Ep102 – Hamilton Morris, Star of Hamilton’s Pharmacopeia
If you’re interested in exploring the burgeoning world of psychedelics, you’ll find no better guide than Hamilton Morris. The 34-year old, 6’1, scientist, documentary filmmaker, cultural anthropologist and son of Errol (The Thin Blue Line) Morris has spent the last decade traveling to over 30 countries to shed light into darker corners of the psychedelic world. Hamilton is a scary smart, affable and big hearted companion — so much so that many men, women and other-gender identified people I know have somewhat of a crush on him.
In our conversation, Hamilton, a resident of Williamsburg, Brooklyn, speaks openly about some recent episodes of the third, and sadly, final season of Hamilton’s Pharmacopeia. He tells me that Xenon, a rare noble gas available in Russia and the Czech Republic, qualifies as “a near perfect high.” He reveals that his 5-day immersion in an iboga ceremony in West Africa allowed him “to stand outside of myself and see my behavior, my relationships, my life history. with an objective, dispassionate perspective that was unbelievably beneficial.”
And he does something rarely seen in journalism, he admits he made a mistake. In an episode in Series 1, he was fooled by an imposter who claimed to be Albert Most, the author of The Psychedelic Toad of the Sonoran Desert, the 1984 pamphlet that first revealed that the venom of the Bufo alvarius toad was a powerful psychedelic (otherwise known as 5 MEO DMT) when smoked. In this podcast, Hamilton recounts how being hoodwinked actually led him to meet the real Albert Most (real name Ken Nelson) just six weeks before he died from Parkinson’s Disease. The journey of that episode is one of the highlights of Series 3.
In fact, meeting Ken led Hamilton to republish a new edition of The Psychedelic Toad of the Sonoran Desert, which also includes Morris’s formula for synthesizing the 5 MEO DMT compound. If you wish to order a copy, not only will you own of a classic piece of psychedelic literature, but your money will go to fund research into Parkinson’s Disease. Learn more by tuning into the last ⅓ of this great conversation.
Hamilton Morris: Ibogaine, Dimethyltryptamine (DMT), Ayahuasca, 5-MeO-DMT, Xenon Gas, Amphetamines, Psychedelics, Drugs, Society, Hamilton’s Pharmacopeia | #6
Nick talks to Hamilton Morris, creator of the show, “Hamilton’s Pharmacopeia,” currently in its third and final season. They discuss the newest season of his show, including the content itself and what it took to actually make the show. They also talked about a variety of drugs and their effects, ranging from methamphetamine and ketamine, to various forms of DMT, to ibogaine and xenon gas.
Athletic Greens, comprehensive daily nutrition (Free 1-year supply Vitamin D w/ purchase)
Organize your digital highlights & notes w/ Readwise (2 months free w/ sub)
Learn more about our podcast sponsor, Dosist
ABOUT Nick Jikomes:
Nick is a neuroscientist and podcast host. He is currently Director of Science & Innovation at Leafly, a technology startup in the legal cannabis industry. He received a Ph.D. in Neuroscience from Harvard University and a B.S. in Genetics from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.
IN THIS EPISODE
Full audio-only episode Full video episode Show NotesFull episode transcript below. Beware of typos!
Hamilton Morris, thanks for joining us. Having me. Where are you calling in from today? I am in Brooklyn, New York. Alright, and that’s home base for you. That’s where I live. Yes. Is that where you make Hamilton’s pharmacopoeia? Is that where it’s produced? Yes, yeah. So I just started watching season three, I guess a couple weeks ago, I watched episode three, I think on Xenon. Just this morning. What is Hamilton’s pharmacopoeia?
Hamilton Morris 3:04
Hamilton’s pharmacopoeia is a television show that initially was a web series. And before that was a written column in a magazine that I’ve been making since I was 2021 years old. That is about the chemistry and pharmacology and culture surrounding psychoactive drugs.
Nick Jikomes 3:29
And how, what was the actual inspiration for doing this? Like, what’s your background? And how did this even come about?
Hamilton Morris 3:39
Well, I have always been interested in chemistry and science and psychoactive drugs. And I’ve also been interested in film and in journalism. And I think that around the time when I was growing up in the 90s, it was pretty much assumed that anything written about drugs would be disparaging. That was the default mode of discussion of psychoactive drugs. And I think it gave a lot of people a justified distrust of the media, because every single person effectively that was commenting on the subject had no idea what they were talking about. And were mindlessly saying very negative things about these substances and actually causing a lot of harm in doing so even though they may not have realized that that was what they were doing. And so I felt like there was this opportunity to say something honest and and scientifically interesting and beneficial to people about psychoactive drugs, this marginalized subject that’s really actually central to the lives of so many people.
Nick Jikomes 4:59
Yeah, I mean, it’s really sad. to humanity going all the way back, not just the present moment. That was that was something I learned, as I sort of came of age that humans have always been experimenting with psychedelics and psycho actives in every basically every human culture that there has ever been.
Hamilton Morris 5:17
Yeah, no, it’s treated as if it’s this thing that’s separate from science or separate from art or separate from culture, or separate from medicine. And that’s completely absurd. It’s integrated into every facet of almost everyone’s lives. And when we refuse to acknowledge that we do so at our own peril, it doesn’t help anyone. And I think often, the well intentioned idea is if we just don’t talk about these things, or we just exclusively saying negative things about them, maybe people will use them less and be less interested in them. And that will be a way of addressing the negative relationships that some people have with drugs, but it doesn’t work. Clearly. It’s been tried, and it’s not an effective strategy.
Nick Jikomes 6:07
Yeah, it definitely doesn’t work. I mean, I have I have vivid memories from the 90s when I was in grade school, and going to Derrick classes, and just having them point blank tell you that drugs, whatever it is marijuana, heroin, if you try it once you can become physically addicted and overdose. And in some cases, that’s a complete exaggeration. In some cases, that’s a smaller exaggeration. But there was absolutely no education, at least when I was growing up around what drugs actually were and the science behind them. Like we didn’t have a science lesson in what these drugs did, and how they cause their effects or anything like that. It was purely a stigma driven thing, at least in the 90s. And I think, I think that has started to change with your show and with with others. You know, Dr. Carl Hart has a book out right now, that’s pretty interesting. I haven’t read it yet. But I’ve heard him speak about it. So I think it is changing. But it’s definitely been a long time coming in the US at least.
Hamilton Morris 7:09
Yeah, and I get it, you know, for all of the negative things that I say about the way the media portrays psychoactive drugs, I simultaneously understand why things are the way they are, it there’s a lot of parallels with abstinence education, where, you know, if it worked, it would be great, it would prevent the transmission of all STDs, it would prevent all teen pregnancies, it would solve all of the problems associated with sex, if it worked. So I see where people are coming from, it would be it’s a kind of a fantasy, if we can just scare everyone enough, then. Dare I was in this, go for it. Alright, um, but if we could just solve all of the you know, if we could just prevent people from using these things, then there would be no associated problems. And the problem is that you can’t do it, this scare tactics were not effective. And so what you have is you have people that continue to use the substances, but they often are doing so with the false impression that every time they use them, they’re causing terrible damage to their body and mind that what they’re doing is self destructive, that what they’re doing is negative, or, at the very least, they don’t really know what they’re doing, or they do know what they’re doing. And they have no trust for the media or the medical authorities that have lied to them. So it’s really kind of a bad situation in almost any way you slice it. And, and I think that, you know, since we’ve tried it, and it didn’t work, it’s time to try something else. And that’s what I’ve, I’ve tried to do is really just approach this from a different perspective of one that is basically there’s no such thing as a bad drug, period, end of story. And the more you can learn about all these substances, the better equipped you will be to cultivate a beneficial constructive relationship with them, if any relationship at all.
Nick Jikomes 9:22
And so what, what’s your general perspective on drug regulation in the United States? What would be the ideal state? Four for different you know, it’s not gonna be the same for every drug maybe. But on the spectrum of legalization, to criminalization to rescheduling to D scheduling. Where do you think common drugs like say cap, Cannabis, opioids and other things should fall in order to in order to minimize harm overall?
Hamilton Morris 9:51
Yeah, I mean, that’s that’s a complicated question, because there are attributes that a lot of different regulatory frameworks have Recognize, I have always leaned toward a laissez faire attitude toward all these things where really everything is permitted, and with the hope that people will find a usage pattern that is most constructive for themselves. So I think a medical model, and a pharmaceutical model works very well for some people. And I think that that should also be accompanied by the freedom to cultivate cannabis on your own for personal use, if you so desire, the ability to probably sell cannabis in a sort of farmer’s market type scenario, in a maybe less regulated way for people that prefer that sort of distribution framework. And really everything in between. You know, I think that the the goal of all this should be freedom in the way that, you know, foods are distributed, where there is some regulation, there’s government testing, there are certifications for things that are organic or not organic, there are things that can’t be used as pesticides. I mean, I think all of those sorts of regulations are useful to protect the public. But any scenario where people are being locked in cages for the sale of a psychoactive drug is one that makes absolutely no sense to me.
Nick Jikomes 11:20
Yeah, I agree. And I talk to people a lot about legalization versus decriminalization. And for me, one of the one of the key differences between them has to do with quality control. Because if you merely decriminalized drugs, versus you legalize them and have regulations around how they’re produced, that’s gonna lead to a big difference in the purity and safety of what’s actually out there. Yes, yeah. I agree. I mean, yes, I would hope. So let’s go back to the show, actually. So I love the show. And it’s essentially structured, where every episode is pretty much centered on one drug or one type of drug. So can you talk a little bit about, like the first couple of episodes of the new season? And how do you actually figure out what an episode is going to be about? How do you meet these people? How do you come up with the ideas?
Hamilton Morris 12:11
Yeah, well, as much as the episodes are, at least superficially, centered around a drug. It’s often the drugs serves as a springboard to get into a larger issue of one kind or another. So in the methamphetamine episode, it’s about methamphetamine. But it’s also about how government regulation has destroyed a culture of home and Fadiman or methamphetamine synthesis in the United States, and how that has pushed amphetamine manufacturing to foreign countries simultaneously, stripping any connection that Americans had to the chemistry of this substance, and making more methamphetamine available at a lower price than ever before. So it’s sort of about the globalization of the drug trade. It’s about the loss of the chemistry culture in the United States. It’s about addiction. It’s about religion. It’s about, you know, about the fact that most of what we think about these substances are values that we impose upon something that is ultimately inanimate and has no will of its own. So it’s about a lot of different things. But it’s all seen through this lens of methamphetamine.
Nick Jikomes 13:29
Yeah, that was, that was an interesting episode, just to be for those who haven’t seen it yet. A lot of it is Hamilton, in the room in the home, a couple different people who are attempting to make methamphetamine in their kitchen. And it just sort of looks at the reality of what they have to do to try and do that, given all the restrictions. And it was pretty. It wasn’t exactly a fun episode to watch. But it was vivid and eye opening, I would say.
