Ep #25 Transcript | Chris Timmermann: DMT, Brain Waves & the Psychedelic Experience
Full episode transcript (beware of typos!) below:
Chris Timmerman, thanks for joining with.
Chris Timmermann 2:20
Well, thanks for having me, Nick.
Nick Jikomes 2:22
Yeah, glad to have you super excited to talk about your work and the world that you live in. As a psychedelic researcher, can you start off by just telling everyone who you are, where you are, and what you do at a high level.
Chris Timmermann 2:41
So I'm a postdoc researcher, at Imperial College London. Mass, I live in London. We're actually having a very nice beautiful day here, which is a fairly unusual. I work at the Center for psychedelic research. I've been there for the past six years. That's also where I did my PhD. My research has focused on the effects of DMT in the human brain, the experience induced by DMT on a broad level, and also other aspects related to what you might call psychedelic practice. How to perfect psychedelic practice to a certain extent. Yeah.
Nick Jikomes 3:37
So what's your PhD? And what kind of scientist are you?
Chris Timmermann 3:43
It's in neuroscience, and psychology. I'm a psychologist by training, did a master's in neuroscience. And my PhD was in neuroscience, pharmacology.
Nick Jikomes 3:56
I see. So you've done a lot of research on DMT. Can we start off by just describing for everyone, what is DMT the molecule what kind of psychedelic is it? And maybe compare and contrast that a little bit to other psychedelics that people may have heard about, such as psilocybin say,
Chris Timmermann 4:13
the end DMT is a what you might call one of the classic psychedelic compounds. That means that its action is due to a specific agonist and that specific receptor in the brain serotonin receptor in the brain, certainly to a receptor. And in that way, it has a similar mechanism of action as psilocybin and LSD and also mescaline. It is a naturally occurring psychedelic, it is in many plants, and is in many mammals in the body of many mammals including the human body. Therefore, it is it is an endogenous compounds DMT also has a rich, historical Cultural use, it is part of the brew Ayahuasca use in the Amazon. And it is also part of DMT containing snuffs, which has been used in South America and Central America for hundreds, actually 1000s of years, some of you answers. And it is particular DMT in that it induces immersive experiences meaning that it generates visual imagery that tend to surpass in their immersive quality to that of LSD and psilocybin and regular doses. Some of this immersive experiences feature a times feelings of entering a novel dimension, a place that feels more real than this reality and encountering beings or entities, subject subjective experiences, of course. And in that way, it is unique, psychedelic substance that can be smoked. Usually, when it's done recreationally or in non control lab environments, people smoke DMT, which tends to give a very short, but intense trip. So people are going to these other novel places coming in and out of them in a matter of minutes.
Nick Jikomes 6:32
So it's a classical psychedelic drug, similar in some ways to things like psilocybin, it's interacting with the classic, what people often call the psychedelic receptor in the brain, the serotonin to a receptor. But it's very different in some ways. So it's this immersive, very visual experience, as you described. It's very intense, but short acting, what accounts for that difference between something like DMT, and something like psilocybin, where you're talking about minutes of an experience that's very intense, as opposed to hours of something that's intense, but but not completely immersive in the in the way that DMT is?
Chris Timmermann 7:11
Well, the main difference is that it's degraded in the body in a very fast fashion. So we have essentially a an enzyme in our bodies, that degrades DMT, metabolizes it quite fast. And maybe that's why our DMT levels are always kept in check. You know, our endogenous DMT levels, because of the sense that doesn't happen with psilocybin or LSD. That is why also DMT is not active and taken orally, it's even. That's why for your Wasco, you need a combination of DMT containing plants and the beta carboline containing plants, like the actual Ayahuasca vine that inhibits the destruction of DMT. By this enzyme, they got an extends the effects of DMT in time.
Nick Jikomes 8:12
So that enzyme that breaks down DMT, rapidly monoamine oxidase, is that happening rapidly with DMT, essentially, because it's so chemically similar to serotonin so that we already we basically already have the enzymatic machinery to break it down because of that similarity.
Chris Timmermann 8:29
You could say that, yeah, it's a reasonable assumption. I'm not sure if that's exactly the reason why. But it seems like DMT because it's an endogenous compound, we have homeostatic mechanisms being the mechanism to keep the balances and chemicals in our bodies in check. And this enzyme provides that opportunity, essentially, by keeping the employee levels down.
Nick Jikomes 8:55
And there's two versions of DMT that people sometimes mentioned, there's DMT, which is most of what this discussion will focus on. And there's something called Five Meo DMT. Can you briefly just describe the difference between those two compounds?
Chris Timmermann 9:11
Sure. So both of them are naturally occurring. And then DMT and five methoxy or five Meo DMT. DMT tends to occur and can be extracted from plants and in DMT, while five Meo DMT is primarily found at reasonable doses or psychoactive doses, in the bedroom of the boufal, various Toad, sinner and Mexican toad. In terms of the kind of effects it produces, they're both short acting five methoxy DMT, when smoke is a bit more prolonged, some say, and the quality of the experience is difference, at least from what we know from anecdotal reports. So nn DMT in this is this very rich, content filled experience, you're seeing a lot of objects, people are engaging with these objects, these entities, these beings, feelings of inhabiting different places. It's a rich experience. With five Meo DMT people appear to have a very radical sense of ego dissolution, meaning that this subject object distinctions, which we carry in the world, usually, completely dissolves away. And it can be quite extreme to the point that when people are having that experience, many times they feel that they're experiencing their own deaths. And it seems to provide an experience in which people are no longer having any sort of reliable content, but having just an experience of all white lights, and an experience of some somehow having an experience with everything and nothing at the same time, which is not necessarily something hard to get your head around when you're just hearing that. So it says that it induces this, this very strong ego dissolution experience. So the contrast between DMT and five Meo DMT is, while both of them are fast acting, one has a lot to do with characters and contents that people experience and an immersed relationship with that content within five Meo DMT. It's it's a massive sort of ego dissolving experience in which people reach to a point in which they no longer experience any content whatsoever. And they just have this experience of the white light.
