NEW: DMT Found in the Pineal Gland of Live Rats

We’re excited to announce the acceptance for publication of a paper documenting the presence of DMT in the pineal glands of live rodents. The paper will appear in the journal Biomedical Chromatography and describes experiments that took place in Dr. Jimo Borjigin’s laboratory at the University of Michigan, where samples were collected. These samples were analyzed in Dr. Steven Barker’s laboratory at Louisiana State University, using methods that funding from the Cottonwood Research Foundation helped develop.

The pineal gland has been an object of great interest regarding consciousness for thousands of years, and a pineal source of DMT would help support a role for this enigmatic gland in unusual states of consciousness. Research at the University of Wisconsin has recently demonstrated the presence of the DMT-synthesizing enzyme as well as activity of the gene responsible for the enzyme in pineal (and retina). Our new data now establish that the enzyme actively produces DMT in the pineal.

The next step is to determine the presence of DMT in cerebrospinal fluid (CSF), the fluid that bathes the brain and pineal. CSF is a possible route for pineal-synthesized DMT to effect changes in brain function. Successfully establishing DMT’s presence in this gland adds another link in the chain between the pineal and consciousness and opens new avenues for research.

We thank those who have already donated to our advancement of the research in this field. We hope the recent developments will encourage you to donate to Cottonwood again, or for the first time, in order to continue this fascinating and intriguing line of research. When donating, please make sure you select “Pineal Project” as the specific project.


  • I do not think the excitement over this noble discovery can be overstated. I am truly overjoyed and excited about the future of human consciousness and psychedelic research. Cheers to Dr. Strassman, Dr. Barker and all their colleagues.

    Anny Ortiz05/24/2013
  • What she said 🙂 What an incredibly powerful truth exists in this finding!

    Stephen Thomas05/24/2013
  • Very exciting and interesting finding, I look forward to new developments in this research! 😀

    Richard Deskin III05/24/2013
  • Rats – the next “controlled substance”

  • Rick Strassman Called it back in 1995. If you have not read his book: DMT The Spirit Molecule,and you are interested in DMT, You should pick up a copy immediately

    Dont Worry about it05/25/2013
  • This made me think that maybe DMT is the missing link in why the human race is to a degree consciously aware.


  • I published this theory in 1991, Psychedelic Monographs and Essays, #5; Thomas Lyttle’s famous periodical.

    Rick Strassman05/25/2013
  • So why exactly is this important? I mean what’s the next step and what’s the final goal? I’m new to this so..! 🙂

  • what are the implications of these findings? can someone explain please?

    Jacob Matthew Hart05/28/2013
    • Think about the `god particle` and the implications there…now think about the spirit molecule and further research..

      thelma rafferty05/31/2015
  • Very interesting!

  • I thought this was widly known, is this the proof to what was strongly suspected or a real breakthrough?

    • We’ll know the difference when we see it.
      Even now, three years after your comment, “widely known” anything of value, especially this, is highly unlikely, and even less likely being acted upon. Widely known and of little value makes up for it.

  • Good call, Rick!

  • Great step forward

  • Mysterious life we exist in. I just hope one day the corrupt governments of the world will make psychedelic medicine legal and stop imprisoning people for attempting to expand their consciousness and treat themselves to great chemical therapy. I am amazed at the asinine laws of the world.

    Eric Robertson05/28/2013
  • wonderful to see this large step forward. Thank you Cottonwood for making it possible

    James Fadiman05/29/2013
  • Great finding indeed! This is demonstrated in rodent (mammals) not men. So one next step would be to identify it in men pineal gland and CSF. If present, it does not explain it function there.

    Laurent Rivier05/29/2013
  • Hi, you might be interested in my work on the pineal (eye and gland) and early evolution of consciousness

    Steve Nichols05/29/2013
  • I cannot stress how important this discovery is…. And amazingly timely. In September my book “The Infinite Mindfield” will be published in the UK and the USA (with a foreword by Mitch Schultz, the writer/producer/director of the movie “The Spirit Molecule”). In this I discuss the role of the trace amine-associated receptors (TAARS) in the endogenous DMT debate. It is too late to include this fantastic news but for me this is not of importance…. What is is that at long last the true role of the pineal gland in the creation of conscious experience can be evaluated …

    Anthony Peake05/29/2013
    • I am literally shaking with joy. I have been looking forward to the day this came to be. Thank you so, so, so much for this work. This is it, this is really it. If I could kiss on both cheeks every single researcher and donator and Dr. Strassman himself I would. Oh you’ve done it, you’ve really done it. Thank you thank you thank you.

