator being the next big craze. I guess you could say he was right.
To further the legitimacy of the craze, a fictional psychoactive substance, Bananadine, was printed in William Powell’s wildly successful The Anarchist Cookbook in 1969, as a hoax recipe for the “extraction” of banana peels. The parody was designed to raise questions about the ethics of making psychoactive drugs illegal. Basically, “What if the common banana contained psychoactive properties? How would the government react?” Nonetheless, some people who didn’t quite get the subtleties of the joke took it to heart, and the banana peel-smoking craze took off – but it has been reliably debunked for quite some time.
9. Smoking Peanut Skins
The Anarchist Cookbook inspired many farces, many of which were ways to get high that did not work. Smoking peanut skins (not the shell, but the brown coating around the peanut), was another popular but ultimately false method of getting high. If anyone ever did feel buzzed from smoking peanut skins, the effect was merely a placebo.
8. Smoking Catnip
This ridiculous idea came from the logical deduction that catnip makes cat’s loopy, so why not humans? Well, because most of us aren’t cats. Nepeta cataria, as it is scientifically named, is a type of mint (one of its other names is actually catmint). By boiling catnip into a tea, some mildly sedative qualities can be found, but smoking it just makes you look not-so-smart. But, if you feel the urge, go on down to your local pet store, buy a bag of high-grade, organic catnip, and test out the theory yourself.
7. Drinking a Lot of Camellia Sinensis
Camellia Sinensis is the species of plant responsible for tea, most particularly green tea. It has been said that if you drink enough green tea, you will reach some sort of hallucinogenic apotheosis. This, unfortunately, is not true. Sure, green tea can have a calming, relaxing effect (you don’t even need to drink that much of it), but drinking it by the kettle-load won’t get you high. In fact, quite the opposite. If you drink enough green tea, you could face serious gastrointestinal distress and liver damage due to the high concentration of caffeine. At very least, you will surely find yourself with uncomfortable digestive issues all day long.
6. Eating Poppy Seeds
It is true that poppy seeds on a bagel are the same seeds that have fueled much of the world’s drug trade. The seeds contain the opium alkaloids morphine and codeine, giving your bagel that zing. It was even demonstrated on a Mythbusters episode that poppy-laden bagels can cause you to fail a drug test. So, if you have a drug test coming up, be careful about how many poppy seed bagels you eat before going into work!
Joking aside, you would probably die from poisoning before ingesting the number of poppy seeds needed before you’d feel any psychological effects – so it probably isn’t worth the effort.
5. Eating Nutmeg
There have been reports of people eating multiple teaspoons of nutmeg to achieve a hallucinogenic experience. While nutmeg is full of the organic compound myristicin, that doesn’t mean the spice will get you high.
Besides tasting seriously weird, eating that much nutmeg can cause flu-like symptoms, nausea, dizziness, paranoia, and a massive, soul-destroying hangover. Also, these terrible effects take five to six hours to kick in. That means you’d have to eat the stuff on your lunch break in the hopes of being high on your drive home from work. Doesn’t sound very pleasant.
4. Snorting Pixie Sticks
Leave this one to the adventurous adolescents who are trying to replicate the effects of cocaine. Snorting pixie sticks – which are essentially just sugar and color – is irritating to the nasal passages, and can cause headaches and nosebleeds. Just because it might look like the real thing, doesn’t mean it is. Therefore, try to avoid snorting any white, grainy substance, whether that’s salt, sugar, flour, glitter, Gold Bond foot powder… None of it will give you the desired effect.
3. Licking Toads
They are called Toad Lickers, and they are a real thing. These people go into the woods, find a stream, find a toad, lick it, and expect to get high. The problem is that toad’s skin coating is actually venom. This toxic ingredient, called bufotenine, can be burned off when smoked, leaving a hallucinogen once gone. So it’s actually safer to smoke toad venom than to lick the amphibians. The psychoactive experience associated with smoking toad venom is said to be very powerful, psychotic and intense, and it starts immediately upon smoking. It can induce unconsciousness for up to 30 minutes, and can lead to memory loss, so it is definitely not recommended.
As far as licking, one common toad known to possess the hallucinogen is the Colorado River Toad. The psychoactive ingredient, 5-MeO-DMT, would be destroyed in the stomach once ingested via licking, and the other toxins on the frog could cause the Toad Licker to become very sick, or even die.
The newest trend to hit the teen population is “Beezin”, which sees kids spread Burt’s Bees lip balm on their eyelids. The peppermint oil in the balm creates a tingling sensation, which users say adds to the experience of already being drunk or high. This doesn’t mean that Beezin makes the person high.
The burning sensation comes from the peppermint oil, which can cause irritation, pink eye-like symptoms, and swelling. Just because the lip balm is “All Natural,” does not mean it is safe to use outside of its tested, intended use (namely, lips).
1. Drinking Absinthe
When Absinthe was banned in the US for over 100 years, it had become associated with illicit behavior. Now, we know that absinthe is no more dangerous than other liquors. Absinthe is about 110 to 144 proof, making its alcohol content between 55 and 75 percent – that’s certainly very high, which is why absinthe is supposed to be diluted.
Absinthe contains wormwood (a plant), which contains thujone, a component which, in very high levels, can be toxic. It blocks GABA receptors from the brain, and can cause convulsions. The dosage is not nearly high enough to harm someone (and there’s no evidence it will cause hallucinations). In fact, by the end of distillation, there is very little thujone left in the product. Modern science estimates that a person drinking absinthe would die from alcohol poisoning long before he or she would experience hallucinations from the thujone.