Tuesday, 7 August 2012

DMT (2) - Pineal DMT (Soma Pinolin) & the Third Eye

The pineal gland (also called the pineal body, epiphysis cerebri, epiphysis, conarium or the "Third Eye") is a small endocrine gland in the vertebrate brain. It produces the serotonin derivative melatonin, a hormone that affects the modulation of wake/sleep patterns and seasonal functions. The pineal gland is found in the deep recesses of the brain, bathed in cerebrospinal fluid by the ventricles, the fluid-filled cavities of the brain that feed it and remove waste. Its shape resembles a tiny pine cone (hence its name), and it is located near the centre of the brain, between the two hemispheres, tucked in a groove where the two rounded thalamic bodies join. The pineal gland is reddish-gray and about the size of a grain of rice (5 – 8 mm) in humans, located just rostro-dorsal to the superior colliculus and behind and beneath the stria medullaris, between the laterally positioned thalamic bodies. It is part of the epithalamus. The pineal gland is a midline structure shaped like a pine cone and is often seen in plain skull X-rays, as it is often calcified. The pineal body consists in humans of a lobular parenchyma of pinealocytes surrounded by connective tissue spaces. The gland's surface is covered by a pial capsule. The pineal gland consists mainly of pinealocytes, but four other cell types have been identified. As it is quite cellular (in relation to the cortex and white matter) it may be mistaken for a neoplasm. The pineal gland receives a sympathetic innervation from the superior cervical ganglion. However, a parasympathetic innervation from the sphenopalatine and otic ganglia is also present. Further, some nerve fibers penetrate into the pineal gland via the pineal stalk (central innervation). Finally, neurons in the trigeminal ganglion innervate the gland with nerve fibers containing the neuropeptide, PACAP. Human follicles contain a variable quantity of gritty material, called corpora arenacea (or ‘acervuli’ or ‘brain sand’). Chemical analysis shows that they are composed of calcium phosphate, calcium carbonate, magnesium phosphate, and ammonium phosphate. In 2002, deposits of the calcite form of calcium carbonate were described. Calcium, phosphorus deposits in the pineal gland have been linked with ageing.

The pineal is the only unpaired gland in the brain. It was originally believed to be a vestigial remnant of a larger organ. Curiously, this solitary gland – which may accurately be described as a ‘third eye’ - is light sensitive and actually has a lens, cornea, and retina.  Miller questions whether there a retinal circus of biophotons deep in the brain, which only the ‘Third Eye’ sees or even creates: the ‘Light of Wisdom’? Miller supports Strassmans theory that the pineal gland implicated in the production of endogenous or natural DMT. Pinealocytes in many non-mammalian vertebrates have a strong resemblance to the photoreceptor cells of the eye. Some evolutionary biologists believe that the vertebrate pineal cells share a common evolutionary ancestor with retinal cells. In some vertebrates, exposure to light can set off a chain reaction of enzymatic events within the pineal gland that regulate circadian rhythms. In humans and other mammals, the light signals necessary to set circadian rhythms are sent from the eye through the retinohypothalamic system to the suprachiasmatic nuclei (SCN) and the pineal. Unlike much of the rest of the mammalian brain, the pineal gland is not isolated from the body by the blood–brain barrier system - it has profuse blood flow, second only to the kidney.

René Descartes (1596 – 1650), who dedicated much time to the study of the pineal gland, called it the "principal seat of the soul." He believed that it was the point of connection between the intellect and the body. Descartes attached significance to the gland because he believed it to be the only section of the brain which existed as a single part, rather than one half of a pair. He argued that because a person can never have "more than one thought at a time," external stimuli must be united within the brain before being considered by the soul, and he considered the pineal gland to be situated in "the most suitable possible place for this purpose," located centrally in the brain and surrounded by branches of the carotid arteries.

Its main functions include emission of its secretions to the strategically surrounding emotional, visual and auditory brain centres; regulation of body temperature and skin colouration; and secretion of the sleep hormone melatonin. Generally, after the more imaginative period of childhood, the pineal calcifies and diminishes at the onset of puberty’s sex hormones, around the age of 12 years.

The pineal gland makes a neurohormone called melatonin, which is one of the key regulators of the circadian and seasonal biological rhythms. It also makes a mono-amine oxidase (MAO) inhibitor called pinoline (methoxytetrahydrobetacarboline (MeOTHBC)) which acts on the GABA receptors and whose chemical structure is virtually identical with the harmala alkaloids. Serotonin (5 hydroxytryptamine (5HT)) has frequently been implicated in certain aspects of psychoses. Pinoline is a neuromodulator, which prevents, amongst other effects, the breakdown of serotonin. Strassman (1990) argues that this results in an accumulation of physiologically active amines including dimethyltryptamine (DMT) within the neuronal synapses, which may lead to hallucinations, depression or mania depending on the amines being affected.

The concept of the ‘Third Eye’ is an esoteric, mystical notion referring to the ‘anja’ or ‘brow chakra’ in dharmic spiritual traditions, in particular Hinduism. The concept was later adopted by Christian mystics and spiritualists as well as other religious faiths. It is described as the gate that leads within to inner realms and spaces of higher consciousness. Among Christian mystics, the term is used in a broad sense to indicate a non-dualistic perspective. In New Age spirituality, the Third Eye may symbolize a state of enlightenment or the evocation of mental images having deeply personal spiritual or psychological significance. The Third Eye is often associated with visions; clairvoyance (which includes the ability to observe chakras and auras); precognition; and out-of-body experiences. People who have allegedly developed the capacity to utilise their Third Eyes are sometimes known as ‘seers’. This master gland is responsible for the internal perception of Light; the raising of Kundalini, the ‘serpent power’; and for awakening inner sight or in-sight.  The key to a successful meditation is the withdrawal of the sensory currents to the eye focus or the Third Eye. Once there, the gaze focuses on the middle of whatever appears without any distractions or intrusive thought.
Structure of brain, showing pineal gland
The pineal gland
Images depicting the concept of the 'Third Eye'
According to Strassman and supporters of his theory such as Miller, who has several publications on this topic, DMT production in the pineal gland is stimulated in the extraordinary conditions of birth, sexual ecstasy, childbirth, extreme physical stress, near-death, and death, as well as meditation.  Pineal DMT also plays a significant role in dream consciousness, acting as a form of chemical messenger, linking body and spirit. Pineal activation awakens normally latent neural pathways.

