Calea zacatechichi

Botanical Name : Calea zacatechichi
Family: Asteraceae
Genus: Calea
Species: C. ternifolia
Kingdom: Plantae
Division: Magnoliophyta
Class: Magnoliopsida
Order: Asterales

Common Name:Dream Herb, Bitter Grass,Calea zacatechichi

Habitat:The plant naturally occurs from southern Mexico to northern Costa Rica. It has been scientifically demonstrated that extracts of this plant increase reaction times and the frequency and/or recollection of dreams versus placebo and diazepam.

Description:
Calea zacatechichi is a medium sized shrub that has reportedly been used by the Chontal indians of Mexico as a hallucinogen. Its dried leaves are used before sleep to increase dreaming. Its effects are not well documented.

 

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Cultivation:
Generally Calea is a southern plant. Growing Calea from fresh seed is easy; also cloning this plant is extremely simple. The most common way to grow it is propagation from cuttings or layers, the latter of which is very easy in late summer. The Calea plant likes full sun, well drained soils, and medium irrigation. Anecdotal evidence suggests the flowering or post flowering plant harvested in the dry or cold season yields the best herbal product. A good soil mix for calea cultivation is: 1/3 of a rich substrate, 1/3 vermiculite and 1/3 of humus, or a light garden soil.

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Propagation:
Propagation from seeds can be tried with the following method: Sow the seeds in a pot with the soil mix indicated as above. Don’t cover the seeds, moisten the seeds with water and cover with a plastic bag. This little greenhouse needs from 4 to 6 hours of light to germinate. If the seeds dry out during this period, the plants will not germinate.

Medicinal Uses:
The Chontal medicine men, who assert that this plant is capable of “clarifying the senses” causing euphoria, call it thle-pela-kano, meaning “leaf of God”. Whenever they desire to know the cause of an illness or the location of a distant or lost person, the common ritual is to smoke a cigarette, whilst drinking a tea, both made of Calea Zacatechichi, right before going to sleep. Some also report placing the leaf of God under their pillow before sleeping. Reportedly, the answer to the question comes in a dream

Calea zacatechichi is a plant used by the Chontal Indians of Mexico to obtain divinatory messages during dreaming. At human doses, organic extracts of the plant produce the EEG and behavioral signs of somnolence and induce light sleep in cats. Large doses elicit salivation, ataxia, retching and occasional vomiting. The effects of the plant upon cingulum discharge frequency were significantly different from hallucinogenic- dissociative drugs (ketamine. quipazine, phencyclidine and SKF-10017). In human healthy volunteers, low doses of the extracts administered in a double-blind design against placebo increased reaction time end time-lapse estimation. A controlled nap sleep study in the same volunteers showed that Calea extracts increased the superficial stages of sleep and the number of spontaneous awakenings. The subjective reports of dreams were significantly higher than both placebo and diazepam, indicating an increase in hypnagogic imagery occurring during superficial sleep stages. Sources: Crimson Sage

Chemical composition:
Several compounds have been isolated from the plant, including the sesquiterpenes calaxin, ciliarin (Ortega et al.), the germacranolides 1-beta-acetoxy zacatechinolide and 1-oxo zacatechinolide (Bohlmann and Zdero), caleochromene A and B, calein A and B (Quijano et al.), caleicine I and II (Ramos, 1979), as well as acacetin, o-methyl acacetin, zexbrevin and an analogue, and several analogues of budlein A and neurolenin B, including calein A (Herz and Kumar).

Preparation and dosage:
Crushed dried leaves are steeped in hot water, and the resulting tea is drunk slowly, after which the user lies down in a quiet place and smokes a cigarette of the dried leaves of the same plant. The human dose for divinatory purposes reported by the Chontal people is a handful of dried plant, but effects can be felt with as little as two to three grams of dried leaf matter. The user knows that he or she has taken a large enough dose when a sense of tranquility and drowsiness is experienced and when he or she hears the beats of his or her own heart and pulse. Calea is an extremely bitter herb and is known to induce strong nausea when drunk. Many users prefer to smoke it rather than drinking the tea. Alternatively alcoholic tinctures and placing the leaf matter in algae capsules can be as effective as tea while being much less bitter and much more palatable. There are no reports of hangover or other undesirable side effects. Many report an extremely mild cannabis like state of relaxation from smoking calea leaf or taking calea tincture.

Disclaimer:
The information presented herein is intended for educational purposes only. Individual results may vary, and before using any supplements, it is always advisable to consult with your own health care provider.

Resources:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Calea_zacatechichi
http://www.herbnet.com/Herb%20Uses_C.htm
http://www.shamansgarden.com/p-150-calea-zacatechichi-dream-herb.aspx
http://www.erowid.org/plants/calea_zacatechichi/
http://naturalhealingherbs.org/product_info.php?products_id=273

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