Nick Jikomes 11:47
So DMT, in terms of its subjective effects, is reported to be very rich and rich and content, as you say, people literally see stuff. It's very immersive. I've heard it described as almost like a, an extremely compelling and extremely bizarre virtual reality experience. Can you talk a little bit more about the common threads that come out of people's reports of the subjective effects, just so that we can sort of paint a picture to the best of our ability of what the subjective effects are for people that haven't experienced it? And I want to do that before we get into Brain Stuff. So it's very fast acting, there's lots of content. It's very compelling content, whatever exactly that means. And there's a lot going on in the DMT experience, are there any common themes, to the visual aspects of the subjective experience that tend to come out and report
Chris Timmermann 12:47
what we found in our research is the experience from you can think of experience from a structural perspective, or a content perspective, from a structural perspective, we mapped out that this experience has a you know, it involves the body, the visual, sort of perception, and emotional contents. Broadly speaking, these are the three main structural domains that are affected. What we find that it's a reliable aspect of the experience when we give it intravenously is that people have this at the beginning of the experience a strong sense of energy, bodily rush, happening in their bodies. Many people who have other sort of experiences with yoga and Kundalini and things of the sort likened it to a form of Kundalini sort of Rush awakening, an energy transversing the body that has a lot of carries a sense of edge, and a sense of also the meaning. After that people have this immersive visual quality experience. So they, they go through what some people call this breakthrough DMT experience, which they're no longer seeing, you know, some geometrical patterns, which you can kind of with other sort of psychedelic drugs, but they're now breaking through into what seems like different reality they mentioned. This is when you give high enough doses to people. And while they're having this experience of breaking through, into this different sort of realm. At the same time, the body kind of like goes away into the background, people, while at the beginning had this strong sense of rush in their body, no longer feel the body's presence. Some people feel that having an out of body sort of experience, not necessarily looking into their bodies, but in a way feeling that their experience is no longer it to their body state. When which when you think about it is curiously similar to the experience of dreaming, you're having a very visually engaging experience that can have a fantastical character to it, but you're no longer attached to your body, and your environment and signals. So it's a detached, that is a virtual reality experience. And then after this, the strong sort of breaking through into this space subsides after a couple of minutes, people start coming back and, and making sense of what happens, integrating the experience, if you will. And in that integration, emotional content starts to arise. Kind of like taking in the messages that they got from that experience and, and how it reflects in their relationships, in their own lives, in their notions of spirituality in their notions of reality, sometimes. etc. So, these are some of the features and another, I think, guess, within that I kind of mentioned that is that many, when people have high enough doses of nn DMT. They go also they they they can have what is this called a sometimes it's this ontological shock, reaction or experience, that the experience feels more real than real. It seems to carry some sort of authority in terms of the contents that it's providing the teaching, and that has something to do with the nature of reality. And I can change people's worldviews as well, in a significant fashion after the fact.
Nick Jikomes 16:57
Do people when they have a DMT experience under controlled conditions? Do they? Do they normally look back on it in a positive light in a negative light, a mix of both? Is there any commonality to whether or not people are evaluating the experience as a good one a bad one or neutral?
Chris Timmermann 17:18
It depends very much on the what we call the setting setting. The intention people might have so on how well they are prepared, psychologically, to have that experience. In the context of Ayahuasca DMT is a big part of ayahuasca, it's not the whole thing, but it is a big part of that, in the context of Ayahuasca people find many people find a lot of meaningful experiences in that. And the second setting of Ayahuasca is a is a can be a culturally rich setting, there's a lot of songs, there's rituals, and it's also a longer experience. And a lot of people find, meaning find a positive effect out of that experience with DMT. When it's given on its own, let's say in a lab setting legacy injected experience can be very fast and can be a bit overwhelming. So again, depending on the level of preparation that the person has, that can be a satisfying experience. Some people can find it even pleasurable, like terms of essential sort of pleasure that they get out of the experience. That many times we've seen that people provide a very strong sense of aesthetics, a sense of beauty of appreciating the beauty of the experience in a way that they hadn't done. So for many, many time for a long time before that. So just the experience of beauty is having an inherently healing quality at some extent. Just a thing that doesn't get talked to very much, which I find particularly interesting and sometimes challenging experiences. So sometimes people can have overwhelming experiences in which they no longer the, the stripe, some of the struggle with the experience in terms of how did that fit, but it can be scary. The encounters with being scan can provide a sense of realness that is a bit sometimes overwhelming for the person. Nonetheless, also, in some of those occasions, those challenging experiences can be fruitful for the person if it's somehow dealt in the right way. But yeah, it's it's it's varied. For sure. And and very much depending on, on the level of readiness that the person has,
Nick Jikomes 20:10
a little bit later, I want to circle back to some of this stuff. And at least attempt to think about it from a neuroscientist perspective in terms of what might be going on in the brain that gives rise to these types of experiences. But you mentioned something that people often report for DMT, which is that it's a, it's a threshold drug, there's very strong dose dependent effects. And at some point, the dose gets strong enough that there's a shift in the intensity of the experience what people call, call that breakthrough experience, approximate so when you're giving DMT in the lab intravenously? What doses are we talking about here, in milligrams for like a normal sized adult? Are we talking about ones of milligrams, 10s of milligrams, what is a low dose, and what is a high dose that would get you past that threshold?
Chris Timmermann 21:01
So seven milligram of the empty insult form, so the anti fumarate, it's a low dose usually provides these experiences of geometrical patterns, I'll leave. There can be emotional content, but it's more, it's more an interplay of what the person carries through that sessions. And this geometrical patterns form at 40 milligrams, we can see that a medium dose can have an immersive quality. People are on the verge of that threshold, but still not beyond it, if you will. And 20 milligrams is where we found a medium to high breakthrough, those that maintain the good balance between safety and, and still being quite immersive. I mean, we gave that those to many people in the fMRI scanner and and we asked for people for intensity ratings while the experience is happening. And for some people, you know, they weren't able to give ratings. So, so definitely breakthrough for many, many people to the point that they're no longer attentive to, you know, what's happening around them.
Nick Jikomes 22:30
So we have that breakthrough experience at those higher doses, it is truly immersive in the sense that you can really no longer engage with someone in the room with you. Yeah. Yeah. And you've mentioned already something that also comes up a lot with DMT, which is that it's an endogenous compound. So it's found both in the plant world and in the animal world, apparently inside of organisms. So starting with plants, can you speak a little bit about how common DMT is in the plant world? What types of plants is it found in? And maybe, you know, if it's really known whether or not we figured out the physiological role that DMT might be serving for the plants?
Chris Timmermann 23:15
That's all good questions. I don't have answers for all of them. So, the use of DMT sorry that DMT can be found in many many different plants. There's some studies saying saying that it's almost like the the stimulus like DMT is kind of everywhere. Plants I mean, it shows up in many different plants. Not entirely sure what proportion of plants to be honest. But it is something that it is found in for example, acacia trees which are incredibly common in most parts of the world. It is found in the seeds of the animal and feta tree, which is very prominent in South America. So when you see this as enough dmts You know, the seeds are, are smashed and made into powder. So fairly accessible and fairly common. Now, not all the plants carry the same amount of DMT and some are better at providing that the Amazon you find it in this country every release bush and again, for it to have a reliable effect when the plant world it needs to be there smokes or taken in conjunction with MAO inhibitor, as you mentioned before, so that this enzyme in the gut just destroyed the empty acid the role in plants? Well, we all know, we don't know what the role of DMT is in plants.
