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    Bufo alvarius toad bufotenin bufantoína 5-MeO-DMT ICEERS

    No, “Bufantoína” Does Not Exist: Clarifications in Light of the Media Coverage of the Nacho Vidal Case


    Last week, mass media outlets spread the news that the known ex-pornography actor Nacho Vidal was arrested by the Civil Guard for alleged involuntary manslaughter. The events took place on July 28, 2019 in the town of Enguera, Valencia (Spain), where the photographer José Luis Abad died of a heart attack after allegedly having consumed the secretions of the Incilius alvarius (or Bufo alvarius) toad (which contains, among other substances, bufotenine and 5-MeO-DMT) at the actor’s home.

    Without beginning to evaluate the case, ICEERS would like to make a sincere appeal to the responsibility of both the journalistic profession, as well as to the public, since much of the information published about Bufo alvarius is erroneous or false. Publishing information that is unverified, skewed or out of context in the mainstream media is not only dangerous, but can also damage the reputation of the media outlet. Additionally, risks increase when readers accept this information as valid due to the simple fact that it was disseminated by news outlets with a broad reach. Accordingly, as consumers of information, maintaining a critical eye and verifying the information we receive is fundamental.

    The team at ICEERS has analyzed the news published by different daily national newspapers, such as La Vanguardia, El Mundo, ABC, El Confidencial, Marca, Sport and Libertad Digital, among others. We have discovered serious inaccuracies and errors in almost all of them. In addition, these inaccuracies have been reprinted in other online media outlets.

    We believe it is necessary to shine a light on the known facts regarding Bufo alvarius. The following text, based on a scientific review of evidence and other key documents, was written by Dr. José Carlos Bouso and Genís Oña, members of the ICEERS’ scientific team.



    “Bufantoína” does not exist

    The first error, of great importance that was repeated by most media sources, was the wording of the name of the substance involved. Despite the fact that doing a Google search on this inaccurate term results in 1,190 entries, the truth is that “bufantoína” does not exist. This represents a conceptual and spelling error. The secretions of the Incilius alvarius toad contain a variety of substances, among them bufotenine and 5-MeO-DMT, both of which have psychoactive effects.

    In the case of Nacho Vidal, it is unknown with scientific certitude which substance was involved, but in ritual use what is typically used are either the secretions of Bufo alvarius or one of the substances they contain (5-MeO-DMT). Regarding the second, being an isolated substance and therefore much more concentrated, a much lower dose (between 5 and 20 mg) is required and the psychoactive effects are generally much more powerful.

    It is not called “the God molecule”

    Incilius alvarius secretions primarily contain bufotenin and 5-MeO-DMT. The psychiatrist Rick Strassman coined the term “spirit molecule” to refer to DMT, another substance that belongs to the same pharmacological family as 5-MeO-DMT, whose subjective effects are quite different. When it jumped into popular vocabulary, DMT went from being the “spirit molecule” to being called the “God molecule.” Bufo alvarius (correct name Incilius alvarius) secretions do not contain DMT, therefore referring to it as a “God molecule” is inaccurate.

    Toads are not illegal

    In both written and television news coverage in Spain, the legal status of the Incilius alvarius toad (or the bufotenine or 5-MeO-DMT contained within it discussed above) has suggested that it is prohibited. However, the Incilius alvarius toad and the substances contained within are not listed as illegal substances within the 1971 United Nations Convention on Psychotropic Substances. Certain countries, such as the United States, put in place legislation for bufotenine or 5-MeO-DMT, however this is not the case in Spain where they are not regulated.

    The toad itself is not smoked

    Certain media outlets have also used the term “smoking the toad” when referring to consumption of this substance. The secretions of the toad are dried, and then smoked; not the animal itself. During the process of extracting the substance the toad usually is not harmed.



    Tachycardia, loss of consciousness, and death

    Almost all recently published articles identify these three effects. The consumption of I. alvarius secretions, or 5-MeO-DMT, often produce elevations in heart rate and blood pressure, due not only to their agonist effect on serotonin receptors, but also because of the intensity of the experience itself. However, these effects usually do not involve more problematic episodes than other events that temporarily raise the heart rate, such as riding a roller coaster or doing exercise. Increases in heart rate and blood pressure typically do not last longer than 10-20 minutes. These effects can develop into health problems when the person has a prior history of heart disease that causes them to be particularly sensitive to increased heart rate or blood pressure, or when they are taking any medication that could produce an unwanted interaction with the substance.

    Regarding loss of consciousness and death, it is equally a question of very uncommon phenomena.

    It is important to highlight that the combination of 5-MeO-DMT with ayahuasca or other compounds can result in severe adverse reactions, for which reason it is necessary to pay special attention to other substances, medicines, drugs, and medications taken prior smoking I. alvarius.

    Neurological risks

    Certain articles have also mentioned possible neurological risks associated with the use of Bufo alvarius secretions or 5-MeO-DMT. This is another inaccuracy, since the only considerable risks are psychological. As is the case of the use of any other psychoactive substance (cannabis, LSD, etc.), the possible risk of latent mental disorders appearance does exist; primarily psychotic or bipolar disorders. Therefore, the use of these substances by individuals with any of the following vulnerabilities is unadvisable: for example, if one has close family members with schizophrenia or has previously suffered a psychotic break. In summary, neurological risks do not exist while psychological risks indeed do.

