Psychedelic Medicine


Exploring Endogenous DMT with Rick Strassman, MD


In this episode of the Psychedelic Medicine Podcast, Rick Strassman, MD joins to discuss the topic of endogenous DMT. Dr. Strassman is adjunct associate professor of psychiatry at the University of New Mexico in Albuquerque and author of DMT: The Spirit Molecule and The Psychedelic Handbook. His DMT and psilocybin studies in the early 1990s initiated the renewal of human research with psychedelics in the U.S.

In this conversation, Dr. Strassman discusses the finer details of DMT, from endogenous production in humans and animals, to visionary experiences and theological implications. Dr. Strassman also covers the research that’s been done regarding endogenous DMT, clarifying what we do and don’t know about the role of the pineal gland and how this might relate to what is reported during near-death experiences. He also discusses the personal and relational quality of psychedelic experiences induced by DMT, mentioning that unitive mystical experiences were actually rare in the trials he conducted, with more experiences having a personal quality, drawing upon the life experiences and interests of the participants. In closing, Dr. Strassman shares his thoughts on the origins of the visions that many report during DMT use.

In This Episode

• The overlap between psychedelic experiences and meditation techniques
• The relationship between fear, self-awareness, and difficult DMT experiences
• The placebo effect and psychedelic research
• Dr. Strassman’s thoughts on non-hallucinogenic psychedelics
• DMT as a possible treatment for strokes to prevent damage and speed recovery
• Effects of microdosing in animals and humans


“I think the best term for these compounds is psychedelic, which means mind manifesting or mind disclosing, because only one of our fifty-five or so normal volunteers had what one might call a mystical unitive state. … Everybody basically had an experience that was totally dependent on them. It was not inherent in the drug.” [9:45]

“You could still speculate that to the extent that non-drug states resemble those brought on by giving DMT… that DMT plays a role in the production of those states. But the data aren’t there yet. That’s why we need more people doing this research.” [24:16]

“If psychedelics are super placebos and if we have a psychedelic drug in our brain, it’s attempting to speculate that normally the placebo effect could be mediated by endogenous DMT.” [27:42]

“If you starve neurons of oxygen they start dying, but if you add DMT they survive much longer. So there seems to be some neuroprotective effect of DMT on ischemic damage to neurons, at least in the test tube.” [32:27]


* The Psychedelic Medicine Podcast has allowed the Psychedelic Medicine Association to post episodes as an educational resource, and in return the PMA is hosting the podcast show notes.