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Ololiuqui - Encyclopedia

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What is Ololiuqui?

While the plant has many names, it has been referred to mostly by Turbina corymbosa (or the older Rivea corymbosa) or by its Mexican name "ololiuqui" which refers specifically to its seeds. It is a type of morning glory which contains similar alkaloids to those found in Ipomoea violacea and which has been used traditionally in Mexico.


One of the first descriptions and the first illustration of ololiuqui were given by Francisco Hernandez, a Spanish physician who between 1570 and 1575 carried out extensive research on the flora and fauna of Mexico for Philip II. In his famous "Rerum medicarum Novae Hispaniae thesaurus, seu plantarum, animalium, mineralium mexicanorum historia", which appeared in 1651 in Rome, Hernandez described and classified ololiuqui under the heading "De Oliliuhqui, seu planta orbicularium foliorum".

An extract of a free translation of the 1651 Latin version reads as follows: "Oliliuhqui, which some call coaxihuitl, or snake-plant, is a twinning herb with thin, green, cordate leaves, slender, green terete stems, and long white flowers. The seed is round and very like coriander."

In this work, Hernandez claims that priests ate ololiuqui which induced a delirious state during which they were able to receive messages from the supernatural and communicate with their gods. He reported that priests saw visions and went into a state of terrifying hallucinations under the influence of the drug.

If we are to judge from the many ancient writers quoted in Schultes' monograph, ololiuqui must have been very extensively used in the valleys of Mexico in prehispanic times. It seems to have been more important in divinity than peyotl or teonanácatl. However, the medicinal use was also very extensive. Ololiuqui served to cure flatulence, to remedy venereal troubles, to deaden pain, and to remove tumours. Ololiuqui was believed to possess a deity of its own, which worked miracles if properly propitiated.

In spite of the above relatively good description and characteristic illustration by Hernandez, the botanical identification of ololiuqui caused a great number of discussions in professional circles. Finally, in 1897, M. Urbina identified ololiuqui as Rivea corymbosa Hall. f. (syn . Ipomoea sidaefolia (HBK)). This identification was confirmed by Schultes.


Ololiuhqui in Nahuatl is the name of the seeds, not of the plant that yields the seeds. The word means 'round thing', and the seeds are small, brown, and oval. The plant itself is a climber, called appropriately coaxihuitl, 'snake-plant', in Nahuatl, and hiedra or bejicco by the Spanish writers. It is a morning glory, and it grows easily and abundantly in the mountains of southern Mexico. Unlike teonanacatl, it bears seed over months, and the seed can be kept indefinitely and carried far and wide to regions where the plant itself does not grow.


The main component in the seeds is d-lysergic acid amide also called ergine. It was found that ergine and isoergine were present in the seeds to some extent in the form of their condensation product with acetaldehyde, i.e. d-lysergic acid hydroxyethylamide and d-isolysergic acid hydroxyethylamide resp.


The least known in the outside world of our quartet of major Mexican divinatory agents is ololiuhqui, yet it is perhaps the best known and most widely used among the indigenous people of that country. What is known in the western world, is that the properties could be as sensational as those of magic mushrooms and Peyote. Further experiments have proven that a hallucinogenic state can be attained; one first encounters a certain level of listlessness and increased visual sensitivity, eventually feeling relaxed, getting visions and being able to bring back memories from one's childhood.


By weight, ololiuqui seeds are in general twice as powerful as morning glory. This info on Erowid and these dosages for regular Morning glory may help you figure out the most suitable dose.

C. Rätsch in the Encyclopedia of Psychoactive Plants has the following to say on dosage:

"The fresh or dried seeds normally are added to such alcoholic drinks as mescal, aguardiente, tpache and balche. The fresh seeds, when crushed are added to pulque (cf. agave spp.) and allowed to steep. This drink, known as piule, can be drunk to attain hypnotic states. Fifteen or more seeds can be ground and allowed to soak in one-half cup of water. The Zapotec say that a shamanic dosage consists of thirteen pairs of seeds; traditional dosages also are said to consist of fourteen or twenty-two seeds. Because such traditional dosages did not elicit any effects among Western test subjects, experiments were conducted using larger quantities:

Ingesting 60 - 100 seeds led to apathy, indifference and increased sensitivity to optical stimuli. After some 4 hours, there followed a longer-lasting phase of relaxations and well-being. In contrast, in eight male subjects, dosages of up to 125 seeds did not elicit any effects except vomiting.

Dosages as high as three hundred to five hundred seeds have also been tested, usually with unsatisfactory results and such severe side effects as vomiting, diarrhoea, etc."

This article is based on the following pages:

Teonanácatl and Ololiuqui, two ancient magic drugs of Mexico Bulletin on Narcotics. Issue 1, 1971; 3-14. By Albert Hofmann.

Notes on the Present Status of Ololiuhqui and the Other Hallucinogens of Mexico by R. Gordon Wasson.

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