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What You Should Know About Jenkem

What You Should Know About Jenkem

While there are many weird ways to get high, have you ever heard of huffing fermented poop to get high? Oh yeah, it’s a thing. As gross as it sounds, this is a growing trend commonly referred to as “jenkem.” Although our drug rehab in Langhorne, PA is more accustomed to helping people with addictions to drugs, we couldn’t help but perform our research on this new “drug” trend. We’re sharing what you should know about jenkem and why it’s dangerous.


What Is Jenkem?

Allegedly, jenkem is an inhalant and hallucinogen created from fermented feces. Using jenkem in Africa was an especially popular trend among children and adolescents during the 1990s. You use jenkem by putting feces and urine in a jar or a bucket, sealing it with a balloon or lid, and then leaving it out in the sun or heat to ferment. Users would then open the jar and smell the fumes, which are strong enough to produce a high. If you’ve never heard of huffing poop to get high, you’re not the only one. So is Jenkem real? While many brushed these reports off as a hoax or faulty internet search, the fact that jenkem was popular among Zambian children says otherwise.

Our list of what you should know about jenkem has been collected from different reports. Various reports of sniffing feces to experience a powerful high have been released since the mid-1990s. One book called Children of AIDS: Africa’s Orphan Crisis by Emma Guest described the making of jenkem: “fermented human sewage, scraped from pipes and stored in plastic bags for a week or so until it gives off numbing, intoxicating fumes.”1 A 1999 BBC article also refers to this process: “the dark brown sludge, gathering up fistfuls and stuffing it into small plastic bottles. They tap the bottles on the ground, taking care to leave enough room for methane to form at the top.”2 In November of 2007, there was a panic in the U.S. after widespread news reports of jenkem becoming popular among middle and high schoolers were released.


What Is a Jenkem High Like?

Most reports of jenkem use show that jenkem drug effects can begin within minutes and last for up to an hour after use or “sniff.” Some reported Jenkem drug side effects include:

  • Mood swings
  • Euphoria
  • Lightheadedness
  • Dizziness
  • Confusion
  • Headache
  • Hallucinations
  • Delusions
  • Pleasure

Methane is a colorless and odorless gas that can be produced when organic matter decomposes. When feces is fermented, methane builds up at the top. Methane can also be leaked from mud volcanoes, rice fields, and termites. This methane, in combination with other gasses, is what produces a high when sniffed. A jenkem high is euphoric and powerful. Many Jenkem addicts have reported intense delusions, such as seeing dead relatives, as well as feelings of empowerment.


Is Jenkem Death Possible?

Jenkem's effects have been the subject of anecdotal tales and sensationalized stories, but there isn't enough conclusive scientific proof to say whether or not it's fatal.  Although prolonged exposure to such poisonous chemicals has the potential to harm the nervous and respiratory systems, there isn't much comprehensive scientific research on the practice's long-term effects because it's illegal and unregulated.

It's important to remember that participating in activities like jenkem carries serious health risks, and those hazards outweigh any apparent advantages by a wide margin. It is obvious that engaging in such activities might have serious and possibly fatal repercussions due to the toxic compounds involved and the immediate health dangers linked to inhaling these gases. Therefore, it is strongly urged that people refrain from experimenting with jenkem.


Comparisons to Sniffing Glue

The practice of jenkem and glue sniffing are often compared because the latter is common among children and adolescents. As odd as these practices are, they’re often the result of experimentation with substance abuse. Oftentimes, those who engage in practices like sniffing glue or jenkem are more willing to try drugs when they’re older.

This emphasizes the value of early intervention and informational campaigns on the dangers of sniffing drugs. Taking care of these problems in the formative years can be extremely important in preventing people from advancing to more dangerous and potentially lethal forms of drug sniffing or other types of substance abuse. Communities can fight to interrupt the cycle of substance misuse and protect the well-being of upcoming generations by putting a priority on prevention, encouraging open communication, and offering healthy outlets for curiosity and experimentation.

Although reports of jenkem in the U.S. have died down, there are other forms of substance abuse that are even more threatening. The opioid epidemic in the nation has killed thousands, many of whom were unable to get the help they need to recover from addiction. While Jenkem is a whole other realm, Banyan’s rehab in Philadelphia offers an intensive outpatient rehab program that helps people with drug and alcohol addictions recover and regain their health.

If you’re addicted to opioids like fentanyl or any other substance, we can help. Call Banyan Treatment Centers today at 888-280-4763 to learn more about our Philadelphia substance abuse programs.


  1. Guest E. - Children of AIDS: Africa’s Orphan Crisis
  2. BBC News - Children high on sewage

Related Readings:

Learn About Hillbilly Heroin and the Dangers of Opioids

Common Prescription Opioids & Their Dangers

Alyssa, Director of Digital Marketing
Alyssa, Director of Digital Marketing
Alyssa is the National Director of Digital Marketing and is responsible for a multitude of integrated campaigns and events in the behavioral health and addictions field. All articles have been written by Alyssa and medically reviewed by our Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Darrin Mangiacarne.
What You Should Know About Jenkem
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