5-meo-dmt information

When it comes to approaching 5-MeO-DMT, education is key. Through providing the world with the proper resources,  F.I.V.E. aims to increase both harm reduction and transformative experiences within the community. 




5-meo-dmt information

When it comes to approaching 5-MeO-DMT, education is key. Through providing the world with the proper resources,  F.I.V.E. aims to increase both harm reduction and transformative experiences within the community. 

 

 

 

 

5-meo- dmt information

 

Psychedelics are enjoying a massive resurgence into the mainstream as tools for personal and spiritual growth and as therapies for widespread mental health challenges such as depression and anxiety. Among psychedelics, one substance stands out for its ability to produce experiences that can profoundly alter how we relate to ourselves, others, and the world— 5-MeO-DMT.

In the span of only a few years, psychedelics such as psilocybin have gone from being traditional sacred medicines suppressed by various political, religious, and economic groups to science-based treatments attracting celebrity endorsement and billions of dollars of investment. Given the generally slow progress of most psychological and psychiatric therapies, the increasing interest in visionary or consciousness-altering substances has given hope to those seeking or advocating alternative paths to healing and growth. 

This section will provide a thorough overview and history of 5-MeO-DMT and explain the central ideas that inform how to most responsibly and safely utilize it. We’ll also explore the scientific, clinical, and anecdotal evidence showing how 5-MeO-DMT may positively affect people’s lives.

Discover the ancient and recent roots of 5-MeO-DMT and its history of use.

Take a look into what science is uncovering through its studies of 5-MeO-DMT.

Read about the variety of experiences that can arise with 5-MeO-DMT, both blissful and challenging.

Get educated on the potential risks and benefits associated with the use of 5-MeO-DMT. 

Learn about safe and effective facilitation dosage, styles, protocols, and more.

Find out the current legal status of 5-MeO-DMT in different countries around the world.

5-Meo-dmt overview

 

5-MeO-DMT, 5-methoxy-N,N-dimethyltryptamine, O-methyl-bufotenin or 2-(5-Methoxy-1H-indol-3-yl)-N,N-dimethylethanamine, is a tryptamine-based psychedelic. While this compound has been found in one toad species and numerous plants, it was first discovered and synthesized in 1936 by two Japanese chemists named Hoshino and Shimodaira.  

In its synthesized form, 5-MeO-DMT is known as the pure molecule or Jaguar (“Jag” for short). Psychedelic pioneer Ralph Metzner coined this name in his 2013 book, The Toad and the Jaguar.

A crystalline powder material, Jaguar, usually presents itself in a white to slightly off-white beige color. Also referred to as “The Pure Molecule,” the use of Jaguar ceremonially has been gaining popularity both as a safer and more sustainable way to experience 5-MeO-DMT.

Also naturally produced within nature, 5-MeO-DMT can be found within the parotoid glands of the Sonoran Desert toad, also known as Incilius Alvarius or Bufo Alvarius toad. The secretion is ethically milked from the first two parotoid glands, expressed onto a piece of glass, and dried where it is collected for later use. The dried venom is pale, translucent in color, and has a texture similar to dried plastic cement. Containing anywhere from 10% – 30% 5-MeO-DMT, the secretion also contains up to a dozen other tryptamines and alkaloids, some of which are cardiotoxic to humans. 

It is important to note that while 5-MeO-DMT is related to dimethyltryptamine (DMT), they are two very different compounds. With the addition of a methoxy group in the R5-MeO position, 5-MeO-DMT is considerably more potent and produces an exceptionally different experience to DMT (more on those later.) In the interests of psychological and physical safety, it is vital to understand that these are two very different substances and should be treated as such.

The most common plant sources of 5-MeO-DMT are Anadenanthera peregrina (yopo) and Virola theiodora. Both are used in Central and South America to make psychoactive snuff used in traditional shamanic and entheogenic contexts by Indigenous people.

