N, N-dimethyltryptamine, or DMT, is a psychoactive drug quickly metabolized by the body. DMT naturally occurs in some plant species, such as Psychotria viridis, a shrub native to South America. DMT can also be formulated in a laboratory.
DMT is one of the main ingredients in Ayahuasca, a psychoactive tea prepared by shamans in the Amazon region of South America. Ayahuasca has been used as a spiritual and religious tool for centuries.
DMT was first synthesized in 1931 by Canadian chemist Richard Manske. DMT is sometimes synthesized as an illegal drug that can be smoked, injected, or swallowed.
In some cases, the effects of DMT are similar to dream states described by survivors of near-death experiences.
Can DMT Be Used Therapeutically?
Recent animal studies suggest that DMT could help encourage neurogenesis and neuroplasticity after traumatic brain injury.
Drug makers are working on developing and testing low-dose DMT drugs to help stroke patients. These types of treatments typically do not involve hallucinogenic experiences.
Research indicates that DMT can modify alpha and beta brain waves. Animal studies also show that DMT naturally occurs in the body, notably in the pineal gland. However, more clinical studies are needed to determine whether DMT is a viable therapy for mental health disorders.