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Jacob Carroll

Dr. Kenneth Johnson Ph. D

N,N-diemethyltryptamine, The Spirit Molecule

N,N-diemethyltryptamine, or DMT, was first chemically synthesized in 1931 by a

Canadian chemist, Richard Fredrick Manske1, and was found to be hallucinogenic in 1956,
twenty-five years later. The chemical itself is present in the Amazonian drink, Ayahuasca, a
drink made primarily by shamans for magical, divine, and healing purposes. The drug was first
intensely studied by a Hungarian psychologist and chemist, Dr. Stephen Szra, who conducted
research with the help of volunteers during the 1950s2. Dr. Szras research examined the
possibilities that one, some tryptamines, mainly DMT, might contribute to psychosis, and two,
that psychedelics might be useful tools in psychotherapy3. Additional research was done by Dr.
Rick Strassman of the University of New Mexicos School of Medicine, in the 1990s, to
examine the effects of DMT, which he hypothesized is produced in the pineal gland in the human
brain. Strassman tested human volunteers that were injected with high dosages of DMT2.
DMT can produce powerful effects, such as intense visuals, euphoria, and hallucinations
with eyes open or closed (seeing bright colors, geometric patterns, vision overlapping, and some
kaleidoscopic visuals). The effects do not take long to emerge, and the climax of the high is
reached within several minutes, which earned the drug the nickname the businessmans trip
due to its short duration4. The effects of DMT, when injected, are very short lasting and usually
only persisting for five to fifteen minutes, the duration changes with the dosage(normally 15-60
mg for inhalation and 50-70 mg for intramuscular injection). Within five minutes after
intramuscular administration, pupils dilate, heart beat accelerates, and a measurable increase in
blood pressure occurs. After 60 minutes, symptoms have mostly subsided. When inhaled, the
times taken to feel effects, and reach the climax to full intoxication are shortened. The effects
have been seen within 10 seconds and the climax seen at 2 to 3 minutes after administration, and
the effects subside after 10 minutes5. Anecdotal effects include the inability to move, a sense of
being overwhelmed, stomach dis-easing, flashbacks of ones past memories6, seeing fabricated
beings, such as aliens, owls, and machine elves.
The use of DMT, and Ayahuasca, has grown in popularity in the United States steadily,
(as shown in a survey conducted by the United States government, the NSDUH, the National
Survey on Drug Use and Health) since 2006(estimated users being 688,000 at that point) until
2012(users increasing to a staggering 1,475,000)7. According to the 2012 Global Drug Survey,
most people who use DMT, have been found not to have a great desire to use more, due to the
high being multiple times more intense and hallucinatory than other drugs, and the raised risk of
having a bad trip7. Users of DMT may be at a bigger risk than other drug users, due to the lack
of tolerance build up over repeated uses (as shown in the 1996 Strassman study, using thirteen
experienced hallucinogen users, injected with DMT or a placebo 4 times with 30 minute

intervals, over two days, in a double blind test, producing no noticeable tolerance effect) 2.3.
Common effects of using DMT, are anxiety, trouble focusing, difficulty sleeping, paranoia, and
Ego Death. It is also believed that the use of DMT may trigger underlying psychological and
mental problems, such as schizophrenia and psychosis3, in individuals with a family history of
mental illness.