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Dimethyltryptamine (Molecule of the Month for January 2006)

DMT, Harmala - monoamine oxidase inhibitor (MAOI), ayahuasca

Dimethyltryptamine is a hallucinogenic indole. It also occurs naturally in many species of plants. DMT-containing plants are used in several South American shamanic practices. It is one of the main active constituents of snuffs like yopo and of the potion ayahuasca. DMT is a powerful psychoactive substance. If DMT is smoked, injected, or orally ingested with an MAOI, it can produce powerful entheogenic experiences including true hallucinations (perceived extensions of reality). A trip sitter is often employed to assist the drug user stay physically and mentally healthy, and, in the case of smoked DMT, to catch the pipe when the user loses awareness of it. Induced DMT experiences can include profound time-dilation, time travel, journeys to paranormal realms, and encounters with spiritual beings or other mystical/trans-dimensional modalities that, by most first hand accounts, defy verbal or visual description.

DMT, which is broken down by the digestive enzyme monoamine oxidase, is inactive if taken orally, unless combined with a monoamine oxidase inhibitor (MAOI). Harmala is ofen used as an MAOI to facilitate the oral ingestion of DMT and other tryptamines; it is also hallucinogenic on its own.

DMT is classified in the United States as a Schedule I drug and in the United Kingdom as a Schedule I/Class A drug. In Brazil there are a number of religious movements based on the use of Ayahuasca, as part of shamanistic rituals and these were legalized recently.

Formal Chemical Name (IUPAC)




Picture of Dimethyltryptamine 3D model

click on the picture of  Dimethyltryptamine above to interact
with the 3D model of the
Dimethyltryptamine structure
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Picture of Dimethyltryptamine


Update by Karl Harrison
(Molecule of the Month for January 2006 )

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