Hamilton Morris 13:57
Yeah, yeah, I mean, I wanted I’ve thought about how best to depict methamphetamine for years, because I think that it’s one of the most misunderstood drugs, of course, that the classic example that’s typically offered is that methamphetamine, a drug that’s primarily used by impoverished people who have little opportunity is considered a deeply stigmatized and attractive unglamorous substance. Whereas amphetamine, a drug that’s often used by affluent college students is considered relatively innocuous, you could tell your colleague that you have an Adderall prescription, and they probably wouldn’t think much of it, especially if you were performing professionally and socially. Whereas if he said that you were using low doses of methamphetamine daily, it probably would be alarming to that same person. And why why is that? Is that something that is founded in pharmacology and toxicology or is it founded in prejudices that have been cultivated by I A classes to media
Nick Jikomes 15:03
and is so the stereotype of the meth addict or methamphetamine is, you know the picture of someone, you know, 10 years ago, and they look great, and they have good skin and they’re smiling. And then you fast forward 10 years, and it’s the picture of them post math, and they’re missing teeth, and they look gross. And the the general notion out there, I think, in most people’s minds is well, that’s what Matt does. It’s inevitable. So what is math the drug? And can you talk a little bit about, you know, is it even conceivable that someone could be using it responsibly? Or is it this inevitable nightmarish drug that’s always going to lead to that type of addiction?
Hamilton Morris 15:44
Not only is it conceivable, it’s medically recognized, the FDA has approved methamphetamine as a treatment for obesity and ADHD under the name desoxyn. So it is very much conceivable. And in doing research, you know, when I make these stories, sometimes I have a very defined idea of what I want to do, but for various reasons I can’t and they kind of evolve based on the access that I could get. But the name of the episode is a positive methamphetamine story that was kind of where that was, the starting point is I wanted to try to find something positive to say about it. So I, you know, I tweeted something. And I said, you know, if you have a positive relationship with methamphetamine, please contact me. And I’d love to talk to you about it. And I got messages from a lot of people who have prescriptions for methamphetamine. Some of them are professionals that work in healthcare. Some of them were, you know, worked in construction, it was all sorts of different people who had prescriptions for methamphetamine who didn’t abuse, it didn’t smoke, it felt that methamphetamine offered something that made their lives better. They cultivated a constructive relationship with the substance that had lasted for many years. And they wanted to speak out and say, you know, what you are saying about methamphetamine is really something you’re saying about desperation and poverty. And, and, you know, when you look at these p essays, these scare stories that are promoted in the media, you have to really think what are the motivations behind the people that are promoting these ideas? Are these medical doctors are these people who are concerned about public health? Who is who’s paying for the Montana math project? You know, and I looked into this, and the answer is, it was some multi millionaire billionaire in Montana, I think was bothered that there were, you know, poor people in his neighborhood using meth. And so he funded this national campaign God, you know, Academy Award winning directors like Darren Aronofsky to make anti meth propaganda for him. And, and then, and then this becomes integrated into our public understanding of the substance, when this is really something that is just a kind of a personal vendetta that some dude in Montana has. Right. And I even talked to Aronofsky about it because I was speaking at some maps benefit dinner, and I was sitting next to Aronofsky. And, you know, Aronofsky, I don’t want to blow up his spot, but he’s certainly not a drug negative person by any stretch of the imagination. He’s, you know, he’s at a maps benefit dinner. So what type of person is that? And, and I was saying, you know, what was your motivation in making these anti math? PSA is? And he said, like, What do you mean? And I said, Why? Did you ever think that maybe you’re contributing dangerous anti drug propaganda that could ultimately have a negative effect on on public health? And, and he looked very genuinely concerned, like he’d never even considered it. And he said, Are you suggesting that math isn’t bad? And, and I said, Well, I’m maybe suggesting that the, it’s not constructive to portray characters of amphetamine addiction, as a way of treating the problems associated with this substance, you know, maybe this is is ultimately damaging and contributes to a dehumanizing and really like, demeaning understanding of substance abuse problem. You know, we would never accept similar depictions of people who are addicted to, certainly to alcohol, I don’t think yeah, I mean,
Nick Jikomes 19:16
I it’s like, if I was a millionaire, and I was bothered living in downtown Seattle by drunk homeless people, which I see often, and I went on this campaign against alcohol, it, it just it obviously doesn’t work. We already know that. And it’s just amazing. In these examples, how it’s often at least sometimes an individual who doesn’t like something like that just blows me away. It’s like, what it’s one dude in Montana.
Hamilton Morris 19:44
One dude, Montana and then Aronofsky. He’s not a bad guy. But he’s also he’s not a pharmacologist. He gets a job, who knows how much he’s paid? He thinks someone says, Oh, this is great. You’re going to be helping people. Stop meth addiction because math is bad.
Nick Jikomes 20:00
Yeah, it seems like a good thing.
Hamilton Morris 20:01
Anything’s Okay, I’m doing a good thing. And then you create propaganda that’s watched by millions of people that furthers the the stigma, and the fear associated with the substance actually makes the problem worse. And and that’s that that’s the end of it. So I think, you know, it’s, my idea was okay, let’s let’s try to take the opposite perspective. Let’s try to say something positive. I mean, the first thing that you should say is what I have already said, which is that the differences between amphetamine and methamphetamine are vanishingly small. Yeah. You know, they’ve done controlled studies where they compare the two substances, people can barely tell them apart, I don’t think I could tell them apart.
Nick Jikomes 20:43
And, and in a medical in a medical setting, just to be clear, you would take these in pill form, right.
Hamilton Morris 20:52
I would have to look at the details of the study. I believe this is actually a Carl Hart study. But when I also interviewed, David Salzberg is one of the leading experts on the pharmacology of amphetamine for my piece, although his interview was not featured in the final piece, because I, in that particular episode is trying to make it construct the story entirely from Vera Tei, without expert interviews, just as a stylistic decision, but he you know, went on the record saying that he was not aware of any meaningful toxicological difference between amphetamine and methamphetamine. So what is the difference? It’s a class difference. And it’s a dosage difference. And it’s a different usage pattern. Because amphetamine is sold in pre dosed tablets, and dispensed by a pharmacist and prescribed by a doctor and used by relatively affluent people. And methamphetamine is sold as a pure crystal in bags for smoking and used by desperate impoverished people. So that’s the difference. It’s like, it would be like saying that, you know, aged aged wines are safer than, like, handles of vodka, right? Right. The actual difference is that they’re used by two different types of people, but they’re both an ethanol based drug.
Nick Jikomes 22:10
What, what is the pharmacology of amphetamines? What are they doing in the brain? And what kind of how does that connect to the feelings that they cause?
Hamilton Morris 22:20
The most basic explanation is that they’re releasing dopamine and norepinephrine, and to a lesser extent, in the case of methamphetamine, serotonin, and so they cause the dopamine, they cause a flux of these neurotransmitters via the dopamine and norepinephrine transporter into the synaptic cleft. And the concentrations are much higher than would be occurring under normal physiological conditions, causes a stimulating effect that causes appetite suppression, increased energy, euphoria, and a sleeplessness. Yeah, they
Nick Jikomes 22:57
keep you awake, they’re uppers. They suppress appetite. And you do get a euphoria, you get, you know, stimulating effect. Anyone who’s ever tried Adderall, I’ve I’ve done Adderall. I used to, I used to take Adderall occasionally in college. And it definitely does all those things. You can stay awake, you can do an all nighter and have energy, you. At the very least you feel like you have increased cognitive ability, you can sit down and focus more if you actually do sit down and do that. And it suppresses your appetite. So that’s why it’s that’s why it’s prescribed for things like ADHD, then you mentioned also that methamphetamine is prescribed for obesity. And that’s because of its appetite. suppressing effects. Is that right? That’s correct. Yeah. So yeah, that’s it’s amazing. It’s basically the same drug. And it’s really a class difference.
Hamilton Morris 23:45
Yeah, yeah. And people buy into this completely. And in all these people were saying, How dare you say anything positive about methamphetamine? Clearly, you’ve never known anyone who’s battled addiction, first of all, like, What? How on earth could I not know, battled addiction. But you know, really, what is the point of this is to humanize these people, and to show that the their choices, their struggles are similar to the choices and struggles of normal people, but they might have fewer resources. And this is a way that they’re able to get by I mean, life is very difficult, especially if you’re doing hard manual labor for a living. And here’s this substance, it’s extremely cheap, that gives you would allow you to, for example, do construction, and feel good about it instead of feeling like your life is miserable and you’re in pain. And these drugs also have pain killing effect as well. Although they’re not opioids, they they can have a similar type of effect. So you have you know, diminished pain response, increased energy euphoria associated with menial tasks, it can really help people out that are struggling who don’t have a lot of opportunities in life? And if you’re going to say that’s a problem with the drug, I would say that’s probably more of a problem with a world where there is so little opportunity that people need to use a drug like that to survive.
Nick Jikomes 25:15
Yeah, no, I, I don’t know any stats on this. But I have heard first and secondhand stories about amphetamines, and about opioids and heroin, frankly, where people will take relatively low dose doses of these things every day, or many days out of the week, and literally go to work, go and do their very manually difficult construction job or something like that. It’s just like you describe it, there’s people not not to say that that’s the right move. But it actually, it is used constructively by some people, even these very hard drugs that have almost no, nothing positive attached to them in our culture.
Hamilton Morris 25:53
Oh, of course. I mean, that’s the other, you know, very prevalent misconception about addiction that most people have is they think addiction is what, you know, is depicted in Requiem for a Dream, or Cristiane app for these, you know, cinematic depictions of addiction where someone is, you know, in the fetal position in a corner, vomiting and trembling, begging for drugs, when the reality of most addiction is that it’s often people that are somewhat functional, who are using the drugs in order to try to maintain their life in some way or another, you know, drinking a little bit before work, because they hate their job. And they just want to become smoking weed all day. So they don’t argue with their co workers who they despise, you know, or whatever, you know, and this is, you know, this is like a reality that a lot of people live and it’s often in equilibrium with some stable existence, right? Like they, for the most part, are able to actually do this and get away with it. So, you know, what you see in movies and TV is not an accurate representation of what chronic substance use or substance dependence looks like for most people. And I’m trying to piss someone off by even including cannabis in this discussion. But you know,
Nick Jikomes 27:09
yeah, I mean, yeah, I’m, I’m probably I don’t know, but I’m probably, I probably have what you would call a caffeine habit. But I’m not consuming caffeine all day. I’m consuming it every day. I’m having like two, maybe three cups of coffee. And if I don’t do that for a day or two, like I’m irritated. I have irritability. So I’m probably you know, I have some I have some caffeine like addiction to caffeine. Oh, sir, as many people do.
