The Essential Guide to Microdosing DMT
“Breakthrough” doses of DMT (upward of 30 mg, depending on technique) are extremely potent, opening a door to the “universe within,” or “hyperspace,” “a seemingly vast, dark continent populated with strange entities.” Psychonaut and author Terence McKenna famously referred to these entities as “machine elves” and conceived of them as sentient beings with their own agenda.
Rick Strassman, who gave DMT to hundreds of volunteers in the early ‘90s, called it the “spirit molecule,” not only because it occurs naturally in plants and animals (as psychedelic chemist Sasha Shulgin acknowledged in his book, TiHKAL), but also because of the distinctly “spiritual” states of mind it engenders. These include a sense of bliss, timelessness, and certainty, as well as access to “invisible realms” that feel just as real, if not more so, as consensus reality. In fact, there’s a theory that DMT activates primal, neglected parts of the brain, affording humans a more complete and otherwise unthinkable perception of existence.
Noting the brain’s receptivity to DMT and the ease by which the molecule is allowed—in fact actively transported—across the blood-brain barrier, Strassman suggested that “the brain hungers for DMT” and that it’s essentially a kind of “brain food.”
Dennis McKenna, meanwhile, thinks DMT may be a “biospheric catalyst for cognitive evolution,” a messenger molecule promoting, or illuminating, symbiotic interdependence between the myriad different organisms that make up the super-organism of the planet—awareness of which has been all but cultured out of humanity.
So what are the effects, if any, of taking what Terence McKenna might have referred to as “piddly little amounts” for a microdose?
While some people think taking lower, sub-threshold doses of DMT may be missing the point (whatever that point may be), or even disrespecting, i.e. trivializing, the molecule, others have reported:
For many, DMT has more to offer than the experience of breaking through.
There is a discredited theory, popularized early on (albeit as conjecture) by Strassman, that DMT is produced in the pineal gland and released during dreaming and death—supposedly explaining the imagery and visuals associated with these states. Actually, the physiological role of endogenous DMT (i.e. that produced by the body) remains a mystery. As pharmacologist David Nichols has pointed out, there’s simply not enough of it to cause the effects suggested; endogenous DMT is present only in trace amounts and may be nothing but a metabolic waste product biosynthesized from the amino acid tryptophan.
Recent studies have tended to focus on the effects of the DMT-containing ayahuasca brew as opposed to DMT alone. But the isolated molecule is known to activate 5-HT2A receptors (like many psychedelics), as well as dopamine and sigma-1 receptors, among others. Activation of serotonin receptors, in particular, enhances mood and wellbeing, and ayahuasca has been used to treat depression, PTSD, anxiety, grief, and so on—perhaps also by a process of psychological “decentering,” whereby one is able to observe thoughts and emotions objectively or non-judgmentally.
With regard to the psychotherapeutic benefits of DMT alone, in the ‘90s Strassman and his team found that doses of 0.05 mg/kg (injected intravenously) were sometimes associated with mood enhancement and feelings of relaxation and physical warmth.
Current research is finding similar benefits. According to Robin Carhart-Harris at Imperial College London, DMT may represent a more economically viable alternative to other psychedelic therapies because of its much shorter acting time, requiring fewer staff hours for supervision. It should be noted, however, that Carhart-Harris is referring to 20 mg (moderate) doses here and not microdoses.
Unlike many other psychedelics, including psilocybin and LSD, DMT is metabolized too rapidly to be orally active. This is why ayahuasca contains monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs) in the form of harmala alkaloids—to inhibit the enzymes that break DMT down. Taken without an MAOI, DMT has to bypass the gut to be effective, whether by smoking, snorting, injecting (IM/IV), or even rectal “plugging.” Since most of these methods are impractical for regular microdosing, and snorting is notoriously painful, most users prefer to smoke.
It’s important to note that only freebase DMT (usually in the form of white or transparent crystals) can be used for this purpose. In its natural salt form (e.g. tannate, acetate), the molecule breaks down when heated and may even become toxic.
There are various ways to smoke freebase DMT, including in the herbal blend “changa.” This typically contains MAOIs, such as Banisteriopsis caapi (the ayahuasca vine), to alter and prolong the effects. Another method is to layer DMT between cannabis, which, again, will alter the effects.
