DoubleBlind: Image of bag with four oranges. In this article, DoubleBlind explores whether or not orange juice enhances a psychedelic trip.
DoubleBlind: Image of bag with four oranges. In this article, DoubleBlind explores whether or not orange juice enhances a psychedelic trip.

Can Orange Juice Really Improve a Psychedelic Trip?

The facts and fictions about this urban legend.

Suzannah Weiss // December 28, 2020

DoubleBlind Mag

A few years ago, a friend and I decided to drop acid, and she went to the grocery store to stock up on orange juice beforehand. “It’ll help prevent a bad trip,” she told me. Years later, when another friend offered me MDMA and I expressed concern about feeling sad on the comedown, he said, “Don’t worry, we’ll get orange juice.”

Some seem to treat orange juice as a cure-all for negative reactions to psychedelics. On Reddit, people are posing questions like “what’s the best orange juice for a trip?” and “does orange juice affect shroom trips?” Some say the beverage could stop a bad trip, while others appear worried that it could end or ruin a trip.

This cultural association between orange juice and psychedelics may have even spawned an urban legend: Many recall hearing cautionary tales about people who became convinced they were glasses of orange juice after dropping acid. 

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But is there any truth behind the notion that orange juice can either enhance a psychedelic trip or put an end to a bad one?

Funny enough, experts say certain fruit juices are likely to influence the course of a trip, but orange juice isn’t one of them. 

Citrus fruits contain acetic acid, which helps break down psilocybin into psilocin, the compound that ultimately gets metabolized by your body, explains James Giordano, professor of neurology and biochemistry at Georgetown University Medical Center. When this process happens more efficiently, the trip will come on faster and stronger. 

Funny enough, experts say certain fruit juices are likely to influence the course of a trip, but orange juice isn’t one of them. 

There’s a little bit of acetic acid in oranges, but there’s much more of it in lemons. “Orange juice you buy in the store is pretty dilute, and the amount of acetic acid is kept low so it doesn’t bother people’s stomachs,” Giordano explains. “If you actually make fresh orange juice, that would be useful, but you’d have to use a fair amount. But with lemons, really just squeezing lemons into water and having some lemon juice would do it.”

In other words, perhaps the most effective drink-drug pairing is not acid and orange juice, but shrooms and lemon juice. The easiest way to achieve this is to squeeze a few lemons into water and drink it right before you first take the mushrooms, says Giordano. Some people even dissolve mushrooms in lemon juice and make teas.

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Another juice that might be useful? Grapefruit juice. Certain compounds in grapefruits inhibit enzymes that break down drugs in your body, making these drugs’ effects more potent, says Chris Witowski, PhD, co-founder and CEO of Psilera Bioscience. However, this only happens with drugs that are metabolized by a class of enzymes called cytochrome enzymes, like MDMA and ketamine, he says.

Read: How to Lemon Tek: A Complete Guide for Mushroom People

But what about LSD, the drug many of these ideas about orange juice seem to center on? Giordano and Witowski have both heard anecdotal reports of orange juice enhancing acid trips, but neither of them know of any scientific explanation for why this would happen.

“Most of what I have seen suggests that vitamin C in orange juice can increase serotonin levels, which can intensify trips,” says Witowski. “This is not backed by any evidence and scientifically does not make sense.”

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The idea that any kind of juice would put an end to a bad trip, in fact, is unfortunately baseless. “If you’re having a bad trip, the LSD is already in your brain, and drinking orange juice isn’t going to do a blessed thing,” says Giordano.

Read: How to Survive a Bad Trip

As for the notion that orange juice can help with an MDMA comedown or hangover, it could help hydrate you, but no more than any other drink, Giordano says. Still, people who have taken MDMA may not be thirsty despite being dehydrated, which could make water unappetizing to them. In this case, having a drink with a taste they like—whether that’s orange juice or something else—could be useful.

So, in short, orange juice isn’t scientifically proven to do much at all for a psychedelic trip. The most evidence we have is that very strong, fresh orange juice might help mushrooms come on a little faster and stronger.

Still, if you feel like drinking orange juice makes your trips better, there’s no harm in it—and at the very least, it will help you stay hydrated. As to whether it will make you hallucinate that you’re orange juice, the jury’s still out on that. 

Suzannah Weiss is a freelance writer whose work has appeared in The New York Times, The Washington Post, New York Magazine, and elsewhere.

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