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How Long Does DMT Stay In Your System? (Dimethyltryptamine)

DMT (N,N-Dimethyltryptamine) is a psychedelic drug derived from the tryptamine family with a similar structure to serotonin and melatonin.  When taken orally, DMT is generally regarded as inactive unless simultaneously ingested with an MAOI (monoamine oxidase inhibitor).  An MAOI prevents the enzyme “monoamine oxidase” from rapidly oxidizing the DMT, thereby facilitating a psychedelic experience.

Psychedelic effects reported following ingestion of DMT include: hallucinations, visuals, sensory alterations, and even out-of-body experiences.  For this reason, many individuals deliberately ingest DMT for a variety of reasons including: as part of a ceremony or tradition, to explore consciousness/perception, and/or to induce a spiritual/mystical experience.  DMT is noted to trigger psychedelic effects via binding to receptors of serotonin, dopamine, and norepinephrine within the brain.

Though many people have favorable mind-altering experiences with DMT, some users report less enjoyable psychedelic trips.  DMT may provoke a resurgence of traumatic memories, mood swings, depersonalization, or severe drug-induced psychosis.  As a result of these disconcerting effects, an individual may wonder how long the DMT stays in their system after ingestion.

How long does DMT stay in your system?

Since DMT is an endogenous neurotransmitter produced by L-tryptophan in the pineal gland, it is technically always present within your system.  Most individuals though are wondering how long exogenously ingested DMT will remain in systemic circulation after administration.  The elimination half-life of exogenous DMT isn’t fully elucidated in humans, and may be contingent upon a number of factors including the specifics of a concomitantly administered MAOI.

If you were to take DMT without a concomitant MAOI, you’d end up rapidly metabolizing it via monoamine oxidase “A” enzymes.  Erowid reports that the average elimination half-life of DMT is approximately 15 minutes in humans.  This indicates that 50% of an exogenously ingested DMT dose will have been cleared from the plasma in around 15 minutes.

Complete plasma clearance of DMT will therefore take around 1 hour 23 minutes.  Assuming that the 15 minute half-life applies to you, you could expect to excrete the drug fully (in the form of metabolites) within 2 hours of your dose.  Other factors such as the specific DMT you took (source, dosage, etc.) and route of administration may affect plasma clearance.  In other words, the drug will linger in your body for about an hour after your psychedelic experience ends.

  • Source: https://www.erowid.org/chemicals/dmt/dmt_journal1.shtml

Variables that influence how long DMT stays in your system

There are a variety of variables that may influence how long exogenously administered DMT and its metabolites remain in your system.  Variables that may affect the duration it remains in your plasma include: concomitant MAOI usage, route of administration, single vs. multi dosing, and various individual factors.  Due to the lack of research involving DMT in humans, the specific degree to which these variables influence the pharmacokinetics of DMT can only be hypothesized.

  1. Route of Administration + Dosage

The route by which DMT is administered is thought to significantly affect its pharmacokinetics.  Though it is commonly administered orally, DMT is also smoked and sometimes injected.  When injected intravenously, it reaches peak plasma concentrations within 2 minutes.  When injected intramuscularly, peak plasma concentrations are reached within 15 minutes.

If administered orally, for instance in a brew such as ayahuasca, it may take over an hour for DMT levels to peak.  Based on pharmacokinetic differences in DMT based on route of administration, it’s logical to assume that the drug will stay in your system for a shorter/longer depending on how you ingested it.  For example, taking the drug orally may result in a much slower plasma clearance than injecting it intravenously.

In addition, it is important to realize that the greater the dosage of DMT ingested relative to modality of administration – the longer it is likely to stay in your system.  Certain modalities of administration such as intravenous injection don’t require as high of dosages as smoking to derive psychedelic effects.

  1. Concomitant MAOI

In order for orally administered DMT to elicit psychedelic effects, it must be administered concomitantly with an agent that inhibits enzymatic activity of monoamine oxidase.  For this reason, DMT users will administer either a pharmaceutical or naturally occurring MAOI agent.  The specific MAOI administered, its potency, and dosage – should all be considered when contemplating how long a DMT trip may last.

One individual may administer an agent like Harmaline, while another may take something like Moclobemide or “Syrian Rue” along with their DMT.  An agent with greater potency to inhibit MAO-A enzymes should theoretically prolong the enzymatic breakdown of DMT, thereby resulting in a longer elimination half-life.  On the other hand, a less potent inhibitor of MAO-A may result in a faster breakdown of DMT, as well as elimination.

