DMT and the Pineal Gland

One of the most popular “drug geek” myths is that the powerful psychedelic compound DMT is produced naturally within your body, specifically the pineal gland. Not only this, but this natural DMT is apparently involved in a wide variety of previously unexplained processes – it is the mechanism of dreaming, it causes religious feelings, and DMT production spikes near death to “carry away the soul”. This appears to stem primarily from Dr. Richard Strassman’s book The Spirit Molecule, which advanced many of these hypotheses which were then passed on and extrapolated telephone-game style to the point where fluoridated water is apparently an Illuminati plot to suppress natural DMT production.

There’s just one problem – there doesn’t appear to be any concrete evidence whatsoever for this. Dr. Strassman himself explains:

I did my best in the DMT book to differentiate between what is known, and what I was conjecturing about (based upon what is known), regarding certain aspects of DMT dynamics. However, it’s amazing how ineffective my efforts seem to have been. So many people write me, or write elsewhere, about DMT, and the pineal, assuming that the things I conjecture about are true. When I was writing the book, I thought I was clear enough, and repeating myself would have gotten tedious.

We don’t know whether DMT is made in the pineal. I muster a lot of circumstantial evidence supporting a reason to look long and hard at the pineal, but we do not yet know. There are data suggesting urinary DMT rises in psychotic patients when their psychosis is worse. However, we don’t know whether DMT rises during dreams, meditation, near-death, death, birth or any other endogenous altered state. To the extent those states resemble those brought on by giving DMT, it certainly makes one wonder if endogenous DMT might be involved, and if it were, it would explain a lot. But we don’t know yet. Even if the pineal weren’t involved, that would have little overall effect on my theories regarding a role for DMT in endogenous altered states, because we do know that the gene involved in DMT synthesis is present in many organs, particularly lung. If the pineal made DMT, it would tie up a lot of loose ends regarding this enigmatic little organ. But people seem to live pretty normals lives without a pineal gland; for example, when it has had to be removed because of a tumor.

In both these regards–the pineal-DMT connection, and endogenous DMT dynamics–we ought to know a lot more within the next several years due to the efforts of a research group being led by Steven Barker at Louisiana State University. He, with his grad student Ethan McIlhenny, are developing a new super-assay for DMT, 5-MeO-DMT, bufotenine, and metabolites. This assay will be capable of detecting those compounds much more sensitively than previous generations of assays. They’re looking at endogenous levels in awake sober normals, to assess baseline values of these compounds. We should have some data from those samples within a year. They also will be looking at pineal tissue. Once we have some baseline data in normal humans in normal waking consciousness, comparisons can be made between those levels and levels in endogenous altered states, like dreams, near-death, and so on.

It appears that myths about drugs can cut both ways, and this is an important illustration of the requirement for critical thinking, no matter how appealing the initial conjecture. Steven Barker and Ethan McIlhenny’s work to determine baseline DMT levels continues, with their latest paper involving detection of metabolites produced by ayahuasca consumption.

Hanna J. “DMT and the Pineal: Fact or Fiction?” www.erowid.org/chemicals/dmt/dmt_article2.shtml. Jun 3 2010.

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    • Cosmic rush
    • December 20th, 2011

    Thank you for this post. I am bothered by how many people use quantum physics to explain everything mystical. I know a lot about physics. It seems to have become quite an epidemic! Haha. There is so many different false theories using quantum physics to explain them.

    • Felipe Barañao
    • December 22nd, 2011

    hi.

    nice and interesting… so i live in chile, and apologies for my poor english, i would like to know more about DMT and ayahuasca from Sud-american countries.
    and my question is ¿exist the way to create DMT in home? and other thing…

    y read about the alucination efects of this drugs, and i remember the framework of quantum mechanics what refer to important of mesurement of the observation and reality, in fact the observation change reality, and with DMT, you change the actual framework of reality, so i think, maybe you transport to the other ‘side’… to the quantum world… who knows … (like the song of jimi hendrix)..

    so that’s is my opnion, and i would like to learn more about
    DMT.

    cheers

    • Randy
    • August 12th, 2013

    NEW: DMT Found in the Pineal Gland of Live Rats
    Post on 05/23/2013 by CRF

    We’re excited to announce the acceptance for publication of a paper documenting the presence of DMT in the pineal glands of live rodents. The paper will appear in the journal Biomedical Chromatography and describes experiments that took place in Dr. Jimo Borjigin’s laboratory at the University of Michigan, where samples were collected. These samples were analyzed in Dr. Steven Barker’s laboratory at Louisiana State University, using methods that funding from the Cottonwood Research Foundation helped develop.

    The pineal gland has been an object of great interest regarding consciousness for thousands of years, and a pineal source of DMT would help support a role for this enigmatic gland in unusual states of consciousness. Research at the University of Wisconsin has recently demonstrated the presence of the DMT-synthesizing enzyme as well as activity of the gene responsible for the enzyme in pineal (and retina). Our new data now establish that the enzyme actively produces DMT in the pineal.

    The next step is to determine the presence of DMT in cerebrospinal fluid (CSF), the fluid that bathes the brain and pineal. CSF is a possible route for pineal-synthesized DMT to effect changes in brain function. Successfully establishing DMT’s presence in this gland adds another link in the chain between the pineal and consciousness and opens new avenues for research.

    We thank those who have already donated to our advancement of the research in this field. We hope the recent developments will encourage you to donate to Cottonwood again, or for the first time, in order to continue this fascinating and intriguing line of research. When donating, please make sure you select “Pineal Project” as the

    • dmt
    • December 28th, 2013

    dmt is a wonder of god and great spirits! you can go on a shaman journey to explore everything and get answers straight from the SOURCE and you will meet your true higher self and you will understand the essence of life all together with the story of creation! all this and much more will be provided you by dmt…and your government will be out of controlling you and thats what they are afraid of :)

  1. I thought you might be interested in the results of this research.
    http://www.cottonwoodresearch.org/dmt-pineal-2013/

    • Westerners suck
    • December 17th, 2014

    What a hit piece! Hmmmm i wonder if the writer is ever so slightly anti-drug? Good chance you are sipping your drug at this moment!
    Ancient cultures have been aware of the pineal gland for thousands of years which can be easily verified for those who actually research subjects before they let loose with their hopelessly niave, ignorant and aggressively biased comments.
    Another follower of dogmatic main stream science (yawn) Do yourself a favour and read “The science delusion”.

    Cosmic rush…so you dabble in physics? How about quantum entanglement or do you just choose what “physics” to believe?
    Ego games!
    And the blindly ignorant shall inherit the earth it seems.

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