 

The ancient history

Most of the documented history and archeological evidence of 5-MeO-DMT use is focused on Central and South America in the form of snuff. This psychoactive preparation is made from the seeds of Anadenanthera peregrina, Anadenanthera colubrina, or Virola theiodora, which are dried and ground and combined with a natural alkali such as wood ash or lime made from snail shells. This powder was then forcibly blown into ritual participants’ nostrils through wood or bone tubes. There is archeological evidence of variations of the practice going back thousands of years. Pipes made of puma bone found with Anadenanthera seeds in the Humahuaca gorge in Argentina have been radiocarbon dated to around 2000 BC, and snuff trays and tubes have been found throughout Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Peru, Haiti, the Dominican Republic, and Puerto Rico, sometimes dating back 1000 years. Indigenous people were still using these snuffs for shamanic purposes at the time of Spanish colonization, and these practices were reportedly observed by Friar Ramon Pane in the 14th century.  There is no archeological or historical evidence proving the ancient or ceremonial use of 5-MeO-DMT from the Sonoran Desert Toad. While these are the facts, there has been some debate within the 5-MeO-DMT community after a theory of indigenous use was suggested during the World Bufo Alvarius Congress in 2018. 

The recent history

The world has Ken Nelson to thank for the psychedelic discovery of 5-MeO-DMT in the Bufo Alvarius toad secretion. After uncovering some scientific research documenting the presence of 5-MeO-DMT within bone samples of the Bufo Alvarius, he set off to become the first human being ever to smoke the secretion. An incredibly profound experience inspired him to share his findings, and in 1983 he published the famous pamphlet, Bufo alvarius: The Psychedelic Toad of the Sonoran Desert, under the pseudonym Albert Most. 

After the publication of this pamphlet, the use of the Bufo Alvarius secretion expanded in the underground. By the early 1990s, 5-MeO-DMT was made available via mail-order throughout the United States in its synthetic form. As its popularity grew, more governments became aware of 5-MeO-DMT. It was gradually prohibited across many countries throughout the 2000s (or was always technically illegal in countries that had prohibited DMT and had analog clauses in their drug-scheduling legislation). 

Due to legality issues, the use of 5-MeO-DMT was forced underground to protect both those seeking and serving the compound. In recent years, the popularity of 5-MeO-DMT has grown substantially, which has caused an increase in ceremonial use at retreats in countries where it was not illegal. In the past couple of years, during what is being termed “the psychedelic renaissance,” research into therapeutic applications of psychedelics has rapidly increased, with serious scientific attention now being placed on the healing potential of 5-MeO-DMT.

The science

Research indicates that 5-MeO-DMT’s psychedelic effects come from its effect on the 5-HT2A receptor. Specifically, it shows a high binding affinity for the 5-HT2A and 5-HT1A receptor subtypes. As with all psychedelics, exactly why this neurochemical interaction results in subjective psychedelic experiences is still under investigation. A 2021 review of available scientific literature confirms 5-MeO’s ability to act on 5-HT1A receptors and that we do seem to produce small amounts of it in our bodies, but admits that there are few clinical studies in humans. Likewise, why relatively similar molecules such as DMT create distinctly different experiences is not well-understood by science at this time. 

In vitro neurotransmitter studies have also shown that 5-MeO-DMT can inhibit the re-uptake of serotonin, noradrenaline, and dopamine. These mechanisms may contribute to the experience and longer-term effects and explain why it seems to be very dangerous to combine with monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs). While the exact lethal dose of 5-MeO-DMT is not well quantified in humans, it has proven to be more dangerous in animal models, and there are reports of death by overdose (though these are often in combination with other substances, so some combination or synergistic effect cannot be ruled out).

5-MeO is not strongly active when taken orally as the monoamine oxidase in our gut tends to break it down. So, there is no point in licking toads, even the “right” ones. Licking toads is a generally bad idea. The raw venom of Bufo alvarius is highly irritating (because that’s what it evolved to do) and has other chemicals that can cause cardiac problems. Other related species, such as Bufo marinus, can produce venom that has caused human fatalities when people have deliberately ingested it. 

Despite 5-MeO being relatively under-investigated, an increasing body of research is uncovering its neurobiological and psychological effects. Alan K Davis and his team surveyed people who had utilized 5-MeO in group settings with preparation, guidance, and integration support. Of participants who had been diagnosed with depression, 80% reported an improvement in their symptoms, and 79% of those diagnosed with anxiety observed similar changes. 