Hamilton Morris 27:35
It’s one drug I can’t quit. I experimentally over the last few weeks have decided to just not use any drugs at all to see it because I have psoriasis. And I wanted to see if I had an eye so I wanted to see if it had any, because I always think like, oh, maybe if I you know, smoke a little weed or improve my sleep, and that will make my psoriasis better or whatever. So it’s very easy to justify these things. So I decided to Alright, I’m cutting absolutely everything out. And but the one thing that I can’t cut out his caffeine, it’s just it’s like unthinkable. Yeah, not one jolt at the beginning of the day. And that’s, you know, make no mistake that’s addiction.
Nick Jikomes 28:09
Have you have you ever found anything that had an effect on your psoriasis?
Hamilton Morris 28:13
Oh, absolutely. Include beta sole proprietor is? You mean, just like steroid creams? Yeah. Okay.
Nick Jikomes 28:20
Yeah, those never worked. Those never worked for me. Closed Beta song doesn’t work for you. I don’t know if I had that one. But I know I’ve tried several in my life. And they, you know, they gave me they ended up giving me like the strongest ones. And I would say it helped lightly, but it didn’t really help that much. And it didn’t feel good. My skin became sensitive. And then I would just have like oil and all my clothes.
Hamilton Morris 28:42
Hmm. I mean, for me, clo beta Sol is like the hydrogen bomb of corticosteroids. It really it will it will destroy the psoriasis. But you just don’t want to get into the habit. It’s almost like you know, steroids are almost like their own addiction as well. Because you build tolerance to them just like an addictive psychoactive drug, you become dependent on them. You have a withdrawal syndrome when you stop taking them. I mean, these these sorts of patterns exist throughout pharmacology and throughout life.
Nick Jikomes 29:12
Oh, yeah. The it’s actually it reminds me of your show. But there’s this show called I think it’s called trafficked maybe on Nat Geo. And this woman goes into, you know, a bunch of different illicit markets. So there’s an animal trafficking episode, there’s a prostitution episode, but then there’s also a anabolic steroids episode. And she follows this guy along who’s I mean, it’s pretty obvious right from the beginning. It’s a community of people that are addicted to using steroids in order to enhance their physicality. And it was an amazing episode because you got to see pretty much in real time, sometimes over the course of hours within a single day, physical, visually apparent differences that these people would have, like their bodies would transform in 234 hours by injecting themselves With a cocktail of steroids.
Hamilton Morris 30:03
Oh yeah. And just just for anyone that’s listening to this that is possibly confused. I’m talking about corticosteroids and they’re both steroid is a chemical class. You know this. I’m just saying this for anyone that Yeah, my chemical class but then there’s within the chemical class of steroids or pharmacologically very different ones, some of which are basically anti inflammatory drugs and other ones which are like androgens that help build muscle and have virilizing effects. Yeah,
Nick Jikomes 30:26
I was gonna, I was gonna ask you to break this down for us. So when most people think of steroids, I think they, they’re typically thinking of the anabolic steroids that a bodybuilder would take or an athlete would take that, as you just mentioned, corticosteroids things to use for inflammation. That, you know, they’re used innocuously, you know, you can buy them at CVS or whatever. So can you talk a little bit about steroids? Like what kind of drugs are they? And what do we know about them at a very high level?
Hamilton Morris 30:53
We’ll start Okay, yeah, just to repeat what I said series are a chemical class. So you know, like when it’s a it’s a backbone of a type of molecule, and with in that chemical class, you have pharmacologically dissimilar compounds that have nothing in common in terms of their effect on human physiology. The only thing you have in common is a chemical structural similarity, which is not very important to most people who aren’t chemists. So you have neurosteroids things like you know, aloe pregnenolone, things like that, that are sedatives, one of them was recently approved by the FDA is a treatment for postpartum depression. Then you have anabolic steroids, things like, you know, oxandrolone that are used by bodybuilders or people with disorders like aids associated wasting syndrome, things like that, they can use these substances to build muscle and prevent themselves from wasting away. And then you have anti inflammatory corticosteroids that are used to treat things like psoriasis, or asthma or various inflammatory disorders. And these are pharmacologically totally different substances. The only thing we have in common is this steroid backbone and cholesterol is also a steroid and steroids are found throughout.
Nick Jikomes 32:11
So, the other episode, the episode that I just watched, so new class of drugs now, was the Xenon episode. So you, you went through this experience where you are inhaling Xenon gas. So what is your non gas and what what was that like?
Hamilton Morris 32:32
So, on the periodic table of elements, you have a column it is the rightmost column on the table, and it’s called the noble gases. And most people will be familiar with helium, which is of course using balloons, it’s lighter than air, so it floats. And then you have other noble gases that are lesser known like argon, krypton, neon, radon, and Xenon, I’m not reading those are not in order. For any sticklers out there. I just was randomly naming them and, and the other noble gases do not have as many uses partially because they’re very unreactive, that’s what the name means. They’re noble, noble in the sense that they don’t react with other compounds. And that was what initially made them chemically interesting. They’re also components of our atmosphere, they’re in every breath that we take. Anyone that is listening to this is breathing every gas that I just named, except for radon, I hope maybe radon as well, but I hope your health that you’re not, it’s not one of the ones and and so they’re used in neon lighting and neon signs are used in projector film projector bulbs. They’re used in car headlights, they’re used in ion thrusters for different types of like satellites and things like that they’re used, they have a lot of interesting niche uses. But relative to other elements, they’re actually they’re not used in chemistry in the same way because you can’t really do that much with them. Xenon is a bit of an exception in a number of different ways. One is that it does actually form compounds like Xenon hexafluoride. And there’s a number of fluoro Xenon compounds that have been synthesized since the 60s as well as you know, on oxides, but But what makes Xenon really interesting pharmacologically is that it’s an anesthetic at normal barrack pressure. So some of these other gases if you were to enter a hyperbaric chamber, or if you were to go, you know, 100 feet beneath the surface of the ocean under high pressure, they would begin to induce an anesthetic effect, but that effect would be lost at sea level. Zero Xenon is the exceptions you know, is an anesthetic at normal barrack pressure, meaning that if you just fill a balloon with it and inhale that Xenon it will have a very powerful answer. A factor that is qualitatively similar to nitrous oxide for anyone that has tried that aka laughing gas, widely used as a pediatric dental anaesthetic. And it’s a bit stronger than nitrous oxide, nitric oxide is not quite capable of inducing general anesthesia, especially when coadministered with oxygen which you have to do, whereas Xenon is, so it can, it can cause a total loss of consciousness in somebody that is inhaling it. And by the standards of most anesthesiologists that I interviewed, it’s basically the perfect anesthetic because of its lack of reactivity, it produces no metabolites, it can be recycled, it doesn’t produce any known toxic interactions with the body, which nitrous oxide does something that’s a bit of a tangent, but I’m happy to go into it if you want to discuss it. And, and, and the major drawback is that this is a trace component of our atmosphere. And so in order to collect Xenon, for medical use, you have to distill millions or billions of liters of air to a liquid and then you have to do cryogenic fractional distillation of that liquid air in order to isolate this trace Xenon component, which can then be transferred into tanks and delivered to, you know, anesthesiologist, or in the case of episode, is that actually how they get it. They harvest it from air. That’s the only way to get it. Yeah,
Nick Jikomes 36:38
so must be incredibly expensive.
Hamilton Morris 36:40
Extremely, I mean, a 50 liters is maybe 15 $100. So yeah, it’s really, really expensive.
Nick Jikomes 36:49
So what did it feel like?
Hamilton Morris 36:51
It feels like it feels I would say like, flipping a switch of euphoria in your brain like maximum euphoria, like you, when you when you inhale this stuff, you enter a state of transcendent hyper euphoria that is totally obliterating. And at least for me how to kind of strong sci fi character. Maybe it’s because I’m, you know, like, I was so like, consumed with these ideas about stellar nucleosynthesis and the merging neutron stars. And, you know, of course, we know that everything around us comes from stars. But there’s something about Xenon that really made me think like, wow, this is from merging neutron stars. And that sounds
Nick Jikomes 37:37
like the name of an alien planet or something. Xena.
Hamilton Morris 37:40
Yeah. I believe it’s Greek for a strange as well. Okay. So, yeah, it’s there’s something and you know, it’s very, very, very dense. It’s so yeah, it is Greek for strange and it’s, it’s so dense that you can pour it like even though it’s a gas, you can pour it like a liquid into a container, and you can float a foil boat on it. And it has the opposite effect of helium or helium, because it is lighter than air causes your voice to become high pitch the non cause your voice to become very deep and low. So it’s, it’s a pretty cool element.
Nick Jikomes 38:14
Is it akin to laughing gas and how it feels? Yes, you’re stronger, even more euphoric? nitrus?
Hamilton Morris 38:24
I would say yeah, I mean, I it’s hard to I’m a little bit hesitant to make a direct comparison, because I’ve never used nitric oxide under analogous campaigns to the ones who I’ve used nitric oxide and not under analogous conditions to the one where I use, you know, on where I’m continuously in a full mask
Nick Jikomes 38:40
on your breathing it for.
Hamilton Morris 38:43
Yeah, and that immersion experience, I think was really central to the profundity and strangeness. Although just even inhaling it from a balloon was also incredibly euphoric, and fun.
Nick Jikomes 38:57
And how does how do these things work? Are they nmba receptor antagonists? What are they doing in the brain?
Hamilton Morris 39:04
Yeah, they’re nmba receptor antagonists. So you know, you have a glutamate receptors in your brain, and there’s a subtype of glutamate receptor called the nmba receptor. And like I said, it’s a glutamate receptor, but it has a co agonist which is glycine. So you typically would have binding of glycine and glutamate on to the receptor, and then that causes the channel to open. In the case of Xenon, it appears to bind to the glycine site preventing glycine binding and that prevents channel opening, which is in you know, the most productive sense responsible for this effect.
Nick Jikomes 39:50
So it’s a certain very widespread receptor in the brain. Zenon is binding that receptor preventing it from opening what other kinds of drugs are MDA receptor antagonists
Hamilton Morris 40:03
ketamine command in PCP, methoxetamine three Meo PCP, dextromethorphan mK 801. cl in general, it’s drugs that have,
Nick Jikomes 40:17
like an aesthetic or dissociative effect. Yes. Yeah, these are really an interesting class of drugs because MDA receptors are all over the brain and they’re very important. And also because I think ketamine is is kind of getting famous recently for its potential anti depressant effects. Can you talk a little bit about what you know about ketamine and what’s being studied there right now?