In DMT: The Sprit Molecule, Strassman states: 

All spiritual disciplines describe quite psychedelic accounts of the transformative experiences, whose attainment motivate their practice. Blinding white light, encounters with demonic and angelic entities, ecstatic emotions, timelessness, heavenly sounds, feelings of having died and being reborn, contacting a powerful and loving presence underlying all of reality - these experiences cut across all denominations. They also are characteristic of a fully psychedelic DMT experience. How might meditation evoke the pineal DMT experience?

Meditative techniques using sound, sight, or the mind may generate particular wave patterns whose fields induce resonance in the brain. Millennia of human trial and error have determined that certain "sacred" words, visual images, and mental exercises exert uniquely desired effects. Such effects may occur because of the specific fields they generate within the brain. These fields cause multiple systems to vibrate and pulse at certain frequencies.  We can feel our minds and bodies resonate with these spiritual exercises. Of course, the pineal gland also is buzzing at these same frequencies...The pineal begins to "vibrate" at frequencies that weaken its multiple barriers to DMT formation: the pineal cellular shield, enzyme levels, and quantities of anti-DMT. The end result is a psychedelic surge of the pineal spirit molecule, resulting in the subjective states of mystical consciousness.

Natural hallucinogens may belong to the tryptamine or beta-carboline family of compounds. One compound (6-methoxy-1,2,3,4-tetra-hydro-beta-carboline) has been linked to REM sleep. It is concentrated in the retinae of mammals, which may be related to its visual effects. There are several ways in which either psychoactive tryptamines and/or beta-carbolines may be produced within the central nervous system and pineal from precursors and enzymes that are known to exist in humans. Additionally, nerve fibres leave the pineal and make synaptic connections with other brain sites through traditional nerve-to-nerve connections, not just through endocrine secretions. Serotonin or tryptamine levels are higher in the pineal than any other area of the brain. 5-methoxy-tryptamine is a precursor with hallucinogenic properties, which has a high affinity for the serotonin type-3 receptor. Gucchait (1976) demonstrated that the human pineal contains an enzyme capable of synthesising both DMT and bufotenine-like chemistry. These compounds are prime candidates for endogenous ‘schizotoxins’ and apparently, their production may be related to stress and/or trauma that correlate with schizophrenia.

Strassman notes that both the embryological rudiments of the pineal gland and the differentiated genitals of both male and female foetus appear at 49 days. Melatonin is a timekeeper for gonadal maturation, so the pineal is implicated again in this process which takes place prior to birth. He suggests this rein-effect may be the root of the tension between sexual and spiritual energies – yin and yang. This theory suggests that pineal gland is a source of both psychedelic compounds and the gonads, sources of spiritual and generative immortality. Stress-related hormones cue the pineal activation to activate normally latent synthetic pathways, creating tryptamine and/or beta-carboline hallucinogens. When we face stress or potential death, or in meditative reveries, we ‘tune back’ into the most well developed motif of such experiences - the birth experience. Perinatal themes and memories re-emerge. Those with Caesarean section births allegedly report greater difficulty in attaining transcendent states of breakthrough and release during drug-induced states, although the scientific evidence for this assertion by Miller is not benefited by reference to a clinical study, relying on Strassman’s theory of DMT. She, like Strassman, questions whether maybe less foetal (or maternal) hallucinogens were released at the time of birth in Caesarean cases. They may not, according to Strassman, have a strong enough “template of experience” to fall back on, to let go without fear of total annihilation, because lesser amounts of pineal hallucinogens were produced during their births. Through meditation, the pineal gland may be modulated to elicit a finely tuned standing wave through resonance effects. It creates the induction of a dynamic, yet unmoving, quality of experience. Such harmonisation resynchronises both hemispheres of the brain and recalibrates the whole organism. Dysynchrony is associated with a variety of disorders. Such a standing wave in consciousness can induce resonance in the pineal gland using electric, magnetic or sound energy, and may result in a chain of synergetic activity resulting in the production and release of hallucinogenic compounds. Thus, the pineal gland can be likened to an attractor - or ‘lightning rod’ of consciousness, which generates an illuminative laser beam that pervades the energy body.

McGillion (2002) states that ancient cosmobiologists noticed effects of the planets were mediated by the pineal gland. Physician-astrologers in Greece and Europe assumed a correlation between events in the heavens and those on earth that was relevant to both health and disease. The sun, moon, and planets studied by the early health practitioners were thought to affect human health. A simple example, commonly given by theorists in this area is the notion that being born in the day or night can make us a ‘morning person’ or ‘night owl’, by setting the body-clock of pineal sensitivity and melatonin production. Seasonality and geomagnetism at birth can also apparently affect long term development. Physicist Cliff Pickover argues that: "DMT in the pineal glands of Biblical prophets gave God to humanity and let ordinary humans perceive parallel universes. Our brain is a filter, and the use of DMT is like slipping on infrared goggles, allowing us to perceive a valid reality that is inches away and all around us.” He suggests that perhaps our ancestors produced more DMT, leading to extraordinary spiritual visions, stating: “Maybe this is why the ancients seemed so in touch with God and with miracles and visions. Maybe Moses, Mohammad, and Jesus had a greater rate of pineal DMT production than most.” Pickover blames artificial light for a reduction in our DMT production rate. Miller suggests that is more likely that most ancient cultures simply supercharged themselves with shamanic herbs.

