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The Colorado River Toad Secretes A Potent Poison That Has Psychedelic Properties And May Be Helpful In Treating Anxiety And Depression

Mirko Rosenau - stock.adobe.com - illustrative purposes only, not the actual toad

In order to ensure the survival of their species, animals have evolved certain defense mechanisms to keep predators away or secure prey. One of these defenses is poison.

For example, the Colorado River toad secretes a toxic compound known as 5-MeO-DMT. This creature’s poison extends beyond mere survival tactics, though. Scientists believe that it can be used as an effective treatment for depression and anxiety.

The Colorado River toad is greenish brown in color and can be found in the Sonoran Desert, which stretches across northwestern Mexico and parts of Arizona and California.

It releases a potent substance that possesses psychedelic properties from its skin. A new study published in Nature explores how the psychedelic compound from the toad can treat anxiety and depression.

The substance is called 5-MeO-DMT and is strong enough to kill a dog. However, humans only experience mild irritation and hallucinogenic side effects.

Humans have long used the power of the Colorado River toad’s poison for its mind-altering capabilities. People would try to lick the toad or collect the toxin to dry it and smoke it.

Researchers from New York’s Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai and Columbia University decided to investigate the psychedelic compound for therapeutic purposes.

“We wanted to further our understanding of psychedelics beyond the hallucinogenic effects. Psychedelics, such as LSD and 5-MeO-DMT, have shown potential for the treatment of various neuropsychiatric disorders,” said Audrey Warren, a PhD student and a co-author of the study.

The researchers extracted the poison from the toad’s secretions and used mice to see how it would interact with a serotonin receptor called 5-HT1A. The toad’s poison appeared to activate this receptor.

Mirko Rosenau – stock.adobe.com – illustrative purposes only, not the actual toad

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