Naturally occurring psychoactive drugs and where to find them

Naturally occurring psychoactive drugs and where to find them

VicesApril 16, 2018 By Will Brendza

Mother Nature is the greatest pharmacist of all time — no doubt about it.

Her drugs outclass, out-imagine and outshine anything mankind has ever been able to cook up. She is basically the OG Heisenberg.

Of course, there are some great synthetic drugs out there: LSD, MDMA, ketamine ... yet the natural world is simply packed with organically occurring psychoactive substances, putting the man-made list of drugs to shame. Some of these narcotics are popular and well known. Some of them are so exotic, so sub-cultural and other-worldly, that few people have ever even heard of them.

And their effects can be as strange and unthinkable as the substances themselves.

HAWAIIAN BABY WOODROSE

First up on the list of strange and natural intoxicants is Hawaiian baby woodrose, or Argyreia nervosa. Legally available for purchase online, the active ingredient in this natural Pacific island plant is d-lysergic acid amide (LSA), a chemical cousin to the ever-popular LSD.

LSA is not as potent as true acid, but the high is au natural — even if the experience isn’t quite as lucid. And buying and owning Hawaiian woodrose is legal in the U.S. However, synthesizing it to make LSA is not — a line that should be tread cautiously.

MIMOSA HOSTILIS

If you like DMT, or ayahuasca, you would probably enjoy Mimosa hostilis. Commonly known as Jeruma, this Brazilian tree bark contains the psychoactive ingredient DMT (although it has to be synthesized with an MOA inhibitor to make the DMT active) and is legal to buy online throughout the U.S.

People say that the Mimosa hostilis high is very similar to an ayahuasca trip, and in fact, the synthesized versions of this substance are known as ayahusaca analogues — or, ‘anahuasca’. Traditionally this, like ayahuasca, is brewed into tea. 

YOPO

Named for the tree that the drug comes from, Yopo is a psychoactive seed that contains DMT. While the DMT in Yopo beans is not active orally, they can still be consumed by mouth for a mild psychoactive effect. It can be bought online, and is relatively cheap to buy in bulk.

Traditionally, the stuff is consumed as snuff (snorted like coke), but because of the excruciatingly uncomfortable burning sensation it leaves in the nostrils, the method is not recommended by users. Making Yopo tea is definitely a better way to go. Extraction and possession of the DMT and/or bufotenin in the Yopo seeds is illegal, but owning the Yopo plant/seeds is not.

MESCALINE CACTUS

Popularized in the '70s by the peyote cactus, mescaline cacti have been widely used throughout the Americas for thousands of years. Peyote itself is illegal for most people in most parts of the U.S.; but on Indian reservations, use of the peyote cactus is legally protected for religious purposes.

Besides peyote, there is also Bolivian torch, Peruvian torch, and San Pedro cacti that all contain very high levels of mescaline and are extremely common throughout America. So common in fact, many garden stores sell them as house plants (but don’t expect the mescaline content to be advertised).

MORNING GLORY

This beautiful flower is easily recognizable. Morning glory flowers are a classic spring/summer plant, used for porch and garden decoration all over the country. They also contain LSA, which can be extracted from the seeds through a very simple chemical process (basically you grind the seeds and steep them in distilled water, just like tea, for about ten minutes). Ancient Egyptians are believed to have used morning glory seeds (and the LSA within them) for shamanic and spiritual rituals.

The seeds are extremely easy to get your hands on and they are also very cheap; but don’t just go into a garden store and buy the first morning glory seeds you see. Oftentimes, commercial morning glory seeds are treated with pesticides and other chemicals that can do bad things to you. However, you can produce your own organic morning glory seeds, or buy from a purveyor who specified that the seeds are “untreated.

COLORADO RIVER TOADS

This special toad can be milked for psychedelic poison. Yes, you read that correctly: then Colorado river toad’s glands (AKA the Sonoran Desert Toad) contain a psychoactive chemical that can be extracted and smoked. Followers of the “Church of The Toad of Light” consider this amphibian to be a sacred animal and use its psychedelic poison for spiritual ceremonies. They can be found in the wild in New Mexico, Arizona and California.

Use of this frog, for drugs, is so rare that there have been almost no criminal prosecutions concerning Colorado River toads, even though it is illegal to use the frog as an intoxicant. So, even if you get busted with a bucket full of these toads in your car, it’s doubtful anyone’s going to know you’re moving quantity.

MAD HONEY

In parts of Nepal and Turkey, bees pollinate Rhododendron flowers, which contain neurotoxins called “grayantoxins”. The result is a red colored honey, commonly referred to as Mad Honey – and this sticky stuff packs a punch.

The effects vary wildly, from mild inebriation to paralysis and, in extreme cases, even death. All the same, Mad Honey is easy to buy online and legal for purchase (although it can be pricey). While small doses of Mad Honey are considered “safe,” Rhododendran components are generally considered dangerous for consumption because of their neurotoxic nature.


It should go without saying, but we'll say it anyway, the above information is for educational purposes only and shouldn't be used for anything other than reading and enjoying, ever, lest you take full responsibility for your actions. In other words, don't try these at home.

[cover photo via Dreamstime]