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Dangers of Oral Psychoactive Toad Venom
by Erowid
A tenacious rumor is that people can getting high from licking toads. While "toad licking" stories may be humorous they are based on a misunderstanding about the nature of how toad venoms are used as psychoactives. Regardless, toad licking is sometimes reported as an effective activity by news and other media outlets.1

Some toads secrete venoms that contain psychoactive chemicals. The most widely know is the venom of Bufo alvarius which contains the psychoactive alkaloids 5-MeO-DMT and bufotenine. Both of these chemicals are primarily psychoactive when smoked. While these chemicals are weakly psychoactive when taken orally, the Bufo toad venoms also contain cardiotoxins which are poisonous when taken orally.

Consuming Bufo toad venom orally, through licking or eating, is both ineffective and can be dangerous with some fatalities having been reported. In fact, the venom was evolved as a poison to deter predators from eating the toads. Biting or eating venomous toads has sickened or killed numerous dogs in the United States.2 Additionally, many species of frogs and toads produce other venoms or skin irritants that should not be ingested orally.

Toad venom is sometimes used in products sold for non-oral uses. One such product, chan su, is a Chinese traditional medicine derived from the venom of both Bufo and other toad species.3 It has been sold in modern times as a topical aphrodisiac. In the early 1990s, four individuals died in the United States after orally consuming chan su that had been marketed as a topical aphrodisiac under the names "stone", "lovestone", and "rock hard", apparently under the mistaken belief that it would enhance the aphrodisiacal qualities.4


REFERENCES #
  1. Lyttle T. "Misuse and legend in the 'toad licking' phenomenon". Int J Addict. 1993;28(6):521-38.
  2. Sakatei M, De Oliveira PCL. "Toad envenoming in dogs: effects and treatment". Journal of Venomous Animals and Toxins. 2000;6(1).
  3. Lux. "Chan Su; A traditional Chinese toad venom medicine". Erowid.org. May 21, 2007.
  4. Center for Disease Control. "Deaths Associated with a Purported Aphrodisiac". Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report. Nov 24, 1995;44(46):853-5,61.