Ancestral Medicines: Bufo Alvarius
Bufo Alvarius in History
The secretions of the Sonoran desert toad, Bufo alvarius, is thought to have been used by the ancient people of Mesoamerica as a ritual intoxicant. This toad secretes large amounts of a potent hallucinogen, 5-methoxy-N,N-dimethyltryptamine (5-MeO-DMT). This venom, although known to be toxic when consumed orally, may be safely smoked and is powerfully psychoactive when consumed in this way. There is strong evidence that a psychoactive toad was employed by Pre Columbian peoples of the New World.
Some of these traditional practices survive among healers of Mesoamerican and South American tribes today, in which toad venom is used for magical purposes, mainly in the preparation of love potions and other uses. Also, inhalation of this vapor containing 5-MeO-DMT has become popular in naturalistic settings as a treatment of mental health problems or as a means for spiritual exploration.
The Bufo Alvarius Experience
One single 50mg vaporized dose often produces hallucinogenic, boundless experiences within one second of inhalation. These experiences can last from 7 to 90 minutes, and on average lasts 20 minutes.
Many people report mystical experiences, many “seeing God,” and often sensing a better understanding of their place and function in the cosmos. Many also describe feelings of cosmic unity, access to non-dual consciousness, and deep spiritual experiences.
Some people have compared it to the experience of dying and accessing states similar to those described in Buddhist and Hindu traditions such as Nirvana or Tathāgata, beyond the beyond. Also common is the loss of a sense of identity, as well as sensations of merging with everything.
Shortly after use, participants tend to be clear headed and completely back to their previous non-altered state.
Bufo Alvarius Studies
In a clinical study, ratings of satisfaction with life increased after use and were maintained at follow-up 4 weeks later. Ratings of mindfulness also increased over time, becoming significant after 4 weeks. Decreases were noted in ratings of depression, anxiety, and stress after use, and were significant at 4 weeks. Participants that experienced high levels of ego dissolution or oceanic boundlessness during the session experienced higher ratings of life satisfaction and lowered ratings of stress and depression.
In another recent European study, after one use, 5-MeO-DMT was shown to produce sustained enhancement of the user’s satisfaction with life, and the lessening of anxiety, depression, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
The Future for Bufo Alvarius and Other Psychadelics
While this hallucinogen is not currently legal in the U.S., substances with similar effects, like the Amazonian brew ayahuasca, have recently been legalized in parts of the United States. These types of medicines are being touted as a healing method for emotional trauma, being used when conventional pharmaceutical methods are unsuccessful.
This healing ability has prompted voters in Oakland and Santa Cruz California to opt for legalizing a wide range of psychedelics, such as magic mushrooms, peyote and ayahuasca. In 2019, Denver also followed suit passing similar resolutions around fungi containing the psychedelic psilocybin; and more recently Chicago’s City Council approved a resolution that could pave the way for legalization there.