Is 5-MeO-DMT the most potent psychedelic on the planet? This molecule is found in some plants and the venom of the Sonoran Desert toad (Incilius alvarius, formerly Bufo alvarius). Among other names, it’s called “The God Molecule” because of the intensity of its mystical experiences.

In his book How to Change Your MindMichael Pollan describes the experience of tripping on 5-MeO-DMT as “being on the outside of a rocket after launch.” It leads to radical shifts in consciousness, the dissolution of one’s ego, and radical transcendence, among other effects.

In this article, we’ll cover the ins and outs of 5-MeO-DMT, from how it makes people feel to what people should know about sourcing it sustainably. Ready to get acquainted? Let’s dive in.

What is 5-MeO-DMT?

5-MeO-DMT is a naturally-occurring chemical found in a variety of plants, fungi, and animals. 1 It’s best known as the psychoactive molecule in the venom of the Sonoran Desert toad, also known as the Colorado River toad.

The toad’s secretions are toxic to dogs and animals and can cause allergic reactions in humans (don’t lick toads, kids). However, that very same toad venom is psychoactive when it’s smoked. 2 3

5-MeO-DMT toad trips might sound strange, but the effects are mind-bending. This psychedelic can lead to profound mystical experiences, out-of-body experiences, and ego death, all in the space of about 30 minutes.

In comparison to other psychedelics, 5-MeO-DMT is a newer substance that is not and should not be conflated with N,N-Dimethyltryptamine (DMT). They look similar. They’re similar molecules. But they produce radically different experiences with completely different doses, which we’ll explore below.

5-MeO-DMT street names

What else is 5-MeO-DMT called? Here’s a list of a few common names for this psychedelic:

  • Five
  • Five-MeO
  • Five-methoxy
  • The God Molecule
  • The power
  • The toad
  • Toad venom

The history of 5-MeO-DMT

5-MeO-DMT was discovered relatively recently, but Indigenous peoples of South America have traditionally used psychoactive plants containing 5-MeO-DMT for thousands of years. 4

A 5-MeO-DMT plant source like Anadenanthera peregrina can be used to make a snuff called yopo.

5-MeO-DMT’s effects are different in these natural forms. The other compounds in these traditional preparations create hallucinogenic experiences that can last as long as four hours. In comparison, toad venom is higher in 5-MeO-DMT: it accounts for 15% of the dry weight of the glands on the toad’s neck and limbs. 3

In 1936, chemists Toshio Hoshino and Kenya Shimodaira synthesized 5-MeO-DMT. 5 The molecule was later identified in toads in 1967. 2 Texas-based Army vet, environmentalist, and independent researcher Ken Nelson is considered to be the first person to harvest venom from the Sonoran Desert toad and experience its effects. Nelson’s research is documented in his 1984 pamphlet Bufo Alvarius: The Psychedelic Toad of the Sonoran Desert, published under the penname Albert Most. 6

Today, 5-MeO-DMT is a Schedule I substance in the United States. It’s in the same category as heroin, LSD, and cannabis. However, researchers are investigating this drug’s potential to treat addictions and mood disorders, including depression and PTSD, and exploring synthetic varieties of 5-MeO-DMT to protect the Sonoran Desert toad.

How 5-MeO-DMT Works

Due to factors like its relative newness and drug scheduling, 5-MeO-DMT research remains in the early stages. However, we do know that 5-MeO-DMT is a derivative of tryptamine, a type of organic molecule found in nature.

According to animal models, 5-MeO-DMT primarily binds with serotonin receptors in the brain. Specifically, it binds to serotonin 5-HT receptors. 7 8 Serotonin is a neurotransmitter (a chemical messenger) that plays a role in complex processes like mood, cognition, and the way a person experiences their environment.