This is consistent with earlier research that found a single inhalation of 5-MeO-DMT increased life satisfaction and mindfulness, decreased anxiety, stress, and depression, and that these changes were sustained four weeks after the experience. 

In both studies, people who had the most mystical experiences or experienced higher levels of ego-dissolution or oceanic boundlessness had the most significant improvements or positive outcomes. The link between mystical-type experiences and positive impacts has been observed in psilocybin research, so this isn’t entirely surprising. Research strongly supports that 5-MeO produces these experiences much more consistently and powerfully than psilocybin. Despite the unique experiences it produces, 5-MeO also appears to encourage neurogenesis and modulate inflammation in similar ways as other psychedelics, though these are areas where more human studies are needed. 

What is apparent in the research that has been conducted is that DMT and 5-MeO-DMT produce different and distinct brain wave patterns in people experiencing their effects. Qualitative Electroencephalography (QEEG) studies on human subjects have suggested that both DMT and 5-MeO produce temporary reductions in alpha brain waves. This reduction has been shown to correlate with how intense the subjective experience is. Both molecules produce temporary increases in interconnection and communication between different brain regions. But, 5-MeO seems to produce this coherence across both delta and beta frequency ranges, while DMT produces it predominantly at the higher end of beta. A more recent EEG study in mice has speculated that these differences may be related to 5HT1A receptor activation, which is stronger in 5-MeO than in DMT. These studies are relatively preliminary, and like so much else about 5-MeO, much more research is needed.

As numerous papers researching 5-MeO note, these abilities, combined with its short duration of action, make it a compelling molecule to study for clinical applications. So, we expect the amount of published research on it to increase over the next few years. 

To learn more about the science of 5-MeO-DMT, head over to our Scientific Research Page.

COMPARING SUBSTANCES

Bufo Alvarius
secretion
vs.
synthetic
(a.k.a jaguar)

Comparing the experiential differences between the secretion of the Bufo Alvarius toad and synthetic material is a hot topic within the 5-MeO-DMT community. The divide comes primarily from the ideology that if it’s natural, it must be better. Unfortunately, this logic is putting the toad population at risk as the demand for the secretion steadily increases, causing ethical issues such as over-milking, releasing chytrid fungus into the population, extractive capitalism, and so much more. To learn about the adversity the toads are facing, head to our Conservation Awareness Page. Due to the conservation issues the toads are facing, many facilitators have either entirely or partially made the switch to using only synthetic material.

Additionally, many senior 5-MeO-DMT facilitators have worked intimately for years with synthetic and Bufo Alvarius secretion only to report that the experience is either precisely the same or has little to no difference. One concern that has been raised is the potential that the additional tryptamines carry some of the psychedelic effects produced. In response, it has been found that the only other psychedelic compound in the secretion is Bufotenin, which, when tested in a laboratory, presented such small amounts (and often none at all) of material that it’s doubtful that it would affect the actual experience at all.

What you need to know

The 5-Meo-dmt experience

 

Clinical research is impressive, but the experiences real people have had with 5-MeO-DMT and how it has impacted their lives are just as meaningful. Describing these experiences, particularly in the higher dose range, can be challenging. Not only are our perceptual systems disrupted, but our relationship with language and ourselves are either temporarily offline or radically altered. This produces an overall effect known as “ineffability,” meaning that we may struggle to articulate what happened during the actual experience using our words. 

5-MeO-DMT is an extremely fast-acting compound. Within a few seconds, the user can enter into a state that is known as non-duality. Non-duality takes the individual into a space that is void of self. This means that there is no subject or object. There is no this or no that. There is only emptiness and infinite boundlessness all at once. As the peak experience results in a temporary loss of self, the individual can experience themselves as all of the totality, likening the experience to the religious or mystical experience, which must be experienced to be truly understood. 

