Indigenous shamans have utilized the powerful psychedelic combination of DMT and MAOI-containing plants for millennia in the Amazon basin. However, changa is a relatively recent neo-shamanic DMT/MAOI concoction from the West that has grown in popularity around the world since the early 2000s. In this article, we will examine changa vs. DMT, including the similarities and differences in subjective effects, duration, dosing, and ways of consumption.
What is DMT?
Widely known as the ‘spirit molecule’, DMT, or N,N-dimethyltryptamine, is a powerful psychedelic found in dozens of psychoactive plants. It’s also found in very small concentrations in mammals. Being part of the tryptamine family of compounds, DMT is closely related to the endogenous neurotransmitter serotonin. In the brain, DMT mimics this neurotransmitter, binding to 5-HT receptor sites.
DMT has been used sacramentally for thousands of years by indigenous peoples of the Amazon basin in the psychedelic tea ayahuasca. Ayahuasca combines plant-sourced DMT (P. viridis) with an MAOI-containing plant (B. caapi). This intelligent plant alchemy is mirrored in changa’s makeup. This oral combination allows DMT to stay active in the digestive system, otherwise, digestive enzymes (monoamine oxidases) deactivate the molecule. In addition to the oral route, DMT is extracted from various DMT-containing plants in freebase form for vaporization. Freebase DMT is the pure alkaloidal form that crystallizes as pure, white crystals. However, it can also appear yellow-orange or goo-like depending on plant oils and other DMT derivatives.
What is Changa?
Changa is a DMT-infused smokable blend popularized in the early 2000s by the Australian psychonaut Julian Palmer. Changa consists of two main ingredients that are also found in ayahuasca: N,N-DMT, and an MAOI-containing herb. Similar to recovering freebase DMT, the DMT used in changa is extracted from various plant sources. This includes various species of Acacia, Mimosa hostilis, and P. viridis (chacruna). The MAOI alkaloids, known as harmalas, are typically extracted in their freebase form from either Banasteriopsis caapi (ayahuasca) vine or Syrian rue.
To make changa, the extracted DMT and harmalas are dissolved in a solvent like alcohol and mixed with a customizable herb blend. Once the solvent evaporates and the mix dries over a few days, the changa is ready to smoke. The various synergistic herbs (mullein, parsley, mint, etc.) used in a blend may be inert. Still, they can also potentiate the effects of the DMT/harmala and add unique flavors and aromas.
Dosing Changa and DMT
The percentages of DMT and MAOI concentrations in the changa blend largely determine the potency and quality of the experience. And like all entheogens, set and setting can play a huge role. By experimenting with different DMT/harmala ratios and herbal admixtures, you can design the blend that best fits your personal trip preferences and ideal smoking experience.
According to Palmer, the original changa was designed with a concentration of 20-25% DMT. Such a concentration allows for an introduction to DMT space that isn’t as overwhelming as a freebase blastoff. A blend of 25% DMT means 1 gram of changa at this ratio contains 250 mg of DMT. This is enough for approximately 10 light experiences or five breakthrough experiences. Experientially, a light experience may include changes in perception, awareness expansion, a mood boost, and pleasant sensations in the body.
Depending on the DMT dose consumed, a medium blend (35-50% DMT) can bring on more profound alterations in reality and self. It can also produce visual effects resembling ayahuasca visions. This includes geometric distortions, time distortions, and vivid closed eye visuals of geometric objects and landscapes. These effects begin to become noticeable with freebase DMT at a dose range of roughly 15-40 mg.
Strong blends (50%+ DMT) can be crafted to achieve one-hit breakthrough experiences similar to vaporizing freebase DMT. At this level, users commonly describe being shot through a wormhole to an alternate reality. This DMT experience ‘reality’ has been described as feeling ‘more real than real’. Here, you may find yourself amidst bizarre landscapes populated by otherworldly entities and objects that can communicate meaningfully.
Effects of Changa vs. DMT
Originally, changa was concocted by Palmer to be a more mellow and repeatable way of experiencing DMT’s effects compared to vaporizing freebase DMT. Although similar in effects in many ways, changa’s unique grounding properties are attributed to the presence of the MAOI alkaloids (harmine, harmaline, tetrahydroharmine) in the blend. The harmalas temporarily inhibit MAO in the brain, which, in turn, partially inhibits the metabolism of DMT.
