Asthma-induced Hallucinations

I don’t have asthma, but that doesn’t mean I’ve never taken asthma medication.

David, our resident pre-med study machine in college, discovered Asthmador in the Journal of the American Medical Association. Asthmador was an olive-green powder meant to be burned like incense, and the smoldering fumes inhaled to clear the respiratory system. According to the article he found, when mixed with a liquid and ingested orally, it resulted in “mild, hallucinatory euphoria.” (

That was all we needed to know.

The first step was to acquire some, and I saw two problems with that. First, it would cost money, probably a lot of it, and I didn’t have much. Any, really. Second, a bunch of college students traipsing into the small-town pharmacy, none of them wheezing, and buying Asthmador was bound to attract attention. Law enforcement attention, in my mind. Asthmador wasn’t a prescription drug, and drinking it wasn’t even a misdemeanor, yet I imagined local police (with whom I’d had experience – see My Life of Crime Part 1) would know something was up and we’d be under 24-hour surveillance.

asthmador1So it was decided that the others would pitch in and go buy it, and I would be the guinea pig and drink it. I waited in the apartment, ready to beat it down the back stairs when the SWAT team showed up. Instead, my roommates returned with what looked like a tin can of Nestle’s Quick, complete with the pry-off metal lid, and told me no one even noticed.

It was about a pound of powder, and it cost something like 89¢. So much for money; so much for cops. David took charge and made it into a scientific experiment. He measured the powder and mixed it with orange juice, using ratios he didn’t explain. The yellow juice and olive powder combined to make a soft pastel green drink, and a tentative sip revealed a sweet, creamy orange flavor – quite tasty.

Maybe it was the bella donna.

Under David’s scrutiny, I drank half the glass and he noted the time. And then, in order to fully demonstrate just how foolish I was about the whole process, I drank the rest. I didn’t really hallucinate, but that’s probably because I didn’t drink enough of it. I didn’t die, either, which definitely means I didn’t drink enough of it.

I spent the next four or five hours horizontal on the day bed in our living room, eyes closed, not moving a muscle, paralyzed. A party developed around me, and I could hear everything with extraordinary clarity, I could smell every cigarette or joint or perfume. I don’t know if I could feel, because I didn’t even try to move.

Michael, our guitar-hero friend, seemed to be the only person who noticed me, and he was very concerned. He sat and talked to me, he asked over and over if I was OK. I didn’t answer. I just lay there in my eyelid-sealed solitude just enjoying seeing the sounds.

Youth is accompanied by a sense of immortality, the conviction that nothing bad will happen to you. You hear about car wrecks, or you go to some distant relative’s funeral, but that couldn’t happen to you. It’s not a sense of immortality – it’s a lack of appreciation of the nature of cause and effect. Today’s lesson in cause and effect is that if you drink poison in sufficient quantities, you will die.

We were all well aware of that, but it never occurred to us to check the Asthmador label and see what we might be drinking. Later, when it was all over, we did, and found the active ingredient was the aforementioned bella donna. The same stuff Duncan the First of Scotland used it to poison the entire invading Danish army in 1035. I’m not making this up. King Sven was pissed.



Filed under Bathroom Biography, John Darrin

19 responses to “Asthma-induced Hallucinations

  1. It’s amazing what we did in our youth, ain’t it? It’s even more amazing we survived to an elderly state, with minds and bodies (relatively) intact. LOL.

  2. very scary, I bet. Just goes to show why we have locked caps on most meds.

  3. You were lucky. Damn lucky. My friends and I each ingested about 40 mg in a big capsule and experienced 12 hours of intense, sometimes terrifying hallucinations. We were talking to people who weren’t there but seemed as real as could be. One guy tried to drive and, of course, had an accident. The cops held him for 10 hours but let him go when his parents came. Our eyesight was affected most of the next day–virtually blind. I heard this stuff was removed from the shelves in the early ’70s–I sincerely hope so…

    • Edward Lehane

      My brother had gone to college out in Arkansas and brought back some of this, along with some wild tales. We mixed some in juice and boy did we have a wild ride. Like you, the next day I had double vision. Still look back with fondness.

