- spirit molecule
- businessman’s trip
- elf spice
Basics: N,N-dimethyltryptamine (DMT) is a naturally occurring compound commonly found in plant and animal tissue. It’s one of only a few hallucinogens that’s naturally present in the human body, although its biological purpose is unclear.
DMT can be ingested in its chemical form by vaporizing and inhaling it or by intravenously injecting it. Both methods bypass the digestive system to reach the brain more rapidly, allowing DMT to take effect almost instantly.
The effects of DMT last only twenty to thirty minutes. Because the trip is so short, DMT has been called the “businessman’s trip” or “businessman’s lunch.”
History: DMT is a central component of ayahuasca, which Indigenous people in the Amazon basin have used for religious, divinatory, or medical purposes for over a thousand years. It was first synthesized in 1931 by the Canadian chemist Richard Manske, but it wasn’t until 1956 that chemist Stephen Szára reported that DMT occasions psychedelic experiences similar to those of LSD. In 1990, Rick Strassman, a psychiatry professor at the University of New Mexico, received the first new approval from the U.S. government in decades to run human trials with DMT. Over the course of five years, Strassman supervised more than four hundred DMT sessions with sixty participants.
Potential Benefits: DMT’s effects are similar to those of other hallucinogens, including possible mystical-type encounters. At least one study found that “God-encounter experiences” were reported more often with DMT than with psilocybin or LSD.
Potential Risks and Side Effects: DMT can increase heart rate and blood pressure.
Therapy: Although the acute drug experience is short, research suggests that DMT can have significant impacts. Studies show that it could play a role in neuroregeneration, that it reduces chronic inflammation in the central nervous system, and that it may help in treating Alzheimer’s disease. There is a lack of research assessing the therapeutic potential of DMT, though some studies have shown it reduced anxiety and depression in rats.
Legality: In the United States, DMT is listed in Schedule I of the Controlled Substances Act. It’s illegal to use it recreationally or in therapy outside of specially approved research settings.
- In the 1990s, Rick Strassman conducted a number of studies assessing the subjective effects and psychopharmacology of DMT.
- The link between DMT and sigma one receptors may help explain how DMT affects the brain and body. It may also mean that by activating these receptors DMT can be neuroprotective.
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