Psychedelic Medicine 101: DMT and the near-death experience

A new study from Imperial College London has found significant overlap between the experiences reported by subjects who have had near-death experiences, and volunteers administered with a powerful psychedelic compound called DMT. The research builds on a long-standing body of work hypothesizing a strange correlation between the two experiences.

Dimethyltryptamine, or DMT, was first synthesized in the 1930s but it wasn’t until the 1950s that its psychoactive properties were finally discovered when Hungarian scientist Stephen Szara began experimenting with the compound. At the time, Szara was unable to obtain other psychedelic compounds for research so he began working with DMT after reports that the compound was present in many entheogenic potions used in traditional shamanic rituals.

Szara’s initial oral experiments produced no effect, so in the spirit of self-administered medical research, he gave himself an intramuscular injection of the compound in 1956. Over several days he slowly increased the dosage until he reached a full threshold psychedelic experience.

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