UC San Diego’s Psychedelic and Health Research Initiative is primed to delve deeper into the world of N, N-dimethyltryptamine (DMT), one of the most potent known psychedelics. This exploratory venture, initiated by a generous $1.5 million donation from Eugene Jhong, seeks to understand the biological and psychological impact of DMT on the human mind and body.
Described as provoking ‘dream-like’ visuals, DMT is often linked to treating psychological conditions such as depression and addiction.
Traditionally used in the ceremonial brew ayahuasca by indigenous cultures for centuries, the substance has been credited with promoting emotional well-being.
Yet, the scientific community still lacks a comprehensive understanding of its precise effects on the brain, body, and health.
To fill this knowledge gap, the UC San Diego research team, headed by Fadel Zeidan, PhD, associate professor in the Department of Anaesthesiology at UC San Diego School of Medicine, and Jon Dean, PhD, postdoctoral scholar in the UC San Diego Department of Anaesthesiology and director of the Division of DMT Research, plans to deploy continuous intravenous DMT infusion protocols.
This methodology aims to investigate the ‘extended state’ of visions typically linked with DMT.
Furthermore, the researchers will study the phenomenological, neurological, and physiological responses to DMT during these longer exposure periods.
As Dean explains, “Our goals are to employ multi-modal approaches to study extended state consciousness elucidated by DMT to further appreciate the nature of reality as well as the role of endogenous DMT in the human body.”
One of the fascinating aspects of DMT is its natural occurrence within human bodily fluids. Dean’s previous work discovered that endogenous DMT exists in rat brains at levels comparable to serotonin, a vital neurotransmitter.
However, no reliable methods currently exist for measuring DMT directly in the human brain and bodily fluids, leading to speculation about the role endogenous DMT may play in consciousness, dreaming, and brain trauma protection.
The UC San Diego team is eager to elucidate how DMT’s effects on consciousness interact with human physiology and influence well-being. “We will learn more about how these profound psychedelic effects evoked by DMT impact our well-being,” Zeidan stated. “Our long-term objective is to gain a better understanding of how DMT and other psychedelics could be used in a therapeutic manner to address pain, trauma and various medical conditions related to the brain.”
UC San Diego is currently the only U.S. university to have a dedicated division conducting extended-state DMT research.
The study is part of the broader Psychedelics and Health Research Initiative, soon to be renamed the Center for Psychedelic Research.
Regarding his philanthropic contribution, Eugene Jhong voiced his enthusiasm: “I am pleased to support this innovative effort to explore extended DMT and am confident it will shed new and important insight into the question of our true nature.”