DMT “Hallucinations” or Expansion of the Spectrum? (Part 1)
In 2015, Q4LT had the opportunity to interview Dr. Rick Strassman regarding his book, “DMT: The Spirit Molecule” as well as his research & beliefs regarding dimethyltryptamine. In this interview, we briefly touched upon the notion of the “Out of Body Experience” and whether DMT might provide some context for a definitive study on this phenomena. The discussion was as follows:
JC: The concept of “Out of Body” is foreign amongst mainstream scientific circles being that the concept of a “soul” or “spirit” has yet to be very well accepted… However, there are boutique organizations such as The Monroe Institute and the International Association of Consciousness that specialize in this perceived phenomenon. What are your thoughts on reported “Out of Body Experiences”? Do you believe at some point these types of experiences will be “proven” in a clinical setting as being something more than simply a hallucination of the mind?
Dr. Strassman: Many of the discussions about the out of body experience involve the phenomena of actually traveling to other place with one’s disembodied consciousness. This isn’t exactly what happens during a big DMT experience, in that no one felt themselves flying over Albuquerque or visiting their relatives’ home in Toledo. While there were reports by many volunteers of being “somewhere else,” this somewhere else partook more of a parallel level of reality then a slice of everyday reality.
The popular notion of out of body experiences could be tested simply by using information from collaterals who were in the locale that one’s individual consciousness seemed to have visited. On the other hand, the objective nature of venturing into and witnessing the contents of parallel levels of reality would require a much more sophisticated validating process. For example, the development of a “dark matter camera,” that could capture images of dark matter and then compare those to the reports of DMT volunteers.
While the “classic” “Out of Body Experience” (OBE) seems to indicate that humans might possibly contain a form of physicality or consciousness that is obviously and definitively more subtle than the physical body, the focus of this piece is in regards to Strassman’s mention of utilizing camera equipment to capture “parallel levels of reality”. At the time, in my mind it seemed as though the development of camera equipment that could potentially capture the visual phenomena that coincides with exogenous DMT administration would be damn near impossible.
Here is a basic introduction to the concept known as “Dark Matter” (which I shamelessly snatched from Wikipedia):
“Dark matter is a hypothetical type of matter distinct from dark energy, baryonic matter (ordinary matter such as protons and neutrons), and neutrinos. The existence of dark matter would explain a number of otherwise puzzling astronomical observations. The name refers to the fact that it does not emit or interact with electromagnetic radiation, such as light, and is thus invisible to the entire electromagnetic spectrum. Although dark matter has not been directly observed, its existence and properties are inferred from its gravitational effects such as the motions of visible matter, gravitational lensing, its influence on the universe’s large-scale structure, on galaxies, and its effects in the cosmic microwave background.”
“The standard model of cosmology indicates that the total mass–energy of the universe contains 4.9% ordinary matter, 26.8% dark matter and 68.3% dark energy. Thus, dark matter constitutes 84.5% of total mass, while dark energy plus dark matter constitute 95.1% of total mass–energy content. The great majority of ordinary matter in the universe is also unseen, since visible stars and gas inside galaxies and clusters account for less than 10% of the ordinary matter contribution to the mass-energy density of the universe. The most widely accepted hypothesis on the form for dark matter is that it is composed of weakly interacting massive particles (WIMPs) that interact only through gravity and the weak force.”
“The dark matter hypothesis plays a central role in current modeling of cosmic structure formation and galaxy formation and evolution and on explanations of the anisotropies observed in the cosmic microwave background (CMB). All these lines of evidence suggest that galaxies, galaxy clusters, and the universe as a whole contain far more matter than that which is observable via electromagnetic signals. Many experiments to detect proposed dark matter particles through non-gravitational means are under way; however, no dark matter particle has been conclusively identified.”
Unfortunately (or fortunately)… I can definitively state that I don’t believe I have any clue as to what this concept of “dark matter” is. In fact, it’s a bit perplexing to me that in an era were materialism/physicalism plays such a prominent role in mainstream science that so much faith is being placed upon this mysterious substance that’s never been conclusively identified by any human in the past or present time. It seems as though there is a lack of consistency among the general scientific field in terms of what is considered established science and what is pure speculatory hyperbole. I prefer to stay within the realms of logic based scientific discussion that attempts to remain tempered in it’s speculative nature. The “dark matter” theory is hypothetical beyond my comfort level of discussion (regardless of how many mathematical equations are utilized to support the notion) so attempting to theorize on the equipment with which to capture this mysterious substance is even moreso outside of my comfort and interest.
