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What's the difference between DMT and 5-MeO-DMT?

With the psychedelic renaissance, various names have surged as alternatives to big pharma, as well as the popularization and resurgence of several substances amongst recreational users.

Substances such as DMT and its derivative 5-MeO-DMT, have stood up in between many for their fast action onset in the treatment of lingering depression as well as anxiety. The substances regained their positive connotation as various celebrities such as the stories regarding the "Toad medicine" spread by Mike Tyson or the "plant medicine" regarding Ayahuasca told by Will Smith in between others.

Despite the stories circulating and the substances gaining popularity in the past year, numerous uncertainties persist regarding the distinctions between these substances, their effects, and the nature of DMT and 5-MeO-DMT.

Be careful with the Toad.

Advisory Warning: 5-MeO-DMT is especially not recommended outside of a professional ceremonial setting. Dosages vary from N,N-DMT. Do not consume orally.

What’s The Difference Between DMT and 5-MeO-DMT (Bufo)

Where does DMT come from?

NN-DMT or 'normal DMT' is a psychoactive alkaloid that's active in all life, both plants, humans, and animals. However, it seems to be most present in:

  • Citrus trees

  • Phalaris

  • Psychotria Viridis

  • Acacia trees

  • Mimosa Hostilis

Regardless of the availability in nature, the substance was only found in 1931 by Richard Manske. However, the hallucinogenic effects weren't described until 1956, when the psychiatrist and chemist Stephen Szara, extracted DMT from the Mimosa Hostilis rootbark and administered the extract to himself intramuscularly. These events brought the attention of authors such as Terrence McKenna considered to be the pioneer of DMT experiences in the psychonaut community. Describing the substance as a portal to meet mechanical elves, popularizing the substance during the '60s.

Opening doors to books like DMT: Spirit Molecule by Rick Strassman and Breathing Techniques funded by Stanislav Grof and Wim Hof that may increase the biosynthesis of DMT in the body. A highly interesting documentary on DMT is made by our friends at DMT Quest:

How Is DMT Consumed?

Due to our scientific evolution, it is known that DMT is rapidly metabolized if the substance is administered:

  • Smoked/Vaped

  • Intravenously

  • Intramuscularly

When consumed orally the substance needs to be accompanied by an MAOI (Monoamine Oxidase Inhibitor) to achieve the effect, like Selegiline or Banisteriopsis Caapi, to create ayahuasca. Once the substance enters the body, it stimulates the serotonin receptors, the reason behind the classic hallucinatory effect of the substance as well as the reason behind the antidepressant effects of the substance. Most people will choose to vaporize or smoke both NN-DMT and 5-MeO-DMT.

sky and stars depicting a DMT experience

What Is 5-MeO-DMT?

5-MeO-DMT was firstly synthesized in 1936 by Toshio Hoshino and Kenya Shimodaira, the substance is a derivative of DMT. Differing from the substance chemically speaking, as 5-MeO-DMT has a methoxy group in the fifth carbon. However, don't take this as a small difference as the substance is severely stronger than DMT.

Originally 5-MeO-DMT was used as snuff in Peru, under the name of Yopo, a snuff made by the seeds of Anadenanthera Colubrina. Another snuff made with Virola Theodora was also used in the Amazon Rainforest.

5-MeO-DMT (5-methoxy-N,N-dimethyltryptamine) is a natural psychedelic found in many plants around the world and in the venom of the Bufo alvarius toad and was first synthesized in the laboratory in 1936. It is usually encountered as white crystals or powder that is smoked.

It has a history of shamanic use going back at least hundreds, but probably thousands of years in the Americas. The Otomac of southern Venezuela have been making snuffs containing 5-MEO-DMT for at least centuries, and the practice continues today. The same goes for the practice of smoking the dried toad venom ceremonially among some traditional and spiritual groups.

5-MeO-DMT is chemically related to N,N-DMT, but is weight for weight five to six times as potent. It produces experiences of comparable intensity, but the nature of the two experiences are often reported to be completely different—just as the psilocybin and N,N-DMT. Experiences are very different despite also being chemically very similar. Effects vary wildly, but N,N-DMT is usually highly visual. N,N-DMT usually involves meetings with other-dimensional intelligence, whereas 5-MeO-DMT is usually devoid of any visuals and is more an emotional shift in perception to a state of total egolessness, sometimes referred to as ‘the void’.

