Citation: velvet bean. "How to Reprogram Your Attitude to Food: An Experience with Galangal & Alcohol (exp67589)". Erowid.org. Jan 22, 2020. erowid.org/exp/67589
Having heard that galangal is psychoactive but being being possessed of no other information I nonetheless decided to try it for myself. While fresh galangal is readily available in Asian grocers, I used dried, sliced galangal as it was simply the first that came to hand. In retrospect this may have been foolish.
To whit – I chewed the first slice, approximately 10g of the dried material. It was fiery. Extremely fiery. But I persisted until it was all chewed into a pulp and swallowed. This is where the beer came in handy. There were no observable effects besides the persistent, overwhelming taste of galangal over the next twenty minutes. Although the increased wakefulness I felt could be described as an effect, a wasp sting or two would probably have achieved something similar (if you're not allergic to wasps, give it a try. It's a real buzz – no pun intended!)
Once the taste had begun to subside into more of a numbness, it seemed like time to try increasing the dose. I really couldn't face eating another whole slice so this time I chewed smaller pieces. It really was excruciating. Physically and psychologically painful. Somehow over the next half hour I literally forced myself to chew and swallow maybe another five grams of the fiery, dried rhizome.
Somehow over the next half hour I literally forced myself to chew and swallow maybe another five grams of the fiery, dried rhizome.
I wept, both as a response to the irritant effects and out of shear anguish at my obvious stupidity. Further beer was of little consolation as it now tasted like slightly salty water besides the overwhelming taste of galangal. In fact, everything I tasted at this time just tasted of galangal. Unsurprisingly.
By now there was also a burning in my stomach, but mentally I would reckon I was at a +/- to + on the Shulgin scale. Things seemed clearer and more real, colours slightly intensified. My mood had definitely lifted from the start of the experiment, in spite of the torture I had inflicted upon myself. The trouble was, I was in no way going to take this state any further as the only means of administration of more galangal would have been chewing the damn stuff. No way.
Worst of all, I was then (bizarrely) offered a mouli radish to taste and naturally, as a testament to my stupidity, I bit off a mouthful. It was only marginally milder than fresh horseradish, once again bringing tears to my eyes, along with the added pleasure of burning sinuses and ear canals. It also added a new dimension to my galangal infested burps for a short while. Best of all, once the galangal taste had faded after a couple of hours, I found that nothing tasted of anything, or rather, everything tasted of nothing.
By now I had started to prepare myself for the fact that I may have permanently destroyed my taste buds. This was saddening for me at first as I really enjoy food but I soon decided it would be easiest to develop a new attitude to eating. For example, it might help me avoid harmful bouts of gluttony that had caused me suffering in the past, i.e. through eating so much that it hurt, just because the food tasted so good.
The rest of the psychoactive side of the galangal experiment kind of fizzled out into the rest of the evening. First SWIM offered me a pipe of herbal cannabis, which I decided to accept in order to investigate any alteration of its effects in this combination. It did seem qualitatively different, the cognitive effects being less along the lines of runaway imagination, rather, just more of the aforementioned clarity.
Next, SWIM offered me a dab of MDMA powder which I accepted largely to see whether it tasted of anything. Predictably perhaps, the substance had no taste at all. I could have eaten loads of the stuff quite blithely while others around me grimaced at the flavour. Fortunately I couldn't be bothered.
The following evening I finally got round to eating some food. While beer still tasted like weak brine, tea of weak cardboard and tap water absolutely foul, I was delighted to find that brown rice tasted like brown rice, bean sprouts like bean sprouts and broccoli like broccoli – all quite pleasant in my book. Best of all, I found butter beans with tahini were an exquisite excursion into the purest creaminess. I reflected yet again on the possibility of a taste impaired future – a world of gustatory texture, free from the lies of the taste buds.
I also noted how simple, wholesome foods tasted pretty much as they normally do, but anything else was either bland, or disgusting, or both. Our taste buds are not meant to be assaulted and overwhelmed as they are with our modern, synthetically flavoured diets. Not that I generally go for that sort of thing. Tantalisingly, my sense of smell was completely intact. Some things smelt so appetising, only to be a total let-down once I ate them. Again, this was generally the things which I consider less wholesome.
It was nonetheless a relief when after a week my taste sensation started to return to some degree, even though I was quite happy with a simple diet of fresh vegetables with minimum seasoning. By the 11th day things were pretty much back to normal although I still feel the traces of this ill-considered experiment in the form of absent sensation on the back of my tongue some three weeks later, and tap water still continued to taste foul well into the second week. Maybe it just does anyway.
I may consider trying fresh galangal at some time in the future but the means of administration would have to avoid contact with my taste buds. I would also be concerned about possible effects on my gastrointestinal system, even though this was restricted to a mild discomfort with the dried material. I would tentatively confirm the psychoactive properties of galangal but using this particular method really wasn't worth the trouble for the average punter. Gelcaps or extracts, I think.
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