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What is DMT?: All About the 'God Molecule'

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DMT has one of the oldest histories of human use. Indigenous groups have used it for more than 4,000 years in the form of a concoction with plants containing DMT and MAOIs (monoamine oxidase inhibitors). It is found in a wide variety of plants, fungi and animals; even humans produce DMT na

Scientists believe that the human body stores low amounts of DMT within the cerebrospinal fluid and it could be produced in the eyes and lungs. The discovery of DMT in humans sheds new light on how to understand the deep spiritual enlightenment that so many people encounter during near-death experiences. The current belief is that the body releases DMT during dmt, which causes strong hallucinations and radical and lasting changes of perspective.

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Effects

When vaporized, the effects of DMT usually last between 5 and 30 minutes. Unlike other hallucinogens, DMT will cause extremely strong visual hallucinations, either of open or closed eyes. Machine goblins, as Terence McKenna would say, sometimes occur as a common visual experience.

Other common effects will depend on the individual, dosage, and set setting, but usually include:

  • A total immersion experience
  • Powerful sensations
  • Radical changes in perspective
  • Life-changing spiritual experiences
  • Alteration of the perception of time
  • Slight discomfort in the stomach
  • Fear, anxiety and paranoia

As with other psychedelics, DMT is linked to a condition known as persistent hallucinogenic perception disorder (PSPH), which affects about 1% of those who use psychedelics. HPPD can manifest itself through visual snow similar to the static pattern seen on analog TVs when no signal arrives. However, this is not a big concern for community members, as it usually ceases over time. That said, cannabis seems to prolong this disorder.

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Forms and modes of consumption

This molecule comes in many shapes and sizes, and generally its crystals are pale yellow-orange to pure white when extracted. Oxidation, oils and other tryptamines such as NMT can cause yellowing.

The most common forms of DMT include fumarate, free base, citrate, acetate, and hydrochloride. All of these forms are a crystallized compound with different acids or bases used to bind molecules together. Citrate, acetate and hydrochloride are all DMT salts with a different acid used to produce the salt. These different forms require different methods of consumption.

Vaporized DMT must be in its free-base form, as there are theories that salts release toxic compounds once heated. A common misconception surrounding vaporized DMT is that it is successfully consumed by smoking it with a direct open flame. Applying a direct open flame to the free-base DMT causes it to burn and become inactive. In contrast, DMT is activated when vaporized at a temperature of around 160°C (320°F). The effects of vaporized DMT can be prolonged by adding it to a smoking mixture called changa, which usually contains plants that have MAOIs or to which an MAOI has been added.

Users may also choose to snort it, which is much easier in its salt form, such as fumarate, citrate or acetate, for better absorption through mucous membranes.

Another way to consume DMT is orally in combination with a monoamine oxidase inhibitor, or MAOI. Users use this method of consumption in several ways. One method is to cook plants containing these compounds for hours. Some simplify it by extracting the compounds and then consuming them in pill form, which is commonly known as pillahuasca. Another is the parachute shape: when the user places the substances inside a thin paper, such as tissue paper, and then swallows it. When a pharmaceutical MAOI is used, it is called a farmahuasca.

Many indigenous groups in the Amazon region consume a combination of DMT and MAOI by combining two plants, most often Banisteriopsis caapi (also called ayahuasca or simply caapi), and psychotria viridis or alba (also known as chacruna) in a huge pot, where they then cook them while praying.

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Alternatives to DMT

Normally, ayahuasca concoctions use strains of Banisteriopsis caapi to provide MAOIs to the concoction and another plant to provide dmt. Recently, growers have developed the so-called psychotria nexus, more adapted to living in colder climates, as an alternative to B. caapi. Another option is to use plants such as Acacia confusa or Mimosa hostilis (Jurema) to provide DMT and witheganum harmala (Syrian rue) for MAOIs.

A common alternative to pure DMT is 5-MeO-DMT. It produces an intense psychedelic experience of similar short duration, with only minor differences.

5-HO-DMT also produces a short-lived psychedelic experience, but has been associated with more negative effects, such as chest and throat tightness, nausea, and numbness.