Some scholars claim the ‘burning bush’ referred to in the Bible was Cannabis sativa, Assyrian Rue (pegunam harmala; zoroaster’s hoama,asena ) or the North African acacia tree, and that Moses either smoked the leaves or got high downwind in the DMT-containing smoke. Graves (1948) claimed the acacia sant, a host tree of the mistletoe-like loranthus, was the 'burning bush' and source of manna. If this oracular tree of Canaan contained tryptamines, as many species do, Moses could have possibly had access to DMT. It is still a practice to burn botanicals inside a tent to imbibe their smoke. Assyrian rue was the most sacred plant of Mohammad, who took the esphand (Arabic/Persian name for the plant) before receiving the Koran from Allah. This holy esphand was associated with the appearance of angels and casts out evil spirits, and was used to cure fever and malaria and provides the rich red dye of Persian carpets. Rue was central to the Petra mystery rites and schools of alchemy. Their sacrament was a beverage of illumination and restoration, mixed with gold and other alchemical products and was passed down from Zoroaster (also known as Chem the original Alchemist and chemist). Chem is also an ancient name for Egypt. The grandson of Zoroaster, Nimrod or King En.Meru.dug, founded the Egyptian 2nd Dynasty. This plant of life became central in the Mysteries and healing schools of ancient Egypt, where Moses could easily have learned its powers. The original Essenes, named after the plant, were headquartered in Heliopolis. Asena, the botanical ‘Bush of Life’, is an acronym, ASNA, of Aset (Isis) Sutekh (Set) Nebtet (Nephtys) and Auser (Osiris). It embodied the female form of the One God ATON, who correlates with the Greek goddess of wisdom and war, Athena. Shamanic Bedouins still make the Egyptian eucharistic ‘Bread of Light’ using the asena/hoama bush, the North African acacia tree, and ground meteorite. They still shape it the form of the Eye of Ra, a circle with a central hole. The tradition was passed down to Christian Gnostics in Abydos, Egypt, the bush eventually becoming symbolically used to sprinkle holy water. Leonardo da Vinci and Michaelangelo reportedly used it for visionary inspiration. In modern times, Pickover has suggested spontaneous DMT experiences as a possible source of Whitley Streiber’s Communion aliens: “…we know that DMT can often produce visions of cartoon-like aliens.” Others (Meyer, 1993) report those using DMT often claim communication with stick-like, insect-like or elf-like beings and discarnate entities. Psychonaut and writer, McKenna used synthetic DMT (N,Ndimetyltryptamine) to intentionally contact the  ‘machine elves’ (referred to above) and explore parallel worlds: “What is driving religious feeling today is a wish for contact with this other universe. Arguing for their radical “otherness”. McKenna emphasised that the hyperspace aliens, witnessed while using DMT, present themselves "with information that is not drawn from the personal history of the individual." But smoking this synthetic DMT for hyperspace experience rarely yields ‘Clear Light’ experiences.

The harma alkaloid "harmine" is also known as telepathine and banisterine. It is a naturally occurring beta-carboline that is structurally related to harmaline. CNS can be simulated by inhibiting the metabolism of serotonin and other monoamines. Telepathine, is an MAO inhibitor, which parallels the function of pinoline (a natural MAO Inhibitor) naturally produced by the pineal gland. The combination of the pineal-secreted DMT (dimethyltriptamine) and the MAO Inhibitor, pinoline (methoxytetrahydrobetacarboline, MeOTHBC) may be responsible for naturally occurring psychic experiences. Harmine and harmaline are found in Syrian Rue (3 - 7% harma alkaloid), and ayahuasca brews made with DMT sources, bark and leaves of pychotria viridis or banisteriopsis caapi vine. Ayahuasca is the South American sacrament of the Church of Santo Daime and Uniao de Vegetal (UDV). In this setting, the churches condition the “spiritual” expectations, experiences, ethics and type of information ‘received’ in the altered state. The visionary state is considered to be the essence of the shamanic complex. Shamanic vision differs from hallucination in volition; form and content of thoughts; clarity of heightened awareness; perception and contextualisation.  Practitioners have claimed it is for ‘analysis’. There is no primary delusional experience. The distinction between self and non-self is blurred and the notion of causality is affected. Callaway (1994) argues that its chemistry probably works in the following way. The primary function of harmala alkaloids in ayahuasca is to allow for the oral activity of DMT by inhibition of MAO-A, and further permits accumulation of 5-HT and other neurotransmitters. On their own, harmala alkaloids have only weak psychoactive effects. However, Kim et al (1997) found that the harmala alkaloids, which occur in ayahuasca, were the most effective inhibitors of purified MAO-A. The psychedelic effects of ayahuasca probably manifest primarily through the serotonergic effects of DMT on the CNS and through increased levels of unmetabolised biogenic amines. Pinoline potentiates the activity of methylated tryptamines and this is the probable mechanism behind ayahuasca.

Investigation of long-term users of ayahuasca showed a statistically significant difference between control group and users with a higher binding density in blood platelets of 5-HT uptake sites in the ayahuasca drinkers. This indicates a modulatory role for pinoline (the endogenous equivalent of ayahuasca) in the CNS. An upregulation of the serotonergic system is exactly what current antidepressant medications attempt to do, i.e. increasing synaptic 5-HT by preventing its reuptake.

