Forget Shrooms, Is Toad Venom the New Hallucinogenic Drug for the Rich and Famous?
It’s 2022, and we’re decades away from the 60’s but psychedelics sure are having another hey day.
The use of psilocybin as well as other hallucinogenic psychedelic drugs such as LSD, ketamine, MDMA, and ayahuasca have been making the rounds in moneyed and creative circles around the United States for a few years now. But now, as a Town and Country article documents, there’s a new drug in town and it’s unlike anything you’ve ever tried before.
Meet Bufo. Also known as toad venom, or 5-MeO-DMT, or DMT for short. Bufo is taken from the name of the toad species that the substance it extracted from, the Bufo Alvarius toad.
You may have heard of people joking about licking toads to get high, but there’s a real reason why this was joked about in the first place. In fact, this practice has been around since antiquity. Its popularity was rediscovered during the 1960’s then again in the 80’s.
This drug is one of the more potent hallucinogenics, with fans that range from soccer moms to Hunter Biden, Chelsea Handler, and Mike Tyson among many more.
What Is Toad Venom, And What’s It Like Smoking It?
The Bufo Alvarius toad, also known as the Colorado River or the Sonoran Desert toad, contains not just 5-MeO-DMT but also bufotenine. DMT is present in other psychedelics, and works by binding to the serotonin receptors in the brain. Since serotonin is the chemical responsible for feelings of happiness, consuming DMT has been associated with an improvement in mood, sometimes so significant that it has been touted for its ability to treat depression, addictions, and anxiety.
“It is a dried toad secretion,” explains Dr. Mike Dow Ph.D., Psy.D, to People. The secretions are burned and then the users inhale its vapors to experience its psychoactive benefits, which many believe are among the most powerful in the whole world. “This is probably one of the least well-studied psychedelics,” says Dr. Dow. “There’s a lot of research with psilocybin, or mushrooms, ketamine, LSD – there’s not quite as much when it comes to these molecules. But what we do know is that they affect the serotonin receptors.”
“Imagine any peak experience you’ve had in your life where time, and all your thinking, sort of goes away,” he says. “Imagine multiplying that times a hundred and that’s sort of how psychedelics and this Bufo toad experience, this 20-minute experience that Haack took, maybe helped her to feel better,” talking about Christina Haack’s trip with Bufo. “When we think of depression and anxiety, we tend to see a lot of rumination and negative self-talk. Well, all that negative self-talk is in that part of the brain, the default mode network,” he said. “So if you can actually turn that part of the brain off, you can feel at one with all things in the universe.”
Alan Davis, a Johns Hopkins School of Medicine’s Behavioral Pharmacology Research Unit postdoc fellow, explains more to Johns Hopkins Magazine in an older article. “Not many people have written about it,” he says.
“It is also hard to find.” He goes on to discuss that its onset is quick, taking place just 5 minutes after ingesting it. “The experience is going to start within 10 to 30 seconds and then you’re going to be physically incapacitated for 20 to 30 minutes. That means you’ll want to have someone who knows what’s going to happen administer it to you and be there in case you have any challenging physiological experiences.”
“There’s still more research to be done to truly understand how 5-MeO-DMT works, but as a tryptamine (like psilocybin and LSD) it can create a sense of unity, euphoria, and ego dissolution,” he adds. “However, it tends to be far more intense and far shorter – about 20 minutes vs. four hours for psilocybin – than other psychedelics.”
Benefits And Risks Of Toad Venom
There have been some studies documenting the benefits of Bufo, such as its ability to treat depression and addiction. The National Institutes of Health released a study saying that just one use could be beneficial in treating PTSD, depression, and anxiety while offering the promise of overall satisfaction of one’s life. In addition, another study released in The American Journal of Drug and Alcohol Abuse revealed that Bufo had positive impacts which were associated with long lasting senses of life satisfaction.
Mike Tyson is a fan. “I ‘died’ during my first trip,” said Mike Tyson to The Post, talking about his psychedelic trip with Bufo. “In my trips, I’ve seen that death is beautiful.”
Kidd Dynamite is another fan: “The toad has taught me that I’m not going to be here forever. There’s an expiration date,” he says.
However, it may not be everyone’s cup of tea.
Chelsea Handler thought she was going to die after a hit. “The most terrible thing,” said the comedian, during her Evolution special for HBO Max, “I couldn’t move… And I was like ‘Oh, oh, oh you’re gonna pass away today.”
The feelings of being reborn and being able to start from a clean slate, well, there may be other, safer ways to achieve this such as with mushrooms or LSD. There are cases when the users may be come unresponsive, or even experience convulsions or vomiting. It isn’t something that you are going to want to do at a party. On top of that, there are concerns from conservationists that Bufo alvarius toad species are almost being driven to extinction, so in this case you may be better off seeking out the synthetic versions of DMT.
Have you tried toad venom? What was your experience like?