DMT & ayahuasca

What is DMT/ayahuasca?

DMT (N,N-Dimethyltryptamine) is a strong psychedelic, which occurs almost all over the world in various plants. It is also naturally present in the rodent brain and in the human body. Its function is still unclear. In its purest form, DMT consists of white crystals. However, the drug usually looks yellow or orange-like, and can have a intense plastic smell when smoked.

DMT is one of the psychoactive ingredients in the South American hallucinogenic drink ayahuasca. In addition to DMT, there may be several other ingredients in the ayahuasca. This varies greatly by region and ceremony. If you plan to drink ayahuasca, ask about the ingredients. In general, there is also an MAO inhibitor in the ayahuasca. This ensures that the DMT can have an effect in the brain. Examples of MAO inhibitors are Banisteriopsis caapi or Peganum harmala. But Passionflower also contains an MAO inhibitor. MAOIs have many interactions with medications and other drugs. So read carefully about it.

Changa is the name for the combination of an herb with DMT. Usually the herb contains a (light) MAO inhibitor. This ensures that the DMT is more intense and active for longer than if you only smoke the DMT.


Effects

DMT and ayahuasca are psychedelics.

The effect of a substance is determined by the properties of the substance itself, but also by the set and setting of the user. Here we describe what effects DMT and ayahuasca generally have. Although the effects of smoked DMT and a DMT-containing drink such as ayahuasca are quite similar, there are some differences. This is partly due to the faster effect of smoked DMT, but also because other plant materials have been added to ayahuasca that have a psychoactive effect.

When you smoke DMT, a short but very intense psychedelic effect is generated. Proverbially it is possible to fly from your desk to the end of the cosmos, and back again within half an hour. The trip is mainly visual and gives visual effects both with open and closed eyes. The effects range from calm, dreamy, landscape-like visuals, to fast-paced cartoon-like visuals, contacts with angels, aliens or all kinds of other DMT creatures.

Apart from the visual effects, the drug often gives a euphoric feeling. The urge to share the experience with fellow trippers is strong, although the experience is often difficult to express in words. The smoked DMT experience is considered by users to be psychedelic, spiritual and insightful.

When drinking ayahuasca, users see brightly colored, kaleidoscopic geometric structures and experience dreamlike visions. This is regularly accompanied by intense nausea, vomiting and diarrhoea. Some users experience this as physically and mentally cleansing. The effects of ayahuasca are often more psychological than the effects you get from smoking DMT. That is why it is even more important with ayahuasca to ensure a good set and setting.

The effects of DMT and ayahuasca can be very intense. So it’s important to make sure you feel good physically and mentally before you start. Due to the intensity of the effects, panic reactions can occur. Try to be prepared for a strong experience and do not try to hold back the effects.

Positive effects (negative) Side effects

Altered sensory perception

How you perceive your environment changes, this can affect all of your senses. Sometimes, this could make it seem as if your surroundings differ from reality. More information about tripping and hallucinations can be found here.

Increase in blood pressure and heart rate

Due to increased cardiac stimulation, heart rate and blood pressure rise.

Increased body temperature

Stimulants cause increased activity in muscles, and increase the “base temperature” of the body. This causes the body temperature to increase.

Euphoria, feelings of love

This substance can make you feel euphoric, like you are in love. You feel comfortable in your own skin and can experience things as pleasant more quickly.

Nausea/vomiting

An uneasy and tense feeling in the abdomen, which may cause discomfort. Nausea often precedes vomiting.

Spiritual experience

This drug can bring about a spiritual experience. This can be experienced as a special ‘flow’ that you end up in. This allows you to see the world or yourself in a different way and you can gain new insights.

Irritation of the airways

Smoking can cause coughing or a burning or tickling sensation in the throat.

