Ayahuasca (brewed drink), Dimethyltriptamine, dimitri, spirit molecule

What is DMT?

DMT (chemical name dimethyltriptamine) is a hallucinogenic drug which is similar to LSD though its effects are more powerful.


Ayahuasca is a psychedelic tea brewed from parts of the Banisteriopsis caapi vine and from the Psychotria viridis shrub which contains the chemical DMT. When consumed it causes an altered state of consciousness including hallucinations and altered perceptions of reality. It has been used socially and in spiritual rituals in South America for centuries.

Appearance, taste and smell

DMT is usually seen as a yellow, orange or pinkish powder or crystals.

A drink similar to Ayahuasca can be made using the chemical DMT and a pharmaceutical monoamine oxidase inhibitor (MAOI), such as isocarboxazid. Like Ayahuasca, this drink has a brownish/red appearance.

DMT can also be mixed with herbs to make a mixture called Changa.

DMT smells strongly and the smell has been likened to burnt plastic.


DMT is less available in the UK than other hallucinogens such as LSD, and costs roughly £25 for a wrap containing an eighth to half a gram.

Method of use

DMT can be injected, smoked (sometimes mixed with herbs to make changa), sniffed or drunk (if made into a drink like Ayahuasca). 


The main effect of DMT is to produce hallucinations and distortions of time, space, sound and colour. Hallucinations may become intense and frightening and there may be flashbacks some time after using the drug. Such negative effects can often be calmed by reassuring the user that they are only temporary. The effects often come on quickly but are short-lived: rarely lasting more than an hour.

Medical uses

In 2020, UK regulators permitted the first clinical trial of the use of the DMT to treat depression. In the trial participants will be given DMT, followed by talking therapy. This could be an alternative for people who don’t respond to conventional antidepressants.

The law

DMT is listed as a hallucinogen under the Misuse of Drugs Act and is classified as a Class A drug.

The maximum penalty for possession is seven years in jail and/or an unlimited fine.

The maximum penalty for supply is life imprisonment, a fine or both.

Updated March 2022

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