While there are many ways the body can experience 5-MeO-DMT, some individuals who retain a sense of self during the experience report varied bodily sensations. These can include tactile enhancement, where our sensitivity to touch is significantly increased, and feelings of increased gravity or bodily heaviness. Spontaneous physical sensations can also occur, with no apparent trigger for us to feel them. These can be exceptionally intense, with some people describing the experience as a full-body orgasm. A sensation of rushing, acceleration, or motion during the onset of effects is a common experience, which can become stronger at higher doses. It is not uncommon for people to relate a feeling of being “shot out of a cannon” in the early stages of their 5-MeO-DMT journey.

Unlike other psychedelics, in higher doses 5-MeO-DMT does not produce particularly visual experiences. Instead, it can be better understood as the user reaching a level of inner knowing beyond human understanding, where the unknowable becomes known. The peak experience is the definition of a true awakening that results in deep wisdom, knowledge, and healing that is unique to the participant.

Where 5-MeO-DMT excels is in reliably allowing us to experience differences in how we think about and experience ourselves. People have reported being aware of their whole lives from a perspective outside of time or as something that they deliberately construct. They may experience oceanic boundlessness, where there is a timeless sense of being one with what we usually perceive as the external world. 

At higher full-release doses, people may not only completely lose awareness of their bodies and direct surroundings, but their sense of self—of an “I” that is doing the thinking and feeling which may utterly dissolve. We can lose our sense of being separate from other people, our environment, and the universe. It is this dissolution of our everyday duality our mental model that “I” is apart from the world that is perhaps 5-MeO-DMT’s most profound and unique effect. The experience of non-duality where everything, including the thoughts and experiences that are happening, just is, can radically change our perspectives on the world and our place in it. 

The root idea of transcendence is to “go beyond.” Non-duality in a 5-MeO experience is an event that happens without a distinct sense of self to “have” that experience as there is no “I” present. This is a temporary form of self-transcendence— going beyond the self. Self-transcendence is the common theme that connects virtually all religions or schools of spiritual thought, for example, unification with the God that underlies all existence or realization of Nirvana and moving beyond suffering and worldly desires. 

Whether at lower doses or in fully ego-less states, the 5-MeO-DMT experience can be one of profound bliss and freedom from concern or worry.

 

the challenging experience

 

It is essential to highlight that, like any other psychedelic journey, the experience with 5-MeO-DMT can become challenging. A challenging experience does not necessarily mean having a “bad” or “negative” experience. However, it can also mean having the most terrifying experience a human can go through, and it is vital that this is understood. 

We can view challenging experiences as the times where we can often learn the most, and understand that the fear has much to teach us. As individuals find themselves deeper within their 5-MeO-DMT journey, they tend to lose more and more of their individual identities. This can become overwhelmingly challenging, particularly in cases where the individual is overly attached to specific parts of their identity or ego that they are having difficulty letting go of. 

The challenge of ego-dissolution lies in the difficulty of surrendering oneself over to the experience; however, more evidence among facilitators shows a significant decrease in challenging experiences for those participants who underwent a rigorous preparation process with their facilitators. These findings show us the importance of a participant’s need for safety being met before their 5-MeO-DMT journey and how it can significantly impact their experience. 

The risk of having a challenging experience can largely be managed through good preparation and careful dose control, something that most negative reports, coming out of places such as Erowid, lack. If we know that we could potentially undergo ego-death, that we will need to surrender and have intentionally committed to doing so, we’re more ready and less likely to resist.

 

The benefits

The benefits associated with 5-MeO-DMT appear to be vast. The peak experience of 5-MeO-DMT allows participants to temporarily experience non-duality, which transcends all human understanding. As a result, when they return to their normal waking state, they may return with a profoundly shifted perspective, affecting how they view the nature of existence. This shift can act as a catalyst to inspire change on many levels of their human experience, including emotional, spiritual, and psychological well-being. Nonetheless, it’s also true that our mental health profoundly impacts our physical well-being. These effects can be physiological, for example, how stress damages our bodies. Improvements in mental health can also enable people to make positive behavioral changes around things like diet and exercise.