We don’t fully know how 5-MeO-DMT works in the brain (yet). Researchers speculate that its unique effects are partially due to the 5-HT2 receptors it favors, plus its effects on neurotransmitters like noradrenaline and dopamine. 9

Additionally, the body naturally breaks 5-MeO-DMT into bufotenine, another spinoff of tryptamine—but it’s not clear whether or not this compound has any effect on the psychedelic trip. 10

N,N-DMT vs. 5-MeO-DMT

It’s important to note that 5-MeO-DMT is not the same drug as DMT (also known as N,N-Dimethyltryptamine). Yeah, their names may look similar. They have similar chemical structures, but they’re entirely different drugs. They’re not interchangeable.

One reason is that 5-MeO-DMT is four to 10 times stronger than DMT.11 On the surface, these drugs have some features in common—both work relatively quickly and can cause an altered sense of space and time, out-of-body experiences, and emotional shifts.

However, 5-MeO-DMT is reportedly less “visual” than DMT. People report transcendent encounters in which they commune with a divine being, feel radical shifts in perception, and dissociate from their bodies.

Think fewer DMT elves, more spiritual experiences. Hey, it’s called “The God Molecule” for a reason.

Therapeutic Uses of 5-MeO-DMT

Like other psychedelic compounds, 5-MeO-DMT is being explored for its therapeutic potential in terms of treating mental health conditions like PTSD and depression, and supporting the emerging field of psychedelic psychotherapy.

In one study, researchers compared the effects of similar high doses of psilocybin and 5-MeO-DMT and found that 5-MeO-DMT caused more intense mystical effects. 12 full More intense mystical experiences are associated with the therapeutic effects of psychedelic treatment, and researchers speculate that 5-MeO-DMT’s effects (and quick duration) make it a better candidate for therapy than psilocybin. 12

Below, we’ll dig into a few notable studies that highlight the potential therapeutic benefits of 5-MeO-DMT. It’s worth noting that human research into 5-MeO-DMT is limited right now, so you’re going to see a lot of cell cultures, animal studies, and observational studies.

Because of the intensity of this drug, remember that harm reduction practices, set, setting, and integration are massively crucial for therapeutic benefits. Psychedelic drugs can provide transformative experiences, but they can also be dangerous on a mental and physical level.

It’s important to trip responsibly, which includes working with an experienced facilitator who can guide a person through their session and help them integrate afterward.

5-MeO-DMT for mental health

In 2019, researchers surveyed 362 people who had taken 5-MeO-DMT. Findings showed that 80% of respondents reported improvements in depression and anxiety.13 Those improvements were associated with more intense mystical experiences and higher ratings of spiritual significance.

In another 2019 study, 42 participants who took 5-MeO-DMT reported improved levels of life satisfaction and mindfulness, as well as lower levels of depression and anxiety. Those benefits lasted to the follow-up appointment one month later. 14

Other studies indicate that 5-MeO-DMT might help treat PTSD, as well as alcohol addiction in conjunction with ibogaine. 15 16

As we stated earlier, this is early research, which means these studies are meant to set up future research and potential clinical trials.

5-MeO-DMT for brain health

5-MeO-DMT might also work on the molecular level to change what’s happening in the brain.

In 2017, researchers analyzed the effect of 5-MeO-DMT on human neural cells and cerebral organoids (an artificially grown organ that resembles the human brain—science!). They found that 5-MeO-DMT molecules have anti-inflammatory properties, inhibited neurodegeneration and cell death, and enhanced connections between neurons.17

The following year, an animal study found that 5-MeO-DMT affects neurogenesis, which refers to the brain’s ability to adapt and change over time. In the study, a single dose of 5-MeO-DMT was shown to increase the number of cells, increase cellular lifespan, and speed up cells’ ability to mature and specialize in newborn mice. 18

Neurogenesis is connected to the antidepressant effects of psychedelics, and these findings might explain why compounds like 5-MeO-DMT have been shown to help improve people’s well-being after use.

Is there an entourage effect for 5-MeO-DMT?

You might have heard of the entourage effect in cannabis. This term refers to the idea that all of the cannabis plant’s botanical compounds, including THC, CBD, and terpenes, work together to produce a therapeutic effect that can’t be achieved if you isolate the compounds on their own.

Does the same logic apply to toads?

