Calea zacatechichi, also called dream herb and bitter grass, is a shrub plant that primarily grows in Mexico. It has a long history of use for all kinds of health issues, especially gastrointestinal concerns.

Indigenous groups, including the Chontal Maya, have also used it for improved mental clarity and dream enhancement.

Today, it’s a popular herb among people looking to induce hallucinations or try lucid dreaming.

Here’s what else you need to know about the so-called dream herb.

According to anecdotal reports, this dream herb can have a range of effects on your sleep and the quality of your dreams.

Some researchTrusted Source, for example, supports its potential benefits as a home remedy for:

inflammation gastrointestinal complaints, including stomachache, diarrhea, and other symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)

Calea zacatechichi may also help reduce fever.

The herb has several other uses in folk medicine, but experts haven’t yet found enough evidence to support these.

Nevertheless, anecdotal reports suggest this herb can help relieve:

appetite loss


various rashes

head pain

asthma symptoms, including cough and breathing problems

high blood sugar

Some reported effects on dreams include:

the ability to alter or control your dreams

more vivid, memorable, or longer dreams

an increase in the dreams you experience and remember

a sense of deeper knowledge and understanding of your dreams

In particular, this herb appears to help your dreams follow a more coherent narrative structure, instead of abruptly ending or shifting to new locations. This can make your dreams seem longer and even more realistic.

Calea zacatechichi can also have an impact on your sleep.

People often report:

feeling drowsy after taking the herb

lighter sleep

waking up more frequently and easily

While experts aren’t certain exactly how the herb works, some research suggests it produces these effects by acting on the central nervous system.

So, what happens when you take this dream herb but don’t actually sleep?

For some people, Calea zacatechichi appears to increase mental clarity and boost cognitive abilities, like focus and improved reaction time.

As for the alleged hallucinogenic effect, some people do report intense, dream-like images shortly before falling asleep. But it doesn’t seem to cause full-on hallucinations like acid (LSD).

Calea zacatechichi may also temporarily lower your blood pressure and breathing rate, so you might also feel relaxed, sleepy, calm, or even a bit detached from reality.

It has potential health uses, too

There’s not a ton of research around this herb’s uses for dream enhancement or mental clarity, but its other health benefits have a bit more evidence behind them.

Calea zacatechichi provides a natural, safe calming sensation and an increase in the vividness of dreams. Typically it’s used by people wishing to experience lucid dreams for either recreation or shamanic purposes. Sleep on calea is deep and refreshing. Lucid dreamers generally recommend that calea be taken within an hour of going to bed.

Users who simply wish to experience the calming effects can drink it at any hour of the day. Nearly immediately calea will go to work reducing stress and anxiety, providing a peaceful, relaxing feeling.

Many users report the increased cumulative effect of calea zacatechichi with daily use. Over time, the sensation of relaxation and increase of the vividness of dreams will increase. Typically a glass of tea is drunk both in the morning and at night. In this way, people experiencing chronic insomnia or anxiety get the greatest amount of relief.