  • Congratulations to everyone on the Cottonwood team. What has been long suspected is now becoming a reality. The scope and reach of consciousness has been given a quantum boost. You are opening the door to the acceptance of an additional dimension of the human experience. This new dimension may have many names but it originates from one source. The pineal gland will eventually regain the stature that it has held in cultures past. For this we all thank you.

    Beach Barrett06/01/2013
  • Wow! Fortunately this is just-in-time for my book, The Alchemy of Action. I was correcting galleys this morning when I flipped to check here, yet again. This discovery bolsters my contention that the highly-charged physiological climate flowing out of edgy action sports can encourage both DMT and anandamide in our brains, helping to explain the altered states that come onto us at those intense times.
    Thank you, one and all, for your dedicated research!

    Doug Robinson06/01/2013
  • Very good news!

    Bob Watson06/02/2013
  • Solar Revolution video: The pineal gland is hyper sensitive when it comes to external magnetic fields and radio waves. It could for example act as an excellent transmitter and receiver of cosmic signals. In 1972 Nobel Prize Winner Julius Alexrod discovered that the Human pineal gland naturally produces one particularly potent psycho active substance, originally called telepathy, due to its enhancement of psychic abilities. Dimethyltryptamine or DMT. Some refer to DMT as the spirit molecule b/c it provides interface between the physical and spiritual realms. DMT is actively transported into the brain, across the blood brain barrier.

    Doreen Agostino06/03/2013
  • Will we finally have some answer in regards to near death experiences?

  • Oh Yes yes yes, this is really amazing work , Loving seeing the phsychoactive vitamins getting some love. Great Job. Please proceed.

  • Personally, based on information and personal experience, I think the next step in human evolution and consciousness will have a lot to do with the DMT molecule. For all we know, this may be the “soul” reason that it’s in everything including the Seat of Consciousness.

    Rahasya Poe06/03/2013
  • hmmm …. interesting.

  • Not sure I understand why finding DMT in the pineal gland is such a good find? What are the implications? Genuinely would like to learn more. So if DMT gets released in the brain at death aren’t you admitting that consciousness is merely on a “drug” when it has these near death experiences and that there is nothing transcendental about consciousness at all, it is, in effect, merely a chemical in the brain?

  • If you read or read about Rick Strassman’s book ” DMT The Spirit Molecule” it will explain a little more of the significance of what DMT being produced naturally in the brain could have. There are implications of it being related to consciousness and near-death experiences. This is the first time they would have found definitive proof of it existing naturally in the brain of an animal.

    • You’re not alone; this is confusing territory.

      It’s a good find because it has been difficult to find, and harder to confirm, over 40 years. It’s a good find because it strengthens the assertions Rick made in “DMT the Spirit Molecule” based on the likeliness many of us feel that it is not only there but plays a key role in the tone of our everyday consciousness.( Not to mention psychedelic consciousness…) It’s a good find because the mystery of consciousness is a big deal — some of us think it’s the ultimate mystery.

      DMT has been hard to confirm because it gets deactivated darn near instantly by MAO in the brain. This has led to a whole line of thinking about “trace amines” as very active, very powerful, but fleeting transmitters and neuro-hormones. Look for the article “The Mysterious Trace Amines.” They fit into a new class of receptors called TAAR receptors that work by amping-up the effects of some of the core brain amines like serotonin and noradrenaline and dopamine. In effect, supercharging normal brain responses.

      It’s worth noting to that beta-carbolines have also been observed coming out of the pineal. They are natural inhibitors of MAO (= MAOI). They can in effect act like a blocking linebacker to get the DMT down the field to where it can score perceptual and emotional touchdowns. You could look at this as like the pineal making its own ayahuasca.

      So this is an exciting breakthrough, and may prove pivotal on the road to understanding consciousness. Whatever comes out of the pineal gland dumps into the brain soup right next to key centers in the emotional brain. Over evolutionary time they probably clustered there on purpose…

      Doug Robinson06/03/2013
      • Great explanation, Doug. Thank you.

  • Not sure I understand why finding DMT in the pineal gland is such a good find? what are the implications of these findings? can someone explain please? What is the end goal?

    Jimmy Jack06/03/2013
  • Wonderful news to see. However there is a reason were are not supossed to access it. In the wrong hand with the right technology (or being used already) I am glad to see that the research is still accessible. Hope I get there one day.

  • To the second half of Tarquin’s question:

    “aren’t you admitting,” (s)he said, “that consciousness is merely on a ‘drug’ … and that there is nothing transcendental about consciousness at all, it is, in effect, merely a chemical in the brain?”

    This is a common confusion, but part of the excitement of finding DMT naturally secreted out of live brain is exactly that it bridges the distinction between external drug and internal neuro-hormone. It is exactly the same compound, whether the DMT arises organically within us or is ingested from outside. The precise molecule. And my senses tell me that the perceptual and emotional experience produced as likewise identical.

