Monday, February 2, 2009

Divine Toad Sweat

The Legend:  You can get high by licking toads.

Status:  False


We've all heard the stories, seen the Simpson's episode and made the jokes. Toad-licking was just so bizarre that it was destined to become a contemporary legend. Never mind that it's not true, it's still a great story.

The toad in question is the Bufo alvarius or Cane Toad. Cane toads have sacs behind their head that will release highly poisonous venom and quickly kill animals that prey on them. They are so toxic that dogs, snakes and even crocodiles will only survive minutes after eating one.

Despite the stories and jokes, you can't get high licking the venom off of this toad. Besides, would you really want to try after watching it kill a crocodile?  There is a hallucinogen in the toad's venom, but the venom has to be processed to extract the hallucinogen into a form that is safe to use.

Some said that the hallucinogenic chemical was bufotinine, 5-OH-DMT, found in all Bufo toad venom. In 1967 the FDA even made bufotenine a Schedule I drug, which means it has no potential for medical use and is too dangerous for human consumption. They were wrong. Bufotenine is not the active hallucinogen in toad venom.

The psychoactive chemical in toad venom is actually 5-MeO-DMT. 5-methoxy-dimethyltryptamine is a powerful hallucinogen. This drug is present in only one of the more than 200 species of the Bufo toad; Bufo alvarius. 5-MeO-DMT is inactive when taken orally. To get high on toad, the venom must be collected, dried and then smoked or snorted, which will get you high for about 15 minutes.

Bufo toad venom shows up in the strangest places. Even though banned by the FDA, bufanolides are still imported and sold illegally as aphrodisiacs in products such as Love Stone, Chinese Rock and Black Stone. When ingested they can be uncomfortable, unpleasant and fatal.

The Bufo Toad has it's admirers and worshipers. LSD evangelist Art Kleps, founder of the psychedelic Neo-American church, has a newsletter called, "Divine Toad Sweat." And Bufo toad evangelist Albert Most founded the "Church of the Toad of Light." While many people have used hallucinogens to achieve spiritual insights, remember that this particular hallucinogen can kill a crocodile.