  • Source: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20206139
  1. Single dose vs. Multi dose

If you’re taking just a single dose of any drug, including DMT, you can expect to clear it from systemic circulation quicker than multiple doses.  A single dose is efficiently metabolized and eliminated from the plasma in less than 2 hours.  Since most DMT users administer just a single dose of the drug, discrepancies in elimination half-lives may be more a result of the dosage ingested, modality of administration, and/or concomitant MAOI.

However, in the event that you were to use DMT consistently throughout the day (i.e. multi-dosing), it may accumulate within your system (assuming you were preventing its metabolism with an MAOI).  As a result, more of the DMT would be expected to remain in systemic circulation for a greater duration than ingestion of a single dose.  This would extend the drug’s elimination half-life, likely to a modest extent.

  1. Individual factors

An array of individual factors may affect how long DMT remains in systemic circulation after ingestion.  Since DMT undergoes extensive first-pass enzymatic metabolism via monoamine oxidase, these individual factors generally have most of an impact on how a person handles a co-administered MAOI agent – rather than the DMT itself.  A person’s body mass, genetics, and renal function.

Body mass: Some dosing protocols for DMT recommend taking a certain amount based on a person’s body mass.  In general, the greater the amount of DMT you administer relative to your body mass, the longer it is likely to remain in your system.  More massive individuals may be better equipped to efficiently metabolize standard doses of drugs compared to less massive ones.  The impact of your body mass on DMTs pharmacokinetics is unlikely to be scientifically significant, but is still worth noting as having a small (nearly negligible) impact on its elimination.

Genetics: A person’s genetics aren’t likely to significantly impact on the specific pharmacokinetics of DMT, but they could surely affect the pharmacokinetics of a co-administered MAOI.  For example, specific alleles of the CYP2D6 gene are associated with poorer metabolism of Harmaline, an agent commonly administered with DMT.  Other polymorphisms like mephenytoin oxidation polymorphism could affect the metabolism of Moclobemide, another popular MAOI.

For this reason, it is important to consider that your genetic expression may affect the metabolism of the MAOI you take with DMT, but also indirectly affect the DMT itself.  Someone who doesn’t efficiently metabolize the MAOI that they take with DMT may have a much different plasma clearance time than someone who is able to metabolize the MAOI efficiently.

Renal function: It is known that a portion of an ingested DMT dose is excreted via the kidneys.  For this reason, the function of your kidneys may determine how long it is likely to remain in your body before getting excreted.  A person with normative renal function is thought to excrete the drug completely within a short duration.  However, an individual with severe renal impairment may be unable to excrete DMT metabolites as efficiently – resulting in a prolonged half-life.

Urinary pH: Research shows that the amount of DMT excreted from the body increases when urinary pH decreases.  This finding is relatively consistent with many other pharmaceutical drugs.  Individuals with a high urinary pH, characterized by alkaline urine, are thought to retain DMT within their bodies for a much longer duration than those with lower pH urine.

Your urinary pH is largely a byproduct of your diet.  If you’re eating foods that serve to acidify your urine such as meats and grains, you can expect your urinary pH to be relatively low.  On the other hand, if you’re eating an alkaline diet, the DMT may linger in your kidneys for a longer duration prior to complete excretion.

Note: Consuming foods high in “tyramine” such as aged cheeses and cured meats could provoke adverse reactions to an MAOI such as hypertension.  This is due to the fact that the body is unable to metabolize tyramine, levels skyrocket, and blood pressure remains unmodulated.

DMT: Absorption, Metabolism, Excretion (Details)

The precise pharmacokinetics of DMT in humans aren’t well understood.  Following administration of DMT (N’,N’-dimethyltryptamine) it undergoes extensive first-pass metabolism by the enzyme monoamine oxidase (MAO), thereby eliminating its oral bioavailability.  However, when co-administered with an MAOI (monoamine oxidase inhibitor), it becomes orally bioavailable.

The MAOI prevents metabolic breakdown of DMT, and as a result, users experience psychedelic effects.  Exogenous DMT rapidly crosses the blood-brain barrier and binds to receptors in less than 10 seconds if injected.  It is then picked up by the serotonin transporter (SERT) and stored in vesicles by way of vesicle monoamine transporter 2 (VMAT2).

