I am currently in a plant systematics class, and for my final project I have to do a research paper on the Anadenanthera peregrina. The common derivative chemical from the bean of this plant is DMT.
While I can find plenty on the biogeographics, distributions, uses, etc… I have yet to find a good website or printed source that gives a clue as to what the hallucinogenic effects are like.

Since I am on the Straight Dope, I thought I’d throw this question out there. If you personally have tried it, or know someone who’s tried it, or hypothetically know what the effects are like. Please, feel free to share!

Haven’t tried it myself, but Terence McKenna has.

The vaults of Erowid are a great source for stuff like you seek.
Google “DMT erowid” and click on the first result. They’ve a collection of DMT related books, personal experiences and the like.

DMT? Whaddizi? Dunwich Mean Time?

I suppose you can’t cite Wikipedia directly, but maybe it has some cites you can dig up.

I do recall seeing elsewhere the mention of machine elves as a side effect.

Wow! Thanks! It actually has quite a bit of first time experiences. Wikipedia, as a source, I cannot use, but some of the sources actually include Erowid. I can’t believe I missed that. Although I was looking from the Anadenanthera peregrine source.

The machine elf thing is very interesting, I will have to look more into that.

I guess a more helpful way of approaching this is if I presented my hypothesis.

Basically, there are two types of selection, Natural and Artificial. Natural selection is a trait that nature selects for due to fitness, whereas artificial selection is breeding of a plant for a desired trait. The earliest instance of DMT use dates back to mummies, where carbon dating found them to be about four thousand years old. So it is safe to assume that this drug has been used for a long time.
What I want to look at is, given the Anadenanthera peregrine’s current morphology, characteristics, etc. is that influenced by natural selection or artificial selection, or modulated by both. This leads to the question as to why it is hallucinogenic, and was that shaped by society or did the plant shape society.

An old friend of mine worked with The KLF, and one of the duo (I forget which) became very enthusiastic about DMT. At first he would see Grey aliens; after a while they would be talking in strange languages, and then he would be able to have a full conversation. DMT was quite legal then; not now though.

I’ve also heard it referred to as “businessman’s lunch”, a reference to the short (real-time) duration of the experience and bonus after-effects of feeling refreshed and alert.

Erowid as others have mentioned is a great source, as is… One should note that there’s a pretty big distinction between the two types of usage: 1) smoked, pure distilled DMT and 2) ingested DMT usually used with some kind of MAOI inhibitor (see Ayahuasca).

Before the advent of the World Wide Web, there were these things called books which people used to get information. I remember in high school going to the library and finding all the books on recreational drugs and hallucinogens. Many of them contained detailed accounts of their effects, often in the form of personal anecdotes. Dimethyltryptamine was certainly among them; I remember quite clearly being struck by reports of the short duration of its effects. This lead to it being called “the businessman’s acid” since you could allegedly take it on your lunch break and come back to the office in the proper state of mind to resume work.

Do you have any evidence at all that the plant has ever been cultivated? All the info I can see with a cursory search says that it’s a wild gathered species.

Of course if it has never been cultivated then it can not have been influenced by artificial selection.

Plants are hallucinogenic because it prevents animals from feeding on them. That much at least is simple. The plant produces a neurotoxin to make it unpalatable, and some of those neurotoxins have hallucinogenic effects in the human brain.

So no, it wans’t shaped by society. It was shaped by the predators, most likely insects, of the plant.

And I completely agree with you there. But in the respect that, when humans first “discovered” the plant, since then, there had to have been some sort of selective pressures. If use of the beans or barks induces some sort of hallucinogenic reaction, then it would only be a small inductive leap to say that the society in question would look for a stronger effect. From this leap, you can build upon it, and guess that the society would look at the sister groups, or the entire monophyletic group stemming the synapomorphy.
From here, is it fair to argue from the current analog of cannabis? For example, Cannabis could have evolved THC through the ages to fend off predators, but the clade possesses many phylogenetically similar species with slight variations of morphology and trait. This allows for the current application of genetic knowledge to enhance a specific trait, would the society that used Andenanthera shaped its development in the same way?

That’s a pretty gross statement to make given the great variation in natural compounds and the equally great variation in chemical structure and effect on humans. Especially in this particular case given that DMT is naturally produced in the human body (albeit at lower levels) and is not active orally unless taken with another compound. Certainly it’s one of the myriad reasons, but not a likely one in this case, and far from the universal reason.