Hallucinogen from rye bread?

Those biscuit and cornbread posts made me think of this for some reason. When I was in high school, I heard and read about people in prison making hallucinogens from rye bread.

The process, as I understood at the time, was to take a peice of rye bread, put on some kind of citrus fruit, and let it mold. I remember trying this with rye and orange juice concentrate, but only ended up with moldy bread stomach ache (suprised thats all I got).

I suppose this is all based on extracting erogot from the rye? Has anyone else heard of these myths/folklore tales? Is it possible to make a hallucinogen in this manner?

Um, there’s a particularly fungus called ergot that likes to grow on rye but I don’t think ergotism is a kind of hallicinating you WANT to be doing. . .

Ergot Poisoning

It would appear that the fungus grows on the rye grain, not on rye bread, so you probably can’t make it with pumpernickel.

More info on ergot poisoning

I dont want to do it, I guess I should clarify the main point of my OP. Do prisoners/kids/etc. do this? And how?

There’s no way you’re going to get away with this.

Exactly. Lysergic acid is extractable from ergot fungus, and its amide and diethylamide are hallucinogens – but I would assume it takes some careful laboratory work to do so. (Taking the discussion further than that would involve the sorts of how-to-make-illegal-drugs discussion that the moderators really frown on.) The diethylamide is, of course, LSD; the amide, a much milder drug, occurs naturally in very small quantities in morning glory seeds (which is why people with more interest in drugs than common sense were ingesting them in quantity back in the 60s).

One cannot “get high” from ergot fungus (which in any case grows on the rye plant, not on rye bread); one can only get deathly ill from it.

More than any sane person would want to know about ergot.

Fear Itself, I remember hearing that story, too. However, according to the above link, the events in Pont St. Esprit were the result of the seed grain having been treated with a mercury compound.

The first question is okay. The second is not. We are not in the business of telling people how to make and isolate poisons.

moderator GQ

I remember hearing about the witch hunts being correlated with the possibility of the fungus occurring in the periods mentioned - perhaps an excuse???

I bet it is possible to really get off on a shot of gasoline too.

Interpreting Witchcraft

just offering an excuse for some nutty behavior - based on TV (Discovery or The Learning Channel) Was not intended as conclusive evidence - just kind of looking for an excuse for the CS (crazy $h!?) that was going on BITD (back in the day)

In the book Acceptable Risk by Robin Cook this is discussed and reading that book was the first time I had ever heard of such a theory. Makes a hell of a lot of sense that some of the “evil spirits, demon posessions and curses” were accidental poisoning from moldy grain products rather than actual witchcraft.

Some prescription medicines used to treat Parkinson’s disease, certain hormone imbalances, and other disorders associated with low dopamine levels or insensitivity to dopamine are also ergot derivatives. These drugs work as dopamine agonists, binding to the dopamine receptors in the brain and imitating the effects of dopamine. They’ve been hugely beneficial to many people, including myself.

But dopamine is a very important neurotransmitter, and having too much is as dangerous as having too little. Abnormally high dopamine levels are associated with schizophrenia and other serious disorders.

What’s my point with all this? The suggestion that, while ergot and its derivatives have their uses, screwing around with anything that affects your dopamine system for fun is a very bad idea. It can make you very, very sick, and as capybara said, the potential mental effects involved are probably not the sort of “high” you want to go chasing. They’re the sort of “high” that can seriously mangle your mind.