Toad Dharmacology

Round about the cauldron go;

In the poison’d entrails throw.

Toad, that under cold stone

Days and nights has thirty-one

Swelter’d venom sleeping got,

Be thou first i’ the charmed pot.

Double, double toil and trouble;

Fire burn, and cauldron bubble.

— Macbeth, Act 4, Scene I

Bufo Alvarius is commonly known as the Sonoran Desert Toad or Colorado River Toad.   As the names suggest, these critters can be found in the southwestern US and northern Mexico.    It is the largest native North American species of toad.  They grow to be 4-7 inches long.  They are nocturnal and are semi-aquatic, living in streams, canals, or drainage ditches.  They eat small rodents, insects, small reptiles and other toad species.   Their main defense against predators is the venom produced in glands on their skin.  It is poisonous enough to kill dogs and cats.  The venom also contains chemicals which are psychoactive in humans.  

Bufo Alvarius (wikimedia commons)

The psychoactive ingredients in the toad venom are:  Bufotenine (5-hydroxy-N,N-dimethyltryptamine), named after the toad genus Bufo, and the closely related 5-MeO-DMT (5-methoxy-N,N-dimethyltryptamine). 5-MeO-DMT is an extremely potent hallucinogen; 4 times more potent than DMT (dimethyltryptamine).  

The myth of toad licking:

Do not try this at home kids.  As mentioned before, the venom is toxic and is used against predators in the wild.  Toad licking has resulted in cases of severe poisoning.  When ingested orally the venom has very nasty effects on the peripheral nervous system such as increasing blood pressure and heart rate.  Smoking is the best way to “safely” experience the psychedelic effects.     When you smoke or snort (insufflate) drugs they go directly to the central nervous system (brain) with minimal peripheral effects.  

Legal Status:

Possession of toads is legal in the US but Bufotenine is a Schedule I chemical.  Last year a man in Missouri was arrested for having a Colorado River Toad with the intention of using it as a hallucinogen.   The toad remains detained at a police crime lab.

A Toad named Dharma:

Watch this instructive video to learn more about the legal status and how to extract the toad venom.  I kid you not, the toad’s name is Dharma.  To extract the venom, squeeze the glands on its legs and neck.  As she cheerfully explains, it’s “similar to squeezing one of your own zits”!


Once you have the extracted dry material you need to weigh out a dosage.  Individual toads vary considerably in the quantity of 5-MeO-DMT produced. Each milligram of venom contains somewhere between 10% to 25% psychoactive material.  The average yield of dried venom per toad, regardless of its size, is generally 250mg when all the glands are milked twice.  One web site suggested the following doses assuming that 25% of the venom is 5-MeO-DMT.

Smoked Toad Venom Dosages:

Threshold 4-8 mg

Light 8-20 mg

Common 20-40 mg

Strong 40-80 mg


15 minutes – 1 hour


5-MeO-DMT is incredibly powerful.  Even the most experienced psychonauts get blown away – far, far away.   From divine bliss to psychic terror.   This is NOT a recreational drug.  

Some brave souls have tried to put their experiences in words even though almost everyone says the experience is indescribable.    Some common themes include: being launched into another realm, alien entities, disembodiment, dissolution, ego death, horror,  panic, access to new forms of knowledge and information, union with cosmic consciousness, and intense psychedelic visuals.      

From the Erowid Experience vaults, here are some trip reports from people who have smoked 5-MeO-DMT or toad venom.  I edited them slightly for typos and cut paragraphs to shorten.  Pictures are from Erowid’s Visionary Art Vaults. Click images to go to the source page.

Posted by Shard (2002)

Male, 130 lbs.

Toad Venom, smoked

This trip, like my last try, was in my darkened room. I had a candle burning, one soft light on, and Massive Attacks album Mezzanine playing on my computer. And for good luck my new pet toad was in his tank right next to me. I was sort of scared as I put the pipe to my lips, hoping that it would work, and REALLY hoping that I wouldn’t take too much. As I lit my lighter I heard the venom snap and crackle from the heat, and I gently sucked the smoke into my lungs. It was a fairly large hit that filled my lungs with smoke.

And then it began…My vision went blurry for a split second, and I felt pins and needles creeping quickly up the back of my neck and head. By the time this pins and needles effect got to my eyes, I was tripping VERY hard. Shadows began to move, and slither up my wall. Everything in my room took on a strange glow, and the fear grew inside me. After 20 seconds the effects were still coming on hard and fast, and I felt like I would almost freak out. But then a calm came over me as the drug reached its peak.

