Everything You Need to Know About 5-MeO-DMT
5-MeO-DMT, or 5-methoxy-N,N-dimethyltryptamine, is a powerful psychedelic substance. It’s most commonly extracted from the venom of the Bufo Alvarius toad and smoked. It has been used traditionally in shamanic practices amongst indigenous communities. Today, it’s becoming somewhat more recognized by contemporary psychotherapy. But the research into its effects is still emerging, and it’s classification as a scheduled drug makes it difficult to get a hold of.
Proponents of 5-MeO-DMT fervently insist that it offers transformative experiences that can induce healing on a deep level. A range of studies support its potential in treating a number of mental health conditions. And the trip itself is usually pleasant, relatively safe, and very short (although it feels long to the user, and can be very intense). As a result of all of these upsides, 5-MeO-DMT is becoming a preferred alternative medicine for many mental health and psychedelic healing practitioners. Intrigued? Here’s everything you need to know about 5-MeO-DMT.
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History of 5-MeO-DMT
5-MeO-DMT was first synthesized in 1936 by Japanese scientists Toshio Hoshino and Kenya Shimodaira while in the process of attempting to synthesize estheratol. However, its psychedelic effects were not discovered until 1959, when it was identified as an active compound in hallucinogenic snuff mixes used by indigenous South Americans. There is evidence that indigenous communities have likely been using it for thousands of years as a ritual intoxicant, although this is not well-documented.
5-MeO-DMT – Its In The Toad
There are many plants that contain small quantities of 5-MeO-DMT, and native peoples throughout South America have ingested this as snuff for hundreds if not thousands of years.
In the mid-1980s, the search for 5-MeO-DMT started to shift in focus from plants to toad secretions. The Bufo Alvarius toad, found in the deserts of the southwestern USA and the Sonoran desert in Mexico, produces high concentrations of 5-MeO in its venom. Psychonauts saw this concentration, and the ability to control the source of the stuff, and began to synthesize their 5-MeO from the toads. This marked the substance’s entry into modern-day psychedelic culture. Users reported mystical and spiritual experiences of non-duality, ego dissolution, and oneness with the universe or a higher power.
Unfortunately, today the Sonoran Desert toad’s population is in decline, in part due to unsustainable harvesting practices. Animal cruelty concerns have also been raised. And while 5-MeO-DMT can be synthesized in a lab, research is needed to understand whether the synthetic version produces the same effects.
Today, ‘toad medicine circles’, often within the context of psychedelic retreats, are gaining popularity. This relatively recent phenomenon traces its origins to a landmark 1984 publication, “Bufo Alvarius: The Psychedelic Toad of the Sonoran Desert”. Author Albert Most founded the “Church of the Toad of Light” and was a pioneer in bringing 5-MeO-DMT to a wider (and Western) audience. His book detailed how to ‘milk’ toads and subsequently smoke the secretions.
How Do You Make 5-MeO-DMT?
5-MeO-DMT is typically obtained by ‘milking’ the Bufo Alvarius toad. In order to produce ‘milk’, the toad is subjected to significant stresses, as the desired secretions are a defense mechanism. The glands that produce these secretions are squeezed until venom squirts out. Then, the venom is harvested, dried, and later smoked.
The Bufo Alvarius toads’ secretions contain other compounds that may contribute to the psychedelic experience, in a symphony known as the ‘entourage effect’. Whether or not this effect applies in this case is hotly debated and not yet resolved.
How Do You Prepare and Ingest 5-MeO-DMT?
In a healing ceremony or psychotherapeutic context, 5-MeO-DMT is typically either smoked or vaporized. While some psychedelics require that users go through a rigorous detoxification process or follow a special diet for a specified amount of time before consumption, this is not always the case with 5-MeO-DMT; there is no standardized process, though different practitioners and facilitators have different guidelines regarding preparation.
Are 5-MeO-DMT and DMT the Same Thing?
Actually, no! Though chemically similar, 5-MeO-DMT is much more powerful than DMT. DMT is a naturally occurring psychoactive that is also the main active chemical in ayahuasca. Because of this, many people confuse the two and think they ayahuasca will induce a 5-MeO-DMT experience–but it won’t. While DMT is also a strong psychedelic, it is not the same substance, nor will it produce the same effect.
How Effective is 5-MeO-DMT? What Can it Help Cure?
Research is emerging that shows 5-MeO-DMT to be a highly effective treatment for several mental health conditions. Early work points to relief from anxiety, depression, PTSD, and substance abuse disorders. However, the research is also still in its infancy, so while 5-MeO-DMT certainly has potential, the verdict is still out.
Where is 5-MeO-DMT Legal? Where is it Not Legal?
5-MeO-DMT is a highly-illegal schedule I narcotic in the US, and the risks of being caught possessing or administering it are severe. But those who are interested in trying it can venture to Mexico, where it is unscheduled and used for spiritual and religious purposes. There, they can attend one of the country’s many 5-MeO-DMT retreats. In Canada, 5-MeO-DMT is unscheduled, making it essentially legal. It is a prohibited substance in Australia and a class A drug in the UK.
What are the Risks of Consuming 5-MeO-DMT?
As far as psychedelics go, 5-MeO-DMT is relatively low-risk, with most side effects being mild and short-lived. That said, some users report sleep disturbances, panic attacks, and persistent anxiety after use. Others speak of having difficulty integrating what is often described as an overwhelmingly intense experience.
5-MeO-DMT can also be paired with MAOIs in an attempt to enhance its effect. This practice can be dangerous as it may cause abnormally high body temperature and even result in death. Additionally, 5-MeO-DMT may be contraindicated for use with some medications or health conditions, so check with a knowledgeable physician first. Finally, some users experience bad trips, some of which are characterized by feelings of extreme terror. However, this only happens to a small minority.
Interested in giving 5-MeO-DMT a try? Don’t take it lightly, and do thoroughly vet all retreat centers and practitioners you’re considering working with. Your life just might shift for the better.