Nevertheless… I believe that instead of inferring that an unknown, undocumented, unobserved mass of energy can potentially provide some answers to capturing alternate layers of reality, it would behoove us to start from the very basics. The electromagnetic spectrum is the collective term for all known frequencies and their linked wavelengths of the known photons (electromagnetic radiation). This spectrum can be broken down beginning with lowest frequencies/longest wavelengths to the highest frequencies/shortest wavelengths. The lowest frequencies are classified as longwave radio waves (1000 meters to 100 kilometers long), middle/short radio waves (1 meter to 1000 meters) followed by microwaves (0.1 cm to 100 centimeters) and then infrared light (700 nm to 1000000 nm(0.1 cm)).
The “visible spectrum” is the portion of the electromagnetic spectrum that is discernible to the naked human eye. This has been classified as “visible light” and has been generally determined to fall between 390 nm and 700 nm.
Continuing further down the spectrum towards higher frequencies and shorter wavelengths is the ultraviolet (UV) spectrum that ranges from 10 nm to 400 nm. The next bandwidth consists of the X-ray spectrum which ranges from 0.01 nm to 10 nm followed by Gamma rays which consists of photons in the highest observed range of photon energy with wavelengths of 10 picometers (0.01 nm) and below. Cosmic rays are identified as high-energy radiation originating outside of the Solar System relying on kinetic energy which differentiates this spectrum from photon-based electromagnetic energy.
If we can take away anything from this short summary of the various energy/light spectrums that have been labeled/identified by the human species… it is the fact that our naked eye is only capable of seeing the tiniest percentage of measurable spectrums to date. Technically speaking… if we were to take solely the bandwidth between the lowest end of ultraviolet (UV) spectrum (discarding X-ray & Gamma Rays) at 10 nm and the highest end of the Infrared (IR) spectrum at 1,000,000 nm (discarding Microwaves and Radio Waves), the human visual field (390 nm to 700 nm) comprises of 0.03% of this consolidated range. If we were to include the entire field ranging from Gamma Rays (< 1 picometer) all the way up to longwave Radio waves (100 km) the human visual spectrum percentage drops to 0.0000000003%. This is why I refer to going “back to the basics” in terms of potentially identifying equipment that might allow us to peer into parallel levels of reality.
Theoretically speaking… “invisible” parallel realities have the potentiality to exist in any and all energy/light spectrums that fall outside of the 390 nm to 700 nm bandwidth. If humans are limited to seeing between these two points of the light spectrum, there lies the possibility that “invisible” layers of a parallel reality might exist at 300 nm while another layer exists at 1500 nm. This is obviously all theoretical hypothesizing but we must create a basic starting point in terms of what dictates our perception of reality and if there are any measurable changes in this perception that coincide with the phenomena experienced during the DMT state.
We presume that 390 to 700 nm is the bandwidth that is accessible to the average person during an average state of consciousness. As we’ve touched upon quite extensively in the past… different states of consciousness induced by techniques such as hypnosis/hypnagogia, meditation, “Wim Hof Method”, holotropic breathwork and many others generate significantly altered and measurable changes in electrical/biochemical activity within the body and brain. The question that follows is… does entering these altered states of consciousness allow for humans to expand their visual field outside of the 310 nanometers (390-700) that’s been deemed as the limits of our perception?
The eyes are largely considered to be the opening to the doors of what we perceive as reality. The pupil is a hole located in the center of the iris which is a thin, circular structure in the eye that is responsible for regulating pupil size and subsequently the amount of light that reaches the retina. The retina is an inner coat of the eye which functions as a light-sensitive layer of tissue. The optics of the eye create an image of the visual world on the retina, which is similar in function as the film in a camera. Light striking the retina initiates a cascade of chemical and electrical events that ultimately trigger nerve impulses that are sent to numerous visual centers of the brain.
