DMT Substance Guide: Effects, Common Uses, Safety

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Table of Contents

DMT has one of the oldest histories of human use. Indigenous groups have been using it for upwards of over 4,000 years in the form of a brew with DMT and MAOI containing plants. It is found in a wide variety of plants, fungi, and animals–even humans naturally produce DMT.

Scientists believe the human body stores low quantities of DMT within the cerebrospinal fluid and could be produced in the eyes and lungs. The discovery of DMT within humans shed new light on how we understand the deep spiritual enlightenment so many people find during near-death experiences. The current belief is the body releases DMT during near-death experiences, causing strong hallucinations and radical, long-lasting shifts in perspective.

Table of Contents

  1. Overview
  2. History
  3. Laws and Legal Status
  4. Pharmacology
  5. FAQ

What You Will Learn About DMT

  • DMT is a core tryptamine that produces a profound psychedelic experience when consumed.
  • A DMT trip is a fully immersive experience when taken at a proper dosage resulting in strong closed and open eye visuals, as well as various other sensations.
  • Many users report life-changing spiritual experiences and extreme shifts in perspective after consuming DMT.
  • The DMT molecule is N, N-dimethyltryptamine.
  • The United Nations list DMT as a Schedule I substance under the Convention on Psychotropic Substances requiring all of its members to prohibit it.
  • DMT’s effects include strong open and closed eye visuals, a fully immersive experience, powerful sensations, radical shifts in perspective, life-changing spiritual experiences, an altered perception of time, slight discomfort of the stomach, fear, anxiety, and paranoia.
  • The visuals vary depending on the individual. However, some recurring visuals do occur such as the “Machine elves” Terence McKenna describes.
  • Some users develop HPPD or PTSD after a troubling psychedelic experience. While developing these conditions after consuming DMT is rare, some users do have difficulties with them.
  • DMT or other derivatives are found in over 400 species of plants and fungi.

Overview

As a naturally occurring tryptamine, derivatives of DMT can be found in at least 400 species of plants and fungi. Sometimes it is referred to as a core tryptamine because almost all substances belonging to the tryptamine class contain DMT’s chemical structure, psilocybin being the most popular. Chemists produce DMT both synthetically or through extraction, although extraction has become vastly more popular than synthesis due to costs. Typically users consume DMT by vaporizing it to a temperature of 160 degrees celsius, but can also be consumed intranasally or orally in combination with an MAOI. It usually takes the shape of a pure white or a pale yellow powdered crystal.

What is DMT?

DMT is a naturally occurring tryptamine with a chemical structure found in at least 400 species of plants and fungi. Almost all substances belonging to the tryptamine class of drugs contain DMT’s chemical structure. This is why it’s sometimes referred to as a core tryptamine. A tryptamine is a substance with a molecular structure that is a derivative of the tryptamine molecule. The tryptamine molecule in these structures is called a tryptamine backbone. This makes all psychoactive hallucinogenic tryptamines similar in effects with DMT and psilocybin being the most popular.

Street Name 

  • Spice
  • Changa
  • Dimitry
  • God molecule
  • Jim jam
  • Aya
  • Jungle spice

Scientific Name

N,N-Dimethyltryptamine—or DMT for short—is an alkaloid molecule classified as a tryptamine. There are two main ways of producing DMT: Extraction and Synthesis. Extraction methods vary greatly, but the most common method extraction is from plant material, particularly MHRB (mimosa hostilis root bark) and ACRB (acacia confusa root bark). These extractions potentially use dangerously strong bases and acids.

Forms & Ways of Consumption

It is a common misconception that DMT is consumed successfully by smoking. A direct open flame will cause it to burn and become inactive.

DMT comes in many shapes and sizes, and it is usually pale yellow-orange to pure white crystals when extracted. Oxidation, oils, and other tryptamines such as NMT can cause yellowing.

The most common forms of DMT include:

  • Fumarate
  • Freebase
  • Citrate
  • Acetate
  • Hydrochloride

All of these forms are a crystallized compound with different acids or bases used to bind the molecules together. Citrade, 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

Vaporized DMT must be in its freebase form, as there are theories that the salts release toxic compounds once heated. A common misconception surrounding vaporized DMT is that it is consumed successfully by smoking it with a direct open flame. Applying a direct open flame to freebase DMT causes it to burn and become inactive.

Instead, DMT becomes active when vaporized at a temperature around 160 degrees celsius (320°F).  Effects of vapourized DMT can be prolonged by mixing it in a smoking blend called changa, which typically contains plants that have MAOI or to which an MAOI has been added.

Users can 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.

