Written by: Editorial Staff
Updated: May 25, 2022
What Is DMT?
According to theDEA, the drug N, N-dimethyltryptamine, or DMT, is a potent hallucinogenic drug that has been used for centuries by a number of different groups in South America in their religious services.The National Institute on Drug Abuse(NIDA) states that hallucinogenic drugs produce powerful alterations of an individual’s perceptions of environmental stimuli and of their own state of being. The major effects from hallucinogenic drugs differ from the effects of other drugs in that they produce experiences that are often classified as psychosis in individuals who are not under the influence of a drug.
DMT is a naturally occurring substance in a number of plants, the best-known probably being the ayahuasca plant. DMT can also be synthetically produced and was originally produced synthetically by a British chemist, Richard Manske in 1931. According to the DEA, the substance became popular in the 1960s and was classified as a Schedule I controlled substance in the 1970s due to its potential for abuse, potentially dangerous effects, and possible potential for the development of psychological dependence. The drug has no known medicinal uses, and it can only be legally obtained for research purposes with special permissions from the DEA and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
The DEA reports that the drug is still encountered as an illicit drug in instances where it is purchased or manufactured illegally and marketed with other hallucinogens. Despite its classification in the United States, DMT is still legally used by certain religious tribes in Central and South America. The drug is smoked, brewed in tea (ayahuasca), used in forms of snuff, or taken orally.
What Does DMT Feel Like?
These DMT experiences can include:
- Heightened perceptual experiences that can include perceiving colors as much more intense than they really are, sounds as more acute, touch as more sensitive, etc.
- Seeing, hearing, smelling, or feeling things that are not really there (hallucinations)
- Synesthesias, which are mixed sensory experiences, such as believing that one can hear colors, see sounds, etc.
- Cognitive changes that include distortions, such as feeling that one is invulnerable, that one is leaving one’s body, that surrounding things are not real, or that one has become something else (anything from an animal to an inanimate object)
- An alteration in one’s sense of the passing of time (e.g., time is moving far more slowly than it really is; minutes may seem like hours, hours like days, etc.)
- Powerful delusions, representing beliefs that are not supported by reality
Individuals who have similar DMT experiences but are not under the influence of drugs or do not have some neurological problems, such as a head injury or stroke, would often be classified as having some type of psychotic disorder if they frequently have these experiences or beliefs. Interestingly, hallucinogenic drugs are often considered to be “mind expanding” drugs by individuals who use them, but are not without corresponding dangers.
Is DMT Dangerous?
Individuals who use DMT often do so for its psychoactive effects; the effects are similar to those of LSD but significantly shorter-lived. For instance, both NIDA and the DEA report that the effects of LSD can last up to 12 hours or more, whereas the DMT side effects may only persist for several minutes to a few hours, depending on the amount and how the drug is taken. This results in DMT use being preferable to drugs like LSD, psilocybin, mescaline, etc., for individuals who do not wish to be incapacitated for lengthy periods of time but still wish to experience the hallucinogenic or “mind-altering” effects of these drugs. DMT is a classic hallucinogenic drug that primarily produces perceptual alterations and visual or other hallucinations but does not produce significant dissociative experiences, such as feeling that one is leaving one’s body, that things are not real, etc.
Reliable figures on the number of people who abuse of DMT are not readily available.The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration(SAMHSA) issues yearly reports on the abuse of a number of illicit and illicit substances that occurs in the United States. These reports are based on estimates derived from survey data of a large sample of individuals. The latest information indicates that a little over 1 million adults over the age of 12 reported some type of hallucinogenic drug use in the past year. The trend of hallucinogenic drug use has been relatively steady in recent years. While the figures are not of the magnitude of the abuse of some other drugs, a large number of individuals who use these drugs are younger, and due to some of the danger surrounding DMT use, this is of special concern.
DMT Side Effects
According to the DEA, theAmerican Psychiatric Association(APA), and academic sources, such as the bookThe Neuropathology of Drug Addictions and Substance Misuse Volume 2, the DMT side effects include:
- Hallucinogenic effects, as outlined above
- Issues with anxietythat can be severe and are similar to having a panic attack
- Physical changes that may exacerbate anxiety, such as increases in heart rate, body temperature, and blood pressure
- Difficulty breathing (unclear whether this represents a complication of anxiety or a specific autonomic nervous system issue)
- Nausea, diarrhea, and vomiting; if untreated, can lead to dehydration
- Unconsciousness in some individuals
- Mental health issues:DMT use may cause problems that are normally associated with havinga formal mental health disorder, such as psychosis, anxiety, mood swings, and/or depression. This risk is increased with individuals who experience unpleasant effects or “bad trips” as a result of using hallucinogenic drugs.
- Cardiac issues:Cardiac arrest can occur in people who have pre-existing cardiac problems or in individuals who are using other medications for depression or chronic pain. Individuals who are using opiate drugs may be at particular risk to develop cardiac problems when using DMT.
- Asphyxiation:Possible asphyxiation may occur in individuals who lose consciousness as a result of taking DMT and begin throwing up.
