What Is Changa? Effects, Dosage, Recipes & More

What Is Changa? Effects, Dosage, Recipes & More

Changa is a smoking blend that contains N,N-Dimethyltryptamine (DMT) and monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs). Changa can contain other herbs but DMT mixed with MAOIs is essential.

Smoking changa is becoming an increasingly popular way to use DMT. The more typical methods of consuming DMT are by vaporizing the crystalline substance on its own or orally (via ayahuasca). In human trials, researchers will typically administer DMT via intravenous (IV) injection, although intramuscular (IM) has been used as a route of administration as well.

Many psychonauts prefer changa over freebase DMT for several reasons. It can offer a different experience, which many find to be more pleasant. However, that’s not to say that a changa experience will necessarily be less profound. With the right dosage, you can still experience a ‘DMT breakthrough.’

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What Is Changa?

Changa (pronounced chang-ah) is a smoking blend of herbs infused with DMT. At its foundation, changa is a mix of naturally sourced DMT and Banisteriopsis caapi (otherwise known as simply caapi, or the ayahuasca vine). Often these two ingredients are mixed with other herbs.

Anyone who is familiar with ayahuasca will know that this psychedelic brew also contains DMT (contained in the leaves of Psychotria viridis) and caapi. The MAOIs in caapi (e.g. harmine and harmaline) allow the DMT in Psychotria viridis to be orally active. If the DMT were consumed without the addition of caapi, no psychoactive effects would occur.

Due to the presence of MAOIs, changa has been referred to as ‘smokable ayahuasca’. This does not mean that changa will deliver an experience exactly like ayahuasca. After all, oral DMT leads to a slower, more drawn-out experience. Smoking any drug will always lead to a faster onset and more short-lived effects. When you smoke changa, the lungs absorb the compounds directly, which then go straight to the brain.

Nonetheless, mixing DMT with MAOIs and other herbs in a smoking blend can synergize to create a unique effect. The purpose of changa is to offer users a more accessible way of smoking DMT than freebase DMT, ultimately making it easier to experience therapeutic benefits.

The main herb in changa is caapi, or the ayahuasca vine. Originally, changa consisted of a blend of herbs infused with DMT sourced from Acacia obtusifolia bark. This tree is native to Australia, which is where changa was invented. However, Mimosa hostilis is the source of DMT used in most changa blends today.

While you could theoretically use synthetic DMT to make changa, clandestine chemists don’t do so. This is because the process of synthesis is more time-consuming, difficult, and expensive than extraction.

Technically, any herb can be added to changa, and users around the world have their own preferred blends.

There is debate within the psychedelic community over what constitutes ‘true’ changa.

According to Julian Palmer, the Australian psychonaut who invented changa, true changa contains the ayahuasca vine. He writes, “Without ayahuasca in the changa, the ayahuasca will not truly activate the other herbs, the duration will not be the same, and the same smoothness will not be there.”

Nevertheless, some people use Peganum harmala (Syrian rue) in changa blends, as this plant, like caapi, also contains MAOIs.

The History Of Changa

Palmer invented changa in the early 2000s as an alternative way to smoke DMT. At that time, the shock of smoking freebase DMT crystal turned off many Australian users from the drug. The “shot out of the canon” freebase smoking experience terrified users. It felt too confusing to integrate.

Palmer wanted to create a more accessible DMT experience that would allow people to use the compound more regularly while also gaining more from it. He says that since 2001 he was thinking about new forms of DMT administration. Snorting, injection, and taking pharmahuasca pills weren’t appealing.

He writes: “So the smoking route was really the most obvious route to focus upon. I was inspired by hearing and reading of people infusing DMT into herbs, typically parsley, but also mullein and mint. Initial prototypes involved making joints of ayahuasca vine, then sprinkling DMT onto them and also making joints of mullein and peppermint and scraping goo into them. Then one time in December 2003, I infused DMT into caapi vine 1:1 or 50 percent DMT. When people told me that this blend was too strong, I added a blend of herbs, 1/3rd of which was ayahuasca and lowering the ratio of DMT to 25 percent, which I then called ‘smoking mix’.”

