Synthetic vs. Organic: 5-MeO-DMT

Based on an interview with Mattha Busby of VICE News: What’s your perspective on the differences between the synthetic and organic forms of 5-MeO-DMT?

I think a lot of the commentators around this issue default to very simplistic positions and there's a lot more room for nuance. You know, it's not as easy to say that organic or synthetic 5-MeO-DMT is better than the other. They both have a place and a role in the Psychedelic Renaissance and the Global Shamanic Resurgence sweeping the planet.  

Supply and Demand Created by Media

The underlying issues are really the supply and demand, and that's driven by the promulgation and the advertisement of 5-MeO-DMT in the public consciousness. Millions of people have now heard of 5-MeO from the reports of the Bufo Alvarius toad, and the groundswell of interest in the last few years with that medicine resurfacing in the world. And no, the toad can’t scale to encompass millions more users. It’s a living creature with existing stresses on it environmentally with climate change and human handling.

And so, it's about scaling. Can the organic compound scale to the tens of millions or hundreds of millions of people that the media has now been promoting them to? And the answer is obviously no. We see this with iboga, with peyote and ayahuasca and now with the toad. So, the synthetic can scale, but is it safe? Are there any issues with the lab-made 5-MeO-DMT chemical?

What does Organic vs. Synthetic 5-MeO-DMT Feel Like?

In terms of the chemical composition, my shorthand is like this: It's like you're going onto the Internet and you use Firefox or Safari or Internet Explorer. It's the same Internet, but there's slight differences in the look in the feel of how you get to that space.

What I find with synthetic, for me at least, is that it feels very mind-orientated and obviously with 5-MeO, the key component is not just the ego dissolving, but this sort of letting go into a unity space as the individual consciousness drops. We can reveal that infinite unity space within and without. So, it’s hard to differentiate the synthetic being more “mind,” I know.

With the organic 5-MeO from the Bufo Alvarius, which of course has over 17 different alkaloids in the secretion, there is the potential for an entourage effect from the other alkaloids. That might very well be the case. But, you know, science is always looking at the physicality and here we’re discussing the very fine subtleties of what it feels like.

So, the toad secretion, with all the other alkaloids has more earthiness for me. And I feel that when the toad medicine activates in my field, I can feel my heart. And it's not because it's a bufotoxin and that's putting strain on the heart (it can). It's energetic, It's like there's activation of the heart chakra, heart energy. It feels like on the Bufo my being, my mind, body and soul is activated. Impossible of course, to do a double-blind scientific study on that feeling.

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What about 5-MeO-DMT from plant sources?

What's very rarely mentioned in the psychedelic community is 5-MeO-DMT from plant sources. 

I've tried Phalaris grass and it has a unique signature as well. It's like a very light and fluffy, almost a bubble gum flavouring in the feeling, which is a lot closer to the synthetic. It’s like wine tasting and having a developed palate: there are subtle consciousness flavours and differences between the forms of 5-MeO that are glossed over in the media hyperbole and in the psychonautical rush for this experience.

I can feel the layers and differences as I go into that same 5-MeO space from the different substances. Now, from reductionist science, they just don't believe any of that. And I'm not pushing any agenda. I'm just saying either are better than another, just that there is a quality of difference, they’re all necessary, they're all good in the “marketplace.”

But that’s where our egos and labels and consumerism wants to treat 5-MeO like other substances and compare and contrast. This sacrament has the potential to reveal the Divine within, to bring you closer to God. On a structural level it doesn’t matter if its lab made or organic, does it? The reasons the differences may matter are social and part of a brand development as 5-MeO storms the global consciousness.

The Supply and Demand of the God Molecule

The supply and demand of 5-MeO-DMT is the real issue. As long as toads are being sustainably harvested and cared for under ethical, fair trade type principles which are out there on the Internet, and if the medicine is coming from a good source where they're not harmed, then the Bufo secretion belongs in the shamanic world and in the global marketplace of shamanic substances. It has an emerging indigenous usage and ceremony developing around it, and it gives the Sonoran tribes a deeper role and identity utilizing this potent earth medicine.

No one seems to be clamouring for people to stop drinking ayahuasca because of the supply issues growing it, and the voracious Western demand for it. Harmine and harmaline, the active ingredients, and DMT, can be combined in a pill or other forms, they call this “pharmahuasca”, but again, no one seems to be saying you must use the synthetic version.

