Smoking Periwinkle

Every so often the media needs to sound the alarm about a new drug that's corrupting the youth of the nation. In the summer of 1967, that drug was the periwinkle plant. The entire scare was based on one group of teenagers in Florida who experimented with the plant, but still it generated plenty of headlines.

Can smoking periwinkle actually get you high? Probably. Over at there are some reports of people experimenting with it. Though despite the scare of 1967, it never caught on as a popular drug.

Dr. George Dame, a health officer in Manatee County, warned that periwinkle could have all kinds of unpleasant side effects (such as "withering of muscle tissue") because periwinkle is the source of some drugs (vinblastine and vincristine) used in chemotherapy. However, an expert on those drugs disagreed with him. From Newsweek (June 26, 1967):

A chemist at Eli Lilly & Co. of Indianapolis, where the drugs vincristine and vinblastine were developed, said last week that the perils may not be as great as Dame suspects. Both vincristine and vinblastine, he pointed out, are highly unstable and probably do not get into the smoke of burning periwinkle leaves in an active form. Nonetheless, the chemist was quick to put down the periwinkle cult. "Periwinkle," he said, "like most inedible plants, is toxic. You might get pretty sick to your stomach."

Sydney Morning Herald - Jun 4, 1967

     Posted By: Alex - Fri Jan 29, 2016
     Category: Drugs | Psychedelic | Smoking and Tobacco | 1960s

DonĀ“t believe it would work. On the other hand Country Joe had me believing bananas worked.
Posted by F.U.D. on 01/29/16 at 09:31 AM
As long as it sells print who gives a damn about facts!
Posted by Expat47 in Athens, Greece on 01/29/16 at 09:50 AM
Kids in the early 70s were smoking the dried leaves of morning glory vines. Never tried it myself, but I'm told it had an effect similar to low quality marijuana. I prefer my soporifics out of a bottle.
Posted by A Nonny Mouse on 01/29/16 at 10:14 AM
What properties the plant possesses not withstanding, anything you breath in that displaces enough oxygen from your system gives you a feeling of being high. That's why kids huff.
Posted by Patty in Ohio, USA on 01/29/16 at 10:48 AM
When I was in middle school in the middle 70s we heard people were smoking banana peels.
When I was in college I had a friend who had a clerical job in the university hospital. She told me the drug of choice among medical students (mind you, they could probably get their hands on just about any drug in a hospital) was a Vicks inhaler soaked on formaldehyde, which is embalming fluid. Have you ever smelled formaldehyde?
Posted by Jim on 01/29/16 at 12:54 PM
People will always find some way to get high. The problem with any addiction is the drug at first makes you feel good but progresses into being needed to just not feel bad.
Posted by BrokeDad in Midwest US on 01/29/16 at 05:49 PM
Very true BD, very true.
Posted by Patty in Ohio, USA on 01/29/16 at 10:03 PM
Meanwhile, bananadine goes unloved. As does isopropanol, which not only does give you a kick but has the inestimable advantage of actually existing in the real world - ask any cleaning solvent manufacturer.

(By the way, erowid is about as trustworthy a source as conservapedia. And for much the same reasons.)
Posted by Richard Bos on 01/30/16 at 01:24 PM
How did I miss this stuff during that period of being 16-17? Never heard of Periwinkle till now.
Posted by Gator Guy on 01/31/16 at 06:09 PM
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