Calea Zacatechichi; with its common name, Mexican Dream Herb it is no surprise that this plant has been used traditionally to intensify dreams during sleep states. For centuries, the herb has been used by native Mexicans for divination and the inducement of lucid dreaming. The Chontal Indians are known to use Calea zacatechichi to obtain divinatory messages during dreaming. It is considered a healing plant in general and is known by many tribes as ‘Leaf of God’ for its ability to clear the senses as well as induce visions in dreams.
The leaf has been known to produce a drowsy and relaxed state, that some refer to as dream-like, along with a sense of clarity. The natives of Mexico consider this plant a hallucinogen, although no psychotropic alkaloids have yet been isolated. A study revealed that C. zacatechichi increased the number of overall dreams experienced, the ability to recall the dreams experienced, and the intensity of hypnagogic imagery experienced while falling asleep. Some reports also state other effects include spontaneous lucid dreams and increased dream clarity and realism.
It has been used for thousands of years in traditional folk medicine as an appetite stimulant, cleansing agent, calming agent, laxative, and for treatment of diarrhea, dysentery, fever, skin rashes, swollen scalps, ‘cold stomach’ and headache.
zacatechichi is a flowering shrub native to North America and is mostly found growing in Oaxaca, Mexico. It belongs to the composite family and Calea genus. It has many characteristics that make it stand out. It has slender branches with oviform and opposite leaves. When it grows in the wild, this shrub grows rapidly into a thick bush, and can grow to a height up to 3 meters. The leaves of the shrub are oval in shape, have serrated edges, and curl. Young leaves tend to have a brilliant green color on the topside and are more violet on the bottom of the leaf. Another outstanding feature of the shrub is that in proper lighting it is luminescent. Analysis of the herb has reported an existence of certain chemical compounds including flavones, acacetin and the sesquiterpine’s lactone, germacranolides, caleochromanes and caleicines. The latter two are considered the most active and responsible for the effects of the herb on sleep.