Designating this plant a herb is a bit of a stretch, especially in regards to its dream-enhancing effects. The part of Entada rheedii, also known as African Dream Herb, that is a known oneirogen, is the pulp/flesh within its seeds.
With that in mind, calling it a “dream seed” would probably be more accurate.
The Entada rheedii plant is a very interesting giant climber/liana. Its seeds are massive and they are housed in pods which grow to an impressive size once they reach maturity. They can be almost as long as the height of a grown man.
The seeds too are rather large and they come with a few quirks of their own. First off, their coat is very thick and resistant. As such, they are suitable for use as jewelry and good luck charms. The coat is also difficult to break. Thus, oneironauts looking to secure the benefits of its kernel will likely have to resort to some sort of tool to get to the goodies.
Use a hammer, vise, or even a hacksaw to get past the seed coating.
The evolutionary purpose of this coat is obvious. Due to it, seeds are capable of surviving for impressive stretches of time in seawater. This way, the plant has managed to reach far-away shores, such as those of India and Australia, where it now also grows.
Interestingly, Entada rheedii has never spread to the Americas (with the exception of Jamaica).
First and utmost, Entada rheedii seeds have been used for dream enhancement. Unsurprisingly, tribal shamans have been using them for this purpose for hundreds of years.
In addition to the “gateway to the spirit world” role that African Dream Herb fulfills in tribal rituals, it has also been used as medicine. The ailments it apparently treats are jaundice, ulcers, and various muscle-related problems. Some people use it for toothaches.
Traditional Use of Entada rheedii
As mentioned, the white pulp of the Entada rheedii seeds is where the oneirogenic substances reside.
This kernel – though rather hard – can be eaten as is, or it can be dried and smoked with a combination of other herbs and plants to trigger the desired dream effects.
The primary goal of tribal users is to enhance the dream world and thus to communicate with the spirits.
African natives aren’t the only ones who use Entada rheedii for ritual purposes. The same is apparently true for natives of India. In India, the seeds are consumed after being roasted and soaked in water.
In Australia, natives roast the large beans in stone ovens.
In South Africa, Entada rheedii seeds were sometimes used as substitute for coffee beans.
Entada rheedii Effects
Like most dream enhancing compounds, the seed kernels of Entada rheedii generate more vivid dreams with cleaner imagery. Such dreams are also easier to remember.
Given these effects, it is hardly surprising that Entada rheedii seeds are apparently great for the triggering of lucid dreaming.
By what mechanism does the seed kernel produce these effects? A study into the relationship between the Entada rheedii seed kernel and the immune system has yielded interesting results in this regard.
The said study isolated two tryptophan derivatives from the pulp. It was proven that these two derivatives inhibited IDO, an enzyme involved in the kynurenine metabolism. This metabolism is in turn involved in the biosynthesis of serotonin and melatonin.
That makes it sort of obvious how Entada rheedii exerts the effects on dreams that is does. Of course, there may be other pathways through which it acts on the brain.
Saponins are also part of the Dream Herb mix and they too exert some sort of effect on dreams.
Regardless of exactly how it is prepared and consumed, it is important to remember that it may take a few days for Entada rheedii to produce any dream-wise effects.
The seed kernel is apparently a potent sleep aid as well. Of course, none of the above mentioned effects have been studied scientifically yet. Actual user reports are scarce and they are all anecdotal.
While it cannot guarantee lucid dreams, Entada rheedii has gained a reputation as a powerful dream modulator. Some say in this regard it is up to par with better known herbal solutions, such as Calea zacatechichi.
What’s more, in addition to the effects it produces on its own, the African Dream Herb will apparently enhance the dream-wise effects of other herbal supplements.
Again, all evidence in this regard as well is purely anecdotal.
How to Use Entada rheedii?
The traditional methods of preparation of the Entada rheedii seed and its kernel, are numerous and diverse. The gist of it all boils down to eating the kernel, smoking it, or making a tea out of it. Cold infusions made from the roasted seeds are also used.
To eat the kernel, simply break open the hard coating of the seeds and get to the white inner pulp/flesh. This part is fairly hard too, but you will be able to sink your teeth into it and eat it. Eating one entire seed makes sense and is quite a practical approach.
To smoke the active ingredients, you will have to get to the white kernel again. Grind and crush it up in a mortar, using a pestle, as finely as you can. When done, mix the powder with tobacco (or any other smokable herb) and roll it into a cigarette. Smoke it to achieve the desired effects.
To make a tea, the same approach is required. Get to the kernel, crush it up with a mortar and pestle, and use about one tablespoon of the resulting powder for one cup of tea. Leave the concoction to seep for about 5 minutes and you are ready to drink up!
Entada rheedii Dosage
As mentioned, when eating the seed kernel, eating a whole seed’s worth is a decent dose. For the best effects, eat the kernel about one hour before hitting the sack.
If you smoke it, about a joint’s worth of the mixture is good for one dose.
When making a tea, a tablespoon is your measure.
Entada rheedii is commercially available in several forms. Buying it as whole seeds grants you the guarantee of purity and genuineness. In that case, the mentioned dosage instructions apply. One seed will cost you around $1.
In powder form, the same dosage instructions apply. A 28g bag of powder costs around $20.
The compound is also available as capsules and various tinctures/e-liquids. In such cases, you will have to take the concentration of the extract into consideration, for proper dosage.
Prices vary wildly even within the same product category, so look around before you click that “buy” button.
If you have any questions about Entada rheedii or regarding sleep, dreams, and other altered states of consciousness, feel free to leave a comment below or contact me.