The visual effects were similar to a moderate dose of mushrooms or LSD, but the body high was extremely intense. I lay in my bed, hardly moving for about the first minute, time slowed quite dramatically. I was using a winamp visualization program, and it slowed to a crawl, so did my clock. But the music seemed to go on at its normal pace. The only thing I could think for the first 5 minutes was ‘Dear God it worked!!.’ Everything was so beautiful that it amazed me to no end. I ended up playing with my dog for a while, I really enjoyed touching anything I could get my hands on.

At this dosage, which is quite unknown, I learned nothing spiritual or anything profound. I found this experience to be filled with some neat visuals and mostly just a feeling of “Holy shit”. 5-MeO wears off way to fast; I wished I could have stayed in that bed for much longer. The trip peaked after about 30 seconds, and stayed fairly intense for maybe 5 minutes. The quick decline in effects continued for 20 minutes, but I was left with a nice afterglow. After an hour I felt I was completely back to baseline. My only complaint about the experience is the lingering smell that 5-MeO-DMT leaves. I’d be careful if you are trying to do this while other people are home, the smell stays for hours and would be hard to explain.

chris elflyer dyer

Posted by Tim (2000)


Toad Venom, smoked

I just wanted to sit down and describe some of what happened on my first experience with the Toad. I fasted from dinner Thursday night until seven Friday night, dosed my body with vitamin C, E, B’s, etc., and settled my mind, and relaxed in my room with a little Floyd playing. I nixed the outdoor setting as I wanted a place where I was very comfortable mentally and physically; someplace familiar. I placed what looked like a good amount in my special pipe, then added a few small granules more. Using a small propane torch with a small soft flame I heated the end of the tube until the granules began to blacken, bubble, and smoke. Inhaling slowly produced a dense gray smoke curling up the tube, that rapidly filled my lungs with a massive, smoke coming out of my nose_type_hit. A real, real big hit. A hit like I was doing a one hit of pot.

As soon as I finished inhaling I knew it was a big dose. The visuals came on even before I could finish exhaling ten heartbeats later, and I only had time to shut off the torch and put down the pipe before the world dissolved and I lost complete and total touch with reality. It was the fastest, hardest trip I have ever had. The initial thirty seconds were overwhelming, indescribable, and somewhat terrifying. I struggled to hold my shit together and relax… not to panic… but the initial rush was to like riding a roller coaster. You know intellectually that roller coasters are safe, but as you plunge downward from the precipice, thoughts of death steal in and shove your heart into your throat. As you gain speed, you are forced to realize that there is no way out. You are committed. There is no way to undo what you have just done. The only path is to ride it out. But the fucker just keeps gaining speed, and for an eternity of split seconds, frozen in time, you say HOLY SHIT, and you are positive that you can not go, or stand it any faster… but it goes, and goes, and goes, raging forward with you belted to its back by puny straps, your sanity pushing its way up out of your pocket like a wallet. You hope to God you don’t lose it but there is no way you can let to now to stuff it back. Only after, can you laugh about it and gain some sense of exhilaration at your seeming brush with destruction. If it sounds like I did not gain anything positive from the experience that is absolutely not true at all. It is just that it was so intense!

Danny Gomez

Posted by exuberantmantra (2003)

Male, 150 lbs.

Toad Venom, smoked

It was monsoon season in Tucson Az. I prepared my mind for clairvoyance. I treated the toads with the utmost respect, individually asking each for the proper spiritual permission to extract their precious defense mechanism. I ended up extracting the venom from primarily the two head glands of about 20 separate individuals.

The next step was to ignite the engines. As soon as I noticed the little brown square beginning to vaporize, I started to slowly inhale. Slowly (I didn’t want to have the chunk fly up into my mouth). Once it was melted to the glass, I inhaled deeper and harder. I thought I had enough, and then I had some more. A lot. My goal was to finish off the nuglette (which instead turned into black resin at the bottom of the glass). I stopped inhalation and set the pipe down on the granite table (watch out its hot and can melt plastic). The feeling came on immediately and was overwhelming. I looked beyond my porch at the ground which looked like it was boiling (from the sprinkling). Then the entire world started spinning. I grew slightly nauseous (lots of different sensations all over), and was overwhelmed with an uncomfortable feeling. I could no longer keep my eyes open because the light and exterior stimuli were too intense. I reminded myself that this feeling was temporary and that pain and discomfort are transitory. I seemed to sky rocket exponentially, and soon I was too far beyond my own body to feel anything.