Changes in perception of time

The passage of time could feel altered during ketamine use. Some parts of the evening fly by, while some parts feel a lot slower. When you are feeling comfortable, it can be nice that the feeling does not seem to stop. But if you feel uncomfortable, this can be a bothersome experience. So this effect can work both ways.

Paranoia and delusions

Anxiety, paranoia and delusions (e.g. the idea that people are talking about you).

Need for contact, conversation and intimacy

Having a good conversation with someone, or cuddling, can be very pleasant and interesting.

Dilated pupils

Due to an increased noradrenaline level in the body after taking certain drugs, the pupils become larger. The pupil size is influenced by many different processes. Increase in noradrenaline plays a role in some of those processes.

Muscle cramps and muscle pain

Muscle cramps and muscle pain


Dose

DMT can be smoked or injected. It can also be drunk in the form of ayahuasca. When smoking, the effects occur within seconds. This is why it is important to use it in a safe and quiet environment. Usually DMT is smoked or vaporized using a water pipe or glass DMT pipe. The smoke that is released has the smell and taste of burnt plastic. The experience is often performed sitting or lying down.

When taken orally (eating, swallowing), DMT is not effective. That is because DMT is broken down in the liver and stomach by MAO enzymes. MAO enzymes are responsible for the breakdown of certain substances: the monoamines. When DMT is combined with monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs), the substance can become active when taken orally, and cause its effects. This is the case with ayahuasca. Ayahuasca is a brown-red brew with usually a very bitter taste.

Doses for smoking
Light dose  10- 25
Medium dose 25 – 40 mg
High dose 40+ mg

Due to the strong effect of smoking DMT, high doses are not recommended for starting users. At a low dose, the physical effects predominate.

With intramuscular injection, the activity starts very suddenly with an intake of 30 mg. A complete psychedelic experience is experienced at 50-70 mg.

The dosage with ayahuasca is difficult to estimate. The strength of ayahuasca brew can vary greatly per batch (production amount at one time) and per provider. This is because ayahuasca can be made with different combinations of plant ingredients. The amount of DMT or MAO inhibitor in a plant can vary from plant to plant. The strength thus depends on the specific combination and amount of the plant material as well as the skill of the provider (shaman) who produces the mixture.


Duration

When smoking DMT, the effect usually starts after a few seconds. It lasts for about 10 to 15 minutes and then subsides. After half an hour you are as good as sober again. That is why it is also called ‘the businessman’s lunch trip’.

When drinking ayahuasca, the first effects are felt within 20 to 60 minutes. Depending on the dosage, the experience lasts a total of 3 to 6 hours.


Risks

Due to lack of research on DMT, little can be said about the long-term effects. However, use by people with psychological problems, or sensitivity to them, is not recommended. Even if first and second-degree relatives of you have schizophrenia or have had psychotic episodes, the use of psychedelics is not recommended. DMT can act as a trigger, starting or exacerbating psychosis.

Because smoked DMT raises blood pressure very quickly, care must be taken when heart problems or high blood pressure are involved. Caution is also advised in people with lung diseases. The vapor or smoke can be experienced as very intense on the lungs.

Ayahuasca is a combination of DMT with an MAO inhibitor. MAO enzymes are responsible for breaking down certain substances in your body. An MAO inhibitor therefore influences the effects of drugs and medicines. This makes it possible that negative reactions can occur after ayahuasca use. So make sure you have enough information about MAO inhibitors, the medication you may be taking and the food you consume before use. In any case, Ayahuasca cannot be combined with anti-depressants, anti-psychotics and various other drugs.

Short term risks

Triggering a drug-induced psychosis

Frequent and high-dosage ketamine use can increase susceptibility to developing psychosis. During a psychosis, you may suffer from delusions, hallucinations, losing your grip on reality, and you could become very anxious. It becomes difficult to differentiate between reality and your thoughts. Your behaviour and thought patterns are often erratic and chaotic.