Anecdotal reports detail a wide range of improvements after 5-MeO-DMT use. These include increased motivation and a sense of purpose, better quality sleep, higher energy levels, better self-image, positive changes in perspective, feelings of rebirth or renewal, increased ability to concentrate, and greater ability to “be present.”  

The results of research on 5-MeO-DMT are consistent with these experiences. In one study, 80% of participants who had been diagnosed with depression and 79% of participants who had been diagnosed with anxiety reported an improvement in their symptoms. Similarly, a single dose of 5-MeO-DMT has been shown to produce persistent reductions in depression, stress, and anxiety, as well as increases in awareness, life satisfaction, and mindfulness.

The Risks

The risks associated with using 5-MeO-DMT can be physical, emotional, and psychological but can be primarily managed through the careful preparation, supervision, and integration of an experienced guide. Clinical research and anecdotal evidence suggest that intentional use of 5-MeO-DMT is safe, provided that proper supervision and supporting practices (preparation and integration) are followed. People undergoing 5-MeO-DMT experiences can sometimes move suddenly without awareness of their environment, so being in a safe and solid setting with someone to prevent falls or collisions is vital.  During the experience, there is a risk of vomiting, which can be dangerous for a person who is unaware of their body and surroundings and can potentially lead to aspiration or asphyxiation. Having an experienced facilitator present to move the participant into the recovery position and ensure airways are clear is critical. Users can sometimes experience profound fear, panic, or other overwhelming emotions and may be frightened or extremely psychologically vulnerable as they return to baseline consciousness. A skilled guide or facilitator can provide a calming psychological anchor point and help maintain a quiet and appropriate environment in which to undergo a transition back from ego-loss, interconnection, or oceanic boundlessness.  Without an experienced facilitator and thorough preparation/integration, extremely challenging experiences can develop into post-traumatic stress disorder, anxiety disorders, or somatic symptom disorders. While these risks can also happen with other psychedelics, it is significantly increased with 5-MeO-DMT as it can challenge our sense of self in a much more fundamental way than other psychedelics. Choosing an experienced facilitator cannot be understated. To learn more about selecting a facilitator, head to our FAQ Page. For a more in depth look at the risks and cautions associated with using 5-MeO-DMT, head to our Risks & Cautions Page. 


Dosage &
intake styles

When choosing to work with 5-MeO-DMT, there are many things to consider, from dosage to which instrument to use, and even which intake technique should be used. 5-MeO-DMT can be vaporized in a variety of different instruments, with a glass pipe using a butane lighter or torch is the most common. Other intake methods include insufflation (snorting) and intravenous, subcutaneous, or intramuscular muscle injection.

While dosage protocols vary amongst facilitators, an agreed dosage protocol has been reached within the community to uphold the safety of all individuals choosing to sit with this molecule. The dosage protocols have been categorized into three ranges, “handshake,” “hug,” and “full release.” A handshake dose is at the lower end, though people can react with unexpected sensitivity, so it is sometimes used with those new to 5-MeO to help calibrate how much is needed to get the right effect. A hug is higher and will produce more substantial bodily and psychological impacts. At full release, the experience may be so strong that it may profoundly alter how we relate to the world, to the extent that it may be difficult to describe it in ordinary language.

IMPORTANT DOSAGE CONSIDERATIONS

When working with the Bufo Alvarius secretion, it is important to note that there is an extremely large margin of error in how much 5-MeO-DMT someone is actually receiving. Each sample of 5-MeO-DMT can contain anywhere from 10%-30% 5-MeO-DMT making it impossible to know how much someone is being dosed without laboratory testing. Caution should always be used when working with the Bufo Alvarius Secretion.

In the same regard, caution should also be used when working with 5-MeO-DMT in vape pens, as dosage specificity can be incredibly difficult. 5-MeO-DMT vape pens should never be used recreationally.

FACILITATION
STYLES

Choosing to work with 5-MeO-DMT is a huge decision and should be treated as such. The first thing to evaluate here is safety. To achieve this, enlisting the support of an experienced facilitator is non-negotiable. A facilitator can be the difference between an incredibly transformative experience for the individual or an experience that causes extreme physical, psychological, or emotional harm. To learn more about what to look for in a facilitator, head to our FAQ PAGE. 

