How Long Does DMT Stay in Your System?

Hallucinogenic Compound

Man Taking a Pill
DMT Is a psychedelic compound. BSIP/UIG/Getty Images

DMT (N, N-Dimethyltryptamine) is a psychedelic compound that occurs in some plants as well as naturally in trace amounts in the human body. It is the primary hallucinogenic component of ayahuasca tea. It can also be synthetically produced and has a street name of "Dimitri." It is a Schedule 1 drug.

DMT is not tested for on standard drugs of abuse screening and a specific test for urine or hair may not be available.

A suspected substance can be tested to see if it is DMT.

How Long DMT Affects the Brain

DMT acts on serotonin receptors in the brain. It acts very quickly when administered by sniffing or smoking, in less than 45 seconds. The peak of the effect is felt in a minute and effects last for five to 30 minutes. This fast onset led to its nickname of "businessman's lunch trip."

DMT has no effect if taken orally by itself as it is quickly broken down by monoamine oxidase in the digestive tract. For it to be active orally, it is taken with a monoamine oxidase inhibitor (MAOI) and then it produces a longer effect. This is seen in ayahuasca tea, which has an MAOI from a plant source. The effect lasts three hours with this mixture.

DMT Effects on the Brain

DMT produces hallucinations and euphoria. The fast onset when smoked or snorted can leave the user vulnerable as they quickly hallucinate. The specific effects include an increased heart rate, agitation, and hallucinations that can include body and spatial distortions.

If ayahuasca is taken, the user may experience severe vomiting as well.

Because DMT is a hallucinogen, a user can experience unexpected side effects. Some hallucinogens can affect the action of the brain chemical serotonin, which regulates:

  • Mood
  • Sensory perception
  • Sleep
  • Hunger
  • Body temperature
  • Muscle control

    Like most hallucinogens, DMT is not addictive, but tolerance is possible.

    Preventing an Overdose of DMT

    According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, in high dosages, DMT can produce the following effects:

    • Hallucinations
    • Memory loss
    • Physical distress, including dangerous changes in blood pressure, heart rate, respiration, and body temperature
    • Marked psychological distress, including feelings of extreme panic, fear, anxiety, paranoia, invulnerability, exaggerated strength, and aggression
    • Use with high doses of alcohol or other central nervous system depressants can lead to respiratory distress or arrest, resulting in death.

    Drug Testing and DMT

    While DMT is not detected on standard drugs of abuse screens, use might be detected if a specific test is developed and used. It can be detected in the lab in urine and hair follicles.

    Sources:

    How Do Hallucinogens (LSD, Psilocybin, Peyote, DMT, and Ayahuasca) Affect the Brain and Body?. National Institute on Drug Abuse. https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/hallucinogens-dissociative-drugs/how-do-hallucinogens-lsd-psilocybin-peyote-dmt-ayahuasca-affect-brain-body.

    N, N-Dimethyltryptamine. National Center for Biotechnology Information. https://pubchem.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/compound/dimethyltryptamine#section=Top.

    Pichini S, Marchei E, García-Algar O, Gomez A, Giovannandrea RD, Pacifici R. Ultra-high-pressure liquid chromatography tandem mass spectrometry determination of hallucinogenic drugs in hair of psychedelic plants and mushrooms consumers. Journal of Pharmaceutical and Biomedical Analysis. 2014;100:284-289. doi:10.1016/j.jpba.2014.08.006.

    Riba J, Mcilhenny EH, Bouso JC, Barker SA. Metabolism and urinary disposition of N, N-dimethyltryptamine after oral and smoked administration: a comparative study. Drug Testing and Analysis. 2014;7(5):401-406. doi:10.1002/dta.1685.

    What Are Hallucinogens? National Institute on Drug Abuse. https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/drugfacts/hallucinogens.