MAOI

Another way of consuming DMT is orally in combination with a monoamine oxidase inhibitor, or MAOI. Users utilize this method of consumption in a variety of ways. One method involves cooking plants that contain these compounds together for hours. Some users simplify this by extracting the compounds and then consuming them in pill form, commonly referred to as pillahuasca, or “parachute” form. “Parachute” form is when a user places the substances inside thin paper, such as tissue paper, then swallows it. When using a pharmaceutical MAOI, it is referred to as pharmahuasca.

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

DMT Alternatives

Typically, Ayahuasca brews use Banisteriopsis caapi vines to provide MAOIs to the brew and another plant to provide the DMT. Recently, cultivators developed so-called psychotria nexus more adapted to live in colder climates as an alternative to B. caapi. Another option is using plants like Acacia confusa or Mimosa hostilis (Jurema) to provide the DMT and witheganum harmala (Syrian rue) for the MAOI.

A common alternative to pure DMT is 5-MeO-DMT. It produces a similar short-lasting intense psychedelic experience with only minor differences. 5-HO-DMT also produces a short-lasting psychedelic experience but has been associated with more negative effects such as tightness in the chest and throat, nausea, and numbness. Other chemicals such as psilocybin, psilocin, and 4-AcO-DMT also contain the DMT molecule within their chemical structure. However, these substances produce a significantly different psychedelic experience that can last upwards of 8 hours.

Are there any differences between original and alternative forms of DMT and Ayahuasca?

The difference will be in the taste and potency. There are some anecdotal reports that suggest that if DMT is a bit oily, it is actually stronger since it can also contain other alkaloids.

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

Dosage

Check out our dedicated dosage guide for more information about DMT dosage and microdosing.

History

DMT does not only naturally occur in plants and fungi, the human body also produces DMT. It can be found in small quantities within the cerebrospinal fluid and is thought to be produced in the lungs and eyes as well. The production of DMT likely results as a byproduct of the synthesis of melatonin and other tryptamines within the brain.

Although pure DMT was not synthesized until 1931, ancient use of ayahuasca traces back to at least 1,000 years ago. Scientists found a ritual bundle containing residue from Ayahuasca ingredients in southwestern Bolivia. Humans occupied this area for at least the last 4,000 years, so the use of ayahuasca could date even further back. These indigenous people likely used ayahuasca for 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 trip. This is a special kind of tobacco scientists call Nicotiana rustica. This kind of tobacco has no correlation with Nicotiana tabacum, found in commercial cigarette products.

History of Yopo

Anadenanthera peregrina, commonly referred to as yopo, was commonly used amongst indigenous people from Argentina, Peru, Colombia, Venezuela, Brazil, and Puerto Rico. Its use spans over four thousand years.

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

The first reports of yopo use date back to 1801 by a German explorer named Alexander Von Humboldt. He detailed how the Maipures of Orinoco prepared the A. peregrina seeds for use as a snuff. Essentially, they first roasted the seeds then placed them in a small wooden platter where they ground up the seeds to a fine powder with a pestle. Then they inhaled this powder through hollowed-out bird bones or bamboo tubes to experience the effects.

Did Masons Use DMT and Ayahuasca?

We can find references to Acacia plants (containing DMT) in many excerpts of Masonic literature, as it was fairly popular in Masonic circles up until the 1700s. In an allegory presented to all candidates of Freemasonry, Alessandro Cagliostro serves an ayahuasca-like brew containing Acacia to initiates in order to “raise” the candidates’ “spirits” before his lecture. Ayahuasca brew is a method of orally consuming DMT by brewing together a plant that contains DMT with a plant that contains an MAOI. The MAOI slows the body’s metabolism of DMT allowing it to become active within the body for an extended period of time.

The Scientific Breakthrough on DMT

In 1931, British Chemist Richard Helmuth Fredrick Manske became the first to synthesize DMT during his investigations into N-methyltryptamine, a compound biosynthesized by the human body. However, it wasn’t until 1955 that DMT was identified as an ingredient in A. peregrina seeds (used to make Yopo and cohoba snuffs) by a team of American scientists. This marked the first time DMT was documented as naturally occurring in a plant or animal. After this finding, speculation began to rise that it possessed psychoactive effects. The following year, in 1956, a scientific publication by Stephen Szara confirmed that it was indeed psychoactive.

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

In December of 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 from psychedelic research, Strassman was the first person in the US to undertake human research with psychedelic substances.

Laws and Legal Status

Is DMT Legal in the United States?

