Endogenous tryptamines and dissociatives and NDE's Jul 29, 2013 16:08:05 GMT -5
Post by DMtryptamine285 on Jul 29, 2013 16:08:05 GMT -5
It is extremely difficult to discuss esoterical concepts while remaining unbiased, partially due to the subjectivity of the trancendential experience, and the tendancy to commit the mind projection fallacy as well as other fallacies when discussing any form of spirituality, be it organized religion or occult spirituality. Subject matter such as this strikes a deep chord within our souls, or pineal glands/psyches if you have a problem with the word soul. The purpose of this particular piece is to inspire thought without making generalized statements, however pure objectivity in the realm of complete subjectivity is difficult to maintain, so bear with me here...
Raymond Moody was a researcher who recorded and compared the experiences of 150 people who died or almost died and then recovered, There where many different themes reported during NDEs but there are some features of the experience that seemed rather common.
◾A feeling of peace and inner tranquility, a sense of relief
◾A buzzing or ringing sound
◾The tunnel experience (the experience of being pulled through a dark tunnel toward a bright light)
◾A sense of rising upwards (interpreted by some as rising up toward heaven)
◾encounters with interdimensional Beings (often described as people of light)
◾Deep states of introspection (also described as a life review, or seeing ones life flash before ones eyes.)
One of the most fascinating things about the moody experiments is that the subjects reported being able to see exactly what was occuring on the operating table, or in the ICU, and the doctors and nurses later confirmed that many of them where accurate, which is odd because they should have been unconcious or merely hallucinating because there brain was shutting down, for the most part western medical science ignores the NDE because it is so hard to objectively study an experience of this nature.
Raymond moody wasnt the only researcher to extensively study near death experiences, Kenneth Ring was also a psychologist who spent most of his career studying accounts of near death experiences. Mr Ring also noted how there where certain similarities between most near death experiences. He proposed that there was a 5-stage continuum to the near death experience.
◾Seeing the Light
◾Entering the Light
As we can see this is very similar to what Moody described. One must wonder, are these people really getting a glimse into the afterlife, or is this all just a trick of the mind, but if it is just a trick how does one see with such clarity what is occuring in there environment from above themselves, how can ones conciousness leave the body and one still be concious after there heart has stopped beating? These are questions that have puzzled and intrigued scientists for a long time, and remains to this day a medical and existential mystery.
Enter Rick Strassman, the first person in over 20 years to be abllowed to experiment with hallucinogens in humans, during the course of his research (The Spirit Molecule) it was found that there where striking similarities between DMT induced hallucinations and Near Death Experiences. DMT is a naturally occuring tryptamine that is produced indogenously in the human brain and can also be found in many plants, It works by working as an agonist at 5ht (serotonin) subtype 2A receptors and induces a profoundly altered state of conciousness, which can include spiritual experiences, encounters with interdimensional beings, the experience of being sucked through a vortex into a blinding light, and a buzzing/ringing in the ears during the onset, and in some cases of feeling of peace and tranquility...doesnt that sound familiar, in fact that is the exact same way in which moody described a near death experience.
Strassman theorized that DMT was produced in the pineal gland, also known as the third eye (crown) chakra by practicioners of ayurvedic tradition, or the Crown Sefirah in Judaism, He also noted that the pineal gland first becomes visible at approximately the 49th day of fetal development, which is the same length of time that the tibetan book of the dead teaches that it takes for the souls of the recently dead to "reincarnate".
Strassman still has yet to provide evidence for the exact mechanism of endogenous DMT production within the pineal gland, Although it can be isolated in minute amounts in human urine, and the necessary ingredients to biosynthesize DMT can be found in the pineal gland, although an exact biosynthesis remains unknown, and the levels natually occuring in the human body are below the threshold for psychoactive effects. Strassman Hypothesized that During REM sleep and near death/Out of Body experiences, levels of DMT are perhaps elevated enough to induce a psychedelic state.
DMT containing plants, namely ayahuasca, are concidered entheogens by many cultures (ethneo - meaning god, Gen - meaning within) as the plants induce introspective mindstates and allow one the unique oppertunity to see the world without any preconcieved notions of impossibility. its like wiping your slate clean allowing you to see the world through virgin eyes. DMT is neither physically toxic, nor addictive, and yet it is a schedule one drug and is illegal to possess, consume, distribute, or internally possess...even though it is naturally produced within our own bodies, so I guess we are all walking felonies.
