FAMILY: Fabaceae (Legume Family)
COMMON NAMES: Adenanthera Gogo, African Dream Herb, Balugo, Dipai, Dream Bean, Entada Phaseolides, Entada Pursaetha, Entada Rheedei, Garambi, Garbi, Gogo, Gogong-bakai, Kakavalli, Kessing, Lipai, Matchbox Bean, Mimosa Entada, Mimosaceae Pusaetha Entada, Sea Bean, Sea Heart, Snuff Box Sea Bean, Tamayan
This perennial climbing vine is well known for its enormously large seeds and seed pods, which can grow well over 5 feet (1.5 meters) in length, and contain a dozen or more seeds per seed pod. The seeds have a very hard woody shell, and are known to travel thousands of miles on ocean currents around the Indian Ocean, and have even washed ashore on Florida’s beaches. These seeds are dark brown to black in color and are shaped like round disc, measuring approximately 2 inches by 2 inches (5 cm x 5 cm) (Awale 2005).
This vine primarily grows in tropical zones at or near sea level along beaches, coastlines and along the sides of rivers, throughout the countries on Indian Ocean: Madagascar, Southern Africa, Asia, and Australia. Because the seed coat is thick, waxy and airtight, the seeds often travel through waterways for years before they are able to take root; once rooted they quickly encircle surrounding trees and grow skyward. When these vines are left to grow wildly, their base can grow as thick as a small tree, easily obtaining a diameter of 8 – 12 inches (0.2 – 0.3 meters) or more. The leaves grow in pairs along the length of the limbs and are dark green with a glossy sheen. Entada rheedii is also in the same botanical family as several other well known psychoactive plants, including: Anadenanthera peregrina (Yopo), Mimosa hostilis (Jurema), and the mythical Chinese hallucinogen Caesalpinia sepiaria (Yun Shih) (Dave’s Garden 2008).
TRADITIONAL USE: Although the medicinal healing properties of African Dream Herb have been known and utilized by aboriginal tribes for centuries, very little modern research has been conducted to verify the efficacy of the plant. Because Entada rheedii is so widespread, growing on every continent adjacent to the Indian Ocean, many different tribes have different uses for this plant. Some tribes believe the seeds possess magical abilities to bring the owner good luck; the seeds are strung together and used as jewelry; and the bark is be cleaned and processed into cordage that was then twisted into rope. In South Africa the seeds would be used as a substitute for coffee, when coffee beans were unavailable (Joy et al. 1998).
Most notably, African Dream Herb is used by South Africa’s medicine men and high priests to commune with the spirit world by inducing vivid lucid dreams. In other parts of the world the seeds are given to teething toddlers to ease the pain of newly emerging teeth. In Southeast Asia and especially in the Philippines, India, Bali, Java, and Sumatra the vines leaves, bark, roots and seeds are used in different ways to cleanse fresh wounds, heal minor scrapes and burns, and even as a shampoo to treat hair and scalp conditions (Bureau of Plant Industry 2009).
TRADITIONAL PREPARATION: Depending on their purpose, traditional preparations of E. rheedii vary widely.When used to induce lucid dreams and communication with the spirit world, the inner meat of the seed is either consumed directly, or chopped, dried, mixed with other herbs like tobacco, and smoked just before bedtime. When used as a scalp treatment, the bark is macerated, soaked in water and then rubbed together to produce a rich thick lather that is then applied to affected areas (Virapongse 2006).
MEDICINAL USES: Entada rheedii is made into a thickened salve or poultice that is applied to swollen hands, feet, and limbs, as well as painful joints and loins to ease pain and expedite the healing process. A strong tea is made from the leaves to induce vomiting in patients with stomach aches, abdominal pains, and diarrhea. A weaker tea is made from the bark and used to help reduce the high temperature in fever patients. In the Philippines, it is believed that a tea made from the whole plant, roots, bark, leaves and seeds can treat the after effects of a stroke and improve blood flow to the brain (Virapongse 2006).
TRADITIONAL EFFECTS: Even though there are no modern definitive scientific research reports on Entada rheedii, several active compounds, essential oils and alkaloids have been discovered and cited in the literature. It is believed that the plant produces, in varying quantities, saponins, fatty oils and other potentially psychoactive alkaloids. One report claims that the seeds can contain as much as 18% essential oils, which may account for this plant’s magical properties and its ability to help induce lucid dream states. (Joy et al. 1998)
There are many reports and anecdotal stories about the effects of Entada rheedii seeds, which fall into two basic categories. The first category of reports claim that the seed increases one’s ability to fall asleep and stay asleep, as well as producing longer lasting, more vivid and memorable dreams, but not necessarily lucid dreams. The second category of reports describe the seeds effect as an entry into the dream world, stating that the seeds promote increased awareness during REM sleep, making it easier for the sleeper to realize that they are dreaming and thus giving them an edge in achieving lucidity. Either way, Entada rheedii has achieved a well deserved reputation for being a dream herb par excellence, comparable only to Calea zacatechichi.
Awale, P. 2005. Sea Bean. flowersofindia.net
Bureau of Plant Industry. 2009. Entada Phaseolides (Linn) Merr. Republic of the Philippines Department of Agriculture. (PDF).
Dave’s Garden. 2008. African Dream Herb: Entada rheedii. davesgarden.com
Joy, P; Thomas, J; Mathew, J; et.al. 1998. Medicinal Plants. Kerala Agricultural University. (PDF).
USDA, ARS, National Genetic Resources Program. 2009. Entada rheedei Spreng. USDA Plant Database.
Virapongse, A. 2006. Ethnomedicine and Materia Medica Used by Kui Traditional Healers in Northeast Thailand. Khon Kaen University. (PDF).