Hamilton Morris 40:40
Yeah, I mean, so, so Academy and was approved by the FDA as a treatment for depression in 2018. Right. And, and it is manufactured by Johnson and Johnson under the brand name spravato. There’s clinics all over the place now where you can get ketamine therapy, it’s really taken off. At least anecdotally, a lot of people contact me and say that it’s had miraculous life changing effects for them. I have not been keeping tabs on all of the clinical research that’s been coming out on ketamine recently. So I’m not quite sure. I was keeping close tabs at the time of bravados approval. But I haven’t been reading every publication that came out. And there was some controversy where people were claiming that it’s about the mechanism of its action. Is it an opioid effect? Is it due to the hydroxy nor ketamine metabolite? Is it you know, is it s ketamine? Is it our academy and there are endless ketamine debates. But the bottom line is that it’s a very widely used anesthetic according to the well, World Health Organization, it’s the most widely used anesthetic on earth that had a off label culture of being prescribed as an antidepressant that was recently changed. And now it’s, you can openly prescribe it as an FDA approved antidepressant. And many people seem to think that it has a miraculous effect.
Nick Jikomes 42:13
Yeah, my understanding is there is some debate about the mechanism. But it is supposed to have rapid antidepressant effects for people that have severe depression or depression that has not been treatable through other means. My understanding is that even though although it has a rapid antidepressant effect, that effect doesn’t last that long, it doesn’t last as long as what people are starting to see with psilocybin and other things. But that is definitely an active area of research right now.
Hamilton Morris 42:40
And the rapidity of the effect is extremely important. Because if you’re, if you’re depressed, I mean, it’s a life threatening disorder, depression, you know, people talk about cancer in a very serious way, but I think they often don’t recognize it. Depression is a life threatening disorder that you don’t want to play around with, and, and having a treatment that will allow people to rapidly regain some emotional balance in their life can be tremendously beneficial, of course, doesn’t work for everyone. I’ve known very depressed people who’ve used ketamine and then not only has it not helped them, I think that it may have had a detrimental effect. So there’s, you know, I wouldn’t say that it’s a miracle cure for everyone. But I think it’s very good that it’s part of our psychiatric Arsenal, and that it’s accessible to the people that benefit from it.
Nick Jikomes 43:36
Have you ever tried it? Oh, yeah. What’s it like? What’s the, what’s the sensation, like?
Hamilton Morris 43:43
The sensation is a bit difficult to describe, I wouldn’t say that it’s really very similar to anything, a normal person experiences. It’s probably closer to certain, you know, psycho pathological disease states than it is to any kind of normal waking consciousness, you know, probably closer to the nnd antagonists are often used as a model for schizophrenia, right? So there’s a kind of a lot of strange delusions, there can be a sense of privileged knowledge that you are gaining access to information that underlies the organization of the universe. There can be a sort of grandiose, hypo, manic sense of possibility. There can be a lot of different components to it, it can be like a waking dream. It doesn’t produce the same sorts of open AI visual distortions that a classical serotonergic psychedelics like LSD or mescaline does, but it open eye it can often do very little, but when you close your eyes, it can have a visionary effect. That is like a waking maybe like a lucid dream a little bit. Have you used it?
Nick Jikomes 44:57
Yeah, I have. It my experience. It’s very dose. Dependent to like you take a little bit, it feels one way you take a little bit, it feels a little bit more that way. And then you take a little bit more, and suddenly, it’s quite different than it was at that lower dose.
Hamilton Morris 45:09
Right, right. At lower doses, it’s actually probably feels most like alcohol. Yeah, but yeah, I think that’s once you once you cross a certain threshold, it becomes very much and alcohol is also an nmba antagonist. So that’s not totally, when I’m saying alcohol, I mean, ethanol, but it, it’s a. So it’s not totally surprising that there’s that experiential overlap between substances. But as you increase the dose, it becomes less like alcohol and becomes more visionary, and in my opinion, far more interesting. Yeah, I
Nick Jikomes 45:40
completely agree. And for those listening, that have never experienced ketamine, I would say the, the advice I have there is it is extremely dose dependent. So that’s what we were just saying. And I’ve, when I’ve seen people do ketamine, at the lower doses, it’s more fun, like, in a recreational sense, I guess people generally seem to have a pleasant experience on the lower dose. And when you go to a higher dose, especially if you’re not expecting it, it’s very different. If you are expecting what’s going to happen, which is a dissociative experience, you’re not necessarily going to be able to function like you would otherwise in a social setting. But if you are prepared for that, it is extremely interesting, in my opinion.
Hamilton Morris 46:23
Yeah, yeah, it’s, it’s, I think, often when people think of drugs, they assume that they’re being used socially. And ketamine is interesting because it is at higher doses and anesthetic, which precludes social interaction. And so people will take this in a social environment and have a negative experience not recognizing that the effect is at higher doses, it becomes difficult, if not impossible to walk, difficult, if not impossible to verbally communicate. And at some point, you may lose consciousness entirely.
Nick Jikomes 46:54
Yeah, it does cause what I would also describe as visionary or even, even out of body experience, it’s very difficult to describe dissociation to someone because simultaneously, you realize that you’re there laying down or wherever you are, you realize that you have a body and you’re in it. And yet simultaneously, it can feel like you’re outside of your body, or you’re looking at your own body. So there’s this very interesting, out of body experience. It’s a dissociative experience. And if you’ve never, if you’ve never had one of those before, it’s really hard to describe, but that’s what it does, at the higher dose.
Hamilton Morris 47:30
Yeah, I made it and I made an episode about ketamine in the second season of my show that includes a lot of discussion of the qualitative effects with a friend of mine who died and Timothy Wiley, who had I think I kind of enlightened and very interesting perspective on ketamine, and it used it some absurd number of times.
Nick Jikomes 47:52
Yeah, I remember that episode was one of my favorite ones. I think from season two, he was an interesting character. Yeah. How do you meet someone like that?
Hamilton Morris 48:00
I admit, you know, I’m always looking for people that have unusual things to say about drugs. And I had read an article on his website, I was looking for anyone that had something positive to say about PCP, because they’ve only seen negative things written about it sort of similar to methamphetamine. And I read an article in Timothy Wiley’s website, there was an article written for high times it was rejected, and he posted it online. And it was this very interesting, bizarre story about PCP. And I remember, I was probably like, a sophomore in college or something. And I remember thinking, wow, that guy sounds interesting. Better, file him away, and, and make an effort to interview him at some point, because there’s something about that guy, that seems really bizarre. And then I called him on the phone, and he was such a character. And we started talking. And then yeah, and then we made a couple pieces together, and I really loved him. I thought he was an amazing guy.
Nick Jikomes 49:01
Yeah, no, that was a really great episode. I highly, highly recommend it. One thing I did want to mention, so I was reminded of this by our discussion of Xenon and the noble gases. So I don’t know if you’ve ever heard about this, but I encountered on the West Coast here. Two or three years ago, I encountered a I did a five Meo DMT ceremony. And it, it was administered in a very interesting way that I wanted to talk to you about. I don’t know if you’ve ever seen anything like this. But the device used to administer it was referred to as an alchemical lamp. And what it was, was essentially a bond that was filled with argon gas. So argon gas is one of these noble gases. It’s clear, it’s odorless. It doesn’t really react with anything so you can inhale it. And so this large, I mean, essentially a bong. So imagine a large glass bomb. It was set up so that the whole thing was filled. argon gas, so no combustion was possible. So it was all pure vaporized five Meo DMT, there was a metal, there was an electrical mechanism in there that allowed a very precise dose of five Meo to be fully vaporized. And because of the argon, there’s absolutely no combustion. And then there’s a such suction mechanism in this bond, essentially, such that, you get the entire hit all in one shot. So it’s like this, this little pump puts all of this air into you. So it’s basically fine. It’s pure five Meo DMT. In this case, it was lab tested, like very high purity synthetic, and you inhale this breath of argon plus five Meo DMT, in one shot, so that you can get sort of the maximal maximal experience all in one breath. And I had never seen anything like it before. But it, it definitely worked. It was a highly effective way of administering something by vaporization.
Hamilton Morris 50:55
I’ve heard of that before. That’s so. So interesting. I love the creativity and ingenuity that people that people bring to the table with these sorts of things. I mean, I don’t know that combustion is bad. But that’s really interesting. And sounds like an experience.
Nick Jikomes 51:13
Yeah, it was interesting. It was, it was homemade, but like very well made, and I was I was just blown away by the engineering. And it was very, you know, they took they took great pains in this context to make sure I mean, they did a site screen basically, before you were even allowed to come you had to talk on the phone with the person administering it. They made sure there was no, you know, history of schizophrenia or psychosis that you weren’t depressed, and so on and so forth. And they, you know, they really stressed the setup, and everything was very well controlled. So it was it was made with that type of safe setting in mind.
Hamilton Morris 51:47
Sounds great. Yeah. I mean, it has a borderline cult following. There are people that have contacted me, I’ve interviewed people that it’s not unusual to see it as a deity. And you and for the people that administer it, to see what they’re doing as a truly religious mission, and to take it with all the seriousness of that mission. So you know, and that’s not uncommon. Casey Hardison, who’s an LSD chemist, believed that five Meo DMT was sort of the greatest sacrament, it’s not unusual for people to believe that, and I, even after smoking, the toad venom in 2017 had this feeling of, you know, it’s my responsibility to use the knowledge that I have to make this available to people in the least destructive way that I can, which was synthetically, and I’m actually glad that I, my initial intention was to present a synthesis in that original episode. But at that time, most of the tryptamine chemistry that I had done was the route called the speeder, Anthony synthesis, which is much less user friendly, it’s more expensive, it’s more difficult. It’s more time consuming, it’s more dangerous. And that is if you look at the end of the episode, I’m kind of outlining that synthesis at the very end. And and then in the intervening year is, there was there were a few people I met one chemist who was doing a lot of work with reductive amination of tryptamines. And he had adapted a process that was described in a article that the synthesis of the antimigraine agent reads a trip 10 and he had adapted it to the synthesis of DMT. This was someone who was working in a clandestine lab who, unfortunately, got caught, but before getting caught he he had done a lot of pioneering work, actually, um, yeah, well, I did this whole charity thing as part of the first episode. So I’m skipping around a little bit and went and most of the money from this reissue pamphlet about a synthesis of I buy them DMT goes to the Michael J. Fox foundation. And then there’s a T shirt and the money all goes to the artists who do these illustrations, and then I do a T shirt, and I’m donating the money to the legal defense of this chemists because his process was was really or his optimization of a process that had been published was the basis of what I did in my demonstration in Mexico. So yeah, it’s it’s, uh, I think that it’s a there’s an article published recently in ACS omega. I believe the chemists name is Alexander Sherwood. And he did an overview of a lot of different synthetic routes to five Meo DMT and settled on a kind of like a phenol phenol hydrazine base. Fisher indoor synthesis. But I think that he and other chemists didn’t realize that there are ways to modify reductive amination conditions that I believe are the most approachable for the production of five Meo DMT, in the sense that they’re the cheapest, the most environmentally friendly. And the simplest for the chemist. So long tangent there.
Nick Jikomes 55:23
No, I, I’m glad you’re doing that. It’s awesome that you’re doing that and donating all that money. I ordered, I ordered one from myself, I can’t wait to crack that open and look at it.
