Unusual adventures and hidden discoveries. Explore our 2018 trips now »

Ritual & Medicinal

Toloache

The Mesoamerican plant is used as a hallucinogen, medicine, and aphrodisiac.

Depending on your dose of the nightshade Datura innoxia, you might hallucinate, fall in love, or die.

The plant, which produces a white, trumpet-like flower and prickly, bulbous fruit, has many names across different cultures. In Mexico, it is known as toloache, from the Nahuatl words for “bow the head” and “reverential.”

The plant is categorized as a “deliriant,” for the intense hallucinations it brings about. For centuries, Mexican shamans have smoked cigars rolled with its leaves or ate its seeds to gain insight during divination rituals. In Northwestern Mexico, the Tarahumara still prepare a ceremonial drink of sprouted corn and toloache to encourage visions.

In small quantities, toloache operates as a pain reliever. Ancient Aztecs wrote of a fever remedy based on a weak toloache infusion, while Uto-Aztecan oral histories describe midwives making a toloache brew to help ease childbirth pains. 

But for all its merits, this is a plant that demands caution. At toxic levels, toloache can cause death by respiratory paralysis. Although there’s little scientific research to back it up, some claim that the life-saving antidote is another psychoactive Mesoamerican plant: peyote.

In Mexican brujeria, modern witches make toloache love potions. Many mercados that sell magical powders and potions will carry toloache products. Folklore suggests that mixing it into the food or smoking tobacco of the person you desire will make them fall in love with you. As standard protocol, give your beloved a heads-up before administering any psychoactive plant medicine.

Need to Know

You can find toloache in markets that sell medicinal plants or magic potions.

Where to Try It
  • Mercado de Sonora
    Fray Servando Teresa de Mier 419, Mexico City, 15810, Mexico

    This Mexico City market specializes in medicinal and magic plants. Many of the stalls carry toloache-based products.

Have you tried this item?
Contributed by
rachelrummel
Add your photos
Be the first to share a photo of this item with our community.