It was at this time that I realized I was tripping HARD. The most intense trip I ever had. Until then i hadn’t even realized what tripping was. I avoided panic by reminding myself that it wasn’t going to last a long time, and that in this moment I exist, this moment is my life. Then it got about 10 times more intense.

(probably 3 min into experience, though it felt MUCH longer)

My closed eyes were seeing bodies of ungulating emanating infinitesimal fibres of existence (no other way to describe). I no longer had a body, I no longer lived on earth, I no longer existed in this dimension. I was completely aware of everything that was going on, I had no memory lapse or anything, and yet I was ungulating along with this fibrous liquid. I realized that all these rules we have for living, all these behaviors we exhibit are products of necessity, and that I had no rules, I just existed. My mind began turning itself inside out over the question, ‘I exist’. I felt so distant and yet so unified.

Now I realize that language plays a pivotal role in thought processes and memory. We can not grasp existence because we have no means to describe it, to analyze it, to dissect it. But in a state of mind such as this, analysis is futile, thought occurs, and people, things, exist.

After what felt close to an hour of just merging with this existing intertwining all encompassing liquid (not to mention the colors, oh god the colors!) I began to step back into ‘reality’ (which has since then meant something completely different). I watched the mountains rolling in waves in the distance, I watch the lightning get closer and further, and I was at peace with wherever, whenever, whatever I was.

Posted by Van Sykl (2001)

Male, 150 lbs.

10 mg, 5-MeO-DMT Freebase, smoked

As the smoke took its time to wander through my bloodstream to my brain, I had a premonition of this being absolutely unique, and it was. This experience was nothing like any other chemical pathway to an altered state I have ever tried, including many LSD trips, psilocybin, mescaline, peyote, grass, crack, speed, cocaine, you name it. My consciousness was broken open and my separation from pure direct connection of all that exists dissolved, so that I and the universe were now recognizable in experience as one thing.

The sensation was of almost unbearable beauty, of complete immersion in all time, all space and all reality. And the obvious truth is that there is nothing between each soul and constant ecstasy but our ability to recognize that we are already in heaven, that intense joy is ours whenever we choose and that death and life are the same and that constant, perpetual ecstasy is the fundamental condition of this universe. There is nothing to be ‘done’, there is no one recipe of behavior that will transport us to some ‘place’.

The universe is love and love is the only requisite to live our material segment of existence in connection with this truth. It is the truth that all great spiritual leaders have told us, and yet without some catalyst to help us experience it personally, we cannot translate the prophets’ words into our own reality. This chemical Doorway, for me, was such a catalyst.

Weeks after, I am still transformed. And the question was raised in my mind, ‘Now that I know nirvana exists here and now if we want it, what next do I do with my physical life?’ And the answer was ‘Take out the trash. It’s full.’ And so I did, with love in my heart.

Jayarama Bryan

This one is long, but it shows the dark side

Posted by Barley (2002)

Male, 185 lbs.

7.5 mg, 5-MeO-DMT powder/crystals, smoked

With the aid of my sitter (call him “John”), I held the glass pipe to my lips and drew a very long, slow drag until I could hold no more. I saw a wisp of alarmingly white smoke rise from the pipe before it was blown away by the large white cloud I exhaled.

Just as John secured the pipe out of my hands, I felt the onset. I let go of the pipe, let myself fall back into John’s inordinately comfortable couch, and then, all within a matter of a few seconds, was launched into the peak experience of the trip.

Words now fail, of course, as (to a lesser extent) does my memory of these four-day-old events. I know that I felt a tremendous surge of energy through my entire body-at first from my heart (or was it my brain) exploding out through my extremities, then imploding back. Yet, as I imploded back, it was as though I disintegrated, got shuffled and then lost all concept of my physical body and the physical world surrounding it. Again, this is all within the first moments.

There was tremendous sound, that of a tornado or jet engine. The visuals were very jumbled, a swirling, cracked-mirror geometry with black and white and yellow and some red (the flag of Maryland in a washing machine?)-seeming to move, to radiate very fast, yet hardly to change- mild, as hallucinatory images go.