Hamilton Morris 55:32
Yeah, there’s a final days, I had no idea how many people were going to want them. The first one I was I did it with this really small press called cream in Tucson, Arizona. And, you know, they’re hand hand printing all of these this is and they made 500. And I thought, well, that’s a lot. But okay, worst case scenario, I have 100 leftover, and I’ll give them to friends or something like that sold out in two hours. And then we did another pressing sold out immediately. So we’re doing a final 5000 pamphlet pressing that will be available at www dot psychedelic Toad of the Sonoran desert.com. And that should be available in about like 10 days or something like that. And it’s nice, it has all the original information that Ken Nelson wrote about Bufo various as well as this modern synthetic approach to the production of five Meo DMT, which I think is really important to ensure the future survival of Bufo alvarius.
Nick Jikomes 56:28
Yeah, I think, with DMT, so nn DMT, and five Meo DMT, both, this is these are drugs where anyone who tries it, anyone who even hears about it kind of is instantly captivated because the experience is so intense and bizarre. Can you talk a little bit about the phenomenology and then the underlying pharmacology of five Meo versus and n DMT?
Hamilton Morris 56:52
Yes, and I’ll even pedantically end up noxious Li say that I think people shouldn’t call it nn DMT, because five Meo DMT is also and then DMT. Yeah. Oh, so it’s like, I feel like there’s like a false distinction there. So I think it’s better to just call them DMT and five Meo DMT, I’m not pretty I everyone does it. I just No, it is, like a fool’s errand on my part, but I just feel like I have to say it just just because I’m also constantly getting messages from people were very confused. They’re like, why are you telling people how to make DMT? synthetically, you can just extract it from a mosa hostilis. It’s like, because it’s a different chemical. It’s more different from DMT than cillessen is from DMT. It’s a very different chemical. So. So, yes, phenomenologically, I would say that the two compounds actually represent very distinct polls of what we call the classical serotonergic psychedelic experience. DMT is really like a very intense version of I think, what most people think a psychedelic experience is like, yeah, it is hyper visual, hyper hallucinatory, hyper, colorful, transcendent, it’s explosive, it’s verbal, it’s, you know, it’s something that is all inspiring it for me, it’s often very personal, I think about my life, my teachers, my family, the people that I’ve loved, I have hallucinations that relate to my own existence. And it’s very short lived. And it seems to act. I’m the five htt to a receptor DMT is not visual for most people. Although, as is the case with all these things. There are exceptions. For most people, it is not visual, it is not environmentally, or personally anchored. It’s sort of dissociative and transcendent. So the experience, I find that my DMT experiences are very personal, my five Meo DMT experiences, I feel could be anyone’s five Meo DMT experiences, they have nothing to do with me, they don’t have to do with my life, they have to do with life. And so, and, and the message if there is any message at all is often very, very simple, and non verbal and non visual, and, you know, it could be love or gratitude, or something of that nature. But these are the experientially very different substances, but they’re both tryptamines and they’re better circular mechanism.
Nick Jikomes 59:36
And when you say short, short acting, how long are we talking here? I’m
Hamilton Morris 59:42
in when I smoked, the boufal various venom in my episode, I believe it was unconscious for about 15 minutes. And then by the time that I regained consciousness, I I was already pretty much out of it. I had some residual effects. But I would say that you have a peak experience, it’s 10 to 15 minutes, and then a residual experience, it’s maybe five to 10 minutes. And then you are there’s an afterglow, but you’re basically back to normal. DMT has a similar trajectory, I would say, in my experience is often a little even shorter than that. You know, depends a little bit on circumstances, but I think it tends to be Yeah, about 1010 minutes in duration, very short acting rapidly metabolized substances, and, and totally dazzling and uninspiring.
Nick Jikomes 1:00:40
Yeah, I’ve often, or a, that’s just that that’s what facet, one of the things that fascinates me, and I think so many people about DMT, and five Meo is, they’re very powerful. And yet they’re so short, it’s 10s of minutes that you’re talking about. It’s not like psilocybin or LSD, we’re talking about hours. And yet, there’s this intensity. And the way that I’ve often described it is DMT is very visual. And I think it’s, you put it good, it’s, it’s very personal, it may be filled with elements of your own life, that you’re having hallucinations around. And the best way I’ve been able to describe five Meo DMT, at least when my eyes were open, was you know, any story that you’ve heard about someone having a near death experience, where they just see the the pure white light. To me, that was my five openeye five Meo experience, it was that white light and it was just like, a feeling of almost Congratulations, like, congratulations, you’re, you’re alive. Like very, very blissful. Did you? Did you have any reactivations with five Meo DMT, because when I did it, the one time I tried it, I was told that, you know, ahead of time, they were very careful, tell us, just so you know, in the days and weeks following this, you’re probably going to reactivate very likely at night. And I was actually skeptical, I was like, I’ve never really heard about that, or experienced that with anything else. But it 100% happened for about two weeks, I would wake up every night, in the middle of the night, 234 in the morning, and be like, I would say 80% of the way there. So somehow, some way there is some engagement of mechanisms in the brain that was inducing long term plasticity, and it was somehow able to, quote unquote, reactivate the experience, almost all the way for in my case about two weeks. Did you have anything like that?
Hamilton Morris 1:02:27
I did not the most recent time that I smoked the boufal various venom in 2017. I did have a long, I would say maybe two weeks after I was a I was totally sensitized emotionally, I would be moved to tears by a cute dog walking on the street, I was extremely vulnerable and almost childlike in my demeanor. I did not have any reactivations I have in the distant past with synthetic five Meo DMT. And with DMT. And one other distinction that I should mention, I don’t believe in you know, I think it’s it’s often hard to caution people about these things without simultaneously frightening them. But I often hear people talk about DMT, as if it’s very, very frightening, or like, Oh, it’s a near death experience. Like I don’t think I ever want to do that, in my experience. DMT has never been frightening at all, I agree. But five Meo DMT has been frightening in my experience. So I would say that, as you know, transcendent and glorious as this experience can be. All of these experiences should be treated with caution. But I would say five Meo DMT, in particular, should be treated with special caution.
Nick Jikomes 1:03:51
Yeah, I completely agree with five Meo if you’re not prepared for it. So imagine having, in my view, what’s potentially happening is that the five Meo is more or less putting you into a brain state, you know, meaning the activity in your brain is not unlike what might happen in a near death or actual death experience. And to the extent that’s happening, if you’re prepared for that, you can just sort of submit to the experience and it’s very glorious. But if you’re not expecting that, you know, imagine what your ego and what your mind is going to do. If you think you’re dying, it could be very terrifying. That’s, that’s really the risk there, I think.
Hamilton Morris 1:04:27
Yeah, and the first time I ever used five Meo DMT, I was probably 2021. And I, you know, I was by no means irresponsible, and I use a red tea call, I’d read countless arrowood experience reports, I weighed the substance on a milligram sensitive scale. I did it in a quiet room in the dark where there would be no disturbances. I’d read that if I encounter psychological difficulty, I have to tell myself to just let go. I knew intellectually I thought everything that I needed to know going into it, and the experience was still very, very difficult and very frightening for me and scared me away from it for some time I kind of would read about these transcendent experiences that people had. And I would think, I guess that’s a different person, different type of person.
Nick Jikomes 1:05:19
And what was scary about it?
Hamilton Morris 1:05:23
Well, when you have a very intense psychedelic experience, the hallucinations, at least for me can actually have an anchoring effect, the visual distortions can be anchoring, because you have this intense psychological feeling. But then you look and everything is changing, and it kind of contextualizes the intensity of your cognitive, emotional experience. And you think, yes, of course, because I’m under the more full psychedelic, therefore, of course, I am this way, but the lack of visual disturbances. And this is feeling that I was really I mean, I hate to say this, but honestly, the feeling was, if I had to compare it to something, it was that I was poisoned, and that I was dying. And, and it felt like, you know, and I would say, you know, it, I tried every I said, if I’m dying, then I’ll die. If I’m dying, then Soviet, I let go, I submit to death, I tried intellectually, to release from fear. But I, for whatever reason, didn’t have sufficient control, to navigate that experience at the age of 2021. And it was tremendously, I don’t want to say traumatic, but tremendously disturbing, and, and really made me with caution. And that’s actually in the toad episode. You know, before my experience, you watch it, a number of other people have these experiences that are very intense, and I was already apprehensive based on my previous experience, and then to see these other people have these really intense experiences, vomiting and thrashing. I was going into that experience with fear. And and I’m grateful that for whatever reason, that time, it was not frightening. And some people listening to this who have seen both episodes will say, so wait a second, you’re telling me that you had a negative experience of the synthetic material, and you had a positive experience with the toad venom. And yet you’re telling me that synthetic is a viable replacement for Toad venom? And the answer is yes, I am telling you that because there was a decade between them and the circumstances were completely different. And I believe you know, people will people I think confused what I’m saying they will think that I’m saying there is no one has ever experienced a valid difference. That’s not what I’m saying. I experienced a difference between my experiences but I wouldn’t chalk up that difference to chemical differences I would say that it has to do with environment set and setting and a number of other factors
Nick Jikomes 1:08:02
so let’s talk about Ibogaine next you’ve got an episode coming up about Ibogaine? There’s a lot of really interesting research going on related to Ibogaine. What is it? Where does it come from? What do we know about it today?
Hamilton Morris 1:08:15
So I begin is an alkaloid from a shrub that grows in Central West Africa called taborn anfi. Boga the shrub has a route that’s rich in a number of different alkaloids, and the most abundant, most studied most prominent one is Ibogaine, although there are others, and although you hear a lot of discussion of the entourage effect in the psychedelic community, or similar types of effects, I think that often these effects are not really evidence based. It’s more of a sort of, like materialist vitalism that people are imposing on the substance. But in the case of in the case of Boga there actually is a pretty strong case for the other alkaloids contributing. And the best piece of evidence for that is that Ibogaine isn’t even the strongest one, you know, it boeglin is actually a stronger compound than I began. So anyway. It’s a it’s a chemically fascinating series of alkaloids that this shrub produces, they’re very structurally complex, they have a ring system that is synthetically challenging to produce and a kind of three dimensional structure that’s really impressive. I mean, I don’t even think you have to be a chemist to just look at the Wikipedia entry for Ibogaine and take a look at that molecule and see that there’s something really cool about it. And and so, these compounds in addition to being chemically interesting, they have very complex pharmacology is that different types of acetylcholine receptors nmba receptors, serotonin receptors, serotonin transporter, and on and on and on. They also seem to release a number of neurotrophic factor is they have anti addictive effects, they have psychedelic effects, they have borderline dissociative anesthetic effects. And they have also been centrally integrated into a religion called wheaty.
Nick Jikomes 1:10:16
What is that? Can you talk about the religious context?