To smoke DMT on its own:
Alternatively, you might prefer to use a more sophisticated, electronic vaporizer.
For most people the threshold dose of DMT (the dose at which psychedelic effects occur) is between 5-10 mg, but it may be as low as 2 mg according to some reports. We would therefore expect a microdose to be less than 10 mg.
In line with Strassman’s findings, 0.1 mg/kg (by body weight) should be considered a tentative upper limit for microdosing, since at this dose participants reported an uncomfortable physical tension on the verge of psychedelic effects—similar to the electrically charged sensation of above-threshold doses but without the discharge of a breakthrough psychedelic experience.
In any case, it’s best to start with a very small amount, measured on a precise scale. Since heated DMT tends to leave a residue with its own unique psychoactivity, it’s also important to rinse glass pipes with alcohol and salt to maintain full control over subsequent doses. According to some users, pre-warming the pipe may help to prevent this buildup of residue in the first place.
Given the relatively short duration of DMT’s immediate effects, the time of day doesn’t seem to matter as much as it does for microdosing LSD and (to a lesser extent) psilocybin. But in the spirit of controlled experimentation and collecting meaningful results, it’s recommended to follow a protocol along the same lines as James Fadiman’s.
There is little to no tolerance effect from DMT  though, so you needn’t leave a day or two between doses. Instead, you may want to limit daily experimentation to a set number of days or weeks before stopping entirely to evaluate and integrate any effects. It may also help to come up with a list of objectives beforehand, as a way of gauging any changes or benefits. Of course, you should not hesitate to stop early if problems arise.
Writing for Willamette Week, Matthew Korfhage described the effects of DMT microdosing as “mild and pleasant, euphoric without attendant spaciness,” giving rise to “a proactive curiosity that is the polar opposite of depressed apathy.” On the other hand, he noted that DMT would probably not aid productivity under tight deadlines. This was an extremely limited experiment, though, using changa (not DMT alone), lasting just one day, and coming at the end of a week in which he also microdosed LSD, psilocybin, and cannabis.
Others who have microdosed DMT for longer tend to consider it a powerful nootropic. At 10 mg, it has been found to increase mindfulness and concentration even better than LSD, and may be useful for meditation—although at this relatively high dose it also causes closed-eye visuals (CEVs). Some have also reported feeling less judgmental of self and others, not only on the day of the microdose but for a day or two after as well. Depression may be lifted, anxiety may be eased, and colors and visual acuity may be subtly enhanced. According to one DMT microdoser (at doses from 0.5 – 5 mg), there was also the sense, or “reminder,” that “we’re all eternal souls hanging around infinity.”
Some users find doses of 10 mg and below to be even more personally transformative than breakthrough doses. It is, they say, possible to bring more back from lower doses, and, according to one user, there’s a greater sense of “authorship” over realizations, “like being offered a koan to mull over instead of a direct statement.” This same user was motivated to make important (and long-delayed) life changes after microdosing DMT. Low doses “have less of a toll on your psyche,” said another; effects are “easier to integrate but seem more short term as well.” Low doses could also be useful for preparing one for a breakthrough dose (if only by easing anxiety and priming the lungs).
As with other psychedelics, low doses of DMT could help to alleviate cluster headaches.
Obviously the risk of accidentally taking more than intended applies to any psychedelic, but DMT comes on faster and stronger than most. It also tends to be far more physically disorienting; even at low doses, DMT can make it extremely difficult to move around. For this reason, it’s recommended to smoke it in a safe, comfortable setting with the option to freely slump backward without hurting yourself. It’s also a good idea to have somewhere safe to put the hot pipe and lighter after use and, at least for the first time, to have someone else present.
Another potential risk associated with microdosing DMT is long-term lung damage or irritation, which may arise from frequent smoking. However, there is no evidence of toxicity, and a lethal dosage has never been reached (nor is it expected to be).
Less common dangers—more applicable to full doses, if at all, but possibly to microdosing as well—include the potential to trigger stroke or psychosis in vulnerable users (such as the elderly and those with a family or personal history of stroke, heart conditions, high blood pressure, psychiatric conditions, and so on).
