How does it work though and does it have possibly unpleasant side-effects? Is it what one might call a hallucinogen and is it legal at all? All those questions and more answered below.
LD enthusiasts do not seem to have any kind of doubts regarding the effects of Calea zacatechichi, and that includes this enthusiast, too. The herb enhances the dreaming and lucid dreaming experience in several ways. In fact, its benefic effects in this regard can be quite surprising.
What I personally find very rewarding about it is the fact that it seems to exert a powerful effect on OBEs. This vertical is my personal darling and in Calea zacatechichi I found a great ally and companion for my astral projection forays.
Before we take a closer look at the effects it elicits though, let us see what we’re really dealing with in Calea zacatechichi.
What is Calea zacatechichi?
Also called Calea ternifolia, Calea z. is a plant indigenous to Central America/Mexico. Its uses cover a wide range of ailments, especially in the tribal regions of Mexico. People have apparently known about its healing and dream-enhancing effects for centuries.
In English-language areas, the herb is also known as bitter grass (on account of its taste) and dream herb.
As said above, Mexico’s tribal peoples have long known about the effects of Calea zacatechichi in regards to a number of health issues/diseases. The Mixe people for instance have used it for fever and stomach ailments, while the Zoque Popoluca use it for asthma and as a remedy for diarrhea. The plant has been used to treat dysentery as well.
Despite being potentially useful for all the above problems, Calea zacatechichi‘s fame is due to its oneirogenic effects.
The exact mechanics of these effects are not yet known and neither are the side-effects the herb generates. Some mild toxicity has to be involved on some level, because the herb may produce an allergic reaction that can range from mild to severe. Also – possibly due to its taste that some people find unbearable – Calea zacatechichi has been known to elicit nausea and vomiting.
According to a study available at Pubmed, which tested Calea z. for mitochondrial and cellular changes related to toxicity, even at low doses, the cellular toxicity of the compound was significant. Biomarkers pointing to nephrotoxicity were also found to be significantly elevated, by the above said study.
This is obviously bad news, but as far as I’m concerned, this only means the herb should be used occasionally, and it should definitely not be abused in any way. I also think that these findings warrant a closer look at the safety of this plant, when used as a nootropic, or for one of the above mentioned health problems.
Despite this ambiguity in regards to safety, Calea zacatechichi is legal in most countries. In the US, Louisiana and Tennessee pondered bills limiting the number of Calea z. plants one can own, but there is no practical legal hurdle in place in this regard anywhere, with the exception of Poland, where the herb has been banned.
Calea zacatechichi needs to be ingested upon use. People use it in brews, and apparently, some simply stick the herb under their pillows to enhance their dreams. On my part, I don’t believe in that latter method.
I personally brew it in hot water and I add chamomile, which seems to take the edge out of its hair-raisingly bitter taste.
By what mechanism does Calea zacatechichi act upon dreams?
While – as I said above – the actual mechanism of action of this herb on the brain is not yet known, its chemical composition does give us a few clues.
Flavones and sesquiterpene lactones have been isolated from the plant. Of these, the sesquiterpene side of the equation generates more interest, namely the caleicines and caleochromenes, which are substances related to the active compounds found in Huperzine A, a well-known and rather ubiquitous dream-enhancing supplement.
It is therefore likely that Calea zacatechichi‘s mechanism of action is quite similar to that of Huperzine A – at least as far as dream-enhancement is concerned.
What effects does Calea zacatechichi elicit in regards to dreams?
The reported effects of Calea z. brew are numerous. Some of these are indeed experienced/reported by most users, while some of its alleged effects are a lot less common. The bottom line in this respect is that as far as its dream-related effects are concerned, more or less everyone points to the same benefits.
Of what are these effects comprised though?
One of the most obvious effects of Calea z. is a noticeable increase in dream frequency. If – as discussed above – Calea z. acts in a manner similar to Huperzine A, it probably expands the duration of the REM stage of sleep, which makes the dream frequency effect quite logical indeed.
Whenever I wake up after a night’s sleep spent with Calea zacatechichi in my system, I feel like I had scores of dreams. What really happens though is probably that I simply remember more of the dreams that I have, thanks to Calea z.
If Calea zacatechichi inhibits acetylcholine breakdown the way Huperzine A does, this conclusion makes perfect sense. Some do indeed suspect that the effects of heightened acetylcholine levels are solely due to it being an efficient promoter of memory.
