What is DMT?

DMT drug use

The list of dangerous substances keeps on getting longer, and what makes it more alarming is how some natural substances can contain substances that eventually become lethal. One of these substances is called DMT, which we will take a closer look at in this article.

DMT (or dimethyltryptamine) is a hallucinogenic tryptamine substance that naturally occurs in many plants and animals. It is not as popular as other hallucinogenic substances like LSD and mushrooms, but it contains the same LSD chemical structure which has a direct effect on the brain.

DMT, which is found in some South American-brewed concoctions such as Ayahuasca, started out as a substance that is commonly used during religious ceremonies and rituals. These days, DMT can be synthetically produced.

The original synthesis was created by Richard Manske, a British chemist in 1931. In recent years, DMT has become a drug for recreation and a source of addiction.

Since DMT is a naturally occurring psychedelic substance, it is possible that trace amounts of DMT can be found in the brains of mammals.

It is believed that DMT is the strongest of all psychedelic drugs. It is also sometimes referred to as entheogen. The chemical root of DMT is similar to an anti-migraine drug sumatriptan. It primarily acts as a non-selective agonist at most or all of the serotonin receptors.

DMT, however, is not active when orally taken unless it is combined with other another substance that can inhibit its metabolism.

What does DMT look like?

DMT usually appears in the form of a white crystalline powder. It is a substance found in certain plants in South America, Mexico, and parts of Asia.

DMT is also known for the following street names:

  • Businessman’s Trip
  • Businessman’s Special
  • Dmitri
  • Fantasia
  • 45-Minute Psychosis
  • Natema
  • Caapi
  • Mihi
  • Yage

What is Iowaska?

Iowaska or Ayahuasca is a plant that is native to the Amazon. It has been used for years as medicine by indigenous shamans who live across the upper Amazon throughout the regions of Ecuador, Brazil, Peru, and Colombia.

Iowaska is made from two plants: the iowaska vine and the leaf of the chacruna plant. The plants are combined to create a potent mixture that (according to the indigenous Amazon tribes) offers access to the realm of spirits in which we are unable to perceive in our normal state of consciousness.

What is Iowaska Used For?

Iowaska was used by the shamans of the Amazon region for healing and divinatory purposes. Preparation and use of iowaska have been passed down through many generations of iowaska shamans. During iowaska ceremonies, they use iowaska tea as a diagnostic tool to determine the cause of illness in their patients.

It is believed that iowaska ceremonies started over 2,500 years ago in which the ceremonial cup was traced back in Ecuador. These days, the use of iowaska is widespread. It is presented as the basis of traditional medicine practice for at least 75 different indigenous tribes across the upper and lower Amazon regions.

DMT Statistics

DMT became popular in the 1960s. Knowing how it can have a negative impact on one’s body, the U.S. government labelled it as illegal in 1971. However, many people continued to use it for recreational and religious purposes.

  • Almost 9% of respondents out of 22,289 surveyed people across the works have used DMT.
  • DMT has more new users in 2012 compared to other hallucinogens.
  • In a 2015 report, there were 586 incidents which concern DMT production in several United States Laboratories.
  • It was reported that approximately 1.3 million people aged 12 or older have used DMT for the past month in 2013.
  • Most users are between 18 years old and 25 years old.
  • It is believed that at least 1.4 million have smoked DMT.

Is DMT Illegal?

Just like some of the naturally occurring substances that can alter the brain’s normal function, casual use of DMT is considered illegal. DMT gained its popularity during the 1960s and was placed under federal control.

The substance has been categorized under Schedule I of the Controlled Substances Act of 1970.

How is DMT Used?

Despite DMT’s highly restricted status, it is still being used in various religious ceremonies as an aid to obtain a deep spiritual awakening, as the shamans and believers see them.

DMT is usually injected, smoked, or snorted. Taking DMT orally is not common since it is not active when taken by mouth alone.

When DMT is used in Ayahuasca, the presence of the harmala alkaloids inhibits the enzyme monoamine oxidase. This helps metabolize the tryptamine hallucinogen. The drug remains attached. Therefore, it is absorbed in sufficient amounts to eventually affect brain function through the development of psychoactive effects.

Effects of Using DMT

Depending on how the drug is taken, the experience of taking DMT may vary among individuals. The average dose of DMT when smoked is about 30-150 mg, and this takes effect immediately. The effect is at its peak for 3-5 minutes and then plunges drastically. The total effect lasts about 30-45 minutes.

When DMT is consumed as a brew, the dose is between 35-75 mg and the effect begins after 30-45 minutes. Its psychoactive effect peaks at 2-3 hours, and drops within 4 to 6 hours.

The main side effect of DMT is on brain functioning. Individuals who take this substance may experience visual and auditory hallucinations and an altered sense of body, space, and time. Some users have reported having experienced visiting other dimensions, such as talking with beings from another planet or having a complete change in the perception of identity and reality.

Compared to other LSD substances, DMT has been found to have fewer negative side effects.

DMT and the Human Body

DMT effects can either be overwhelmingly exciting or extremely frightening. This means that the effect of the substance varies in every individual who takes DMT. The psychological effects of DMT use can linger for days or even weeks after ingestion.

