Christina Haack says smoking ‘milk’ from a Bufo toad reduced her anxiety and ‘reset’ her brain. Experts warn against trying the psychedelic trend
Christina Haack’s method of suppressing her anxiety is unusual, but is it legit?
The star of the home renovation shows Flip or flop and Christina on the coast surprised fans earlier this month when they released a Instagram photo of herself with her new friend, Joshua Hall. However, it wasn’t just her new romance that made fans frown. In her caption, Haack stated that she “smoked a Bufo toad” and in doing so “basically reset my brain and kicked years of anxiety away” in just 15 minutes.
So what does it mean to “smoke a Bufo toad?”
Anya Ermakova, a member of the California-based Council for the Protection of Sacred Plants of the Chacruna Institute, which researches plant medicines and psychedelics, tells Yahoo Life that “Bufo toad” – a tautology, because Bufo means toad in Latin – is the colloquial term for the Sonoran desert toad, a large amphibian that lives in the Sonoran Desert in the US and Mexico .
“People smoke bufotoxin, a milky poison used for defense against predators,” explains Ermakova. “It is secreted by the glands behind the eyes and on the legs of a toad.”
The result of smoking this secretion is a potentially “intense” psychedelic experience, believed to be due in large part to bufotoxin’s main psychoactive ingredient, 5-MeO-DMT. David Nutt, director of the Neuropsychopharmacology Unit in the Division of Brain Sciences at Imperial College London, notes the goal is to promote “self-awareness and personal psychological growth.”
Alan Davis, assistant professor of social work and psychiatry at Ohio State University and Johns Hopkins University, added: “For those who have a good experience, they describe short-term and lasting benefits to mental health functioning and quality of life. They also describe lasting changes in their sense of self, spirituality, and worldview. Many report experiencing reductions in depression, anxiety, PTSD, and substance abuse.”
Ermakova tells Yahoo Life that “there is no scientific evidence” — in terms of clinical or lab studies — to prove that smoking this secretion can improve mental well-being. At least not yet. “They are mostly anecdotal reports,” explains Ermakova. “Several epidemiological studies in which people who have taken toad secretions or pure 5-MeO-DMT, as part of the ceremony or recreationally, report improvements in their mental health. Several investigations are currently underway in the Netherlands and the United Kingdom.”
According to Bia Labate, the executive director of the Chacruna Institute, “the therapeutic potential of 5-MeO-DMT has been given a lot of attention,” despite the fact that the scientific literature surrounding it is “still modest.”
“North American veterans with PTSD and those with a history of problem drug use have often sought the combination of 5-MeO-DMT and ibogaine for treatment with some success,” explains Labate. “However, there are also reports of negative effects on this combination.”
There are also other drawbacks to smoking Bufo mushroom secretions. For starters, it is not legal in the United States as 5-MeO-DMT is still classified as a Schedule I substance by the Drug Enforcement Administration. Those who are looking for a country where it is however, legal might want to think twice in the name of protecting the ecology.
“The biggest threat from the increasing popularity of toad secretions is to the poor toads themselves,” says Ermakova. “Capturing toads to milk their secretions can be very stressful and can add to the other ecological threats these toads experience (climate change, pesticides, habitat loss, development, traffic accidents), which can really endanger these amphibians.”
Davis added: “Because of people’s desire to harvest the secretion, they remove toads from their natural environment, milk them repeatedly in captivity, with the result that the toad population is decimated. In addition, due to more human trafficking in this region, more and more toads are dying due to cars, etc. There is also the ethical issue of traumatizing another species to harvest its organic product.”
For those seeking 5-MeO-DMT, Ermakova recommends proceeding with caution.
“The contraindications to the use of 5-MeO-DMT [are] similar to other psychedelics,” she explains. “[You should have] no history of psychotic disorders and no concomitant use of certain medications. It is also very important to take psychedelics in an appropriate ‘set and setting’.”
While the use of Bufo pad remains controversial, it certainly seems that Haack is happy with her experience.