Johnny Appleseed brings the perspective of a Transpersonal Psychologist to his experiential shamanic teaching, contending that 5-MeO DMT awakens psychic centres by amplifying our telepathic ability to affect or be receptive to others’ brainwaves through modulating chemistry, electromagnetic entrainment and standing feedback loops. Plants are mixed in brews with MAO Inhibitor containing plants (banasteriopsis caapi, Syrian Rue etc.) to produce entheogenic brews that mimic the DMT-pinoline combination naturally produced by the pineal gland. Appleseed states:

For the last 10 years I have been doing healing and exploratory sessions with individuals and small groups. We have occasionally experienced the phenomena of telepathy, ESP, and interactions on an energetic level that produce healing in a number of modalities. I work only with a strain of Phalaris grass, an entheogen specifically bred to contain 5-MeO DMT. I use this in an oral preparation potentiated by MAOI from Syrian rue. This is not a common mix, as most people smoke it for a blast, which is not conducive to this work. I feel all of the other materials mentioned, LSD, mushrooms, and DMT-based brews distort consciousness to some degree. Oral-based 5-MeO DMT from plant sources is something completely different, however. Traces of other alkaloids from the plant source produce a more enhanced experience than the pure chemical. A clear yet enhanced state is accessible easily and reliably with no delusional ideation, or visual distortions. It is simply like being fully awake. This is probably because we were born with, and until puberty had, a pineal gland that made 5-MeO DMT in quite substantial amounts, unlike the reports of only very trace amounts of endogenous DMT. Thus, we have the receptors and metabolic pathways to deal with this material in a non-distorting way.

Ananda Bosman emphasises the crucial role of endogenous DMT and sacramental DMT from Syrian rue and other potentiating botanicals. The ancients called it variously,  hoama in Persian (avesta veda); soma in Sanskrit (Rg veda); the Egyptian essene; the Sumerian ‘Tree of Life’; Mohammed’s esphand; the burning bush asena of Moses; the Gnostic besa; the Etruscan phallaris arundanacia; and the rue of alchemy. Syrian rue was revered because melatonin's active metabolite, pinoline, is oneirogenic and antidepressant, increasing serotonin turnover. Lack of pinoline disturbs our circadian rhythms and creates states of depression. According to Miller, pinoline has been conclusively demonstrated to have no function in schizophrenia, since test subjects healthy and otherwise, had the same levels of pinoline. The pineal is a superconducting resonator. Bosman claims it potentiates DNA as a multidimensional transducer of holographic projection, through hadron toroids, and is implicated in staying youthful. 5meoDMT and DMT act on the T-RNA messengers, which carry out the protein synthesis for the DNA, or the rebuilding of our body image and organs. Melatonin is exclusively made in the pineal gland, comprised of the same tryptophane base materials as pinoline. Melatonin induces mitosis by sending a small electrical signal up the double helix of the DNA, which instigates an 8 HZ proton signal that enables the hydrogen bonds to the stair steps, to zip open, and the DNA can replicate. The human pineal gland not only produces the neuro-hormone melatonin, one of the body's most potent antioxidents, but the revolutionary pinoline, 6-methoxy-tetra-dydro-beta carboline, or 6-MeO-THBC. Pinoline is superior to melatonin in aiding DNA replication and can make superconductive elements within the body, encouraging cell division by resonating with the very pulse of life - 8 cycles per second - the pulse DNA uses to replicate. Andrea Puharich measured this 8 Hz resonance in healers in the late 1970s. Bosman implicates DMT in the hyperdimensional geometry or architecture operating in DNA through hadronic mechanics, a model of the 8 hz, or universal phase-conjugational force, that is also the most coherent nuclear magnetic resonance and the DNA replication frequency. He relates this to the sacred geometry of the Merkabah, Flower of Life, Sri Yantra, Diamond Body, and Vector Equilibrium Matrix.

The living DNA in our bodies apparently operates in hyper-dimensions. The entire body holographic message is present in the single DNA molecule, in order to be capable of reproducing the entire whole. The local 8hz field component is a standard tetrahedron interlocked with a second tetrahedron representing the counter-rotary field that it is phase-conjugating with, and together comprising a ‘stellated cube’.

Bosman and Mantak Chia have investigated ‘Dark Room techniques’ for stimulating the pineal gland. Bosman developed, researched, and has taught the Dark Room technology for endogenous pineal soma and DMT production (endohuasca) since 1992, upgrading his technique with Mantak Chia in 2000. Isolated from external light, the ‘Third Eye’ (pineal gland) overflows with certain neurotransmitters that awaken the higher brain; the ability to imprint the brain; reprogramming itself for an “instant experience of Being.” The retreat reopens the source code of embryogenesis. 5-MEO-DMT activates the whole spine; the whole ‘Tree of Life’ (Djedi, the staff of Hermes, the Caduceus of the spine) becomes active to be reprogrammed. This is the accessing and awakening of the ‘Tree of Life’, the Kundalini, which is a readout of the DNA. DNA itself is a minute tree of life. So one can start to process the illusion of the dream from its binary code into the ‘Unity Self’.  In The Unity Keys of Emmanuel and Somajetics, Bosman says:

By the DMT translation of the Sound of Silence of the Word into the Soul Computer Virtual Reality Interface, the parallel quantum bodies are thus accessed by the NMDA inhibition, which is electrical anesthesia, engaged by the heart ecstasis of 8 hz, to the 1000 hz petalled lotus. [This] is the learned means of NMDA inhibition, engaged through the cave and dark room retreats of inner re-engagement. Thus the chemical soul’s crystal laser transducers and interdimensional door keys, are in soma harmaline-pinoline-harmine, DMT and 5-MeO-DMT, and by the NMDA  inhibitors through ecstasis...A high spin state within the DNA water molecule harnessed by pinoline/soma intercalating with the DNA (a molecule that has a stable 8hz NMR proton-proton spin-spin coupling thus hadron pi-meson interplay), together with N-methl-D-aspartate-inhibitors enables the electron states to move into a nulling, and electron freeze within an entire cell, enabling only 8 hz fields to pass through, changing the charge of the cell, so that the superconductivity harnessed by the pinoline DNA intercalation (with sonic interaction of the vocalized DNA electron spin resonance tones) — enables the hadronic force to be able to operate within the macro region of an entire cell (and intercellularly, by extension).