It is still unclear whether this can only be triggered in people who are already predisposed to psychosis, or whether regular drug use and an unhealthy lifestyle (e.g. little sleep) by itself can induce psychosis.

Using ketamine consecutively for days without sleeping, resting and eating exhausts your body, and therefore increases the risks of psychosis. Does someone in your environment react erratic and anxious? You can help that person by removing distractions (music, TV off for a while) and finding another environment where that person can get some rest. Speak calmly, be understanding and, if necessary, go outside together. Do not deny or confirm any delusions and if it does not get better, call a general practice centre. Medical staff are there to help you and can, if necessary, arrange a consult, write a prescription or provide care in another way.

Read more about psychosis in this article.

Experiencing a bad trip

You may be overwhelmed by the intensity of your ketamine experience. Such an experience can certainly be frightening for inexperienced users, and is called a ‘bad trip’. A bad trip, for example, manifests itself in confusion as a result of a dose that was too high. However, it can also arise because someone no longer has his/her thoughts under control.

In such a situation, it is important to put the person’s mind at ease. Explain to them that the situation they are in is a result of the drug and that things will be well again in a short time.

Give the person in question as much rest as possible, preferably in a familiar environment. Accepting the situation is often the first step a person needs to take to sit out the trip in calmer waters. Using hallucinogens when you are not feeling well or in an unfamiliar/busy environment increases the chance of unpleasant experiences during the trip and is therefore not recommended.

Read more.

Long term risks

Psychological dependency

When someone has a psychological dependency, they are convinced that they cannot function without using the substance.

However, there is no physical change in body chemistry that would produce bodily side effects from quitting the substance.


Interactions

Combining different types of drugs can be risky and unpredictable. When you combine drugs you can have a higher risk of health problems. In the following paragraphs you can read about the effects and the risks of a number of combinations that occur frequently and also a about few that are extra hazardous. Also check our theme combining drugs.

DMT and other drugs

DMT is an intense psychedelic. It is often intense enough on its own. Combining doesn’t make it a better or more intense experience. However, it does increase the chance of a difficult experience. So it’s best to take it sober.

Alcohol
The combination with alcohol can increase the risk of nausea and not being able to control the experience properly. This is therefore not recommended. It may seem like a good idea to use DMT after you’ve had a few drinks, but rather schedule it on another day.

Ecstasy/MDMA
Under the influence of MDMA, DMT can hit you more intensely. This does not have to be positive. Our advice is to enjoy the MDMA experience and take the DMT another time.

Psychedelics
If you have already taken another psychedelic and you want to take DMT, it is difficult to predict which way it will go. The DMT experience may come more as a surprise to you than it does when you are sober. Or that it is more difficult to control. Our advice is not to use it at the same time.

Ayahuasca and other drugs

Ayahuasca is an intense psychedelic. It’s intense enough on its own. Combining doesn’t make it a better or more intense experience. However, it does increase the chance of a difficult experience. And the combination of MAO inhibitors with other drugs or medications can be very dangerous. Or at best give additional side effects. So not recommended.

MAO inhibitors ensure that certain drugs or medicines are not broken down in the body. They therefore remain in the body longer, which prolongs the effect and increases the risks.

Ayahuasca and Stimulants

MAO inhibitors ensure, among other things, that MDMA, cocaine and amphetamine are broken down less. This creates dangerously large amounts of serotonin between the brain cells. This can cause serotonin syndrome. Among other things, the body heats up so much that you can die. But there are also excessive amounts of dopamine and noradrenaline, which poses all kinds of risks. An example is high blood pressure.
The use of all stimulants such as MDMA, cocaine and amphetamine in the days before and after ayahuasca is therefore strongly discouraged. It can take days for the last MDMA to leave your body, so make sure you are sober for at least 3 days before taking ayahuasca. This also applies to ADHD medication (Ritalin, methylphenidate; dexamfetamine), for example.

