Have you ever seen the 2011 movie “Limitless”?
It stars Bradley Cooper as a middle-aged, overweight guy struggling with writer’s block and a wretched career. He decides to take a pill called NZT-48. This triggers a series of creative rewards: a best-selling novel, a rockin’ bod, and a new skill for picking up the ladies.
Almost as if his brain got a turbo boost…
The wonder drug NZT-48 may be fictional, and the movie may be mediocre, but we may be moving one step closer to hacking our brain’s full potential… with Dimethyltryptamine… or DMT.
Researchers at the Complutense University of Madrid (UCM) have found that the DMT in (which is found in ayahuasca) can help replace dead neurons (or brain cells), which decrease naturally as we age.
Can DMT replicate the wonder drug in Limitless? Will it trigger something else entirely? Let’s find out!
DMT: The New Nootropic
Nootropics is just a fancy name for “smart drugs” or “brain enhancers”. Skeptics may question claims that they can actually speed up thinking. However, there’s no denying that the nootropic business racks up at least $1 Billion each year.
Some examples of nootropic drugs are caffeine — which helps keep the mind more alert than usual. And, not forgetting, Adderall — a prescription drug typically used to treat ADHD and narcolepsy, but also popular with college students studying for exams.
Now, DMT might just be stepping into the arena as a contender for the title of Best Stimulant in Recent Years. José Ángel Morales, a researcher in the UCM and CIBERNED Department of Cellular Biology, said:
“This capacity to modulate brain plasticity suggests that it has great therapeutic potential for a wide range of psychiatric and neurological disorders, including neurodegenerative diseases.”
Those diseases may include Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s — both of which take their toll upon the elderly, and even more so in recent years. And while humans continue to generate new brain cells, the frequency decreases greatly as we grow older.
Hallucinating Isn’t Mandatory
In a new study, the type-2A brain receptor (which causes the hallucinogenic effect) was changed to a sigma type receptor. This means that DMT can be given to patients only looking for the “brain booster” effect, not the trip itself.
This is good news for elderly patients who suffer from neurodegenerative diseases, such as Alzheimer’s. Would you like your grandma, for example, to have to have an intense trip on DMT to create new brain cells? Of course not!
“The challenge is to activate our dormant capacity to form neurons and thus replace the neurons that die as a result of the disease. This study shows that DMT is capable of activating neural stem cells… forming new neurons.”
Not Just Neurons, But Other Brain Cells Too!
Apart from neurons, the researchers found that DMT can help create other brain cells, such as astrocytes, which fix damaged tissue, and oligodendrocytes, which are linked to higher IQ .
This comes after 4 years of experiments on mice — both in vitro (with cells in test tubes and beakers) and in vivo (within the living animal itself).
The mice showed “sped-up” and increased brain capacity after being given DMT, said José Antonio López, a co-author of the study, and researcher in UCM’s Faculty of Psychology.
“Previous studies performed on rodents and primates, and more interestingly on humans, suggest that ayahuasca infusion has antidepressant activity, a therapeutic effect…”
They also established a direct link between DMT and improved memory and learning processing, due to faster brain cell “rebirth”, if you will:
“…stimulation observed after DMT treatment correlates with an improvement in spatial learning and memory tasks in vivo.”
Great, How Soon Can They Perfect It?
So, how soon can they perfect it?
Short answer: not quite yet, as science has yet to figure out how to package DMT specially as a brain-boosting pill. If DMT wants to follow the lead of psilocybin in the medical stakes, they’ll have to work that one out…
But rest assured, they “guarantee future research” regarding this compound. Too powerful to be ignored, perhaps?
Psychedelic hero Joe Rogan also swears by DMT — so much so that he once took the drug 3 times in one day. (NOT recommended!)
What do you think?
Should they remove the trippy effect from DMT for the medical benefits? Or would you rather have the “very slippery” (as Joe Rogan describes it) DMT experience as is? (I guess it depends on the occasion!)
Share your thoughts down below!