Bufotoxins are a family of toxic steroid lactones. They occur in the parotoid glands, skin and poison of many toads (genus Bufo) and other amphibians, and in some plants and mushrooms.[1][2][3] The exact composition varies greatly with the specific source of the toxin. It can contain: 5-MeO-DMT, bufagins, bufalin, bufotalin, bufotenin, bufothionine, epinephrine, norepinephrine, and serotonin. The term bufotoxin can also be used specifically to describe the conjugate of a bufagin with suberylargine.[4]

The toxic substances found in toads can be divided by chemical structure in two groups:

Toads known to secrete bufotoxin are:


Extract from the skin of certain Asian toads, such as Bufo bufo gargarizans and Bufo melanostictus, is often found in certain Chinese folk remedies. The Pharmacopoeia of the People's Republic of China (ChP) considers the two species valid sources of toad venom (Chinese: 蟾酥; pinyin: Chánsū; Latin: bufonis venenum), and requires the dry product to contain at least 6% of cinobufagin and resibufogenin combined by weight. The extract is obtained by squeezing the parotoid glands of caught, washed toads for a white venom and drying; the final dried venom is usually brown, with a chunk or flake form.[5]


  1. Siperstein MD, Murray AW, Titus E (March 1957). "Biosynthesis of cardiotonic sterols from cholesterol in the toad, Bufo marinus". Archives of Biochemistry and Biophysics. 67 (1): 154–60. doi:10.1016/0003-9861(57)90254-0. PMID 13412129.
  2. Lincoff, Gary; Mitchel, Duane H. (1977). Toxic and Hallucinogenic Mushroom Poisoning: A Handbook for Physicians and Mushroom Hunters. New York: Van Nostrand Reinhold. ISBN 978-0-442-24580-1.
  3. Kißmer, B.; Wichtl, M. (1986). "Bufadienolide aus Samen von Helleborus odorus" [Bufadienolides from the Seeds of Helleborus odorus]. Planta Medica (in German). 52 (2): 152–3. doi:10.1055/s-2007-969103.
  4. Chen KK, Kovaríková A (December 1967). "Pharmacology and toxicology of toad venom". Journal of Pharmaceutical Sciences. 56 (12): 1535–41. doi:10.1002/jps.2600561202. PMID 4871915.
  5. 国家药典委员会 (2015). 中华人民共和国药典 [Pharmacopoeia of the People's Republic of China] (in Chinese). 1 (10 ed.). 中国医药科技出版社. p. 333. ISBN 9787506773379. entries: 蟾酥 bufonis venenum
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