DMT – The
A Doctor’s Revolutionary Research into the Biology of Near-Death and Mystical Experiences
By Rick Strassman M.D.
Published by Inner Traditions/Park Street Press
384 pages, paperback
Move over Timothy Leary, here is the successor to your crown.
Rick Strassman’s experimentation with the psychoactive substance DMT is taking up where Leary’s 1950/60’s LSD experiments stopped. This book investigates the effects of N,N-dimethyltryptamine, or DMT, an extremely short-acting and powerful psychedelic. This DMT project was founded on cutting edge brain science, especially the psychopharmacology of serotonin and melatonin.
Strassman’s previous research in this field began with a two-year study of human melatonin, however melatonin’s properties were disappointingly mild. Therefore, he began looking at other pineal products and eventually turned to DMT.
He found that the ingredients and enzymes for its formation exist in remarkably high concentrations in the pineal and so began to suggest that the pineal often produced DMT instead of melatonin.
DMT was already recognised as the first endogenous, or naturally produced, psychedelic. There had already been psychiatric studies that focused on its possible role in schizophrenia, but political pressures forced an early abandonment of this promising line of research. Strassman’s research begins where this left off.
His five-year study took place at the University of New Mexico’s School of Medicine in Albuquerque where he was tenured as Associate Professor of Psychiatry. The research subjects were physically and mentally healthy volunteers who believed in the potentially beneficial properties of psychedelic drugs.
He begins his experiments on two other professional psychologists who he feels are in the best position to give him informed feedback on experiences arising from the clinically controlled administration of DMT. He carefully prepared and supervised people for their drug sessions, using, among other things, Japanese Zen Buddhist style techniques.
In Part 1 – Psychedelic Drugs: Science and Society, Strassman details the chemistry and pharmacology of common psychedelics, and provides molecular drawings for these along with a general description of their psychological effects. It is interesting to note the pentagonal and hexagonal shapes in most of these molecules as the pent and hex shapes are found in the sacred geometry of major belief systems as well as being reflective of the shapes in our own DNA.
Upon finding that the substance DMT is produced and used naturally by the brain, not as an inverse receptor molecule to which a psychedelic can attach itself and thereby produce its mind altering effects – rather it is needed and produced like a vitamin by nearly every living carbon based life form on this planet – Strassman includes highly speculative ideas and personal motivation for performing this research. He suggests:
• That endogenous human DMT is a necessary mechanism existing in our brains in order to provide consciousness.
• That DMT is the substance within us that allows us to see truth.
• That excessive DMT production, coming from the mysterious pineal gland (Spirit Gland), is involved in naturally occurring “psychedelic” states, including dreams, meditation, near-death, psychosis, mystical and “alien abduction” experiences.
• That those spiritual states can be accessed, and mystical information gained, through the use of this drug.
• That pineal DMT release at 49 days after conception marks the entrance of the spirit into the fetus. Interestingly he correlates this 49-day prenatal period to the first signs of foetal pineal tissue, the differentiation of the gonads into male and female, and how long it takes between the death of an individual and its soul’s next rebirth according to the Tibetan Buddhist tradition.
• That DMT affects the brain’s ability to receive information, rather than generating those perceptions themselves subjectively.
• That DMT can allow our brains to perceive dark matter or parallel universes, realms of existence inhabited by conscious entities.
• That it “thins the veil” between the worlds where entities are awaiting our arrival to give us instruction much like the native South American Ayahuasca ritual which contains a moderate to low amount of DMT.
This kind of speculation will find enthusiasts and opponents from both orthodox and alternative fields.
In reply to this Rick Strassman simply says: “It is so important for us to understand consciousness. It is just as important to place psychedelic drugs in general, and DMT in particular, into a personal and cultural matrix where we do the most good, and the least harm. In such a wide open area of inquiry, it is best that we reject no ideas until we actually disprove them. It is in the interest of enlarging the discussion about psychedelic drugs that I’ve written The Spirit Molecule.”
– Reviewed by Rev.
Dr. S. D’Montford in New Dawn No. 94