Here’s a little secret, just between you and I. There are lots of perfectly legal substances out there that get people high as Robert Downey Jr. in Less than Zero. They could be found in your neighborhood grocery store or growing in grandma’s garden. Some of these surprised even me.

I’m going to list out the most interesting things I learned doing this article, but I would like you to remember that this isn’t an instructional manual on how to get blazed on the straight and narrow. If we learned anything last week, it’s that just because something is legal, it isn’t necessarily safe. So use your best judgment.

Catnip. This one actually made me LOL. I’m picturing my ex-cat stoned out of his mind falling over in his litter box. And I’m remembering my less than brilliant friends in junior high smoking this stuff to get high and how we made fun of them. Turns out it might actually work. When mixed with damiana, a shrub available in health food stores, it produces a mild marijuana-like high for about an hour. In high doses, it can make you sick to your stomach. My mind is officially blown by this information.

Dextromethorphan or DXM. This one might sound pretty familiar. It is found in many cough medicines, with Robitussin and Coricidin being the two most common. Referred to colloquially as “robo-tripping” or “dexing,” getting off on this stuff is pretty common, and it turns out, potentially pretty risky.

DXM is a powerful dissociative hallucinogen that can create a mood lift, euphoria, creative and dreamlike states, and a feeling of warmth and empathy towards others. It causes the pupils to dilate, causes visual and aural hallucinations, makes it hard to orgasm, makes people kind of confused, disorientated, and clumsy. Walking on the stuff (“robo-walk”) is a weird sensation reminiscent of what it might be like to be a zombie or a robot. Some bummers about DXM are vomiting, dizziness, red and itchy skin, diarrhea, fever, and hangover.

I remember finding out some of the dangers in high school; it was pretty eye opening and I was glad for the information. Allow me to pay it forward by imparting some of my wisdom to you.
When the active ingredient (check the bottle) of any cough medicine is anything but DXM, be extra cautious. Coricidin cough and cold contains the active ingredient chlopheniramine maleate, which in high enough doses can cause seizures, unconsciousness, and bleeding from skin, mouth, anus, and vagina. It can also be fatal.

It is also pretty risky to take DXM if you are on MAO Inhibitors or SSRIs (Prozac, Lexapro, Paxil). When mixed with either, it can cause "serotonin syndrome," which means fever, high blood pressure and uneven heart beats.

The seeds of Morning Glory, which is a fast growing vine, contain lysergic acid amide (LSA), which is considered by some to be an LSD substitute. Taking up to 250 seeds is considered normal dosage and causes visual hallucinations. More than that creates intense hallucinations, nausea, and vomiting. The high lasts from around 6 to 10 hours. While the plant itself is legal, and the seeds are readily sold at plant stores, the possession of the LSA on its own is a no-no in the eyes of the DEA.

Oh, nutmeg. Upon further research, this seems to be the consensus regarding nutmeg. How the psyche got out there that this stuff is fun is beyond me, but here’s what’s up with it.
Somehow people got it in their heads that this stuff is basically legal ecstasy. Not true. At low doses (5 to 20 mg), it can cause mild to medium hallucinations and mild euphoria. Any dosage can be accompanied by dizziness, flushes, dry mouth, accelerated heartbeat, temporary constipation, difficulty in urination, nausea, panic, dry mouth and passing out for around 12 hours. It takes around six hours for the effects to kick in, and they can last anywhere for one to three days later.

Salvia is a plant in the mint family that when smoked can produce psychedelic experiences. The effects are felt within 20 seconds of smoking it, and last around 20 minutes. It can result in a very quick and intense experience which can be creative and dreamlike, increase one’s appreciation for life, and give some insight into personal issues. People sometimes think they are experiencing alternate dimensions. This can get a little out of hand though, and can lead to fear and panic, and the abruptness of the mind-shift can make it hard to “come back” to reality.

I must say that there are many things that I left out for the sake of space. The world of psychotropic substances is a large and complex beast, and I hope this Buzz helps tame it a bit. Contact me if you have any questions, I really dig talking about this stuff and just got a ton of neat new books in.

Be well my darlings.