Why Tripping On Toad Venom Is The Hot New Trend In Psychedelic Research

As mainstream acceptance of psychedelics for treating addiction and mental health issues continues to rise, researchers are studying the effects of increasingly potent psychoactive substances, the latest of which is toad venom (via InStyle). Over the last few years, celebrities like Mike Tyson and Christina Haack have touted the effects of smoking psychedelic toad venom and its supposed life-changing properties, but what exactly is it and what can it do?

As it turns out, this mind-altering drug comes from a rare species of toad native to the Sonoran Desert known as the Bufo alvarius, which produces a venom containing the toxic chemical 5-MeO-DMT. This toxin is then extracted from the toad and dried out into a paste. When smoked, the chemical binds to the serotonin receptors in the brain, creating a sense of euphoria while causing hallucinations. Unlike other psychedelics, however, the trip from toad venom is relatively short and only lasts around 20 minutes.

Toad venom may benefit people with mental health disorders

According to Verywell Mind, people who smoke toad venom often report feeling a greater sense of awareness, a connection to a higher power, or a sense of rebirth, which can alter their mood and give them a new outlook on life. While further research is still needed, toad venom could potentially be beneficial for people with mental health disorders, like anxiety, depression, and addiction. "Many patients are not getting relief from currently approved medicines and are seeking help from non-or less regulated approaches," Joseph Araujo, a behavioral pharmacologist at Mindset Pharma, told Verywell Mind. "Collectively, this seems to have driven interest in several psychedelics, including 5-MeO-DMT."

However, there are some safety concerns to consider. For instance, studies have shown that interactions with toad venom and certain prescription drugs can be quite dangerous and even fatal. In addition, the potency and hallucinogenic properties of 5-MeO-DMT can be triggering for some people with substance abuse issues and psychotic disorders in high doses. Furthermore, the environmental impact of milking toads for their venom is another concern. That's because the Bufo alvarius species is considered to be endangered. As a result, experts suggest taking synthetic 5-MeO-DMT instead if you are considering it — you can still experience the same trip without putting any more toads at risk. Always talk to your doctor before trying alternative treatments.