The other unmentioned issue with the synthetic isn’t the substance as much as the agenda of those pushing the substance.

As we know, medical psychedelics have huge, billion-dollar investment capital behind them. And everyone in the capitalist world wants these substances to be legalized in therapeutic set and settings. The short-lasting nature of 5-MeO-DMT (around 15-20 minutes) cuts down therapist time and costs and the budget razor gangs see 5-MeO (once nicknamed the “businessman’s trip” for its short 15 minute duration) as the leading candidate for a psychedelic medicine to release trauma and built up mental imbalances. From their economic PoV.

With psychedelic research companies bring product to the market that have literally invested millions of dollars into research and development. There are 5-MeO-DMT nasal based sprays, sub-lingual applicators, vape pens, and other ubiquitous and easy to administer routes of admission under development from psychedelic commercial companies. All of these are geared to the medical-psychological uses of the most powerful psychedelic compound we know of, all in an hours’ therapists visit, leave your ego at the door.

All of these million-dollar investments and routes work with synthetic. Toad secretion must be combusted (smoked) and cannot be taken in other ways lest it poison the body. It also has varying amounts of 5-MeO amongst the other alkaloids and potencies vary across toads lifespans and variables like previous milking. Synthetic is understandably, more streamlined for commercial development, but there are no vested interests to see here, just move along.

Full Release and Completion

The community deserves a nuanced conversation around these issues without blame, because what I'm seeing is a polarization, as with everything in the world, where the narrative now is a simplistic “save the Bufo Alvarius and do synthetic”. And yeah, for the majority of people, great. Do that, right.  Synthetic is complete. It will get you “there.” Yet there's so many layers to our being and so many levels to what is revealed on 5-MeO that the argument of toad vs synthetic isn’t the right question.

I mean, you know, every time I have a “full release”, an ego dissolving with synthetic 5-MeO it's complete. But it's like making love: there’s differences and there's nuances and it's always complete, but there's different layers that you can bring to that completion.

So, it’s not just about the ego labels and distinctions between organic and synthetic 5-MeO. This is potentially the most sacred, holy, spiritual experience you can have. It doesn’t really matter whether you come to it from a toad or a lab chemical or your natural grace of God. There are bigger things to focus on. I mean, it's unity. It’s the All. And here we are quibbling like armchair psychoanalysts about the quality of our rocket launchers.

It's about the destination, not the how you get there. We have to remember that science doesn't believe in the sacred, and yet, if it’s not even looking, then there's no way they can quantify it.

5-MeO for the Masses

I’m coming to a growing awareness of the need for synthetic 5-MeO in the global community because of the scale of activation and the promotion of this medicine in general and of the mystical state and of the need for humanity to awaken. And my real feeling is that these are still, whether it's synthetic or toad or plant material, they are ALL still training wheels that are externally administered to our internal states.

So, essentially, what it's showing is that the finger that points at the sun is not the sun itself. All the 5-MeO is doing is lowering the egoic mind. We produce 5-MEO in our lungs, cerebrospinal fluid, maybe in the pineal gland (still to be confirmed), but you know: we are the medicine. And these external synthetic and Bufo catalysts are just showing us the way home. They're helping us to remember.

Essentially, 5-MeO is reducing the electrical activity in the frontal and parietal lobes of the brain, where the sense of “I” or the ego is generated. We’re coming from alpha or beta frequencies of consciousness into gamma, into hyper coherence. And so, these substances are training us to remember that we can do this, that the yogis and the meditators and the breath workers, they're lowering their mind and revealing these states within too: it's like this is a geography of the sacred that exists within us all.

The masses already have organic 5-MeO within, they just need the key to activate it.

So, for me, the conversation we should be having is not just about the purity of the medicine. That's only half the issue, whether it's synthetic or organic. The deeper focus is about the sacred way 5-MeO-DMT is utilized in the set and setting of the ceremony and the communion.

It’s about the destination, not the catalyst.

Key takeaways

  • The debate between organic and synthetic 5-MeO-DMT is not clear-cut. Each has its own benefits and contexts in the modern psychedelic movement.
  • The synthetic form is often perceived as more "mind-orientated." It can deliver the same unity space experience by dissolving the ego.
  • Plant sources like Phalaris grass also offer a unique, lighter experience.
  • Science may not acknowledge the sacredness, but many users of 5-MeO-DMT claim a deeply spiritual experience, regardless of the source.