After he created this smoking blend, Palmer began spreading it to many different countries over a period of five years. He called this “missionary work”. He gave envelopes of changa to people at the first Entheogenesis Australis conference in Victoria, Australia in 2005, and also gave little bags of it to people at the first Amazonian Shamanism Conference in Iquitos, Peru that same year.

Palmer’s relationship with changa is different now.

In a piece for Vice titled “Meet the Man Who Brought DMT to the Masses”, Palmer tells Jack Revell, “Changa is my baby which has now grown into a teenager and I never really get to see it very often. It has its own life now, you know, I feel really detached from the whole phenomena.”

The Effects Of Changa

While the changa experience differs from the DMT experience in some important ways, you can still expect many of the same effects. Here are all the possible effects that may occur.

The Onset

This is the period when the very first subjective effects appear. DMT has a rapid onset, occurring within 20 seconds after smoking or vaporizing the compound. The first noticeable changes that occur during the onset may include the following:

  • Colors enhanced in your surroundings
  • Objects appearing more vivid
  • Seeing the appearance of geometric patterns around you
  • Hearing a high-pitched whining or whirring sound
  • Pre-trip anxiety melting away

The Come Up

The come up phase of a DMT trip is the period between the first noticeable subjective or perceptual changes and the point of greatest intensity. This stage occurs after 20 seconds to two minutes. When you are coming up on DMT, you will likely experience:

  • A gradual loss of bodily awareness
  • A high-pitched sound increasing in intensity
  • Objects in the environment morphing
  • The perception of more intricate and clearly defined geometric patterns. With eyes closed, these patterns can change at an incredible speed.
  • A desire to close your eyes and immerse yourself in the experience as the peak approaches
  • A sense of movement, like moving through a tunnel or moving upwards
  • The sense of breaking into an alternate reality

The Peak

The peak phase of the DMT trip is when the intensity of the compound’s effects reaches its height. This stage occurs 2-5 minutes into the trip. The peak is when the most notable features of the DMT experience occur. This is also the stage that can be the most difficult to remember. DMT’s peak effects tend to have some key aspects.

Traveling Through Hyperspace

You can have the feeling of traveling through an alternate reality, which users describe as “hyperspace”. This different realm may take on the appearance of a circus, carnival, casino, room, temple, cathedral, mosque, futuristic or hi-tech environment, or alien world.

Hyperspace is a place astonishingly complex and extraordinary. Many users say it is ineffable, meaning that it is impossible to adequately describe it in words. Language simply cannot do it justice.

Some features of hyperspace may include distinctive geometric patterns and alien writing on surfaces, as well as unusual objects. You might also have the sense of traveling through this realm at an incredible speed or the realm itself changing rapidly.

Meeting Strange Entities

You may come into contact with strange entities (known as DMT elves). These entities may look like alien creatures, insects, elves, jesters, clowns, or circus entertainers. Some people who smoke changa may also feel they come into contact with ‘Mother Ayahuasca’. There may be a single entity or many of them. They are known for being zany, friendly, loving, and inviting. They might have the intention of welcoming you to their world and wanting to show you around.

However, during a more challenging experience, these entities may appear hostile, both physically and in their demeanor and attitude toward your entry into the DMT realm. The entities, like hyperspace, are known to transform rapidly, as well as quickly come in and out of view. They might make odd gestures and want to interact or communicate with you.

