What Is 4-ACO-DMT, And Is It Legal?

What Is 4-ACO-DMT, And Is It Legal?

4-AcO-DMT (4-Acetoxy-N,N-dimethyltryptamine) is a synthetic psychedelic compound. People often refer to it as “synthetic mushrooms” due to it producing subjective effects nearly identical to those of psilocybin mushrooms. 4-AcO-DMT’s chemical structure is also similar to that of psilocin, the psychoactive compound that psilocybin turns into when processed by the body.

As a novel psychoactive compound, 4-AcO-DMT exists in a legal grey area in many countries. In some countries, the substance is legal while in others it is explicitly illegal.

This guide will explore various aspects of 4-AcO-DMT, including its chemistry, pharmacology, history, and effects. We will then look at the legal status of 4-AcO-DMT across the world.

What Is 4-AcO-DMT?

4-AcO-DMT is a tryptamine psychedelic, meaning it has the basic element of tryptamine known as the indole structure. Tryptamine itself is a compound that exists throughout nature. It is derived from the essential amino acid tryptophan.

Other tryptamine psychedelics include psilocybin, psilocin, ibogaine, bufotenin, DMT, and 5-MeO-DMT.

4-AcO-DMT is not found in nature. The drug can only be made in a lab.

How 4-AcO-DMT Causes A Psychedelic Experience

4-AcO-DMT is a structural analog of the psychedelic compound psilocybin, meaning they both have a similar chemical structure.

Like psilocybin, it is thought that 4-AcO-DMT acts as a prodrug to psilocin, meaning that when the body processes it, it breaks down into psilocin, which is responsible for magic mushrooms’ subjective effects. The psychedelic researcher David E. Nichols suggested this in 1999.

We don’t know how the body metabolizes 4-AcO-DMT. However, based on the chemistry and metabolism of similar tryptamines, it is reasonable to assume that this substance undergoes deacetylation in the body (where an acetyl group is removed from the molecule), forming psilocin.

From that point on, the psilocin would then bind to the serotonin 5-HT2A receptors in the brain. This results in psychedelic effects that many people find indistinguishable from those caused by shrooms.

It may be possible, nonetheless, that 4-AcO-DMT is psychoactive on its own. If so, when you ingest the compound, it would bind to serotonin receptors, including 5-HT2A receptors, eliciting a psychedelic effect. And this effect may be unique, different from psilocin in some way. Indeed, some users report that the 4-AcO-DMT experience is not exactly the same as the psilocybin experience.

The History of 4-AcO-DMT

Albert Hofmann and Franz Troxler first synthesized 4-AcO-DMT in the early 1960s. Sandoz, a Swiss chemical company that produced LSD (discovered by Hofmann), then patented 4-AcO-DMT in 1963. However, its subjective effects were not investigated at the time.

It is currently unknown when people first started using 4-AcO-DMT and exploring its psychedelic effects. Its recreational use peaked in the 2010s, which is when the drug appeared on the online research chemical market.

The Effects Of 4-AcO-DMT

As already mentioned, the effects of 4-AcO-DMT are similar (if not the same) as those induced by a mushroom trip experience.

Physical Effects

  • Sedation
  • Body feeling heavy
  • A body high characterized by a pleasurable, warm, soft tingling sensation
  • Tactile enhancement
  • Nausea
  • Excessive yawning
  • Pupil dilation

Visual Effects

  • Color enhancement
  • Objects appear to melt, flow, breathe, and morph
  • Color shifting (objects change colors)
  • Tracers (these are trails left behind moving objects, similar to those found in long exposure photography)
  • After images (visual perceptions which continue to appear in your vision after the exposure to the original image has ceased. For example, when moving your hand in front of your face, you may see an after image of your hand left behind)
  • Perspective distortions
  • The perception of geometric patterns
  • Internal visions: with eyes closed, you can perceive entities, landscapes, scenarios, and plots
  • External hallucinations

Auditory Effects

  • Enhancement
  • Distortion
  • Auditory hallucinations

Cognitive Effects

  • Novelty enhancement (a feeling of increased fascination, awe, and appreciation in relation to one’s external environment)
  • Creativity enhancement
  • Increased sense of humor
  • Thought loops (becoming trapped within a chain of thoughts, repeating itself over and over again)

Emotional Effects

  • Experiencing emotions more intensely
  • Swinging between different emotional states
  • Euphoria
  • Joy
  • Awe
  • Peacefulness
  • Contentment
  • Compassion
  • Anxiety
  • Fear

Mystical Effects

  • Ego dissolution
  • A sense of oneness or interconnectedness, perhaps the feeling of becoming one with the universe
  • A sense of the experience being sacred or holy
  • Encountering the “divine”
  • An experience of eternity or infinity
  • The feeling that the experience takes place outside of space and time
  • Ecstasy and bliss
  • Ineffability: being unable to adequately put the experience into words

Differences Between 4-Aco-DMT And Psilocybin

Despite many people claiming 4-AcO-DMT offers an identical experience to psilocybin mushrooms, others say there are differences between the two. And this could come down to the fact that these mushrooms contain other psychoactive compounds, not just psilocybin. Indeed, consuming magic mushrooms is very different from ingesting pure psilocybin by itself (which occurs pretty much exclusively in clinical trials).

