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1. Tryptamine Psychedelics

In this article I wish to draw attention to a strange property of the tryptamine psychedelics, especially N,N-dimethyltryptamine (DMT), which sets them apart from other psychedelics, namely, their ability to place users in touch with a realm that is apparently inhabited by discarnate entities of an intelligent nature. The investigation of such a possibility clearly takes us to (and perhaps beyond) the border of what is considered scientifically acceptable. Nevertheless, the phenomenon of apparent alien contact is so impressive to those who have experienced it, and the implications of such contact are so radical, that the evidence deserves serious investigation.

The term "psychedelic" may be understood to denote a class of substances whose primary effect is to alter consciousness in an ego-transcending manner so that the experience of a person whose neurochemistry is altered by such a substance is enhanced and expanded in comparison with ordinary experience. This enhancement and expansion may be emotional, intellectual, intuitive, sensory, spiritual, somatic or in some other mode. The qualification that the experience involve a tendency to ego-transcendence is added partly to distinguish substances such as LSD and MDMA from stimulants such as amphetamine and cocaine and partly because it is one of the more remarkable properties of psychedelics that, by their means, we may enter mythological and spiritual dimensions not normally the concern of our everyday selves.

Psychedelics may be classified most easily in two ways: according to their effect on consciousness or according to their chemical structure. The former is difficult to quantify, and the data here tends to be of a literary nature (for example, Horowitz [56]). Due to the highly regrettable proscription of the use of psychedelics in many countries, and to the totally unjustifiable suppression of research in this field, not much has been published during the last twenty years regarding the effects of psychedelics on consciousness. With the increasing recognition in more enlightened countries (especially in Europe) of the potential value of psychedelics we may hope to see a revival of publication in this area.

The structural classification lends itself to quantitative scientific investigation and has thus been preferred by Western scientists. From such work as has been permitted in this field, it seems that, for the most part, "hallucinogens are divided into two separate categories. The first . . . covers the substituted phenylalkylamines, with the prototype for these structures being mescaline. The second category includes indole-based compounds, including various substituted tryptamines, beta-carbolines, and LSD." (Nichols [81], p.97). Not all psychedelics fall into these two categories. For example, ketamine is clearly a psychedelic but is structurally unrelated to the phenethylamines or to the tryptamines.

The most well-known psychedelic tryptamines consist of DMT and three variations on it:

                    5-MeO-DMT  =  5-methoxy-DMT
                    psilocin   =  4-hydroxy-DMT
                    psilocybin =  4-phosphoryloxy-DMT
Psilocybin is dephosphorylated in the body and thereby converted to psilocin.

The corresponding diethyltryptamine analogs are similarly psychoactive (and reportedly longer lasting). As well as N,N-diethyltryptamine (DET), the compound CZ-74 (4-hydroxy-DET), the ethyl analog of psilocin, is known to be a psychedelic. (For chemical information regarding DET, CZ-74 and 4-phosphoryloxy-DET see Ott[82a], pp. 432-433.)

Psychoactivity has been reported in alpha-methyltryptamine (Murphree [79]), 4-methoxy-DMT and 5-methoxy-alpha-methyltryptamine (Nichols [81]) and bufotenin, which is 5-hydroxy-DMT (Fabing[23] and Turner [126] ). 6-hydroxy-DMT has been reported as one of the excretory metabolites of DMT (Szara [118]). A review of the literature will reveal a considerable number of other tryptamine derivatives which either are known to be or may be psychoactive.

Although LSD is not a tryptamine its molecular structure includes that of the tryptamine molecule. We cannot thereby simply classify it as a tryptamine psychedelic because its molecular structure also includes that of some psychedelic phenethylamines such as 2,5-dimethoxy-4-methylamphetamine (DOM) (Nichols [81], p.114). Nevertheless LSD is usually classified with the tryptamine psychedelics and seems more closely related to the them because it is more readily displaced from receptor sites by the tryptamines than by the phenethylamines.

DMT has been found to occur naturally in mammalian brains (Barker[4] and Christian [17]). "Indolealkylamines ... are the only known hallucinogenic agents whose endogenous occurrence in mammals, including man, has been confirmed" (McKenna [67]). Szara [114] says that it "seems that the whole enzymatic apparatus exists in mammals which can produce tryptamine from tryptophane, DMT from tryptamine and 6-HDMT [the probably hallucinogenic 6-hydroxy-DMT] from DMT."

It is of interest to note that, since DMT is present in every human brain, any person in a country which prohibits possession of DMT may be arrested on sight. Every U.S. citizen is now automatically a criminal at birth.

The question as to what function DMT and related substances have in the mammalian body has not yet received a definite answer. DMT is structurally similar to serotonin (5-hydroxytryptamine) which is well-known as a neurotransmitter in the mammalian brain. It has been suggested that DMT is a also a neurotransmitter, but this has not been established.

Strassman [110] has presented evidence that psychoactive tryptamines are produced endogenously by the pineal gland and are related to the metabolism of the pineal hormone melatonin. It has been suggested that DMT plays a centrol role in dreaming (perhaps with the pineal gland releasing DMT or a related subtance at certain times during sleep). Much research in this area remains to be done.

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