Mystical Effects

Just as with other psychedelics, the peak is when you will tend to experience mystical subjective effects. These may include the following:

  • Out-of-body Experiences. You may have the feeling that your consciousness is separate from your body and exists in a different dimension.
  • Ego Death. This is when you lose the sense of personal identity. You can have awareness of what you’re experiencing without feeling there is a “you” that is experiencing it.
  • A Feeling of Oneness or Interconnectedness. This often accompanies ego loss; there is a sense of being everything, such as the totality of the experience or even the entire universe.
  • The feeling of Timelessness (a state of eternal existence)
  • The feeling of Spacelessness (the feeling of existing in a place that is infinite, sometimes described as “the void”)
  • A sense of the Sacred, Divine, or Holy; or the feeling of meeting “God”
  • Paradoxical Experiences (e.g. the feeling of being everything and nothing at the same time) Ineffability
  • The sense of gaining access to important truths about the nature of reality

Coming Down

The offset (or coming downs stage) of the DMT experience is the amount of time between the end of the peak and the return to your sober state. You can return to normal reality as quickly as you entered the DMT realm. During this phase, it is common to experience:

  • Regaining the sense of your body and the outside world
  • The return of your sense of self
  • A slowing down and fading away of the visual aspect of the DMT trip
  • Having the desire to open your eyes
  • Seeing the outside world distorted when you open your eyes
  • Strong feelings of awe, astonishment, and bewilderment about what you just experienced
  • Difficulty remembering what you experienced

After Effects

The after effects are the residual effects that may remain after the DMT trip is over. This is typically described as an “afterglow”, which may involve feelings like:

  • Positive mood
  • A sense of peacefulness and calm
  • Contentment
  • Gratitude

Can You Breakthrough On Changa?

A breakthrough DMT experience is when you’ve taken enough of the compound to enter ‘hyperspace’. This is considered a fully immersive experience in which you’re not aware of your body or the outside world. It’s as if your everyday reality has been completely replaced by an alternate one.

Palmer originally designed changa to offer sub-breakthrough experiences. The intention behind the blend was to provide a gentler way for people to approach the DMT experience. However, he notes that “the thing about sub-breakthrough experiences, is that they can be super intense as well.”

The benefit of changa is that you can take a small puff on a joint if you like, which will be enough to brighten colors and enhance your mood. You can then keep smoking the joint — or take a bigger hit of changa in a pipe or bong — if you want a more intense experience.

Breakthrough experiences are certainly possible with changa, however. You just need to get the dosage right.

Changa Benefits

There isn’t really much research on changa, as it’s a recent invention compared to ayahuasca and DMT.

Nonetheless, a 2019 case report published in the Journal of Psychedelic Studies found that changa can produce long-lasting pain relief. The researchers observed that changa interacts with several neurotransmitter systems to produce enhanced mood, as well as anti-inflammatory, neuroprotective, and plasticity-promoting effects.

Also, while many users find the DMT experience is less likely to be insightful and introspective than an ayahuasca journey, it can still lead to mental health benefits. Researchers are now exploring how DMT can be used in the treatment of depression.

In 2021, Imperial College London, in conjunction with Small Pharma, conducted the world’s first clinical trial for the treatment of depression using DMT.

Peter Rands, Small Pharma’s CEO, said: “Whereas a psilocybin session takes all day — and if you’re doing two or even more of those, that’s a large time commitment — a DMT session, all in, will probably take under two hours. We expect DMT to be rapid-acting, equivalent or perhaps even better than psilocybin, so within hours of a session you will get rapid relief [from your depression]. We also expect the effect to be sustained over a similar time period.”

Changa vs. DMT

There are several differences between changa and DMT experiences that are worth detailing. It is because of these differences that many users end up preferring to work with changa over DMT.

Changa Is Easier To Use

Since changa is a smoking blend, you can easily smoke it in the form of joints, in a pipe, or in a bong.

With freebase DMT, in contrast, you need to be a bit more skillful in how you use it. You don’t want to allow the flame of a lighter to touch the crystals directly, as this can burn them. The result will be harsh smoke (and wasted DMT). Instead, you want to vaporize the substance, which means applying heat (but not a direct flame).

You can vaporize DMT by sandwiching the crystals between layers of herb (e.g. parsley) in a bong. You can also use a glass pipe (commonly used for smoking crack cocaine or methamphetamine) or a specially designed vaporizing pipe called the VaporGenie.