DMT is classified as a Schedule I drug under the United Nations 1971 Convention on Psychotropic Substances. However, this action did not regulate natural substances containing DMT, such as ayahuasca. In December of 2004, the United States Supreme Court lifted a stay allowing the Brazil-based União de Vegetal (UDV) church to use a tea containing DMT for their Christmas services that year.

Gonzales v. O Centro

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

Is DMT Legal in South America?

Law prohibits DMT in most countries. There are some exceptions for the DMT-containing ayahuasca, often for religious and spiritual purposes. However, possession and use of ayahuasca is legal in Brazil, which is why so many ayahuasca retreats exist in Brazil. Similarly, Peru is well-known for ayahuasca use, as it is legal to use and possess. Peru also offers Ayahuasca retreats.

Is DMT Legal in Europe?

Although there are no laws prohibiting ayahuasca in Italy, there have been recent arrests of individuals using ayahuasca in the Santo Daime Church. Similarly to Italy, there is no specific law prohibiting ayahuasca in Spain. Despite this, arrests happen to members of the Santo Daime church for its use.

Is DMT Legal in Netherlands or Amsterdam?

The Netherlands lists DMT as a Schedule I prohibited substance under the Opium Law. Ayahuasca became illegal on October 1st, 2019. This ruling came to power after a woman tried importing 33 kilos worth of ayahuasca brew across the border. After the decision of the lower court that she is guilty, she took the issue to the Supreme Court on the account that this would repress the religious freedoms. The Supreme Court, however, ruled that this was an infringement on public health making this an illegal act. It is still highly unlikely that an individual will be prosecuted for personal possession.

Is DMT Legal in Australia?

Currently, there are no specific laws that address ayahuasca in Australia. While there have been no prosecutions for ayahuasca, Australia has other harsh laws for other drugs, including DMT.

Pharmacology

Mechanism of Action

DMT produces its psychedelic effects by binding to a wide range of serotonin, or 5-hydroxytryptamine, receptors in the central and peripheral nervous system. These receptors include the 5-HT1A, 5-HT1B, 5-HT1D, 5-HT2A, 5-HT2B, 5-HT2C, 5-HT6, and 5-HT7 receptors. It may also bind to other serotonin receptors as well, but this has yet to be determined. DMT also acts as an agonist to the 5-HT1A, 5-HT2A, and 5-HT2C receptors.

Scientists believe the majority of DMT’s psychedelic effects stem from the strength of which it binds to the 5-HT2A receptor. 50% of its maximal effect is thought to be at the 5-HT2A receptor. The reason the 5-HT2A receptor is so important in producing a psychedelic experience is due to the way it acts as an inhibitor to the visual cortex and orbitofrontal cortex. This produces strong hallucinations as well as a loss of an individual’s sense of reality.

Toxicity

Before we can discuss whether or not DMT is toxic, we first need to define what makes a substance toxic. Toxicity is defined based on the levels of exposure required for a substance to cause harm to a human or animal. The level of toxicity is measured based on the dose required to cause harm to a human. Even water can be toxic in too high of a dose and lethal snake venom can be non-toxic in a small enough dose. LD50 is a common measurement of toxicity, which measures the lethal dose for half of the tested organisms.

Scientists consider this chemical toxic since it technically damages some cells and tissues after ingestion. But multiple studies have shown no connection between DMT and any kind of toxicity, even at high doses. 

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

Interaction

Anecdotal evidence suggests that users of DMT do not mix it with other substances besides an MAOI. It is recommended that users follow an MAOI diet before consuming an MAOI, as some foods and drinks can cause dangerous reactions. Some of these foods and drinks include aged cheese, yogurt, cured meats, fermented meats, certain types of alcoholic beverages, and others.Using any phenethylamines such as mescaline, 2CB or MDMA in combination with an MAOI can be extremely dangerous.

This combination potentially causes serotonin syndrome which can result in adverse effects and even death. People who have a history or family history of epilepsy or schizophrenic disorders are at an increased risk of seizure or a psychotic break when consuming any psychedelics.

TripSit Guide to Drub Combinations Chart

Safety

Evidence does not currently exist that DMT causes dangerous health effects in healthy individuals. However, more research must be conducted to determine whether or not DMT is a completely benign substance. The effects of DMT can cause an individual to stumble, fall over, and hurt themselves badly due to the way it causes a user to completely lose a sense of their body. Dangerous contamination of NaOH mixed with small particles of plant matter can also cause yellowing, and usually causes DMT to be brownish more than yellow. This can cause lung problems if taken by vapor, or stomach problems if consumed orally. Extremely challenging trips can leave a person with PTSD.

There is almost no evidence published about overdosing and DMT. However, according to the American Association of Poison Control 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 DMT itself.

