For many years, researchers have suspected that the brain produces a natural hallucinogenic drug called DMT. This has not been proven, however, and it is still unclear what role this substance plays in the normal function of the brain.
It is thought that dmt produced in the body works as a non-selective agonist at most or all of the serotonin receptors, particularly the 5-HT2A receptor, which has been linked to many effects including hallucination. DMT has also been shown to exert its pharmacological properties by binding to non-serotonin receptors, such as the trans-activating amino acid receptor (TAAR) and sigma-1.
In 2013, Borjigin and her colleagues reported the first ever direct evidence of DMT produced in a mammalian brain. This work revealed trace amounts of DMT in the pineal gland of rats, a brain structure involved in regulating sleep cycles.
Exploring the Fascinating Role of DMT in the Human Body: Current Research and Theories
Using in situ hybridization, the scientists found that specific cells in the rat brain contain two enzymes that are fundamentally needed to biosynthesize DMT. These cells were not found only in the pineal gland, but in other parts of the rat brain that are important for higher-order brain functions.
The study suggests that the rat brain has a preexisting mechanism to produce DMT on its own. This discovery may lead to new therapeutic applications for regulating and altering endogenous DMT levels and function. It also opens the door to a more comprehensive understanding of the hallucinogenic properties and potential therapeutic uses of DMT. In addition, it suggests that many existing drugs already exert some of their pharmacological properties through DMT-related mechanisms.