What is DMT? Find out why this powerful drug is different from other psychedelics
The instructions were simple: inhale from the vape for three sustained draws – while seated. That last bit is important because it doesn’t seem like your body is capable of much – including standing – when DMT is on the scene. Looking back, I have no idea what your body is doing when you smoke DMT because after taking the third puff, I’m pretty sure I went somewhere else. I’m also pretty sure my body was left behind, more or less collapsed on the couch in my Vancouver Airbnb.
So what is DMT? What does the DMT trip look like? Are there any risks? One thing is certain: it is a class of psychedelic to hers.
To dig into the finer details of what exactly DMT is, I corresponded with Dr. Steven A. Barker of Louisiana State University, who has spent the past 45 years researching the DMT.
“DMT is one of the psychedelic indole-alkyl-amine alkaloids such as LSD (synthetic), psilocybin, bufotenine, and 5-methoxy-DMT (all naturally occurring). The N,N-dimethyl tryptamine backbone is common to all of these hallucinogens,” he explained. “DMT is found in many plants, as well as animals, including humans, and the internet is full of methods for extracting and isolating DMT from from a variety of plant sources.”
He went on to describe how the drug DMT, meaning N,N-dimethyltryptamine, has “botanical roots and an archaic cultural history of use for magical, medical, and religious ritual purposes.” More commonly known as the key psychoactive substance in ayahuasca, it is used in “shamanic rituals, as practiced historically among indigenous peoples for healing, divination, diagnosing imbalances of body and soul, and as a ready pharmacological pathway to the mythological supernatural.” In other words, it is associated with one’s ability to “treat and intervene in physical, emotional, psychological, and spiritual conditions.”
Now let’s get down to business: how does that feel to you?
First of all, you need to understand that DMT drugs are mainly consumed in one of two forms: it is either a smoked or vaporized powder or a combination with a secondary compound called an MAOI inhibitor to create the ayahuasca concoction. These give two very different experiences.
I participated in two ayahuasca ceremonies. In the first, I didn’t take enough, and although I didn’t quite have the cosmic experience that my companions had, I still felt a degree of dissociation and a sense that my consciousness was traveling through a distant scope of space. The next time I took a considerably stronger dose and spent some time following a psychic tunnel through the universe that led me to something akin to non-duality – l unity with everything. Along the way, I saw and interacted with entities that looked like clouds of fairy lights. They weren’t in non-duality – it was all there. And when I say everything, I mean everything: Every place, moment, thought, identity, whatever. I say I was everything, everywhere, all at once (which is a great movie, by the way, and you should see it). Heavy thing.
Throughout this experience, I was aware that my body existed, and sometimes I even used it to do things like walk around, pee, watch a fire, and once vomit. This is not the case, however, when you smoke pure DMT. In this situation, you say goodbye entirely to your body and go somewhere else.
Where? What do I mean by that? It’s incredibly difficult to explain. Here’s the closest I can approximate in words.
You enter a place of infinitely complex and fractalising architecture. This place is very compelling real. There are kaleidoscopic corridors and corridors that twist in all directions and tend to meet in larger rooms or random junctions. To some extent, you can travel through this architecture. It is obvious that this Other Space is and is not in our dimension. It’s more like the crawl space between dimensions. I know that sounds crazy, but it’s very compelling. It feels extremely real – perhaps more real than the normal reality we live in. And wait – it gets crazier.
There are people there. Entities. Renowned psychedelic researcher Terence McKenna has dubbed them the “machine elves” and the “jeweled self-dribbling basketballs.” These descriptors are as good as any other. It doesn’t matter what you call them. What matters is that they look real.
In my case, I saw many of these entities, but I remember only interacting directly with two.