In terms of 5-MeO-DMT, there are two schools of thought. On the one hand, some people believe that the other compounds in toad venom, like DMT and bufogenin, work together to produce the mind-bending 5-MeO-DMT experience.

On the other hand, synthetic (made in a lab) 5-MeO-DMT is easier to precisely dose, and it’s identical to the 5-MeO-DMT molecule in toad venom. It also prevents the unethical mass-harvesting and milking of Sonoran Desert toads.

Unlike the compounds in cannabis, the concentrations of other compounds in toad venom are very, very low. A 2019 analysis of toad venom found that 25–30% consisted of 5-MeO-DMT. The samples contained low amounts of other tryptamines, like bufotenine (0.08–0.18%), DMT, and N-methylserotonin (0.01–0.03%). 14

Are those percentages enough to make a noticeable difference? We can’t say for sure. In a presentation at the World Bufo Alvarius Congress in 2019, chemist, filmmaker, and science journalist Hamilton Morris shared that there is no evidence that an entourage effect exists. As he explains, the comparison is like making a sauce out of “a bucket of habanero peppers” and adding one basil leaf to the mix. Is that basil leaf truly playing a big role?

Researchers have also stated that natural and synthetic 5-MeO-DMT offer the same psychedelic effects, and the latter option doesn’t involve harassing any toads. 14

The 5-MeO-DMT Experience

We’ve talked about what it is and how it works, but what does 5-MeO-DMT do to a person’s brain and body? Below, we’ll talk about the particulars of the 5-MeO-DMT experience, from how it feels to potential side effects and risks.

How does it feel?

Broadly speaking, 5-MeO-DMT can cause the following effects that are heavily dependent on set, setting, dose, administration, and the individual:

  • Dissociation from mind and body
  • The dissolution of ego (“ego death”)
  • Mood shifts, ranging from euphoria to fear
  • Change in perceptions of time and space
  • Profound mystical experiences, such as a sense of unity with the universe or communing with a divine being
  • Loss of physical coordination and control
  • Auditory hallucinations
  • Memory loss

Remember when we mentioned that 5-MeO-DMT isn’t the same thing as DMT? That’s particularly true in the way it makes a person feel.

DMT is known for its visual effects, like DMT elves and vivid hallucinations. 5-MeO-DMT is different, causing more inward-facing experiences that can feel like an out-of-body experience, the sensation of dying and rebirth, or an encounter with a divine being (or all of the above).

Let’s take a closer look at “ego death,” which sounds concerning. It’s actually a pretty established effect of psychedelics. Ego death is defined as “a complete loss of subjective self-identity” and “merging into the surrounding environment or the entire universe.” 19 Researchers believe that dissolving one’s ego dissolution is associated with marked improvements in mental health, including mindfulness and satisfaction with life. 20

That said, 5-MeO-DMT’s intense effects mean that it shouldn’t be taken lightly. A mystical experience can turn sour with the wrong set and setting, not to mention the presence of other substances in a person’s system. It’s best to work with an experienced facilitator who can effectively set a person up for success with the appropriate guidance before, during, and after their session.

What does it smell and taste like?

The smell and taste of 5-MeO-DMT depend on how it’s prepared. Writer and researcher John Semley described 5-MeO-DMT smoke as smelling “vaguely of shoe leather.” 21 The psychoactive brew ayahuasca, which contains 5-MeO-DMT and DMT, is generally described as viscous and bitter.

How long do the effects last?

5-MeO-DMT is fast-acting. Depending on how it’s taken, the effects can last anywhere from 10 to 45 minutes.

When smoked or vaped, 5-MeO-DMT’s effects peak at 2 to 5 minutes, last 15 to 20 minutes, and return to baseline by 30 minutes. When it’s insufflated (snorted), the onset is 5 to 7 minutes, and the experience lasts up to 45 minutes. 22

How long 5-MeO-DMT stays in your system

5-MeO-DMT is a less common psychedelic, and there aren’t many studies on how the body processes it.