Early sleep-stage imagery gets a major boost with Calea Z. What am I talking about? When you’re slowly slipping into the unconsciousness of sleep, you’ll often see vivid imagery comprised of various fluorescent stains, spots, lines and shapes. On Calea zacatechichi, this imagery becomes much more vivid.
What’s truly noteworthy in this respect is however that such imagery is extremely useful WILD-wise.
If you read my WILD guide, you already know that such imagery is extremely important, not just for wake-induced lucid dreaming, but for astral projection as well.
As a true AP enthusiast, I have grown to really appreciate this “side effect” that Calea zacatechichi delivers in addition to its main baggage of dream-related benefits.
With that in mind, it is safe to say that Calea zacatechichi is one of the more efficient supplements for astral projection.
I have to point it out that I haven’t noticed any particular Calea z. effects on sleep paralysis, so I would say that no, it does not increase the likelihood of sleep paralysis – a phenomenon some people may find scary and uncomfortable.
Calea zacatechichi will certainly help with lucid dreaming, by randomly inducing such experiences. These may be brief ones, or lengthier ones and they are of the MILD variety, meaning that they are actual dreams, randomly injected with lucidity.
In addition to better dream recall, Calea zacatechichi apparently injects more vividness and more clarity into dreams as well. This may also be attributed to the memory-enhancing effects of the active compound in the plant, though – as with Huperzine A – it may also be linked to the extension of the REM sleep stage.
Another effect many have reported and I personally experienced, is that Calea z. seems to add more stability to LDs.
Achieving lucidity in a dream is quite a feat in and of itself, but for most people, it is also a fleeting accomplishment. It is difficult not to get too excited upon achieving lucidity in a dream, especially if that’s what you’ve been yearning to accomplish for some time.
Unfortunately, this added excitement will mostly ruin the LD, thus cutting the foray short. Calea zacatechichi seems to act in this regard. When on Calea, the added stability means that you don’t really have to worry about snapping yourself out of the dream.
In addition to all the above, Calea z. has a calming effect as well, which may also aid with staving off in-dream excitement. The herb has been known to help those suffering from insomnia, promoting natural sleep and a more relaxed state when sleeping. All this comes extremely handy in regards to lucid dreaming too.
In addition to promoting dreaming, LDs and astral projection, Calea zacatechichi adds a further dimension to dreaming. Some may not like this weird touch, but it is certainly there. If you always had boring dreams, under the effect of Calea zacatechichi, you’ll be amazed at what your mind can churn out. All I’m going to say is that you may be visiting alien planets in your dreams.
How useful is Calea z. for astral projection?
I have personally found it very useful in this regard. Obviously, no supplement will trigger an on-demand OBE for you, but Calea z. will certainly help with your induction techniques.
The fact that it is capable of projecting vivid imagery onto the back of your eyelids seemingly at all times (even when you are awake but close your eyes for a few seconds, to perhaps rest them), is in and of itself a major asset astral projection-wise.
AP is a lot like a WILD. It is a more advanced phenomenon, but its triggers are the same and – as said above – Calea z. is excellent for WILD.
How do you take Calea zacatechichi?
The best way to take it is as a brew. That’s how I usually take it. Some people smoke it, but I’m really not keen on smoking, so I’m not doing that. One touted advantage of smoking (and vaporizing) is that it allows people to avoid THE taste.
I’ve found though that I can make the taste bearable by adding chamomile to the brew.
Similarly to other acetylcholine-supporting supplements, such as Huperzine A, Calea zacatechichi is best taken after about 5-6 hours of sleep.
It seems to extend the REM stage of sleep, it therefore makes perfect sense to time it like that. This way, you’ll have your much-needed deep sleep, when it’s best to have it, and you’ll also get your extended REM sleep.
As far as dosage is concerned, just pouring hot water over 1-2 grams of Calea ternifolia (Calea z.) leaves is sufficient for a beginner. Do not use too much water though, just enough so you can drink it all in one go.
Over time, you can go up to as much as 5g of Calea z. leaves in your tea, but keep the potential toxicity of the plant in mind. You certainly do not want to overdose on this one, and experience some of its above-discussed ill-effects.
Remember to always couple Calea zacatechichi with your usual LD and AP-induction techniques. Just taking the supplement and then heading to bed as usual (or waking up after 6 hours of sleep, taking it and then going back to sleep) is not likely to produce any spectacular results.
If you have any questions about any topic related to sleep, dreams, and other altered states of consciousness, you’re welcome to contact me or leave a public comment below.