DMT, Called the Spirit Molecule, Could Help People Process Trauma

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Like every other substance we’ve discussed in this series so far, DMT (N,N-Dimethyltryptamine) is currently a Schedule I substance in the United States. That means it’s illegal to possess or sell, and the U.S. Government does not recognize any medical uses for the compound while considering it to be of high risk for potential abuse.

The truth regarding DMT is much more complex. It has a profound impact on the human psyche, and many people find their experiences on this substance to be life-altering. Some people use DMT to find their place in the universe, while other people use it as a stepping stone in the complex process of healing from trauma.

Traditionally, DMT comes from an Amazonian shrub, Psychotria viridis. It is one of the most important ingredients in the ayahuasca brew used by healers from Central and South America. This shrub contains enough dimethyltryptamine to induce hallucinations. Combined with other plant sources, such as the Banisteriopsis caapi vine (aka the ayahuasca vine), the Psychotria viridis brew produces a psychedelic experience that can last several hours.

Ayahuasca brews typically also increases blood pressure and heart rate. It can sometimes lead to people re-living traumatic experiences, which can be difficult but potentially beneficial. For a proper ayahuasca or DMT experience, there should be trained professionals, such as shaman, there to guide the taker through the experience brought on by the compound.

Many people experience spiritual revelations while under the influence of DMT, such as realizing their purpose or finding their connection to the sacred. Others can use the experience to process old trauma. Some people experience violent vomiting or even diarrhea after taking ayahuasca, though some report that the physical purging works well with the spiritual and emotional processes that result.

DMT can help people dealing with mental wounds that won’t heal, those in need of some sort of liminal ritual, and those attempting to make a radical life change. When properly facilitated in a safe environment, the effects of DMT could help those with with treatment-resistant depression¬† and other serious mental and emotional health issues. Like many other hallucinogens and psychedelics, DMT has its potential uses curtailed and reduced by a drug policy that refuses to acknowledge the possible benefits it could offer individual users and society as a whole.

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Photo Credit: Terpsichore via Wikimedia Commons under CC BY-SA 3.0