DMT should not be combined with a number of medications and substances, including:
You can find more detailed information on the risks associated with DMT in our Essential Guide.
DMT is probably illegal where you live, but the raw materials (such as Mimosa hostilis/tenuiflora root bark or Psychotria viridis leaves) may not be. Extracting DMT, which you can read about here, is fairly straightforward—although it is of course illegal in most places, and not without risk.
Extracted DMT should be stored in an airtight container and kept in a cool, dark, dry place. Storing it in an opaque or foil-wrapped vial in the freezer is ideal.
Although properly stored DMT should remain stable for several years, there is a chance that it may oxidize into DMT-N-oxide—sometimes indicated by a yellow color (although DMT may also be yellow) and different, perhaps unpleasant psychoactive effects. If this happens, you’ll be able to convert it back into DMT using zinc dust.
Some prefer to convert freebase DMT into the more stable salt DMT fumarate for long-term storage, converting it back into freebase for use.
DMT is not screened for in either standard or extended drug tests, nor is it likely to trigger a false positive for any of the drugs that are.
DMT can be extracted from a large number of plant sources, the most typical being Mimosa hostilis/tenuiflora, Psychotria viridis, and Acacia confusa.
Usually. Extracted DMT is illegal in almost all countries, including the United States.
Although DMT may be unsuitable for those with certain conditions and in combination with certain drugs (see above) it is known to be non-toxic even at very high doses. That said, relatively little is known about the harm potential of long-term, frequent use—although anecdotally it appears to be safe.
There are lots of things to cover before you get started with microdosing—including the reasons you’re interested in the first place!
Sign up to our extensive microdosing course to gain access to curated materials that will help you design the ideal microdosing regimen for your needs. You’ll also gain access to an exclusive community of enthusiastic, helpful microdosers!
DMT-specific forums, including the excellent DMT-Nexus (which has its own wiki) and the DMT subreddit, are also good resources to help you get started.
 Strassman, R. (2001). DMT: The Spirit Molecule. Rochester, VT: Park Street Press.
 Breaking Convention. (2017, Jul 10). Dennis McKenna – Is DMT A Neurotransmitter For The Gaian Brain? [Video]. Retrieved from https://youtu.be/M8AXSBvSkCQ.
 Breaking Convention. (2017, Jul 9). David Nichols – DMT And The Pineal Gland: Facts vs Fantasy. [Video]. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YeeqHUiC8Io.
 The Beckley Foundation. Ayahuasca/DMT. Retrieved from http://beckleyfoundation.org/ayahuascadmt/.
 Strassman, R. J., Qualls, C. R., Eberhard, H., Kellner, R. (1994). Dose-Response Study of N,N-Dimethyltryptamine in Humans: II. Subjective Effects and Preliminary Results of a New Rating Scale. Archives of General Psychiatry, 51(2), 98-108.
 Bryant, B. (2017, Jul 2). The brain on DMT: mapping the psychedelic drug’s effects. Retrieved from https://www.wired.co.uk/article/mapping-brain-dmt-psychedelic-drugs.
 DMT-Nexus Wiki. (2016, Apr 14). FAQ – DMT Frequently Asked Questions and Troubleshooting Guide / Are there different types of DMT? Retrieved from https://wiki.dmt-nexus.me/FAQ#Are_there_different_types_of_DMT.3F.
 Shulgin, A., Shulgin, A. (1997). TiHKAL: The Continuation. Berkeley, CA: Transform Press.
 Smith, R. L., Canton, H., Barrett, R. J., Sanders-Bush, E. (1998). Agonist Properties of N,N-Dimethyltryptamine at Serotonin 5-HT2A and 5-HT2C Receptors. Pharmacology Biochemistry & Behavior, 61, 3, 323-330.
 Korfhage, M. (2017, Apr 21). I Tried Microdosing With Four Different Psychedelic Drugs. Here’s What Happened. Retrieved from http://www.wweek.com/culture/2017/04/18/i-tried-microdosing-with-four-different-psychedelic-drugs-heres-what-happened/.
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