Nick Jikomes 25:09
Yeah, that's that's my understanding as well, that for DMT, specifically, you know, a physiological function for plants hasn't been worked out. But what's always struck me about DMT and other psychoactive so everything from caffeine to THC is you often find these things concentrated in parts of the plant, like sometimes the leaves or the bark, or the Root Bark, usually parts of the plant that touch the outside world, and for other psychoactive so at least, there's some evidence to suggest that you think these things are generally playing a defensive role. So basically preventing insects or other things from eating the plant. And so I wonder, you know, I would speculate that maybe DMT is, is doing something like that, but, but I don't think anyone's, I don't even know how you would exactly study that. But it's always been interesting to me that it's concentrated in certain parts of the plant. So what's arguably more interesting that I get asked about more is endogenous DMT in animals, including humans, and my understanding here is that it is founded dogma endogenously. But there's perhaps some conflicting information out there about how prominent it is in our tissues, which tissues is actually found in, and whether or not there's any known endogenous function in animals. So can you talk about where people have actually detected DMT inside animal and human tissues.
Chris Timmermann 26:38
So they've, as far as I understand, they've detected the precursor of DMT, very prominently featured in the lungs. And they've investigated as well in the rats brain. And they found also DMT in the rat brain. And they've also seen it in human cerebrospinal fluid, so you will Brain Juice, that's also where the empty has been shown up. And based on that sort of set of circumstances, it has been argued that, you know, the empty, somehow pressing in the, in the human brain, and also and more directly in the rodents brain, I mean, that has been definitely established. There was a theory by Rick Strassman, who did amazing work with DMT, in the 1990s. That DMT was produced by the pineal glands. Now, they found that in rodents, that without a penny of glands, they found also, still that there was DMT in the in the brain, and an important level. So therefore, we now know that the pineal gland is not a necessary, sort of Oregon for the production of
Nick Jikomes 28:04
it. And when they detect DMT in in rat brains, for example, what level are we talking about here? Is this tiny, tiny levels that suggest that maybe it's just a kind of metabolic byproduct? Or is it at levels high enough where it could, in theory, be doing something biologically relevant?
Chris Timmermann 28:23
So that is an ongoing discussion, and experiments are happening to determine that. So. At the University of Michigan, they recently published a paper in which they found increased levels of nn DMT, and the rat's brain. And what I, what I've seen from that paper is that levels are fairly comparable serotonin, which is one of the major neurotransmitters in the human brain. That, however, has been debated. The exact technicalities of that debate, I'm not totally sure. But there's technical arguments on how it's been measured, and where it's been measured. And whether or not that tells us something about the physiological function of nn DMT in the mammalian brain.
Nick Jikomes 29:27
I see. So, tell me if this is accurate, it sounds like people have looked for and found DMT in the rat brain. It's definitely there. It's been claimed to be at levels that are high enough where it could, you know, it could be something, you know, to something that's playing a biological function, but it's debated. And in humans, we know that it's probably in the nervous system, at least at small levels, because you can find it in cerebral spinal fluid and things like this, but it has not been directly measured at what we would cause significant levels in the human brain at this time. Exactly. Okay. So turning a little bit more to DMT in the brain, and then eventually getting to some of your work. Before we get there, I want to talk about the history of DMT. Researcher if there really is much history there. So for things like LSD, I think a lot of people know that. You know, there's actually a lot of research done decades and decades ago in the mid 20th century. And then, you know, based on the way things worked out in the US and elsewhere, that research sort of went away. And now we're seeing this kind of resurgence, but there was this somewhat rich literature for some psychedelics going back, you know, decades and decades, prior to your research in the last, you know, five to 10 years say, Was there much research that had been done with DMT had anything been studied historically, in terms of DMT and its effects in the brain?
Chris Timmermann 30:57
Well, the DMT itself. There has been research, it is similar to the other psychedelics in terms of, you know, it had its heyday in the 50s and 60s and even 70s of DMT. And then it went under grounds for a couple of decades. I guess the early tracings of DMT research can be found in ethnobotany ethnobotany and anthropology work with Ayahuasca. So in the mid 19th century, Richard spruce was the first one to describe the effects of ayahuasca. Therefore, it plays a crucial role in the story of DMT. Then you have the example of Richard Devin Schultz, which is a famous botanist, also describing some of the effects of DMT. But I think it really came into strong prominence with a BS generation. So within burrows I don't know if you know the story of William Burroughs in this story, he accidentally shot his wife and while he was drunk thing, this game, you know, like this crazy kind of dark story, you know, the regeneration and and he went to the Amazon to somehow looking for a cure for his torment that he was having. And he found a Wesker actually, yeah, here, the Colombian version of the Amazon in a WASC. And he wrote this, these letters to Alan Ginsberg is very curious, in a way because you kind of stumbled upon DMT or ayahuasca, and is one of the first people to do so. So super interesting. And it's a contemporary to that first modern researcher to study DMT the effects of DMT is Stephen Serra, sa Hungarian biochemist in the 50s, who wanted to study it as the use extremely interested in in all this work that was coming out in the 50s with this compound, but because he was Hungarian, he was, you know, behind the Iron Curtain, Sandoz the pharmaceutical company that manufactured LSD denied him access to it. So therefore, he was looking for alternatives. He read some of these interesting reports about this knifes that contain DMT in the Amazon, and he synthesized it himself and he intramuscularly injected DMT at different doses until he finally found something. And he did a lot of experiments, he did experiments, also some with a lot of ethically, ethically questionable experiments in which he gave the empty to patients with schizophrenia. He did some EEG work with DMT. So measuring electrodes in the brain seeing what happens once once you gave DMT. And he did a lot of research into that. And after that, there was almost no research with psychedelics including the MTN in the 1990s Rick Strassman. In the US, the first US researcher to study psychedelics after the prohibition time. He did his first experiments with the empty with the argument that DMT is very short. It's a short acting drug, therefore it's very safe. It has a good safety profile. And he did this Very interesting experiments with human beings in which he intravenously injected DMT to them and characterized their effects. He wrote a book about it called the into the spirit molecule. And there's also a film about it and, and in it, you can see the participants of that study telling their story. And after that, there's been virtually no work with DMT. Until our our studies in the past five years, there's a single exception with a German group. Who actually gave it a shot at giving DMT continuously. Which is something that we're doing now as well.
Nick Jikomes 35:47
Giving it continuously. Is that what you said? Yeah. So for an extended period of time, like more than seven minutes?
