Calea Zacatechichi is a dream herb that is scientifically shown to increase dream recall, dream intensity and hypnagogic imagery.
About five years ago, I had my first Calea Zacatechichi experience. It produced a night of highly meaningful and vivid dreams that left me waking up thinking WOW. They were like no other dreams I'd had before. (And I'm a lucid dreamer.)
Though it can certainly open the gateway to lucid dreaming, the really meaningful aspect of Calea Z is its ability to take you on an incredible inner journey. I'm talking about the kind of dreams that change you - even more, perhaps, than many of your memorable waking experiences.
I've had lucid and non-lucid dreams with Calea Zacatechichi. No nightmares to report to date. Nightmares may, of course, be possible: any night of dreaming may be exposed to unpleasant or traumatic content. But I don't think this herb creates nightmares intrinsically. Our emotions do that.
Some of my Calea Z dreams have been far removed from this world, conjuring up alien planets and futuristic cities. My favorite was when I dreamed I was living in an advanced alien civilization.
I can still remember how I felt to live in a world of the future - it was reminiscent of Iain Banks' Culture lore - and that feeling still runs through me like I have lived another life. Just thinking about that dream now makes me want to write a novel about it, to do whatever I can to fully re-enter that world in my imagination and try to capture it for others. It was simply awesome.
And in that dream, time seemed to stretch, and I perceived a great deal in what must have been 30-60 minutes of dreaming. It was like watching an epic 3-hour movie that spans centuries. That's about as close as I can explain it. Flashing through someone's life while instantly understanding all that they had felt and experienced during the course of many years via implanted memories.
When I woke up, I was mildly stunned to be in this reality. My normal life - without flying cars, or skyscrapers that ran into the clouds, or alien people, or the sense of adventure - seemed quite boring in comparison.
But I was euphoric at the memory and wanted to write it all down before it drained away. Now, many details of the dream are lost, even after writing it down. But the feeling stays with me always.
This herb is for any intrepid dream explorer who wants to experience a richer dream life.
Even people who don't normally remember any dreams at all encounter highly vivid and detailed dreams when they take Calea Z. So in my view, Calea Z is something to consider if you have real problems with your dream recall, and are looking for a way to get closer to your dream world.
Other Calea Z users have reported incredibly realistic dreams, sometimes with complex plots and gripping drama, others with totally trivial content but profound intensity nonetheless. So remember, this is not an instant lucid dream pill but rather a super dream intensifier.
If you practice lucid dream techniques already, you know the effect that can have on your dreams. The two go together hand-in-hand. But if you're a non-lucid dreamer, don't expect this to be a silver bullet.
As dream herbs go, Calea Z is a good one to start off with because:
Aim to take Calea Zacatechichi in capsule or tincture form after about 4-6 hours of sleep. This is the ideal time to practice lucid dreaming, too, because your REM sleep is extended in the early morning, so you make maximum use of your dreamiest sleep cycles.
There are a few places you can buy Calea Zacatechichi online, although their supply and quality fluctuates.
At the time of writing you can obtain fresh leaf from Waking Herbs - our recommended supplier.
Here are some tips on how to take it in its various forms:
Pack the dry leaf extract into empty gel capsules and take 1-2 capsules after 4-6 hours sleep. This gives you sufficient deep sleep before embarking on longer REM cycles.
The liquid tincture is made from the dried material and reduced down. Add this to a hot drink and consume either before bed, or better, after 4-6 hours of sleep then go back to sleep. Start with a small dose and work up each night to find your personal sweet spot (10-15ml is usually effective).
Make dream tea from the dry leaf extract, add plenty of honey and drink it slowly.
Smoke the dry leaf before returning to sleep. You may feel a little buzzy but the majority of effects occur in dreamland.
DISCLAIMER. Before taking any herb or supplement, you are strongly advised to consult a qualified physician. I don't know your underlying health conditions and what medications you're on and how that might interact with this herb. What you do with Calea Zacatechichi is entirely your responsibility. Allergic reactions are rare, but possible. You are advised to try a very small dose first and check for any unusual effects. Dose sizes should start small and scale up if needed. There are no known cases of overdose.
For a lucid dreamer, it really helps if you incubate your desired dream as you fall asleep, having ingested your dose of Calea Zacatechichi.
This means visualizing your desired dreamscape and directing your awareness into that scenario, engaging all the senses.
Silently repeat the affirmation in your mind: the next scene will be a dream. Breathe it in and out, like ocean waves gently lapping at the shore.
Try not to lie in bed awake and excited about the possibilities of your Calea Z dreams.
Relax and enjoy the experience, putting no pressure on yourself to achieve a life-changing dream.
Whatever happens, happens. There will be plenty of time to analyze and reflect on your experience in the morning...
Whilst Calea Z does have a proven pedigree and there are a bunch of positive experiences on Erowid, it does have some cons to go with all the pros.
It’s an intensely bitter herb (read disgusting), so attempting to drink the tea can lead to disappointment.
Plus you will probably need to experiment whilst you titrate an effective dose, based on the strength of the particular leaves you received.
This said, it's still a wonderful ancient dream herb supported by many hundreds of years of traditional use. If you're curious and looking for vivid or lucid dreams, you should try it out.
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