Bananadine is a fictional psychoactive substance which is allegedly extracted from banana peels. A recipe for its extraction from banana peel was originally published as a hoax in the Berkeley Barb in March 1967.[1]
Enlarge picture
A banana peel.
It became more widely known when William Powell, believing it to be true, reproduced the method in The Anarchist Cookbook in 1970 under the name "Musa Sapientum Bananadine" (referring to the banana's binomial nomenclature).

Researchers at New York University have found that banana peel contains no intoxicating chemicals, and that smoking it produces only a placebo effect. Over the years, bananadine has become a popular urban legend.

Chemicals in Bananas

Banana peels, however, do contain the nonpsychoactive neurotransmitters tyramine and dopamine in significant amounts that if ingested are enough to affect people taking MAOIs. [1] These chemicals are present in many foods at higher concentrations, and users of MAOIs are counseled to avoid them. The most characteristic effect of the interaction is a massive increase in blood pressure, leading to a hypertensive crisis, and possibly arrhythmia and death.[2] Bananas contain tryptophan which, when ingested, increases levels of serotonin in the body. This can lead to various mood-altering effects (Leathwood and Pollet, 1982) including a reduction in depression (Sainio et al., 1996). As well, Xiao et al. (1998) found that eating just two bananas a day for three days increased levels of serotonin in the blood by 16%. However, there is no mention in the literature of tryptophan having any hallucinogenic effects; it has, in fact, been used to reduce hallucinations in patients with mental disorders (Sainio et al., 1996). It is also debatable whether smoking tryptophan would be successful as a method of administration.

Bananadine in Popular Culture

Donovan's hit single "Mellow Yellow" was released the same month as the Berkeley Barb hoax, and in the popular culture of the era, the song was assumed to be about smoking banana peels. Shortly after the "Berkeley Barb" hoax and the song, the myth was featured in the New York Times [3]. For years it was (wrongly) assumed that the song "Mellow Yellow" was the source for this myth. In an October 2005 interview on the National Public Radio program "Fresh Air", Donovan said that it was actually the folk singer Country Joe McDonald who had started the rumor in San Francisco, one week before the release of Donovan's song. Mr. McDonald has told a similar story, including the side effect of a shortage of bananas in all of Berkeley following the concert that started the rumor, as all available bananas were bought by concert-goers for experimentation (2003, Palms Playhouse, Winters, CA). The myth was brought to attention once more in the late 1980s, when the satiric punk group The Dead Milkmen released a song concerning the effects of smoking banana peels. Even the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) investigated.

In the inner sleeve of Experience, the first full-length album by British band The Prodigy, Leeroy Thornhill is quoted saying "Respect to everyone I've met, you're welcome round to smoke some Banana skins anytime".

The Ray Stevens song "Thirty-Five Year Old Hippie Class Reunion" alludes to this hoax. There is a recurring exchange: "What happened to it?" "We smoked it..." about increasingly improbable things, until at the end of the song the two characters enthusiastically consider smoking the entire contents of a pet store.

The Frank Zappa song "Blue Light" from "Tinseltown Rebellion" alludes to this hoax, too. "That was back in the days when you used to Smoke a banana You would scrape the stuff off the middle You would bake it You would smoke it You even thought you was getting ripped from it"

Slade also allude to this myth in a more tongue-in-cheek way in "Thanks For The Memory" (from the album of the same name, released 1975) with the line "They said bananas could get you high".


1. ^ Cecil Adams, Straight Dope, April 26, 2002
2. ^ PMID 8889911
3. ^ New York Times, March 26, 1967, according to Cecil Adams, Straight Dope, April 26, 2002; but see also Louria, Donald (1967), "Cool Talk About Hot Drugs," The New York Times Magazine, August 6, 1967 p. 188
  • Leathwood, P.D. and Pollet, P. (1982) "Diet-induced mood changes in normal populations" J. Psychiat. Res. 17(2):147-154
  • Sainio, E.L., Pulkki, K. and Young, S.N. (1996) "L-Tryptophan: Biochemical, nutritional and pharmacological aspects" Amino Acids 10:21-47
  • Xiao, R., Beck, O. and Hjemdahl, P. (1998) "On the accurate measurement of serotonin in whole blood" Scand. J. Clin. Lab. Invest. 58: 505-510

External links

  • Article featuring a fake Bananadine recipe
  • Straight Dope Article detailing the history of the Bananadine hoax
Fiction is the telling of stories which are not entirely based upon facts. More specifically, fiction is an imaginative form of narrative, one of the four basic rhetorical modes.
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A psychoactive drug or psychotropic substance is a chemical substance that acts primarily upon the central nervous system where it alters brain function, resulting in temporary changes in perception, mood, consciousness and behavior.
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BANANA (an acronym of Build Absolutely Nothing Anywhere Near Anything or possibly Build Absolutely Nothing Anywhere Near Anyone
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hoax is an attempt to trick an audience into believing that something false is real. There is often some material object (e.g., snake oil) involved which is actually a forgery; however, it is possible to perpetrate a hoax by making only true statements using unfamiliar wording or
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The Berkeley Barb was an underground newspaper that was published in Berkeley, California, from 1965 to the early 1980s. It was one of the first and most influential of the counterculture newspapers of the late 1960s, covering such subjects as the and civil-rights movements
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William Powell (born c. 1949[1]) is the author of The Anarchist Cookbook, which he has since disowned.[2]


1. ^ Powell, William. The Anarchist Cookbook .

