Stop licking frogs trying to get High Warns National Park Rangers

Do you want to enjoy the benefits of psychedelics?
The National Park Service suggests that licking toads is not the way to go

Many ancient civilizations around the world used entheogenic or herbal psychedelics as part of their rituals or for spiritual purposes.

There are a handful of plants and even cacti that have been used for their psychedelic and therapeutic abilities. Many of these are still used today and are actually enjoying increasing popularity again. Examples include the well-known psilocybin mushroom, peyote, ayahuasca, and more. Additionally, ancient cultures in Mesoamerica are known to use the intoxicating biological properties of the Bufo marinus toad for the same purpose.

Due to the lack of proper information in the 1970s and 1980s, it became a joke that licking a toad could get you high. From the late 1980’s to early 1990’s there was a spate of misinformation spread through the media in the United States, Australia, Canada and Central America that perpetuated the “lick toad phenomenon”. But be warned: licking toads isn’t tasty: it could also be deadly and potentially dangerous.

Luckily, the licking toad phenomenon, or perhaps the urban myth, went away along with the War on Drugs. But with the psychedelics revolution, some people are wondering if this is still possible.

Earlier this month, the National Park Service had to issue a warning letter to all park visitors, saying not to lick or have any tongue contact with the Sonoran desert toad (Bufo alvarius) that is often found here. Strange as it’s usually common sense not to lick animals. The National Park Service, also known as the Colorado River Roads, acknowledges that they have “superb parotid glands that secrete a potent toxin,” Park Service said.

“Touching the frog or getting the poison in your mouth can make you sick,” they wrote in the warning. “As we say with most things you encounter in a national park, whether it’s a banana snail, an unfamiliar mushroom or a large toad with bright eyes in the middle of the night, please refrain from licking.”

What Happens When You Lick the Sonoran Desert Toad?

The hallucinogenic substance the toad excretes when threatened is known as 5-MeO-DMT, a natural but extremely powerful psychedelic. It is much stronger than DMT (dimethyltryptamine), a widely used recreational drug. In addition, it also contains bufotenine (5-HO-DMT), a derivative of tryptamine and another relative of DMT.

Consuming the narcotic substance from the toad’s back in raw form induces intense hallucinations and can even cause death as it is simply poison. Because of this, ancient cultures never consumed it in its raw form. As shamans and experienced psychonauts know, the proper way to consume it is to extract the venom glands, milk the substance, and dehydrate it. The resulting dry paste can then be smoked, a practice that has been practiced by shamans in Mexico for many decades.

When taken correctly, the psychoactive properties can kick in as little as five minutes after smoking. Depending on how much you smoke, the trip can last around an hour.

Demand for the bufo toad toxin has boomed in recent years. It has coincided with the growth of the retreat industry as people pay big bucks to heal trauma and a range of mental illnesses by taking psychedelic substances under the guidance of a shaman or other expert. According to an article in the New York Times, “People will pay anywhere from $250 for a ceremony in the woods of East Texas to $8,500 for a gilded beach setting in Tulum, Mexico to consume the poison.”

The question is: when there are many other options to choose from, is it really worth it?

But unlike other mainstream psychedelics with solid therapeutic value, toad venom is… At best experimental. However, it is certainly not safe to lick toads or consume toad venom, at least without the presence of an expert in your area. Many claim the drug can lead to euphoric, blissful sessions. A large number of reports from people who have taken the drug say that it is so intense that they usually do not remember the overwhelming sensations that came with it. As with other psychedelics, auditory and visual hallucinations are common with bufo toad venom.

But for most people, the fact that the effects kick in so much faster (within seconds for some) can be a nightmare. Physical panic feelings with increased blood pressure and heart rate can even occur – which is fatal for people with existing heart problems.

Listen: Bufo toad venom is among the most understudied drugs in the world. It’s just not safe and not worth risking your life to experiment with. If you are in need of healing and therapy, there are many other safer psychedelics that can assist you in your journey.

Even when people like world famous boxing champion Mike Tyson, as well as other celebrities, claim that they smoked toad poison and came out alive and maybe happier, it still comes with a huge risk. Until we know more about toad venom, which could be 10 years or even longer, just don’t lick frogs or smoke the venom unsupervised.




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