Common Side Effects

When taken by vaping, the effects of DMT typically lasts anywhere from 5 to 30 minutes. Unlike other hallucinogens, DMT will cause extremely strong visual hallucinations such as OEV (open eye visuals) and CEV (closed eyes hallucinations). Machine elves, as Terence McKenna would put it, sometimes occur as a common visual experience. Other common effects will depend on the individual, dosage, and set and setting, but generally include:

  • A fully immersive experience
  • Powerful sensations
  • Radical shifts in perspective
  • Life-changing spiritual experiences
  • Altered perception of time
  • Slight discomfort of the stomach
  • Fear, anxiety, and paranoia

As with other psychedelics, DMT is related to a condition known as hallucinogen persisting perception disorder (HPPD), which affects around 1% of all users of psychedelics. HPPD can manifest itself through visual snow similar to the static pattern seen on analog TVs when there is no signal coming through. However, this is not a major concern to the members of the community since it usually ceases over time. With that said, cannabis does seem to prolong this disorder.

Tolerance

Users report that DMT tolerance build-up is extremely low. In most cases, taking DMT one hour after the first vaporized intake will create effects on the same level as the first time. Ayahuasca tolerance is similar, but it can take up to a day for the tolerance to subside — possibly because of the MAOI content. Additionally, DMT does not cause cross tolerance, as is the case with LSD or Psilocybin, where the tolerance may be noticeable for up to a week after a single use.

FAQ

How is DMT extracted?

A common method of extracting DMT utilizes a base such as lye dissolved in water. This base extracts DMT from a DMT containing the plant. Then, the extracted substance must be separated to ensure you are left with pure DMT. This usually uses Naptha mixed in the extraction to create two distinct layers, a clear layer and a darker one. The clear layer is the DMT and the dark layer is everything else that was extracted.

How long does DMT last?

DMT’s effects last for 5-30 minutes when smoked.

What does DMT look like?

The appearance of DMT consists of a white crystalline powder. Sometimes this powder will be tan due to leftover plant matter.

What is DMT found in?

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

How is DMT made?

Synthesizing DMT involves the reaction of indole with oxalyl chloride followed by a reaction with dimethylamine and a reduction with lithium aluminum hydride.

What does DMT stand for?

DMT stands for N,N-dimethyltryptamine

Why is DMT illegal?

Most developed countries consider DMT a public health hazard.

Where is DMT legal?

The United Nations list DMT as a Schedule I drug under the Convention on Psychotropic Substances which requires all members prohibit the substance. However, Ayahuasca is legal in Brazil and Peru.

What does DMT do in my body?

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

How long does a DMT trip last?

A DMT trip lasts for 5-30 minutes when smoked. If consumed in an Ayahuasca brew, the effects can last for up to 8 hours.

What does DMT feel like?

DMT causes a fully immersive psychedelic experience resulting in closed and open eye hallucinations, as well as a variety of other sensations.

What plants contain DMT?

Over 400 different species of plants and fungi contain the DMT molecule or a derivative of the DMT molecule.

When is DMT released naturally?

Scientists are still unclear of when the body releases DMT, but they currently believe the body releases it during near-death experiences.

How Long Does DMT Stay in Your Body?

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

How do you extract DMT from frogs?

The extraction of DMT does not come from frogs. However the similar substances 5-MEO-DMT and 5-HO-DMT come from the skin of Incilius alvarius. The more common name for this species is the Colorado River Toad. 5-MEO and 5-HO are NOT good substitutions for DMT, as they are more potent and orally active. There are only one species of frogs that causes hallucinations, the Phyllomedusa bicolor. Evidence has also shown that extracting 5-MEO-DMT and 5-HO-DMT from frogs is harmful to the ecological health of the species.

Do all frogs make DMT?

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

What’s the difference between Synthetic or toad?

Essentially no difference exists between naturally occurring (extracted) and synthetic DMT. They can both be dangerous if not prepared and extracted properly.

Does DMT degrade?

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

This DMT and Ayahuasca guide is for educational purposes only. While it is our belief that choosing to consume psychedelics is an inalienable human right, many psychedelic substances are currently illegal in the United States.

Our substance guides provide the public with the most accurate and reliable information about psychedelic substances that currently exist. We have compiled research, scientific studies as well as experiences and thoughts from the psychedelic community. We do not include all the scientific research and studies. Rather, we curate each our guides to reflect the most relevant insight backed by the most credible evidence. That being said, we are just at the beginning of studying these substances.Everyday we are learning something new. Knowledge is power! Have a bite. If you have relevant information or updates concerning the research and studies of psychedelic substances, please reach out to [email protected]. We appreciate your contribution. –RS

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