Furthermore, noradrenaline plays a significant role in the pineal gland, when there is sufficient pinoline saturation in the brain. It releases a serotonin site, enabling another serotonin site on the pineal gland to produce the potent visionary dimethyltryhptamine (DMT), neurotransmitter. Callaway detected this molecule in the spinal serum of people who were dying; having an ‘out of body experience’ (OOBE); or who were lucid dreaming. It is pinoline that enables the threshold levels of DMT to become active in the brain, but it requires an adrenaline burst. DMT with pinoline increases brain activation, and with its cousin, the 5-Methoxy-DMT, has been shown to activate the brain by as much as 40%, compared to our 10% maximum potential at present. This is a frightening prospect for the uninitiated, due to the absolutely overwhelming nature of DMT.

Here is some anecdotal evidence of DMT experiences which I found on the internet during my research:

I felt the DMT release my soul's energy and push it through the DNA. It's what happened when I lost my body. There were spirals that reminded me of things I've seen at Chaco Canyon. Maybe that was DNA. Maybe the ancients knew that. The DNA is backed into the universe like space travel. One needs to travel without one's body. It's ridiculous to think about space travel in little ships.
- Sara, a volunteer in Strassman's DMT research

There was no turning back. After a moment or two I became aware of something happening to my left. I saw a psychedelic, Day-Glo-colored space that approximated a room whose walls and floor had no clear separations or edges. It was throbbing and pulsing electrically. Rising in front of "me" was a podium-like table. It seemed that some presence was dealing/serving something to me. I wanted to know where I was and "sensed" the reply that I had no business there. The presence was not hostile, just somewhat annoyed and brusque.
- Aaron, a volunteer in Strassman's DMT research

The first thing I noticed was a burning in the back of my neck. Then there was this loud intense hum. It was like the fan at first, but separate. It began engulfing me. I let go into it and then... WHAM! I felt like I was in an alien laboratory, in a hospital bed like this...A sort of landing bay, or recovery area. There were beings...They had a space ready for me. They weren't as surprised as I was. It was incredibly un-psychedelic. I was able to pay attention to detail. There was one main creature, and he seemed to be behind it all, overseeing everything. The others were orderlies, or dis-orderlies. They activated a sexual circuit, and I was flushed with an amazing orgasmic energy. A goofy chart popped up like an X-ray in a cartoon, and a yellow illumination indicated that the corresponding system, or series of systems, were fine. They were checking my instruments, testing things. When I was coming out, I couldn't help but think 'aliens'. I am so disappointed I didn't talk to them. I was confused and in awe. I knew that they were preparing me for something. Somehow we had a mission. They had things to show me. But they were waiting for me to acquaint myself with the environment and movement and language of this space.
- Dimitri, a volunteer in Strassman's DMT research

At one time, around 1969, we used large doses of DMT, and this period was crucially important to the whole evolution of my mathematical understanding of consciousness, based on geometry, topology, nonlinear dynamics and the theory of vibrating waves. For in these experiments, although lasting only a few minutes, the reciprocal processes of vibrations producing forms and forms producing vibrations were clearly perceived in abstract visual fields.
Mathematician Ralph Abraham reporting scientific inspiration from synthetic DMT (2006)

Literally, you are transported into another fucking dimension. I don't mean like you feel you're in another dimension, you're in another dimension. There's fucking complex geometric patterns moving in synchronies order through the air all around you in three dimensional space. It's like they're arteries, but there isn't blood pumping through them, there's light, pulsating light with no boundaries. And there's an alien communicating with me who looks sort of like a Tai Buddha, except he's entirely made of energy and there's no outline to him. He's concentrating and telling me not to give into astonishment, relax and try and experience this.
- Joe Rogan (b. 1967) American martial artist, UFC commentator, writer, comedian, actor & psychedelic pioneer

The following text is a transcription of a radio broadcast by Joe Rogan c. 2005/6: 

It's called dimethyltryptamine. It's produced by your pineal gland. It's actually a gland...that's in the centre of your brain. It's the craziest drug ever. It's the most potent psychedelic known to man. Literally. But the craziest thing [about it is that] it's natural, and your brain produces it every night as you sleep. You know, when you sleep, during the time you're in heavy R.E.M. sleep, and right before human death, your brain pumps out heavy doses of dimethyltryptamine. Nobody knows what sleep is all about. Nobody knows why dreaming is important. But dreaming is hugely important. If you don't dream, you'll go fucking crazy and you'll die. While you're dreaming, while you're in heavy REM sleep, you are going through a psychedelic trip. And very few people know about this. But it's been documented. There's a great book on it called DMT: The Spirit Molecule by a doctor named Dr Rick Strassman. And he did all of these clinical studies at the University of New Mexico on it. And you take this shit, and literally you are transported into another fucking dimension. I don't mean like, you feel like you're in another dimension. I mean you're in another dimension....There's fucking complex geometric patterns moving in synchronous order through the air all around you in three-dimensional space; and it's like they're arteries, except there's not blood pumping through them, there's fucking light - pulsating lights with no boundaries. And you couldn't really understand it. And there's an alien communicating with me. There's a dude who looks like, like sorta like a Thai Buddha, except he's made entirely of energy and there's no, there's no, like, outline to him - he's just one thing. And he's concentrating on me, and he's trying to tell me not to give in to astonishment. Just relax, and try to experience this. And I'm like: “You gotta be fucking shittin' me.” And I'm a stand up comedian, you know. 'Cos as a stand-up comedian, we pride ourselves in being able to describe things. So I'm like: “How the FUCK am I gonna talk about this?!”