    I have come to see the transcendental aspects arising out of normal consciousness as absolutely no different from those induced by low doses of psychedelics. So this confirmation of DMT seeping out of the pineal encourages that view.

    Many human avenues lead to transcendental experiences. Meditation, for one, and it has been linked to increased production in the brain of beta-carbolines. My practice is a physical meditation, rock climbing. If I want to be smartass about it, then the answer to the old question of why people climb mountains is that “it gets us high.” Really, I welcome the grace of that transcendent experience. I am grateful, and so I look for ways to improve my chances of it happening. It seems to me that all the action sports do that, and further that the slight edge of danger in them adds to the effect.

    Another recent finding that crosses the divide between drugs and organic brain effects is anandamide, the human hormone discovered in 1991 that mimics marijuana. Its effects are essentially identical to smoking weed. Starting with the munchies. It’s name comes from the Sanskrit for “bliss,” which is certainly another word for transcendence. Anandamide has been found in clinical studies to rise sharply in human brains 50 minutes into aerobic exercise. Which certainly describes climbing.

    So the whole excitement of this finding, for me, is that it knits together ever more tightly the worlds we know from ingesting psychedelics and marijuana with the more mysterious — from a brain chemistry point of view — worlds of natural transcendent experience.

    Doug Robinson06/04/2013
  • Thank you for your work. It’s just a good feeling to know it now. And that there is a good chance to even know it better in the future. Meanwhile I still go on to improve our method to squeeze it out of the pineal with the help of light and rhythm, the most adequate tool to attract the attention of a third eye – “hey, wake up”. I hope you soon develop a more comfortable way to measure DMT than LP. Still looking forward to come together for a research work.
    Congratulations, enjoy,

    Dirk Proeckl06/04/2013
  • Thanks you all for your answers! I also rock climb and agree it takes you ‘to the edge’ at times! I also practice meditation, and understand that many advanced mediators (by this I am referring to Tibetan monks that have spent many years in solitary retreat) still see ingesting “drugs” as “poison” whether or not it is insightful… I am curious to understand if DMT is more allowing consciousness to ‘free itself’ from physical constraints i.e. a tool, a vehicle, or are we really just confused/deluded in these states as they are so temporary? What are people’s opinions on this?

    My experience with psychedelics is that they give you glorious insights, but they never seem to last. The insights fade with time and become more like a memory of a dream… Hence why it is only meditation that offers a permanent change in the brain structure. (See the works of Mathieu Ricard, Daniel Goleman etc, Mind and Life Institute etc) So by understanding that DMT is naturally produced could we be supposing that it is released during periods of deep meditation? That would be a good study! However, my hunch is that it is not – but what do I know?

  • I had to look it up (see J C Callaway (1993), Tryptamines, Beta-carbolines and You, MAPS Newsletter, Volume 4, Number 2), but the specific beta-carboline that seeps out of the pineal alongside DMT is pinoline. Being a natural inhibitor of the MAO enzyme that deactivates DMT, it acts in the brain in the same way that the harmala alkaloids, which are also beta-carbolines, and which brew out of Banisteriopsis caapi, the second ingredient in ayahuasca, act to block the MAO enzymes in our stomachs, thus helping the DMT in ayahuasca to survive to reach our brains.

    This seems utterly remarkable to me, that in effect the pineal gland brews its own ayahuasca.

    Doug Robinson06/04/2013
  • Beautiful, i am lost for words, this is a true change of the way i look at things, how can you keep a straight face an tell someone: “your brain produces a drug, that makes you see the spirit world” or better yet : “it gives you access to a different dimension, just like a parallel universe”, anyway it is such an amazing news, and so significant! Makes me feel very humble and my heart filed with love and joy, wishing that i could be a part of this, my journey lead me here, and i feel that i am here to stay. Just wondering how can we use this, do we meditate, or stop eating, maybe no sex? Can this be activated consciously, and what role dose it really play now in our life, if any at all? And dose it have the potential that the smoked dmt has or is it just something we are yet strugling to find out? Hope to see a youtube video on this. I salut you form Romania.

  • What, if any, implications does this have for legalization? Especially If DMT is later identified as also native to the human pineal gland? It seems, on first thought, to automatically become more similar to something like Testosterone, which is only a Schedule III. Apologies in advance — I am woefully ignorant of jurisprudence…

  • We have to keep in mind that the pineal gland is outside of the blood-brain barrier. This means DMT secreted from the pineal would be heavily exposed to metabolism while traveling in our body. DMT produced in the lungs would, however, shoot straight into our brains through the heart.

