Drugs In The Brain: Part 2

To pass some of the extra time I have, I’ve been watching documentaries about drugs. I’ve heard of the usual suspects: heroin, cocaine, and meth. Something completely new to me was the new kid around the block called DMT or Dimethyltryptamine. It’s considered the strongest psychedelic in the world. I guess it’s more like the hipster of drugs. No one has really heard about it.

I think I first heard of DMT through a friend who mentioned it after I told him I was learning about drugs. I looked at it and was like “woah totally cool”, but didn’t really find information on it. THEN I found the Drugs, Inc. documentaries on National Geographic! I saw a few of them and really loved it. They hit on so many points in one episode. They talked about the social aspect, the socioeconomic aspect, the intersection of different aspects, some of the science behind it, and just other interesting information.

One of the episodes talked about Hallucinogenics. And they talked about DMT! (If you can’t tell I was so excited). In the video some ex-Wall St. broker was flying people out to México to do a sort of therapy using DMT. He said he recovered from his depression and other issues by using it. So he thought he should do the same for other people. He flies them from where they’re from to Peru. It seems a little weird though that he’s doing this all for free… Anyway, the episode shows you how they extract the DMT.

The source that they showed was a Peruvian farmer who’s planation was burned down and had to resort to making a DMT-like tea because it was the only lucrative thing he could do. He extracts the DMT from a vine. He mashes up the vine and boils it in water. The tea substance is called ayahuasca (pronounced ayawaska. Fun fact: it’s from the Quechua language). After he brews it, he sells it to various people.

The other part is following a woman with a tragic childhood going to the ex-Wall St. broker to find some sort of therapy. After she goes through some of the rituals, she is then given the ayahuasca to drink. You can witness her high and the side effects of this strong potion here.

One thing you’ll see later in the episode is the fact that she is extremely nauseous after the high and is going back and forth between a trance and full consciousness. It seems like a pretty dangerous and terrifying thing to mess with.

With all that being said, it seems people have really been helped by using this drug. I’m not really sure in what way, but the “patients” seemed satisfied and happy with their lives. I guess that’s all that matters?


One thought on “Drugs In The Brain: Part 2

  1. Steven,
    There is a very interesting documentary entitled “DMT: The Spirit Molecule” that explore not only the spiritual aspects of the drug but the scientific aspects as well. It raises many interesting questions around society’s knowledge of and beliefs around psychedelics. I encourage you to watch it for a more in depth understanding of a very controversial psychoactive. It is amazing that our bodies synthesize this chemical on their own and that is certain doses it is capable of giving people such extreme “experiences”. As a scientist the one thing I would warn anyone about is that the mind is a crazy place and that although our bodies synthesize this chemical on their own, the when, why and at what concentration are tightly controlled and we have no long term evidence on the long-term and overall affects of overstimulating any given neuronal pathway. If we were to look at other data on the overuse of signaling pathways in the body (i.e., Type II diabetes) the data would indicate that are bodies are masters at regulating everything we need to function, but if you overuse any given part eventually things will no longer function as they should or, in worst cases, simply shutdown.

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