- dimethyltryptamine (DMT) and hallucinations
- Dimethyltryptamine is also known as dimethyl-tryptamin, N,N-dimethyltryptamine, nigerin, nigerine, and nigerina. All six names are used more or less interchangeably to denote a hallucinogenic tryptamine belonging to the group of indole alkaloids. The substance DMT, or C12H16N2, is a derivative oftryptamine with two additional methyl groups at the amine nitrogen atom. Its chemical structure is related to that of the * hallucinogens psilocin and bufotenine, as well as to that of the neurotransmitter serotonin. Using the criterion of psychoactive potential as a guiding principle, DMT is usually classified as a * deliriant. It is believed to act as a partial agonist of 5-hydroxytryptamine or serotonin receptors. However, it is not clear whether this is also the working mechanism behind its hallucinogenic effect. DMT was first synthesized in 1931 by the German-Canadian organic chemist Richard Helmuth Fred Manske (1901-1977). The Brazilian ethnobotanist and chemist Oswaldo Gonçalves de Lima was responsible for the name nigerine. DMT was first isolated from the seeds of Anadenanthera peregrine in 1955, and soon afterwards it became clear that it occurs naturally in many plants and animals, as well as in humans. DMT is usually ingested via smoking, but it can also be taken orally (along with a monoamine oxidase (MAO) inhibitor to prevent early breakdown), as well as intravenously, intranasally, and rectally. Its hallucinogenic effects have a short duration, i.e. on the order of 10 min when smoked or snuffed, and around 45 min when injected. However, due to a *time distortion known as * protracted duration, the subjectively experienced duration of this time span tends to be much longer. The hallucinations evoked by the useofDMTareusually*visual, *compound or * panoramic in nature, typically displaying human and humanoid beings (such as aliens, fairies, and elves). These hallucinatory states are described as having an extraordinarily alien quality sometimes referred to as 'hyperdimensionality'. According to the German anthropologist and ethnopharmacologist Christian Rätsch (b. 1957), DMT is "easily the most powerful psychedelic known". The function of DMT when it occurs naturally within the human nervous system is not fully understood. As Rätsch comments, "Neurobiol-ogists are as yet uncertain about the role DMT might play in the nervous system. Hyperventilating causes the concentration of DMT in the lungs to increase. One physician has reported that the release of endogenous DMT is highest at the moment of death. It is my opinion that this chemical messenger is responsible for the ultimate shamanistic ecstasy, for enlightenment, and for the merging into the 'clear light of death'." A person intentionally employing DMT for the purpose of exploring the psyche may be called a * psychonaut.ReferencesBarker, S.A., Monti, J.A., Christian, S.T. (1981). N,N-dimethyltryptamine: An endogenous hallucinogen. International Review of Neurobiology, 22, 83-110.Rätsch, Chr. (2005). The encyclopedia ofpsy-choactive plants. Ethnopharmacology and its applications. Translated by Baker, J.R. Rochester, VT: Park Street Press.
Dictionary of Hallucinations. J.D. Blom. 2010.
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