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Psychoactive toad is a name used for toads from which psychoactive substances from the family of bufotoxins can be derived. The skin and venom of Bufo alvarius (Colorado River toad or Sonoran Desert toad) contain 5-MeO-DMT and bufotenin. Other species contain only bufotenin. 5-MeO-DMT and bufotenin both belong to the family of hallucinogenic tryptamines. Due to these substances the skin or venom of the toads may produce psychoactive effects when smoked.
Additional recommended knowledge
Cultivation and uses
To obtain the psychoactive substances the venom of psychoactive toads is commonly milked from the toad's venom glands. The milking procedure does not harm the toad — it consists of stroking it under its chin to initiate the defensive venom response. Once the liquid venom has been collected and dried, it can be used for its psychedelic effects. The toad takes about a month to refill its venom glands following the milking procedure, during which time the toad will not produce venom. Some vendors sell dried toad skins, which is needless as the venom can be collected without harming the toad. The venom is often used for recreational purposes.
Smoking or vaporizing the toad's skin or products thereof protects one from being poisoned by the large number of additional toxins present in the secretions that are not volatile on heating or that will decompose at elevated temperatures. Many of these other toxins are peptides and large molecules.
Rumors and misconceptions
Rumors, dating from the 1970s, claimed that groups of "hippies" or teenagers were licking the psychoactive toads to get high. One version of the story has hippies in the hills of California chasing toads through the woods to get high. In another version, the infamous cane toad of Australia was said to be licked or ingested both by aborigines and by Australian hippies. These stories were propagated by a number of sources, including drug-abuse lectures, at least one textbook, and USA Today in 1988. The act of toad-licking has been depicted in the television programs such as L.A. Law, Family Guy and The Simpsons. The story was never true. While it certainly cannot be proven that no one has ever licked a toad in California, there is no documented evidence for toad-licking as a regular practice of any group at any time, nor is there any documented evidence that hallucinatory effects can be achieved in this way.
This story continued into the 1990s, despite a small story in Scientific American debunking the story in 1990. Even after this article, one Georgia state legislator referred to "the extreme danger of cane-toad licking becoming the designer drug of choice." A warning was also published in the British Journal of Psychiatry (November 1990) that stated "the Australian cane toad is popularly kept as a pet in the US, and licked by its owners for the resulting hallucinatory effects," with the note that two types of English toads also have the potential to be used in this way. Toads do have a variety of toxins in their skins that protect them from predators. If a person actually were to eat or even lick toad skins, he or she could become quite ill or even die. One Australian youth is reported to have died after eating cane toad eggs.
Licking toads is not biologically practical. In order for these tryptamines to be orally active the human mono-amin-oxidase system needs to be inhibited. (Schultes,Evans and Raffauf, Vine of the Soul: Medicine Men, Their Plants and Rituals in the Colombian Amazonia. Oracle, AZ: Synergetic, 1992.) Many of the original antidepressant medications were MaO inhibiters, but because of their side effects they have been phased out. The MaO system keeps dangerous Amines from building up in the blood stream. Many animals do not have an MaO system comparable to humans. This accounts for sheep and cow "staggers" when eating tryptamine containing phalaris grasses. Snorting, injecting or smoking tryptamines will bypass the primary MaO system in the digestive tract. Therefore the "licking of toads" will not result in a typtamine hallucination, unless combined with an MAO inhibiter. Ayawasca or Yaje' is an native brew that uses the MaO inhibiting properties of beta-carbolines (harmine, harmaline,ect) combined with various tryptamine containg plants. This mixture of MAO inhibiters and typtamines allows for the tryptamines to be "active" when consumed orally. This is why toad licking would not result in a "high" but rather a very ill state.
References and notes
|This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article "Psychoactive_toad". A list of authors is available in Wikipedia.|