Strongest Psychedelic Known to Man Now Being Used in Clinical Trials
The world’s first regulated clinical trial of DMT clears the way for Earth’s most powerful psychoactive drug to join the psychedelic therapy revolution.
DMT, or N, N-Dimethyltryptamine, is a highly potent hallucinogen that naturally occurs in many plant species, including in one of the plant ingredients of ayahuasca. It can also be synthetically produced in a laboratory.
DMT is known for inducing intense metaphysical trips, which are reportedly similar to near-death experiences. Having been used underground in the west for decades, it is now attracting the interest of pharmaceutical companies and scientists looking to investigate its potential mental health benefits.
Jay Waxenberg is the director of the DMTx program at the Center for Medicinal Mindfulness. Based in Boulder, CO, it was one of the first centers to offer legal psychedelic therapy in the U.S.
“DMT is actually the most powerful psychedelic on Earth that we’re aware of, and what makes it special and different from other psychedelics is that it’s endogenous, which means it’s produced within our own bodies. It’s also produced in nearly every ecosystem on Earth — it’s everywhere, it’s all around us – which is also kind of leading to what is really unique about it, the extent of a DMT experience, it’s at most 20 minutes,” Waxenberg said.
While there is a wide range of phenomena experienced during a DMT trip, there are some fascinating common hallmarks.
“This alternate reality experience, or this experience that people will call ‘realer than real.’ It’s a reality similar to our own, but completely different,” Waxenberg said. “Some of the elements within that would be the entity encounters, which is very common for people; intense geometric, hyperbolic shapes; and out-of-body, traveling to the center of the universe; ego-dissolution, ego death; these are really common experiences under it.”
While advocates have been reporting profound healing benefits for decades, there have not been any clinical studies on DMT due to its status as a Schedule 1 controlled substance, until now.
Canadian pharmaceutical company small pharma recently completed the first clinical trial of DMT-assisted therapy. The trial was Phase 1, meaning it established the safety and feasibility of studying the psychedelic in this way.
Small pharma is now moving into Phase 2 trials involving patients with Major Depressive Disorder. Practitioners like Waxenberg have high hopes that the studies will bear out DMT’s great potential for addressing psychological issues.
“If somebody has an ego death, or somebody leaves their body, there’s this feeling of expansiveness that comes with that; a feeling of not feeling trapped in your life. So, if you’re in depression, or anxiety, or thought-loop patterns, or anything like this, often that’s the benefit — to break yourself out of those cycles, to break yourself out of those loops or thought patterns. In the dying process, people who are getting terminal diagnoses, that’s where the most benefit can come because it’s an instantaneous removal of the ego and out of your body to go into that space; experiences that take them right into what they believe the afterlife process will be or what they believe the death process will be — and really watching that be nourishing and supportive of, ‘Ok, this is maybe something I can actually go toward,’” Waxenberg said.
“Also, it’s going to have really big benefits toward treatment-resistant depression. Like ketamine, it’s this out-of-body experience that alone can help reset the nervous system, reset what your baseline is of happiness or wellness, it can get totally reset just like that.”
Many in the psychedelic therapy world will be watching closely for the results of the coming DMT-assisted therapy trials.
“My hope is to just keep opening the door wider and wider, as we bring more and more people into the space, more and more people into the conversation to see what these substances can do. And really within this meta-crisis, we find ourselves in culturally, I think DMT is an answer to a lot of those questions; how can we really see a different angle to the problems that we face?”
Cannabis Spirituality: Using Plant Medicine as a Sacred Tool
The stoner stereotype is a familiar one that transcends cultures – lazy, incoherent, silly, and just generally burnt out. But as legalization allows cannabis to be discussed maturely, that trope seems like a dying remnant of the decades-long smear campaign against a plant that can truly impact our lives, culture, and economy in a positive way. With that relaxation of stigma, society can explore a path of cannabis use for spirituality and use it as a tool for inner exploration.
Much like any other psychedelic substance, cannabis can be abused and consumed without respect to its potency, power, or healing potential. There’s virtually no harm in using it as a tool to relax and decompress from life’s daily stresses, but some might argue there’s a point of diminishing return when consuming copious amounts without the right intention.
And for religions that consider the plant sacred, this is typically their view on the use of cannabis — using it heedlessly is considered a sin or frowned upon, while using it for enlightenment or spirituality is accepted, and in some cases, encouraged.
Original Cannabis Spirituality
Cannabis has been used by certain groups as a sacrament for centuries and in some cases maybe even millennia. One of the most notable groups is Rastafarians, who use the plant for meditation and spiritual ceremonies, gathering in a “reasoning” to give praise to Jah (God), who they believe bestowed the herb to man in order to invoke thoughtful insight and self-reflection.
Rastafarians believe cannabis is mentioned in the Bible in Psalm 104:14 where it was written, “He causeth the grass to grow for the cattle and herb for the service of man….”
And in Revelation 22:2 “the herb is the healing of the nations.”
Rastafarianism believes cannabis was used as a sacrament by Moses and the Israelites. Rastas and some Jews believe the plant kaneh bosm, mentioned five times in the Old Testament, was in fact cannabis and an important sacrament for Judaism. Jewish scholars disagree on the translation, but if correct it would imply that the Hebrew Bible was originally blessed with cannabis oil.