The effects of 5-MeO-DMT last as long as 45 minutes, but researchers aren’t yet sure how long it takes for the body to eliminate the drug fully.

Modes of administration

  • Inhalation (smoked or vaporized)
  • Intravenous (IV) or intramuscular (IM) injection
  • Sublingual (under the tongue)
  • Intranasal (insufflated)

5-MeO-DMT can be taken orally, but its effects are only active when the molecule is paired with a MAO inhibitor (as one would get with an ayahuasca brew).22

5-MeO-DMT dosage

The dosage of 5-MeO-DMT heavily depends on how it’s taken, and it’s important to note that the recreational doses are generally smaller than those of DMT. 22

  • Inhaled: ~6–20 mg
  • IV injection: ~0.7–3.1 mg
  • IM injection: ~5–10 mg
  • Oral: ~10–30 mg

Because 5-MeO-DMT is so powerful, it’s generally suggested that a person starts on the lower end of the dosage range. When vaporized, a light dose is approximately 3–6 mg, and a light insufflated dose is approximately 5–8 mg. 23

Coming down from 5-MeO-DMT

A person’s comedown experience can vary after using 5-MeO-DMT, depending on factors like set, setting, administration, and the presence of other substances in their system.

Some people experience a gradual sensation of returning to their mind and body. Others have trouble remembering the details of their trip and may experience intense shifts in mood, including anxiety and confusion, during their comedown phase.

5-Meo-DMT Side Effects and Risks

Like other psychedelics, 5-MeO-DMT has particular side effects and risks that should not be taken lightly. It’s associated with the following side effects: 22

  • Intense emotions, such as fear, sadness, and confusion
  • Crying
  • Paranoia
  • Shaking and/or trembling
  • Vomiting and/or nausea
  • Headache
  • Pressure or weight in chest or abdomen
  • Loss of body perception
  • Memory loss
  • Flashbacks (also known as reactivations)

A note on that last bullet: Some people may experience a phenomenon called “flashbacks” or “reactivations” after taking 5-MeO-DMT. This phenomenon refers to the spontaneous re-experiencing of some of the effects of their trip. Flashbacks may be more common with higher doses that are vaped, rather than injected intramuscularly. 24, 25

Like DMT, 5-MeO-DMT can increase the risk of serotonin syndrome. Characterized by symptoms like irregular heartbeat, high blood pressure, and loss of muscle coordination, this potentially lethal condition happens when too much serotonin builds up in the brain.

People who take large doses of 5-MeO-DMT and/or combine it with other drugs that operate on serotonin receptors (like SSRIs, a form of antidepressant medication) are at a higher risk of serotonin syndrome. 26

5-MeO-DMT contraindications

“Contraindications” are conditions or situations that are good reasons not to take 5-MeO-DMT. It’s best to stay in communication with a healthcare professional before a person tries 5-MeO-DMT or considers changing their medications.

5-MeO-DMT is sometimes combined with monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs) like harmaline or harmine to enhance its effects, but this combination can also be lethal, especially if a person is already taking drugs with MAOIs or RIMAs (reversible monoamine oxidase inhibitors).

Psychedelics may increase heart rate, which is a concern for people who have a history of cardiovascular conditions. Additionally, 5-MeO-DMT’s psychedelic effects may be triggering for people who have psychological conditions like schizophrenia or bipolar disorder.

Like DMT, 5-MeO-DMT can interact with other drugs, prescriptions, herbal medicines, and over-the-counter medications that contain MAOIs, such as:

  • Amphetamines
  • Asthma inhalers
  • Barbiturates
  • Carbamazepine
  • Certain antihypertensive medications
  • Cocaine
  • Cold medications
  • Decongestants and allergy medications
  • Diet pills
  • Dopamine
  • Levodopa
  • MDMA
  • Methylphenidate
  • Meperidine
  • Opiates
  • Sympathomimetic amines

How to Prepare for your Session

If you’re going to take 5-MeO-DMT, follow your guide’s recommendations. Generally, here are a few ways to prepare:

  • Work with a trusted facilitator
  • Have a trip sitter
  • Limit stressors
  • Trip in a safe, secure setting
  • Wear comfortable clothing
  • Avoid taking other substances

Work with a trusted facilitator

Whether you call them a guide, shaman, or facilitator, they should have experience administering 5-MeO-DMT. Your facilitator should also be able to explain what you should expect from your session, how to prepare, and how to integrate your experience into your daily life.

