How Long Does DMT Last?

DMT is a fast-acting, naturally-occurring psychedelic compound with fascinating psychological properties, but how long does DMT last?

Overview: DMT (N, N-Dimethyltryptamine) is a naturally-occurring psychedelic compound found in various plants, animals, and even the human body. It is particularly known for its presence in ayahuasca, a traditional Amazonian beverage used for spiritual and healing purposes. DMT offers unique and transformative effects, often described as profound journeys to alternate dimensions or realms. The duration of DMT's effects varies depending on the consumption method, with smoking typically lasting 5-20 minutes. Factors such as purity, dosage, and plant combinations can influence the experience's length. Specific testing methods are required to detect DMT in the body, with detection windows ranging from hours to months in blood, urine, saliva, and hair. DMT is generally considered safe, but it can cause physical side effects and, in rare cases, precipitate psychiatric issues. It is important to be aware of potential contraindicated medications and approach DMT with reverence and caution. Consuming it in a positive mindset and controlled environment is recommended, and having the support of a professional or trusted companion is advisable, especially for therapeutic purposes.

What is DMT?

DMT (N, N-Dimethyltryptamine) is a naturally-occurring psychedelic compound found in many plants and animals, including the human body. DMT constitutes the structural core of many similar psychedelics.

DMT is the psychedelic compound found in the Amazonian beverage ayahuasca, which has a long history of use. Indigenous communities have been utilizing DMT-containing plants for thousands of years for spiritual and healing purposes.

First synthesized in a laboratory in 1931 by German-Canadian chemist ​​Richard Manske, DMT started to gain considerable scientific attention after Hungarian chemist Stephen Szára discovered its psychedelic properties in 1956.

It wasn’t until the 1990s, however, when psychiatry professor Rick Strassman conducted a series of experiments on the compound’s subjective effects that DMT was popularized as a recreational drug.

Strassman would go on to dub DMT “the spirit molecule” in his 2000 psychedelic book The Spirit Molecule: A Doctor's Revolutionary Research into the Biology of Near-Death and Mystical Experiences.

An artistic rendition of a "machine elve"

Characteristic Effects of DMT 

Smoking DMT has become increasingly popular due to its mind-blowing and transformative effects. The unique nature of DMT offers an unparalleled journey into unexplored territories of the mind.

Unlike other classical psychedelics like LSD and psilocybin, DMT users often describe extraordinary experiences of being transported to alternate "dimensions" or “realms.” Users report encountering seemingly autonomous entities, vividly described by psychedelic advocate Terence McKenna as "self-transforming elf machines.”

It's important to note that the reality status of these entities is still a subject of debate, adding to the mysterious nature of the DMT experience. 

Both when given through an IV or injected into a muscle, DMT creates incredibly vivid experiences that are filled with extraordinary visions. However, the nature of these experiences is often difficult to put into words due to their peculiar and intricate qualities, which include complex and otherworldly images. 

DMT generally leads to alterations in cognition, perception, emotions, and one's sense of self, commonly referred to as the ego. Commonly reported subjective effects of DMT include:

  • Anxiety
  • Sensory enhancement
  • Altered perception of time and space 
  • Complex visual imagery 
  • Heightened emotions 
  • Positive mood
  • Dissolution of sense of self (“ego-dissolution”)
  • Sense of unity and interconnectedness
  • Spiritual or mystical experiences 

How Long Does DMT Last?

The duration of DMT's effects can vary depending on factors such as its source, dosage, and method of consumption. In addition to smoking or vaporizing, DMT can be taken through other routes such as insufflation (snorting or nasal spray), injection, or oral ingestion in combination with a monoamine oxidase inhibitor (MAOI) like in the case of ayahuasca. 

When DMT is smoked in a common dose range of 20-40 mg, which is the most common method of consumption, the effects typically last between 5 and 20 minutes.

The onset of effects is rapid, usually occurring within 20-40 seconds, followed by a 2-3 minute come-up period where perception distorts intensely, and a person's normal waking consciousness is quickly replaced by an alternate reality often referred to as "hyperspace" by DMT users. This process of reaching the peak DMT state is commonly known as “breaking through.”

During the peak effects of DMT, which generally last 2-8 minutes but may feel much longer, users are advised to remind themselves, where possible, that they are experiencing a powerful but temporary drug-induced state. It is recommended to take deep breaths, remain attentive, and maintain a curious mindset.

After the peak effects, there is a gradual decline in the intensity of the DMT state over a period of approximately 1-5 minutes, and normal waking consciousness gradually resumes.

While the primary effects of smoked DMT typically subside within minutes, it can take up to an hour for individuals to fully feel like themselves again. It is highly recommended to allocate sufficient time after the experience to process any lingering after-effects.

It's important to note that individual experiences can vary, and these timeframes are general approximations.

Other Methods of Consuming DMT 

There are many other methods of consuming DMT, all of which produce experiences of varying durations: 


The effects of ayahuasca typically begin to manifest within 20 minutes to an hour after consumption and can last for about 4 to 6 hours. The presence of MAOI-containing compounds in the ayahuasca brew, such as those found in Banisteriopsis caapi (the primary plant ingredient in ayahuasca), is essential to the ayahuasca experience.

These MAOIs play a crucial role in inhibiting the rapid breakdown of orally ingested DMT in the digestive system. Normally, DMT is broken down by enzymes called monoamine oxidases, preventing it from entering the bloodstream when taken orally.


