The behavior of licking toads may seem a fairytale, but it does happen. People have been licking and even milking toads something that is considered dangerous and harmful to a person’s health. A psychedelic journey can take you to explore different kinds of substances from different sources. Kissing a frog can probably be one of those psychedelic experiences, however, there is something you need to understand before you try it.
Toads belong to a group of frogs classed in the order referred to as Anura and while not all toads are frogs, a frog is a toad. A toad is an animal that releases a substance known as a fabled hallucinogen from the skin. Different toads secrete different amounts of the substance meaning not all toads can be licked. Licking certain toads can bring the desired effect, but others can make you ill or even cause death.
Bufotoxin and Licking Toads
Toads belonging to the Bufonidae family have a parotoid gland found within the back area of their head. The gland produces a substance known as alkaloid toxin. When the toad is in danger or feels stressed and frightened, it releases the toxin that coats its back area. It is a mechanism of self-defense and it’s meant to help protect it from predators or things that can harm it. The effects caused by the poison known as bufotoxin vary considerably from a toad to another.
Some toads like the cane toad release little amounts of this psychedelic substance but larger amounts of other poisonous substances. Licking a cane toad can cause serious health problems including death. Cane toads belong to a group of toads referred to as Bufo toads or Bufo marinus. These toads carry a larger load of bufotoxin. Some of the biologically active substances that Bufo toads produce are epinephrine, dopamine, serotonin, norepinephrine, indolealkylamines, bufotenine, and bufagenins. While all Bufo species release these substances, there are differences in the amounts of each substance secreted by the various toads.
Animals recognize the likely dangers of eating toads belonging to the Bufonidae family and most will avoid these poisonous pond creatures. However, domestic dogs lack the adaptations needed to realize the threat presented by the pond creatures, unless they are trained. Often domestic dogs will chase and bite the toads only to have ill effects.
Dogs that ingest the toads have become paralyzed, sick, or killed, but clever animals such as raccoons that have developed natural adaptations to protect themselves from the toxins can eat the toads. Raccoons pull the toads out of their habitat, that’s the water – by gripping the legs to avoid coming into contact with the poison glands on the neck. The raccoons then flip over the toads so that they lie on the back meaning they can now eat the belly without being poisoned.
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The substance bufotoxin contains varying amounts of bufotenine, also referred to as 5-hydroxydimethyltryptamine or 5-HO-DMT. The substance has a similar chemical structure to psychedelic substances occurring naturally like psilocybin. Bufotenine varies slightly from DMT, a potent psychedelic substance derived from plants. DMT is also found in ritual tea for Amazonians known as ayahuasca. The little differences found in DMT and bufotenine make a big difference regarding the effects they cause.
A DMT trip is pretty visual, usually presenting with hallucinations in an individual whether their eyes are open or closed. On the other hand, bufotenine trips are considered more emotional or cognitive while also being much shorter. A bufotenine trip after licking a toad may only persist for about 10 minutes.
Various studies have been conducted to help measure the effects bufotenine causes in people. In a research study conducted in 1955, it showed varied effects of bufotenine on individuals. The researchers administered the substance through intravenous methods to prisoners. The individuals showed effects like changes in visual color including their face turning purple because of impaired circulation and oxidization. They also showed tightness in the chest.
Bufotoxins are regarded as cardio active steroids, they resemble digitalis substances. The digitalis-like substances are capable of altering the heart rhythm and rate. An overdose of digitalis can result in a type of arrhythmia. Many substances secreted by Bufo toads can cause vasoconstriction while also increasing blood pressure. These symptoms can be life-threatening and can lead to death.
The venom poisoning from toads resembles digoxin toxicity. In an investigation of one patient who had ingested aphrodisiac pills, it was found that he had positive serum digoxin concentration even though he wasn’t taking digoxin. The patient developed serious gastrointestinal symptoms. He had severe unremitting hyperkalemia, acidosis, and bradycardia. The patient developed serious arrhythmias and was dead after a few hours. The poisoning coming from toad venom is likened to digitalis toxicity, usually carrying high mortality. Toad venom is an element of an aphrodisiac, and it is believed to have been responsible for the clinical manifestations as well as the death of the patient.
Other studies have helped confirm the effects of licking toads on the cardiovascular system. Taken in high doses, bufotenine can pose a serious cardiotoxic threat.
Among the unique effects seen in users of bufotenine and people who lick toads is a tactile enhancement. The effect causes full body sensation that is overwhelming to the individuals. The sensation mostly occurs near the nerve endings. Individuals who use bufotenine say that the effects appear more intense compared to those gained from other psychedelic drugs.
People who use bufotenine may also experience other effects like:
- Perceived changes in gravity, for instance, feeling as though you are heavily being pressed down
- Skin flushing
- Anxiety and panic
- Constricted blood vessels
Some individuals on bufotenine trips describe the experience as near-death.
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Which Kind of Toads Do People Lick
People have experimented toad licking with all kinds of species, some turning to be deadly. That said, some psychonauts have found the Colorado River Toad to have the least chances of posing negative effects. These toads belong to a group of toads known as inciliusalvariusand they have been given the name Sonoran Desert Toad. The Colorado River Toad is highly regarded for psychedelic expeditions. The toad is found in Gila and Colorado Rivers in California’s New Mexico, and in Arizona and Mexico. In 1994, Bob Shepherd, a teacher was arrested for being in possession of four live Colorado River Toads and extraction of 5-MeO-DMT. Authorities also found other substances like LSD, morphine, mescaline, cannabis, and ketamine in the residence of Shepherd. Bufotenine or 5-MeO-DMT is classified as a Schedule I substance. Before this incident, rebellious teenagers did lick toads to get high, however, the behavior remained curious to the law enforcement and the public eye.
Is it Safe to Lick the Colorado River Toads?
It’s never a good thing to lick toads. Although the Colorado River Toads may be considered to have the least adverse effects, they do severely poison people and animals. Cases of adult dogs dying after ingesting the toad have been reported. Besides, it proves challenging to manage the dosage meaning a person is likely to overdose. Some individuals milk the water creatures by squeezing or poking them or even scrapping off the substance, which is then dried and smoked. Again, smoking bufotenine substance is inherently cardiotoxic.
Psychedelics induce changes in mind that can result in injury or death. Mainstream psychedelics such as DMT, LSD, and psilocybin may not have high toxicities compared to the bufotenine derived from licking toads, however, it doesn’t imply they are harmless. Psychedelics may have lower chances of having dependence and physical addiction, however, there are likelihoods of having psychological addiction and other psychological problems.
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