Dimethyltryptamine (DMT)

  • "Chemical structure and source: This is the prototype member of the tryptamine subclass of indole derivatives. This drug is a constituent of many of the same South American snuffs and drinks that contain other psychedelic inole derivatives; it is often found in the same plants as 5-MeO-DMT, and Indians add a substance containing it to drinks containing harmala alkaloids. DMT is the major constituent of the bark of Virola calophylla, mentioned above; it is also found in the seeds of Anadenanthera peregrina; in the seeds of the vine Mimosa hostilis ; used in Brazil to make a drink called ajuca or jurema; in the leaves of Banisteriopsis rusbyana, which are added to the Banisteriopsis drinks. Like 5-MeO-DMT, DMT must be combined with monoamine oxidase inhibitors to become active orally.
  • Dose: First strong effects are felt at about 50 mg, whether it is smoked or injected. Tolerance develops only after extremely frequent use- injections every two hours for three weeks in rats; at that dose frequency, but not otherwise, there is also cross-tolerance between DMT and LSD.
  • Physiological effects: Resembles LSD, but sympathomimetic symptoms like dilated pupils, heightened blood pressure, and increased pulse rate are more common and more intense.
  • Psychological effects: Like LSD but often more intense. Since it is not taken by mouth, the effects come on suddenly and can be overwhelming. The term "mind blowing" might have been invented for this drug. The experience was described by Alan Watts as like "being fired out of the muzzle of an atomic cannon". Thoughts and visions crowd in at great speed; a sense of leaving or transcending time and a feeling that objects have lost all form and dissolved into a play of vibrations are characteristic. The effect can be like instant transportation to another universe for a timeless sojourn.
  • Duration of action: When DMT is smoked or injected, effects begin in seconds, reach a peak in five to twenty minutes and end after a half hour or so. This has earned it the name "businessman's trip". The brevity of the experience makes its intensity bearable and, for some, desirable."(pp. 18- 20)

    "Psilocybin, DMT, and LSD (and probably other psychedelic drugs) mimic the feedback effect of serotonin on the raphe cells and slow their activity. Messages from the raphe cells help to regulate the visual centres in the cerebral cortex and also certain areas of the limbic forebrain, a major center for control of the emotions. Lowering the rate of firing in the raphe cells causes hyperactivity in these brains regions; the familiar psychedelic visual and emotional effects are a possible consequence." (p. 240)

    "The main exception is DMT, and it has recently been identified as an endogenous compound in the brains of rats and human beings. The enzyme responsible for its synthesis and the sites where it is absorbed by nerve terminals have also been discovered. Both LSD and 5-MeO-DMT seem to displace DMT at those sites, which may also be serotonin receptors (all these substances are tryptamines)." (p. 249)

    - Excerpts from Psychedelic Drugs Reconsidered by Lester Grinspoon and James B. Bakalar (1997)

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