    Risks to public health

    When we inquire as to whether the use of I. alvarius or 5-MeO-DMT carry risks to public health, there is no evidence available to answer that question. To date, there have not been enough studies to determine any claims with scientific evidence. It should be noted, however, that there also are no publications by emergency medical personnel warning of an influx of these cases, and neither has ICEERS been made aware of an increase in the number of health incidents. Therefore, it is unwise to create social alarm without the data to properly support it.

    In fact, recent publications report improvements in anxiety and depression and increased life satisfaction, as well as reductions in psychopathology measures after the use of 5-MeO-DMT – although these are observational studies requiring controlled clinical settings to confirm or refute these findings. On the other hand, there are ongoing preclinical (animal) studies reporting that 5-MeO-DMT promotes neurogenesis (creation of new neurons), which may explain some of its antidepressant effects.

    It is possible that the recent flurry of publicity about these substances in the Spanish media will create an aspirational effect, causing more people to seek out I. alvarius or 5-MeO-DMT. One should be extremely cautious, avoiding those offering “Bufo sessions” online, being particularly wary of ads accompanied by the term “miracle cure.” To offer additional advice, if you have already decided to take this substance, do not consume it alone and become well informed through websites such as Erowid, Energy Control or ICEERS, prior to consuming in order to determine an appropriate dose and risk reduction strategies.



    Traditional or shamanic use does not exist

    Many articles also erroneously state that this ritual has been carried out for centuries or millennia and that it is a part of certain indigenous people’s traditions. In truth, while it is currently consumed in a ritual context, there is no evidence of traditional use. No known ethnic group or indigenous people in any part of the world use this animal in their rituals, as is the case for ayahuasca and other plants that may have been used for millennia. That being said, consuming a substance within a ritual context reduces the possible associated risks, particularly because others are present maintaining the space and ideally ensuring that all goes well.

    It is not a “satanic ritual”

    In certain articles, the word “satanic” has been used to define the ritual context in which this substance is consumed. More commonly found in this type of context is a syncretic ideology, using elements of Eastern, Native American and other components of different Amazonian people’s spirituality. These form an amalgamation of disparate beliefs and elements better defined by animism or a veneration of the earth (Pachamama). Beliefs that are, evidently, quite contrary to “Satanism.”



    In recent decades, an increase in the consumption of certain ethnobotanical products (such as ayahuasca, peyote, Bufo alvarius secretions, among others) has been observed in ritual contexts. The reasons for this increase in use are not entirely clear, however it appears that the environments in which these sessions take place tend to be psychotherapeutic, or follow certain spiritual trends, play a role in the factors involved. ICEERS has been studying this phenomenon for years, having undertaken a European project in which the consumption of these products was analyzed, collecting data on the health of users or consumption patterns. We are especially concerned about the impact that the use of these substances may have on public health. For this reason, we carried a study with regular users of ayahuasca in Spain, collecting information on series of health indicators were administered, comparing the results with normative data.

    Unfortunately, in the case of 5MeO-DMT there are still no relevant data regarding public health, although some population-based surveys have been published reporting on the primary reasons for use or the most commonly reported effects by users. Some of these findings show decreases in psychopathology measures or increases in life satisfaction. So far, despite increases in the numbers of people engaging in practices with this substance, no health alert has been made, nor has there been an increase in incidents leading to hospital emergencies. As noted above, currently there seems to be no reason to associate this practice with incidents or risks relative to public health.



    The recent event has all the ingredients to fan the flames of sensationalism: a famous actor, from a particularly lurid film genre, an exotic substance, and the death of a man under strange circumstances.

    In times of cyber hooks (a phenomenon known as clickbait) and the spread of fame news, many media outlets sacrifice the quality of their content to get more readers and increase advertising revenues. Thus, the most sordid details are exaggerated as the covers of most newspapers are filled with biased news wrapped in alarmist headlines, where shock is more important than objectivity.

    When writing news stories about little-known topics, it is essential to review evidence-based documents and to conduct fact checking with expert sources that provide a minimum of scientific rigor in the face of information overload to which we are currently subjected. During a time where journalism is in crisis, as media outlets implement pay walls to guarantee their survival, we believe that the best way to differentiate oneself from the competition and demonstrate commitment to readers is to provide objective and quality information with a thread of sanity to combat sensationalism.

    We will continue to be available to journalists to and the media on topics such as these, inviting them to contact us prior to running the risk of disseminating inaccurate information that may put the health of readers and viewers at risk. Knowledge, without judgments or moral treatises, brings liberty, helping us to adopt responsible relationships with ethnobotanical substances and to avoid behaviors that create problems individuals, their environment and society as a whole.



    Categories: NEWS , Noticias , PSYCHEPLANTS , Incilius alvarius
    Tags: 5-MeO-DMT , Bufo alvarius , Incilius alvarius , bufotenin

    Technical Report ICEERS PsychePlants

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    A 190-page technical report that provides information about twelve psychedelic plants and fungi. Information covered includes chemical components and methods of use, cultural history, legal and risk reduction information.