Hamilton Morris 1:10:20
Yeah, it’s, it’s a religion that is practiced primarily in Cameroon and Gabon. So this is the Central West Africa, and it and probably to a lesser extent in the DRC. And it sees, it’s a syncretic Christian religion. So they see the Iboga shrub as the tree of knowledge of good and evil described in the Christian Bible. And they worship Jesus, among other things. And they have a it’s a very rich, very beautiful tradition, there’s a wonderful, very rare book that was written about it by an anthropologist whose last name is Fernandez called, is called wi T. And you can probably find a PDF of it online, highly recommended. It’s it’s, he was kind enough to allow me to use a lot of his photographs in the piece. And I just think that, you know, I’ve traveled to 30 plus 33 countries, studying psychoactive drugs, and I have seen a lot of religions that have a drug component to them. And I would say that we tea is the most beautiful, the most rich, the most sophisticated, the most awe inspiring of them all, I have just tremendous respect for everything that they have created there. And it was one of the greatest experiences of my entire life, to use a Boga with these beauty practitioners in Gabon, and to observe how they helped people in their community.
Nick Jikomes 1:12:11
How did that transpire? How did you get involved? How were you able to do that? to do that? They take you right in?
Hamilton Morris 1:12:19
Yeah, they did, because they’re really proud of, they’re proud of they’re in the same way that, you know, people are often proud of their religions. You know, in the math episode, the all the Christian people that I was interviewing were extremely, extremely happy to talk about what they were doing. And believe it or not, they loved the episode that the preacher from that Christian church, you know, his only response to it was he wants a signed copy of the DVD, you know, he loved it. I think that religion is really central to the lives of a lot of people and they have a lot of, you know, internationally, people have a lot of pride in their religious practices. And it’s a central point of community gathering. It’s a point of spiritual transcendence. It’s a point of support. And so they were happy to allow us to be a part of it. There really only objections that some of the people were on the camera crew weren’t taking a bocce. But other than that, they were really happy with the whole thing, and very, very helpful. And those interviews, I wish I could have cut this out. And one of the tragedies of making these things is that, you know, each episode is only an hour long, television hour. And there’s so much amazing stuff that I would love to include people say, Well, why didn’t you include this? Why didn’t why love things? I wish that one in particular I wish could have been longer, because there were so many amazing things. The the shamans that I was interviewing, were so tired, I’ve never seen I’ve interviewed countless people I’ve never in my life, interviewed people that did this. They were so tired that I would ask them a question. They would answer it and then they would lose this. And then they would wake up for the next question, because no one is sleeping. No one is eating. They’re dancing for 15 hours a day. I mean, it’s it’s a feat of incredible endurance. And I think that there’s an implicit lesson contained within the ritual, which is one of, of self reliance and the sense that you have what you need to survive. You don’t need drugs, you don’t need sleep, you don’t need food, you don’t need water, you don’t need to pee, you don’t need any of the things that you think you need. You have it all inside yourself. And that idea is transmitted to everyone inside the church and the people that are struggling with addiction, which is another thing when I was making this My idea was, you know most Boga documentaries that got addicted. follow a white person who is addicted to heroin and they show how it works. person is using this app, frickin shrub to treat their addiction, which is fine, you know, every people of all races should get to use the to enjoy the medical benefits of this plant. But what I found ironic and somewhat unfortunate is that this is a plant with a history in Central West Africa that now has a serious problem with opioids that unlike the United States they’ve never had opioids for. So you know, we can we can talk all day about how no one knew oxycodone was addictive. You know, and this is a popular talking point in discuss the so called opioid epidemic. They’ll pretend that no one knew opioids were addictive. I am pretty confident that people did know that opioids are addictive as you know, people just keep repeating that all day as if doctors didn’t know, there was a big curveball. Oh, wow, oxycodone was addictive. Who could have predicted that? Whereas that is a valid argument. People have no culture they have not seen they haven’t grown up watching depictions of heroin addiction on television and in movies. They have no culture of opioids at all in and then a extremely inexpensive synthetic opioid Tramadol becomes widely available, and the results are potentially catastrophic. So what I wanted to do was, show the use of Boga as a treatment for opioid addiction in the same region where this plant actually has a history because it struck me as ironic that everywhere else in the world if you talk about Ibogaine, it’s only known as the drug that is a treatment for heroin addiction, yet in this part of Africa, that it now is experiencing a surge in problematic use of Tramadol, people are, for the most part, not using it for that purpose. It’s still like a religious sacrament. So that’s changing. And that was what I was trying to depict in this piece was to show the changing environment where the traditional practices are transforming to incorporate the ultimately American ultimately New York based idea that it Boga or Ibogaine, can be used as a treatment for opioid dependence.
Nick Jikomes 1:17:15
Yeah, one of the things I mean, I love the story. It’s a beautiful story in terms of the religious context in which this drug is used by this culture. I had brymer rescue on my first episode of the podcast to talk about the immortality key, which you’ve probably heard about. And one of the things I learned not from that, not only from that book, but just over the years that I grew up, was how weird modern American culture was in a certain way, which is that I think, if you look historically, and I’m not an anthropologist, I don’t know what the stats are. But a very large percentage of human cultures historically, throughout human history, have had a psychoactive or psychedelic drug that was an intimate part of their religious rituals. Right, whether it’s Iosco use in the Amazon, whether it’s peyote to use in the Americas, whether it’s this Ibogaine ritual in West Africa, whether it’s the things that are in Brian’s book about the early pre Christian use of what was probably an LSD, like compound and other things, it’s actually exceptional that in America for the last I don’t know how many years, the major a lot of the major religions have basically divorced themselves from the use of a psychoactive. And that’s actually bizarre, like, what do you what do you think that is just our puritanical history in America.
Hamilton Morris 1:18:41
And there’s a there’s a sort of schizophrenic component to this, because at the same time, you have more people in the United States using psychedelics than probably any other country in history at any other time in history. So people are using enormous quantities of the substances, but it’s decontextualized. And there isn’t a framework that is supplied to interpret the experience. And depending on your perspective on that, it’s not even necessarily a bad thing. But I think for religions, it is actually really unfortunate, because I think that, arguably, you can say that the psychedelic experience is a religious experience. And if that is the case, what religion wouldn’t want to integrate these spiritual catalysts into their practices? I mean, when I attended the these bogus ceremonies, with the BT church, I just felt so connected to everyone and I really felt that what they were doing was not only valid, that it was the most authentic, useful, powerful spiritual practice I’d ever encountered anywhere in the world. You know, I was a convert and And I think that a lot of people could then because what we call, you know, in in the United States doesn’t really have any meaningful connection to I think with the the core components of what religion should be, you know, I was Bar Mitzvah, I learned Hebrew. I went to Israel to read my Torah portion, no aspect of that was in any way transcendent or religious or spiritual. For me. It was more than anything bureaucratic, and some wants. TDs Really?
Nick Jikomes 1:20:40
So in terms of your Ibogaine experience with people, what, what was that? Like? What does it actually feel like, when you did it?
Hamilton Morris 1:20:51
Um, you know, when I was making the piece, I was actually trying to de emphasize my own experience. Often when I do these things, it ends up being about me. And one thing that I was trying to do in this most recent series, was to direct things in a in a Veritate direction and to try to direct them away from me, and my own explanation, because I think people have a real appetite for sort of infotainment, they want people to explain everything to them. And I was kind of hoping that a lot of the experience could come via observation of other people. But there is, of course, something missing there. And and really, I chose to emphasize the experience of a local Gabonese man who was suffering from addiction to Tramadol, and to tell the story through his perspective and his transformation, because I am fortunate enough to not have any opioid problems. And, and I thought that if the point was to show this different perspective to show somebody else who’s suffering, who’s a local person in Gabon, that would be the best way to tell the story. But part of the ritual is they did want everyone to use Ibogaine, the elderly, children, babies, camera crew and my babies and yes, babies. But, but they, you know, they’re intelligent about their dose. Yeah, I’m not gonna get into the safety of giving a Boga to an infant. I mean, I was talking with one of the people from the church yesterday, and who’s been using it since they were probably an infant, and they’re certainly sane and functional, their students, they’re responsible, they have a great relationship with their family. So I think it’s, well, I wouldn’t want to make any claims about its absolute safety. I think that it’s pretty clear based on that local tradition in that cultural context that it is possible to use it without extremely detrimental effects and with potentially, at least according to them, beneficial ones, so I did use it. In the past, I had only used purified Ibogaine, hydrochloride that had been produced via the Chris Jenks method that is depicted at the end of the episode where Boa can gene is extracted from conga Africana, and then a de methoxy carbonylation process is used to remove the methyl Ester to produce Ibogaine. So I had actually never strictly speaking used and Boga derived alkaloid before and the doses vary depending on what day of the ritual it was. So everyone used a small sort of stimulant dose and that would be maybe comparable to I don’t know maybe something like 75 milligrams of Ibogaine hydrochloride and then on the final night, everyone used larger dose and I would maybe compare that it was more of a more profound experience and I’ve ever had from Ibogaine hydrochloride never used more than 50 milligrams of Ibogaine hydrochloride but I might loosely suggest that it was somewhere in the range of, you know, similar to what I am, might imagine 150 milligrams might be alike and I’m aware that people use much much higher doses than that. You know, there are people that use grams of Ibogaine. So 150 milligrams is actually pretty low on the reported dosage scale, but for me, it was sufficient. It was powerful, it was profound. It had you often hear people compare the psychedelic experience to psychotherapy, and those So, you know, when I used LSD was like 10 years of psychotherapy and 10 hours, but it’s kind of
it’s an analogy, I wouldn’t really say that it’s actually like psychotherapy. Whereas I would say that Ibogaine is actually like psychotherapy, in that it has an almost a verbal character where I would verbally work. It was like an extended conversation with myself that lasted the entire night, where I’d worked through problems in this hyper logical way. And it was like, do you feel like you felt like your mental faculties were intact? Oh, absolutely. I felt like I was more logical than I’ve ever been in my entire life. And it wasn’t like, a kind of, there can be a somewhat reductive and unrealistic character to the revelations that certain psychoactive drugs promote, like MDMA, where you might think I love everyone, I forgave everyone, everyone is, you know, good, or something like that. There wasn’t, it wasn’t like that. There wasn’t this feeling of, Oh, it’s just the answer is love. Everything is love, or anything like it was kind of, it was a very logical, unpacking, and in some sense, a very sort of detached perspective on a lot of events in my life, where I felt like I could see them from some kind of pseudo objective perspective, where I would think like, Oh, you think you hate this person, but you don’t hate that person at all, you actually love that person. And the reason that you think you hate them is because it’s easier to think that you hate them than it is to recognize that something complicated happened, and that it’s more painful that it happened to someone that you actually like, and so you’re pretending that you dislike them. But the whole reason you were ever involved with them in the first place is because you actually liked them. And you’re causing yourself more pain by pretending that you dislike them, where if you just acknowledge the reason that you were ever acquainted with them in the first place is because you’ve liked them, then it will make it less painful when you think about them, you know, all this kind of like, endless dissection of relationships in a way that felt like I was, you know, just like unknotting, a twisted string of bizarre delusions and justifications to straighten out my own mind. And it felt fantastic. I, by the end of it, I felt like the luckiest person in the world.
