DMT (dimethyltryptamine) is a powerful psychoactive compound found in a variety of plants and animals.
Most of the time, when we consume DMT, it’s destroyed before it can take effect. But if we smoke or vape DMT, the DMT is able to cross the blood-brain barrier to exert its effects before the body has a chance to neutralize it.
Typically, pure N,N,DMT or 5-MeO-DMT trips last no longer than 45 minutes (usually closer to 30).
Herbal forms of DMT, such as ayahuasca, can last much longer (up to 12 hours).
DMT doesn’t remain in the body long and will be entirely eliminated within a day after using it.
- A DMT trip lasts up to 45 minutes (smoked or vaped)
- You feel the effects of DMT within 60 seconds (smoked or vaped)
- DMT remains in the blood for 2 hours
- DMT remains in the urine for up to 24 hours
- DMT remains in the hair for up to 90 days
In the world of psychedelics, the term used to describe how fast a substance kicks in is called celerity (think “acceleration”).
DMT has an exceptionally high celerity — which means it kicks into full effect almost immediately (when smoked). It’s the drag-racer of the psychedelic realm. It blasts off the start line with exceptional force, but the race is over just as quickly as it started.
People who smoke or vape DMT will take a slow, deep inhale and hold it for 15 or 20 seconds. By the time they exhale, the effects are already well underway. Within about 60 seconds, you’re in another dimension entirely.
Intravenous DMT is just as fast — kicking in at the 20-second mark with full force.
Other forms of DMT, such as ayahuasca, take much longer. The active ingredients need to first pass through the stomach, then the small intestines, then into the bloodstream. Ayahuasca takes about 1 hour before you start to feel the effects and intensify gradually over the next 1–2 hours.
The main factor that affects the celerity, or onset time of DMT is absorption. Other factors include your individual tolerance for DMT and the status of your digestive health (for oral DMT only).
DMT is ready to go as-is. It doesn’t need to be “activated” like psilocybin from magic mushrooms or 1P-LSD. As soon as DMT enters the brain, it starts pushing the 5-HT2C receptors and inducing its psychoactive effects.
The primary determining factor for the amount of time it takes for DMT to exert its effects is absorption. However long you have to wait for DMT to enter the bloodstream is how long you have to wait for its effects to begin.
Substances that are smoked or vaped are absorbed almost instantly. These compounds pass through the tiny capillaries that transfer CO2 and oxygen in and out of the blood. Within just a few seconds, DMT is already on its way to the brain.
Oral DMT (ayahuasca) takes much longer simply because it takes longer to absorb. There are many more steps involved when consuming substances orally compared to inhaled or injected.
The more DMT you use, the less effect it has. Tolerance formation begins immediately, and most people find they can’t get the full effects of DMT if they use it more than once per week.
If you’ve used DMT within the last day or two, the onset time and intensity of the effects will be slower and milder than the first session.
When using oral forms of DMT — such as ayahuasca — your digestive status will heavily impact the onset time. People with poor absorption due to inflammation or irritation will have to wait longer to feel the effects of the DMT.
The contents of your stomach can also impact onset time. If you consume ayahuasca on an empty stomach, it’s going to kick in much faster than if you take it right after a heavy meal.
Just as fast as DMT kicks in, it goes away again. Smoked, vaped, inhaled, or insufflated forms of DMT rarely last longer than 45 minutes. For most people, this is closer to 30 minutes from start to finish.
This is the reason why DMT is often referred to as “the business trip” — it’s powerful but short-lived. You can go from normal waking consciousness to meeting interdimensional machine elves and back again within the span of a standard lunch-hour break.
The dose of DMT will also affect the duration. The more you take, the more time you need to wait for the body to metabolize it and eliminate it from the system.
Here’s a breakdown of how long you can expect different forms of DMT to last:
- Injected DMT — Lasts up to 30 minutes
- Smoked or Vaped DMT — Lasts up to 45 minutes
- Insufflated DMT — Lasts up to 1 hour
- Oral DMT (Ayahuasca) — Lasts up to 12 hours, with some after-effects remaining an additional 12 hours
There’s more than one type of DMT. The main forms are N,N,DMT and 5-MeO-DMT.
There’s very little difference in how long each of these forms of DMT lasts. Some people suggest the N,N,DMT isomer lasts longer; others say 5-MeO-DMT lasts longer — but the jury is still out on this one. Either way, the difference is too minimal to be of any particular importance anyway.
The same can’t be said for other forms of DMT:
- 5-Bromo-DMT — AKA “SpongeBob DMT” due to its presence in various forms of sea sponge. This compound lasts up to 45 minutes (smoked).
- 4-HO-DMT — This is the chemical name for psilocin from magic mushrooms. This compound will last up to 8 hours (oral).
- 4-AcO-DMT — This molecule is a prodrug of psilocin (magic mushrooms). It will last up to 8 hours (oral).
- Bufo Toad Venom — The Bufo alivarius toad secretes a cocktail consisting of bufotenin and 5-MeO-DMT. When smoked or vaped the effects last up to 45 minutes.
DMT lasts longer if the compound responsible for breaking it down (called MAO) is inhibited. This can be achieved by taking DMT with another plant or chemical that blocks this enzyme.
This is how ayahuasca is able to last up to 12 hours, compared to vaped DMT which lasts no more than 45 minutes.
DMT is rapidly broken down by an enzyme called monoamine oxidase (MAO). It’s the same enzyme that breaks down serotonin and dopamine once we no longer need them.
