The psychedelic world of toads & mushrooms
Bufotenin (5-HO-DMT, bufotenine) is a tryptamine derivative more specifically DMT derivative related to the neurotransmitter serotonin. It is an alkaloid found in some species of toads (especially the skin), mushrooms and plants.
Toads & Mushrooms
The name bufotenin originates from the toad genus Bufo, which includes several species of psychoactive toads and toads & mushrooms, most notably Incilius alvarius, that secrete bufotoxins from their parotoid glands. Bufotenin is similar in chemical structure to the psychedelics psilocin (4-HO-DMT), 5-MeO-DMT, and DMT, chemicals which also occur in some of the same fungus, plant, and animal species as bufotenin.
Bufotenin is found in the poison and eggs of several species of toads belonging to the genus Bufo, but is most concentrated in the Colorado River toad (formerly Bufo alvarius, now Incilius alvarius), the only toad species with enough bufotenin for a psychoactive effect. Extracts of toad venom, containing bufotenin and other bioactive compounds, have been used in some traditional medicines such as ch’an su (probably derived from Bufo gargarizans), which has been used medicinally for centuries in China.
Reports in the mid-1990s indicated that bufotenin-containing toad venom had appeared as a street drug, supposedly but in fact not an aphrodisiac, ingested orally in the form of ch’an su, or as a psychedelic, by smoking or orally ingesting Bufo toad venom or dried Bufo skins. The use of chan’su and love stone (a related toad venom preparation used as an aphrodisiac in the West Indies) has resulted in several cases of poisoning and at least one death. The practice of orally ingesting toad venom has been referred to in popular culture and in the scientific literature as toad licking and has drawn media attention.
Albert Most, founder of the defunct Church of the Toad of Light and a proponent of spiritual use of Bufo alvarius venom, published a booklet in 1983 titled Bufo alvarius and Toads & Mushrooms: The Psychedelic Toad of the Sonoran Desert which explained how to extract and smoke the secretions.
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