Oneirogen, from the Greek oneiros meaning "dream" and gen "to create," describes that which produces or enhances dream-like states of consciousness. This is characterized by an immersive dream state similar to REM sleep, which can range from realistic to alien or abstract. Many dream-enhancing plants such as Dream Herb (Calea zacatechichi) and African Dream Herb (Entada rheedii), as well as the hallucinogenic Diviner's Sage (Salvia divinorum), have been used for thousands of years in a form of divination through dreams called oneiromancy, in which practitioners seek to receive psychic or prophetic information during dream states. The term Oneirogen commonly describes a wide array of psychoactive plants and chemicals ranging from normal dream enhancers to intense dissociative or deleriant drugs. Effects experienced with the use of Oneirogens may include microsleep, hypnagogia, fugue states, REM, hypnic jerks, lucid dreams, and even out-of-body experiences. Some Oneirogenic substances are said to have little to no effect on waking consciousness, and will not exhibit their effects until the user falls into a natural sleep state.
Partial list of oneirogenic substances
- Artemisia douglasiana (mugwort)
- Calea zacatechichi (the "dream herb")
- Entada rheedii ("African dream bean")
- Dimethyltryptamine ("Ayahuasca") Smoked and oral DMT preparations can trigger intensely vivid and surreal spiritually charged dream states.
- Harmaline (found in Peganum harmala)
- Ibogaine (found in Tabernanthe iboga)
- Salvinorin A (found in Salvia divinorum)
- Silene undulata ("African dream root")
- Muscimol (found in "Amanita muscaria" )
- Dextromethorphan (the main ingredient in many cough syrups)
- a large variety of Datura plants and Atropa belladonna can produce microsleep and intense hypnagogic imagery.
- Diphenhydramine "Benadryl" can invoke an intense hypnagogic REM-like microsleep often indifferentiable from reality Deliriants can therefore be considered to trigger an oneirogenic state by blocking acetylcholine and suppressing cholinergic system activity.
- Opium and its derivatives can result in euphoric dream-like states and microsleep, known colloquially as "nodding". These are usually more realistic and more pleasure based, however they still invoke dream like states.
- Paroxetine can cause vivid dreams
- Amphetamine and other stimulants can create psychotic episodes which may be defined as bursts of dream activity erupting spontaneously into waking states, this is not due to the substance itself but rather a result of the prolonged suppression of cholinergic activity and REM sleep due to amphetamine or stimulant abuse.
- Nutmeg in large amounts due to the chemicals myristicin and elemicin which produce a strong drunken stuporific dreamlike state
- Melatonin can help to induce more vivid dreams.
- Schultes, Richard Evans; and Albert Hofmann (1979), Plants of the Gods: Origins of Hallucinogenic Use, New York: McGraw-Hill, ISBN 0-07-056089-7
- Gianluca Toro; Benjamin Thomas (2007), Drugs of the Dreaming: Oneirogens: Salvia divinorum and Other Dream-Enhancing Plants, Park Street Press, ISBN 978-1594771743
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