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Mum, 37, left vomiting & unable to breathe after trying ‘speed-toading’ trend where tourists smoke ‘miracle’ toad venom


A MUM has opened up about the dark side of “speed-toading” that left her vomiting and struggling to breathe.

Samantha Gonzalez, 37, was expecting to experience an “orgasm of light and love and beauty” – but she was left terrified.

Samantha Gonzalez, a therapist from Michigan, urged caution when using toad venom


Samantha Gonzalez, a therapist from Michigan, urged caution when using toad venomCredit: Supplied
The tent in Tulum, Mexico where Samantha smoked toad venom for the first time


The tent in Tulum, Mexico where Samantha smoked toad venom for the first timeCredit: Supplied
Samantha said the bond with her partner is 'stronger' after the experience


Samantha said the bond with her partner is ‘stronger’ after the experienceCredit: Supplied

“Speed-toading” is a term used for smoking a potent drug made from toad venom through a pipe.

Although it’s become a popular choice of “healing” recently, the substance – also called bufo alvarius – has been known about since the Middle Ages.

Celebrities such as Mike Tyson and Chelsea Handler have reportedly sampled the powerful substance.

And the practice has become hugely popular in Tulum, Mexico – where tourists are flocking to experience the high for roughly £200.

read more on psychedelics

It’s been touted as a “miracle cure” for the ills of the modern world – but it is more powerful than other psychedelics and comes with substantial risks.

Samantha, a therapist from Michigan, said her experience was “very scary” – and it’s “terrifying” that toad venom is becoming more accessible.

The 37-year-old travelled to Mexico with her husband to try the drug after watching a documentary where it was said to heal trauma, addiction and anxiety.

But she had a very different experience. 

Samantha told The Sun: “I had three rounds of the medicine. The first round I immediately felt bars on my chest.

“I felt terrified. A lot of times what happens is you become aware of your ego, so your judgement of yourself and other people. It was very, very scary.”

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Samantha had expected a scenic retreat – but it was located in the busy Tulum town centre in just a tent.

“They have these big tepees and there’s two facilitators a man and a woman,” she said.

“Immediately he does this cleansing thing with smoke, bee pollen and charcoal just to cleanse the negative energy that was before we even got in the tent.

“Inside there was like a bare skin rug, a pillow in a blanket and a speaker to play calming sounds.

“There really wasn’t anything in there. It was pretty dark.”

After she took her first dose of the drug, Samantha began to feel sick.

I immediately blacked out… I started throwing up

Samantha Gonzalez

Despite the nauseousness, she claimed the facilitator recommended she smoke another round.

Samantha “blacked out” and still felt “nauseous” – but her session was finished and she was ushered outside the tent and told to wait while her husband experienced the “ceremony”.

“It felt very rushed and, after my second round, which actually I don’t even remember, I remember feeling nauseous,” she said.

At this point Samantha said she was “freaking out” and worried that her husband would have an “amazing experience” and she would be “left behind”.

“I was lying outside, and I was just having anxiety about the whole thing and I was alone,” she explained.

What is ‘speed-toading’?

SPEED-TOADING is a term used to describe the practice of smoking the mild-altering venom of the Sonoran Desert toad through a pipe.

The poison contains a psychoactive compound that can be ingested to induce a powerful psychedelic experience.

The narcotic can be ingested by licking the poisonous amphibian’s back but is now more commonly consumed as a smokable “dust” form.

The liquid is extracted by milking the toad’s toxic venom glands and then dehydrating it into a crumbly dry paste.

She said the drug is so mind-altering that she was advised only to do it with her partner – or it could “ruin” your relationship as “you both end up on another level”.

Not satisfied with the experience, Samantha went to a different tent where she tried the drug again.

“I immediately blacked out the third round. I started throwing up,” she said.

“I also felt like I was purging I was making these awful noises. I think I was just purging stuff inside of me.

“Whether it was emotion or actual physical stuff, I don’t know. When I woke up after about 20 minutes I just felt like extremely weak.

“I felt like I was done – like I had relief of like ‘it worked, I can relax’.”

Samantha is a mum of two


Samantha is a mum of twoCredit: Supplied
Samantha has been able to stay of her medication following the experience


Samantha has been able to stay of her medication following the experienceCredit: Supplied

But the temporary relief was just the beginning of a lengthy recovery process.

And sensations from the experience can be “reactivated” long after it, she said.

“You feel very fragile. You feel like a baby again and it’s scary. It was scary for me,” Samantha said.

The mum’s trip to Tulum in January comes amid disturbing reports of sexual abuse during toad venom ceremonies.

She said the potential for predators to abuse in this setting was “very concerning” – and the vulnerability of that state “opens you up to it”.

The third time she took the drug “there was no awareness of it”, she said.

Although the experience was “scary” for Samantha and she “still struggles”, she has noticed some positive changes – such as a stronger bond with her partner.

Samantha has also been able to stay off her anti depressants and says that whilst before if she was depressed she would stay in bed she’s now able to pick up her guitar or do some yoga instead.

She said: “If I were to recommend this for somebody, I would recommend something where you get to spend the whole day with a facilitator.”

What do doctors say about ‘speed-toading’?

MEDICAL experts warn that taking toad venom can be highly dangerous.

Some practitioners “believe that in a controlled setting with a well-trained professional, the venom could be useful in treating anxiety and depression”, according to Addition center.

Few studies have been conducted, but some trials on a synthetic version have indicated it may be an effective medicine for treatment-resistant depression.

But researchers do not support recreational use of toad venom and it has no defined medical purposes and has a high potential for abuse.

Toad venom affects the brain by disrupting communication between brain chemical systems and the spinal cord.

The effects of the drug will usually only last about one hour making the experience much shorter than with other Psychedelics like magic mushrooms which can last up to 8 hours.

This impacts mood, sensory perception, body temperature, sexual behaviour, sleep, hunger, and intestinal muscle control.

Many people will see, hear, and feel things that are not really there, and they may also experience nausea, increased heart rate, and changes in feelings.

Using any hallucinogenic drug can cause panic, excessive sweating, dry mouth, sleep problems, and psychosis.

In some cases, users suffer from persistent psychosis, which is continued mental problems having to do with disorganised thinking, paranoia, and visual disturbances.

Dr Mike Dow, a psychedelic-assisted psychotherapist at Field Trip Health, said people with a history of trauma or mental illness should err on the side of caution when it comes to the drug.

He previously told The Sun: “I certainly wouldn’t recommend this to people who have never tried any psychedelic.

“I also think that people with a history of trauma should really be using psychedelics with concurrent psychotherapy since they allow repressed memories to surface.

“With a trauma-informed therapist, like myself, it’s one of the most effective treatments for PTSD. Without therapy, it can re-traumatise people in a scary way.”

Alan K. ­Davis of the Psychedelic Research Unit at John Hopkins University in Baltimore, said: “It’s not a recreational drug. If people get dosed too high, they can ‘white out’ and disassociate from their mind and body.

“Anxiety can persist for days, and we’ve heard of people going to the emergency room.”

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