N,N-Dimethyltryptamine (DMT) is a naturally occurring psychedelic compound of the tryptamine family. Its presence is widespread throughout the plant kingdom. DMT occurs in trace amounts in mammals, including humans, where it may putatively function as a trace amine neurotransmitter. It is originally derived from the essential amino acid tryptophan and ultimately produced by the enzyme INMT during normal metabolism. The significance of its widespread natural presence remains undetermined. Structurally, DMT is analogous to the neurotransmitter serotonin (5-HT), the hormone melatonin, and other psychedelic tryptamines, such as 5-MeO-DMT, bufotenin, and psilocin (the active metabolite of psilocybin).
When ingested, DMT acts as a psychedelic drug. Depending on the dose and method of administration, its subjective effects can range from short-lived milder psychedelic states to powerful immersive experiences; these are often described as a total loss of connection to conventional reality with the encounter of ineffable alien realms. Indigenous Amazonian Amerindian cultures consume DMT as the primary psychoactive in ayahuasca, a shamanistic brew employed for divinatory and healing purposes. Pharmacologically, ayahuasca combines DMT with an MAOI, an enzyme inhibitor that allows DMT to be orally active.
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