An oneirogen, from the Greek ὄνειρος óneiros meaning "dream" and gen "to create", is 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 deliriant drugs. Effects experienced with the use of oneirogens may include microsleep, hypnagogia, fugue states, rapid eye movement sleep (REM), hypnic jerks, lucid dreams, and 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
- Calea zacatechichi
- Dextromethorphan (the main ingredient in many cough syrups)
- Dimethyltryptamine can trigger intensely vivid and surreal spiritually charged dream states.
- 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.
- Entada rheedii ("African dream bean")
- Galantamine (Found in Snowdrops)
- Harmaline (found in Peganum harmala)
- Ibogaine (found in Tabernanthe iboga)
- Amanita muscaria
- Salvia divinorum and other Kappa receptor agonists
- Silene undulata ("African dream root")
- A large variety of nightshades can produce microsleep and intense hypnagogic imagery.
- Many Opioids may produce a euphoric dream-like state with microsleep, known colloquially as "nodding".
- Paroxetine, mirtazapine and varenicline often 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.
- Melatonin can help to induce more vivid dreams.
- Nutmeg in large amounts, due to the chemicals myristicin and elemicin, which produce a strong drunken dreamlike state
- Schultes, Richard Evans; and Albert Hofmann (1979), Plants of the Gods: Origins of Hallucinogenic Use, New York: McGraw-Hill, ISBN 0-07-056089-7 Cite uses deprecated parameter
- Gianluca Toro; Benjamin Thomas (2007), Drugs of the Dreaming: Oneirogens: Salvia divinorum and Other Dream-Enhancing Plants, Park Street Press, ISBN 978-1594771743