5-MeO-DMT is active in an extremely low and narrow range and is also one of the most powerful psychedelics known. This makes it especially difficult to dose correctly. People have reported effects of profundity unparalleled by anything else, and it clearly has spiritual value. The incredible intensity of the experience and great sensitivity of the dosage means that it is easy to have too much and for the effects to be completely overwhelming and extremely unpleasant. No psychedelic is to be messed with or treated like a toy, but 5-MEO-DMT is almost in another class. Both N,N-DMT and 5-MeO-DMT can produce a wide variety of the most intense experiences possible for a human to undergo, but an average cross-section of reports shows 5-MeO-DMT to be a lot more challenging than N,N-DMT and much more likely to be overwhelming and frightening. It seems to cause PTSD symptoms more than other psychedelics do. If you are certain 5-MeO-DMT is something you want to try, make sure you research interactions with any medication you are taking. Research the experience as much as possible, start small, and treat it with the reverence it demands.

A tripsitter is absolutely vital; 5-MEO-DMT produces profound dissociative effects and people can scream or collapse and flail around and hurt themselves. It can also cause respiratory depression. Vomiting is not uncommon, and there have been three known cases of death due to asphyxiation from vomit during an experience. Similar to drinking ayahuasca in a ceremonial setting, there is a tradition of using 5-MeO-DMT ceremonially. If that is something you want to do, the same research and precautions are necessary for participating in an ayahuasca experience. Don’t let the short-acting nature of 5-MEO-DMT fool you into treating the experience with less gravity.

a hand holding a Bufo, 5-MeO-DMT toad

Is 5-MeO-DMT a Toad Venom?

In 1984, a pamphlet under the name Bufo Alvarius: The Psychedelic Toad of the Sonoran Desert was published by Albert Most, later found to be Ken Nelson. The book described the studies regarding the Bufo Alvarius toad, describing the physique and habitat of the toad, how to extract the venom from the toad as well as the report of his experience smoking the toad venom.

After analyzing the toad venom, substances such as 5-MeO-DMT and Bufotenine were found, reasoning behind the psychoactivity of the toad. This practice is still widely done by Shamans in the Sonoran Desert and is being done as a tool to treat depression, anxiety, and PTSD.

Most people order 5-MeO-DMT online as its chemical variant, is made in a lab. While others get it ‘naturally’ from toads. Recently with the shortage of toads in the Sonora Desert, the movement to stop using the toads and substituting the toad's venom with a synthetic version of 5-MeO-DMT has been taking part across America.

How Does 5-MeO-DMT or Bufo Work?

In vitro, the drug is widely distributed in the cortex, thalamus, hippocampus, basal ganglia, medulla, pons, and cerebellum. Once 5-MeO-DMT enters the body users often feel overwhelming intense experiences that usually last less than 30 minutes, causing a feeling of mystic union or transpersonal nature, intense auditory and visual hallucinations, internal scenes, and cognitive/emotional shifts.

How Does 5-MeO-DMT or Bufo Feel?

The intensity of 5-MeO-DMT brought severe worry about harm reduction since the substance is active in dosages as small as 3 mgs. Weighting the substance is fundamental and should be precise as a few milligrams can be the cause of an accidental overdose. A moderate to high dosage usually leaves the user incapacitated. It is advised for one to have someone present to prevent possible injuries.

Occasionally the effects may cause abnormal voices, involuntary movements, and vomiting so it is advised that the person accompanying the user is capable of repositioning the user and be aware of asphyxiation caused by vomit.

The experience is impervious to attempts to describe it, but ‘intense’ is an adjective most agree on. ‘Incredible’ is another, but the profoundness of 5-MeO-DMT can not be put into words. 5-MeO-DMT can be particularly life-changing. It can truly be an explosive deep dive into the absolute source. Many trips seem like a familiar state of death, or ‘non-duality’. Many experience a complete separation from ordinary life. Smoked 5-MeO-DMT comes on suddenly. There can be a crushing body load, off-the-scale emotional response, and a complete dissolving of concepts, reality, space, and time. Upon return, one might not know how much time has passed, or what he/she has done. Did you scream? Did you move? The effect is overwhelming, so be in the presence of professionals on 5-MeO-DMT.

How does NN-DMT feel?

The DMT experience has a few distinct levels. Higher levels generally require higher doses. All experiences are different and a wide variety of trips can result from DMT, but commonly:

  • A threshold level can produce an interior notion of a shift in reality or flow of consciousness and perhaps a ‘glowing’ environment.

  • A low level produces a vast landscape of shifting and vibrating fractals in colors and dimensional arrangements you have never seen before and loud humming sounds.

  • A medium level can propel you through a vortex tunnel where you can sense or communicate with other intelligent beings. The most common types of entities described are the Jester, (mechanical) angels or elves, and giants. On Changa, one can feel the presence of the ‘mother ayahuasca‘.