DMT has also been advocated by some as a therapeutic tool. Hollywood personal trainer to the stars, Barry Hostetler advocates “Youthenizing”, claiming his 35 years of bodybuilding and meditating allows him to “kick out the DMT”. According to Hostetler, we can control our psychobiology by controlling our mental state and vice versa, especially the reactive ‘dragon brain’ or ‘reptilian brain’. Paramahansa Yogananda taught: “If you are in a dark room, don’t beat at the darkness with a stick, but rather try to turn on the light!” Under stress we release toxic catabolites into our system, which undermine the immune system and age us faster. Hostetler argues that without exercise (aerobic, core, strength) poisons accumulate, making the body toxic and the mind frustrated and agitated. When we are calm and balanced, body chemistry is non-toxic and immune function improves significantly.

Meditation is an alpha brain wave entrainment technique, which synchronises the two brain hemispheres into 8 Hz. This resonance phenomenon, entrainment, is called the frequency-following response, or binaural beat technology. Entrainment is the process of synchronisation, where vibrations of one object will cause another to oscillate at the same rate. It works by embedding two different tones in a stereo background. Continuous tones of subtlely different frequencies (such as 100 and 108 cycles per second) are delivered to each ear independently via stereo headphones.  The tones combine in a pulsing ‘wah-wah’ tone, often overlaid with more soothing, meditative mood music. External rhythms have been shown to have a direct effect on the psychology and physiology of the listener.  The brain effortlessly begins resonating at the same rate as the difference between the two tones, ideally in the 4 - 13 Hz. (theta and alpha) range for meditation. All you have to do is meditate whilst listening to the binaural beats through the headphones. The brain automatically responds to certain frequencies, behaving like a resonator. You may not become immediately enlightened, but hemispheric synchronization helps with a whole host of problems stemming from abnormal hemispheric asymmetries, such as stress; REM sleep problems; narcissism; addictive and self-defeating behaviours; post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD); depression; insomnia; chronic pain; attention-deficit disorders, nightmares, anxiety and aggression. Communication between hemispheres correlates with flashes of insight, wisdom and creativity. Because the brain is functionally ‘plastic’ in nature, creating and exercising new neural pathways can retrain neural circuitry.  In meditation, the halves of the brain become synchronised and exhibit nearly identical patterns of large, slow brainwaves. Rhythmic pulses can modulate collective neuronal synchrony.  Then, both lobes automatically play in concert. Stimulating neglected neural circuitry creates new pathways, improving equilibrium and long-term change, essentially “tuning” the nervous system.  Indeed, the idea of changing brain chemistry and electrical activity is well-established in medicine – i.e. the use of electro-convulsive shock treatment in mental disorders. For more information on how binaural beats can be used to enhance lucid dreaming, please see my previous article on this topic, by following this link.

Closing the eyes, stops melatonin flow leakage to the body, and makes it saturate the neocortex, increasing concentrations of meltaonin and pinoline in both brain and body. Pinoline and related beta carbolines are not only produced in the brain, but in the adrenal glands themselves, where these hormones undergo their transformation to the hormones of life. HeartMath Institute demonstrated that minutes of compassion in the cardio-rhythm, which induces 8 Hz (i.e. alpha waves) in the brain, brought DHEA up to youthful levels. Of course, this means you can use alpha wave binaural beats in meditation to entrain your brain easily. Twenty minutes of what meditation practitioners in this field refer to as ‘compassionate love’, through meditative breathing and whole body 8 Hz entrainment, is the ultimate hormone precursor anti-ageing pill. Not only does the pineal gland produce more melatonin and pinoline, which instigate 8 Hz ELF waves throughout the body, but these neurohormones signal the pituitary to release the life hormone somatropin, which signals the adrenal glands to instigate cholesterol to convert to pregnelenone then DHEA.  The extra pinoline and other beta carboline levels that result, aid the body cells to replicate, and neutralise micro-organisms, parasites, fungoids, and bacterias, and related harmful invaders. Melatonin and pinoline are also anti-oxidents – another factor in anti-ageing. Meditation is a rest break; an essential health exercise; an energiser; a tool for mental integration of daily activities; an integration session; and a body tuner, promoting antioxidant and antidepressant production. It is alleged that we can return intentionally to more youthful states by doing emotional exercises and visualisations, which stimulate the body chemistry of our youthful days. The body remembers and mimics those chemical states, producing youthful hormones and more flexible mental and physical states, improving overall balance and disposition. This is the foundational thought behind yoga as a therapeutic form of exercise and meditation. When “Youthenizing” (to use Hostetler’s catchphrase), it is apparently helpful to use a photo from under age 7, a time you felt at your peak, or your happiest, or other 'good chemistry' times. I wholeheartedly believe in the mind-body benefits of meditation and brain entrainment and advocate their use for achieving lucidity in dream states and access to other levels of consciousness. However, I feel that some ‘psychonautic’ approaches are more extreme than necessary to achieve the experiences sought. Kinesiology demonstrates that the mind ‘thinks’ with the body itself.  Mind-body is the subtle mechanism behind the disease process; the chemistry you generate with moods and states in your body is crucial to your health and well being. First toxic states of mind affect the energy body, then the physical body – by releasing different hormones and chemicals when under stress. Many psychologists argue that subjective and objective experience are hidden determinates of human behaviour. Embodied as corporeal memory, the body is your memory and subconscious and self-regulation can modulate this process. The body is a mass of energy/matter which is affected by emotions and mental states. Body-consciousness can either hide or reveal spirit, depending on how we direct our attention toward our ego, stress (including spiritual distress) and relief. The body and mind can be reunited in a congruent, healthy lifestyle by acting on what you know and using meditative practice. Absolute darkness has an initiatory quality – the metaphor of moving from the darkness of ignorance into the illuminative light. But it is more than a metaphor. Culturally, all ‘wisdom traditions’ have used sensory deprivation and darkness, (such as caves, tunnels, catacombs or special chambers), as a shamanic mind-altering force. Disorientation outside facilitates internal focus and connection. Dark Room (DR) technology is advocated by some DMT researcher as a technique for core reprogramming and restimulation the hardened pineal which begins calcifying around the age of 12 years. This experience supposedly lead to the perception of sound becoming light. Chanting and drumming amplify the effects, which culminate in a rebirth of the spirit when one enters the point of light or primordial luminosity.

