Reality Sandwich takes a deep dive into all things DMT. How to store it, how to smoke it, and how to extract it. To give a well-rounded view of this potent psychedelic, it’s important to know what to do during the DMT comedown. Having a plan in place for grounding after DMT will help you come full circle on your experience. Here we’ll review what to expect from the DMT experience and comedown, as well as how to ground yourself and to practice safe harm reduction.
What is DMT?
N,N-Dimethyltryptamine—DMT for short—is a naturally occurring psychedelic substance. Derivatives can be found in over 400 species of plants and fungi. It is perhaps most widely recognized as the primary active ingredient in ayahuasca. While DMT can be extracted from these plants and fungi, it can also be produced synthetically. It goes by other names, such as “changa,” “spice,” and “spirit molecule.” Its physical appearance may vary from yellow-orange to white, and its texture can be a rock-like substance or a liquid inside of a vaporizer pen. You can smoke, vape, or dab DMT. You may even consume it orally in combination with a monoamine oxidase inhibitor (MAOI).
Some experts believe that DMT is created by the pineal gland in the epithalamus of the brain. One theory posits that it is released at the times of our birth and death. Others believe it is also released when we dream. There is currently no hard scientific data to support this theory. However, it is believed that this release of DMT is an explanation for many otherworldly encounters in reports of near-death experiences.
The DMT Experience
Undertaking an experience like a DMT trip is one that requires a plan. The first step is understanding what DMT is and deciding if it’s right for you. Next, you’ll want to obtain some DMT and know how to use it. Finally, you’ll be ready to plan the set and setting. But how else can you prepare? What can you expect while on DMT and after? While each experience is unique to the user, there is plenty of practical guidance to help you on your journey.
Onset and Duration of a DMT Trip
Regardless of the method of consumption, DMT kicks in pretty quickly. When smoked or vaporized, the onset is approximately 5–10 minutes. When consumed orally, like an ayahuasca brew, it might take 20–60 minutes. If you are smoking or vaping, the duration will likely be between 30–40 minutes. In contrast, an ayahuasca ceremony might involve drinking multiple doses of ayahuasca brew throughout the entire time, therefore extending the duration anywhere from 4–6 hours or longer depending on the type of ceremony.
Physical and Mental Effects
The physical effects can vary greatly. Some users report intense visuals, while others indicate their experience to be much more ethereal, including heightened sensations such as physical euphoria and weightlessness. For those that report visual experiences, common themes include fractals, sacred geometry, heightened colors, and even more mysterious encounters like machine elves.
Potential physical effects may also include rapid heartbeat, dilated pupils, nausea, paranoia, and more. However, often these physical sensations are barely noticeable due to the other intense effects occurring simultaneously. As one user reports:
“My body just didn’t seem relevant anymore … And I felt like I arrived in some consciousness soup which seemed like a different realm to the one I ordinarily inhabit—even in dreams. It just seemed like everything was rotating and swirling and spiraling. It didn’t seem like there were normal space-time proportions going on.”
Users often report the sensation that they are in fact going to die, or feel as though they are embodying the feeling of dying. Furthermore, this experience of “ego death,” while frightening for some, often leaves behind a feeling a reassurance, as though death is not the end, and not something to fear.
Other effects include dissociation of self, overwhelming feelings of security, love, peace, and a connection to all life force. Many people emerge from a DMT experience feeling reborn.
Coming Down From DMT
Most psychedelics share a similar theme of the come-up, peak, and comedown. The come-up is the noticeable difference between sobriety and an altered sense of reality. The peak is exactly what it sounds like—the most intense part of the trip, where all effects are on full blast. The comedown mirrors the come-up in reverse; however, now you are integrating feelings and thoughts from a deeply intense psychedelic experience into your oncoming sobriety. It can be a much slower process, and if not sure what to expect, it can be confusing.
What Is a Comedown?
As drugs leave your body, there is a comedown effect, regardless of the substance. For example, as marijuana leaves your body you might feel a little sleepy. The comedown from MDMA can often leave you depleted of serotonin and feeling a bit gloomy. The waning effects of cocaine or caffeine might leave your body feeling tense and jittery, and your mind scattered. When coming down from psilocybin mushrooms or LSD, you might expect to see some tracers or lingering visuals for a few hours following the trip. When DMT leaves your body, it is a different experience altogether. Since DMT produces out-of-body effects, the DMT comedown is just like coming back into your body.