Many users prefer to use changa because there is less chance of coughing (due to burning the DMT) and wasting the product. This results in a more pleasant smoking experience. It also means you will be more likely to achieve the desired psychedelic effects, as the smoke will likely be smoother and therefore easier to inhale.

The Changa Experience Lasts (Slightly) Longer

When you smoke changa, the resulting psychedelic effects will last for 10-15 minutes, with up to 45 minutes of “afterglow” effects. Freebasing DMT, on the other hand, will result in a slightly shorter experience, lasting up to 10 minutes, with a shorter “afterglow” period (up to 25 minutes).

Some people refer to changa as a smokable ayahuasca, but the duration is not similar to the psychedelic brew. When you drink ayahuasca, you can expect the experience to last 4-6 hours.

Your body processes changa, freebase DMT, and ayahuasca differently. The active compounds in ayahuasca take the longest to leave your system when ingested orally.

Changa offers the second-longest experience, due to the presence of MAOIs. However, a person will not ingest these orally. The active compounds make their way into the bloodstream through the lungs, which gives them faster access to the brain.

Freebase DMT contains DMT only. This means that there are no synergistic MAOIs that would amplify the effects of DMT. Hence, freebasing DMT provides the shortest possible experience.

The changa experience could be extended further by the use of more caapi or another MAOI-containing plant like Syrian rue. However, while this can lengthen the experience, the visions may be less impressive.

The Influence Of MAOIs On The Changa Experience

Smoking caapi along with DMT leads to a slower onset, peak, and offset compared to freebase DMT. When freebasing DMT, the psychedelic effects can build in intensity very quickly. In fact, these changes happen so quickly, that users often say it’s like being “shot out of a canon” or “blasting off” into another dimension.

When smoking changa, it is less likely you’ll experience the “blast off” or “flash” associated with freebase DMT. (Of course, if you take a high enough dose, you can still enter the DMT space rapidly.) Instead, the changa experience is often described as smoother and more grounded than the freebase DMT experience. Many users feel that the latter can be too fast-paced, chaotic, and confusing to make sense of and integrate.

Other Herbs May Influence The Changa Experience

There are other herbs commonly added to changa blends that may change the quality of the experience. For example, mullein is one common addition. This herb can have a soothing effect on bronchioles (tiny branches or air tubes in the lungs). This can make the blend easier to smoke and help you to hold the DMT in your lungs for longer.

Mullein has a long history of use for relieving coughs, which can occur if you smoke DMT on its own.

Damiana is another herb commonly used in changa blends. This herb contains a range of active compounds that can cause anti-anxiety, antidepressant, and stimulating effects. Since damiana can enhance mood, changa blends containing this herb may offer a more positive experience. However, this does not mean damiana (or any other herb) will reliably produce positive trips. Set and setting (your mindset and environment) are still crucially important.

Some changa blends contain passionflower. This herb can have a calming, anti-anxiety effect, which can help contribute to a smoother DMT experience. Mugwort, another possible herb used in changa recipes, can have a similar effect.

Nevertheless, you should be aware that many herbs used in changa blends can have side effects; these include mullein, damiana, passionflower, mugwort, and peppermint. These may cause physical side effects like nausea and headaches (although some of these herbs are used to relieve these issues).

Sam Woolfe

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.

Abid Nazeer

This post was medically approved by Abid Nazeer

Dr. Nazeer is the Founder and President of APS Ketamine/Advanced Psychiatric Solutions, which he established in 2016 as the first psychiatric outpatient ketamine clinic in Illinois. He is board certified in Psychiatry as well as Addiction Medicine. He completed his psychiatry residency at Louisiana State University Health Sciences in Shreveport where he held the role of Chief Resident. Dr. Nazeer is providing medical oversight to the growth plan of Wesana Clinics, with the model of comprehensive psychiatry clinics specialized ketamine and psychedelic therapies, integrated brain health and wellness centers, and technology utilization of Wesana Solutions remote patient monitoring product.

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