Ayahuasca and psychedelics

MAO inhibitors can also be risky in combination with psychedelics. This can pose similar risks to stimulants. It is not well known how they work in the brain for many more exotic psychedelics.
Examples of risky psychedelics in combination with MAO inhibitors are: 2C-B (and other 2C variants such as 2C-I and 2C-E), NBOMe’s, DOC (and other DO variants such as DOM and DOB), 2C-T- 2 (and other 2C-T variants), ketamine, methoxetamine, DXM and 5-MeO-DMT (and other 5-MeO variants). Combination use is not recommended.

Cannabis can enhance the effect of ayahuasca. It poses little physical risk. However, smoking cannabis can suddenly send a trip in a different direction. This can make the experience more difficult. So before you start smoking cannabis, think about whether it will make the experience better. If not, then leave it.

Ayahuasca and medicines

Many drugs interact with MAO inhibitors. Inform yourself well if you are taking medication.

Antidepressants are especially at risk. Both SSRIs and MAO inhibitors increase the release of serotonin and stays active between brain cells for a longer period of time. This can cause serious problems, such as serotonin syndrome or life-threatening overheating.

ADHD medications can also pose a risky interaction with an MAOI. See the information under stimulants.
If you are taking ADHD medication and want to participate in an ayahuasca ceremony, please discuss this with your doctor or general practitioner. Because there is a difference in how quickly a drug leaves your body, it is difficult to say how long in advance you should stop taking your ADHD medication and how long you should wait after the ceremony before you can start taking your ADHD medication again. But it is probably wise not to take your ADHD medication for several days beforehand. And several days afterwards.

If someone is on antipsychotics because he or she has had a psychosis or other psychological problems, it is strongly advised not to take ayahuasca. However, if someone is mentally stable and uses antipsychotics for another reason that is not related to psychological stability, it is advisable to stop taking the medication several days before and after. But always do this in consultation with your doctor or general practitioner.

The use of many pain medications is dangerous in combination with MAO inhibitors. This can cause serotonin syndrome. It is also sometimes risky to just stop pain medication. Always do this in consultation with your doctor or general practitioner.

Changa and other drugs

Changa is the name for the combination of an herb with DMT. Usually the herb contains a (light) MAO inhibitor. For information about combinations, see the information for ayahuasca and other drugs above.

The MAO inhibitors in changa will last shorter than with oral ayahuasca because it is smoked. You can shorten the times that you should not use any other drugs before and after. In the case of MDMA, for example, one day before and one day after is recommended.


Unity tips

All trip drugs carry risk because of the chance of a bad trip and the intensification of psychological problems. Especially people with a predisposition to develop psychosis or other psychological complaints, the use of DMT is strongly discouraged.

Little is known about the risks of DMT. There is no real safe use of drugs. The risks can be limited, read the Unity tips for this:

  • Prepare well by sleeping well the night before.
  • Use in a quiet, safe and familiar environment with people you trust (DMT is really not a party drug).
  • Make sure there is someone around who is sober (tripsitter).
  • Use only if you feel good mentally and physically.
  • Do not use if you have psychological complaints or if you have immediate family with schizophrenia or psychotic episodes.
  • Sit up straight while smoking and then continue to breathe deeply to reduce nausea and vomiting.
  • Have someone take your pipe from you after smoking.
  • Make sure you have a good milligram weighing scale so that you can weigh a good dose.
  • Do not combine with medicines, other drugs or alcohol.
  • Do not participate in traffic.
  • Are you feeling, or is one of your friends not feeling well? Keep an eye on each other and take care of each other.
  • Don’t fight against unpleasant feelings during the trip, but go with the flow of the trip.
  • Make sure you have enough time after the trip to process the experience (e.g. take the day off).
  • Think for yourself, care about others.