Have a trip sitter

A trip sitter is a sober person who remains with you throughout your session. It’s heavily recommended that if you’re going to use 5-meO-DMT or any other psychedelic, you have a trip sitter with you for your health and safety. Here’s why: Because it’s common to lose mind-body connection during a trip, you’ll want someone who can remain aware of you and your surroundings for you.

Limit stressors

“Mindset” is the “set” part of “set and setting,” and it’s a crucial part of preparing for your session. Some people will avoid stressful media and interactions in the time leading up to their session. Do what you need to do to feel calm, comfortable, and open to the experience.

One easy tip: Get a good night’s sleep.

Trip in a safe, secure setting

You might have heard of people tripping in nature, but it’s safest for first-time experiences should be pursued in a safe, secure environment to reduce the risk of injury.

That means no sharp corners, no access to streets or doors, and limited visual and auditory intrusions so you can focus on the experience, not your surroundings.

Wear comfortable clothing

You’re likely going to be on your back during your session, so pick comfy clothing that you wouldn’t mind lounging in. Sweats, pajamas, or your chicest athleisure wardrobe? It’s all fair game.

Avoid taking other substances

Although some people will combine 5-MeO-DMT with other drugs recreationally, this opens you up to potentially dangerous drug combinations and is not recommended.

Suggested protocols

Regardless of the mode of administration, start with a lower dose of 5-MeO-DMT.

In some cases, facilitators will provide separate doses over an extended period. This process allows first-time participants to feel out the experience and build up to the full dose without going all-in on the first puff.

5-MeO-DMT retreat settings may also schedule sessions around complementary practices like breathwork, yoga, and meditation.

Is 5-MeO-DMT Legal?

5-MeO-DMT is a Schedule I controlled substance in the United States, which means it’s illegal.

Plants that contain 5-MeO-DMT can fall into a legal gray area. Banisteriopsis caapi and Psychotria viridis are commonly used to make the psychoactive brew ayahuasca. The plants are legal to possess, but they also contain large amounts of DMT and smaller amounts of 5-MeO-DMT.

Additionally, the Sonoran Desert toad is a threatened species in New Mexico, which means it’s illegal to hunt, kill, capture, or harm our psychedelic toad friends.

How to Get 5-MeO-DMT

People report getting this psychedelic from online sources, guides, and 5-MeO-DMT retreat facilitators, among other sources.

Although 5-MeO-DMT’s roots come from Sonoran Desert toad venom, Incilius alvarius is a threatened species, and the harvesting process can be harmful to both the toads and their habitats. The sustainable solution is to opt for synthetic 5-MeO-DMT.

How to avoid scams and tourist traps

As psychedelics increase in popularity and 5-MeO-DMT retreats become more common, we can expect scams and unethical practices to become more common, too. Here are some tips to avoid scams:

  • Shamans and guides who claim 5-MeO-DMT is part of ancient tradition are either archeologists or hustlers. Unlike other psychedelic substances, 5-MeO-DMT and the Sonoran Desert toad have no known roots in Indigenous rituals.
  • Ask for granular details about how the guide sources their psychedelic substances and structures their sessions. Do they use synthetic 5-MeO-DMT that is lab-tested? Do they remain in the room during the entire session? Are they trained in harm reduction practices and recovery techniques?
  • Speak with people who have worked with the facilitator before. How was their experience, including any preparation instructions and subsequent integration?
  • Is the facilitator educated about potential contraindications, such as MAOIs and SSRIs?

Personal stories

Mike Tyson on Smoking DMT – ESPN

Former professional boxer Mike Tyson experienced a spiritual awakening after smoking DMT derived from the Sonoran Desert toad. “My whole life changed. It sounds like a movie script, but it’s the real deal,” he said.