Other chemicals such as psilocybin, psilocin, and 4-AcO-DMT also contain the DMT molecule in their chemical structure. However, these substances produce a significantly different psychedelic experience that can last longer than 8 hours.

The difference between the original and alternative forms of DMT and ayahuasca will be in the taste and potency. There are some anecdotal reports suggesting that if DMT is a bit oily, it is actually stronger, as it may also contain other alkaloids.

The community often refers to some of these "stronger forms" of DMT as Jimjam and Jungle spice. The latter contains small amounts of DMT, but higher amounts of other mimosa hostilis alkaloids.

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A little chemistry

DMT (N,N-Dimethyltryptamine) is an alkaloid molecule classified as tryptamine. It is of natural origin, with a chemical structure found in at least 400 species of plants and fungi. Almost all substances belonging to the class of tryptamines contain the chemical structure of DMT. That's why it's sometimes called "main tryptamine." All psychoactive hallucinogenic tryptamines have similar effects, with DMT and psilocybin being the most popular.

There are two main ways of producing it: extraction and synthesis. Extraction methods vary greatly, but the most common method is extraction from plant material, particularly MHRB (mimosa hostilis root bark) and ACRB (confused acacia root bark). These extractions potentially use dangerously strong bases and acids.

Toxicity

The scientific community considers this chemical to be toxic, as it technically damages some cells and tissues after ingestion. But multiple studies have shown that there is no connection between DMT and any type of toxicity, even at high doses.

There is some research showing the neuro-regenerative and antidepressant effects of ayahuasca, along with some studies indicating that 5-MeO-DIPT, an analogue of DMT, is neurotoxic in rats. Some people in the psychedelic community speculate that this could mean that other analogues are also neurotoxic. However, this has not been confirmed.

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Interactions

Anecdotal evidence suggests that DMT users should not mix it with substances other than an MAOI. It is recommended that users follow an MAOI diet before consuming it, as some foods and beverages can cause dangerous reactions. Some of these foods and beverages include cured cheese, yogurt, cured meats, fermented meats, certain types of alcoholic beverages, and others.

Using any phenethylamine such as mescaline, 2CB or MDMA in combination with an MAOI can be extremely dangerous. This combination can cause serotonin syndrome, which can lead to adverse effects and even death.

People who have a family history or history of epilepsy or schizophrenic disorders have an increased risk of having a seizure or psychotic flare-up when using any psychedelic.

Safety

There is currently no evidence that DMT causes dangerous health effects in healthy individuals. However, more research needs to be done to determine whether DMT is a completely benign substance. Its effects can cause an individual to stumble, fall and seriously injure themselves due to the way it causes their body sense to be completely lost.

Dangerous NaOH contamination mixed with tiny particles of plant matter can also cause yellowing, and usually causes DMT to be brown rather than yellow. This can cause lung problems if taken as a steam, or stomach problems if consumed orally. Extremely difficult journeys can leave a person with PTSD.

There is almost no published evidence on overdose and DMT. However, according to the American Poison Control Association, dmt use has been associated with coma and respiratory arrest. It has not been determined whether this was due to a combination of substances, pre-existing conditions or the molecule itself.

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Tolerance

Users report that the accumulation of tolerance to DMT is extremely low. In most cases, taking DMT one hour after the first vaporized intake will create effects at the same level as the first time. Tolerance to ayahuasca is similar, but it can take up to a day for tolerance to decrease – possibly due to the MAOI content. In addition, DMT does not cause cross-tolerance, as is the case with LSD or psilocybin, where tolerance can be noticeable up to a week after a single use.

History

This molecule is not only found naturally in plants and fungi: the human body also produces DMT. It can be found in small amounts within the brain.

It can be found in small amounts in cerebrospinal fluid and is thought to also occur in the lungs and eyes. The production of DMT is probably a byproduct of the synthesis of melatonin and other tryptamines in the brain.

Although pure DMT was not synthesized until 1931, the ancient use of ayahuasca dates back at least 1,000 years. Scientists found a ritual lump containing residues of ayahuasca ingredients in southwestern Bolivia. Humans occupied this area for at least the last 4,000 years, so the use of ayahuasca could go back even further. It is likely that such indians used ayahuasca in spiritual rituals. These scientists also found evidence of cocaine and harmine use in this same location.

Some indigenous groups also used tobacco plants containing an MAOI to enhance the ayahuasca journey. This is a special type of tobacco that scientists call Nicotiana rustica. This type of tobacco has no correlation with Nicotiana tabacum, which is found in commercial cigarette products.

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History of yopo

Anadenanthera peregrina, commonly known as yopo, was used by indigenous people in Argentina, Peru, Colombia, Venezuela, Brazil and Puerto Rico. Its use dates back more than four thousand years.

The fruit, grains, pods and bark of the plant contain DMT and compounds based on it, such as 5-MeO-DMT and 5-HO-DMT. Traditionally, the grains of the plant were dried and smoked in pipes made with puma bone.

The first reports on the use of yopo date back to 1801 by a German explorer named Alexander Von Humboldt. He detailed how the maipures of the Orinoco prepared the seeds of A. peregrina to use as snuff. Essentially, they first roasted the seeds and then placed them on a small wooden plate where they ground them into a fine powder with a mortar. They would then inhale this powder through hollow bird bones or bamboo tubes to experience the effects.

Did Freemasons use DMT and ayahuasca?

We can find references to Acacia plants (containing DMT) in many excerpts from Masonic literature, as it was quite popular in Masonic circles until the 1700s. In an allegory presented to all candidates for Freemasonry, Alessandro Cagliostro serves an ayahuasca-like concoction containing Acacia to initiated individuals to "elevate" their "spirits" before their lecture. Ayahuasca concoction is a method of oral dmt consumption, which involves mixing a plant containing the molecule with a plant containing an MAOI. MAOIs slow down the metabolism of DMT in the body, allowing it to remain active in the body for a long period of time.

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Scientific advances

In 1931, British chemist Richard Helmuth Fredrick Manske was the first to synthesize DMT during his research on N-methyltryptamine, a compound biosynthesized by the human body. However, it was not until 1955 that a team of American scientists identified DMT as an ingredient in the seeds of A. peregrina (used to make Yopo and Cohoba rapes). This was the first time that the natural presence of DMT in a plant or animal was documented. After this finding, it began to speculate with the possibility that it had psychoactive effects. The following year, in 1956, a scientific publication by Stephen Szara confirmed that she was indeed psychoactive.

Scientific studies (ranging from 1961 to 2015) have since discovered that mammalian lungs and brain synthesize DMT, as do human blood, urine, and cerebrospinal fluid. Some scientists believe that the body releases this DMT stored during near-death experiences, resulting in the spontaneous visions and hallucinations that people report during a near-death experience. Other individuals theorize that the molecule is released during childbirth.

In December 2000, Dr. Rick Strassman published DMT: The Spirit Molecule, where he summarized his academic work, experimental studies, and his own conclusions about the endogenous properties of DMT. After twenty years of pause in psychedelic research, Strassman was the first person in the United States to undertake research on humans with psychedelic substances.

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Laws and legal status

In the United States

DMT is classified as a Schedule I drug under the 1971 United Nations Convention on Psychotropic Substances. However, this measure did not regulate natural substances containing DMT, such as ayahuasca. In December 2004, the U.S. Supreme Court lifted a suspension that allowed brazilian Church União de Vegetal (UDV) to use a tea containing DMT at its Christmas services that year.

Two years later, in Gonzales v. O Centro Espirita Beneficente Uniao do Vegetal, the court ruled that the federal government should allow the UDV to import and consume tea for religious purposes under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1993. After ruling in favor of the three Churches of santo Daime, Judge Owen M. Panner issued a standing court order prohibiting the government from penalizing or prohibiting the sacramental use of "Daime tea," which contains ayahuasca.

In 2020, Oregon decriminalized all illegal drugs, including DMT.

In South America

The law prohibits DMT in most countries. There are some exceptions for ayahuasca, often for religious and spiritual purposes. However, the possession and use of ayahuasca are legal in Brazil, which is why there are so many ayahuasca retreats in the country.

Similarly, Peru is well known for the use of ayahuasca, as its consumption and possession are legal. This country also offers ayahuasca retreats.