The use of exogenous (produced outside the body, ie: in plants/nature) hallucinogens has been practiced by followers of many different religious or spiritual belief systems throughout history. R Gordon Wasson (ethnomycologism/ethnobotanist) hypothesized that the kykeon of the elusinian mysteries contained ergot (a hallucinogenic fungus containing Lysergic Acid Amide, among other compounds), as well as identifying what he believed to be the soma of the Rig-Veda as the psychoactive mushroom "Amanita Muscaria" which contains the Hallucinogenic compounds muscimol and Ibotenic Acid.
John Marco Allegro (A scholor who challanged orthodox views of the dead sea scrolls, The Bible, And the history of religion), was the only secular researcher on a mostly christian panel assigned to research the implications of the dead sea scrolls, Allegro believed that Essenism was at the core of christianity, he drew numerous parallels between the bible and the dead sea scrolls, challenging many commonly held beliefs along the way, which caused much conflict between him and the rest of the catholic researchers on the panel.
Allegro was a linguist and philogist, he studied the language of the bible and the dead sea scrolls and published numerous books on gnostic beginnings of the christian faith, perhaps the most provocative and controversial was "the sacred mushroom and the cross" in which he proposed that early christianity was at least influenced to some degree by entheogenic drug use and firtility practices. However to the best of my knowledge allegros work is not accepted as fact and is merely an interpretation, no more or less valid than any others. In the interest of maintaining objectivity, I will not go into depth on John Marco Allegro here as there are just too many unknowns at this point in time to make a statement without drifting into pure speculation.
The point of discussing wasson and allegro was too shed light on a little known and scarcely discussed subject...the historical use of ethnobotanicals, Tribes in the amazon have used DMT as an entheogen for centuries and it is still used today, Accounts of experiences with both ayahuasca and vaporized DMT sound so strikingly similar to accounts of Near Death Experiences that one cannot help but wonder what process the chemical plays in experiencing conciousness independant of the physical body.
If Dimethyltryptamine is indeed responsible for near death experiences, and during a near death experience one can percieve details in the environment around them that are just too accurate to be a hallucination, then where does that leave us spiritually. The afterlife has been a source of much debate since the dawn of time, many believe there is nothing after this life, myself included before I began looking into conciousness research. Although there is no conclusive proof that conciousness trascends physical death, the wealth of annectdoctal information available is certainly thought provoking.
The tryptamine model isnt the only model used for near death experiences, the NMDA antagonist model is worth looking into as well. Dr Karl Jansen noted many parrallels between a dissociative experience (induced by ketamine) and near death experiences by causing a blockade of N-methyl-D-aspartate receptors for the neurotransmitter glutamate. According to Jansens research ...
"Conditions which precipitate NDE's (hypoxia, ischaemia, hypoglycaemia, temporal lobe epilepsy etc.) have been shown to release a flood of glutamate, overactivating NMDA receptors resulting in neuro ('excito') toxicity. Ketamine prevents this neurotoxicity. There are substances in the brain which bind to the same receptor site as ketamine. Conditions which trigger a glutamate flood may also trigger a flood of neuroprotective agents which bind to NMDA receptors to protect cells, leading to an altered state of consciousness like that produced by ketamine"
NMDA antagonists work in a significantly different way than the 5HT2A agonists discussed earlier, these drugs work by cutting off the brain from the body in a sense, removing external sensory information leading to a prolonged state of sensory deprivation. When the brain is deprived of sensory information, the imagination is launched into overdrive to compensate for the lack of visual, auditory, and tactile information your brain is used to experiencing on a day to day basis. NMDA antagonists include drugs such as Ketamine, PCP, MK-801, and many others. Unlike the serotonergic psychedelics however these drugs are far more toxic, and can lead to habituation and psychological addiction.
According to Jansen, "Ketamine produces an altered state of consciousness which is very different from that of the 'psychedelic' drugs such as LSD (Grinspoon and Bakalar, 1981). It can reproduce all features of the NDE, including travel through a dark tunnel into light, the conviction that one is dead, 'telepathic communion with God', hallucinations, out-of-body experiences and mystical states (see ketamine references above). If given intravenously, it has a short action with an abrupt end. Grinspoon and Bakalar (1981, p34) wrote of: '...becoming a disembodied mind or soul, dying and going to another world. Childhood events may also be re-lived. The loss of contact with ordinary reality and the sense of participation in another reality are more pronounced and less easily resisted than is usually the case with LSD. The dissociative experiences often seem so genuine that users are not sure that they have not actually left their bodies."
Again we can see that the effects described are very similar to those reported by the participants in moodys research. However these biological processes are still not the only factors in a near death experience. Temporal Lobe seizures have also been shown to induce experiences similar to near death experiences, and Im sure hypoxia plays a role as well. I beleive that these experiences cannot be explained by one factor alone but it is a multitude of chemical processes, neurological degeneration, and long held cultural beliefs that allows these experiences to manifest.