DMT Comedown Effects
During the DMT comedown, one can expect the bodily sensations of relaxation and euphoria to gradually fade away. It’s similar to the fuzzy feeling of a limb that fell asleep tingling its way back to life. You may also feel wide open and vulnerable, as though you are seeing the world for the first time. Unlike with LSD or mushrooms, the visuals come to a halt when you are coming down—as though once you leave the “DMT world,” the visuals will also cease to exist. One user in a Reddit form reported feeling stone-cold sober within 20 minutes.
The DMT comedown differs from that of other drugs in that you do not come down to reality as you knew it before. It is a new normal, as though you’ve awoken from a dream with a set of new eyes, and everything is born anew. This feeling gradually fades over the course of the next several days, sometimes lasting a few weeks. Often there is an abundance of joy and love felt for the very existence of being alive after having an experience that is difficult to put into words. Some say it is a rebirth to a new way of thinking and living their daily lives.
How to Ground After DMT
Engaging your senses can be a revitalizing part of the DMT comedown. You have just been on a journey, possibly into other realms, and there are many practices that can help you tune in to the awareness of your body and sense of self. Allow the thoughts that are rushing through your mind to just be there, as you are present within your environment. Depending on where you are, some or all of the following may be suitable options for you.
As you are coming down, the visuals are leaving your mind’s eye, but there may be environmentally pleasing items to gaze at during this time. If you are at home, a houseplant may hold a new sense of wonder. A book of images from psychedelic artists like Alex Grey or Andrew (Android) Jones might hold new meaning for you. Even something as ordinary as the view out of your window may reveal new perspectives previously unseen.
While you might have been listening to music during your trip, there may be a different genre that is pleasing as you come down. Think of nature sounds like rainfall, or the gentle crash of ocean waves. You might also enjoy brain wave sounds, such as delta or theta waves, to mimic a dreamlike state and encourage relaxation.
After smoking DMT, you might want to feel into your body by doing some light stretching or yoga. Be sure you have regained your balance, and begin in seated positions to get the blood flowing first. Another pleasurable sensory experience can be a hot bath, complete with soaking salts and candles for soft lighting. If the water is not calling your attention, wrapping yourself up in a warm, fuzzy blanket can be a soothing alternative.
Many traditions call for a cleansing diet in preparation for an ayahuasca ceremony. This is to rid your body of any toxins that might disrupt the purging process, and distract you from your experience. This dieta typically removes foods such as sugar, salt, red meat, and caffeine—as well as grounding spices such as ginger and garlic. During the DMT comedown after an ayahuasca ceremony, some traditions will offer salt to participants to connect back to the minerals of the Earth. Dates and figs are also rich and earthly foods to help you ground down.
To engage your sense of smell, burn some incense, sage, or diffuse essential oils that are pleasing to you. Aromas like vetiver, angelica, patchouli, and balsam fir are known to be grounding.
DMT Harm Reduction Tips
Choosing a safe place is probably the most important part of any journey. If your home is your sanctuary, this is a preferable option so as to have all of the comforts you are used to. If that is not an option, the home of your trip sitter or friend is a good alternative. Before partaking in an ayahuasca ceremony, make sure you know what the environment is like before you arrive so you can be best prepared.
As with all psychedelics, having a trip sitter is a great idea. Knowing that there is someone there for you can help you melt into the experience a bit more deeply. Some trips are harder than others, and it can be tough to process what you’re experiencing. With a trusted companion there for the journey, you can rest assured that you are safe.
Wherever you are, make sure you are dressed comfortably in clothes that are appropriate for the temperature, and easy to move about in. Be prepared to sit or lie down for some or all of your journey by creating a nest of pillows and blankets that is comfortable.
Avoid any form of DMT if you are currently taking antidepressants, or have any ailments that affect your heart, including high blood pressure. If you have any mental health conditions, particularly those that require medication, it is wise to avoid DMT altogether.
Lastly, be sure to give yourself time to integrate your experience into your daily life. You may be unfolding the lessons for many months to come. Allowing yourself the time and space to integrate will help you process this profound experience.
RS Contributing Author: Holly Crawford
Holly is a lover of the written word. She enjoys using language to tell stories about people, products, and ideas. With her roots deeply entrenched in the cannabis industry, she gravitates toward all things psychedelic with open-minded curiosity. If she isn’t musing in one of her journals, you can find her talking to her plants, studying business and spirituality, and performing all kinds of kitchen witchery. Holly lives in Oregon with her husband and their three dogs and two cats. You can follow her on Instagram @m_sungreen.