The other psychoactive chemicals in magic mushrooms (baeocystin, norbaeocystin, norpsilocin, and aeruginascin) work together to produce the overall psychedelic experience.

For example, researchers have found that aeruginascin seems to modify the pharmacological action of psilocybin, contributing to a euphoric mood during the experience.

In the world of cannabis, this synergy is known as the entourage effect. Researchers have proposed that compounds in cannabis other than THC act synergistically with it, altering the subjective and medicinal effects. The various compounds in magic mushrooms may likewise result in an entourage effect.

Compared to magic mushrooms, some users report that 4-AcO-DMT does the following.

  • Lasts a little longer (around seven hours, rather than six)
  • Has a more relaxing quality to it
  • Is more likely to be euphoric, gentle, warm, and colorful
  • Involves a less emotional and visual experience
  • Is less likely to be jarring/scary
  • Has visuals reminiscent of DMT
  • Is less likely to produce nausea (which may be because you don’t have to ingest mushroom matter)

It is possible that these differences could be related to the entourage effect caused by other compounds contained in psilocybin mushrooms.

Nonetheless, it’s important to keep in mind that dosage, set, and setting play significant roles in the quality of psychedelic experiences as well.

The Benefits Of Using 4-AcO-DMT Over Psilocybin

The psychedelic researcher Dr. David Nichols suggested in a 1999 paper that 4-AcO-DMT could be a potentially useful alternative to psilocybin for research due to the lower cost of synthesis.

Many users may find 4-AcO-DMT preferable to psilocybin mushrooms because it’s easier to dose.

With magic mushrooms, you never know how much psilocybin or psilocin a particular batch will contain. Also, within a particular batch, some individual mushrooms may be more potent than others. This can result in unreliable dosing.

On the other hand, 4-AcO-DMT can weigh the precise dose a person wants. This would apply to pure psilocybin, too, but this is not really available unless you take part in a clinical trial.

Is 4-AcO-DMT Safe?

There is a lack of research on 4-AcO-DMT. There are no studies on the toxicity and long-term health effects of the substance. The exact toxic dose is also unknown. This is because 4-AcO-DMT is a research chemical with a very short history of human use.

People assume 4-AcO-DMT has a similar safety profile as psilocybin due to their chemical similarity, but there is no existing data to support this claim.

The Legal Status of 4-AcO-DMT

The legal status of 4-AcO-DMT is often ambiguous. Although the drug is federally unscheduled in the United States, manufacturing, distributing, or possessing the compound for human consumption violates the Federal Analogue Act. Nonetheless, prosecutions involving the substance are pretty much unheard of.

In the United Kingdom, since 4-AcO-DMT is an ester of psilocin, it’s a Class A substance by default under the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971. This means it potentially carries the harshest drug crime sentences. As a psychoactive substance, 4-AcO-DMT is also prohibited under the UK’s Psychoactive Substances Act 2016.

As an ester of psilocin, 4-AcO-DMT is similarly illegal by default in many other countries, including Australia, New Zealand, Germany, Italy, and Switzerland. 4-AcO-DMT is also a controlled substance in Brazil, Sweden, and Turkey.

However, the substance is legal in a number of other countries, including Canada, where many 4-AcO-DMT vendors are based.

What To Consider Before Trying 4-AcO-DMT

If you are thinking of taking 4-AcO-DMT, you should be aware that you may be taking an illegal substance. Moreover, since this substance does not have a long history of use like magic mushrooms, we don’t yet know its safety profile. Having said that, many users have used 4-AcO-DMT with no known ill effects.

As when using any other psychedelic, it’s important to pay attention to your dosage, set (what you are mentally bringing to the experience), and setting (where you have the experience and who you trip with).

Despite being a pure synthetic compound and not chemically identical to psilocybin, many people find that 4-AcO-DMT offers a trip that is more or less the same as a magic mushroom experience. It is possible to have a deep, profound, and transformative experience with 4-AcO-DMT. And since Nichols has suggested this drug could be used as an alternative to psilocybin, due to it breaking down into psilocin, 4-AcO-DMT also has the potential to treat the same mental health issues that psilocybin can treat, such as depression.

Finally, the differences between 4-AcO-DMT and psilocybin mushrooms highlight an exciting area of research: how the other compounds in shrooms may contribute to the overall psychedelic experience.

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Sam Woolfe

View all posts by Sam Woolfe

Sam Woolfe is a freelance writer based in London. His main areas of interest include mental health, mystical experiences, the history of psychedelics, and the philosophy of psychedelics. He first became fascinated by psychedelics after reading Aldous Huxley's description of the mescaline experience in The Doors of Perception. Since then, he has researched and written about psychedelics for various publications, covering the legality of psychedelics, drug policy reform, and psychedelic science.

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