Psychedelic Afterlife: Researchers Determine Which Hallucinogenic ‘Trip’ is Most Similar to the Near-Death Experience

Artwork by Alex Grey

Artwork by Alex Grey

“Can psychedelic experiences help us understand and explore the mystery of the near-death experience (NDE)? Cultures around the world have associated the two: the South American DMT-based brew ayahuasca is “vine of the dead” in the Quechua language, with the Tukano and Shipibo people believing it allows a transition towards a state of direct communication with the spirits of the deceased; some North American indigeous societies consume peyote (a cactus containing the psychedelic mescaline) to allow them a glimpse into their conception of an afterlife; and the Bwiti people of Gabon employ the bark of Iboga (which contains the potent hallucinogenic tryptamine ibogaine) to induce “near-death“ trances.

Even in modern society there has been discussion of the similarities between a variety of psychedelic ‘trips’ and the afterlife ‘journey’ of near-death experiencers: from LSD, to ketamine, to DMT. However, this association between psychedelic experiences and NDEs is generally based only on anecdotal evidence and subjective opinion based on a few perceived links.

But a new study – “Neurochemical models of near-death experiences: A large-scale study based on the semantic similarity of written reports” – has set out to quantify the possible links by comparing a bunch of NDE accounts (625) with a huge number of ‘trip reports’ (more than 15,000) “spanning experiences with 165 psychoactive substances of ten different pharmacological classes”…” Continue reading