Saturday, June 15, 2024

Sonora’s traditional toad medicine ‘removes the madness from your mind’

Dozens of people from Mexico and abroad traveled to a small coastal town in Sonora earlier this month to celebrate the new year for the indigenous Seri culture and learn about and take a very unique “medicine” – psychoactive toxins emitted by the Colorado River toad.

Held in Punta Chueca, a Seri town on the Gulf of California 140 kilometers west of Hermosillo, the event attracted citizens from the United States, Europe and several Mexican states.

The key attraction was the opportunity to try 5-MeO-DMT, a psychedelic of the tryptamine class found in the glands of the toad, also known as the Sonoran Desert toad or bufo alvarius. 

The substance is considered an ancestral medicine with the capacity to treat a range of physical, emotional and spiritual ailments. It is commonly dried, mixed with tobacco and smoked to trigger “a powerful religious-like trip that lasts about an hour,” according to the web site Addiction Center.

Octavio Rettig Hinojosa, a shaman known as El Profeta del Sapo (the prophet of the toad), told the newspaper Milenio that the “venom” is extracted from toads without harming them and is therefore a sustainable substance.

Shaman Octavio Rettig, right, and a candidate for treatment.
Shaman Octavio Rettig, right, and a candidate for treatment.

“It’s an anti-hallucinogen, it’s something that will remove the madness from your mind, everything that removes you from the here and now, everything that is not real,” he said.

“The bufo alvarius lives buried [beneath the ground] 10 months a year and in the rainy season it comes to the surface to reproduce, eat and share this ancestral medicine with us,” Rettig said.

Another proponent of toad-extracted 5-MeO-DMT is former heavyweight boxing champion Mike Tyson, who has traveled to Sonora to smoke the substance and is apparently a regular user. He has said that using the psychoactive enabled him to give up alcohol and other drugs and even motivated him to make a boxing comeback last year.

“I took the medicine and the medicine told me to get into shape. It really blew my mind …” Tyson said before an exhibition bout against Roy Jones Jr. last November.

In early July, foreign tourists mingled with Mexican artists and even politicians on Seri, or Com Cáac land, in Punta Chueca. The common denominator was interest in 5-MeO-DMT.

“They came from the United States, Germany, France, Italy, everywhere to try the medicine. I’m very thankful to see so many people because we thought they wouldn’t come because of the pandemic and fear of the disease,” said Seri community leader Enrique Robles Barnett.

Smoking toad venom in Punta Chueca.
Smoking toad venom in Punta Chueca.

“In Mexico we have this blessed medicine that … has surprising results … in very specific cases like addictions,” Roco Pachukote, vocalist of the legendary Mexican rock band Maldita Vecindad, told Milenio.

He has been in Punta Chueca in recent months and says he is engaged in “spiritual activism” and community work in the town.

Rettig, who is originally from Jalisco, said 5-MeO-DMT can be used to treat depression, anxiety and addiction to substances such as methamphetamine.

One person who arrived in Punta Chueca to seek treatment for drug addiction, as well as to leave behind dark memories from time spent in prison, was Oscar Vázquez of Houston, Texas.

“I come [to Punta Chueca] to seek answers that have been forbidden to me since childhood. … I had addiction problems with cocaine, crystal meth, marijuana, codeine pills but with the medicine I was born again, a happiness from the depths of my being [emerged]. I smile, I laugh, things I hadn’t done for a long time,” he said.

Pepe of Monterrey arrived on the Sonoran coast to seek healing from a divorce, Gustavo of Mazatlán sought liberation from guilt associated with the death of his mother and a woman named Norma was able to put an end to her internal suffering, Milenio reported.

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“… Today in pandemic times, in which emotional and psychiatric illnesses have increased the suicide rate and domestic violence, this medicine is a real alternative to treat these kinds of illnesses and suffering,” Vázquez said.

“It’s a viable and sustainable solution and I believe that it’s going to put Sonora and Mexico on the map …”

One sign of the growing popularity of 5-MeO-DMT extracted from the Colorado River toad is that it is even available on e-commerce website Mercado Libre for 1,200 pesos (US $60) a gram.

With reports from Milenio 

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