Ayahuasca is a combination of an MAO inhibitor (the ayahuasca vine) and a source of DMT (usually mimosa or chacruna). The MAO inhibitor blocks the enzyme from destroying the DMT for several hours — dramatically prolonging the effects and intensity of the DMT.
Smoking freebase DMT doesn’t have this benefit, which is why it rarely lasts more than just a few minutes.
Some people will mix freebase DMT or another source of DMT with an MAO inhibitor — such as the ayahuasca vine (Banisteriopsis caapi) — in a formula called changa. Changa is then smoked to produce the same intensity of experience but with a slightly longer duration of effects (up to 1 hour).
Related: How to Make DMT.
The human body breaks down DMT very quickly, and it isn’t stored anywhere in the body. It’s eliminated from the body entirely within just a few hours.
DMT can remain detectable for up to 2 hours in the blood, 12 hours in saliva, 24 hours in urine, and 3 months in hair.
DMT is eliminated from the blood within 2 hours.
The enzyme, MAO, breaks down DMT into inactive metabolites, which are then filtered by the kidneys into the urine. Most of this takes place within the same 45-minute window the DMT remains active. The reason the effects wear off is because the DMT is destroyed and removed from the blood.
However, it can take up to two hours for all serum (blood) DMT levels to drop below the detection threshold.
It’s unclear exactly how long DMT remains in the saliva, but it’s not likely to remain detectable for longer than 12 hours. Most of the time, DMT will be undetectable within 4 or 5 hours.
One study reported that saliva was a particularly useful method for detecting the concentration of DMT in the body after drinking ayahuasca , but only if tested within an hour of drinking the ayahuasca brew.
Saliva testing is more useful for determining the concentration of DMT during a trip than it is for detecting DMT after using it.
DMT and its metabolites can remain detectable in the urine for up to 24 hours.
After MAO metabolizes DMT into the inactive components, it’s transferred into the urine via the kidneys and will sit in the bladder until it’s emptied. This is why DMT can remain detectable for several hours longer in urine compared to the blood.
DMT can remain detectable in the hair the longest — up to 90 days.
However, hair analysis testing is unreliable and rarely used alone.
Hair testing can detect DMT use from several months prior, but only in people who use DMT consistently for long periods of time .
If you’ve used DMT once or twice in the past 3 months, it’s extremely unlikely for hair analysis to detect the presence of DMT or its metabolites.
Drug tests will only find what they’re looking for. DMT is rarely if ever, included on the list of substances being analyzed.
With that said, DMT is still a Schedule I drug in the United States. It’s entirely possible for federal agencies or police departments to look for evidence of DMT use.
Fortunately, DMT doesn’t remain in the body long. As long as you’re not tripping on DMT within about 24 hours of your drug screening, you’re unlikely to register any DMT on the test at all.
People who use DMT often could fail a hair analysis drug test.
There are a few things you can do to help get DMT out of the body quicker.
The main method of excretion for DMT is through the urine, so drinking plenty of fluids or taking diuretics will help speed up the process.
Some good (safe) natural diuretics include:
- Dandelion tea (Taraxacum officinale)
- Horsetail (Equisetum arvense)
- Parsley (Petroselinum crispum)
It’s also important to avoid using any MAO inhibitors before or after using DMT. Some antidepressant medications work by inhibiting MAO, such as Nardil, Parnate, or Emsam. You should never use DMT if you’re taking any medications to begin with, but it’s especially important to avoid it if you’re using medications in the MAO inhibitor class.
There are also natural MAO inhibitors that are worth avoiding if you want to eliminate DMT from the body as quickly as possible:
- Kava (Piper methysticum)
- Passionflower (Passiflora incarnata)
- Black Pepper (Piper nigrum)
- Amur Cork Tree (Phellodendron amurense)
- Licorice (Glycyrrhiza uralensis)
Calcium has been shown to boost the activity of monoamine oxidase .
This effect is primarily studied in the context of Alzheimer’s disease but could be relevant for the elimination of DMT as well. You can also get high doses of calcium through eating meals with calcium-rich foods, such as dairy, eggs, soy, or green leafy vegetables.
DMT is rapidly metabolized by MAO as well as peroxidases.
MAO metabolizes DMT into DMT-N-oxide (DMT-NO), and indole-3-acetic acid (IAA) — with trace amounts of N-methyltryptamine (NMT), 6-hydroxy-DMT (6-OH-DMT), and 6-OH-DMT-N-oxide (6-OH-DMT-NO) .
The only metabolite shown to have psychoactive effects is NMT — the rest lack psychoactive effect profiles when administered to animals.
Once metabolized, these secondary compounds are excreted through the urine. A very small concentration of DMT is excreted in urine unchanged.
Key Takeaways: How Long Does DMT Last?
DMT is a very short-lived psychedelic unless the metabolic pathways are blocked with the use of an MAO inhibitor.
Smoked, vaped, injected, or insufflated (snorted) DMT rarely remains active longer than 30 minutes. Some after-effects may remain up to the 45-minute mark — but no longer than that.
Ayahuasca is the longest-lasting form of DMT. It’s made by combining a source of DMT with a natural MAO inhibitor.
DMT may remain detectable in the blood for up to 2 hours, in the saliva for up to 12 hours, or in the urine for up to 24 hours. Hair analysis may be able to detect DMT several months after use — but only if it’s used frequently. One or two doses of DMT is very unlikely to register on any drug test given at least a day in between the dose and the drug screen.
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