DMT or N,N-dimethyltryptamine (also called Dimitri or the spirit molecule) is a powerful psychedelic drug.1 DMT is found in many plant species and is also produced in small quantities by the human brain, although its natural function is still unknown.2 Pure DMT is most commonly vaporised in an oil vape pen or in an oil burner pipe (a.k.a. pizzo or pilo pipe), but it is also less commonly snorted or injected.1 When vaporised, DMT produces an intense and short psychedelic trip lasting 3-15 minutes with after-effects lasting up to an hour.1,3 During such a trip, people can experience intense visual hallucinations, dissociation of mind from body, profound realisations, and an inability to move or speak.1 While the trip only lasts a short time, it can subjectively feel like a long time.1 It’s best to have a sober person present to monitor the person who is vaporising DMT and to ensure they don’t hurt themselves, especially if they are using a lighter.
On its own, DMT does not work if ingested orally.1 This is because it is broken down by an enzyme called monoamine oxidase (MAO).1 However, when ingested alongside an MAO inhibitor (such as harmine, which is found in various plants), DMT becomes orally active and produces a psychedelic trip lasting 4-8 hours.1 When taken orally in this way, DMT acts more like typical psychedelics (e.g., psilocybin (https://www.cahma.org.au/article/safer-using-psilocybin/) and LSD).1
Ayahuasca is a psychedelic drink traditionally prepared by the indigenous peoples of the Amazon for religious and healing purposes.3 It consists of a plant containing DMT (Psychotria viridis, a.k.a. chacruna) and a plant containing MAO inhibitors (Banistereopsis caapi, a.k.a. yagé).4,5 In recent years, ayahuasca retreat centres in South America have attracted people from around the world seeking help with various mental health disorders as well as personal and spiritual growth. Ayahuasca has been observed to have rapid beneficial effects on depression, possibly in a similar way to psilocybin (https://www.cahma.org.au/article/safer-using-psilocybin/).5 Since many plant species contain DMT and MAO inhibitors, there are different variations of ayahuasca such as “aussiehuasca”, which is made using Australian plants, and “pharmahuasca”, which is made using pure chemicals.4
Pure DMT can be in the form of a yellow powder or yellow crystals.1 Dealers can cut DMT with other non-psychoactive or psychoactive substances without greatly changing its appearance. Hence, it’s impossible to verify the purity of DMT sold on the street by visual appearance. If you believe your DMT may be adulterated with another substance, consider testing it with reagent test kits at home (e.g., https://dancesafe.org/product/standard-set-of-6-testing-kits/) or by taking it to a drug checking site (https://www.cahma.org.au/services/cantest/).
Whether vaporised or ingested in ayahuasca, DMT has the potential to produce:1,3
Mood lift, euphoria.
Feelings of awe and astonishment.
Altered perception of space and time.
Profound religious and mystical experiences.
Intense visual hallucinations.
Dissociation of mind from body.
Difficulty speaking and moving around.
Ayahuasca is likely to cause nausea and vomiting, which is typically not the case for vaporised DMT.1
The effects of vaporised DMT are more intense than ayahuasca but only last 3-15 minutes with after-effects lasting up to an hour.1,3 After-effects can include a reduction in anxiety, an increase in anxiety, depersonalisation/derealisation, a lasting shift in perspective, and/or subtle alterations in perception.1 Ayahuasca, on the other hand, typically lasts 4-8 hours with after-effects lasting 2-3 hours.1
The following is a rough dosage guide for vaporised DMT:3
LOW DOSE – 10-15 mg
MODERATE DOSE – 15-25 mg
STRONG DOSE – 25-35 mg
HEAVY DOSE – 35+ mg
This dosage guide assumes that the DMT is vaporised 100% efficiently. DMT can be difficult to vaporise correctly and heating the DMT too much can cause it to burn and break down, producing a smoke that is harsh to inhale and potentially toxic.1
Dosing ayahuasca is more complex and depends on the MAO inhibitor that is being used.1
The experience of vaporised DMT can be incredibly intense and can cause panic for some people.1 If someone is experiencing panic on DMT, it can be beneficial to reassure them that the experience only lasts 3-15 minutes. It can be difficult to stand up or move on DMT, so ensure the person is sitting in a comfortable chair or lying down to prevent injury.
However, consider seeking medical attention if someone has taken DMT and is experiencing:7
Loss of consciousness.
Mixing DMT with other drugs can greatly increase the intensity of the experience and can increase the risk of negative side effects such as anxiety and panic. Some atypical antidepressants, such as tranylcypromine (Parnate), inhibit MAO and thus may cause the effects of DMT to become more intense and/or last longer.1,6
The MAO inhibitors present in ayahuasca may increase the potential for dangerous interactions with other drugs.8 Mixing ayahuasca with MDMA, prescription drugs, or some supplements (e.g., 5-HTP) may increase the risk of serotonin syndrome.7,8 More information on serotonin syndrome can be found here: https://www.cahma.org.au/article/safer-using-mdma/.
Chemically Extracting DMT
Sourcing DMT can be difficult, and some people choose to chemically extract it from DMT-containing plants.1 This involves the use of potentially dangerous chemicals including caustic reagents and organic solvents. Most people don’t have the necessary equipment to perform the extraction safely. The organic solvents used in the extraction process (e.g., shellite/naphtha or lighter fluid) are neurotoxic and require proper ventilation to prevent brain damage (such as a fume hood or respirator).9