That which was not mild in any way was the emotional-mental-spiritual effect. My entire being – my soul, I suppose – began to scream in anguish, in terror, in horror. This, surely, was the worst place in the universe for a human soul to be. I can’t say why or how or what this was; it doesn’t translate to our consensus reality. I just know that it took me utterly and horribly. I wanted to get out of there with every fiber of my being.

After what was maybe two or three minutes of this, I came to believe that I was, in fact, in hell: Hell, the real place – no red demons with pitchforks, no fire, no frozen lakes – just pure, non-stop, overwhelming, spiritual torment. And it seemed to be eternal. I believed, not in the way we think normally or have a notion, but rather as an indisputable, immutable truth in the core of my small, small self, that I had made some huge mistake in my life (what?!) or bartered away my soul (these painful insights peering through the non-stop rage of the whole thing).

Then the first real-world image came through: John’s face, his eyeglasses oddly askew. He had procured and prepared the powder for me, therefore, I knew at the time, he was the devil. No . . . he was The Devil. ‘The Devil exists, and he is John. He tricked me into doing this, and now I am paying with my soul, damned to everlasting, existential torment.’

If not the Devil, then maybe some sort of vampire. I was suddenly, vaguely conscious of my body again, that I was lying back on the couch with my neck very exposed. I was beginning to come back, to come down, to leave Hell.

I remained frightened. I pleaded with ____ (the universe?) that I might never have to experience that again. I felt mild, occasional tremors run down an arm or leg or side and the very slightest nausea (I had fasted for eight hours prior).

John had told me before we began that he wouldn’t say anything to me until I spoke to him. Perhaps I indulged this; I felt as though I wanted to sleep. Then John’s phone rang.

John raced to turn down the answering machine, and I mustered a chuckle.

“You all right?” he ventured.

“Yeah,” I breathed. And after a moment, “That was hell.”

“Your throat must be sore,” he said as he left to dig up a lozenge (mentho-lyptus). I also accepted his offer for a cup of chamomile tea, which soon appeared in a mug featuring a Mary Engelbreit illustration and the words “Snap out of it!”

John re-joined me on the couch, and I asked him if I had said or done anything in this world during my trip to that one. He smiled and explained to me that I had screamed – at the top of my lungs, from the bottom of my guts, non-stop – for about six minutes (mostly “NO” and “FUCK” and occasionally “PLEASE” among the wordless screaming).

He told me that he had been about four or five minutes away from calling 911 when I sat up, looked him straight in the face and screamed with the intention of every shard of my existence that he was the Devil and that he should get fucked — shortly afterwards sinking silently back into the couch. After a while he had seen my left hand move and knew that I would be all right.

He went on to explain that he was not, in fact, the Devil, though he had been called the Anti-Christ by someone several years ago under somewhat similar circumstances.

We reasoned together about the circumstances that may have brought about such a dark episode when an experience of absolute bliss followed by joyous weeping more typically follows this powder’s ingestion. John gently cautioned me of the seductive tracks of fate and design.


I am endlessly fascinated and amazed by these experiences.  The fact that people are willing to experiment like this on themselves speaks of some innate spiritual drive to alter consciousness and return to __ where?   This is the final frontier.   To explore the vastness of our minds and beyond.  


Skip to comment form

  1. Smokin’ Toadz!

    Not me – no way!   I don’t think I could handle it.

    How about you?

    • robodd on January 23, 2008 at 04:19

    with intent.


  2. And what a great essay for the full moon, which is tonight.

    Great written descriptions.

    Those witches knew what they were putting in their brew, heh.

    • nocatz on January 23, 2008 at 04:26

    but living in Tucson, maybe there’ll be a dharmic meeting after the first summer rains and the toads come out…

    have to find cosmicdebris…

    and I think there’s somebody’s ranch southwest of town…

  3. Has there ever been a study of Jungian (or other) archetypes done in relation to hallucinogenic imagery?

    Do we just journey through some sort of dreaming state, when propelled to the edge, and wander through the same imagery as in dream, or  are their differences?

    Is the entire journey just in familiar parts of our brain in our unremembered sections of dreams, or are we crossing true frontiers into places in the mind that are unaccessible,  in any other way? What do y’all think?

    Especially those of you who have smoked toad venom.

