The term “psychonaut” is derived from the Greek words for “mind” (psyche) and “sailor/navigator” (nautes), essentially translating as “navigator of the mind” or “sailor of the soul”. In context, this can refer to researchers or explorers who study altered states of consciousness, particularly those induced by psychedelics and meditative techniques.

Psychonautics is a field that combines the principles of neuroscience, psychology, and pharmacology, studying the effects of psychoactive substances on human consciousness. “Psychonauts,” or inner-space explorers, employ various methods to alter their consciousness and explore the human mind, ranging from the use of psychedelics, meditative techniques, and sensory deprivation, to hypnosis and breathwork.

In recent years, this field has sparked growing interest among the scientific community and general public, with the emergence of several organizations dedicated to psychedelic research, like the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies (MAPS) and the Imperial College’s Centre for Psychedelic Research.

Dr. Andrew Gallimore, a computational neurobiologist, chemist, and pharmacologist, is one of the prominent figures in this area, proposing a new method to sustain the effects of the powerful psychedelic drug, N,N-dimethyltryptamine (DMT). This approach, akin to the anesthesiology practice of maintaining patients in an unconscious state, would involve a continuous infusion of DMT, permitting longer durations within the altered state of consciousness.

A 2018 study published in the journal ‘Cell Reports’ discovered that psychedelic substances like DMT can promote neural plasticity, potentially contributing to therapeutic benefits. (Source: Lu, et al., 2018, Cell Reports)

A research by Strassman in the 1990s documented the kinetics of DMT in the human body, demonstrating its rapid metabolism. Gallimore utilized this data to propose his continuous infusion system for extended DMT experiences. (Source: Strassman RJ, et al., 1994, Archives of General Psychiatry)

According to a Global Drug Survey in 2012, among users of DMT, over 36% reported personal development as a motivation for its use. (Source: Global Drug Survey, 2012)

Experts in the field, like Gallimore and Dr. Rick Strassman, see the potential of a systematic exploration of the DMT space. Strassman’s work, documented in his book “DMT: The Spirit Molecule,” suggests that DMT might allow brief glimpses into a different level of reality.

Dr. Strassman, a psychiatrist, conducted groundbreaking research in the 1990s, administering several hundred doses of DMT to human volunteers. His work, documented in the book “DMT: The Spirit Molecule,” was the first in the United States to involve the administration of psychedelic substances to humans in over two decades.

Strassman’s research noted that many volunteers reported experiencing otherworldly landscapes and interactions with sentient entities. While the nature of these experiences remains a subject of debate, Strassman hypothesizes that DMT might function as a tool enabling us to perceive what he terms as “different levels of reality.” Strassman’s theories push the boundaries of our current understanding of the mind and consciousness.

Despite the profound and often bewildering effects of DMT, both Strassman and Gallimore advocate for a methodical and systematic exploration of the DMT experience. Their work underlines the potential of DMT not only as a tool for therapeutic purposes but also as a means of investigating the nature of consciousness and reality itself.

The experiences described by people who have used DMT (N,N-Dimethyltryptamine) are widely varied but often share some common elements. They are frequently characterized as profound, intense, and utterly unlike ordinary conscious experience. Here are some commonly reported elements:

  1. Hyperreal and Alien Landscapes: Users often report being transported to other worlds or dimensions that feel “more real than real”. These landscapes can be both remarkably beautiful and utterly bizarre, filled with intricate patterns, shifting geometries, and alien architecture.
  2. Entities: Many DMT users report encounters with sentient, autonomous entities. These beings can take numerous forms, including elves, aliens, animals, ancestral or deity-like figures, and indescribable, wholly novel forms. Interactions with these entities range from friendly to indifferent to menacing, with some users reporting receiving wisdom or knowledge from them.
  3. Time Distortion: Time often seems to lose its meaning during a DMT experience. Despite the fact that the effects of a DMT trip typically last only about 5 to 15 minutes, users often report experiences that feel like they lasted for hours, days, or even eternity.
  4. Ego Dissolution: Many users experience a temporary loss of self, a phenomenon known as “ego death”. This can be a profound and transformative experience, often accompanied by feelings of unity or interconnectedness with the universe.
  5. Visual and Auditory Hallucinations: DMT trips are often accompanied by intense visual and auditory hallucinations. These can include geometric patterns, fractal shapes, vibrant colors, complex morphing structures, and unusual or indescribable sounds.
  6. Emotional Intensity: DMT trips can provoke intense emotional responses, from awe and ecstasy to terror and dread. Some users report profound spiritual or mystical experiences, and others describe transformative insights or revelations.

Various publications are shedding light on psychonautics. For instance, “Alien Information Theory: Psychedelic Drug Technologies and the Cosmic Game” by Gallimore discusses psychedelics as a tool for exploring consciousness. The book “How to Change Your Mind” by Michael Pollan provides a broader perspective on the resurgence of psychedelic research, including accounts of personal experiences.

DMT can have powerful and intense effects on the mind, inducing experiences that are often described as transporting the user to entirely different realities. These experiences can be overwhelming, potentially leading to psychological distress or exacerbating pre-existing mental health conditions.

Ayahuasca is a traditional South American brew that typically contains DMT (N,N-Dimethyltryptamine). The brew is typically made from two plants: the Psychotria viridis (chacruna) bush, which contains DMT, and the Banisteriopsis caapi vine, which contains monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs).

The DMT in the chacruna bush is not orally active on its own due to the action of the enzyme monoamine oxidase in our digestive systems, which quickly breaks down DMT. The Banisteriopsis caapi vine, however, contains substances known as MAOIs that inhibit the action of monoamine oxidase, allowing the DMT to reach the bloodstream and then the brain, where it exerts its psychoactive effects.

The combination of these two plants in the ayahuasca brew results in a potent, long-lasting psychedelic experience that is often described as life-changing and profound. Ayahuasca has been used traditionally for spiritual and healing purposes by Indigenous peoples of the Amazon basin for centuries. More recently, it has attracted the interest of researchers studying its potential therapeutic effects for conditions such as depression and PTSD.

It’s important to note that, while the scientific community is indeed exploring the potential of psychedelics for therapy and consciousness research, the field is still in its early stages, and there are many unknowns. It’s essential to approach the topic with a balanced understanding of the potential benefits and risks, always considering the empirical evidence.