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The Dream Herb, Leaf of God, thle-pelakano, bitter grass

Calea zacatechich is a heavily branching shrub, usually growing to be about one to one and a half meters in height. Its leaves are triangular-ovate and coarsely toothed, usually 2-7 cm in length. The plant is native to the high altitude regions of the southern Mexican sierra.

Historical Uses

Calea zacatechichi is one of several plants used by Indian communities of Mexico to induce vivid dreams. A tea is made from the roots, leaves, and the stem, and then consumed at night before going to sleep. For an enhanced effect, the leaves are commonly smoked in addition to drinking the infusion. The Chontal Indians of Oaxaca, Mexico believed that dreams exist in a "suprasensory reality." Calea zacatechichi was used to receive divinatory messages during sleep, such as the location of a distant person or the cause of an illness. The leaves of the plant were smoked, brewed into a tea, and placed under one's pillow before going to sleep. The information they sought would be answered in their dreams.

Calea zacatechichi has a few other medicinal uses. An infusion made from the leaves, roots, and stem of the plant is useful for treating gastrointestinal disorders, fever, and dysentery. The dry leaves are also useful as an insect repellent.

Pharmacology

As of yet, the psychotropic constituent(s) of the plant have yet to be identified. Several compounds have been isolated from the plant. Among them are the sesquiterpenes calaxin and ciliarin, and the germacranolides 1B-acetoxy-zacatechinolide and I-oxo-zacatachinolide. Also identified were caleocromenes A and B, caleins A and B, caleicins I and II, acacetin, O-methyl-acacetin, and analogs of zexbrevin, budlein A, neurolenin B, and calein A. The presence of sesquiterpenes explains the fever reducing properties of the plant. As with nearly all plants, these chemicals occur in widely varying amounts. There exists an inactive variation of Calea zacatechichi that is indistinguishable from active varieties.

Calea zacatechichi increases both the frequency and intensity of hypnagogic imagery and dreams. At the same time, it increases the amount of slow-wave sleep and decreases REM sleep. During wakefulness, it induces a sense of well-being, somnolence, and closed-eye visual imagery.


References

Basic Calea Info @ Erowid.org
<http://www.erowid.org/plants/calea_zacatechichi/calea_zacatechichi_info1.shtml>

Calea zacatechichi Factsheet
<http://www.cannapee.ch/ethnoshop/docs/caleafactsh.html>

Psychopharmacologic Analysis of an Alleged Oneirogenic Plant: Calea zacatechichi
<http://leda.lycaeum.org/?ID=16295>

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