Perhaps the compounds are acting as a neurotransmitter from our "creators" mind to ours, a direct line to "god", "allah", "Jesus", "Shiva", "plant spirits", or any other name cultures have historically used to explain some of these mysterious phenomenon, or its all just an intricate hallucination. No matter what you believe though, there is most definately something unexplainable occuring here, how can a chemical cause these experiences that are so closely related to experiences reported to occur immediately after physical death, and furthermore how can people recount events happening around them they couldnt possibly have known in amazing detail, while medically dead or unconcious.
Near Death Experiences and Hallucinogenic drugs are not the only times on can experience the sensation of being out of ones body. Sleep deprivation, apnea, and sleep paralysis can induce these states too, they can also occur spontaniously in normal REM sleep.
Sleep Paralysis is an interesting state in which one can be caught between a waking state, and a dream state. It is still not clear what causes this condition although it can occur when one is startled while sleeping, sleeping in an awkward position, or a number of other factors. What is important to understand here is that SP can lead to a hallucinatory state in which the subject can experience fancifull dreamlike visualizations as well as hallucinations of realistic creatures often called "shadow people", while the sleep paralysis experience is significantly different than most near death experiences as SP tends to evoke a feeling of emense terror, a small group of people have reported very dark NDEs that are very similar to the reported sleep paralysis experience.
While there are similarities between sleep paralysis and out of body/near death experiences it should be noted these are two completely different states. one can however experience an out of body experience very similar to a near death experience while asleep though. This is usually referred to as astral travel, some people have the ability to enter this state at will, while it occurs spontaniously to others. The experiences reported from so called "astral travel" are also very similar to the near death experiences reported by Moodys test subjects.
A Canadian neurosurgon named Wilder Penfield discovered that out of body experiences could be reproduced by applying electrical current to an area of the brain known as the temporal lobe. Electrical stimulation of this part of the brain caused test subjects to experience reality from different points of view (outside the body) and even transported them to entirely different rooms, or parts of their lives.
Here is the abstract from a study by Willoughby B. Britton and Richard R. Bootzin regarding temporal lobe seizures and near death experiences.
"Many studies in humans suggest that altered temporal lobe functioning, especially functioning in the right temporal lobe, is involved in mystical and religious experiences. We investigated temporal lobe functioning in individuals who reported having transcendental “near-death experiences” during life-threatening events. These individuals were found to have more temporal lobe epileptiform electroencephalographic activity than control subjects and also reported significantly more temporal lobe epileptic symptoms. Contrary to predictions, epileptiform activity was nearly completely lateralized to the left hemisphere. The near-death experience was not associated with dysfunctional stress reactions such as dissociation, posttraumatic stress disorder, and substance abuse, but rather was associated with positive coping styles. Additional analyses revealed that near-death experiencers had altered sleep patterns, specifically, a shorter duration of sleep and delayed REM sleep relative to the control group. These results suggest that altered temporal lobe functioning may be involved in the near-death experience and that individuals who have had such experiences are physiologically distinct from the general population."
To Be Continued
Cotman, C. W. and Monaghan, D. T. (1987). Chemistry and anatomy of excitatory amino acid systems. In: Meltzer, H. Y. (1987) pp197 - 218.
Anis, N.A., Berry, S. C., Burton, N. R. and Lodge, D. (1983). The dissociative anaesthetics ketamine and phencyclidine, selectively reduce excitation of central mammalian neurons by N methyl-aspartate. British Journal of Pharmacology, 79, 565 - 575.
The Ketamine Model of the Near Death Experience: A Central Role for the NMDA Receptor. www.mindspring.com/~scottr/nde/jansen1.html
DMT: The Spirit Molecule: A Doctor’s Revolutionary Research Into the Biology of Near-Death and Mystical Experiences
ALISSA HIRSHFELD-FLORES, M.A., LMFT, Am J Psychiatry 2002;159:1448-1449. 10.1176/appi.ajp.159.8.1448
Strassman, Rick (2001). "Part I: The Building Blocks; Chapter 4: The Pineal: Meet the Spirit Gland". DMT: The Spirit Molecule. Rochester, VT, USA: Park Street Press. pp. 58–59. ISBN 0-89281-927-8. ("Chapter summaries". rickstrassman.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=61&Itemid=60. Retrieved 27 February 2012. )
Raymond Moody, Life After Life: the investigation of a phenomenon – survival of bodily death, San Francisco, CA: HarperSanFrancisco, 2001. ISBN 0-06-251739-2.
Moody and Perry, Coming Back: a psychiatrist explores past life journeys, pp. 11-28.