Nick Jikomes 1:27:25
So it felt you just put this image in my mind of a literal unknotting like you’re cramped up, and everything’s excessively complicated in terms of your rationale for different relationships. And there’s a kind of release that comes from literally on nodding these convoluted stories you had told yourself.
Hamilton Morris 1:27:43
Yeah, yeah. And, and it was very, I would say, very real, very actionable. You know, there’s a kind of a stereotype that people have when it comes to psychoactive drugs at the revelations or delusions, and that in the hard light of day, when you look back on it, you’ll realize it was just a drug induced delusion, and then none of it had any meaning. This was so far from that. I, you know, in some sense, it’s very personal and to go into all of it would be beyond the scope of this discussion, but it was very real. And to this day, I look back at it as, like, I genuinely believe it was the most logical I’ve ever been in my life. And, and it’s, it was so such a gift to be able to think about things the way that I was at that time. But in terms of the visual experience is not very visual. It does not it produces closed eye, visions, I was having kind of like maybe like Keith Haring esque, kind of like line drawing type imagery. But I was. I was really just like in this extended dialogue with myself that lasted the entire night. That felt like it was all oriented toward working through problems and coming to a reinterpreted understanding of my relationships that was beneficial and persists to this day.
Nick Jikomes 1:29:20
Well, how do they administer it?
Hamilton Morris 1:29:26
with a plastic spoon, it’s a it’s a, it’s a, it’s the root of a tree. The tree is dried, the root is dried. The outer bark is scraped off, it’s sifted, it’s collected. It’s kept in a crystal goblet. And the Boga is dosed either with a plastic soup spoon, or the BTS takes a pinch of the material between his thumb and forefinger. And just puts it into people’s mouths. It’s not weighted on a scale, but they, they even say in my piece that there’s a pathology to everything and that they and that is true. They’re looking at every person, they’re giving a certain amount of children a certain amount to the elderly a certain amount to women a certain amount to men, a certain amount of people that are using it, to dance a certain amount to people that are musicians. And they are really thinking about how to organize this immensely intricate ceremony. That is like a performance. It’s like the grits. It’s like so many things. It’s a religious. It’s a transcendent religious festival, that is also almost like a dance party. That is also like a concert, that the whole village part is like a hospital. Like it’s it’s really strange.
Nick Jikomes 1:30:57
That sounds that sounds fascinating, though. What? So is it swallowed? Or do you absorb it? Do you let it sit in your mouth?
Hamilton Morris 1:31:04
It’s swallowed, and they give you water to wash it down. And sometimes they give you other little things like, I think people are, there’s little, like maybe a small amount of smoke tobacco or a small amount of whiskey or something would be consumed with it. But for the most part, it’s just swallowed and washed out in the water.
Nick Jikomes 1:31:25
Wow. So it’s orally active. It’s not like DMT in that way.
Hamilton Morris 1:31:28
Yeah, yeah. It’s it’s certainly orally active.
Nick Jikomes 1:31:30
Have you ever done iwoca? Or farm Alaska, where you’re orally ingesting DMT together with an MA y?
Hamilton Morris 1:31:38
I have done both? Yeah, I’ve done both several times. And I prefer farm Alaska because I’m extremely neurotic about dose doses. My whole thing, dose is the name of the game for me. And, and dose is really important to me, not just for me, but for everyone else as well. As you know, I, for example, if you know, I’m a young, robust guy, and I can maybe take these experiences. But what if I wanted to give Iosco to my father? What if I wanted to give it to someone who’s more vulnerable? Who’s a little bit older? Would you want to give them a plant concoction where you have no idea what dose they’re consuming? That’s not you. And again, like I said, there is a sort of sophisticated, folk posology that is present in many of these traditions. But still, I I prefer to stick with a milligram sensitive scale. And I think that one of the major advantages of farm Alaska is that it allows that dosing precision, which then also allows you to to reflect on certain experiences and set certain thresholds like 75 milligrams is too much. That’s too much. 75 milligrams of DMT with 300 milligrams of moclobemide is too much.
Nick Jikomes 1:32:53
And it actually back up Can you describe from Alaska for people so they have a clear sense of what we’re talking about?
Hamilton Morris 1:32:57
Sure, form Alaska is the idea behind Iosco is that you have two types of plants one type of plant contains DMT, and that is sometimes called shukr una or psychotria viridis. And the other plant contains various mono amine oxidase inhibiting alkaloids, harminder, harmala, and tetra hydro hardline, and that’s typically banisteriopsis kappy. And that’s the IO wasco vion. So when you combine the enzyme inhibitor, this is inhibiting the enzyme that breaks down DMT is DMT is not orally active. So you take this inhibitor breaks down, it temporarily inhibits the enzyme that breaks down DMT then the DMT is orally active and you can have this oral DMT experience whereas without an MA y you can only experience DMT via parent terrible roots like smoking or injection. So, the same idea can be can be the same property can be exploited using chemicals that are not plant derived and arguably that is a superior way to do it, especially if you are abandoning the biases that are often attached to these so called plant medicines. So, you know, one of the aspects that is either a, a, it really depends on how you think about it. So the Iosco bind is actually active by itself without any DMT Ayahuasca iE banisteriopsis copy does not contain DMT yet it is psychedelic. And the reason for that is the beta carboline. alkaloids are psychedelic, but they’re not psychedelic in a typically desirable way. They are extremely sedating to the point of being incapacitating at higher doses.
Nick Jikomes 1:34:51
are the beta carbons different from what you would get in Syrian root because my experience with Syrian roots actually been the opposite. It’s definitely an upper for me.
Hamilton Morris 1:35:01
What’s the dose dependent as well? And it’s they are they are substantially similar. There are. There are differences like Syrian Rue doesn’t contain tetra hydro harmony and exactly how important that is isn’t clear to me. But,
Nick Jikomes 1:35:16
but in any case, the mo eyes aren’t psychoactive on their own.
Hamilton Morris 1:35:19
They’re psychoactive at high doses. For many people. They’re incapacitating extremely nauseating, and they produce a visionary experience, but one that tends toward a sort of delirium more than the kind of what what people are really looking for, like I would compare the effect of the Iosco buying more to like a really nauseating DSM experience or something more than I would to DMT. It’s not pharmacologically related to DSM but that’s kind of the feeling of like intense closed eye visuals that are sort of weird and slightly menacing. And actually, I would say, I prefer the XM to Iowa, I find the Iosco bind by itself, very unpleasant. And, and I so for that reason, and, you know, often people are incapacitated by I asked, and I think that is from the beta carboline contribution, high dose beta carboline is going to be Yeah, I don’t think that that is the DMT. Because in my experiences of using formal wasco, have you ever tried form oska? Oh, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, I find that it’s that it’s less sedating, and certainly less nauseating. And so it does, it allows you to have this profound extended DMT experience, without the distracting contribution of the beta car billions, which I don’t think are really beneficial. So you get a very sharp, very clear, very energetic, very pristine, like, I could sit and write to the chair and ask for the entire IOC experience, something that might not be possible with a botanical iosa experience.
Nick Jikomes 1:37:08
Yeah, and, and for those who’ve never seen something like this before, the way that I’ve experienced from Alaska, in the past is, you’re literally drinking a tea. So you would you would boil a certain type of seed, or plant material and water. And these mo eyes go into solution. And you drink the tea together with DMT. So the DMT is then orally active. And for me, at least, I’m probably not doing or probably hadn’t been doing a very high dose of the beta carboline enough to render the DMT orally active, but I certainly wasn’t sedated. For me, it was very movement oriented, I could very much feel it in my body before I had the classic mental DMT effects. And I definitely want it to move. So it was a stimulating effect. And it was more of a full body experience than a purely mental experience. Like you would get from vaporize DMT but still a DMT experience in character nonetheless. Then, like you said, like you can do stuff you’re not incapacitated?
Hamilton Morris 1:38:07
Yeah, yeah. So I, I think it’s a really and then the most frequently used pharmaceutical Ma Li for form Alaska is a European antidepressant called moclobemide. It’s not a controlled substance. And unlike the beta carboline, and the Iosco bind moclobemide, is essentially transparent and its effect, maybe it causes a very minor mood lift or something like that. But it’s certainly not visionary or nauseating, or really much of anything at all. It’s a sort of transparent oral activator of the DMT. So I think that that is, you know, I think it’s a really beneficial way to do it. There are arguments to be made in favor of the beta car billions, I’m aware of them, they may exert medicinal therapeutic effects of their own, and it may actually be less beneficial to do formal watsco with moclobemide.
Nick Jikomes 1:39:04
What are the potential beneficial effects of the beta carboline?
Hamilton Morris 1:39:08
I think today, okay, don’t quote me on this. But I think that they have also been implicated in some kind of neurotrophic factor release or something. Although even some of the research on that is a little iffy. I it’s been a while since I’ve looked at that research. But I remember once thinking, maybe, maybe they’re essential to induce plasticity or something like that, or some, some, some arguable benefit to them. But experientially, I don’t consider it beneficial. I’ve done it, I’ve done it every which way. And I can say from personal experience, I find the moclobemide route to be the one that produces the sharpest, clearest, most cognitively precise experience, which is what I want, you know, if you’re having revelations, I don’t want to stuck in a kind of torpor where I can’t, yeah, I can’t speak, I’m just kind of lost inside myself, I don’t like that that’s not the point for me, you know, in experience a can’t be articulated is lost. And so the challenge is to articulate and to integrate the thoughts and the revelations into your life. And anything that increases the sharpness and the energy of the experience is beneficial for that reason.
Nick Jikomes 1:40:31
Yeah, I think that’s really interesting, being being sharp and be able, because people often describe these experiences on DMT, or Ayahuasca or whatever, as amazing, but they can’t actually bring anything back. And I think you do lose something by being in a state where you’re having an experience, but you’re not clear headed enough to actually articulate and therefore remember it in detail.
Hamilton Morris 1:40:56
Right. Yeah. And I think, you know, I think that’s one of the things that makes DMT remarkable is the sharpness is the regulatory precision of the ideas that come to you while you use the substance like, have you ever used Bufo to mean
Hamilton Morris 1:41:13
I find you know, Bufo, tinian, to me feels almost emblematic of a of the kind of tired, tired mind tryptamine experience where you can’t really speak. You can’t really, you know, pure buffo teen base is about equal potent with DMT. You know, 50 milligrams or so produces a very powerful experience, but it has, it’s kind of an awkward middle child between DMT and five Meo DMT, chemically, pharmacologically and experientially where it has, it’s more dissociative than DMT last associative and five Meo DMT, more visual than five Meo DMT, but less visual than DMT. And far more nauseatingly, neither of them. And, and so it’s kind of there’s a reason, I think that it has never quite caught on despite the fact that it is indisputably a classical psychedelic. And I one of those things is that kind of softness of the thoughts on it, you’re kind of in a soupy mindset, where it becomes I think, a little bit harder to articulate and integrate any of the ideas that come to you.