In Colombia there are no specific laws on DMT, although ayahuasca is considered a religious sacrament and there are retreat centers. The same is true in Costa Rica, Uruguay and Ecuador.

In many cases, DMT remains a controlled substance, while ayahuasca is considered acceptable for use in religious settings.

In Europe

Although there are no laws prohibiting ayahuasca in Italy, there have recently been arrests of individuals who consumed ayahuasca at the Church of Santo Daime.

As in Italy, in Spain there is no specific law prohibiting ayahuasca. Despite this, there are arrests of members of the church of Santo Daime for their consumption.

All plants containing DMT are illegal in France and although Germany has no specific laws on ayahuasca, the molecule is illegal under the German Narcotics Act.

The Netherlands lists DMT as a prohibited Substance in Schedule I under the Opium Act. Ayahuasca became illegal on October 1, 2019. This sentence came to power after a woman tried to import 33 kilos of ayahuasca concoction across the border. Following the lower court's decision that he was guilty, he took the matter to the Supreme Court on the grounds that this would stifle religious freedoms. However, the Supreme Court ruled that this was a public health offence, making it an illegal act. It is still highly unlikely that an individual will be prosecuted for personal possession.

In Australia

Currently, there are no specific laws addressing ayahuasca in Australia. While there have been no trials for ayahuasca, Australia has other tough laws for other drugs, including DMT.

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Frequently asked questions

How is it extracted?

A common method of DMT extraction uses a base such as bleach dissolved in water. This base extracts DMT from a plant containing the molecule. The extracted substance must then be separated to ensure that only pure DMT remains. For this, mixed naphtha is usually used in the extraction to create two different layers, one light and one darker. The light layer is DMT, and the dark layer is everything else that was extracted.

How does it feel?

DMT causes a fully immersive psychedelic experience that results in hallucinations with your eyes closed and open, as well as a variety of other sensations.

How long does the effect last?

The effects of DMT last between 5 and 30 minutes when smoked. If consumed in an ayahuasca infusion, the effects can last up to 8 hours.

What does it look like?

The appearance of DMT consists of a white crystalline powder. Sometimes this powder will be tanned in color due to the remains of plant matter.

Where do you find yourself?

DMT is found in a wide range of plants, fungi and animals. Even humans produce it naturally.

How is it produced?

Dmt synthesis involves the reaction of indole with oxalyl chloride, followed by a reaction with dimethylamine and a reduction with lithium-aluminum hydride.

What does DMT mean?

N,N-dimethyltryptamine.

Why is it illegal?

Most developed countries consider DMT to be a public health hazard.

Where is it legal?

The United Nations includes DMT on the list of drugs in Schedule I of the Convention on Psychotropic Substances, which obliges all members to ban the substance. However, ayahuasca is legal in Brazil and Peru.

What does it do in the body?

It binds to a wide variety of serotonin receptors causing a psychedelic experience.

Which plants contain DMT?

More than 400 different species of plants and fungi contain this molecule or a derivative of it.

When is it released naturally?

Scientists are not yet clear when the body releases DMT, but they currently believe it is during near-death experiences.

How long does it stay in the body?

DMT remains in your system for a short period of time, due to the enzyme monoamine oxidase, which destroys it quickly after ingestion/inhalation. However, consuming MAOIs can increase the duration of effects and longevity of this molecule.

Does it degrade?

It may rust over time and become less potent, but there are conflicting claims about this in the community.

How is DMT extracted from frogs?

DMT extraction does not come from frogs. However, the similar substances 5-MEO-DMT and 5-HO-DMT come from the skin of Incilius alvarius, or Colorado River toad. 5-MEO and 5-HO are NOT good substitutes for DMT, as they are more potent and orally active. There is only one species of frog that causes hallucinations, the Phyllomedusa bicolor. The extraction of 5-MEO-DMT and 5-HO-DMT from frogs has also been shown to be detrimental to the ecological health of the species.

Do all frogs produce DMT?

No, frogs do not produce DMT. Toads do. Not all toads produce it.

What is the difference between synthetic and extracted from the toad?

There is essentially no difference between natural (extracted) and synthetic DMT. Both can be dangerous if not properly prepared and extracted.

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