Unity tips for using psychedelics

  • When taking a psychedelic for the first time, try to have your experience in nature or at home
  • Do you want to trip at a party or festival? Adjust your dose to be smaller than what you are used to.
  • Prevent nausea by eating something easily digestible at least 2 hours before taking your drugs
  • Make sure to always have a sober person (a trip sitter) around when tripping.
  • Pay close attention to the effects you experience: if you feel that they are too strong or unpleasant, ingesting vitamin C, dextrose or sweet drinks may help to alleviate this.
  • Do not fight any unpleasant feelings during the trip, but let yourself float on the flow of the trip
  • Do not combine psychedelics with other drugs (including alcohol) and medications. Cannabis in particular can greatly intensify and prolong the effect of psychedelics.
  • Make sure you are free from responsibilities the day after using, take some time to process the experience
  • Do not use psychedelics if you suffer from epilepsy or have a cardiovascular disease.

Unity tips for using drugs

  • When using a drug for the first time, take only a small dose to see how your body reacts to the substance
  • Only use drugs when you are feeling well
  • Use drugs recreationally, not to combat psychological issues like fatigue
  • Avoid using drugs if you have (had) psychological afflictions or if you have a family history of psychological diseases (such as depression) in your family
  • Test your drugs before use at a drugs-testing service
  • Make sure to prepare a good set and setting for drug use
  • Only use drugs sparingly. Keep track of your use over time.
  • Decide in advance how much you are planning to use over the evening, and stick to that. 
  • Do not combine drugs with other substances or medicines
  • Do not participate in traffic after drug use
  • Prevent infectious diseases; Use your own snorter/sniffer and do not share paraphernalia with others
  • After insufflating, rinse your nose well with lukewarm saline water (for example, by using a nasal spray or nasal douche)
  • Are you, or one of your friends not feeling well? Keep an eye out for one another, take care of each other and visit the first aid (if one is available)
  • Call 112 in a life-threatening situation
  • Eat healthy before and after drug use. In particular, foods with lots of antioxidants and vitamins (blueberries, raspberries, blackberries, grapes, raisins, oranges, kiwi, broccoli). This is perhaps the most important tip! It can be difficult to eat during and after drug use, but make sure to try to eat something anyway. Eating well is a great way to reduce the hangover! If you can’t hold in solid foods, try juices, breakfast drinks, and smoothies.

FAQ

I am planning to combine DMT or ayahuasca with other drugs. What are the consequences?

Combining different drugs can be risky and unpredictable. If you combine, you are more likely to have problems with your health. Little is known about combination use with DMT. The effect of DMT is so intense that it actually blows everything away. Combining does not make the effect more intense or longer. And is discouraged. For more information, check the theme of combination use.

The exception is combination use of DMT with an MAO inhibitor: ayahuasca. Because of the MAO inhibitors in the drink, your body is less able to break down certain substances such as DMT. This makes sure that DMT has an effect at all when taken orally. But the MAO inhibitors also ensure that other substances are not broken down or are not broken down properly. That can have serious consequences. Combination use of an MAO inhibitor with other drugs is therefore not recommended. Especially when it comes to stimulants like MDMA, amphetamine and cocaine. But it can also be risky with downers.
With psychedelics, it really depends on which drug it is. Not a lot of information is available about this. And we therefore advise against it. Only mushrooms or truffles are known to be taken with an MAO inhibitor. This is often referred to as psilohuasca.

How long is DMT or ayahuasca detectable in your body?

How long a drug is detectable in your blood or urine depends on a number of factors. It influences how often and how much you use and your personal metabolism (the speed at which a substance is broken down by your liver, in particular). Drugs are longer detectable in your urine than in your blood. In urine, DMT is likely to be traceable for another 2-3 days. But in general, a lab does not check for DMT in your urine.

What about DMT and ayahuasca and the law?

DMT is placed on list I of the Opium Act and is therefore prohibited in the Netherlands.

The use of ayahuasca is also prohibited. The Sainto Daime had an exceptional position for a while. They were allowed to use it as part of their religion, but that too is now prohibited. Check the theme The law for more info.