Nick Jikomes 1:42:26
Interesting. Interesting. What upcoming episodes are you particularly excited about? What are they about? And and what can you tell us before they release?
Hamilton Morris 1:42:38
The three remaining episodes are an episode about Anna denethor call you brina in Argentina, and I’m excited about that, because it’s never been shown before. And one one thing that I consider responsibility in all of this is to try to tell stories that haven’t been told. And it’s kind of weird, because we’re at this weird we’re at this time where there’s a lot of interest in psychedelics, and there’s actually a huge demand for basic information. But I’ve been doing this my whole life and part of me doesn’t want to be the guy that says like Albert Hoffman discovered LSD in Switzerland in this year and then he did this and then he did that because there’s, it’s you can read the Wikipedia entry. It’s all there. So I I try to use my time and my energy to tell stories that I feel no one else would tell if I didn’t do them. That’s another reason that I’ve spent so much time dedicated to clandestine synthesis coverage is I felt like Okay, um, you know, there’s there’s a lot of people that can talk about the benefits of psychedelics. But I don’t know that many people that want to make documentaries, showing the clandestine synthesis of psychoactive drugs isn’t a bad thing. So that’s what I should place my emphasis on. You know, there’s other people that will talk about Rick Doblin. There’s other people that will talk about maps, there’s other people that will talk about PTSD is other people will talk about MDMA and psychotherapy, there’s other people that will talk about all these things. So I should try to think what are the things that no one else is going to do? And those are the things that I should put my emphasis on. So that’s one reason that I was really interested in this Bufo tinian project is I felt like, you know, maybe this isn’t the most important in the sense that, you know, everyone’s talking about Bufo to me and, but like, this is a tradition that is, by all accounts disappearing rapidly. I mean, I had a very difficult time finding a single shaman in Argentina, who is practicing any kind of Ana de Nam thrugh. ritual. And one What
Nick Jikomes 1:44:40
is this? What is Anna diantha
Hamilton Morris 1:44:42
and anantha Callie, Rena is a tree that grows in South America that produces Bufo teen containing seeds. I see that yeah, that are arguably at least in terms of the archaeological record some of the oldest site It Alex used by man. They How old are we talking? I think it goes back at least 4000 years. Oh, wow. Yeah. I mean, there was that that discovery in a cave in Bolivia, but they’re pipes that are even older than that. And it, you know, there’s enema tubes, there’s pipes, it was snorted, it was smoked, it was used as an enema. And it is continues, it continues to be used to this day. So, very interesting tradition. It’s probably the last psychoactive plant that I’m aware of that, for whatever reason has not entered any version of the mainstream. You don’t hear people talking about Anna denethor, call you Reena. And so that that excites me. I you know, I wonder what people will think of it. I think that often they people actually do want to see things that they’ve heard about previously, and sometimes are annoyed when it’s something weird that they’ve never seen before. But I hope that people appreciate this, you know, opportunity to see this strange ritual, this ancient, this, this practice that is disappearing, and likely has been around for 1000s of years in various forms. The LSD piece, I think, contains a lot of interesting information. It’s, you know, we I interviewed David Nicholls as he synthesized his last compound. And the the Iboga piece is my favorite of the season. I mean, I wish it could be a feature length documentary, I think it’s so interesting. And I thought it was, you know, like I said, one of the most beautiful rituals I’ve ever seen. So, yeah,
Nick Jikomes 1:46:44
what prevents you from making a feature length documentary?
Hamilton Morris 1:46:49
I mean, I tried I pitched You know, that’s the thing is, there’s so much interest in this stuff. The interest is a little different from the way I’m interested in, like the like, you know, Netflix is doing a Michael Pollan thing. And that’s great. That’s good. That’s gonna educate a lot of people. I certainly don’t object to it. But it’s a very, you know, because the emphasis of that is explicitly clinical. It’s a little bit more digestible for people. Whereas, you know, I pitched my Boga documentary to Netflix at a meeting. And they told me that they’re not interested in any stories about Africa. Wow, why head of the head of their documentary department told me that why don’t think that this was in 2018? I don’t think he would say that today. But that is what he told me in 2018, categorically, no stories about categorically nothing about Africa, the whole continent is awful. And it’s
Nick Jikomes 1:47:42
Hamilton Morris 1:47:44
It’s extremely weird and disturbing. And it’s like, just nothing, nothing. Can you’re just saying no to any. So they, they were not receptive to a lot of these things. And people say, Well, what, why are you with that dumpster fire of a company vice. And it’s like, because it’s expensive to make documentaries. And I care very much about this. And I will take money to make these projects from whoever will give it to me. So if HBO or Netflix wants to give me money, I would love to do longer projects, I’d love to do other things. But at the moment, I’m working with the resources that I have. It’s very expensive to do these projects. And so as much as I might prefer to be doing it somewhere else, I’m grateful to have the opportunity to do it at all.
Nick Jikomes 1:48:28
All right, well, if HBO is listening, here’s your Wow, do you plan on doing another season? No, no.
Hamilton Morris 1:48:36
So this will be the last one. This will be the last one. It’s It’s too. You know, I think people don’t understand how hard it is to do something like this. It’s actually I really, I think people should go out and try to make things themselves I think it’s really important for people to make stuff. So they gain a little bit of empathy for how difficult it is to do something like this, because it’s just, you know, it is it was literally maddening for people. So someone on the crew had a, you know, serious, had to leave because they psychologically couldn’t take it anymore. I mean, another person who’s working I mean, tragic things happen. It was it was very, very, very difficult for people to do this on
Nick Jikomes 1:49:18
just because of like the long the long hours and the literal hard work or because the content was also wearing on people.
Hamilton Morris 1:49:25
The risks, the instant, the unreasonable demands. I mean, I was averaging 13 hours a day, seven days a week for a year. I had to work like because of the pandemic I had to work. In order to finish the project. I had to work unpaid for four months. Oh, like just insanity. Like this is a pattern. It basically became a labor of love in a company that was providing absolutely no support. So it was not it was not an ideal situation. And a lot of The people that worked on it went above and beyond what should have been demanded of them to make it possible. And so it’s not even just about me, it’s about what I can ask of the people that I work with, because it was extremely taxing, and even traumatizing for some of the people that I mean, this stuff is really, you know, I think it’s we will look at something through a TV screen or a computer screen, it’s very easy to not recognize the reality of what you’re looking at. And, and this is real.
Nick Jikomes 1:50:30
Yeah, no, that’s, that’s amazing. I’m glad you said all about. And there’s definitely I don’t know the stats. I don’t know how many people watch this. But I can tell you, it’s enough that for season two, I was back home visiting my parents, and my mom, who I would never expect to be watching Hamilton’s pharmacopoeia. It came on TV, and she was like, oh, Hamiltons. Do you watch this? And I was, ah, my mom watches Hamilton’s pharmacopoeia.
Hamilton Morris 1:50:57
Yep. I mean, it’s, it’s, that’s the thing, it’s it’s like, it’s insane, you know, that just even just take, for example, the the large scale five Meo DMT synthesis in Mexico, you know, like, think about what that was, like, behind the scenes, how hard that was? Yeah, you know, and there’s no support for that there’s the opposite of support, there’s interference, they told me I couldn’t, you know, the legal department said, You can’t do it, it’s illegal, I had to hire independent legal advisors to ship in Mexico, I had to, we’re working pro bono, to show that it was illegal to do it. So I was actually fighting against the network. In order to do that I had to pay for the transportation of all the equipment into the country, I had to organize the lab to do that along with the rest of my team. And then, you know, doing all that synthesis in extremely short period of time, under, you know, with a single camera like this stuff is really very taxing to do and, but the reward is, you know, wow, 2 million people just saw a viable synthetic process for the production of tryptamines, like DMT, and five Meo DMT. If point 00 1% of the people understood, that’s enough to make a difference.
Nick Jikomes 1:52:11
Yeah. How what’s the best way for people who are fans of the show to support you directly?
Hamilton Morris 1:52:16
The best way to support me and sometimes people are very nice. And they’ll say like, how do I want you to support you? I make no money from the watching of the show. So my advice there would be watch it however you can. It’s most convenient for you. But I my only thing that I would say is try to watch it somewhere that it looks good. Because it makes me feel bad when I see like someone’s ripped it on YouTube. And they like cut out the end of the episode or there’s weird, like soccer games cut into the middle of it to get away from copyright restrictions or something that is, that’s a little depressing, because I think, Oh, no, 10,000 people just watched a version of the show that doesn’t even have an ending. That’s they’re not getting the final part of it. That’s sad. I would watch it on Amazon or iTunes. You can. You can also watch it on YouTube by paying I think $3 for some of the episodes, you can find ripped versions on YouTube as well, but they often have some kind of irregularity or something that I feel diminishes the viewing experience. It’s also on TV pies, TV, I don’t have a TV I have no idea how people watch things on TVs. Do you have a TV?
Nick Jikomes 1:53:24
No, I don’t have a TV TV. I watch everything on my computer. And I have a projector.
Hamilton Morris 1:53:28
Yeah, me too. It’s the way everyone is. So this whole idea. I don’t know anyone that has a TV so so I don’t even know but if you’re the if you have a TV I guess you can watch. And, and and if you want to support me directly, I have a Patreon patreon.com slash Hamilton Morris, I have a podcast. And that money is was extremely beneficial during the affer mentioned for unpaid months trying to finish this project. If it weren’t for Patreon, I would have you know, it would have been bad. So yeah, that’s the best way to support me directly is via Patreon.
Nick Jikomes 1:54:03
Wow. So what is next for you? Do you have a next project? What are you going to work on? coming up?
Hamilton Morris 1:54:09
I think the plan is now to just do full time chemistry for a while.
Nick Jikomes 1:54:13
And what does that mean? What exactly are you going to be doing?
Hamilton Morris 1:54:17
For years I’ve worked with this brilliant chemist Jason Wallach, at the University of the sciences in Philadelphia. And recently, there’s been a lot of industrial interest in the psychedelic sphere. And there’s a lot of funding that has emerged and so our plan is to you know, we have we have funding to do some really cool work. And I you know, I’ve always, chemistry was like a thing I did on the weekends. And that was great. And it was a nice kind of side project in my life. But I would love to spend more time just doing chemistry and I won’t stop you know, podcasts and writing and things like that, but Unless there is a, you know, a different network offers a really miraculous sum of money to do something, I think I’m probably gonna be taking a break from that. And maybe I’ll try to make a movie at some point in the future.
Nick Jikomes 1:55:13
Interesting. And you have a family background in documentary filmmaking, right? