Everything You Need to Know About DMT, the ‘Spirit Molecule’

DMT — or N, N-dimethyltryptamine in medical talk — is a hallucinogenic tryptamine drug. Sometimes referred to as Dimitri, this drug produces effects similar to those of psychedelics, like LSD and magic mushrooms.

Does it have other names?

Sometimes people use other names to refer to DMT. These street names include:

businessman’s trip
businessman’s special
45-minute psychosis
spiritual molecule

Where does it come from?

DMT naturally occurs in many plant speciesTrusted Source, which have been used in religious ceremonies in some South American regions for centuries.

It can also be made in a laboratory.

Is it the same thing as ayahuasca?

Kind of. DMT is the main active ingredient in ayahuasca.

Ayahuasca is traditionally prepared using two plants called Banisteriopsis caapi and Psychotria viridis. The latter contains DMT while the former contains MAOIs, which prevent certain enzymes in your body from breaking down DMT.

What does it feel like?

As with most drugs, DMT can affect people in very different ways. Some truly enjoy the experience.

Others find it overwhelming or frightening. Some refer to this negative experience as a bad trip.

As far as its psychoactive effects, people have described feeling like they’re traveling at warp speed through a tunnel of bright lights and shapes. Others describe having an out-of-body experience and feeling like they’ve changed into something else.

There are also some who report visiting other worlds and communicating with alien-like beings.

Some people also report a pretty rough comedown from DMT that leaves them feeling unsettled.

How is it consumed?

Synthetic DMT usually comes in the form of a white, crystalline powder. Sometimes the drug can have a yellowish or pinkish color.

It can be smoked in a pipe, vaporized, or snorted. DMT can also be injected, but this method is said to come with additional risks.

When used in religious ceremonies, plants and vines are boiled to create a tea-like drink of varying strengths.
How long does it last?
Synthetic DMT kicks in pretty fast. It often produces effects within just a few minutes, but can take up to 10 minutes.

Plant-based brews tend to produce effects within 20 to 60 minutes.

The intensity and duration of a DMT trip depends on several things, including:

how much you use
how you use it
whether you’ve eaten
whether you’ve taken other drugs
Generally, the effects of inhaled, snorted, or injected DMT last for about 45 to 60 minutes.

Drinking it in a brew like ayahuasca can leave you tripping for anywhere from 2 to 6 hours.

Does it cause any side effects?

DMT is a powerful substance that can cause a number of mental and physical side effects. Some of these are desirable, but others not so much.

Possible mental effects of DMT include:

vivid hallucinations
altered sense of time
Keep in mind that some people experience lingering mental effects for days or weeks after use.

Physical effects of DMT can include:

rapid heart rate
increased blood pressure
visual disturbances
dilated pupils
rapid rhythmic eye movements
chest pain or tightness
nausea or vomiting
Are there any risks?
Yes, some of them potentially serious.

DMT’s physical side effects of raising both heart rate and blood can be risky, especially if you have a heart condition or already have high blood pressure.

Using DMT may also cause:

loss of muscle coordination, which increases the risk of falls and injury
It may also be associated with respiratory arrest (when someone stops breathing) and coma.

Long-term effects
Like other hallucinogenic drugs, DMT may cause persistent psychosis and hallucinogen persisting perception disorder (HPPD). HPPD is more commonly known as “flashbacks.” Both are rare and may be more likely to occur in people with preexisting mental health conditions.

Serotonin syndrome warning
DMT can result in high levels of the neurotransmitter serotonin. This can lead to a potentially life threatening condition called serotonin syndrome disorder.

People who use DMT while taking antidepressants have a higher risk for developing this condition. Some other medications and supplements are also associated with serotonin syndrome.

Seek immediate medical attention if you’ve used DMT and experience the following symptoms:

muscle spasms
muscle rigidity
overactive reflexes
dilated pupils
Any other interactions to know about?
DMT can interact with a range of other prescription and over-the-counter medications, as well as other drugs.

If you’re using DMT, you should avoid mixing it with other substances such as:

LSD, aka acid
gamma-hydroxybutyric acid (GHB), aka liquid V and liquid G
Prescription and over-the-counter medications to avoid mixing with DMT include:

muscle relaxants
blood pressure medications
Is it addictive?
The jury is still out on whether DMT is addictive, according to the National Institute on Drug AbuseTrusted Source.

What about tolerance?

Tolerance refers to needing to use more of a particular drug over time to achieve the same effects. Based on researchTrusted Source, DMT doesn’t appear to cause tolerance.

Harm reduction tips

DMT is extremely powerful, even though it naturally occurs in several plant species. If you’re going to try it, there are a few steps you can take to reduce your risk for having a bad reaction.

Keep these tips in mind when using DMT:

Strength in numbers: Don’t use DMT alone. Do it in the company of people you trust.
Find a buddy: Make sure you have at least one sober person around who can intervene if things take a turn.
Consider your surroundings: Be sure to use it in a safe and comfortable place.
Take a seat: Sit or lie down to reduce the risk of falling or injury while you’re tripping.
Keep it simple: Don’t combine DMT with alcohol or other drugs.
Pick the right time: The effects of DMT can be pretty intense. As a result, it’s best to use it when you’re already in a positive state of mind.
Know when to skip it: Avoid using DMT if you:
are taking antidepressants or another medication associated with serotonin syndrome
are taking a medication that interacts with DMT
have a heart condition
have high blood pressure
The bottom line
DMT is a naturally occurring chemical that’s been used for centuries in religious ceremonies in several South American cultures. Today, its synthetic form is used for its powerful hallucinogenic effects.

If curious about trying DMT, it’s important to take certain steps to reduce your risk for serious effects. This includes making sure any prescription or over-the-counter medications you take won’t cause a bad reaction.

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