Joe Rogan - Did Moses Take DMT?

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Hamilton Morris

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Hamilton Morris is the creator and host of the Vice TV documentary series "Hamilton's Pharmacopeia," now in its third season.

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more interesting stories out of the last decade or so was this story that I read about these scholars in Jerusalem that were connecting the story of Moses and the burning bush to the Acacia bush and the Acacia tree, which is rich in DMT. And they believe that, you know, when you're talking about a story that was told through oral traditions for who knows how many years and then written down in ancient Hebrew and then transcribed and, you know, and translated to Greek and Latin and all these days, there's a lot lost in the mix. And they believe that what that story might have been about of Moses coming down from Mount Sinai with the tablets and having the experience with meeting God in a burning bush that this is in fact was a dimethyltryptamine experience. Maybe. Yeah. It's a big maybe. It's a big maybe. I can say that if you go to the south of Mexico in Chiapas, there's a tree that grows there as a weed called mimosa hostilis. Maybe you're familiar with it. And this is so abundant that it's used to make fence posts. All the fences on the side of the road are made of mimosa hostilis. It's used as firewood to cook meals. The air smells like DMT because people are using it as fuel all over the place. Not a single person that I spoke with was aware that it was psychoactive. And these are people that are burning it all the time. Do they get high from it? Is there like if you were in a tent or something like that and you were doing a hot box sort of scenario, would you get high from it? No. I saw no. Would you? It's about 2% DMT. You'd probably have to get so sick from coughing. Yeah. Even just smoking pure crystal DMT can be very difficult for some people. So my guess, not to be like a wet blanket, but my guess is not really. And that's a very strong source. Maybe there's some Acacia stronger, but that's certainly comparable. And that's something people are using to cook food all the time and they're not aware that it's psychoactive. So was there a way or is there a way for a person living thousands of years ago to somehow or another extract DMT from something like the Acacia tree? I actually spent some time thinking about that a while ago. It would be, first of all, it depends on how you define extraction. If it were to in like an ayahuasca sense, like a T of course, yes. But then they would need some sort of enzyme inhibitor to create the ayahuasca. If it were to create an isolated smokable form, again, you know, you could just do like an aqueous infusion and then dry that out and maybe smoke that. But in terms of like a real extraction that would produce crystals of DMT, I don't know what the nonpolar solvent they would be using to extract the free base would be like butter or something. And then how would you get rid of the butter? So what is the process? Like if you're going to take a tree that's rich in DMT and extract DMT from it, what do you have to use? Have you ever done it before? No, I've never done it. Oh, okay. Well, it's a very generalizable and simple process that applies to almost everything in chemistry. It's, you know, sometimes it's called an acid base extraction. Most people that are in the DMT community go something they call straight to base. And, you know, the idea is that the side chain of the DMT molecule contains a basic nitrogen that if it's protonated in an acidic solution, then it's water soluble. And if it's deprotonated, then it's only soluble in a nonpolar solvent. So what you do is you just deprotonate the nitrogen with a base potassium hydroxide or sodium hydroxide typically, and then treat that aqueous basic solution with a nonpolar solvent like naphtha and isolate the naphtha, dry it out and you have your material and that applies to everything. That's not a DMT specific process, but that's what people do. Hmm. Everything with a basic nitrogen. Now, what's the earliest history of extraction? Do we, well, you know, the first wave of DMT use in the United States was all synthetic. In fact, DMT was discovered synthetically before it was ever found in nature. The same is true of 5-MeO DMT. How did they do that? There was a Canadian chemist named Richard Hellmuth Manske, who I believe was looking at different alkaloids and strawberry plants. And he was synthesizing references for these potential strawberry alkaloids and made DMT. So he didn't know what he had made other than a potential natural product found in strawberries. And then it wasn't until Zara much later conducted self experiments with injected DMT that people became fully aware of its psychoactivity. And then people started finding it in plants. I mean, the 1950s were like an early sixties were of course a fascinating time in psychedelic research, because you have these convergences of these amazing ideas. First, you have the discovery of serotonin, which is like, you know, we take this for granted. Now it's in television commercials, but this was of course something that no