DMT Therapy: Short Journeys, Long-lasting Effects. But is it Too Fringe?
Dimethyltryptamine, commonly known as DMT, and its cousin 5-MeO-DMT, are often categorized together because of the way you take them. Will DMT therapy become as common as ketamine treatment, magic mushroom, or other psychedelic-assisted therapies?
Unlike most common psychedelics, people smoke DMT and 5-MeO-DMT. (People put LSD on their tongue, inject ketamine, and swallow MDMA.)
Because individuals inhale DMT and 5-MeO-DMT directly into their lungs, these substances rapidly enter the bloodstream in significant quantities. With this powerful delivery system, DMT and 5-MeO-DMT stun and amaze. People see characters, impossible fractals, or infinite white light.
At festivals and campgrounds, friends wow each other with a wild trip you can’t fully describe. Whole subcultures online, like the DMT Nexus, celebrate and explore their astounding power.
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For more than a half century, these lesser-known, smoked psychedelics have stayed largely on the edges of mainstream culture. Smoking psychedelics is “generally not a pharmaceutically-acceptable approach,” a research paper said. Modern medicine does not use pipes.
Recently, scientists and therapists have looked beyond the stigma, and found new avenues for these smoked psychedelics. Clinical trials are testing the potential for DMT and 5-MeO-DMT-assisted therapy to change lives in the long run, helping people deal with the troubles and suffering of everyday life. (You know, the part of life without four-dimensional time-traveling cubes.)
Can these two powerful, smoked medicines find a place helping with therapy, alongside MDMA and psilocybin? Or will their intensity and otherworldliness keep them on the fringe?
What is DMT Therapy?
Given its relatively recent emergence in Western medicine, the effectiveness of DMT or 5-MeO-DMT-assisted therapy is still under investigation. However, early clinical trials and anecdotal reports suggest that, when used responsibly and under appropriate supervision, these drugs have the potential to offer profound insights and emotional release for patients.
Therapy involves administering these compounds within a controlled environment, often under the supervision of a trained therapist, to address various psychological and emotional issues.
The drugs’ rapid onset and short duration (often lasting only about 10 to 40 minutes) make them unique when compared to psilocybin or LSD, which last about 5 and 10 hours, respectively. These brief but intense journeys allow patients to quickly return to a normal state of consciousness, making it more manageable within the context of a traditional therapy session, requiring less time from the therapists, nurses and doctors.
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DMT Therapy for PTSD and Depression
One of the areas gaining significant interest regarding therapy with DMT is its potential application for depression and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
GH Research, a pharmaceutical company, has been actively exploring 5-MeO-DMT’s potential therapeutic benefits. Their studies have shown promising results, hinting at the compound’s efficacy in treating depression.
Meanwhile, Small Pharma is at the forefront of researching DMT, with their studies currently in phase 2a of clinical trials, with promising results for treating major depressive disorder.
Approximately 70-80% of the participants in both trials have had remission from their depression.
Is DMT Therapy Effective?
Researchers from Imperial College London conducted a noteworthy study that delved into the potential therapeutic effects of DMT. They published their study in the journal “Frontiers in Psychiatry” in 2019, where they examined the psychological and physiological impacts of DMT in a controlled environment.
The researchers discovered that participants who were administered DMT recounted profound mystical experiences, enhancements in mood, and heightened mindfulness. However, it’s important to note that the study primarily centered on other aspects rather than therapeutic outcomes, and additional research is necessary to establish definitive conclusions about the therapeutic effectiveness of DMT.
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My Exploration with DMT Therapy
Smoking DMT or 5-MeO-DMT are among the most overpowering things I’ve ever done.
The first time I vaporized and inhaled some 5-MEO-DMT, I went into a panic thinking, “Welp, I did it this time, I’m dead.” Then I merged with a white light. I emerged with a sense that I had reduced my fear of death about 10%, something I don’t say lightly.
My initial exploration with DMT was nothing short of mystical. I heard from Terence Mckenna that the primary danger of ingesting DMT was “Death by Astonishment.” Then I managed to get my hands on some. (Later I would learn how to extract it myself.) Using a specialized vape pen, I perched atop a hill, gazing over fields and mountains. Low doses transported me into a Van Gogh painting, with the world adopting his signature swirls. Higher doses transcend the ordinary. Eyes closed, I ventured through resplendent fractals and eventually met a radiant entity reminiscent of a phoenix god.