Though the psychedelic experience derived from exogenous DMT only lasts a short duration, a tiny amount (0.1%) can remain stored in the brain for up to 7 days.  A majority of the ingested dose will have undergone renal excretion within 24 hours of ingestion, with only a small amount remaining unchanged within the urine.  Furthermore, the DMT should be cleared from systemic plasma circulation within just 2 hours of ingestion.

  • Source: https://pubchem.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/compound/dimethyltryptamine
  • Source: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21622895

How long does DMT remain detectable in the body?

Most people want to know how long DMT stays in systemic circulation before it is cleared from their plasma.  However, some people are more concerned with the specifics of how long it before it is fully (100%) excreted from their bodies.  There are various types of tests capable of detecting exogenous DMT, but the most common are urine and hair tests.

Blood tests and oral fluid tests are rarely utilized even in research to determine whether someone has ingested exogenous DMT.  In most cases, users would be unlikely to test positive for exogenous DMT (and metabolites) on a DMT-specific drug test after 24 hours of drug administration.  That said, it is important to know that a very small percentage (0.1%) of exogenous DMT may remain in the brain for up to 7 days post-ingestion.

Urine tests: A urinalysis can be used to detect DMT for up to 24 hours after ingestion.  This involves collecting a fresh urine sample from a DMT user and analyzing it for various metabolites using high performance liquid chromatography (HPLC).  When taken orally, no unchanged DMT is recovered in a urine sample, however indole-3-acetic acid (IAA) accounts for 97% of the excreted compounds whereas DMT-N-oxide (DMT-NO) accounts for 3%.

If a user smoked the drug, up to 10% of urinary excretion will be of unchanged DMT, whereas 28% will be of DMT-N-oxide (DMT-NO).  Levels of indole-3-acetic acid will still remain highest among DMT smokers, accounting for 63%.  Normative levels of urinary DMT are thought to be less than 0.5 mcg.  Trace amounts of DMT (nearly negligible could be excreted 24 hours after an ingested dose).

  • Source: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25069786
  • Source: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/7905222

Hair tests: A hair test should be able to detect the presence of DMT for months after an exogenously administered dose.  A hair sample of follicles from a person’s head can be sent to a laboratory and analyzed with ultra-high-pressure liquid chromatography/mass spectrometry (LC/MS) to detect N,N-dimethyltryptamine.  Research shows that in ayahuasca users, approximately 5.6 ng of N,N-dimethyltryptamine will appear in each milligram of hair.

  • Source: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25171488

Tips to clear DMT from your system

If you want to ensure that DMT is excreted from your system as quickly as possible, below are some suggestions.  Keep in mind that these suggestions may be more effective for some people than others.  Always talk to a medical professional to verify the safety and efficacy of these suggestions prior to implementation.

  1. Urinary pH acidification: Research shows that individuals with low pH urine tend to excrete DMT quicker than those with high pH urine. If you want to ensure that the drug is excreted from your body as efficiently as possible, you may want to consider consuming a diet with acidic foods. Obviously you’ll want to be cautious of going overboard – as this could lead to acidosis.
  2. Hydration: Staying hydrated is thought to facilitate quicker excretion of DMT metabolites via the kidneys. Renal excretion is influenced by urinary flow rate, and urinary flow rate is influenced by hydration. A person who is well hydrated is more likely to exhibit a heightened urinary flow rate, which leads to more of the DMT metabolites getting excreted in a shorter duration.
  3. MAO inducers: To speed up the metabolism of DMT, an individual could administer an MAO inducer such as valproic acid (Depakote). Since DMT is eliminated from the body relatively quickly, most people won’t be going out of their way to attain an MAO inducer to expedite its metabolism. Furthermore, it is unclear as to how much an agent like valproic acid would expedite DMTs excretion.

Bottom line: A majority of DMT is excreted in less than 24 hours

If you’ve used DMT, you may be attempting to estimate how long it is lingering within your plasma and body after your psychedelic trip.  Understand that in most cases, a bulk of the exogenous DMT will be eliminated from systemic circulation within just hours of ingestion.  Additionally, most of the drug will have been excreted through your urine in less than 24 hours.

Some research has shown that a fraction (one-tenth of one percent) stays lodged within vesicles inside your brain for up to a week after your final dose.  However, it will eventually get cleared from these vesicles and be subject to oxidation via MAO enzymes.  Ultimately, most DMT users shouldn’t be concerned with the drug staying in their systems for an exorbitant amount of time.

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