Calea Zacatechichi: Smoking, Drinking, and Encapsulating the Dream Herb

18 Feb

My Bag of Dream HerbCalea Zacatechichi gets quite a bit of attention from lucid dreamers.

For good reason too: rumor has it that by smoking or drinking tea made from its leaves, you can experience extremely vivid dreams and hopefully – especially – have lucid dreams.

Here’s a good definition lifted from the Wikipedia entry for dream herb:

“Calea zacatechichi, also known as Dream Herb, Cheech, and Bitter Grass, is a plant used by the indigenous Oaxaca Chontal of the Mexican state of Oaxaca for oneiromancy (a form of divination based on dreams.) 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.”

I’m not the only one who finds this description enticing. Every few months on DreamViews someone starts a well-intentioned thread asking about this plant. Much of the ensuing conversation dwells on how bitter the taste of Calea Zacatechichi tea is, which then leads to sharing tips on how to mask it so you can get the whole god-awful tea down your throat without retching.

On this point, I concur; Calea Z tastes is so bitter!. But I’m getting ahead of myself…

About 5 years ago I ordered this plant online and was really excited about its potential. But the reality was I had little success using it for dream-work. Later, I’d always wondered if this was due to user error or the plant itself. It may sound incredulous, but I didn’t really know how to make tea back then. I had never drank tea in my life. So maybe I just didn’t brew it right?

With this doubtful memory in mind, the more I read about it online the more I wanted to give it another shot. Particularly after reading about one persons experience with it where they describe that after smoking some and going to sleep, they simply emerged fully conscious, immediately, in the dream world. It was as if the consciousness transition into their dreams was as easy as diving into a pool.

That was it – I decided to buy some more.

The Experiments Begin….

Part One: Smoking Calea Zacatechichi

I’m happy to say I enjoy smoking Calea Zacatechichi.There is a subtle but real effect of relaxation and lightheadedness that accompany a few bowls of the dream herb. It’s nothing major – taking bong hits of Calea Zacatechichi to get stoned would be quite a misguided adventure – but still, a subtle but relaxing effect is there. (Don’t expect anyone to kiss you though – I’ve heard a few complaints about a lingering aftertaste in my mouth.)

The first night I smoked maybe half a gram, just one bowl after another. I was reading about it online at the same time and by the time I went asleep I was quite excited about what lay waiting for me in my dreams.

Sadly, upon waking I realized the expectation was much more exciting than reality.

Either I had few dreams or my dream recall was poor. The only cool thing about smoking Calea Zacatechichi that night was that it enhanced the visuals of the Sirius Sound and Light Machine session that I often use to help me fall asleep.

The next few nights weren’t too spectacularly either.

That is, all except for one.

I was making an effort to really inhale and hold in the smoke. I even remember thinking to myself that tonight something will be different! I could feel it!

Right on queue, that night I had a lucid dream!

In my dream, I stood in a doorway of an office and instantly realized it was a dream. My lucidity continued for a few minutes while I – admittedly, rather obnoxiously – roamed around the office knocking things down and wreaking havoc for no good reason other than I could. In the usual unpredictable fashion of dream characters, no one seemed to really care what I was doing.

And then suddenly, without any notice, it turned into a “normal” dream again and continued on without my conscious awareness.

The next morning I was able to remember both the lucid dream and the long, strange dream preceeding it.

Can we attribute these experiences to Calea Zacatechichi? I’d like to but I\it’s so hit or miss that it’s hard to say one way or the other if it had any effect.

Part Two: Drinking Calea Zacatechichi Tea

Despite my one good experience with the dream herb, I became frustrated after several nights of mediocre to no discernable effect.

I also realized that I was only smoking maybe a gram, which is far less than the 5 gram dose that had been suggested to me through various online articles and stories of personal experiences.

There was only one way to make this work – I had to make the tea!

5 years had passed since I made that tea.

And let me tell you – 5 years is enough time to talk yourself out of remembering just how horrible it was! I was convinced it wouldn’t be so bad – I mean, really, how bad could it be? It’s just a cup of tea, right?!

I measured out and brewed 5 grams for about 15 minutes on my stove. Since before I was smoking just a gram, I was hoping that this tea would really blow my mind. I also threw two mint teas into the mix to help mask the taste of Calea Zacatechichi.

After 15 minutes, it was too hot so I plucked out a spoonful and dipped my tongue into to get a tiny taste. The bitterness spread throughout my entire mouth like wildfire consuming a forest. Really, I could not fucking believe how bitter this taste was. No one reading this can understand this bitter taste unless they’ve experienced it themselves.

My gesture with the mint tea now seemed little more than pathetic ignorance at what I was dealing with here. I ended up dumping tons of Agave Nectar (similar to honey) and soy milk into the tea to cover things up. This did help a little but it was still nasty.