Subjectively, this DMT/harmala combination results in a more mellow or smooth journey into hyperspace at high doses. Similarly, it results in a comfortable sub-breakthrough experience at lower doses. Indeed, the changa experience is often likened to a short ayahuasca trip, providing more depth, groundedness, and insight compared to the intensity and rapidity of vaporizing freebase DMT. Many people find the changa trip is easier to navigate compared to the freebase DMT experience, which is known for its disorienting intensity and dream-like transience.
Which Experience Lasts Longer?
Due to its rapid metabolism, vaporizing freebase DMT results in an intense come-up within seconds, a plateau of 3-5 minutes, and a rapid return to reality. Orally dosing DMT in the form of ayahuasca has a significantly longer duration, ranging from 2-6 hours. In this case, the DMT is absorbed more slowly into the bloodstream from the digestive tract.
Like vaporizing freebase DMT, smoking changa quickly introduces the molecule into the bloodstream from the lungs’ capillaries. This results in the much quicker onset compared to ayahuasca, despite the similar chemical makeup. Compared to freebase DMT, the MAOIs present in changa slow the trip onset and lengthen the overall experience. With changa, you can expect a trip duration of 10-20 minutes. The pronounced afterglow can last up to 40 minutes. Some people orally consume MAOIs about 20 minutes before smoking freebase DMT to prolong the experience in a similar manner as changa. But with changa, it’s possible to smoke it multiple times throughout the day. This is because the effects aren’t dramatically reduced by tolerance like freebase DMT.
Changa vs. Freebase DMT: Methods of Consumption
Changa is known to be easy to consume since it is smoked rather than vaporized like freebase DMT. Changa can be smoked out of virtually any smoking device with your standard Bic lighter. The general consensus among psychonauts is that changa is best smoked out of a bong. This is largely due to the increased smoothness from the water, and the larger hits you can take. But generally speaking, changa is smoked in much the same fashion as cannabis or tobacco. This includes rolling into joints or smoking with a pipe. Also, changa looks a lot like tobacco or dried tea leaves, which gives it the advantage of being easier to transport compared to a crystalline powder.
Smoking freebase DMT often involve expensive vaporizers like the Glass Vapor Genie and a considerable learning curve to perfect the techniques. With freebase DMT crystals, patience and care are needed to hit the correct vaporization temperature (~160C). If you overheat, you might wastefully burn the DMT crystals and induce a coughing fit. The rapid onset also means you have a short time window to achieve a breakthrough experience. For some, this can make it difficult to relax and enjoy the process.
With changa, you don’t have to worry about special temperatures or techniques beyond cherrying the bowl and holding for 10-20 seconds. Depending on the ratio and personal preferences, you can go for a one-hit breakthrough, or smoke periodically to maintain your desired level without reducing effects due to tolerance. Compared to freebase DMT, changa is known to be less harsh and easier on the lungs. Freebase DMT tends to have the aroma of burnt plastic whereas changa is known to be floral and earthy when fully dried.
Which Is Right for You?
Whether you’re after the cosmic potency of freebase DMT, the purgative healing properties of ayahuasca, or the grounded introspection of changa – be sure to take steps to prepare your set and setting for the transformative and powerful experience occasioned by these medicines. These DMT resources from Reality Sandwich can give you a deep dive into the effable side of DMT before journeying yourself.
CONTRIBUTING RS AUTHOR: DYLAN BEARD
Dylan is a freelance science writer and editor based in the beautiful Pacific Northwest. After finishing his physics degree and dabbling in neuroscience research at UC Santa Barbara in 2017, he returned to his first love—writing. As a long-term fan of the human brain, he loves exploring the latest research on psychedelics, nootropics, psychology, consciousness, meditation, and more. When he’s not writing, you can probably find him on hiking trails around Oregon and Washington or listening to podcasts. Feel free to follow him on Insta @dylancb88.
Disclaimer: DMT is potentially categorized as an illegal drug. Reality Sandwich is not encouraging the use of this drug where it is prohibited. However, we believe that providing information is imperative for the safety of those who choose to explore this substance. This guide is intended to give educational content and should in no way be viewed as medical recommendations.