A bufo alvarius toad.

Ayahuasca vs. Bufo – What’s the Difference?

When deciding on psychedelic retreats, there are many options to choose from. What retreat is best for you depends on your goals, physical health, and psychedelic experience. In this article, we compare ayahuasca vs. bufo, also known as 5-MeO-DMT.

Both ayahuasca and Bufo alvarius are extremely powerful psychedelics, but for very different reasons. Learn how the experiences are different, what people use them for, their legality, and how long they last.

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What is Ayahuasca?

Ayahuasca is a combination of two plants grown in the Amazon rainforest. The ayahuasca vine, baniteroopsis caapi and the chacruna bush psycotria viridis. The two plants interact to create a powerful tea containing DMT and harmala alkaloids. These two compounds are potent psychedelics and part of a long tradition of psychedelic use in the Amazon.

Ayahausca is usually taken as part of a ceremony, and many people have experienced powerful healing and spiritual experiences. An ayahuasca ceremony lasts about 4-6 hours, sometimes longer. Songs, prayers, and going through a retreat or ceremony together are usually part of doing ayahuasca. 

You can expect to see visions, have strong emotions, remember forgotten events or assign new meaning to parts of your life. Physical effects are also common, like shaking, sweating, diarrhea and vomiting. From a shamanic perspective, these are seen as a cleansing purge. 

Pieces of a cut ayahuasca vine
An ayahuasca vine and tea.

There are a growing amount of scientific studies that are showing ayahuasca might be effective for the treatment of depression, anxiety, PTSD, and many other mental and physical health concerns. You can even check out some documentaries to learn what it’s like to drink ayahuasca.

The type of DMT in ayahuasca is different than Bufo. Ayahausca contains N, N-DMT, and Bufo is 5-MeO-DMT. There has been some curiosity regarding whether there are some ayahuasca brews that contain 5-MeO-DMT. This is not the case, as ayahuasca used together could create dangerous side effects and should not be done on the same day.

What is Bufo Alavarius?

5-MeO-DMT compared to ayahuasca is very different. The tryptamine 5-MeO-DMT is sometimes called “The Toad” or “Bufo” because it is a secretion produced by the Bufo Alovarious toad. However, overharvesting of Bufo in the Sonoran desert is likely endangering the toad, and the ethics of taking 5-MeO-DMT is becoming a concern. 

Bufo can be administered one-on-one with a practitioner or as part of a group ceremony. The most intense part of the experience is generally short, only lasting 5-20 minutes. A practitioner will assist you in smoking a pipe containing the compound. Once enough is inhaled, one lies down as the onset of bufo is extremely fast, occurring within seconds.

A bufo experience is very deep and unique. Many people report losing their sense of self. This can be described as “ego-death” and can be beautiful and sometimes uncomfortable or scary. The connection to the larger universe and spirituality is a common effect of bufo, which leaves a lasting impact on many people. Time can also be distorted, and physical shaking is part of the experience for many people.

A Bufo Alvarius toad sitting on moss
A Bufo Alvarius toad.

5-MeO-DMT has been used with many different intentions surrounding mental and physical issues. The compound is not as well studied as ayahuasca. However, anecdotes exist of improvements in depression, anxiety and other healing effects. Notably, veterans at ibogaine and 5-MeO-DMT retreats in Mexico combined bufo with iboga to help with their PTSD.

Chemist and documentary filmmaker Hamiton Morris has said it is possible to synthesize 5-MeO-DMT in a laboratory. However, some claim that the effects of the 5-MeO harvested from Bufo have different effects because of other compounds in the secretion of the toad, like bufotenine. This is still debated. However, there are other sources of 5-MeO that can be found in nature, evidenced by the yopo snuff.

Ayahuasca vs 5-MeO-DMT

When choosing between ayahuasca and 5-MeO-DMT, there are a few questions to ask yourself. Why do you want to take these psychedelics? How much time do you have? What is your physical health?

Ayahuasca is typically taken in a retreat or ceremony and involves an extensive cleansing process with the ayahuasca diet. A shaman will likely lead the ceremony. Ayahuasca trips are longer and can be very challenging, with a high chance of purging. However, there is huge potential to walk away with many messages, and understandings gained to integrate into your life.

A bufo ceremony will last less than a day, with the ceremony typically not being longer than a few hours. Preparation is not as intense as ayahuasca, and while there will be a facilitator, you will largely be on your own in the experience.

5-MeO-DMT can be transformative but also extremely overwhelming and scary, particularly as a first psychedelic experience. Because Bufo is very fast, intense, and unique, the insights can be more difficult to integrate. 

Bufo Alavarius vs Ayahuasca – Which One is For You?

These are the basics of ayahuasca vs. bufo. The choice is going to be up to you. 

Bufo is not as well studied and established in its practices as ayahuasca, but it is also an incredible experience. It’s a wild ride but leaves an impact.

Ayahuasca is an ancient tradition guided by sometimes very powerful healers. Participating in a full retreat is a big financial investment and will take time and energy, but it has helped many people.

Whatever you choose, be sure to work with trusted and experienced practitioners. Talk to a doctor before taking psychedelics, particularly ones as strong as ayahuasca and bufo. When ready to take the plunge, check out Frshminds’ psychedelic retreat listings.

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About the Author

Patrick is a freelance writer and blogger at AdjustableNormal. Since his youth, he has been fascinated with psychedelics and altered states, experimenting with them on and off the page. His drive to explore consciousness has brought him around the world and down many rabbit holes to yogis, plant nerds, and alternative communities. Originally Canadian, he lives in the Peruvian Andes with his wife and cat.

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