Chris Timmermann 35:54
Exactly. So DMT Yeah, the extension of the DMT. State.
Nick Jikomes 35:59
Yeah. So before we get there, one more background question I want to ask, and it has to do with like the toxicology of this. So you mentioned strawsons argument that because it's short acting, the probably has a good safety profile. Has that been fully worked out? What is the toxicology of DMT? Does it cause any toxic effects that have been measured?
Chris Timmermann 36:21
At normal, reasonable doses. No toxic effects have been found. So similar to LSD, although not as good as LSD, and the safety profile of LSD is excellent. With DMT, it's, it has a very good safety profile as well, especially considering that it's also an endogenous compound in our body, our bodies somehow know how to deal with the empty, if you will,
Nick Jikomes 36:52
I see. So a little bit of research done in the 50s era, then there's a break. And then you have people like Strassman, in the 90s, studying, and then there's another break, where there's basically very little happening, and then we get to you. So before you actually describe your research, what actually drew you to DMT as the object of your scientific study, and why did you choose to work on DMT, as opposed to psilocybin or something else?
Chris Timmermann 37:23
Well, DMT, was particularly attractive because it induced induced this very strange experiences is very unique experiences. You know, what we were talking about before this feeling of breaking through into different dimension, different reality, this ontological shock experience, that somehow you're being taught something relating the nature of reality. I thought that those, those were very interesting things that no work was being done in terms of how it relates to the human brain. So when you're trying to understand mechanisms of experience, the brain is a good place to look at as well. And on the consciousness research side of things, I thought it was particularly good and interesting substance, because because of the fact that it is in Mersive, and short acting, you can see if you have a good brain imaging method like fMRI, or like EEG, you can look at how that organism goes into that state, and then goes out of it. Right? So you can think of a DMT experiences building a reality building this other dimension. What are the brain mechanisms that allow this feeling of generating a whole different reality? And then what are the mechanisms that change? When you go back into your normal sort of state?
Nick Jikomes 39:03
The fact that it's intense and short acting makes it easier to actually watch the brain as you go into that state, but then come back out of it.
Chris Timmermann 39:12
Exactly. It's like it's a it's a way if you will, to compress the psychedelic experience in a very intense fashion in a short amount of time, and map out what's happened.
Nick Jikomes 39:25
So can you talk a little bit about some of the research that you've done the past two years, what exactly did you do? And how did you guys do it? So when you talk about things like EEG, for example, let's try and explain for people who don't know what that is how that works at a very basic level.
Chris Timmermann 39:40
Sure, so we've done we're in our third study now with DMT. My first DMT study was, as you see an EEG study, like EEG stands for an electroencephalogram, so it picks up electrical activity in the scalp. So this, these caps that have electrodes and the electrodes capture the actual electrical activity of neurons firing, right, so the these neurons when they fire, they generate an electrical current, which is picked up by these sensors. And this gives you these electrical patterns are then mapped out into different frequencies or different brainwaves. And this is when people speak about delta waves, theta waves, alpha waves, gamma waves, and so on. So we did our first study on that. We also tested different doses to see, you know, what would be a safe dose to get to people in our next stage, and our next stage was in the scanner. So we did the same thing. We gave people this dose of DMT. While they were in the scanner, we actually did it twice which person. And what we're doing now is our continuous infusion DMT experiments, which is being done by by my PhD students as well. Lisa Luan, which were trying to extend this state in time, and in all of these studies, were looking at the brain, but also having a very close look at the experience. So we're trying to also use discipline methods to understand these experiences. The question of the issue with DMT and psychedelics is that they're very prone to interpretation by the second setting. So the cultural frameworks people have to understand this experiences and how they make meaning out of it. It influences how they report on it. So what we're trying to do is, is approach the experience also from a scientific and disciplined manner. And we can have an appropriate level of the description of that, so that we can then marry that with brain activity.
Nick Jikomes 42:15
So you're using things like EEG and fMRI for people that are unfamiliar, these are non invasive techniques. So nothing's going into anyone with EEG, is it safe to say that people are sort of wearing almost like a hairnet that you would that you would wear at night or in the shower, but it's just hooked up to wires? And these, this apparatus is detecting? How would you describe exactly what it's detecting. So it's detecting large scale, sort of global brain activity. And we can think about that, as waves that have different frequencies almost like if you were looking at the ocean or something, there's big waves that kind of roll in, and then there's little tiny choppy waves running on top of that, is that a fair description of how EEG works?
Chris Timmermann 42:59
That's a very good description file eg words, you have patches of neuron wonder, working in sync, you kind of take these these brainwave patterns, essentially. Yeah.
Nick Jikomes 43:13
And then how is that different from the fMRI scanner that someone physically goes inside of what what do those two things show you? How are they different in terms of what they're actually picking up?
Chris Timmermann 43:24
fMRI is, again, a sand non invasive technique to determine brain activity. It measures metallic metabolism in the brain, the consumption of energy in the brain. That is what you're seeing. And it's picked up by magnets, this massive magnets in the scanner and very complicated physics. That's how it works. It's a and what fMRI provides as a as a measurement, it gives you very good spatial resolution. So as opposed to as you said, in EEG, you have this large scale activity, which comes up in the form of waves. In fMRI, you can actually look at the metabolism of little bits in the brain. So you can, it's almost like you can slice the brain in very little cubes, which we call voxels. And we can determine, we can infer brain activity from the activation patterns that we see at each of these little voxels or cubes. From that, we can then determine how networks are operating specific brain networks, how strongly they're connected, how hyper connected different brain regions are with the rest of the brain, for example.
Nick Jikomes 44:49
So I'm trying to imagine the setup here, you've either got a hairnet on. Something that looks like a hairnet for eg for fMRI. You're physically going into one of those big scanners that people may have Seen On TV, and you've got an IV in your arm or somewhere that is allowing you guys to administer intravenous DMT. One final question before we get to your description of like, what's going on in the brain? Not a technical question, but but almost I can't help myself. How much are people moving their body and especially their eyeballs when you give them DMT? And is that impacting how you can interpret these data?
Chris Timmermann 45:33
moving their bodies, it varies. Some people are movers other people are non movers. Usually, it's undesirable that people move during an fMRI scan, is what you might call an artifact that introduces noise, not related to brain activity in the measurements. The idea is that inside of this counterbore, your head needs to be pretty fixed. So it's variable people move more than usual, for sure tend to move more than usual. And if people move too much, then we kind of have them in our analysis. Unfortunately, that's how it works. And the eye rolling thing is not so much of an issue. We cannot detect him directly the eye rolls. Because we don't have a specific, you know, device measuring that in the fMRI scanner. But with EEG, we can somehow infer it from specific electrodes which are on top of the brain so that when the eye are when the eyes are moving, they generate also an electrical current, which is picked up by these electrodes.