Author, Robert Newman, (Calm Healing, 2006) advocates ‘Medicine Light’ for a variety of conditions. He cites Tibetan Buddhist, Trungpa Rinpoche, with reference to highly advanced, dangerous forms of meditation practiced in utter darkness, known as a ‘Bardo Retreat’. These experiences last up to seven weeks in a specially prepared ‘Darkness Chamber’, during which the whole Tibetan Book of The Dead becomes experiential and visions arise innately from the brain. The beneficent and wrathful ‘eyes of Buddha’ become visually and interactively alive as the ‘Bardo of Luminosity’ flashes on and off; visions are self-arising; and transcend ordinary perception. The 49-day cycle recapitulates embryogenesis up to the point when pineal and gender differentiation occurs. The Taoists, Egyptians, Druids and others had similar practices of external light isolation. Taoist master, Mantak Chia of Thailand recommends sound and light isolation in a process he calls Darkroom Enlightenment. He sequesters participants in the dark for over a week to shock the pineal into critical arousal to stimulate production of natural DMT and break down the barriers to transcendence. The neurotransmitter 5-MeO-DMT is normally only active when we are in the womb and in the first months of our lives. According to these practitioners it is reactivated once again when in the darkroom. Stages in this experience include: ‘Melatonin State (Day 1 - 3; ego death); Pinoline State (Day 3 - 5; energy body and astral projection; lucid dreaming); 5-MeO-DMT State (Day 6 - 8; telepathy; White Light); culminating in Illuminative DMT State (Day 9 - 12; Clear Light; Immortal Body). Participants leave through a tunnel, presumably a symbolic ‘rebirth’.

Chia (2006) states:

There is now enough 'mono amine oxidase inhibition' triggered by the pinoline, to allow the pineal gland's 'serotonin to melatonin cycle' to be intercepted by adrenaline and ephedrine activity and converted into a 'serotonin - DMT pathway'. When DMT levels reach more than 25mg, one's experience can become very visual. DMT is the visual third eye neurotransmitter. It enables the energy body and spirit to journey into hyperspace, beyond third dimensional realms of time and space.

‘Re-entry’ implies rebirth - the self-organisng emergence of the new self; the death of stultified within the psyche and the attainment of new behaviours, thoughts, feelings and wisdoms, as part of the healing experience. Entheogen expert, Trout (2001) is sceptical, stating: 

I'll ignore the shakiness of their biochemical presentation but to arrive at DMT from melatonin or a betacarboline starting point would be interesting if not fanciful under physiological conditions. It is much more likely that formation of endogenous DMT would be instead of melatonin rather than from it or into it (and the two paths mutually preclusive similar to what we see in plants as concerns DMT and 5-MeO-DMT synthesis even when the two co-occur). Now to go from melatonin to a 6-methoxylated-betacarboline with psychoactivity on the other hand is not at all far-fetched if an appropriate enzyme exists and was present.

Melatonin and pinoline production is regulated by the seasonal changes in light and darkness, linked to the sleep/wake cycle. Pinoline, is produced in the pineal gland from 5HT has been hypothesised by some psychonauts and DMT scholars as being the neurochemical trigger for dreaming, although there is no solid scientific evidence to validate this assumption at present. Lack of sleep for several nights is often linked to the onset of acute psychotic breakdown in which the person can, in some circumstances, start hallucinating or ‘dreaming while awake’. This state of consciousness is common to the dream state (and REM sleep); the psychedelic state; and the shamanic initiation experience. There is some scientific research which suggests that schizophrenia is a form of waking-dream, very similar to REM states, which are typically disturbed in schizophrenic subjects due to inconsistent sleep patterns. Meditation modulates pineal activity, to create a standing wave through resonance effects that affects other brain centres, with both chemical and electromagnetic coordination.  Resonance can be induced in the pineal using electric, magnetic, or sound energy – and of course binaural brain entrainment. Such harmonisation resynchronises both hemispheres of the brain.  This results in a chain of synergetic activity resulting in the production and release of hallucinogenic compounds. Sacred images are generated by the lower temporal which also responds to ritual imagery and is facilitated by prayer and meditation. Religious emotions originate from the middle temporal lobe and are linked to emotional aspects of religious experience, such as joy and awe. Yet neural correlates don't mean that these experiences exist ‘only’ in the brain or are merely illusory; they are associated with distinct neural activity. There is no way to distinguish if the brain causes these experiences, or actually perceives spiritual reality. Visions of bright lights, portals, and spiritual icons correlate with DMT.

Neurologist Ramachandran believes that human beings have actually evolved specialised neural circuitry for the sole purpose of mediating religious experience. He states: "There may be certain neural pathway - neural structures in the temporal lobe and the limbic system - whose activity makes you more prone to religious belief.” If this is true, it is easy to see how much this mind-altering chemical could amplify all of the tendencies toward mystical apprehension originating in other parts of the brain.

The pineal contains high levels of the enzymes and building blocks for making DMT, and it may be secreted when inhibitory processes cease blocking its production. It may even produce other chemicals, such as beta-carbolines that magnify and prolong its effects. The mind-body operates according to electrical impulses. Living systems are very sensitive to tiny energy fields and resonance phenomena, both locally and at a distance. They allow the cells of the body to work together instantaneously and symphonically. All biological processes are a function of electromagnetic field interactions. Electromagnetic  fields are the connecting link between the world of form and resonant patterns. Electomagnetic fields embody or store gestalts, patterns of information. Biochemical action and bioelectronic action meet at the quantum-junction.