- Seizures:The DEA reports that there are some cases of reported seizures that are associated with DMT use. It is unclear if these instances occurred as a result of an individual using DMT alone or in combination with other drugs. In any event, the development of seizures represents a potentially fatal condition.
- Damage to major body systems:Hallucinogenic drugs are often combined with other drugs, and this increases the potential for damage to a number of organ systems, including the central nervous system (the brain and spinal cord).
- Addiction:A hallucinogen use disorder can develop as a result of chronic abuse of hallucinogens like DMT.
- Flashbacks:APA describes a rare disorder that can occur in some individuals who use hallucinogenic drugs: hallucinogen persisting perception disorder. This is a formal mental health disorder that consists of having drug flashbacks when one has not used a specific hallucinogenic drug for some period of time. The disorder is most often connected to past use of LSD along with a history of bad trips, some other psychological disorder, and other issues, but it can conceivably occur in anyone who chronically uses a hallucinogenic drug. Flashbacks appear to suddenly develop without any drug use. Individuals may become very frightened, and the DMT experiences can often be mistaken as psychotic episodes or some type of neurological insult, such as stroke. Treatment for the disorder consists of medications to manage specific symptoms; in some cases, anticonvulsant drugs may be useful.
At the time of this writing, it is not clear if extremely high doses of DMT produces toxic effects. The DEA reports that there are cases of individuals suffering respiratory distress as a result of DMT use; however, fatalities associated with DMT appear to be linked to polysubstance abuse, such as combining DMT with alcohol or narcotic pain medications. Therefore, it is unclear if DMT abuse alone can result in a potential fatality; however, individuals who are under the influence of hallucinogenic drugs run the risk of becoming involved in accidents or making judgment errors that can be seriously dangerous and/or fatal.
APA reports that tolerance to hallucinogenic drugs like DMT does develop, but there is no formal withdrawal syndrome that can be associated with abuse of DMT or other hallucinogenic drugs. Therefore, it is doubtful that physical dependence on DMT occurs, although individuals who chronically abuse the drug may develop emotional issues when they abruptly discontinue use.
DMT is naturally occurring in small amounts in rat brain, human cerebrospinal fluid, and other tissues of humans and other mammals.Is DMT FDA approved? ›
DMT has no approved medical use in the United States but can be used by researchers under a schedule I research registration that requires approval from both DEA and the Food and Drug Administration.When was DMT first discovered? ›
In terms of Western culture, DMT was first synthesized by a Canadian chemist, Richard Manske, in 1931 (Manske, 1931) but was, at the time, not assessed for human pharmacological effects. In 1946 the microbiologist Oswaldo Gonçalves de Lima discovered DMT's natural occurrence in plants (Goncalves de Lima, 1946).Does DMT cross the blood brain barrier? ›
According to Strassman, DMT is one of the only compounds that can cross the blood-brain barrier – the membrane wall separating circulating blood from the brain extracellular fluid in the central nervous system.Is DMT made in the body? ›
N,N-dimethyltryptamine, or DMT , is one of the most powerful psychedelics on the planet. What's more, it's a very simple compound that is found throughout the natural world. Even our bodies produce it.Why does the body produce DMT? ›
The idea that the pineal gland produces enough DMT to produce psychoactive effects came from the popular book “DMT: The Spirit Molecule,” written by clinical psychiatrist Rick Strassman in 2000. Strassman proposed that the DMT excreted by the pineal gland enabled the life force into this life and on to the next life.Can DMT help with depression? ›
Does DMT Help Depression? Because DMT is so strong, it can affect both your physical and mental health. DMT works similarly to antidepressants, targeting the serotonin receptors in the brain. People who consume large amounts of DMT or take DMT along with antidepressants are at risk for developing serotonin syndrome.What is the best treatment for relapsing-remitting MS? ›
There is no cure for RRMS, but many people find some relief from symptoms by following a full treatment plan. Ocrelizumab (Ocrevus), siponimod (Mayzent), and cladribine (Mavenclad) are medications that the FDA have approved for types of MS that progress through relapses.Which DMT is best for MS? ›
The top four recommended DMTs were Copaxone (glatiramer acetate injection), Tecfidera (dimethyl fumarate), Ocrevus (ocrelizumab), and Gilenya (fingolimod). Copaxone is an injection, Tecfidera and Gilenya are pills, and Ocrevus is given by infusion.How does DMT affect memory? ›
The researchers showed that in adult mice, DMT activates neurogenesis in the hippocampus, which is the part of the brain that consolidates new memories. DMT binds to various receptors on nerve cells in the brain, including serotonin receptors.