I managed to drink it down in about 30 minutes. I gagged once or twice, but then it was over, and within the hour, I fell asleep.

The results?

I had two vivid dreams that night. And yes, vivid dreams are cool to have but this was far from spectacular as I have vivid dreams frequently without drinking any nasty tea.

Again, did the Calea Zacatechichi actually do anything?

Part Three: Making Calea Zacatechichi Capsules!

“”I think if the Chantal indians knew what capsules were, they wouldn’t have been drinking that awful tea.”

DreamViews forum, September 2006

After smoking and drinking it, two things became clear to me.

One, I’d rather die than drink the tea again.

And two, smoking a proper dosage was just too much for the lungs.

So I used up my last option short of injecting it straight into my veins:


I’d read about others making capsules themselves so I decided I could to.

I painstakingly ground up the Calea Zacatechichi, placed it into empty vegetarian capsules, then weighed each one with the one before it until I had reached 10 grams.

It brought back some funny memories of enthusiastic DIY drug use but it was a lot more work that I expected. Granted, I was using only a fork and a chopstick to shove everything in the capsule and I was grinding them with my fingers and the bottom of a pill bottle – not the most professional tools for the job!

But after 2 hours I had placed 10 grams into 25 capsules.

I was really concerned that in about 5 hours I’d wake up grimacing in pain if I took all 10 grams at once, straight to the stomach, so I decided to take half. Still, looking at all the 12 big pills I had to swallow to get 5 grams was a bit intimidating.

Setting this concern aside, I took all 12 capsules with a glass of water and a smile on my face.

For the next hour I had a sort of light body buzz. Laying in bed I did see some breed of throbbing visuals on my eyelids. Nothing intense, but it was definitely there. (Regrettably I was too tired to bother enhancing this with the Sirius Sound and Light Machine.)

The next morning I was shocked and disappointed that the night passed with hardly even a dream.

What the hell!

The next night I took the remaining half of the pills, another 5 grams worth… and the same thing.


It’s as if Calea Zacatechichi was playing tricks on me!

Usually I have some or even lots of dreams and these two nights I had very poor dream recall.

So very very anti-climatic.

Conclusions: I think I need the 10X Pills

And so for now this is how this story ends.

I so wish I was sharing my amazing journey into the dream world instead of this long story of a letdown.

To that end, I’ll be getting my hands on some of the 10x pills soon and will be happily sharing the results.

In the meantime though, what do you think of all this?

Is Calea Zacatechichi.worthless?

Honestly, I really don’t think so, but then….

Does that mean it only works with certain people?

Did I not take enough?

Does it have to build in the body incrementally for weeks?

Did I try too hard and psyche myself out?

Did I doing something wrong?

6 Responses to “Calea Zacatechichi: Smoking, Drinking, and Encapsulating the Dream Herb”

  1. Govind May 30, 2011 at 10:06 am #

    Thank you for this blog, I’m a big fan of dreams but I have never had a lucid dream. I’ve made a decision of taking Calea Zacatechichi, most likely in tea and don’t worry, I do remember how you described it. Hopefully I can get pass the bitter taste and have my first lucid dream.
    P.S I smoke cannabis, will there be any problems like countering the Calea Zacatechichi’s effects?

  2. Ben May 31, 2011 at 2:52 am #

    Hi Govind! Glad to have you here, thanks for leaving me a comment. If you regularly smoke marijuana, I don’t think it will interfere with the effects of calea zacatechichi. One interesting thing to note though- if you do use marijuana daily, but don’t smoke the day you smoke calea zacatechichi, your body will likely react to the lack of marijuana with an increase in dream vividness. (I think this is called REM rebound, but don’t quote me on that.) If I had to choose one way or the other, I’d say marijuana’s effects are not great or ideal when combined with dream potentiators, but I don’t think it makes a huge difference – esp. if you’re a regularly user. However, if you decided to abstain for a day, it could be an interesting way to make the effects even more potent. Let us know how it goes!

  3. sliders_alpha July 11, 2011 at 4:35 pm #

    Hi, you can find a pharma study on google, in it you can read that the standard dose for oral use is a handful.

    Which is approximately 60g, and since local people weight around 60Kg it’s 1g/kg of dried leaves

    No wonder that you felt nothing with 10g.

  4. Booyakasha July 18, 2011 at 10:03 am #

    On the subject of the bitterness of the tea, while it is indeed at first quite insanely bitter, you really do grow accustomed.

    By the fourth night of drinking the tea I found myself able to simply sip it, while hot. I drink alot of big hoppy craft beers so it’s really not that much of a leap.. Just take all the fruity, resinous, spicy goodness out of a hop and multiply its bitterness by 80 and you have Calea.

  5. Sarah March 1, 2016 at 9:13 pm #

    I think you’re taking too much, I get very vivid dreams on just 1 of Calea in capsules. However if I take over 2g I get no effect.

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