Criticism of Strassman’s DMT theory
Some critics of Strassman’s theories on DMT point out that there is no solid empirical proof that DMT is produced in the pineal gland and even though Strassman himself points this out in his 2001 book, many people have chosen to take his theories as concrete fact. Strassman states:

These hypotheses are not proven, but they derive from scientifically valid data combined with spiritual and religious observations and teachings...The most general hypothesis is that the pineal gland produces psychedelic amounts of DMT at extraordinary times in our lives. Pineal DMT production is the physical representation of non-material, or energetic, processes. It provides us with the vehicle to consciously experience the movement of our life-force in its most extreme manifestations. Specific examples of this phenomenon are the following: When our individual life force enters our fetal body, the moment in which we become truly human, it passes through the pineal and triggers the first primordial flood of DMT...Later, at birth, the pineal releases more DMT...In some of us, pineal DMT mediates the pivotal experiences of deep meditation, psychosis, and near-death experiences...As we die, the life-force leaves the body through the pineal gland, releasing another flood of this psychedelic spirit molecule.

Sceptics point out that Strassman’s theories have entered popular ‘geek drug-culture’ via the internet and publicity from high-profile figures such as Rogan and as a result have been accredited an unshakable status which may not stand up to critical scientific scrutiny and has yet to be accepted by the wider scientific community. Certainly there is no peer-reviewed neuroscientific research which confirms Strassman’s theory. There is even less evidence regarding Strassman’s even more far-reaching claims that DMT is the modulator of the human soul. By the end of his book, Strassman proposes that DMT may provide access to parallel universes (and alien beings) via superconductive quantum computing of the human brain at room temperature, or via interactions with dark matter. Strassman states: "Because I know so little about theoretical physics, there are fewer constraints reining me in regarding such speculations." Thus, he is admitting that his lack of scientific knowledge in the area of physics enables his imagination to run wild in his speculations about exactly what effect endogenous or pineal gland DMT is likely to have – speculations for which he has no empirical evidence, nor proof that the pineal gland actually functions in this way. Some supporters of Strassman’s theory have developed their own ‘off-shoot’ theories which often go off in creative directions, some of which have been referenced above. These ‘off-shoot’ theories on DMT include: the idea that ancient prophets produced more DMT than modern-man, meaning they were more enlightened and open to other plains of consciousness; that electro-magnetic fields increase DMT production; spending a couple of weeks in total darkness (Dark Room technology see above) increases DMT production; and that fluoridated water or artificial lighting suppresses DMT production, amongst many others which can be found mainly on internet forums, discussion boards and dedicated websites/blogs. Whilst sceptics pour scorn on such theories, it should be remembered that culturally, many ancient peoples – and tribes existing today – use techniques such as imbibing herbal preparations and smoke in dark spaces, as a means of altering their state of consciousness and communication with a ‘higher power’. Thus, whilst prolonged periods of darkness may not encourage the production of this elusive notion of pineal DMT, it may enhance the effects of psychedelic or hallucinatory preparations used in this environment, due to lack of external visual stimulus and better opportunity for effective meditation.  Further, changes in electrical impulses in the brain are scientifically proven to change brain chemistry – as evidenced by the use of electro-convulsive shock treatment in mentally ill patients, for example. Therefore, if the human brain is able to produce a DMT-like chemical – in the pineal gland, or elsewhere – it would be very possible that changes in electrical ‘signals’ to the brain could alter levels of DMT. Regardless, scientific evidence has shown that changing the electrical activity of brain waves can enable different states of consciousness and brain function, even by simply using binaural beat technology.

The following text is an ‘addendum’ by Strassman, to the theories contained in his 2011 book. It is often a section ignored or glossed over by psychonauts or those who choose to buy Strassman’s theory wholesale:

I did my best in the DMT book to differentiate between what is known, and what I was conjecturing about (based upon what is known), regarding certain aspects of DMT dynamics. However, it's amazing how ineffective my efforts seem to have been. So many people write me, or write elsewhere, about DMT, and the pineal, assuming that the things I conjecture about are true. When I was writing the book, I thought I was clear enough, and repeating myself would have gotten tedious.
We don't know whether DMT is made in the pineal. I muster a lot of circumstantial evidence supporting a reason to look long and hard at the pineal, but we do not yet know. There are data suggesting urinary DMT rises in psychotic patients when their psychosis is worse. However, we don't know whether DMT rises during dreams, meditation, near-death, death, birth or any other endogenous altered state. To the extent those states resemble those brought on by giving DMT, it certainly makes one wonder if endogenous DMT might be involved, and if it were, it would explain a lot. But we don't know yet. Even if the pineal weren't involved, that would have little overall effect on my theories regarding a role for DMT in endogenous altered states, because we do know that the gene involved in DMT synthesis is present in many organs, particularly lung. If the pineal made DMT, it would tie up a lot of loose ends regarding this enigmatic little organ. But people seem to live pretty normal lives without a pineal gland; for example, when it has had to be removed because of a tumor.
In both these regards - the pineal-DMT connection, and endogenous DMT dynamics - we ought to know a lot more within the next several years due to the efforts of a research group being led by Steven Barker at Louisiana State University. He, with his grad student Ethan McIlhenny, are developing a new super-assay for DMT, 5-MeO-DMT, bufotenine, and metabolites. This assay will be capable of detecting those compounds much more sensitively than previous generations of assays. They're looking at endogenous levels in awake sober normals, to assess baseline values of these compounds. We should have some data from those samples within a year. They also will be looking at pineal tissue. Once we have some baseline data in normal humans in normal waking consciousness, comparisons can be made between those levels and levels in endogenous altered states, like dreams, near-death, and so on.

2 comments:

  1. Thank you very much for this article. You are a very beautiful and artistic woman.

    Fredrik Sweden

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    1. Thank you Fredrik, I'm glad you enjoyed reading :) x

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