one knew about. And suddenly they're finding this in all kinds of different animals. Initially it was in the salivary glands of squid and in different animals. And then they're finding it in the human intestine. Then they're also finding that all of these plants that people worshiped in various indigenous societies also contain serotonin like molecules. Then they discover LSD and find that that's maybe the most potent known pharmacological agent at that time. And it binds to serotonin receptors. It activates a serotonin type response in isolated tissue. So there's like this weird triple convergence of information, super potent, amazing compound LSD is discovered. Serotonin is discovered in all these different organisms. And there's a pharmacological convergence between the two of them. And then you have all these people worshiping serotonin like molecules. So there was, you know, a lot of enthusiasm at that time to figure all of this out. So in terms of history, so we're talking about like somewhere in the 1950s, they started extracting TMT. The use of it orally dates back far longer than that because of use of MAO inhibitors and creating ayahuasca. But in terms of the first extraction, we can kind of isolate. From plants to smoke? Yeah. It might have been even later. It might have been in the 80s. Okay. So the idea that people thousands of years ago were able to do something along those lines is probably not accurate. Because they're talking about a burning bush. That's why it's appealing to people, right? The idea of Moses. Do you think that maybe the understanding of synthesis from the, you know, synthesizing this from these scholars, maybe they don't have enough of an understanding of chemistry? Well, what would be really interesting is to do an experiment to see what were the materials that were available? How would this have been done? Would you have to use butter as your nonpolar solvent? How well would that work? What would your butter preparation be done? Would you take it rectally then? Is that how it would work? I mean, you have to kind of, what would your base have been? Well, I think they were talking about it being something from, I mean, burning, right? A burning bush. Maybe it's just one of those things that sort of gets conflated, right? Because you have people today that are very aware that people smoke TMT and have these incredibly intense religious psychedelic experiences. And then maybe they looked at the Acacia bush and said, oh, the Acacia bush is rich in TMT. That's probably where the Moses story came from. Right. Well, what's really interesting is, you know, DMT has never been found in the human brain, even though Rick Strassman says that it has been. So a lot of people are constantly assigning altered states of consciousness to DMT. But we can have these states without DMT. I mean, maybe it's never been found in the human brain, but also there's ethical and experimental issues with sampling fluid from a living human's brain. Right. But it has, they have found it in living rats. Yes. This is fairly recently. This is the Cottonwood Research Foundation. That's their, their attempt is to try to prove that the pineal gland is a source for DMT. We know that DMT exists in the human body. We know that the liver produces it and we know that the lungs produce it. Yeah. We're not totally aware of whether or not there's anecdotal evidence that points to the pineal gland. Based on the rat idea and based on the presence of certain enzymes that could be responsible for it. But even if it is, even if it is, then what? There's still a whole question of how is it released? How is it distributed? What receptors does it activate? And is it even necessary as an explanation for altered states of consciousness? Because there are other things in the brain, other than DMT. DMT has never even been found in the brain, but there are other things, you know, you have endogenous proteins that bind to the kappa opioid receptor, the same receptor that is responsible for the effect of salvia, things like that. They could be responsible. Really? I mean, even carbon dioxide itself can induce a pretty strong altered state of consciousness. Right. Which is why people like those psychedelic breathing exercises. Yeah. They're sort of, is it like hypoxic? Is that what it is? What are they doing when they have those, what is it called? There's a type of breathing exercise that induces psychedelic states. Holotropic. Holotropic. Breathwork. Yeah. And that is the idea behind that, right? It increases the amount of carbon dioxide in your blood. I haven't seen a mechanistic explanation. Hmm. Yeah, I think that was... But it would, it would make sense. In an early LSD psychotherapy, one of the things that they would do before giving someone LSD is it'd give them something called carbogen, which was a gas that contained carbon dioxide. And they would look at their response to the carbon dioxide inhalation. And if it induced a panic response, they would say, maybe you're not psychologically ready for this LSD experience. So that was, you're talking about a test. I mean, that was a very primitive early test that was used by psychiatrists to see if people were, had the psychological fortitude to withstand the experience.