N, N-dimethyltryptamine (DMT) is a hallucinogenic drug naturally found in various plant species. It can cause powerful psychoactive experiences. How long DMT lasts in the body depends on various factors.

Effects of DMT on the body include seeing, hearing, or feeling things that are not there. A person may have an out-of-body experience. DMT can also cause nausea and make a person unable to move.

However, the effects of DMT vary depending on many factors, such as the type, its strength, how a person ingests it, and the amount taken.

This article explains the effects of DMT on the body, including how long it lasts, how it makes a person feel, and the risks.

It also includes the firsthand experience of Emma Soleil, who has encountered and experienced the various effects of the drug.

Medical News Today does not endorse using illegal substances, and we recognize abstaining from them is always the safest approach. However, we believe in providing accessible and accurate information to reduce the harm that can occur when using.

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DMT is a hallucinogenic drug that can create powerful effects on the body and induce a “trip.”

It produces intense visual and auditory experiences that seem to distort space and time. Some people claim that they see God or other sentient beings. Others feel connected to the universe.

How long DMT lasts depends on the ingestion method. Below are general guidelines:

  • Drinking ayahuasca brew: Typically, drinking an ayahuasca brew takes 60 minutes to induce an effect. It peaks at 90 minutes and lasts for up to 4 hours.
  • Smoking DMT crystalline: Smoking DMT has an almost instant onset time. The effects last fewer than 30 minutes.
  • Intravenous administration of DMT solution: Injecting DMT directly into the bloodstream has an almost instant onset time, peaking at 5 minutes. Effects tend to pass within 30 minutes.
  • Intramuscular administration of DMT solution: Injecting DMT into a muscle has an onset time of 2–5 minutes and can last 30 minutes to 1 hour.
  • Intranasal or intrarectal administration of DMT: Older research suggests these methods make DMT nonpsychoactive. The effects of snorting or rectally administering DMT and the time frames of these effects are currently too inconclusive to report.

What is DMT?

DMT (N, N-Dimethyltryptamine) is a hallucinogenic tryptamine, otherwise known as a psychedelic drug. It is well known for inducing intense and short-lived psychedelic experiences.

DMT can be found in various plants, such as in an ayahuasca brew. Ayahuasca is tea made from plants containing N, N-dimethyltryptamine, usually a mixture of Psychotria viridis and Banisteriopsis caapi.

DMT can also be found in the following plants:

  • Phalaris
  • Delosperma
  • Acacia
  • Desmodium
  • Mimosa
  • Virola

The human brain also produces DMT in the pineal gland.

Effects on the body may depend on various factors, such as:

  • The type of DMT: Whether the DMT is natural in the form of ayahuasca or a synthetic derivative may affect its strength and duration.
  • The method of ingestion: People brew DMT as ayahuasca for oral consumption. DMT, in its powdered form, is most commonly ingested as vapor via smoking. People also snort it, administer it rectally, or inject it in a vein or muscle.
  • The amount: The quantity and strength of DMT likely affect the length of the psychedelic trip it induces.
  • Body composition: Different body compositions may respond differently to DMT.

DMT is also known as the “near-death experience” drug. Many people who have taken DMT who are otherwise healthy report hallucinations, connections, and psychedelic experiences similar to those of people who have had actual near-death experiences.

Other effects on the body that occur with DMT use include increased heart rate and blood pressure.

Some scientific studies speculate that DMT may contribute to neurodegenerative and neurorestorative processes. This means it could potentially treat neurodegenerative diseases in the future.

Emma’s story

“I have experienced DMT seven times in the form of ayahuasca across two weeks. My experience with DMT varied vastly across the two weeks.

“In the first weeklong retreat, I was effectively paralyzed from the neck down while the DMT was active in my system. During that time, I was fully cognitively functional, but I could not move my body at all.

“As a result, I was forced to ask for help — something I struggled with doing in my life, having developed hyper-independence as a trauma response. This experience was initially terrifying for me but ultimately became comforting as I eventually learned to feel safe asking for help and trusting that it would be there for me.

“In the second weeklong retreat, I delved deep into fears that were unconsciously running my life and stemmed from generational trauma. This week was helpful for me because it made me aware of what subconscious beliefs were quietly sabotaging my goals without my knowledge.

“The awareness itself did not help me change those beliefs, but it did clue me into what work I needed to do within myself to transform my life.”

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Learn more about DMT.

How fast the body metabolizes DMT

Generally, the human body metabolizes DMT relatively quickly. The drug leaves the bloodstream within an hour.

This timing may vary depending on the method of ingestion.

However, DMT traces remain in hair samples for much longer.

DMT and the neurotransmitter serotonin share a structural relationship. Because of this, heavy use can cause serotonin syndrome.

Serotonin syndrome is a life threatening condition. It occurs when the body accumulates an excessive amount of serotonin. It develops more often in people who regularly take multiple drugs that increase serotonin levels, such as prescription antidepressants.

Serotonin syndrome can lead to:

At high doses, DMT can also cause:

  • seizures
  • respiratory arrest
  • coma

People with preexisting mental health conditions, such as schizophrenia, are particularly at risk of severe effects.

Comedown effects

There are relatively few comedown effects associated with DMT.

Because of DMT’s effect on serotonin receptors, people might feel some malaise after the drug’s effects wear off.

The severity of this depends mainly on how much DMT a person takes.

The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) classifies DMT as a Schedule 1 substance. This means it is illegal to buy, distribute, manufacture, or possess DMT in the United States.

If a person still decides to use DMT despite the legal and health risks, they can stay safe by following the below tips:

  • Use ayahuasca rather than powdered DMT. Evidence suggests ayahuasca may be relatively safe.
  • Use DMT in a safe place, which includes having a sober person nearby to help with any needs.
  • Start with a very small dose. Gauge its effects before taking more.
  • Avoid using DMT with other drugs, alcohol, or medication.
  • Avoid DMT if someone has a history of serious mental health issues, such as psychosis or dissociation.

DMT can be a profoundly mind-altering substance with serious hallucinogenic effects. While it may have some potential mental health benefits, more research is needed to explore these effects.

Like any drug, DMT has the potential for serious health effects, both mental and physical.