6 min read

No, there's no evidence for DMT being produced in your pineal gland

The most enduring myth about DMT is that it's produced in your pineal gland, and your brain releases it when you die.
From Descartes' La Dioptrique published in 1637 showing the pineal gland and its connection to the nervous system.
From Descartes' La Dioptrique (Dioptrics) published in 1637 showing the pineal gland and its connection to the nervous system.

Back in the day, I used to think drugs were for losers β€” I figured they were yet another over-hyped form of escapism people used to justify their lack of discipline.

However, my opinion about drugs & psychedelics, especially DMT β€” dramatically changed after I read the book DMT: The Spirit Molecule by Dr. Rick Strassman.

Many decades later, Dr. Rick Strassman even collaborated with Joe Rogan to release a documentary by the same name. 

If you've never read the book...

Essentially, from 1990 to 1995, Strassman conducted government approved clinical research where he injected 60 volunteers with intravenous N,N DMT.

Then, he'd record "trip reports" from these volunteers after they returned to baseline from their DMT experience.

...and the more I read the book, the more unbelievable and batshit crazy these "trip reports" and theories sounded.

Plus, since Strassman was a clinical psychiatrist and not some random hippie crackpot wearing tie-dye yoga pants, I was fully engaged.

I'm thinking...

"So, DMT is short-acting? And it's pretty safe? And you might visit another realm? Plus, people report that it's a net benefit? Huh, interesting." 🀨

So, as someone with zero experience with psychedelics, I sought DMT & jumped in soul first into hyperspace.

That was my first psychedelic experience.

The effects of DMT shocked me enough to make me wonder why it wasn't talked about on the news 24/7.

Fast-forward to today, and you can't escape DMT β€” from popular culture, to forums like Reddit, to countless podcasts and media outlets.

In fact, within the past two decades, the popularity of DMT has skyrocketed, and along with its popularity β€” plenty of myths about DMT have also gotten just as popular.

3 things have been responsible for many of the prevailing myths about DMT:

  1. Joe Rogan
  2. Rick Strassman
  3. The internet

I mean, at one point, the hip hop group Flatbush Zombies brought a literal copy of Strassman's book to The Breakfast Club.

There are many myths & memes about DMT, but let's talk about...

The most annoying meme about DMT

It is interesting that a cross-section of the pineal gland as visual similarities to the Egyptian Eye of Rah

The most enduring myth about DMT is that it's made in your pineal gland, and your brain releases it when you die.

First, the human body metabolizes DMT pretty quickly, which means by the time you extract some dude's brain WHILE he's dying and then cool it down and slice a cross-section of it to see whether his pineal gland is squirting DMT...


All the DMT would have disappeared.

...and we haven't even discussed the ethics of murdering some guy to harvest his pineal brain juice for some science experiment instead of just letting him pass away peacefully.

As far as I know, scientists don't have instruments or methods for detecting DMT in real-time in a live human brain.

As far as existing studies...

First, there is this study (Carbonaroa & Gatch, 2016) that found trace amounts (i.e: not enough to get you high) of DMT in human body fluids, including blood, urine, and cerebral spinal fluid.

Then, there's this study (Strassman & Borjgin, 2019) which found DMT in the pineal gland of rats.

Besides being rats (and not humans) β€” this study explicitly removes the pineal gland, and even says that the brain appeared to produce DMT in several regions, including the neocortex and hippocampus even without the pineal gland.

Yes, since scientists can't torture humans, they're torturing rats β€” and the results are still inconclusive. Β 

Also, even the DMT that's produced in the brain is in such low concentrations, it's not sufficient to produce psychoactive effects.

Yes, your pineal gland creates melatonin, which is synthesized from tryptophan, and tryptophan is chemically related to DMT β€” but that still proves nothing.

More specifically...

The current best answer is from this study where they found found indirect evidence that the enzyme and precursors needed for its biosynthesis, storage, and release are present in the human brain.

Don't get me wrong...

It would be pretty spectacular if the "Pineal gland produces DMT" theory was true.

...and I'm even rooting for it, but unfortunately, there's no scientific consensus or evidence to support any of it.

So, in today's myth busting edition of NSP, my conclusion is that such a theory is simply a bullshit MEME propagated on the internet.

But, I am certainly grateful that DMT related research has increased and there are plenty of nerds out there trying to figure out how it all works.

Meanwhile, I want to end today's edition of NSP by leaving you with one high-quality paper called N,N-dimethyltryptamine and the pineal gland: Separating fact from myth refuting this B.S "pineal gland releases DMT" theory, by the O.G David E. Nichols.

You can download & read it below:

Other than that...

I intend to share a much more fun & fascinating DMT related case study with you in a couple of weeks, and before that, you can expect some spiritual soul food next week.

So, stay tuned.

Have a great weekend!

Your friend,

β€”Dr. D


Mustafa's Meme
what if life is a crazy trip and when you die you wake up as an alien holding a bong with your friends surrounding you asking if you felt it

What Mustafa's Pondering

  1. Seeing is believing with artist Joe Roberts by Sam-Hockley Smith πŸ“°
  2. 9 Psychedelic startups that are winning over top VCs by Yeji Lee πŸ“°
  3. The wild psychedelic origins of indigenous mystical rites by Brian Muraresku πŸ“°
  4. This L.A. glass artist is making some seriously psychedelic mirrors by Marina Felix πŸ“°
  5. DMT and the Pineal Gland: Facts vs Fiction by David Nichols [26:47] πŸ“Ί
  6. Study: Neuroimaging study reveals how DMT alters perception of reality πŸ“‘
  7. Study: MRI scans of the human brain under the influence of DMT πŸ“‘
  8. Event: Harvard Psychedelics Project Presents: Explorations in interdisciplinary psychedelic research on April 1st 2023 @ 10AM πŸ—“οΈ

Also, kind of cool that u/No-Grapefruit-9882 on Reddit discovered Amanita Muscaria mushrooms outside their home after a rainstorm πŸ„

Amanita Muscaria mushrooms in a yard with a curious dog next to them

Mustafa's Art Corner

What it's like to make art on DMT ft. Joe Roberts via Hamilton's Pharmacopeia

Mustafa's Meditation
DMT is a bottomless well of never ending confoundment, an unsolvable riddle of epic proportions spoken in alien tongues.
It will call into question all that you know, all you’ve learned to accept as reality, and introduce you to a state of being which defies all comprehension.

This experience is not for everyone, and not all who choose to open the door deal well with the questions it raises.
It should never be undertaken lightly or treated in a casual manner. Those who approach it with little respect often pay a psychic price.

Should you choose to proceed, be aware that integration issues may follow.
What you find inside may change your life.
It will almost certainly alter your deepest, most fundamental assumptions.
β€”Art Van D'lay, DMT Nexus