The physical side effects of DMT include:

  • Agitation
  • Chest pain or tightness
  • Dilated pupils
  • Dizziness
  • Increased blood pressure
  • Increased heart rate
  • Rapid rhythmic movements of the eyes

If DMT is taken in high doses, it may cause seizures, respiratory arrest, and coma.

Effect of DMT on the Brain

As a hallucinogenic substance, DMT produces psychedelic effects by affecting the neural circuits in the brain, which makes use of the neurotransmitter called serotonin. The most noticeable effects take place in an area that involves mood, perception, and cognition. This is called the frontal cortex.

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, the hallucinogenic effects naturally occurs in the brain in small amounts. Other research showed that the release of endogenous DMT may be associated with reports of random mythical experiences, alien abduction, and near-death experiences. These situations have been quite common, and if you would notice, these experiences do not involve other people who may actually prove that the claims can be true.

At low doses of 0.05 to 0.1 mg/kg, DMT affects both physical and emotional states with almost no perceptual hallucinations. At higher doses, it produces a “kaleidoscopic display” images. It is also possible to experience alternating sensations of heat and cold, out-of-body experiences or a dissociation of awareness from the physical body.

Since taking this drug produces a different kind of high, it is quite common to experience transient states of anxiety.

DMT Interactions

DMT was found to interact with different types of commonly used medications such as prescription antidepressants and certain over-the-counter medications. Thus, mixing these medications with DMT may lead to lethal reactions.

DMT has a significant effect on the serotonin system. Therefore, the following substances should not be taken simultaneously with DMT:

  • Alcohol
  • Antihypertensives (high blood pressure medicine)
  • Antipsychotics
  • Appetite suppressants (diet pills)
  • Barbiturates
  • CNS (central nervous system) depressants (Xanax, Ativan, etc.)
  • Medicine for asthma, bronchitis, or other breathing problems
  • Antihistamines or medicines for colds, sinus problems, hay fever, or allergies (any drug containing dextromethorphan/ DXM or with DM, DX or “Tuss” in its name)
  • SSRI’s (any selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor, like Prozac)
  • Vasodilators

Taking a concoction of these drugs can heighten the effects of the drug which can lead to death. Similarly, using the following drugs in conjunction with DMT can be fatal:

  • 5-MEO-DMT
  • Alcohol
  • Amphetamines (meth-, dex-, amphetamine), ephedrine, MDMA (Ecstasy), MDA, MDEA, PMA
  • Barbiturates
  • Cocaine
  • Dextromethorphan (DXM)
  • Kava
  • Kratom
  • Mescaline (any phenethylamine)
  • Nutmeg
  • Opiates (heroin, morphine, codeine, and especially opium)

Drug Cross Reactivity Chart


Signs of DMT Use

Frequent use of any hallucinogenic drug can lead to psychosis and other mental disorders. Be sure to know the signs to help you identify if your loved one is using DMT.

  • Experiencing flashbacks/feeling psychoactive effects similar to the DMT trip when not using the drug
  • Extreme preoccupation with using DMT
  • Feeling out of touch with reality
  • Financial problems due to spending money obtaining DMT
  • Lying about drug use to friends and family
  • Using DMT on a regular basis and having trouble maintaining personal and professional commitments as a result of drug use
  • Using DMT with other drugs

Long-Term Effects of DMT

There is limited research data on DMT. It is not known to cause physical dependence or addiction, although recreational users may develop psychological cravings for the drug.

Currently, DMT is not considered as an addictive substance. However, using DMT has several health risks that can produce frightening hallucinations leading to psychological dependency. Therefore, just like using marijuana and other illegal substances, this can be addictive due to the psychological effects that one may experience.

Dependence, Diagnosis, and Treatment

DMT use is not as common as using marijuana, cocaine or heroin. However, it is still possible to become psychologically dependent on it. If you suspect anyone to be using DMT, it is best to have them checked using drug tests to back up your suspicion. This may not be as easy, but if you can talk to the person who might be into drugs to take a test and help him/her realize that he/she has a drug problem, then the treatment may not be difficult to initiate.

It would also need a DMT user to be placed in a rehabilitation center to help him/her get rid of the addiction. The primary step is detoxification by slowly using small doses of the drug until the individual gets used to not having the drug in his/her system. The treatment process may take weeks to several months, depending on how the individual responds to the treatment.

Apart from providing medications to help manage withdrawal symptoms, there is also a need for psychological rehabilitation wherein the cause of addiction needs to be addressed. The involvement of the family in the treatment process is crucial as anyone who may not be able to fully understand the whole situation can trigger a relapse.

DMT Withdrawal

In DMT use, there is no associated physical dependence. Any perceived withdrawal effects will be of a psychological nature. Chronic DMT users who suddenly stop using the substance may experience strong cravings for DMT.

It is also likely that these long-term DMT users to develop flashbacks or Hallucinogenic Persisting Perception Disorder. This makes the user re-experience hallucinations and other psychoactive effects of using DMT.

Final Word

Anyone who turns to drugs has a reason behind it. Unless the problems are faced, the individual might continue to use DMT or other drugs.

To prevent your loved ones from getting involved in such harmful activity, reach out to them. Parents should have the time to talk to their children about the dangers of using drugs. In addition, they should also let their children feel that if they have any problems, it is better to seek advice from them rather than from anyone else.



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