A lesser-known method of consuming DMT, changa is a psychoactive smoking blend that typically consists of smokable MAOI-containing plant material infused with a DMT solution. The presence of MAOIs in the blend inhibits the rapid metabolism of DMT in the body, leading to a more prolonged and controlled psychedelic experience, extending it by approximately 10-30 minutes.  

The specific plant materials used in changa can vary, but some common ingredients include the ayahuasca vine (Banisteriopsis caapi), the seeds of Syrian rue (Peganum harmala), and other plants with similar MAOI properties.


Yopo is the name given to snuff consisting of the ground beans of Anadenanthera peregrina, a perennial tree native to South America and the Caribbean. Anadenanthera peregrina beans contain small quantities of DMT and 5-MeO-DMT, and higher quantities of the closely related psychedelic compound, bufotenin. The psychoactive effects of yopo are primarily produced by bufotenin, which makes up approximately 7% of the beans.

The effects of insufflated yopo typically last around 10 minutes, whereas orally-ingested yopo can last 2-3 hours. Some Indigenous tribes in South America combine yopo seeds with Banisteriopsis caapi. The MAOIs in B. caapi inhibit the enzymes that break down  DMT and other compounds found in Anadenanthera beans. This interaction can lead to a longer and more intense experience with altered effects compared to using the beans alone.


Pharmahuasca is a pharmaceutical version of ayahuasca that is made up entirely of synthetic compounds (typically DMT and the MAOI compound harmaline), both of which are consumed in separate gelatin capsules. Pharmahuasca has been proposed as a more precise alternative to ayahuasca as regards dosages. The duration of a pharmahuasca experience is comparable to that of ayahuasca. 

Understanding the Factors Influencing the Length of DMT Journeys

While there are general estimates for the duration of a DMT experience, it's important to recognize that individual variations exist. Factors such as age, body weight, metabolism, diet, and potential drug interactions can all influence the duration of a DMT journey.

The purity of synthetic DMT can impact its potency, thereby affecting the length and characteristics of the experience. Furthermore, the specific plants or combinations of plants used in concoctions like ayahuasca, changa, and yopo can also influence the duration of the DMT experience.

For instance, some shamans create ayahuasca by combining the primary plant Banisteriopsis caapi with various companion plants, also called "compañeros," such as Diplopterys cabrerana (chaliponga) and Psychotria carthagenensis (sameruca). Others incorporate additional plants believed to modulate the effects of the brew, including tobacco or even toxic species from the Brugmansia genus, like toé.

The range of admixture plants that can be added to ayahuasca is extensive and includes some that may potentially cause harmful effects. Therefore, it is crucial to thoroughly research the reputation of shamans and retreat centers, and familiarize yourself with all the constituents before consuming any specific ayahuasca brew, yopo snuff, changa blend, or pharmahuasca capsule. 

How Long Does DMT Stay in Your System?

The half-life of DMT, which refers to the time it takes for half of the substance to be eliminated from the body, is generally estimated to be around 5-15 minutes when administered alone. However, when combined with an MAOI, the duration of DMT's effects can be extended.

The duration for which DMT remains detectable in the body can be influenced by various factors. These include the method of consumption, dosage, frequency of DMT use, as well as individual factors like body weight, age, metabolism, and other considerations.

Specific testing methods are required to detect the presence of DMT in the blood, urine, hair, or saliva. Here is an approximate breakdown of the detection windows for DMT in the human body:

Can DMT be Detected on a Drug Test?

Yes, DMT can technically show up on a drug test but it is typically not included in standard drug tests used for legal, employment, or medical purposes.

The vast majority of employers that use drug tests choose standard urine tests, which do not test for or show DMT usage of any kind. However, if an employer suspects the use of a certain drug, they can order specific testing for that substance – DMT included.

DMT-contaminated hair samples belonging to a 29-year-old partner of a repetitive DMT smoker were recently presented in court during a family law case. Scientists isolated DMT from the woman’s hair after it had become contaminated by her partner’s smoking.

In theory, the usage of DMT can potentially be confirmed through testing methods such as blood, urine, and saliva swabs.

Exploring DMT Responsibly 

Compared to other recreational substances, DMT is generally considered to be exceptionally safe.

Based on extrapolation from rodent studies, the median lethal dose (LD50) of orally-administered DMT is estimated to be approximately 8 mg/kg, which is roughly 20 times the typical ceremonial dose of ayahuasca.

Moreover, DMT is not considered addictive, and its use in therapeutic and religious contexts has been associated with various health benefits. These benefits include a decrease in psychological distress, impulsivity, suicidal thoughts/planning, and suicide attempts, as well as improvements in psychological well-being, mood, and cognitive performance.

It is important to note, however, that DMT can cause unpleasant physical side effects, such as nausea and vomiting, particularly when consumed as part of ayahuasca.

In very rare cases, DMT use can precipitate psychiatric issues, especially in individuals with a history of drug abuse or personal/family history of psychotic disorders. Nonetheless, rates of such disorders are not higher among syncretic religious groups that regularly consume ayahuasca compared to the general population.

Users should also be well-informed about potential contraindicated medications before consuming DMT. It is crucial to consult with a healthcare professional to ensure that DMT does not interact negatively with any medications currently being taken.

Due to the powerful effects of DMT, it is crucial to approach it with reverence and respect. To prevent or minimize adverse psychological effects and promote a positive and potentially transformative experience, it is advisable to consume DMT when in a positive state of mind and in a comfortable, controlled environment.

If using DMT for therapeutic purposes, it is best to have the support of a psychedelic-friendly therapist, a reputable and respected shaman, or a trusted trip-sitter who can provide guidance and reassurance throughout the experience.

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