Nick Jikomes 46:50
So you do the studies, you make the measurements? How would you summarize what you guys generally see in terms of what's going on in the brain when you're going into when you're immersed in, and then when you're coming out of a DMT experience.
Chris Timmermann 47:07
We see the brain in terms of brainwaves. Big waves, little and fast waves. We see the brain in terms of connectivity, how strongly different networks are connected, or how different parts of the brain are hyper connected, we'll call global connectivity. And we see things in in terms of entropy, or chaos. So we're able to determine whether or not the brain is acting in a more chaotic fashion, or in a more orderly fashion, at different timeframes in different parts of this experience.
Nick Jikomes 47:49
And so what is what is what does the brain look like, in terms of its global patterns in the middle of a DMT experience compared to just a resting sober state?
Chris Timmermann 48:01
What we're seeing is that, in terms of brainwaves, the DMT approximates more a dreamlike state. So in the dream life state, there's these low frequencies, this slow big fat waves, the delta and the theta wave stays dominate more that experience. We see the similar thing, very similar thing happening with the MTS only when people are very immersed in this experience for this low big wave start to dominate. So that that's an intriguing finding, somehow, there's a correspondence between the dream state and the DMT state, we can pick that up in the brain. And it also from the experience, it makes sense. Somehow, you know, this virtual reality kind of experience, we also see that the brain becomes hyper connected, very globally connected, and that the regions of the brain that becomes globally connected more strongly have to do with those areas, which have evolved later. For humans, so the neocortex, the prefrontal areas of the brain, and also language related systems in the brain. They're the systems that generate meaning those become hyper connected. And in terms of entropy, or chaos, we see that the brain becomes more chaotic, more disordered. There's a larger repertoire available for brain states now that weren't available before.
Nick Jikomes 49:47
I see. So out of all of the possible patterns of brain activity that might be available to the brain at any given moment, you tend to see a wider range of those that become present When someone is on DMT, compared to when they're just resting at baseline. And you've done some research, where you talk about this idea of top down versus bottom up activity in the brain and how DMT effects that, can you explain for people what that is, and then what DMT does to those two types of information flow in the brain?
Chris Timmermann 50:25
Sure. So this is a way to look at the, the brain from, from current neuroscience understanding. So the idea is that the brain operates as a predictive machine. So, as a way to save energy, so and economical, as an economical fashion, as opposed to the brain just being, if you will, a mirror of external reality, just having all this sensory input being processed into this input output machine. The idea would be that the brain will be actively predicting reality will be actively generating models of the world. And then energy is mostly spent, or is now allocated for whenever there are disruptions of those models of those predictions. This is what we call predictive processing. Very attractive theory right now in the neuroscience of how the world operates, and how we engage with reality, or within environments from moment to moment. So these predictions, these models is what we call top down activity. And this disruptions of the prediction, the the moments in which we learn is what we call bottom up activity. Top down activity, that models Dominator experience. This is what refers to what when some neuroscientists say that our experience of reality is a controlled hallucination, we're always predicting our activity, we're always our experiences dominated by models, rather than by external sensory input. So the idea would be that these top down models, these predictions, they dominate our everyday experience, under DMT. These top down models, which we pick up through traveling waves, backward travelling wave from the front of the brain, to the back of the brain gets very massively disrupted, and instead, bottom up activity. So these kind of like novel disruptions, this learning opportunities, now come to dominate the way that the brain operates. And we capture these bottom up activity, the forward cortical traveling waves.
Nick Jikomes 53:10
And how does that compare? So when people say, the DMT is very visual, and that you see things that are very vivid? On the one hand, you know, people are just giving you a direct report of what they see, apparently. But because you're talking about the subjective effects someone's having, there's always sort of a gap there, you can't go in and directly read out what they're saying, you just have to rely on the reports. So you guys have compared what you see in brain activity of people that have taken DMT, to what you see in brain activity when they're awake, and they're sober, and they're looking at something. So is, in what sense, would you describe whether or not people are actually having those very visual experiences on DMT? Does it look like the way the brain looks when you're actually looking at things?
Chris Timmermann 53:58
Yeah, exactly. It does, at least from this comparative fashion. So essentially, we saw that these cortical traveling waves these signals of top down and bottom up activity, the way that they change, meaning that these top down, models get disrupted, and this bottom up activity gets pronounced, is the same kind of change that happens when people are actively looking at photic stimulation. So light stimulation in the eyes. That wasn't there before. The difference is that in the case of DMT, people have their eyes closed, we're even having them with high masks, and they're having their experience. But nonetheless, they're having this very vivid sort of experience. And we're seeing that the mechanisms driving that visual experience are probably very much related to traveling waves, changing top down models and bottom up activity in a similar way as it happens. When people are looking at flashing lights for installation,
Nick Jikomes 55:04
so the experiments that you've done are using EEG or fMRI to look at the brain when someone has taken DMT. Can you compare and contrast what you see in those experiments to what others have seen? When they give someone something like LSD or psilocybin? Are there any, when someone is on any of these classic psychedelics, DMT, psilocybin, LSD or whatever? Are there any themes that emerge similar types of brain activity that you tend to see across experiments? And then the flip side being what are the differences in terms of the patterns?
Chris Timmermann 55:38
So the similarities between all of these compounds, so far, it seems that the brain is that there's hyperconnectivity patterns emerging, especially in this evolved part of the brain. So the neocortex, the front part of the brain, parts of the brain, which are related to decision making, which are related to attentional resources, which are related also to our imaginative capacities, the abilities that we human beings have to build new worlds to build meaning out of things to develop tools, those areas become hyper connected. And that appears to be somewhat consistent between the empty LSD and psilocybin. What seems to be different and unique about DMT is that the brain these brainwave patterns operate somewhat differently. The big difference is that when people have regular LSD and psilocybin doses, all these brainwave patterns go down, there's like, the brainwaves become flat, if you will, most of them. Whereas with DMT, we find that these lower frequencies, this delta and theta waves, they go up. And that's very similar to what happens during dreaming as well. And that seems to be setting apart DMT from LSD and psilocybin. And when you look at the experiences, phenomenology want to call it like that to these different substances. What makes the ante unique, is exactly this immersive capacity, this this feeling that people have, they're entering a novel dimension entering, sort of like, yeah, and new reality of sorts.
Nick Jikomes 57:48
And so, you mentioned before that some of the ongoing research you're doing has to do with these extended DMT experiences. So can you walk people through what kind of questions you're asking for those? And when you say, an extended experience, how extended are we talking about?