When considering a choice of facilitators, guides, and retreats, a range of considerations should be taken into account.

The first is what sort of “container” or setting is being offered. Guidance can be provided in private sessions or as part of a group, as a one-off activity, or throughout a multi-day (or even multi-week) retreat. These have a range of pros and cons. Private sessions tend to be more expensive but allow for more time and rapport between guide and participant. Some people may be uncomfortable undertaking this journey in the company of strangers. Group sessions tend to be less expensive, but each person may have less one-on-one interaction with the facilitator. This sort of container can be helpful, though, as having a group of people to share the experience and challenges with can be a healing experience in itself. One-off sessions are much less expensive than longer retreats. However, they often don’t allow the deserved time to undergo the preparation and integration process, enabling participants to get the most out of the experience.

Regardless of which style of experience is offered, people thinking of working with 5-MeO should be aware of what constitutes good or dangerous facilitation practices. Good facilitation of any psychedelic requires skill, knowledge, dedication, and integrity. This is especially true for 5-MeO, as people under its influence are exceptionally physically, emotionally, and psychologically vulnerable.

Good facilitators will have extensive experience working with 5-MeO, including training and mentorship with other well-respected practitioners. They ensure that participants are screened for physical and psychological illnesses that may change or interfere with the experience and conduct thorough education, preparation, and integration for those they work with. They will have clear professional boundaries and a thorough understanding of informed and enthusiastic consent (especially around physical interaction), all of which they will make very clear to clients as part of their pre-intake, screening, and preparation processes.

Concerning consent, good facilitators will have a complete and detailed discussion during the intake process that covers when physical contact will be used. For example, they will explain that they may physically intervene if necessary to keep participants safe or may use appropriate non-sexual touch to clear “stuck energies” from a participant, but only with their express permission. They will prepare people for the possibility that they may experience profound physical, sensual, or even sexual feelings as part of their journey. They will also be clear that principles of professionalism, care, and the nature of consent mean the facilitator’s role is to hold space for them and not engage with any sexual energy that may arise.

They are genuinely interested in their clients as people, not just sources of income, making efforts to know them, how they are likely to react to the experience, and what they need in order to learn and grow. They will have appropriately-trained staff and helpers to deal with any psychological or medical emergencies that can arise, as well as have medical professionals on call for situations beyond their capacity to deal with themselves. After the experience, they provide integration and support or direct participants to longer-term integration specialists or therapists where necessary. 

Good facilitators also take an active interest in their professional skills by keeping their training up-to-date and participating in ongoing peer-mentoring or community-of-practice activities to help them reflect on their work and their attitudes, beliefs, and mental health.

Importantly, good facilitators can answer questions on any and all of these factors if asked by prospective clients and will not gloss over the details of their practices or dismiss client concerns.

Dangerous and unethical facilitation practices are not uncommon, with unscrupulous or deluded individuals operating outside the boundaries of community values and expectations. Egotism, self-importance, arrogance, or presenting themselves as a “guru” should all be considered signs of danger in a potential facilitator. This ego-inflation almost always comes with a lack of accountability and little concern for the well-being of others. This lack of being grounded can lead to a lack of attention to proper medical screening and an irrational belief that “the medicine” can overcome physical and psychological illnesses, even when this is not remotely true in reality.

If a facilitator is overly focused on money, this is also a bad sign. While facilitators need to make a living just like anyone else, the financial gain can be a temptation to cut corners on care for individuals. This is not work anyone should be in “just for the money.”

Whether caused by self-centeredness, lack of proper training, or greed, lack of preparation and integration is harmful to participants’ long-term mental well-being and reduces the effectiveness of the experience. Perceiving others as a method of gain for oneself, whether that’s money, fame, or sexual gratification, erodes the capacity to care for them as beings of equal moral worth. If a facilitator has this mindset, it will be difficult for them to acknowledge or respect the autonomy and boundaries of others. 

