Behind the name of “spirit molecule” or escamas de sapo (“toad scales”) there hides a powerful drug, and it has arrived in Spain at popular vacation destinations such as Tarifa and Ibiza, where ceremonies have recently been held to smoke the drug with the solemnity of a spiritual rite. The effects of this psychoactive substance include hallucinations, visions, and fainting fits.
Its principle active ingredient is DMT, or dimethyltryptamine, belonging to the family of tryptamines. “Its structure is analogous to neurotransmitters such as serotonin and it provokes an altered state of consciousness,” explains Dr José Ángel Morale, a scientist at Alberto Sols Biomedical Research Institute (IIBM) in Madrid and who has done the most research on DMT in Spain.
During tests involving DMT some people claimed they could see extraterrestrials
It can be found in small amounts naturally in many different living organisms. Even human beings produce it through the pineal gland in situations of stress. Hence, some individuals associate its effects with visions that are reported to be seen before death.
DMT can also be found in ayahuasca, a traditional drink prepared and used by the shamans of the Amazon. It is made from from the Banisteriopsis caapi vine along with leaves from plants including Pyschotria viridis or Diplopterys cabrerana, and it is used in ceremonies to reach a different state of consciousness.
According to experts, the spirit molecule has an intense but brief effect. American psychiatrist Rick Strassman demonstrated using tests with volunteers, which confirmed that effects began within a few seconds of consumption and only lasted a few minutes. After the tests, carried out between 1990 and 1995 at the University of New Mexico Hospital, some claimed they could see extraterrestrials. Other reported hallucinations included the perception that their heads were separating from their bodies or that they had the ability to speak with angels.
In Spain, there are several companies dedicated to organizing events around the consumption of DMT. With the idea of a spiritual “retreat” in mind, Inner Mastery holds sessions in which participants consume the drug, which has been extracted from Bufo alvarius – a toad species that contains it. The prices for these sessions, led by a facilitator, range from €195 for a one-day admission to €555 for a three-day package. The business also offers sessions with ayahuasca. Currently, DMT lacks specific regulation in Spain.
English version by Henry Hahn.