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The Anarchist Cookbook

Author William Powell
Country United States
Language English
Genre(s) Instructional
Publisher Lyle Stuart
Publication date 1971
ISBN ISBN 0-9623032-0-8

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binomial nomenclature is the formal system of naming species. The system is also called binominal nomenclature (particularly in zoological circles), binary nomenclature (particularly in botanical circles), or the binomial classification system.
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New York University (NYU) is a private, nonsectarian, coeducational research university in New York City. NYU's main campus is situated in the Greenwich Village section of Manhattan.
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Placebo effect is the term applied by medical science to the therapeutical and healing effects of inert medicines and/or ritualistic or faith healing manipulations.[1] [2].
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urban legend or urban myth is similar to a modern folklore consisting of stories often thought to be factual by those circulating them. The term is often used to mean something akin to "apocryphal story".
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In organic chemistry tyramine (4-hydroxy-phenethylamine, para-tyramine, p-tyramine) is a monoamine compound derived from the amino acid tyrosine.<ref name="pubchem" />


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Dopamine is a hormone and neurotransmitter occurring in a wide variety of animals, including both vertebrates and invertebrates. In chemical structure, it is a phenethylamine.
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Monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs) are a class of powerful antidepressant drugs prescribed for the treatment of depression. They are particularly effective in treating atypical depression, and have also shown efficacy in helping smokers to quit.
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Tryptophan (abbreviated as Trp or W)[1] is an essential amino acid involved in human nutrition. It is one of the 20 amino acids encoded by the genetic code (as codon UGG).
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Serotonin (pronounced IPA: /ˌsɛrəˈtoʊnən/) (5-hydroxytryptamine, or 5-HT) is a monoamine neurotransmitter synthesized in serotonergic neurons in the central nervous system (CNS) and
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Donovan (Donovan Philips Leitch, born May 10, 1946, in Maryhill, Glasgow), is a Scottish singer, songwriter, and guitarist. Emerging from the British folk scene, he developed an eclectic and distinctive style that blended folk, jazz, pop, psychedelia, and world music.
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B-side(s) "Sunny South Kensington" (USA)
"Preachin' Love" (UK)
Released 24 October 1966 (USA)
February 1967 (UK)
Format 7" single
Recorded September 1966
Genre Pop music
Label Epic 5-10098
Pye 7N 17267
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National Public Radio

Type Public radio network
First air date April 1971
Country  United States
Availability    Global
Founded 1970
Owner National Public Radio, Inc.
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Fresh Air

Other names Fresh Air Weekend
Genre Talk radio
Running time ca. 50 min.
Country  United States
Language(s) English
Home station WHYY-FM
Syndicates NPR

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City and County of San Francisco
"The Painted Ladies"

Nickname: The City, The City by the Bay, San Fran, Frisco,[1] Baghdad by the Bay[2]
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Winters, California
Location in Yolo County and the state of California
Country United States
State California
County Yolo
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The Dead Milkmen (sometimes just Dead Milkmen) was a satirical punk band that formed in 1983 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The band consisted of Joe Jack Talcum (Joe Genaro; guitar, vocals), Dave Blood (Dave Schulthise; bass), Dean Clean (Dean Sabatino; drums), and Rodney
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Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is an agency of the United States Department of Health and Human Services and is responsible the safety regulation of most types of foods, dietary supplements, drugs, vaccines, biological medical products, blood products, medical devices,
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Experience is an album by rave act The Prodigy. The album was released on 28 September 1992 through XL Recordings, and peaked at #12 in the charts in October.
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"Dieu et mon droit" [2]   (French)
"God and my right"
"God Save the Queen" [3]
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The Prodigy (or just Prodigy)[1] are an English band. Their music consists of various styles ranging from rave, hardcore techno and industrial in the early 1990s to alternative rock and bigbeat with punk vocal elements in later times.
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Leeroy Thornhill (born 8 October 1968) is a British electronic music artist and formerly a dancer and occasional live keyboardist of the British rave act The Prodigy. He was born in Barking, Essex but raised in Braintree and grew up as a football and James Brown fan.
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Ray Stevens (born Harold Ray Ragsdale, January 24 1939, in Clarkdale, Georgia, a small town west of Atlanta) is an American country music and pop singer-songwriter known for his novelty songs.
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