Background: Disease-modifying therapies (DMTs) are urgently needed to treat the growing number of individuals with Alzheimer's disease (AD) or at immanent risk for AD. A definition of DMT is required to facilitate the process of DMT drug development.What plants contain DMT in the US? ›
Major plant genera containing DMT include Phalaris, Delosperma, Acacia, Desmodium, Mimosa, Virola, and Psychotria, but DMT has been found even in apparently innocuous sources, such as leaves of citrus plants (Servillo et al., 2012), and in the leaves, seeds, and inner bark of mimosa tenuiflora, which has become a ...What is DMT mental health? ›
DMT-assisted therapy is a novel psychedelic therapy which aims to treat a whole suite of mental health problems that we have sadly come to take for granted as part of 21st century life. Early trials are investigating DMT-assisted therapy in the treatment of depression.What does DMT stand for? ›
DMT stands for N, N-Dimethyltryptamine. It is a powerful psychedelic drug, with serotonergic effects on the human brain, which can induce a rapid and intense psychedelic experience, often referred to as a 'DMT trip'.What is the latest treatment for multiple sclerosis? ›
Siponimod (Mayzent) was approved by the FDA in 2019. This tablet is taken orally and approved for relapsing-remitting and secondary-progressive forms of MS . It's an immune-modulating therapy that helps reduce both relapses and progression of disability.Is DMT good for MS? ›
Disease modifying therapies (DMTs) aren't a cure for MS, but they can reduce how many relapses someone has and how serious they are. They can also slow down the damage caused by relapsing multiple sclerosis that builds up over time.What happens if you don't treat MS? ›
Treatments for MS can also help reduce the likelihood of a relapse, but they don't help make relapses less severe. If you stop taking your MS medication, you're more likely to relapse. And if left untreated, MS can result in more nerve damage and an increase in symptoms.What is the best treatment for multiple sclerosis? ›
This humanized monoclonal antibody medication is the only DMT approved by the FDA to treat both the relapse-remitting and primary-progressive forms of MS . Clinical trials showed that it reduced relapse rate in relapsing disease and slowed worsening of disability in both forms of the disease.
- Lemtrada® (alemtuzumab)
- Novantrone® (mitoxantrone)
- Ocrevus® (ocrelizumab)
- Tysabri® (natalizumab)
IFNBs, GA, teriflunomide, and dimethyl fumarate are considered first-line therapies, while natalizumab, alemtuzumab, are mitoxantrone are second-line or third-line drugs. Fingolimod is approved as a second-line treatment in the EU and as first-line in the United States, Canada and other countries.
Research has found that lion's mane may protect against dementia, reduce mild symptoms of anxiety and depression and help repair nerve damage. It also has strong anti-inflammatory, antioxidant and immune-boosting abilities and been shown to lower the risk of heart disease, cancer, ulcers and diabetes in animals.How does Ayahuasca affect the brain? ›
 concluded that religious use of ayahuasca “does not adversely affect neuropsychological functioning and may have positive effects on substance abuse and mood”.Are psychedelics approved by FDA? ›
The FDA has encouraged this research by granting “Breakthrough Therapy” status, a designation that accelerates the path to drug approval, to the study of multiple psychedelic drugs. In 2019, the FDA approved 1 of these drugs, esketamine, as a therapy for treatment-resistant depression.Is DMT legal in Texas? ›
MDMA — Also known as “Ecstasy” or “E” is a penalty group 2 drug under Texas laws and also could result in serious criminal penalties. DMT — Hallucinogenic substance known as “dimethyltryptamine,” and also called a “Businessman's Trip” or “Fantasia”Is DMT legal in Canada? ›
In Canada, it is illegal to import, possess, sell, distribute, or administer ayahuasca. Not only DMT, but also harmalol and harmaline (which is different from other countries) are classified as Schedule III drugs under the 1996 Controlled Drugs and Substances Act.Why did the FDA ban psychedelics? ›
LSD was first banned in the mid-1960s in California, in response to media reports of 'bad trips', psychoses, accidental deaths and suicides among users (Siff, 2015).Can psychedelics treat trauma? ›
Psychedelic drugs are among the most promising treatments for people with conditions like PTSD and severe depression.Which hallucinogen is currently approved by the FDA for treatment of severe depression? ›
In October 2018, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) granted Breakthrough Therapy designation to psilocybin for the treatment of major depressive disorder.What are street names for DMT? ›
DMT is also known as: "businessman's trip" "fantasia"
In particular, Health and Safety Code Section 11377 forbids the possession for personal use of any “material, compound, mixture, or preparation” containing DMT, which ordinarily is classified as a misdemeanor punishable by up to one year in the county jail unless the person has certain aggravating “priors.”
DMT stands for N, N-Dimethyltryptamine. It is a powerful psychedelic drug, with serotonergic effects on the human brain, which can induce a rapid and intense psychedelic experience, often referred to as a 'DMT trip'.What are the dangers of ayahuasca? ›
When taken by mouth: Ayahuasca is possibly unsafe. Ayahuasca contains chemicals that can cause hallucinations, tremors, dilated pupils, increased blood pressure, nausea, and vomiting. Life-threatening side effects and death have also been linked with ayahuasca use.Where can you get ayahuasca in the US? ›
- Ayahuasca Retreat California - Origen Sagrada.
- Ayahuasca Retreat Colorado - Origen Sagrada.
- Ayahuasca Retreat Florida - Soul Quest Ayahuasca Church.
- Ayahuasca Retreat Washington - Sacred Therapy.
- Ayahuasca Retreat New York - The Sanctuary - Shamanic Healing Center.
- Ayahuasca Retreat Kentucky - Aya Quest.