The first was when I first vaped the DMT and was catapulted into Otherspace. There was a glowing, transforming being with a distinctly feminine energy passing by when I appeared. The moment she saw me, she threw herself on me, hungry, hot and eager. It wasn’t maliciously intentional; I felt more like she had been alone there for a very long time and I saw in me a kindred spirit. Anyway, it freaked me out a bit, and I sort of withdrew my consciousness. She seemed to recognize my fear – and I was definitely scared at first because it looked like this burning goddess of lust was trying to devour me whole – and sent me these vague thoughts of appeasement and explanation. Then she rushed down one of the hallways, apparently a bit embarrassed by the whole incident.
OK. By then I had decided that I actually wanted to get to know her better, but as I tried to keep up with her, the effects of the drugs started to wear off. I came back to our reality. maggot brain was playing on the stereo. Five minutes had perhaps passed. I wanted to go back and find her.
So I took two big puffs from the vape and zoomed into the Other Space. This time I went to an entirely different hallway, however, where I encountered this sort of slump and morose being who sneaked into one of the electric crystal hallways as if in a bad mood. I asked him about the other being and he kind of shrugged and communicated something like It’s a big place, man. I don’t know.
And then I was back. The whole experience lasted maybe ten minutes – three Funkadelic songs.
So what was all that? It was, as I said, very convincingly real.
According to Dr. Barker, “In the shamanic tradition, using hallucinogenic plant matter, music, dance, and/or other techniques and rituals, one often underwent experiences that involved encountering mythical entities and/or or the actual process or perception of death This included a journey to a separate reality that was traversed through a dark tunnel or void and the assistance or intercession of helper spirits and/or animal entities , eventually returning to normal consciousness informed by experience. Thus, the appearance of McKenna’s “elves” and Strassman’s “entities” are not new phenomena in the experience of DMT users. these entities transmit knowledge and ideas and appear “more real than reality itself”.
(Writer’s Note: See? I told you.)
“They are certainly ‘real’ for someone who experiences such an event. Interestingly, the DMT experience has been shown to be no different from reported real-life near-death experiences, in which people encountered long-deceased relatives and even ‘god’,” Barker continued. .
These days, psychedelic therapy is all the rage, but it is above all psilocybin mushrooms, ketamine, MDMA or, in some cases, LSD, which studies have shown can be used to treat a range of mental disorders. So is there a beneficial link between DMT and anxiety, depression, PTSDor similar?
Dr. Barker explained that ayahuasca is most commonly associated with the treatment of a range of conditions, and that “long-term (>10 years) ayahuasca users have shown reduced rates of despair and marked improvement depressive symptoms without concomitant mania or hypomania up to 21 days after a single dose.
He admits that because ayahuasca is a complex mixture containing not only DMT but also MAOIs known for their ability to treat depression, it is unclear whether this combination produces its therapeutic effects due to one substance or another. ‘another. In any case, he says that “several recent studies using DMT alone, given IV or by inhalation, have shown significant effects in the treatment of intransigent depression and PTSD.”
He says there’s even research to suggest that “DMT is protective during cardiac arrest and perinatal development and may be useful in the treatment of hypoxic brain injury and Alzheimer’s disease.” Some researchers have proposed that DMT can be used to treat addiction, inflammation, or even cancer.
Dr. Barker warns that more research is needed before these benefits can be verified and DMT can be used in the medical field.
As with other major psychedelics, the risks associated with DMT appear to be low.
Most negative side effects tend to occur during the ayahuasca experience. It can be physically uncomfortable, nauseating, and in some cases can cause severe mental distress (it’s all part of the process). Smoking DMT has very few physical side effects. Most of the time, your body slumps back into its seat and maybe feels a little weird and tingly afterwards.
After the trip, a very small percentage of users experienced negative mood swings. Psychedelics can trigger psychotic episodes in people with pre-existing psychiatric conditions like schizophrenia, so people with these types of conditions are strongly advised to avoid psychedelics or use them with extreme caution.
That said, the vast majority of people who try DMT will experience no lasting negative side effects. “Indeed,” says Dr. Barker, “pharmacological studies of acute administration of ayahuasca to healthy volunteers and assessments of the mental health of long-term ayahuasca users suggest that this ethnobotanical drug is relatively safe.” .