VICE heads into the Amazon on a hunt for its most hallucinogenic tree frogs, but federal agents, monster bugs, and an inept shaman keep getting in the way.
There is an Amazonian frog called Phyllomedusa Bicolor or the Sapo which I have been reading about for years. It is totally different from the psychedelic toads found in North America. The Sapo’s venom produces an effect much closer to morphine than LSD, but really it’s not like either of those things. It’s a distinctly vomitous dissociative experience unlike anything else I’ve ever encountered.
There has been a lot written about the chemistry of the venom, and it has been said to have a diverse array of effects. Some people think it’s a miracle opioid which will yield new non-addictive painkillers. Others think it’s a super-potent stimulant and appetite suppressant, and even a strange psychedelic capable of tuning hunters on to the mindset of their prey. In the 80s researchers found one of the constituents of Sapo venom in the urine of autistic children, and developed an entire theory of autism around it.
I had to find out what this frog really does, but supposedly it cannot produce its venom in captivity. The only way to experience its unique trip is to travel down the Amazon River and catch one yourself, which is exactly what I did.
— VICE Correspondent Hamilton Morris