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Why Is Everyone Smoking Toad Venom?

PHOTO: New York Post

How an illegal amphibian-venom-derived psychedelic became the loudest whisper at a dinner party near you.

By Alex Kuczynski | 20 January 2022

TOWN & COUNTRY — In Southampton, soccer moms drop their kids off at school after taking their thrice-weekly microdose of psilocybin mushrooms, then meet for oat milk lattes. In Sun Valley, private retreats dedicated to tripping on MDMA or the Amazonian elixir ayahuasca are becoming almost as common as backyard barbecues. (Just don’t bring the kids.) In Silicon Valley, tech entrepreneurs and financiers turned psychonauts believe that taking small doses of LSD, in either liquid or tab form, helps with creativity and productivity in the workforce. Even rightwing internet investor Peter Thiel has put a formidable stake in Compass Pathways, a publicly traded psychedelic medicine company.

But now there’s a weirder, wilder new drug appearing on the menu for moneyed types in search of mind expansion: the Toad, otherwise known as 5-MeO-DMT (or, if you really want to know its correct name, 5-methoxy-N, N-dimethyltryptamine), or DMT, or Bufo. In his landmark 2018 memoir, How to Change Your Mind, Michael Pollan referred to it as the Everest of psychedelics.

Tamer El-Shakhs, an owner of the chic Malibu dispensary 99 High Tide and a sommelier, if you will, of all things hallucinogenic, told me that just as Everest is a mountain you would climb only a few times in your life, Bufo is a drug you would not want to take more than a few times. “It is so intense, and the experience so total and so life-changing, that I don’t think you would want to do it—or need to do it—more than a couple of times,” he says. Yet none of that has stopped a number of celebrities from openly talking about their experiences, from Mike Tyson to Chelsea Handler to reality TV star Christina Haack, who wrote about her Bufo experience in an Instagram post last July. “I had taken time off social, hired a spiritual coach, and smoked a Bufo toad (which basically reset my brain and kicked out years of anxiety in 15 mins),” she wrote. Hunter Biden has described it as a “salve” in helping him kick drug addiction. […]

11 Comments on Why Is Everyone Smoking Toad Venom?

  1. I was studying for my first degree, in Experimental Psychology, between 1968 and 1971. I was surrounded by folk tripping out on anything they could get – not just students but older ones too, who should’ve known better, being ‘in the trade’ so to speak. What I saw (and what I knew about neurophysiology then and later) made it a no-brainer never to touch them. This was not a paranoid reaction, just a rational fear of potential consequences/sequelae out of all proportion to any insight or entertainment they might provide.
    It interests me that people can want to short-circuit the long road to understanding of the world or themselves. Whether it’s drugs or Magick – DMT links the two, being legendarily involved in witchcraft, with self-proclaimed witches licking toads for magical powers – there always seems to be an underlying ‘lostness’ combined with a desire for instant gratification. I guess it arises when societies are at breaking-point, and the rewards of putting time and effort into acquiring real learning and power become a losing proposition to many. It’s a kind of litmus test, perhaps.

  2. In case you wanted to do research before you wrote the article you might have found out that micro doses of the active ingredient in LSD have been found to regenerate brain tissue. In studies of patients with dementia it can improve their brain function 20% in a short time and maintain it. Combine that 20% with an additional 20% from doing hyperbaric oxygen treatments and you have an incredible improvement in dementias. There have been similar improvements using several antibiotics that reduce brain inflammation and improvements using human growth hormone. Yet none of these treatments are recommended for the elderly. Micro doses of LSD do not produce hallucinations or other symptoms of getting “high” because the doses are too low. The excuse for not using antibiotics on the elderly is they might develop resistance. Poppycock, the risk is worth it. The excuse for not using growth hormone for the elderly is that there are no long term studies, poppycock, many rich actors have used it for decades so there is long-term data. Hyperbaric oxygen is never recommended for the elderly by mainstream medicine unless there is a wound approaching gangrene and then it is too late. So these women have done their research and are likely using the microdoses of LSD to ward off future dementias.

  3. If you live in the Southwest, DO NOT eat ANY Jimsonweed, aka “devil’s claw”, also known as Datura. It could kill you…never mind its psychedelic aspects…. I ought to know. A friend of mine way back when married a woman from the Philippines and one evening he took some datura leaves in for her to cook. He ate a little, then collapsed and nearly died, was rushed to the hospital. He survived (BTW, he was nearly 80!) Then you have Carlos Casteneda, a cult leader (lived in Pahrump, Nevada) who also wrote new age type novels about the rituals of the Yaquis of Mexico, using psilosiben mushrooms, and using small amounts of datura…many folks thought these fiction novels were NON-fiction. One novel, Journey to Ixtlan, was interesting however.

    • It is noteworthy that the Bible cautions against drunkenness from booze but nothing about the endless ‘mind expanding’ dope derived from ‘plants & birds & rocks & things’. The only seeming suggestion of such usage is within the context of witchcraft & idolatry. How anyone can ‘think’ their dope induced experience is ‘special’ may just be artificial enlightenment.

      • Hauntess, I think you nailed it. Beyond hallucinations and some euphoria I don’t think these people are doing anything beneficial to their bodies, minds, or spirit. I think it’s probably more of a trauma based placebo effect.

        You observe things that are strange and difficult to understand when under the influence of hallucinogens and your mind creates a justification for it which may open a path for self improvement, usually due to regretful behavior, like an alcoholic hitting “rock bottom”. At the same time you could be unintentionally opening pathways for mental illness as well.

        Distortion of reality through the use of any substance can create dependency issues and leave you worse off than before. Many people have become obsessed with “tripping” and will start to make lifestyle changes based on creating an environment where they can be perpetually “stoned”. Unfortunately this behavior usually leads to loss of family and social status, homelessness etc. How many homeless people are former acid freaks? Probably more than you think.

  4. 25+ years ago Rush Limbaugh said there were people getting high by licking certain frogs in the Amazon jungles. It would not surprise me if some of these naturally occurring chemicals could under good supervision benefit certain ailments.

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