Over the years, my explorations deepened.
More than just visual grandeur, DMT connected me to profound gratitude, reminding me of the blessings life had bestowed.
Some companions, more seasoned in the DMT realm, stress the significance of setting intentions. They believe that asking the DMT for guidance can render the experience even more enlightening.
What Does DMT Therapy Cost?
The cost of therapy with DMT or 5-MeO-DMT can vary significantly depending on various factors, including the region, practitioner, and specific treatment protocols used. For those looking to experience 5-MeO-DMT/Bufo ceremonies, these can often be accessed legally in Mexico, typically costing between $400-$1,000.
Ceremonies with smoked DMT are less common.
As pharmaceutical companies like GH Research and Small Pharma pave the way with their clinical trials, and these therapies continue to gain traction in the medical community, it’s possible insurance will eventually cover these drugs, and we will see more affordable pricing emerge.
The Breakdown of the Potential Pros and Cons of DMT Therapy
|Pros of DMT Therapy: Prospective Benefits||Cons of DMT Therapy: Potential Risks|
|Neuroplasticity: DMT might enhance neuroplasticity, which could aid in rewiring maladaptive thought patterns.||Perceptual Distortions: DMT can cause vivid hallucinations and distortions of reality, which might be disorienting for some individuals.|
|Psychological Insight: DMT therapy can provide profound insights into one’s psyche, potentially aiding in self-discovery and personal growth.||Psychological Distress: DMT experiences can sometimes lead to intense psychological distress, including anxiety, paranoia, and panic attacks.|
|Spiritual Exploration: DMT experiences are often described as spiritually profound, offering individuals a sense of connection and meaning.||Bad Trips: There’s a risk of having a “bad trip,” characterized by overwhelming fear, negative emotions, and traumatic experiences.|
|Therapeutic Potential: DMT therapy is being explored for its potential in treating conditions like depression, PTSD, and addiction.||Physical Health Risks: DMT can increase heart rate and blood pressure, potentially posing risks to individuals with heart conditions.|
|Rapid Onset: DMT’s rapid onset can provide quick therapeutic insights, potentially saving time compared to traditional therapies.||Integration Challenges: Integrating intense DMT experiences into daily life can be challenging and may require additional therapy.|
|Reduced Fear of Death: Some individuals report reduced fear of death and a greater acceptance of mortality after DMT experiences.||Legal and Ethical Concerns: The legal status of DMT therapy is uncertain in many places, raising ethical and legal dilemmas.|
|Personal Transformation: DMT therapy may facilitate transformative experiences that lead to long-term positive changes in attitudes and behaviors.||Lack of Long-term Studies: Long-term effects of DMT therapy are not well-studied, so potential risks and benefits remain speculative.|
About DMT and 5-MeO-DMT
DMT and 5-MeO-DMT are naturally occurring compounds found in various plants and even in some animals. In its purified form, DMT is a yellowish to white powder that smells like mothballs. DMT is typically extracted from mimosa hostilis root bark. The process can be done by anyone with a kitchen.
5-MeO-DMT can be sourced from the venom of the Bufo alvarius toad. More often–and happier for the toads–5-MeO-DMT is synthesized in a lab from common chemicals.
Distinguishing 5-MeO-DMT from DMT Therapy
While both 5-MeO-DMT and DMT share a similar structural foundation, their effects are wildly different.
In the Amazonian shamanic brew ayahuasca, DMT serves as the active ingredient, usually present in the form of the chacruna leaf. The MAOI present in the ayahuasca vine makes the DMT bioavailable. When smoked, DMT induces intense visual and auditory hallucinations, powerful emotions, and altered perceptions of time and space. DMT often presents as a colorful, vibrant voyage filled with intricate geometric patterns and sometimes entities or beings.
5-MeO-DMT, though also brief, provides a more unifying and expansive experience, frequently described as immersing oneself in an ocean of white light or sensing a profound connection to “everything.” This variant is less about the visuals and more about the deep sense of interconnectedness and transcendence, as well as “psychological flexibility” and “emotional breakthrough,” according to a research paper.
A Future as Vast as the Mystical Realm
As the world of psychedelic therapy continues to expand, DMT and 5-MeO-DMT stand out for their unique properties and potential benefits. With ongoing research and an increasing understanding of their therapeutic potential, these medicines might soon become a standard tool in the arsenal of mental health professionals.