Perhaps most damaging of all is a lack of respect for boundaries and consent. Coming back from a full release experience can be an experience of rebirth. So even unwanted eye contact or getting in someone’s personal space during this time can leave a profound psychological impression. Being forced to move or being held down can be deeply traumatic. Direct physical assaults such as kicking or slapping, use of tasers, and torture techniques such as waterboarding show an abjectly unethical disrespect for participants and provide no benefit. People who are in, or returning from their experience cannot consent to these things, and nor should they be asked to. Likewise, people under the influence of 5-MeO-DMT are not in a state to give consent to any sexual touch or activity. The negative impact of unwanted sexual contact under the influence of psychedelics cannot be overstated.  

The DAngers

Constant use of 5-Meo-DMT

 

Physiologically, constant use of 5-MeO is not particularly dangerous so long as the experiences are integrated. However, the psychological pitfalls are considerable. Seeking ever-higher/deeper peaks without integrating and learning from what we have experienced is not a formula for personal growth. This is particularly damaging if our experiences are trying to show us our shadow—the parts of ourselves we would prefer not to acknowledge or think about. 

Here’s an excellent example of how damaging this can be. Imagine that we are self-centered as a coping mechanism for some deep-seated insecurity or existential fear. If we chase more experiences rather than acknowledging this about ourselves, our ego then uses them to defend itself against the possibility of dissolution, irrelevance, or death. Instead of learning from experiences of radically different perspectives of existence which can help us reframe our fears and ultimately lead more fulfilling and better lives, we talk ourselves into ego-inflation and narcissism. 

Whether it directly involves our shadow or not, using 5-MeO-DMT as a way of avoiding reality is a form of what’s known as “spiritual bypassing.” Psychotherapist John Welwood coined this term to describe people in his Buddhist community in the 70s and 80s using spiritual practices to avoid dealing with unresolved emotional and psychological issues. The use of 5-MeO may not be spiritual in precisely the same way, so it might be more accurate to call this “psychedelic bypassing.” 

However the outcome is the same—our personal growth stalls. Our relationships with others may be damaged as we push them away or fail to acknowledge issues in our relationships. And if we avoid acknowledging pain in ourselves, we can become less compassionate towards others. Independent of all of this, we can become unhappy or dissatisfied with ourselves, if our pursuit of peak experiences takes us out of being present and authentic in our everyday lives. 

To be clear, these patterns of ego-inflation and avoidance are possible to form with almost any psychedelic or activity that produces peak experiences or allows escape from suffering. Yet the compelling nature of 5-MeO means that it’s doubly important to learn from our experiences and not use it as a way to avoid the realities of our lives. 

Distinct from over-regular use of 5-MeO-DMT for full psychedelic states, its use in microdosing of “sub-perceptual” amounts over a long period is becoming more prevalent. Research on any microdosing is relatively new, and there is no published work specific to 5-MeO. There is not even much anecdotal information on this practice, so it should be approached with caution. The lessons above about ego-inflation and bypass apply to microdosing just as much as full-release. 

Microdosing to avoid dealing with a situation, i.e., artificially boosting creativity or coping with an unreasonable workload, is still a form of bypassing. Given that 5-MeO-DMT can produce temporary challenges in feeling grounded after a single use, even subtly replicating this over a long period could exacerbate a lack of connection to others and the world.

 

Self administration

 

5-MeO-DMT is by no means an appropriate substance to self-administer. Choosing to do so can be lethal. To ensure the safe and effective use of 5-MeO-DMT, physical and psychological screening is required along with an experienced facilitator in order to keep the individual choosing to sit safely. During a 5-MeO-DMT experience, an individual can completely lose control of their body, leaving them open to physical harm and asphyxiation via vomit, also known as purging.

The dangers of self-administration are compounded by a lack of experience and knowledge and purchasing through unregulated, underground sources. 5-MeO-DMT indeed carries certain risks, but there are far more dangerous and potent chemicals in existence. If an inexperienced user were to mistake or be sold something like 25I-NBOMe as 5-MeO-DMT, the consequences would almost certainly be fatal. A lesser risk, though a very real one, is thinking that a substance is DMT when it’s actually 5-MeO. This is less likely to lead to physical harm but can produce an unexpectedly challenging experience. These risks are caused by the prohibition of psychedelics rather than being inherent to 5-MeO-DMT. Nonetheless, working with a trusted guide is the easiest way to avoid them.