  4. kathy

    What a trip, huh? We bought this in the same can form- at the Beach Store in Naples in the mid 60’s. Mixed it with applesauce. I told everyone I ate it and tripped for so many years, but I think in reality I didn’t do any because I had a curfew and was afraid of getting put back on restriction. But I remember everyone else doing ti.

  5. this is very helpful thank you so much for putting this up my friends doctor prescribed it for her and she was wondering what it was

  6. Art

    We took about 2 tablespoonsful of the stuff and it was a crazy crazy trip – talking to monkeys that weren’t there – stopping and talking to parking meters – seeing my brother in the back of my dads pickup (it was a car) on the way to be dropped off at school the next day – writing in microscopic letters the next day. Still wonder if I destroyed some brain cells. I never lived up to expectation levels

  7. Patt

    My Grandmother put it in a Phillips Milk of Magnesia tin and lit it with a match and inhaled the smoke and fumes…it seemed to work for her. She was a very ‘proper’ lady……

  8. Robert the Robot

    Several of my college friends and I tried Asthmador back in the 60s. Hallucinated on the belladonna as advertised. One friend liked it so much more than the LSD we were all into at the time that he proceeded to find a source of pure belladonna. We used to hear him having conversations with Lucifer when he was alone in his dorm room. He then joined the Navy and we never heard of him again!

  9. Cathleen Orr

    My aunt burned the powder, put a cloth over her head to catch the fumes and breathed them in to help her asthma. She died of sinus cancer.

  10. My mother used it for years like the directions said, burn it,…reminded me of the Old Mummy movies where they burned Tanna leaves,… but it DID always work for my mother and she wishes she could find it again.

  11. michele svehla


  12. G R Towne

    I took some in jail of all places, and the bars on my cell turned to snakes and the floor was a gaping mouth with a tongue that was trying to….lick me or eat me.

  13. My husband had Asthma as a child. His parents would burn this in his room when he couldn’t breath. He say’s he remembers it being the only thing that helped him breath again. Asthma is very scary for children and adults. I am going to find him some of this just for memory sake.

  14. jean trudeau

    In 1967,one table spoon in a cup of coffee,really real hallucinations,next morning i could’t find my other sock because they were both on one foot.It is a great drug if your name is DonJuan the Yaki shaman.If your not ,keep away from it.

  15. Tom

    I took some asthmadore powder back in 1970 and my so called freinds let me wander outdoors and walking felt like i had lead boots on the moon…
    Then i sat in a strangers front yard for a long time .talking to a tree…
    The people in house became worried and called the creep police and they came and got me and put me in a jail cell insted of a hospital..!!
    I triped my brains out all night in jail ..kept seeing people i knew slip through the locked jail door..
    I was chewing gum and eating invisable candy bars..and smoking cigaretts all night that werent there…
    It wasnt the best time in my life but it was something ill never forget..

  16. Joe Eckert

    Al anyone mentioned is the belle donna. The other ingredient was stramonium. Otherwise known as jimsom weed. (as in Carlos Castenada books) with some sulpher to make it burn. My friends and I in Chicago would eat one or two table spoons. The first time nobody stayed straight to watch us. we ended up in jail. After that we always had a baby sitter. (literally)

  17. Ray

    Wow some interesting stories. I was watching the news and saw a news report about a substance called “Kratom” list on the market as “White Sumatra Kratom”, it was in a capsule form and in a clear plastic bag powder form. It looked like Asthmador. Which is why I decide to look up Asthmador, You see I also had an experience with the stuff, LOL and I thought it was just me. I was in a band back in the 70″s and one of the singer came out with this green powder said we should try. I did and from there I remembered some things not all. I do know I walked two miles in the snow with no shirt or coat on ( lucky not to in up in jail as some of you experienced). I remember talking to my sister in a lamp, and she was in another state. Climbed under a pile of clothes not sure whether it was to warm up or hide out. Who know what else happened that I don’t remember. Just curious is this stuff “Kratom” another form of Asthmador if any one knows let me know.

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