I Wanted Ego Death. This Powerful Psychedelic Gave It To Me. – Buzzfeed News

Writer and researcher John Semley reports on his experience taking synthetic 5-MeO-DMT at a retreat in Tepoztlán, Mexico, from the initial preparation instructions with facilitators Joël Brierre and Victoria Wueschner to his experience smoking the drug. “There was a feeling of no longer existing, maybe. ‘I’ had gone offline. But I also felt more alive and aware than maybe ever before. I felt unconditionally loved. As my mind melted, my priorities clarified,” he writes.

My 5 MeO DMT experience – words fail me – Adeptus Psychonautica

Rob, a self-proclaimed skeptic of “New Age stuff,” publishes videos about plant medicines and psychedelic experiences. In this video, he explains his experience after taking 5-MeO-DMT, including his sense of dissociation to the way the trip compares to DMT. “It was just me, in the vastest sense of me,” he says.

5-MeO-DMT Frequently Asked Questions

Is bufotenin the same as 5-MeO-DMT?

No. The body does metabolize 5-MeO-DMT into bufotenin, and bufotenin is psychoactive on its own. However, they’re not interchangeable.

Bufotenin’s effects are uncomfortable, to say the least. In a 1955 study, researchers found that injections of bufotenin caused vomiting, nausea, and tightness in the chest, among other effects. 27

Is 5-MeO-DMT addictive?

5-MeO-DMT has a low potential for addiction. It’s possible to become addicted to the feeling that it provides if someone is using the drug to escape reality. However, 5-MeO-DMT is not associated with physical dependence or withdrawal. 10

How do I test 5-MeO-DMT to make sure it’s safe?

Use a drug testing reagent (like Hoffman, Mecke, or Ehrlich reagents) to confirm you’re dealing with the right substance and rule out the presence of dangerous contaminants. Test Kit PlusDanceSafe, and Elevation Chemicals are available online.

Is this the same drug as 5-MeO-MiPT, 5-MeO-DALT, 5-MeO-DiPT, etc.?

No. Although 5-MeO-DMT shares a few letters and numbers in common with other tryptamines, these are separate compounds with varying effects and doses.

Can I make 5-MeO-DMT?

For the sake of protecting toads and their habitats, we don’t recommend getting 5-MeO-DMT from the Sonoran Desert toad venom. For informational purposes only, chemist Hamilton Morris demonstrates how to synthesize 5-MeO-DMT in a controlled lab setting.

There is a lot of room for error and synthesizing any drug can get you into legal trouble, so don’t make 5-meO-DMT yourself. 

Can I microdose with 5-MeO-DMT?

It’s possible to microdose with 5-MeO-DMT, but results may vary. 5-MeO-DMT is a powerful psychedelic, and people can have intense reactions on low doses.

When vaporized, a threshold dose is approximately 1-2 mg, and a threshold insufflated dose is 3–5 mg. A microdose is lower than a threshold dose.

Can I mix 5-MeO-DMT with alcohol or other drugs?

5-MeO-DMT shouldn’t be mixed with other substances. Alcohol can increase your risk of vomiting and choking. Additionally, 5-MeO-DMT can interact with herbal medicines, other drugs, over-the-counter medications, and prescriptions that contain monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs) or reversible monoamine oxidase inhibitors (RIMAs).

Can I overdose on 5-MeO-DMT?

The exact toxic dose of 5-MeO-DMT is unknown. This drug has not been studied as heavily as other psychedelics, so we don’t know if it’s possible for humans to overdose on 5-MeO-DMT.

In the event of a health crisis, call 911.

Final Thoughts

5-MeO-DMT is an intensely powerful, fast-acting psychedelic. Also known as the God Molecule, this drug can cause profound mystical experiences, dissociation, and ego death, among other effects. Early studies suggest that 5-MeO-DMT has therapeutic applications for mood disorders and brain health, but more research is needed to fully understand 5-MeO-DMT’s applications in clinical settings.




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