“DMT, or N,N-Dimethyltryptamine, is a psychedelic chemical that occurs naturally in both plants and animals from underwater organisms to land mammals. DMT is also the active hallucinogenic compound in ayahuasca, a tea brewed from the shrub Psychotria viridis used for ritual purposes by indigenous people in the Amazon.
People also ingest DMT in crystal form, smoking it in a pipe or bong, as well as vaporized. This form of ingestion produces a powerful but short-lasting hallucinogenic state, considered to be one of the most intense psychedelic experiences in existence.
It can also retain its psychoactive properties in other forms, including psilocybin (4-PO-HO-DMT, found in psilocybin mushrooms).
Many often confuse DMT with 5-MeO-DMT, or 5-Methoxy-N,N-Dimethyltryptamine, which is also a hallucinogenic compound. 5-MeO-DMT looks exactly like DMT on both a macro and micro level, but the latter has a few extra atoms attached, which is enough to change the experience. While the DMT experience tends to be highly visual, 5-MeO-DMT is more like a perspective shift. For this guide, we’ll focus on DMT.
DMT is found in the human brain, so our bodies are accustomed to handling this molecule. Research suggests that it plays an important role in various processes taking place in the central and peripheral nervous systems. DMT trips are so short-lived because our bodies are so good at metabolizing it. All of this makes it is a fairly safe compound to ingest—and helps us understand the potential benefits of a DMT trip.
For centuries, indigenous people have used DMT for healing and change, and, more recently, science is backing this up. Johns Hopkins researchers recently conducted a survey into the anti-depressant qualities of 5-MeO-DMT and found that the use of the compound resulted in huge improvements in well-being—among 362 adults, around 80% of respondents reported improvements in anxiety and depression. Another study, conducted with rats, found that microdosing DMT also led to positive improvements with anxiety and depression.
All of this could have something to do with DMT’s propensity to creating god- or spirit-like hallucinations. After all, there’s a reason Rick Strassman called it “the spirit molecule”—and a reason the name has stuck. With many psychedelics, studies show that the more a person experiences certain “mystical” qualities during a trip, the more healing they receive, it’s believed that DMT’s ability to make users “see God” could be the key to its healing powers.
However, very little systematic research exists on DMT and spiritual experiences. This has caused some to question the direction of the relationship between psychedelic use and spirituality. Does DMT aid in spiritual growth, or do people who are inclined to seek spiritual growth end up taking DMT?
From what we can tell, it’s probably a bit of both.”