WHITEOUTS
&
REACTIVATIONS

Whiteouts are the subjective experience of totally losing the memory of a 5-MeO-DMT experience. People who have undergone whiteouts have no conscious memory between inhaling from the pipe to waking up, often with no sense of any time having passed. The neurological abscess of this phenomenon is not understood but happens most often when someone is over-served with a dose of 5-MeO-DMT that is too high for their unique body chemistry. As already discussed, ego death is sometimes seen as a particular form of temporary memory loss (in that case, of the self), so it’s plausible that going too far past that point overwhelms our capacity to form new conscious memories. 

Whatever the specific cause, whiteouts can present clients with a range of psychological or emotional challenges. Disappointment can be a powerful emotion, particularly when someone seeks out 5-MeO-DMT to heal profound and untreatable psychological issues or trauma. Just because someone does not form conscious memories, it doesn’t follow that what has happened has left no mark on them. Our bodies can have stress reactions, and our brains can still transcribe trauma into our nervous and hormonal systems. Even if the unremembered experience wasn’t challenging, the subconscious feeling of having been through something profound but unable to recall it can be unsettling.

Reactivation is the term used for when an individual briefly re-experiences aspects of their 5-MeO-DMT journey. It can be a slight glimmer of the experience to a full-blown 5-MeO-DMT experience. These are most common in the first three to seven days after the experience, and they typically occur between 2 and 4 am. In extreme cases, usually following whiteouts, reactivations can occasionally happen months later. Reactivations are distinct from hallucinogen persisting perception disorder (HPPD), which is typified by long-lasting visual disturbances that are not associated with other psychedelic changes in thoughts or feelings. HPPD is thought to be most common after LSD use, and reports of it happening after 5-MeO have not, to our knowledge, been documented. 

Reactivations are sometimes triggered by the use of other psychoactive substances such as other psychedelics or cannabis. Other triggers can be meditation, breathwork, falling asleep, or in dreams, though in some cases there is no apparent cause. These experiences can be positive or cause fear and discomfort. They may be emotional (e.g., bliss or fear), somatic/bodily (bodily sensations or pounding heartbeat, etc.), or transpersonal (feelings of ego-loss or boundlessness).

Anecdotally, it seems that some reactivations are associated with over-serving too high a dose of 5-MeO to an individual or re-dosing within the same session. There is little scientific research published on this phenomenon, and what little there is seems to confirm that higher doses and re-dosing are correlated with later experiencing reactivation.

While these experiences can be unsettling if the person having them is not expecting them, they can be integrated and worked through using integration techniques, particularly those of a physical and grounding nature, e.g., yoga and exercise. Many people have also reported them a positive experience as it enables them to reconnect with their initial experience and have another opportunity to learn and grow.

A deeper understanding of reactivations: The mystical state reached during a 5-MeO-DMT experience is synonymous with the Buddhist notion of Nirvana, or the Yogic state of Samadhi, as well as a myriad of paths. The inner stillness required to realize this state of consciousness can be reached though practices such as meditation and breath work, just to name a few. As all paths lead to the source state, this state can be understood as our natural state of consciousness. During a reactivation, this state is again accessed allowing each individual to undergo a fine tuning process, aligning them to this infinite consciousness.

What you need to know

5-MEO-DMT

Legality

The legality of 5-MeO-DMT varies considerably by country. In many places, it is highly illegal. In some, it’s simply not included in legislation and so falls outside the law. Bufo Alvarius is not on any list of controlled species. 5-MeO-DMT is not on the psychotropic lists of the United Nations Conventions on Psychotropic Substances of 1971. This means that it is not a controlled substance in many countries, except for those in which there is separate legislation or where analog clauses cover it. As with many psychedelics, one of the most significant potential risks they pose to your well-being is having unfavorable interactions with the criminal justice system. Before choosing to work with 5-MeO-DMT, thorough research into the legalities in your unique country should be considered.