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Stay away from tortured performers and festival goers, psychedelics aren’t just for you anymore. A growing number of Silicon Valley pros swear by ‘microdosing’ psychedelics such as lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD) in an effort to increase creativity and drive innovation efforts.

This probably comes as no shock to anyone following tech and startup trends, especially the glorification of the 8 trillion hour (#hustle) work week. But business owners, entrepreneurs, and technologists are also turning to other hallucinogens to awaken higher levels of consciousness in hopes of influencing favorable business outcomes.

Dimethyltryptamine (DMT) is growing in popularity as business leaders and creatives flock to Peru or brains retreat to ingest the drug. It exists in the human body as well as in other animals and plants. In his book DMT: The Spiritual Molecule, Dr. Rick Strassman says, “This ‘spiritual’ molecule allows our consciousness to access the most amazing and unexpected sights, thoughts and feelings. It opens the door to worlds beyond our imagination.

The substance is usually synthesized in the lab and smoked, with short-lived effects (between five and 45 minutes, though some say it lasts for hours).

Traditionally, however, it is extracted from various species of Amazonian plants and sniffed or consumed as a tea (called ayahuasca or yage). The effects of DMT when consumed in this manner can last for up to ten hours. Entrepreneurs are drawn to the “ayahuasca experience” for its ability to provide clarity, vision, and inventiveness.

The physical effects are said to include increased blood pressure and increased heart rate. Users report gastrointestinal effects when taken orally, commonly referred to as “purging”. Purging can include vomiting or diarrhea, which makes for interesting conversation during the next company whiteboard session.

Users are prone to dizziness, difficulty regulating body temperature, and muscle incoordination. Users also risk seizures, respiratory failure, or falling into a coma.

DMT can interfere with medications or food, which is why many indigenous tribes that use it also follow specific dietary guidelines before ingestion. Not paying attention to diet or prescription medications before consuming ayahuasca or DMT can lead to the opposite of the intended effect, possibly even causing trauma or death.

So why on earth do people put themselves through this ordeal?

Many claim profound mental effects, often experiencing a transformative event that brings clarity and healing. Auditory and visual hallucinations are common, with reports of geometric shapes and bright, bold colors. Many report intense out-of-body experiences, an altered sense of time and space, or ego dissolution (“ego death”).

Studies have indicated long-term effects in people who use DMT. Some report a reduction in symptoms of depression or anxiety.

Subjects in an observational study showed significant reductions in stress after participating in an ayahuasca ceremony, with effects lasting throughout the 4-week follow-up period.

Subjects also showed improvements in convergent thinking that were still evident at the 4-week follow-up. People who take DMT generally report improvements in their overall life satisfaction and say they are more aware and aware after the experience.

It is important to note that dying from ayahuasca is rarely reported, but this does not rule out the risk. It’s also illegal in the United States, which explains why groups flock to Peru to visit licensed ayahuasca retreats or why technologists buy DMT on the dark web to avoid detection.

For those considering a DMT trip (and we do not recommend it due to the illegal nature and health risks), it is essential to fully understand the potential risks before consumption.

For further reading:

This story was first published here in June 2019.

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