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DMT - Blast Off

Updated: Oct 15, 2019

DMT - The Spirit Molecule?

With my dreams of metaphysical awakening still in their infancy, my intuition always gave me the feeling that all was not what it seemed. With an inescapable gut feeling and a quiet, subconscious whisper, I knew there was more to this dimension than what I was taught at school.

Years later, using the first dial-up speed home internet, I would spend hours researching the miracle that is "aware experience" or consciousness. Like Neo following the white rabbit in the Matrix, I was inevitably lead to a website that talked openly about a psychedelic substance known as DMT. While it’s still relatively rare to hear about it today, back then it was totally unheard of and being no stranger to the world of hedonistic rave culture I scratched my head and thought “How have I never heard of this?”.

I became fascinated reading people’s accounts of paradigm shifting DMT experiences, ’trip reports’ became my new obsession and source of online catnip. Tales of intense, neon, ultra-high definition hallucinations, contact with interdimensional entities and becoming one with the universe, were all reported on breakthrough, hero doses of DMT.

Next unfolded a decade of research, a journey of self discovery and a quest for the keys to the prison doors of reality. Here I share with you my curated findings on the bridge between dimensions, the gateway to the astral world and what is now widely regarded as the "spirit molecule", aka DMT.

What is DMT?

When it comes to psychedelic medicines, they don’t come more intense and profound than DMT. DMT and it’s big brother 5MEO-DMT (which I’ll be talking about in another article) really are the “big guns” when it comes to psychedelics. DMT is an abbreviation for N,N-Dimethyltryptamine. It is a naturally occurring neurotransmitter found in both animals and plants. It is found abundantly throughout nature.

It is the active hallucinogenic compound in the psychedelic brew “ayahuasca”, a tea which has been used for centuries for ritual purposes by the indigenous tribes of the Amazon. DMT can be inhaled, ingested, or injected and its effects depend on the dose. When inhaled or injected, the effects are very intense but relatively short acting, about 5-15 mins. When ingested orally along with an MAOI (monoamine oxidase inhibitor), as with the ayahuasca brew mentioned above, the effects can last for up to 5 hours or more. The chemical structure of DMT occurs within some important neurotransmitters such as serotonin and melatonin, making them structural analogs of DMT. Just an absolutely strange and incredible phenomenon - the world’s most powerful psychedelic exists throughout nature and is the basis of our most important neurotransmitters.

History of DMT Usage

Traditional and ceremonial use of DMT can be traced back as far as 700 AD, where it was used in its unprocessed form as an ingredient in various hallucinogenic snuffs. As mentioned above, DMT occurs naturally in various plants and seeds, and often, particular seeds were ground up and blown into the nostrils using a pipe. Of course other traditional preparations were made using DMT containing plants, including the famous ayahuasca brews.

It wasn’t until 1931 when DMT was first synthesized in a laboratory by chemist Richard Helmuth Fredrick Manske and it was 1946 when DMT was first isolated (albeit partially) from a plant. In 1959 DMT was officially identified as an alkaloid from a plant when Gonçalves de Lima provided American chemists a sample of Mimosa tenuiflora roots and it was extracted fully for the first time.

The first report on the hallucinogenic effects of pure DMT happened in 1956 when Stephen Szara, a Hungarian biochemist, synthesized the drug in his lab and injected it himself. He was forced to turn to DMT experimentation when the pharmaceutical Sandoz Laboratory in Switzerland rejected his orders for LSD. He was so enamoured with the results that he began a psychotropic study.

In the study he learned how DMT was metabolized in the brain in both healthy and schizophrenic volunteers. Through the study, Szara determined that the biological and psychological effects, while under the influence of DMT, served as a key to understanding the brain’s functionality in normal states of consciousness as well as under the influence of psychedelics.

After the first wave of DMT studies in the 50’s and 60’s it gained momentum in 1965 when Franzen and Gross discovered that DMT can be found in the blood and urine of normal human subjects. Although it seemed an exciting time ahead for the development of our understanding into psychedelics, the passing of the Controlled Substances Act in 1970 meant research into psychedelics virtually stopped for many years.

It wasn’t until the 1990’s when Rick Strassman began investigating DMT and pioneered contemporary research into hallucinogens. He believed that the profound effects on human consciousness they produced warranted further exploration. Strassman conducted his research at the University of New Mexico Hospital Clinical Research Centre. He administered hundreds of doses of DMT to dozens of volunteers. He published a number of landmark studies and then later published the book "The Spirit Molecule" in 2000, which helped to popularize the substance. A feature length documentary was made in 2010 under the same name which helped to propel DMT to superstardom amongst the psychedelic community.

This renewed interest in the 1990’s continued with the publication of the book "Tikhal" by Alexander and Anne Shulgin (Tikhal stands for "Tryptamines I Have Known and Loved"). It was their magnum opus, a detailed study of the psychopharmacological properties of all of the tryptamine substances, including DMT. Since then interest in DMT has increased, mainly due to the advent of the internet which gives people unprecedented access to information and the exposure created by popular individuals such as Joe Rogan and Graham Hancock who publicly discuss it.

How does DMT affect brain chemistry?

All very interesting stuff but let’s get down to the nitty gritty - how does DMT actually work in the brain?

DMT is primarily a serotonin receptor agonist and, like many other serotonergic hallucinogens such as LSD and Psilocybin mushrooms, psychedelic effects are specifically mediated by activation of the 5-HT2A receptor. Essentially DMT competes with serotonin in the brain at the receptor site and binds with the serotonin receptors. This is what creates the powerful hallucinations and altered state of consciousness.

As mentioned above, DMT has been found in the bodily fluids of humans and mammals so it has been proven that this substance already exists inside of us and there are theories as to how and where it is produced, which will be discussed later in this article, although at present it is all conjecture.