DMTx is a program that offers extended-state experiences with the psychedelic drug DMT. The concept behind DMTx is based on a 2016 paper in Frontiers in Physiology, which outlines a method for maintaining a stable concentration of DMT in the brain through intravenous infusion.
Kevin Thorbahn found himself in a strange place, not knowing how he arrived there. He had experienced bright lights, intricate patterns, and the sensation of passing through a large stained glass window. Suddenly, he was in a hotel lobby, as if he had planned a vacation. He was immediately drawn to the energy of the woman behind the counter, although “woman” might not be the right word. She seemed more like a feminine purple hue.
Just as he was getting his bearings and preparing to talk to her, he was pulled away. The hotel lobby and the entity he had seen there receded down an infinite hallway, and he returned to reality, staring at his ordinary furniture. The effects of the N,N-Dimethyltryptamine (DMT) that he had taken were already beginning to wear off. The peak of the DMT experience lasted for about six minutes, but it felt like much longer. However, the memories of the hotel and the purple being quickly faded, like a dream after waking up.
Thorbahn wished he could have stayed longer and communicated with the purple being. He also wanted to explore the hallways of the psychedelic hotel further.
Thorbahn is part of a group of people known as “psychonauts” who are investigating the potential of hallucinogenic drugs through the use of a technique called extended-state DMT. When the drug is smoked, the effects only last for a few minutes, although they can feel much longer. However, if a constant stream of DMT is administered and the levels of the molecule in the user’s blood are regulated, the effects can last for hours or even days.
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This method may allow Thorbahn and other psychonauts to provide detailed accounts of their experiences. One interesting aspect of DMT is that the experiences of different users can be somewhat similar. For example, users may encounter similar landscapes and beings (such as a mechanical elf). For Thorbahn, these experiences feel “more real than real.” Some advocates of extended-state programs want to know if these experiences reveal new parts of the mind or even other dimensions, or if users are simply getting very high.
Thorbahn, who holds a background in biology and chemistry and owns an organic soil firm in Colorado, was traveling late one night while listening to a psychedelics podcast when he first learned about Medicinal Mindfulness’s extended-state DMT program, DMTx. The latter company, formed in 2012 by two psychotherapists in Boulder, Colorado, is a psychedelic treatment clinic that offers cannabis and ketamine-assisted sessions and claims to have helped heal trauma, depression, and “feelings of meaninglessness.” According to its website, the clinic “fully complies with all local and Colorado State cannabis laws, and all federal regulations.” DMTx is a new offshoot, founded in 2016 with a long-term goal to “develop and implement FDA-approved clinical research” into DMT, according to its website. In the meantime, the website reads, “While we’ll continue to follow stringent safety protocols, working outside some of the cultural constraints of the FDA allows us to explore a model that is congruent with the passionate interests of the psychedelic community. Namely, to explore the important question: What in the world is really going on here?”
Thorbahn applied to DMTx and was accepted as one of the first psychonauts, along with a dozen or so others.
The concept of DMTx is largely based on a 2016 paper in Frontiers in Physiology (read below) by Andrew Gallimore and Rick Strassman, which outlines a method for maintaining a stable concentration of DMT in the brain through intravenous infusion. “The phenomenological content of dream states and hallucinations in psychotic disorders have been studied extensively,” the authors wrote, “whilst the endogenous human hallucinogen DMT reliably and reproducibly generates one of the most unusual states of consciousness available, its phenomenology has only begun to be characterized.”
Rick Strassman, a clinical research psychiatrist who specializes in psychedelic research and is the author of DMT: The Spirit Molecule, is at the forefront of studying the phenomena associated with DMT. While the idea of studying extended trips may seem unconventional to some, Strassman explained in an email that there can be scientific value in extended-state experiments. DMT is naturally produced in the brains of mammals, but humans have a lower tolerance for it compared to other psychedelics like LSD. It is not yet clear how DMT fits into human physiology or if there is a DMT neurotransmitter system like there is for serotonin and dopamine. Strassman is interested in whether a person’s tolerance or lack thereof plays a role in naturally occurring psychosis such as schizophrenia.
“An extended-state experience would provide a more leisurely approach to characterizing the DMT effect,” Strassman wrote. It would also enable “more stable and fulsome communication with the beings,” or otherworldly entities that many people report encountering while taking DMT. Strassman does not dismiss the scientific value of documenting these semi-mystical encounters.
Strassman is aware of how this type of research may be perceived by others. He stated that when he received funding from the National Institutes of Health in 1990 to study DMT, his colleagues were not necessarily skeptical, but rather uninterested: “Within the scientific community, at least the larger academic one, my initial results were either barely noticed or referred to in a bemused manner,” he said. “No one told me I was going to kill my career by studying DMT. In fact, no one knew what DMT was.”
There has been an increase in research on psychedelics in recent years. Currently, teams at Imperial College’s Centre for Psychedelic Research in the UK and the University Hospital of Basel in Switzerland are conducting the first studies of extended-state DMT.
DMTx is not a research facility. David McQueen, co-founder of the Center for Medicinal Mindfulness and principal organizer for DMTx, became interested in the therapeutic potential of cannabis and other psychoactive substances after learning about Strassman’s research. He frequently discussed it and was asked many questions, which he has attempted to answer.
McQueen believes that a trip could safely last for about three hours, but in theory it could be much longer. He has considered the possibility of using astronaut diapers for participants who need to use the bathroom during a trip. He is also interested in exploring the possibility of two people hooked up to an extended-state drip and placed in different rooms being able to communicate in the DMT space. However, he does not yet know if this is possible. He says that the idea of extended-state DMT has been contagious.
The Center for Medicinal Mindfulness plans to utilize a ballot measure that was passed by Colorado voters in November legalizing psychedelic therapy at state-approved “healing centers.” Currently, psilocybin and psilocin (magic mushrooms) are the only approved drugs (referred to as “natural medicine” in Colorado). Proposition 122 allows for the use and sharing of ibogaine, mescaline, and DMT, and establishes a process for the state to potentially reclassify DMT as a “natural medicine” by 2026, which would allow licensed facilitators to guide patients in its use.
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