Chris Timmermann 58:08
So we're extending that state for 30 minutes at a time. So we're giving what you call a bolus. So the initial push that we give it another studies. And then one minute after that, we maintain a steady, steady state throughout 30 minutes,
Nick Jikomes 58:33
and what is what is the dose that you're targeting? for that?
Chris Timmermann 58:38
We're using very similar doses as the one that I mentioned before. So something in low threshold and mid threshold and a high threshold and we're figuring out those doses as we're going along with the study. Yeah, in a safe fashion.
Nick Jikomes 58:53
And before we get to the scientific questions that you're exploring, I feel like I have to ask, how are you recruiting people for this, and what kind of people are volunteering for the 30 Minute DMT fMRI scan?
Chris Timmermann 59:08
Well, a lot of volunteers, people are really excited about this research. A lot of people have been very generous, you know, wanting to provide their time and being very courageous as well. Trying to be a part of it. We have word of mouth. recruitments. So when people know about our studies, they contact us and and if it's feasible and, you know, accessible and interesting, then prove them. We have also interesting, interested scientists who want to be part of the process and times and by but really, it's a very vague group.
Nick Jikomes 59:54
And how many people were talking about for these studies, is it a handful is it doesn't
Chris Timmermann 1:00:00
For this one, we're projecting a 30. Yeah, we have 30 or maximum. So we're aiming for 30 people, group of them have repeated doses of
Nick Jikomes 1:00:14
DMT. And what are the basic questions that you're hoping to answer with the current research?
Chris Timmermann 1:00:19
We're trying to, if you will develop a technology, we're trying to figure out whether or not you can extend DMT. And if that extension is reliable, we're trying to understand to to extend that state so that people can take more out of that experience, understand it better, and then report back to us what's what's actually going going on? We're trying to determine the nature of these entity experience, trying to understand what are their structural features? We're trying to understand if they always have this sort of, like, extraordinary quality to them? Or can these entity experiences be somewhat more common sensical, if you will, more of the common world? We're trying to see if you know, this immersive quality persists over time, or does it come in waves, as other psychedelics, we're trying to understand all these things. But we're doing that while we're capturing high density, EEG activity. So we're now wearing a very techy cap with hundreds of electrodes. And, and that will give us a very nice understanding of where it's at exactly things are happening in the brain, what are the specific areas are being disrupted and how this compares to the, to the kind of experiences people are having?
Nick Jikomes 1:02:01
Yeah, it's interesting to think about the fact that DMT is degraded so quickly by our bodies, and therefore that the experience is so short, there's almost perhaps no chance for the brain to adapt to the experience. And I can imagine that certainly one possibility would be that in a 30, minute, DMT administration, where you have continuous intravenous DMT, perhaps there is some sort of wave like quality to it, where you know, the networks in the brain that are changed in response to DMT. Or that they have enough time to sort of adapt and rebound in some way. And so that would, if that was true, then I suspect that in a 30 minute experience, you would not simply have one uniform, 30 minute DMT trip, but somehow somehow it would change over the course of that 30 minutes.
Chris Timmermann 1:02:52
Yeah, this is one of the things that we were trying to figure out whether or not you know, it is really a fixed thing, or is it a wavy thing, or it's, it's an interesting, interesting challenge for the organism to be in that state for such a long time.
Nick Jikomes 1:03:08
And one of the things I do want to ask about too, is it has to do with the potential therapeutic applications for DMT in particular, but also in comparison to other psychedelics. And one of the things I want to explore is, there are some some healthy tensions in the research world about what we want and what we don't want, or what might be useful and not useful in terms of the therapeutic effects of psychedelics. One of those tensions is prolonged experience versus short experience. And you sort of implied by what you said that, you know, on the one hand, people would say, the prolonged experience you get with something like psilocybin or especially LSD, you know, it's obviously a very powerful experience. And that's been documented, that's been studied. But it's also inconvenient in many ways, right? You can't, it's not easy to scale up the administration of something that, you know, requires a 10 hour supervised trip to get some potential therapeutic benefits. So there's a lot of interest in compressing down that time. And conveniently, perhaps something like DMT has this natural, short duration. And yet, the flip side of that, as you eluded, is that these short but intense DMT experiences are hard for people to grok they come back and they have a hard time remembering what happened, they have a hard time, you know, taking any lessons or potential therapeutic benefit out of that. And so you're almost going in the opposite direction and extending the short duration experience a little bit. Do you think there's a happy medium there? And, and then the other thing I want to touch on that I think is hard to disentangle from that is the psychedelic experience, per se, the perceptual distortions and the hallucinatory component of this. There's a lot of effort happening right now around essentially engineering non psychedelic psychedelics with the idea Being that we can extract most or all the therapeutic benefit, but actually get rid of the actual psychedelic effects. Can you sort of talk about your your view on those things?
Chris Timmermann 1:05:13
Yeah. Well, I think that the I think there's inherent value in long experiences on their own, I don't know, for every sort of condition, or every sort of human need related to psychedelics, those long experiences are relevant. I think that, in the indeed, the short acting psychedelics provide an opportunity to somehow have variable opportunities for variable needs, in psychiatry, and in mental health and well being and human development. And I think, you know, different things might help for different people. I find it interesting to explore a middle grounds extending that short experience. Because one, it seems that the short DMT experience is not sufficient. For the main sort of mental health conditions were interested, like, for example, depression, you do need to be there a bit longer. As you alluded on your second comment, a lot of the evidence suggests that it is the quality of the experience the degree to which people have these mystical type experiences, which predicts the therapeutic outcomes. Therefore, having sufficient long experience in which people are able to have the experience and at the same time, make meaning out of it, while it is happening appears to be a very fundamental and crucial thing, mechanism for this to work. Therefore, a sufficiently long experience might be needed. And BMT might be too short for a mass sort of administration of this massive administration in clinical settings. So I think that that's one element. The other element, which I find particularly relevant is that we're entering our world of personalized medicine, more and more. So one size fits all kind of approach no longer works. The human mind is very complex, and is very much determined by the unique history of those individuals and their unique genetics, and genetic makeup. I imagine the possibility in which if we are able to extend that DMT state and develop, it's come up the steepness of the karma, if you will, the depth of that come up, and the duration of that plateau, and then the way that it comes down according to those individual needs, then we have a very powerful tool in our hands. Something that is able to adapt to the needs of a specific individual, again, not just necessarily for medical condition could be also part of well being or human development more, more broadly.