  • A high dose is referred to as a ‘breakthrough’, because of the commonly experienced feeling of breaking through the barrier to another level of reality. The DMT breakthrough experience defies any attempt to explain or describe it, but a common narrative has emerged. People often speak of an extra-dimensional living and breathing world that is both utterly alien yet somehow nostalgic and more real than our daily reality. People identify making contact with intelligent life. Beings who are usually friendly and have a love for humanity. Some beings can be very playful and can even be laughing at you. Insights into the fabric of space, time, and the nature of consciousness may be fully intuitively understood and can feel utterly familiar.

'Net of Being' from artist Alex Grey, mimicking the NN-DMT space.

It is incredibly difficult to recall the trip once the effects have passed, similar to how a dream slips away quickly after you wake up. Much of what is experienced is just not possible to describe using language, but it may be helpful for some people to begin speaking about their experience as soon as possible after they are ‘back in the room’ to help recall. Journaling can also help if done quickly afterward.

Perhaps the most strange aspect of DMT is that many people will claim to have highly similar psychedelic trips. Going through the portal, encountering a quasi-friendly jester, getting a sensation that certain beings are ‘working on their body’ or try to ‘merge with you’, these are all common trip reports. More often than not, people will encounter entities trying to show or give them something. All and all the DMT realm is certainly one of the most extraordinary states we as humans can consciously experience during our waking life, and we still have much to learn about it.

Is 5-MeO-DMT Safe?

5-MeO-DMT is not safe for a person with a heart condition or high blood pressure. It increases the heart rate and blood pressure, although this is within acceptable levels for a healthy person. It is significantly less safe than N,N-DMT and has caused several deaths -primarily through asphyxiation on one’s own vomit.

It should not be considered a substitute or alternative to N,N-DMT. Indolealkylamines (including 5-MeO-DMT) are thought to cause serotonin syndrome when overdosed or mixed with other serotonergic substances. There have been cases of adverse reactions, and one record of a fatality, when 5-MeO-DMT was mixed with MAOIs.

Ayahuasca prepared with 5-MeO-DMT is not considered a safe alternative to that prepared with N,N-DMT. The intensity of 5-MeO-DMT has the potential to lead to PTSD symptoms. More research needs to be done, but 5-MeO-DMT has a long history of shamanic use and seems to be non-toxic when smoked. It does not cause physical dependence. Be careful, 5-MeO-DMT is very intense.

Negative Effects

A feeling of actually dying, increase in blood pressure and heart rate, overly intense experiences, fast onset, negative emotions, fear, terror, panic, difficulty integrating the experience, vomiting, inability to control motor functions, and involuntary movement. It’s important to have a tripsitter, especially with 5-MeO-DMT, to make sure if someone vomits, they can be placed on their side (or otherwise they risk choking on their vomit). All and all, 5-MeO-DMT’s strength is probably also its biggest ‘negative effect’. It can be very overwhelming.

DMT vs 5-MeO-DMT

  • DMT can be obtained as a synthetic crystal product or as an herbal tea vs 5-MeO-DMT can be obtained via Bufo Alvarius venom and synthetic

  • The average dose of DMT ranges from 20 – 40 mg vs 5-MeO-DMT dosage ranges from 5 – 10 mg

  • DMT causes mild visuals presented in the forms of fractals and shapes vs 5-MeO-DMT which can cause ego death

  • DMT has shown promise to help emotional distress vs 5-MeO-DMT has shown promise to create life-changing experiments and improve depression


N, N-Dimethyltryptamine (DMT), an Endogenous Hallucinogen: Past, Present, and Future Research to Determine Its Role and Function- Steven A. Barker

doi: 10.3389/fnins.2018.00536

Small Pharma stock market launch funds DMT-based depression drug trial-Richard Staines

The epidemiology of 5-Methoxy-N,N-Dimethyltryptamine (5-MeO-DMT) use: Benefits, consequences, patterns of use, subjective effects, and reasons for consumption- Alan K. Davis, PhD, Joseph P.

Barsuglia, PhD,b Rafael Lancelotta, BA, Robert M. Grant, MD, MPH, and Elise Renn, BS

Intensity of Mystical Experiences Occasioned by 5-MeO-DMT and Comparison With a Prior Psilocybin Study- Joseph Barsuglia , Alan K. Davis, Robert Palmer , Rafael Lancelotta , Austin-Marley Windham- Herman6, Kristel Peterson , Martin Polanco , Robert Grant and Roland R. Griffiths

5-methoxy-N,N-dimethyltryptamine (5-MeO-DMT) used in a naturalistic group setting is associated with unintended improvements in depression and anxiety- Alan K Davis , Sara So , Rafael Lancelotta , Joseph P Barsuglia , Roland R Griffiths

doi: 10.1080/00952990.2018.1545024

Hallucinogenic plants by Richard Evan Schultes


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