The compound N,N-Dimethyltryptamine, DMT for short, is produced in various plant and animal species. It has been used as a psychedelic for years, producing strong dreamlike visions or hallucinations, owing to its nickname as the “spirit molecule”. New research has shown, however, that this drug may also be a strong form of treatment for those suffering from depression.
The psychedelic pharmaceutical company Small Pharma Inc. has studied the use of DMT in conjunction with other therapies to treat conditions such as anxiety, PTSD, and other conditions related to trauma. Since DMT proved to successfully treat symptoms of those conditions, the company pivoted their research toward symptoms of depression. Researchers from Small Pharma Inc. produced a solution of DMT, called SPL026, that could be administered directly into the veins.
The drug was tested in a clinical study that also included patient therapy via a psychiatrist or other means of psychotherapy. Thirty-two participants received the DMT solution, some receiving a more concentrated dose. For the control, a group of participants were given a placebo. The efficacy of the solution was assessed, as well as its impact on those new to psychedelics.
The drug proved to be non-toxic and effective, showing no negative results. Although other psychedelics like psilocybin, and, even, LSD have also shown similar results, DMT causes an effect lasting less than 10% of their duration. Furthermore, when compared to antidepressants, DMT induces a psychological trip that helps the recipient discover greater understanding of the origin behind their depressive symptoms, which may negate the need for multiple treatments in the future.
According to Dr. Carol Routledge, the chief medical and science officer of Small Pharma, the primary goal of the study was to determine a suitable dose strong enough to facilitate a successful psychedelic “trip” without inducing a long, potentially unsafe hallucinatory experience.
The results of this preliminary study show that Small Pharma has found a suitable dosage for the next phase which will include controlled human clinical studies using the same DMT solution (SPL026) with psychotherapy to treat depression. Routledge and her team will randomly select 42 patients in the UK suffering from severe clinical depression. The solution will be given as a single dose to some, while others will receive a double dose or a placebo.
Routledge and her team are optimistic that the next experiment will provide positive outcomes as well. “For the first time, you’re going to have a rapidly acting anti-depressant. Most anti-depressant treatments take a number of weeks to start to show benefit,” said Routledge. “This should be almost immediate. On top of that, a single-dose treatment should provide a durable anti-depressant effect. It’s a different paradigm, completely.”