How did the use of DMT and ayahuasca start?

DMT was first synthesized in 1931. In 1946 it was discovered that it also occurs in plants. In the Amazon it has been drunk for centuries in the form ‘ayahuasca’. Ayahuasca means ‘vine of the soul’. Native Americans from this area use it in religious rituals, but it also plays an important role as a traditional medicine. Today, ayahuasca is also used as a sacrament by religious groups, such as the Santo Daime and the Uniao do Vegetal. These groups have roots in Brazil, but own churches all over the world (including the Netherlands). Within these churches Christian aspects are mixed with animistic and shamanistic rituals. In the Netherlands, spiritual ayahuasca sessions are also organized for small groups of interested parties, which are not affiliated with a religious organization.

What to do if someone has a bad trip?

Always make sure that you are and remain safe yourself. If you are in danger, you cannot help the person in need.
Find a quiet place with the one who is having a hard time. Don’t try to deny that he/she is having a bad trip. Try to reassure him/her: he/she has taken drugs and the effects and thus the bad trip always wear off. Ask the person about what they are experiencing and try to talk the trip on a positive side without downplaying it. For example, by giving a positive meaning to the things he/she sees. Try to do things that make him/her feel comfortable, such as moving or singing. See if it makes sense to talk about pleasant things. Distraction can also help, for example by drawing. Let your voice sound calm and reassuring.
Make sure that the user does not end up in dangerous situations such as traffic. Call emergency services if it becomes unsafe for the user or his environment or if the bad trip is too intense to solve it yourself.

Can you have difficult moments and thoughts during a good trip?

  • Psychedelics and other trip drugs can make things hit much harder and that emotions (such as fear) come up that you were already subconsciously with. If you’re having a hard time tripping, this doesn’t necessarily mean you’re going to have a bad trip.
  • It can often help a lot to ensure that you are comfortable, do not receive too many stimuli or change your environment and / or music for a while.
  • If difficult thoughts or emotions come up, try to let them come to you and possibly talk about them.
  • It’s all temporary and will pass faster if you don’t fight it.
  • Remember that the experience always passes. It’s a temporary experience that comes from taking drugs.

How do you prepare for a psychedelic experience?

There are many things you can do in advance to make your experience with trip drugs as pleasant as possible. The most important thing is to get a good set and setting and to know what’s in your drugs.

To start with the latter, the drug:

  • Read about the drug.
  • Get your drugs tested if possible or use reagents to find out what is in your drug.
  • Make sure you have decided on a dose beforehand and weighed it in advance.
  • Please do not combine drugs. For example, a joint can fall differently faster than if you smoke a joint sober. A fun trip can then quickly turn into a difficult experience.

Set:

  • Make sure you feel as good mentally.
  • Make sure you have time off from work the day before, during and after your trip experience, so that you can start in a relaxed mood and not worry about things you have to do the next day.
  • Make sure you have enough to drink and eat. If a trip (eg LSD) takes a long time, you want to have all the food ready in advance.
  • Ginger tea can help with nausea.

Setting:

  • Make sure you have good trip buddies and a trips sitter.
  • You can discuss in advance with your trip buddies what you expect and want from the trip. Also discuss what you can do if things are not going so well with someone.
  • Provide a relaxed environment, for example by adjusting lighting and being able to lie down comfortably.
  • Turn off your phone. You don’t want to suddenly get a call from work or your mother while tripping!
  • You can make some playlists in advance to listen to while tripping.
  • It can be nice to have simple activities to do while tripping, such as drawing.

What if I have medical complaints after the use of partydrugs?

Some complaints after using drugs can last longer, A medical explanation or even treatment may then be necessary. The Brijder has set up a national consultancy for party drugs related medical complaints. If you have medical complaints after the use of party drugs, you can call the consultancy: 088 – 358 29 40. This service is only available in the Netherlands.

 


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