Nick Jikomes 1:08:26
Actually, I never, I never thought about that. So with something like psilocybin, you hear all of these powerful stories, one of my last podcast episodes with with was with this guy named John caster Coppelius, who described his psilocybin experiences in a clinical trial. But these lasts for hours, and you can't there's no off switch, right that the doctor can't truncate the experience. But what you're essentially describing with DMT is, if you can extend the experience, you can also turn it off. So at any point, you could simply stop giving it IV. And you could almost have a, I think what you're saying is you can almost have like a personalized experience where if you if you understand what's going on sufficiently well, you could prolong or truncate the experience based on what you're reading out from the person whether or not they need to keep going or not.
Chris Timmermann 1:09:19
Exactly, exactly. I mean, that's, that's a good example of how personalized could work. So yeah, I mean, it's incredibly exciting for that, for that reason as well. The idea of personalizing those personalizing experience. It's interesting because, you know, probably you've heard of this like set setting set and setting is a major feature of psychedelic experiences, how the context on our personal histories influence. But the full story is set setting in those sets setting in a substance itself. There's a pharmacological part of the story, which is also fundamental, which is also crucial. There's been studies showing that it's actually those the one that can better predict the outcome rather than any other set and setting variables, although set and setting is fundamental and very important. perfecting the administration is a big part of the story. And, and that's part of what we're trying to do. And finally, to talk to your other question, whether or not these subjective effects are necessary for these therapeutic outcomes, the idea that there's this idea of trying to figure out if you take the psychedelic component out of psychedelics, weirdly enough, is able to have a very good benefit. I am off the thinking, based on the evidence that it is needed, that the psychedelic effects are needed for therapeutic action. And this has been a finding that has been replicated by a few labs already in a few different studies, with depression with the backward addiction, with anxiety related to terminal illnesses. It is these mystical type experiences this emotional breakthrough experiences, which appear to very strongly predicts the positive therapeutic outcome.
Nick Jikomes 1:11:28
I see you saying that in some of the studies that are out there with psilocybin, for example, the strength of the effect in terms of its effect on you know, whether it's end of life anxiety, or depression or addiction correlates very strongly with the intensity of the actual psychedelic experience.
Chris Timmermann 1:11:48
Yeah, so the the therapeutic effects, right, so the the efficacy of the will is related to the strength of of the subjective experiences people have. That being said, I find it very interesting scientific challenge, to figure out, what are the kinds of changes that would happen in the system without the secondary effects? So for example, if there's plasticity being induced, yeah, what what does it mean? You know, how can we think of something therapeutic that is not in the C++ or in this is plasticity, but it's not working with subject effects. And again, this is my feeling is that experience serves as a, as a way to direct plasticity. So you have a substance that is able to generate this brain plasticity mechanism, the ability for the change to have a transformational effect. But the direction of that transformational effect, is mediated by experiences mediated by certain settings. So that's my intuition.
Nick Jikomes 1:13:03
Yeah, so the I pretty much share that intuition. And I think the idea here is, the word plasticity is often used in a sort of vague way. And it's often used as if it's like plasticity is good, like, inherently good. But plasticity, if you just sort of make the brain more plastic, that doesn't necessarily mean anything therapeutic is going to happen, you have to actually use that window of plasticity to build or unbilled something in the brain. And the plasticity is merely a permissive thing. It's not a directive thing, as you said. So I generally share that perspective, one of the things I wanted to ask you about, too, has to do with plasticity. And this will take me a minute to explain. And I don't think you're going to have an answer to it. But I want to want to get you talking about this in case you have any interesting ideas, or you've or at least hear if you've heard what I have heard. So, before I describe the anecdotal part, when we think about like drugs and plasticity for people that don't have a background in this, in general, as a rule of thumb, something that is very short acting is sitting at the receptor for a short amount of time in the brain. And there is a small or very little plasticity that tends to be induced from that that outlasts the actual drug. So for example, DMT, short acting, it doesn't sit at the receptor long. I would speculate that, you know, mechanisms of cellular plasticity probably aren't as strong as you see with drugs like psilocybin and LSD. So if LSD, for example, is sitting in a receptor for hours and hours and hours, it's probably engaging cellular mechanisms that have that window of plasticity that outlast the drug for much longer than they would for something short acting like DMT as a general rule of thumb, so that's the first thing I wanted to say by way of background. The second thing that What I've observed and that I've been told anecdotally, which I think is very interesting has to do with a difference between DMT and five Meo DMT. So I want to describe that and then maybe ask if you've seen anything akin to this in your studies. With DMT, you have these very vivid, immersive experiences, they're very intense and short lasting, you can take the compound over and over again, sequentially. And there isn't much adaptation to it, probably because it's not sitting at that receptor for a long time. And I've never heard anyone that I know who's had a DMT experience report, what you might call a flashback or a reactivation. So no one that I've ever talked to has, you know, done DMT and then come back the next day or the next week and say, Oh, my gosh, I, you know, I was in the yoga class, or I was sleeping at night, and I basically had another DMT experience in the absence of taking DMT. Again, with five Meo DMT, I have robustly observed that effect, where despite the fact that it's relatively short acting, although a little bit longer than DMT. And despite the fact that it's of comparable intensity, perhaps, but a different quality. I've had many people report that they reactivate meaning the next day or for a number of days after ingesting five Meo they are having experiences that are, you know, maybe not the full experience, but very, very close to that. And that would imply if that is, in fact, a robust finding. And I don't think it's been studied scientifically or formally. But that would imply that five Meo DMT and DMT are having a different level of long term plasticity induced and having a compound that's short acting, but also induces long term plasticity is very interesting. And so I guess my question for you, besides just commenting generally, on what you just heard is, have you observed in your studies with DMT, any of your subjects reporting, sort of dropping back into the experience in the absence of the drug after the study? My guess is you probably have not heard that a lot.
Chris Timmermann 1:17:15
No, no, we have not. It has not happened that we have that, you know, strong reactivation as as some people deal with five Meo DMT. But I think, I mean, I don't know how much the specifics of the pharmacokinetic sort of pharmacodynamics have to do with that, in terms of how much the this molecule is sitting in the receptor. Because, I mean, it could be could have a direct relationship, but it could also be an indirect relationship, in the sense that it could be that five Meo DMT is acting on a central mechanism, which is more prone to plasticity, compared to an Indian. So these functional changes in the brain can be very impactful and very powerful, impactful enough, they will, you know, generate structural changes, which is what we refer to when we talk about plasticity, structural change the way literal way that the shape of certain brain parts is shifted. I think it's very hard for me to give a straight answer because we don't have data for that, you know, like whether or not what differentiates that. It's how much the molecule sits at the receptor sites. But I will say that, whenever we speak about transformational effects, with psychedelics, we speak about long term effects that are there after the also after the drug has left the system. And these transformational effects. at the psychological level, we speak about that we speak about mental health. We speak about changes in personality, we, we could think about also changes in beliefs. Big part of the work that I'm about to publish soon has to do with you know, how your metaphysical beliefs or how your beliefs about the nature of reality change. That's the single experience. And that can happen by an acute experience and acute flash. You know, similar to what happens when people have near death experiences, they have a very significant experience that changes their outlook in life. And I think it's reasonable to argue that there could be also a plasticity corollary of that the brain also might change on some degree on some level. So I'm not entirely sure whether or not the sitting at the receptor site is, is the key mechanism. But that's a hypothesis that could be tested in a lab.