  4. I dunno.

    Mr. Toad – the wealthiest character and owner of Toad Hall. Although good-natured, Toad is impulsive, self-satisfied and conceited. He is prone to obsessions and crazes, such as punting, houseboating, and horse-drawn caravans, each of which in turn he becomes bored with and drops. Eventually he discovers motor-cars, and after a series of accidents is imprisoned for theft, dangerous driving and impertinence to the rural police. Several chapters of the book chronicle his escape, disguised as a washer-woman. His friends eventually reform him and win back Toad Hall, which has been usurped by the weasels, stoats and ferrets in his absence.

    “Motor-cars are my life!”

    Ayahuasca, yes.  Toads, not really.

    • Alma on January 23, 2008 at 04:52

    That just cracked me up.

  5. …first person accounts, entirely in the clinical tradition.  Thought I’d opened an old issue of “The Journal Of Psychedelic Drugs” (not a joke btw, and the editor’s web site doesn’t do it justice) for a minute.  

    Never even been tempted to try toad.  But one cannot help but respect the spirit of inquiry!  If I did toad it would just be for the story, and that would be wrong…

  6. All hail… The hypnotoad!

  7.    creativity are in another galaxy.  I don’t even have time to read this tonight, but I can hardly wait till tomorrow…

    Thanks for all the fun, eye of toad and skin of…

    skipping through the tulips…

  8. In the year after the Summer of Love (’67 – ’68), I taught drama in a high school near Laguna Beach.

    The school was in chaos, the students were in control, and the administration was in a state of terror.  They were trying desperately to keep the parents and community from knowing.

    In an effort to control the situation, the administrators enrolled the discipline problem graduating senior boys into the drama class. It hadn’t worked for them in auto shop the previous year.  I had 56 students in that drama class.  It was wild.

    When it came time to decide on the school play, someone in the class suggested “Alice in Wonderland.”  I immediately recognized the wisdom of this; I could get the toking discipline problem guys really stoked on building wild, psychedelic sets.

    We got the play books and started readings for the parts.  One day in the teachers’ lunch room, the Assistant Principle came over to me and asked “How come you’re doing a play that’s all about drugs?”

    I replied, “Alice in Wonderland?  It’s a classic!  Have you ever read it?”

    He said no, but the librarian had told him it was all about drugs, some music group up in San Francisco was singing about white rabbits or something.

    I again asked if he had read it.  When he said “no,” I gave him a copy to take home and read.

    Two days later, this vice principle approached me again in the lunch room saying…

    “I don’t know about the drugs, but I don’t understand it.  Why don’t you do something which makes some sense?

    He’d gotten as far as the “Jabberwock Poem” and decided the whole thing was incomprehensible.

    Knowing I faced an insurrection when I announced this in the class, I thought about how to approach it.  So I went into the drama production class and preempted the disturbance with: “So how would you like to do a play about how the fearful establishment reacts when the evolutionary progress of further growth demands greater freedom, greater realization?”  I doubt that the adminstration persons would have understood this, but the students did, at least enough to be fascinated.

    So, I told them about Arthur Miller’s “Crucible,” the Salem Witch trials and the repression.

    I submitted the playbook to the authorities for approval.

    This took a week or so.  In the meantime, unbeknownst to me, a girl in the class whose father was a Professor of bio-chemistry at UC Irvine, spoke with him about this.

    The day I announced that the administration had approved the choice of “The Crucible,” the girl raised her hand and asked to read something.  Her father had found an article in a prestigious, learned journal in the field by two French scientists. They had done an extensive research study on medieval recipes for witches brews.  She excerpted relevant portions.

    The French  scientists had spent several years skipping across meadows and dales collecting the various ingredients, brewing them in pots (I don’t know whether or not they recited incantations), and sampling the contents.

    The French scientists concluded that, in fact, the witches probably had not actually flown, but they sure as heck felt like they did!  

    The class errupted in laughter.  Someone said, “Be careful! Don’t let the administration know, or they’ll reject this play too!”

    With our little secret in tow, the class did a wonderful production.  We all had fun, and only the class knew!


    • on January 23, 2008 at 23:23

    you have your own dharmagirl

    thing iz tho

    she likes toads best

    • srkp23 on January 27, 2008 at 05:08

    I couldn’t handle the Toad. I laid down the hallucinogens years ago. OK, OK, just a little bit of shrooms still now and then just enough to add a little tingle. 🙂

    The artwork by Chris Elflyer Dyer is amazing!

Comments have been disabled.