It’s been well documented that the size of a person’s pupil will change based on the amount of available light in the environment. When a person is exposed to bright light, the pupil decreases in size and when a person is exposed to darkness, the pupil’s increase in size (dilate). This is perceived to be an adaptive, survival mechanism in order to increase the amount of light entering the retina in low light conditions.
In Dr. Strassman’s 1994 study published in the journal General Psychiatry, it was observed that DMT (especially the highest dose 0.4mg/kg) produced an especially pronounced increase in pupil diameter.
This observation of pupil dilation was also observed in separate studies involving the psychedelic compounds Ayahuasca, psilocybin, and LSD. This is interesting in the sense that a measurable physical change seems to take place in our “doors of perception” (eyes) not just from external light/dark exposure but also based on the ingestion of exogenous substances that changes the chemical balance of the brain. A 1998 review in the journal Perspectives in Biology and Medicine would outline the pupillary changes during REM sleep including phasic dilation and constriction. This also alludes to the fact that marked changes in EEG correlates coincide with changes in pupil size irregardless of a stagnant environment. This leads Q4LT to believe that changes in the electrical/biochemical equilibrium of the brain might play a more dominant role in eye/pupillary changes than perceived. (We’ll make some wild speculations regarding this in part 2.)
(Pupil dilation isn’t necessarily an indicator of hallucinatory phenomena as non-psychedelic substances have also been known to induce significant pupil dilation. However, pupil size fluctuation can provide some insight to the physiological changes that take place during altered states both from endogenous means as well as exogenous substances.)
As we’ve touched upon in the past… while melatonin has widely been labeled as being a light/dark based hormone, it also has the potential to be an EEG flux/consciousness related compound as well. In 1986, the journal Biological Psychiatry would publish a study observing similarities in retinal changes (pigment screening) in frogs from melatonin and LSD administration. While it’s obvious that the effects of melatonin and LSD are significantly different in terms of the visual effects on humans, we hope by now to have made relatively logical inferences that melatonin appears to operate as something of a precursor to endogenous DMT(s) (N,N-DMT, Bufotenine, 5-MeO-DMT) release/activation.
It’s been well noted that young children (as well as young rats) have been measured to exude higher levels of melatonin secretion that gradually declines with age. It’s also been noted that these young children showcase increased slow wave (theta) via EEG measurement compared to an older population.
In 2016, Dr. David Sliney would publish a review in the journal Eye regarding the limits of the visual spectrum. In this review he would cite that children have the ability to perceive light as low as 310 nm (UV). Sliney insinuates that this ability declines with age. He also would state that with optimized radiance, humans can perceive as high as 1100 nm (near-infrared). These are significant claims and deviations from what is generally perceived to be the limits of the human visual spectrum (390 to 700 nm).
In 2015, the journal Cognitive Development would publish a study regarding the concept of invisibility amongst children. In the introduction, the researchers would discuss previous studies in regards to understanding the psyche of children who claim to have seen invisible beings such as ghosts.
Anecdotal claims by children who have claimed to see “spirits” or “ghosts” of deceased family members have been made all across the globe today and throughout history. Assuming that these claims of altered perception are potentially real… the question is whether this proposed extended visual spectrum of children to 310 nm (UV range) by Dr. Sliney plays a role in this phenomena.
(Q4LT would reach out to Dr. Sliney regarding his claim of 310 nm visual acuity in children. He would state, “The 310 nm was my own experience and research study that was not initially published when I performed it in the 1960s, so I think it may be just in Eye. I had given references 16-19 - a couple in the 1940s/50s and then the thesis of Tan.” Make of it what you will but we do believe that a follow up study of testing the visual spectrum of young children compared to adults would be immensely insightful.)
If adults are incapable of seeing the same bandwidths of light as young children based on having different EEG activity and neurological biochemical balances… the concept of “ghost” sightings by children becomes a bit more realistic. The larger question of what these “spirit” beings signify in terms of the afterlife and the reason for conception of life itself is another discussion altogether.
