5-MeO-DMT is a very interesting substance indeed. 5-MeO-DMT is closely related to N,N-dimethyltryptamine but produces quite different effects. It is considered to be up to six times more powerful than N,N-dimethyltryptamine, which may be hard to imagine for anyone who has only experienced the latter. 5-MeO-DMT stands for 5-Methoxy-N,N-dimethyltryptamine. The molecular structure looks like that of N,N-dimethyltryptamine but has extra atoms attached, which leads to a different experience when consuming it.
5-MeO-DMT can be sourced from various shrubs and trees, but it is more famously extracted from the skin glands of the Bufo alvarius or Incilius alvarius toad (also known as the Colorado River toad or Sonoron Desert toad). Like DMT, today 5-MeO-DMT is widely used as an entheogen (i.e. as a means of experiencing unity with the creator through the altered state it provides).
Evidence suggests a long history of 5-MeO-DMT in the Americas, perhaps dating back even thousands of years. It has been used ceremonially and ritualistically, but not all indigenous cultures embrace the substance as a medicine.
There is currently not so much firm scientific evidence in the form of trials or studies that confirm 5-MeO-DMT as a therapeutic substance (in terms of mental health, physical health and addiction). Still, there is much anecdotal evidence online - even from famous boxer Mike Tyson - claiming that this is actually the case and that it has changed lives for the better in some way, hence the ongoing wave of interest in its consumption.
One thing is for sure, 5-MeO-DMT is becoming a big thing all around the world, quickly gaining a similar momentum to that of its cousin tryptamine, N,N-dimethyltryptamine. There are now many facilitators (particularly those working with the ‘toad medicine’ as it is often referred to), holding ceremonies around the world.
Consumption of 5-MeO-DMT
5-MeO-DMT can be extracted from plant sources, although some of these may not be particularly easy to source, especially outside of the Americas. Many different trees and shrubs contain it, and some also contain DMT and bufotenine (5-HO-DMT). The extractions are generally used in snuff, smoked or vaped, or consumed in a juice of some kind. The most effective method of consumption depends on the type of plant used. Plants thought to contain 5-MeO-DMT include:
Anadenanthera peregrina (yopo or cohoba) seeds - in the form of snuff
Virola theiodora resin (previously called Virola elongata) - in the form of snuff
Virola calophylla - contains mainly DMT
Chaliponga - 5-MeO-DMT activated by chewing (although the N,N-dmt content is not)
Phalaris aquatica (especially strain cv. Australian)
Phalaris brachystachys - fresh grass pressed or blended into a pulp
Phalaris arundinacea ('Turkey Red' plant)
Phalaris stenoptera (P tuberosa var. stenoptera)
Plant extractions are notoriously difficult, yielding varying degrees of success. Anecdotal evidence suggests much perseverance is needed and that some plants and extraction processes yield much better results than others.
It should also be noted that some species of Phalaris contain other alkaloids such as small amounts of gramine, a naturally occurring indole alkaloid present in several plant species, which may need to be separated in the extraction. However, the median lethal dose (LD50) of gramine is thought to be 46 mg/kg in mice or 0.5g/kg in pigs, which means that 5-MeO would have to be consumed by the gram for the gramine levels to be harmful.
Bufo alvarius 5-MeO-DMT
Perhaps due to the difficulties experienced with plant extractions, 5-MeO-DMT is most commonly consumed through the milky white toad venom from the skin glands of the Bufo alvarius toad. The toad is found mainly in the southwestern United States, as well as in northwestern Mexico.
Facilitators obtain the extracted venom for administration in ceremonies. Most commonly referred to as ‘Bufo’ or ‘toad medicine’, it contains an estimated 21 alkaloids, including 11 tryptamines. The tryptamines include 5-meo-DMT and bufotenine, a tryptamine derivative related to the neurotransmitter serotonin. Bufo alvarius or Incilius alvarius venom is extracted when the parotid glands on the toad’s skin are milked. The extracted venom is then sun-dried and takes the form of little yellow leaves. These are usually smoked in a pipe or vaporised.
The Bufo experience is a highly psychoactive one. Where DMT often gives a very visual experience, most describe 5-MeO-DMT as a perspective or perception shift. The combination of elements in toad medicine can create both psychological and physical shifts.
Many describe 5-MeO-DMT as dissolving the sense of self and boundaries with the physical realm; in simpler terms, it is often described as causing near death experience or ego death, even if only temporarily. The result is a sense of connection to the ‘all’ - a spiritual experience.
There is still much that could be done by way of research into the neuropharmacology of 5-MeO-DMT and the impact it has on users lives over the long term.
History of 5-MeO-DMT
This timeline from Erowid gives a breakdown of the history of 5-MeO-DMT:
Warnings on 5-MeO-DMT consumption
Since research into 5-MeO-DMT is still in its early stages and by no means conclusive, it is hard to verify the truth of specific therapeutic qualities such as addiction recovery. Furthermore, although there are treatment centres using it in combination with other psychoactive substances such as ayahuasca or iboga, some feel that this is a dangerous endeavour. Indolealkylamines (which includes 5-MeO-DMT) may cause serotonin syndrome if too much is taken or they are used in combination with other substances. Negative interactions with monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs) have been reported - in particular harmine or harmaline.
With regards to plant extractions, it is necessary to extract with care, since there have been cases of toxicity in some plant strains. This report refers to an effect on animals, and gramine toxicity has been known to cause cardiac arrest in sheep. Nevertheless, when preparing any psychoactive substance, it pays to do your research properly and understand the physical and psychological risks.
Vegans are unlikely to approve of the toad venom extraction techniques, since it involves exciting (or what some might call traumatising) the toads in order to get them to secrete their poison. There is much debate about owning toads and taking them out of their natural habitat for personal or commercial gain.
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