The Sonoran Desert Toad, source of 5-MeO-DMT

What is a 5-MeO-DMT Experience Like?

Not all psychedelics are created equal. Even experienced psychonauts that have enjoyed a wide range of experiences will readily admit that 5-MeO-DMT is an experience unlike any other.

The use of 5-MeO-DMT is still quite novel; incredibly, not much is known about its history. As a result, there are fewer practitioners or retreat centers than for other, more well-known compounds such as ayahuasca or psilocybin. But the psychonaut is a quick convert – many that try 5-MeO-DMT swear by it, and the science is thus far compelling. A 5-MeO-DMT experience presents in a number of entirely unique ways, which we will explore below.

The 5-MeO-DMT Experience

5-MeO-DMT is usually smoked or vaporized. The effect sets in almost immediately–about 15 seconds after vaporization. The average trip only lasts around 15 to 20 minutes, though it will likely feel longer to the user. The experience is often characterized as intense and transformative. The effects can vary depending on the dose, the individual’s mindset, and the setting in which it is taken.

Physical Experience of 5-MeO-DMT

5-MeO-DMT produces a range of physical effects, though they may not all be felt by all consumers all of the time. These effects include changes to your balance; pupil dilation; breathlessness; muscle spasms; nausea and (if you’re fortunate), even full-body orgasms. Your body may lose its ability to regulate temperature. There may also be sensations of being stretched; of feeling light or heavy; sweating; and a rapid heartbeat.

Psychological Effects of 5-MeO-DMT

This is where it gets interesting. Let’s start with the more run-of-the-mill effects, and then delve into the particularly unique ones. Like many other psychedelics, 5-MeO-DMT produces feelings of euphoria. This may be accompanied by auditory, verbal hallucinations, and by visuals with complex geometrical patterns and color shifting. More common, however, is the experience of visual suppression. In this case, users see a blinding and all-encompassing white light.

The trip is also frequently accompanied by what is known as ‘ego dissolution’. In our normal everyday lives, we perceive reality through a self-referential standpoint wherein the self interacts with, influences, and reacts to the outside world. Ego dissolution, however, means that one’s sense of identification with a body or feeling of ‘me’ completely fades. Instead, identity becomes all-encompassing and is extended to nature, all of humanity, or even the entire cosmos. This is usually what is meant when people say that 5-MeO-DMT induces mystical experiences.

Some people describe the trip as being ‘like dying and being reborn‘. Others swear that they saw or were in the presence of God, and come away with a conviction that they now understand better what their role is in life. One 5-MeO-DMT facilitator explained that many people came out of their trips feeling profoundly hopeful; one reported that negative thoughts and states of mind did not have as much power over them.

Therapeutic Applications of 5-MeO-DMT

5-MeO-DMT shows great promise for mental health conditions such as anxiety, depression, PTSD, and more. Although research is still ongoing and is also relatively new, so far it appears that 5-MeO-DMT helps to alleviate or lessen symptoms of depression, anxiety,  and even PTSD. A study indicated that 79% of PTSD patients experienced a reduction in their symptoms after using 5-MeO-DMT. 18% of the patients in the study felt no difference, and symptoms worsened for only 3% of participants. These results are quite promising, although they also highlight the risk posed to a minority.

Another study, published in the Journal of Psychopharmacology, was equally promising. Research participants with conditions such as depression, anxiety, PTSD, substance abuse disorder, and alcoholism experienced improvement after using 5-MeO-DMT. However, another study from Maastricht University in 2019 showed similar results and also followed up with patients four weeks post-5-MeO-DMT-administration; the researchers found that positive therapeutic effects were still sustained at the four-week mark. Unfortunately, there was no long-term follow-up. However, initial results are very promising.

How is a 5-MeO-DMT Experience Similar to Other Plant Medicines? How is it different?

Let’s take a look at how 5-MeO-DMT stacks up against ayahuasca, psilocybin, and ibogaine.

5-MeO-DMT vs. Ayahuasca

Both 5-MeO-DMT and ayahuasca have the potential to induce ego dissolution and a feeling of connection to the universe, God, nature, the cosmos, or another higher power, but this experience is much more likely to occur with 5-MeO-DMT use. Ayahuasca, on the other hand, is more likely to lead to a visionary and introspective experience that involves emotional processing and facing/transcending personal traumas and internal obstacles. The physical effects also vary; 5-MeO-DMT usually comes with some combination of the physical effects discussed above, whereas ayahuasca’s hallmark physical effect is purging (intense vomiting and diarrhea which is seen as cathartic or purifying). Ayahuasca and 5-MeO-DMT users may both experience increased sensitivity to touch. An ayahuasca trip also lasts much longer (around six hours) than a 5-MeO-DMT trip.

5-MeO-DMT vs. Ibogaine

Ibogaine produces a much longer trip than 5-MeO-DMT or even ayahuasca or psilocybin. The effects take around 18-24 hours to wear off, and it is intensely visual. The experience is often described as being like a ‘waking dream’ state. This stands in stark contrast to 5-MeO-DMT, which brings about an experience that’s shorter, less dreamlike, and completely detached from one’s physical reality. It has been described as being like ‘tripping sideways into a different dimension’. With ibogaine, a user may sometimes be aware that they are tripping, and at other times forget and be completely immersed in the experience. Additionally, ibogaine is known for its anti-addictive properties; 5-MeO-DMT may have similar properties, but research on ibogaine’s antiaddictive potential is much more well-established.

5-MeO-DMT vs. Psilocybin

Psilocybin and 5-MeO-DMT can both cause users to experience visual and auditory hallucinations. With psilocybin, such hallucinations are generally a more prominent feature of the trip. The highlight of a typical 5-MeO-DMT experience, on the other hand, is less about flashy visuals and more about transcendence. As such, 5-MeO-DMT is more likely to induce mystical experiences than psilocybin, although higher doses of psilocybin triggered mystical experiences in research participants almost as much as 5-MeO-DMT did. 5-MeO-DMT also sets in much faster than psilocybin, which usually requires between 15 minutes (if taken with lemon) to 2 hours to start working. Finally, a psilocybin trip lasts up to six hours, whereas a 5-MeO-DMT trip lasts around 15-30 minutes.

Experienced psychonauts often report that 5-MeO-DMT produces stronger, more complex, and more overwhelming effects than other psychedelics. It’s not for the faint of heart. But if you’re looking to connect to a higher power, to develop a sense of purpose, or to slay some inner dragons, or if the thought of a transcendent and potentially mystical experience piques your interest, it might just be for you. As always, remember to research and vet potential providers thoroughly to ensure a safe trip. Bon voyage!

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About the Author

Cait has been writing since the age of 7, when she wrote her first short stories about two crime-fighting dogs. Although she has since strayed away from the canine detective genre, she still delights in writing about relationship psychology, travel, the psychoactive effects of cacao, intentional communities, nutrition, wellness, and more.

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