    Holographic Elf06/08/2013
  • I really don’t understand the excessive celebration over this finding. I think most people highly excited about this are lay-people that are severely over-interpreting the findings. I do find this work interesting, but I cannot believe it until I evaluate the study for myself once it is published in a peer reviewed journal. You all should do the same. Never over-interpret data.

  • I find it patently absurd that people are equating certain neurochemicals with consciousness. I also find it ridiculous that the DMT community sees the compound as opening the door to “the spirit world”. The whole thing has become like a little cult, a religion almost. There’s this little (false) story that people now see in their minds about the role of DMT and the pineal gland in death/rebirth etc. There’s a ridiculous reverence for the pineal over all other bodily parts, as if it’s some holy gateway to the heavens. So stupid.

    Why is DMT so special? Why isn’t serotonin the “spirit molecule”? Or any of the other myriad neurotransmitters synthesized in the human body?

    After years of heavy psychedelic and consciousness exploration, as well as constant meditation/yoga, I can safely tell you all that you are barking up completely the wrong tree. Every single compound in the body is equally important, because our body and mind are one. Consciousness is neither “received” nor “generated”. We ARE consciousness. We always have been and we always will be.

    It’s not a case of certain neurotransmitters “opening doorways” into higher consciousness. Consciousness cannot be expanded or shrunk, nor can it be transferred. Only our fluctuating level of awareness can be seen as “increasing” or “decreasing”, but even that is a gross oversimplification, because in fact nothing really changes size but merely changes perspective and form.

    We are consciousness. We are light. We are love. We are wisdom. We are infinite.

  • I bet that researchers will eventually find that DMT is part of our very essence.

    Kaethe Eltawely06/15/2013
  • M: if you require positive evaluation from peer study that must be because you realise the significance if correct. Imagine peer review confirms positive, then do you understand? Now realise these people are a step ahead of you… They see the possibility you are blocking with your limited mental attitude.

  • Dmt changed my life in a good way I was lost depressed thought I had nothing to live for
    Now I realize I have everything to live for
    I wish everyone can experience dmt instead of reading stupid Hollywood magazines

  • And I just finished reading “DMT – The Spirit Molecule” in Russian to compare with the original English version. I realized that my hotel room number here in Sochi (my company sent me here for the duration of the Olympics) is #531. Thank you Rick Strassman – your book will inspire more and more clinical research.

  • Does anyone have the original paper?

    Adam Roberts12/11/2014
  • All this means is that people with split personalities, and those who say they see “reptile” aliens, and little people are not merely crazy as loons, but are in fact suffering from the delusions that Moses suffered from…….over production of DMT due to possible disease of the brain………causing the over production……easy fix…..prescribe more enzymes that metabolize DMT….Good bye reptile aliens and little people who sit on your shoulder telling you conspiracy theories……………..Geezzzzz people wake up…….no aliens….no little people….just damaged brain tissue!

    Brian Douglas12/31/2014
    • Your over simplification of mental illness screams of your ignorance to its true nature and effects. I can’t even take the opinion seriously, luckily.

  • I had the personal experience of this phenomenon last year. It was within 24 hours of the 5 year anniversary of my wife’s suicide. I had planned to have closure to her grief I had bared as a result of her decision. I had no idea what I was going to face, needless to say my gland overproduced and I now face legal repercussions as a result. I have gained clear understanding of what I experienced, but needless to say I can’t get anyone to give me time or acknowledgement to rectify.

  • Can you put some resources? I am writing a presentation about the pineal gland and DMT but I need stable resources….

    • I must confess I experienced this naturally. I had a spiritual awakening 5 years to the day following my wife’s suicide. She developed hypothyroidism which was probably a result of the fluoride calcification restricting her thyroid function. I was given the advice to set a date in time to have closure and move forward in life. I had no idea the trigger had been set to initiate the experience. Yes, I walked in the spirit world that night and got my socks rocked off. Unbelievably overpowering experience. As the Buddha says, it is the end of suffering. How can western civilization be so naive?

      Troy Petrik03/25/2016
  • So what’s the name of the article? Seriously. I tried to look it up and I could not find it. Let’s be careful not to jump to any hasty conclusions. What does not follow from this is that DMT is present in the pineal gland in humans, nor that even if it was it was interacting with the brain. Let’s be sure to understand that Rick Strassman was putting forward a theory, and at this point nothing more. Until it has withstood scientific scrutiny and experimentation it is not “widely known”. If you ask many neuroscientists they are skeptical we will ever show that the human brain produces DMT.

  • So if anyones interested I found the name of the paper they are referring to. It’s LC/MS/MS analysis of the endogenousdimethyltryptamine hallucinogens, theirprecursors, and major metabolites in ratpineal gland microdialysate.

  • 02/24/2016

    […] NEW: DMT Found in the Pineal Gland of Live Rats… […]

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