Nick Jikomes 1:20:18
Are there any other labs out there doing research on DMT, or five Meo DMT? Right now? And if so, what are the basic questions that are being asked today?
Chris Timmermann 1:20:27
I think there was a, there's more and more, I know that there's one in Basel, which is doing some, I think they're also doing some DMT extended infusions. I think the University of Yale is doing some experiments with DMT. They're more focused on so the basil, people are probably more focused, I would presume on basic pharmacological understandings. hormone levels. Yeah, basic molecular mechanisms and so on. The people that Yeley I think are more involved in consciousness research, similar to us to a certain extent. Apart from that, I don't know much of any, I know that there's some also some actual industry, the commercial endeavors to study DMT for therapeutic purposes.
Nick Jikomes 1:21:30
So So there's other research happening, but it's still relatively sparse. Yeah. And how did you? How did you actually get into this area to begin with? Would did you start studying psychedelics and DMT? In your postdoc? Or were you already studying this in graduate school? How did you actually sort of journey into this research space?
Chris Timmermann 1:21:52
So I'm a psychologist, by training, very interested always in the human minds. I'm also from South America, specifically from Chile. In South America, there is a an interesting relationship with psychoactive compounds. And the history and the culture around it. And the way that it's still permeating to this day, influencing the culture. At least the interface between Indigenous and Western cultures or traditions, is a very interesting one. And it's an it's a mix, which is very much alive to this day. So I was very, always very interested in drugs, always very interested in how drugs change the mind, and how drugs provide workings into the human mind. Somehow, it provides clues. The idea that you can manipulate minds, through drugs, I find to this day very fascinating, is a way to change our experience of reality through a very chemical, sort of like nature and a very nature based biological way of understanding it. So it's a super interesting interface between mind and life, mind and matter. So I did my first degree in psychology, I then did my Master's in neuroscience. And I did that when I was living in Italy. And when I was there, I found out about this conference here happening in London, which is called breakin convention. And that was in 2013. And I came to this conference and met my colleagues of today. I did a PhD on it. And that's how I got in, essentially, I, yeah, conference and found out all the amazing work that this was a time before Michael Pollan wrote his book. So this crazy wave that's happening now was kind of building up. But it certainly wasn't at the level that it is. So it was an interesting time in which was still fairly underground. And it was rising, but it was discretely rising.
Nick Jikomes 1:24:27
So that book was, was that influential. You actually saw you saw the effects in the research world?
Chris Timmermann 1:24:34
Well, that you? Yeah, I mean, I was doing my PhD when that book came out. I did my PhD on DMT. So So I was in my graduate work when I got straightforwardly into psychedelics. And it changed everything. Like it's it's, you know, cultural impacts. Nowadays you have retreat centers. All around. In many places of the world doing this see my legally are completely legal. And many of their clients are newcomers, if you want to feel who have read this book
Nick Jikomes 1:25:18
for people that are interested in having an experience with a psychedelic like DMT, or like psilocybin or something else, assuming that they have safe and legal access to it somewhere, wherever they might be interested in taking it, do you have any general advice beyond the generic advice that's sort of out there in popular culture for how people should prepare for these types of experiences or, or whether or not how they should decide whether or not it might be appropriate for them.
Chris Timmermann 1:25:54
From a harm reduction perspective. The usual, the usual sort of like, advice is to one form very well about what might be going on what could happen during an experience, look into sites that provide good information about that harm reduction, specific sites are good. So we have, for example, drug science here in the UK, which provides very good information on that. And then the next big advice apart from information is whatever sort of experience people are having, that they're having with somebody who knows what that experience is about, and is a trustworthy person to do that, with any sort of mechanism of accountability, if something goes wrong, I think it's important. And I think is one of the positive things about legalization, in some places, is, you know, facilitators need to be held accountable to a certain extent of what might go wrong. And if something goes wrong, so any sort of facilitator that will guide through that experience, that they have a screening process, they make sure that you should or you should not have that experience, for example.
Any any facilitator who is very explicit about what can happen during a session, what cannot happen during a session, crucially important, in a minimum of ethical standards. And that that's, that is what comes to mind at this point.
Nick Jikomes 1:27:58
So anyone who's facilitating an experience like this, that is not screening people in and out with some set of criteria and who's not advertising potential adverse outcomes, that would be a red flag.
Chris Timmermann 1:28:16
I would say broadly speaking, yes. I think that that I mean, that the real crucial elements on the safety aspects of psychedelics, all the risks are psychological. But the real crucial element is the interpersonal elements is who is guiding that session, who is providing a container for that experience, which can have challenging psychological moments to be dealt in the right way.
Nick Jikomes 1:28:49
And before we let you get back to the lab, are there any final thoughts that you want to leave people with about this general area? Or about your research and where it's going?
Chris Timmermann 1:29:01
Um, I think I think we're entering interesting times in which the use of psychedelics is becoming very mainstream. I think that might be an opportunity, for change for needed change on the way that we look at the Worlds. Like we don't know if that will be the case. I think some people are hopeful of that. I would say in general, that you know, it's to remark that the use of plastic like classic psychedelics have a good safety profile in terms of physiological effects. But it's at the level of it's at the psychological level of level of experience where things become a bit more tricky, a bit more nuanced. And I find that the better we are at developing cultural spaces, cultural devices, integration groups for people to have to talk about their experiences that might be challenging. Generating instances for good skillful guidance. The development of therapists and facilitators and so on, are all for the better, you know, are the good things, I would say, in general, the best way for people to approach this is to engage via community to these experiences. Because it's this interpersonal factor, which is so important for the, for the outcomes to be safe and beneficial. So I would say yeah, don't take it lightly, you know, take it with respect and, and, and try to engage with it from many different levels. Not just a simple level, not just a simple level of pleasure or fun. But also maybe no intellectual level, trying to figure out what's happening, you know, form oneself about the experience, or the risks behind it, experience, and so on. So yeah, that that would be my, I guess, my general message, things. Think about it with setting setting in mind with context in mind with history in mind.
Nick Jikomes 1:31:22
Alright, well, Chris Timmerman, thank you for your time. Really appreciate it. I had a lot of fun talking to you, and have a good day.
Chris Timmermann 1:31:29
Thank you, Nick for having