"There’s been much speculation pertaining to the Wim Hof Method (WHM) and dimethyltryptamine (DMT), an endogenous hallucinogen produced by the human body. This is due to the fact that many practitioners of WHM report having hallucinatory/visionary experiences especially when partaking in the breathing exercises for extended periods of time (over 30 consecutive minutes). It’s a reasonable hypothesis based on there being no other endogenous hallucinogens currently identified (other than DMT related compounds 5-MEO-DMT & Bufotenin).
In the past, much of the discussion surrounding endogenous DMT has been in regards to the pineal gland. This gland is a small endocrine organ located in the middle of the mammalian brain. It was found to secrete DMT in a 2013 rat study published in the journal Biomedical Chromatography. Being that the internal physiology of rats, humans, and many mammalian counterparts are extremely similar, it is believed that the pineal gland of humans also secretes DMT. In addition to secreting DMT, the pineal gland was also found to contain the enzyme necessary (Indolethylamine N-Methyltransferase (INMT)) to convert tryptamine to DMT. This enzyme (INMT) is also found throughout the lungs which provided the foundation for the hypothesis that the lungs were a major source of DMT.
However, earlier this year (2019), a ground-breaking study out of the Borjigin Lab at the University of Michigan was published showcasing that INMT is found throughout the cerebral cortex, the choroid plexus, and the pineal gland of rats and humans. The study was titled, “Biosynthesis and Extracellular Concentrations of N,N-dimethyltryptamine (DMT) in Mammalian Brain“. In addition to the data indicating that DMT is produced throughout the brain, it was also found that extracellular levels of DMT in the brain were comparable to serotonin, dopamine, and norepinephrine in live rats. This is an important finding based on the question of whether physiological relevant levels of DMT can be produced in the brain."
"From the many discussions regarding DMT and WHM throughout the internet, its seems as though it is a very polarizing topic. People who have experienced visionary states from prolonged WHM are confident in stating that DMT is being upregulated following the process. Others claim that because WHM does not induce precisely the same experience as a breakthrough dose of exogenous DMT that there is no correlation. One thing I must remind both parties about is in regards to the DMT study carried out by Dr. Rick Strassman in the 1990’s. He injected volunteers with 4 levels of DMT (0.05 mg/kg, 0.1 mg/kg, 0.2 mg/kg, 0.4 mg/kg) with the two lowest levels being sub-psychedelic meaning that there were no visionary experiences. Instead, the volunteers experienced deep euphoria following the low doses. This indicates that DMT can possibly be upregulated within the human body without inducing a full-blown mystical experience. Euphoria is an emotion that is widely reported following extended WHM utilization.
Yes, it’s a complicated topic being that nothing within the body acts singularly. There are wide ranging fluctuations of many biochemicals that correlate with changes in perception. In 2015, a rat study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences observed that at the moment following asphyxia induced cardiac arrest, a dramatic surge of many neurotransmitters occurred in the brain simultaneously. Serotonin levels increased by 2200%, dopamine increased by 400%, norepinephrine increased by 1200%, GABA increased by 800%, and adenosine increased by 1800%. The recent study by the University of Michigan measured DMT levels increasing 600% within 30 minutes following cardiac arrest. It’s clear that if there is a biochemical correlate to the “Near Death Experience” (and even WHM), it is taking place in a flood of many chemicals influencing the experience rather than just one. In the same vein, exogenous psychedelics such as LSD and even DMT operate by inducing a cascade effect of chemicals within the brain. LSD causes an increase of glutamate, an increase in serotonin, a decrease in norepinephrine, and a fluctuation in dopamine. Strassman’s DMT study measured significant increases in the levels of corticotropin, cortisol, prolactin, and growth hormone.
In conclusion, I believe that WHM definitely upregulates endogenous DMT (and likely 5-MEO-DMT as well) based on its effect on mood, emotion, neuroplasticity, site of synthesis, as well as inducing some profound visionary states. This doesn’t preclude many other endogenously produced chemicals from being upregulated as well. For whatever reason, the topic of DMT stirs up much emotion based discussion. However, when looking at the facts surrounding the latest research regarding not only DMT but the various properties of cerebrospinal fluid, there seems to be enough data supporting the WHM-DMT connection. This is especially in light of many mainstream theories and industries built upon much weaker data points."
"A number of other researchers have found similarly higher levels of RBM3 in babies and heart and stroke patients who have been made hypothermic.
What these findings show, says Prof Mallucci, is that - just like hibernating mammals - human beings produce the "cold-shock" protein.
But the risks associated with getting cold outweigh any potential benefits, so cold water immersion is certainly not a potential dementia treatment, she says.
The challenge now, she says, is to find a drug that stimulates the production of the protein in humans and - more important still - to prove it really does help delay dementia.
Dementia is predominantly a disease of the old, so even a relatively short delay in the onset of illness could have huge benefits for individuals, and the wider population.
Prof Mallucci says: "If you slowed the progress of dementia by even a couple of years on a whole population, that would have an enormous impact economically and health-wise."
Source: BBC News
Author: By Justin Rowlatt
Chief environment correspondent
October 20, 2020