A critical review of reports of endogenous psychedelic N, N-dimethyltryptamines in humans: 1955-2010

Drug Test Anal. Jul-Aug 2012;4(7-8):617-35. doi: 10.1002/dta.422. Epub 2012 Feb 28.


Three indole alkaloids that possess differing degrees of psychotropic/psychedelic activity have been reported as endogenous substances in humans; N,N-dimethyltryptamine (DMT), 5-hydroxy-DMT (bufotenine, HDMT), and 5-methoxy-DMT (MDMT). We have undertaken a critical review of 69 published studies reporting the detection or detection and quantitation of these compounds in human body fluids. In reviewing this literature, we address the methods applied and the criteria used in the determination of the presence of DMT, MDMT, and HDMT. The review provides a historical perspective of the research conducted from 1955 to 2010, summarizing the findings for the individual compounds in blood, urine, and/or cerebrospinal fluid. A critique of the data is offered that addresses the strengths and weaknesses of the methods and approaches to date. The review also discusses the shortcomings of the existing data in light of more recent findings and how these may be overcome. Suggestions for the future directions of endogenous psychedelics research are offered.

Publication types

  • Historical Article
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Bufotenin / blood
  • Bufotenin / cerebrospinal fluid
  • Bufotenin / history
  • Bufotenin / urine
  • Hallucinogens / blood*
  • Hallucinogens / cerebrospinal fluid
  • Hallucinogens / history
  • Hallucinogens / urine*
  • History, 20th Century
  • History, 21st Century
  • Humans
  • Methoxydimethyltryptamines / blood
  • Methoxydimethyltryptamines / cerebrospinal fluid
  • Methoxydimethyltryptamines / history
  • Methoxydimethyltryptamines / urine
  • N,N-Dimethyltryptamine / blood*
  • N,N-Dimethyltryptamine / cerebrospinal fluid
  • N,N-Dimethyltryptamine / history
  • N,N-Dimethyltryptamine / urine*


  • Hallucinogens
  • Methoxydimethyltryptamines
  • Bufotenin
  • N,N-Dimethyltryptamine