Another potentially pertinent observation is that of pet owners that have seen their dogs and cats appear to be mesmerized by essentially nothing at times. It’s been stated that dogs seem to bark at invisible objects in enclosed spaces while cats appear to stare at the wall or react to things indiscernible to human senses. In 2014, it was noted in the journal Nature Scientific Reports that dogs and certain primates appear to have the ability to see magnetic fields (magnetoreception). Cryptochromes are light sensitive molecules that allow animals such as birds, insects, fish, and reptiles, to sense magnetic fields, allowing them to perceive and navigate effectively. Researchers at the Max Planck Institute identified the mammalian version of this molecule called cryptochrome 1 in the retinas of 90 animal species including dogs, mice, wolves, bears, orangutans, and the rhesus macaque among others. It was noted that magnetic fields activate cryptochrome 1 in the retina allowing the animals to perceive the magnetic field lines relative to the Earth’s surface. In a separate 2002 study in the journal BMC Neuroscience, it was observed that cryptochrome 1 & 2 play a key role in circadian rhythm regulation in mice.
While the ability of magnetoreception is considered by mainstream academics as non-existant within the range of human senses, a 2011 study in the journal Nature Communications observed the fact that human cryptochrome 2 has the molecular capability to function as a light-sensitive magnetosensor. In 2000, the journal Annual Reviews of Biochemistry would observe cryptochrome 1 in humans as having distinct fluctuations in expression based on circadian rhythm.
The circadian aspect of cryptochromes is intriguing based on Q4LT’s belief that many of the physiological changes that take place throughout the night coincide with increased endogenous DMT levels and activation of the “Endohuasca” system. This leads us to speculate that there lies the possibility that there is a direct link between upregulation of cryptochromes during dream sleep/altered states of consciousness and subsequently the activation of a latent magnetoreceptive ability that is predominantly dormant. This theory could potentially be supported by the 2009 study published in the The Journal of Biochemistry in which it was observed that over 600 genes were differentially expressed more than 2-fold in the pineal gland of rats based on circadian changes. A more “wild” speculation is that there lies the potentiality that the reaction of dogs to invisible stimulants such as “ghosts” or “spirits” correlates with magnetoreception. A 2014 study published in the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society of London B: Biological Sciences would observe ultraviolet (UV) sensitivity amongst mammals (including dogs and cats) based on ocular lenses that transmitted significant amounts of UVA (315 nm to 400 nm). A 2011 study in the Public Library of Sciences would identify cryptochrome 1 in numerous bird species as being present exclusively in ultraviolet (UV) cones acting as probable magnetoreceptors.
In 2016, Science Magazine published an article titled, “The Body’s Hidden Compass - What is it, and how does it work?”. In this piece, two rival ideas were presented regarding the innate human ability to sense magnetic fields. One group of scientists believe that cryptochromes are the answer while another group cites magnetite (Fe3O4) as the reason. Q4LT believes that much like everything in the body… it’s likely a complex synergy of both cryptochrome upregulation in addition to specific changes in the ferrimagnetic properties of magnetite in the brain.
A 2005 study in the Journal of Psychoactive Drugs would publish results regarding the analyzation of leaves from the Psychotria Viridis tree (the DMT containing plant for Ayahuasca). The researcher observed that a depression in DMT production was associated with temperature fluctuations during the day. The author would speculate that this variation occurred based on either DMT’s protective properties from solar radiation or DMT’s facilitatory role in the absorption of solar radiation. It was noted that the greatest amount of UV absorbance by DMT would take place between 280 and 315 nm.
It seems rather coincidental that DMT seems to have a particular affinity for this UV range while children who appear to carry the physiological precursors for elevated endogenous DMT levels (elevated melatonin & slow wave amplification) also appear to have abilities to see within a similar range. It’d also seem coincidental that dogs & cats are capable of seeing within this UV range as well. Is it plausible that “ghosts” and entities of that nature exist within UV spectrums that are completely invisible to adult human eyes?
Yes… wild speculations indeed!
While the capturing of “spirits” or “ghosts” on camera is a far cry from filming the complexity that coincides with high dose, exogenous DMT experiences, there lies the possibility that it would serve as a tempered first step into understanding the technical developments needed to capture the “breakthrough dose”. The first cell phone created in 1973 was distinctly different than the latest Iphone 8 in terms of capabilities and technological advancement. There’s little reason to assume that the developmental timeline of equipment to capture parallel dimensions would be any different.
We’ll speculate in Part 2 on what type of equipment might need to be developed in order to capture the different layers of this onion we call existence…
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