As it turns out, there is a psychedelic plant - and food - world beyond jimson weed, THC, and other iconically trippy vegetation. Evidence suggests that many hallucinogenic foods may already be waiting for you in your local grocery aisle, or even in that seemingly harmless, run-of-the-mill ham and rye sandwich. In other words, foods with psychedelic side effects - or that can at least get you high, period - might just be as easily accessible as alcohol, if not more so, according to recent reports. (Which doesn't necessarily mean that indulging in them is an idea that's guaranteed to catapult you down an ecstatically surreal rabbit hole, of course: it may turn out to be a serpent's hole instead)
Read on to find out why the family of foods that can make you hallucinate is far more expansive, and connected, than you likely ever imagined.
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Surely a comforting spice like nutmeg, which is associated with cozy things like pie and Thanksgiving, can't double as a tab of acid. Right? Wrong. According to ABC News,
"Nutmeg contains myristicin, a natural compound that has mind-altering effects if ingested in large doses. The buzz can last one to two days and can be hallucinogenic, much like LSD."
This might not be common knowledge, but the folks at Florida's Poison Information Center at Jackson Memorial Hospital are well acquainted with the phenomenon: they've apparently been dealing with "a small spike in phone calls reporting people who have snorted, smoked, or [eaten] the spice."
How could that pastrami-on-rye sandwich possibly be hallucinogenic? Depends on whether the rye-crop was contaminated with fungus - the same kind that some people say might have led to the delusional hysteria that ushered in the Salem Witch Trials.
As Bon Appétit explains it, ergot - a fungus that's known for attacking grasses and wheat - sends out "little fungal shoots in place of certain kernels [and] it's known to thrive on rye (which was the main grain grown in Salem Village) and...contains chemicals similar to LSD."
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Though the idea of cheese (particularly Stilton cheese) being a psychedelic substance has mostly been discredited, there are still some compelling accounts that seem to contradict this theory as mere urban legend. Stilton cheese is commonly said to be a nightmare-inducer (especially when eaten just before bed), but participants in one study said otherwise:
"Instead of night terrors, the researchers report that the cheese resulted in pleasant nighttime fantasies in most individuals...from their conclusions, blue Stilton resulted in the most bizarre trips, affecting about 80% of participants and resulting in visions of talking animals, vegetarian crocodiles, and warrior kittens. On the other end of the spectrum, Cheshire cheese produced the least memorable nights, with less than half of the participants being able to recall their dreams."
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"It's okay to eat fish, 'cause they don't have any feelings," Kurt Cobain famously sang. However, lest you start feeling a tad psychedelic, you might want to consider not consuming certain varieties of seafood. Apparently, a species called sarpa salpa (Arabic for "the fish that makes dreams") has been known to produce "LSD-like hallucinations" when consumed due to a toxic microalgea that sometimes grows on their scales.
Though these fish are primarily found in the Mediterranean, they've been known to wander into English waters, and their potent hallucinogenic properties have turned many a fishing trip into a trip of an entirely different kind.