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People are licking psychedelic toads in national parks and feds say it’s ‘toad-ally terrifying’

Nov 8, 2022 | Media Partners, The GrowthOp

This post is presented by our media partner The Growth Op
View the original article here.

“Please refrain”

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The U.S. National Park Service recently combined humour, fun facts and straight-up education as part of a Facebook post, all in a bid to get visitors to stop licking psychedelic toads to get high.

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“Well that’s toad-ally terrifying…. Hey there! Here is the ‘ribbiting’ late night content no one asked for,” reads the post — the Twitter post and accompanying picture offer less detail.

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Letting loose the skinny on the Sonoran desert toad — a big guy measuring about 18 centimetres and making a “weak, low-pitched toot, lasting less than a second” — the post states the prominent parotoid glands secrete a potent toxin that can sicken people who handle the toad, also known as the Colorado river toad, or gets its poison in their mouths.

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“As we say with most things you come across in a national park, whether it be a banana slug, unfamiliar mushroom or a large toad with glowing eyes in the dead of night, please refrain from licking. Thank you.”

Toads “have extremely potent, defensive toxins”

The Arizona Sonoran Desert Museum explains that Sonoran toads “have extremely potent, defensive toxins that are released from several glands (primarily the paratoids) in the skin. Animals that harass this species generally are intoxicated through the mouth, nose or eyes. Dog owners should be cautious: the toxins are strong enough to kill full grown dogs that pick up or mouth the toads.”

Some people believe doing so will produce a psychedelic high — the substance is collected by stroking under the toad’s chin, spurring a defensive response that can then be dried and smoked, per The New York Times — but a rehab centre in Pennsylvania suggests there could be big downsides.

Citing Drug Science, an international scientific research group, The Washington Post notes 5-MeO-DMT, which can be snorted, inhaled or smoked, induces a short, but intense, psychedelic trip of about 30 minutes.

Per the rehab centre, “We know that people will use just about anything to get high,” the information suggests that a toad is not a toad is not a toad.

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Toads that can, indeed, get a person high may do so with “drastically different results, depending on the exact species,” and several species secrete toxins.

Toad-licking can have both desirable and less than desirable effects

Licking toads can sometimes lead to desirable effects — perhaps hallucinations and euphoria are on the most wanted list, while nausea, vomiting, anxiety and seizures likely aren’t — the centre reports “there are a variety of health problems that can also arise in between.”

No word on how much of a problem actual toad-licking is, but it is certainly food for thought.

According to an article in The New York Times from earlier in 2022, the demand for the psychedelic toxin from the Sonoran toad has ratcheted up demand, but that may be translating to putting its population at risk of collapse.

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Addiction Center reported three years earlier that the toad produces a venom known as 5-MeO-DMT, which is “an extremely potent natural psychedelic,” that is four to six times more powerful than DMT and is comparable to ayahuasca, psilocybin mushrooms and mescaline.

Researchers looking at how toad venom can be used for health

That same year, 2019, researchers at Johns Hopkins pointed out that preliminary studies involving 5-MeO-DMT, which is most often consumed via synthetically produced vapor “suggest that it may combat depression and anxiety just as effectively as psilocybin, requiring a much shorter duration to reap the benefits.”

In 2021, Newsweek reported biotech company Beckley Psytech had raised more than US$80 million from investors to support the clinical research and development of the psychedelic compound.

Per National Public Radio, public figures who have reported licking the toad (or at least using its extracted toxins) for fun, on a dare or as a form of addiction treatment include Mike Tyson, Chelsea Handler and Hunter Biden.

We’d love to hear from you. Get in touch with feedback and story tips at thegrowthop@postmedia.com

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