Calea zacatechichi, also known as Dream Herb and Bitter Grass, is a plant that has been used for centuries by the indigenous Chontal peoples of Oaxaca, Mexico. It has recently become fairly well known as a dream induction tool in the West, and is the most well known of all of the traditional dreaming herbs that are presently available on the market. I discuss Calea zacatechichi elsewhere on this site, but since it is such a powerful tool, because so many people are curious about it, and because it has been such an incredible teacher for me in my dream work, I felt that I would be helpful to share a few more details about this amazing plant and its uses.
Calea zacatechichi has been the subject of several scientific studies, which have demonstrated that it increases reaction time and the frequency and recollection of dreams in comparison to both a placebo and to diazepam. The Chontal use it for oneiromancy, or divination performed through dreams, and also use it to treat gastrointestinal disorders and to reduce fevers. They say that this plant clarifies the senses and causes euphoria. Chontal shamans usually use Calea zacatechichi to locate the cause of an illness in a patient or to find someone or something that is lost. In order to effect this change, a ‘joint’ made of Calea zacatechichi is smoked and a tea made from the leaf is consumed at the same time. This is done just before going to sleep. Some individuals also are reported to place a leaf of Calea zacatechichi under their pillow before going to sleep. The answer to the shaman’s question will then come within the dream state.
I first started working with Calea zacatechichi in as traditional a manner as I could manage. I made a tea of the dried leaf matter and then consumed this while smoking some of the dried leaves. Calea zacatechichi has a very interesting effect which will let you know if you have taken a sufficient dose. A feeling of deep tranquility and drowsiness becomes immediately apparent, and when you close your eyes, you will become distinctly aware of the beating of your own heart.
Calea zacatechichi tea does not have the most pleasant taste. It is very bitter, and occasionally makes me feel a little bit nauseous after I drink it. I have been able to experience very powerful Calea zacatechichi effects simply from smoking the plant matter or from smoking resin extracts, so if the taste of the tea is not something you can manage, you may want to try this out. Alcoholic Calea zacatechichi tinctures and encapsulated herbage of Calea zacatechichi are also available, and can be just as effective as the tea, without the bitter flavor. Calea zacatechichi dose will vary from person to person and based on whether you are using the dried plant material, an extract or a tincture. Generally, it’s best to start with the lower end of the recommended dose on the product you select and work your way up. I have never experienced any Calea zacatechichi side effects, nor have any been reported by others, although I do notice that I don’t sleep as deeply on the nights I work with this herb, and that I feel slightly less rested the next day. Therefore, I always make sure to have a full eight hours of sleep before me when I start to work with Calea zacatechichi. This prevents me from feeling at all drowsy the next day.
Scientists are not yet sure why exactly it is that Calea zacatechichi is so effective. My personal feeling is that this plant helps to induce vivid lucid dream states by increasing the frequency of REM sleep and making sleep lighter in general. Whenever I work with Calea zacatechichi I notice that I wake up much more frequently during the night, although it is usually for just a few seconds. Since I am waking up during my REM sleep states, I am more capable of remembering my dreams.
This process also makes it much, much easier to induce Wake Induced Lucid Dreams. The first time I ever experienced a fully lucid dream was the first time I worked with Calea zacatechichi. I had been keeping a dream journal before this time and had become capable of regularly remembering my dreams and of occasionally becoming slightly lucid within them. However, the first night I worked with Calea zacatechichi, I had a completely new experience! I woke up right in the middle of a very vivid dream that was not particularly pleasant. Rather than getting up, or going in to another sleep state, I realized that I could just go back in to the dream I had been in. I re-entered the dream and was fully lucid, and was then fully lucid and capable of making the dream go in the way that I wanted it to go. This experience was definitely due to Calea zacatechichi’s effect of allowing me to remember my dream, wake up within it, and then return to that same space.
Many individuals have reported powerful lucid dreaming experiences with Calea zacatechichi. It definitely can help to bring you in to more vivid dream states, and can potentially teach you how to induce lucid dreaming, as well. This powerful plant is as popular as it is in the world of dreaming herbs for a reason. I definitely recommend this herb to anyone who is just beginning to explore dream herbs. If you want to give your dreaming work a jump start, or if you want to learn something new about your dreams, Calea zacatechichi may be just what you need! If you’ve tried Calea zacatechichi and had an interesting (or not-so-interesting) experience, please don’t hesitate to leave a comment and share – I’d love to learn about what other people are discovering when working with this amazing plant!