Psychedelics Science

A Toad & Its God-Molecule, 5-MeO-DMT

It’s hypothesized that our ancient ancestors were no strangers to the power of psychedelic, entheogenic plants. Early hominids are theorized to have sampled magic mushrooms growing in cattle dung, for example, potentially sparking quite the evolutionary cascade. [1] And a plant known as yopo (Anadenanthera peregrina), containing the alkaloids bufotenin (5-HO-DMT), 5-methoxy-N,N-dimethyltryptamine (5-MeO-DMT, aka God Molecule), and N,N-dimethyltryptamine (DMT), was smoked/inhaled out of pipes made from puma bones some 4,000 years ago. [2] These are just two examples of humankind’s ancient reverence and affinity for mind-altering plants.

The glandular, venomous secretion of the Sonoran Desert Toad (aka Colorado River Toad) portends something even more mysterious. One can squeeze the venom out of various glands on the toad and catch the milky ooze against a sheet of glass. According to Albert Most, “one large toad yielding one gram of fresh venom may equal as much as [75] milligrams of potent hallucinogen, psychoactive in man at doses of [3 to 5] milligrams.” The toad requires 4 to 6 weeks to re-engorge the glands. Once the venom is dried, it’s ready to smoke.

This process may seem enigmatic, but the 5-MeO-DMT to be gained from the toad, or several plants and fungi, provides a powerful prospect for treating mental health conditions such as anxiety, depression, and post-traumatic stress disorder, as well as helping people with drug and alcohol addiction. [3]

A recent study evaluated the long-term effects of inhaling 5-MeO-DMT. [4] The participants wanted to ingest 5-MeO-DMT for many reasons, including “to connect with all that is, transcendence, downloading universal knowledge, and understanding of self.” Once the dried venom was inhaled, the researchers followed up with participants 24 hours and 4 weeks later. Participants were surveyed and tested to glean insights into their experiences.

The participants reported an overall “satisfaction with life” four weeks after the single inhalation of 5-MeO-DMT. In fact, satisfaction with life scores rose 7-11% immediately after the single inhalation. Correspondingly, depression, anxiety, and stress all decreased (18%, 39%, and 27%, respectively) directly after the session, and continued to decrease through the four-week observational period (68%, 56%, and 48%, respectively).

Study limitations include the lack of a control group, and the authors point to placebo-controlled clinical trials as the next logical step to better understand how 5-MeO-DMT works. Additionally, 40% of the study participants who smoked the venom did not complete any of the follow-up assessments, and the researchers speculated as to whether they may have had negative or unfulfilling experiences.

An important factor that the researchers divulged regarded the ecological ramifications of our harnessing the God Molecule out of the toads. As of 2004, Bufo alvarius was not classified as an endangered species [5], but surging interest in and subsequent excessive milking of 5-MeO-DMT means that the assessment is quite antiquated, and that toad habitats are increasingly invaded. The researchers suggest using synthetic 5-MeO-DMT to prevent ecological disturbances.

While there’s always more research needed, the prospect of releasing oneself of incapacitating thoughts, feelings, and emotions, or dependencies on legal chemicals that only serve to harm us in the long run, perhaps foreshadows a new, renovated, future humanity.


  1. McKenna T. Food of the Gods. Bantam Books: New York.
  2. Pochettino ML, Cortella AR, Ruiz M. Hallucinogenic snuff from Northwestern Argentina: microscopical identification of Anadenanthera colubrina var. cebil (Fabaceae) in powdered archaeological material. Economic Botany. 1999;53(2):127-132. [journal impact factor = 1.775; times cited = 23 (Semantic Scholar)]
  3. Davis AK, So S, Lancelotta R, Barsuglia JP, Griffiths RR. 5-methoxy-N,N-dimethyltryptamine (5-MeO-DMT) used in a naturalistic group setting is associated with unintended improvements in depression and anxiety. Am J Drug Alcohol Abuse. 2019;45(2):161-169. [journal impact factor = 2.925; times cited = 19 (Semantic Scholar)]
  4. Uthaug MV, Lancelotta R, van Oorsouw K, et al. A single inhalation of vapor from dried toad secretion containing 5-methoxy-N,N-dimethyltryptamine (5-MeO-DMT) in a naturalistic setting is related to sustained enhancement of satisfaction with life, mindfulness-related capacities, and a decrement of psychopathological symptoms. Psychopharmacology (Berl). 2019;236(9):2653-2666. [journal impact factor = 3.130; times cited = 17 (Semantic Scholar)]
  5. Hammerson G, Georgina S-B. Incilius alvarius. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2004. IUCN

Image Credit: “Colorado River Toad (Bufo alvarius)” by mcamcamca is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

About the author

Jason S. Lupoi, Ph.D.

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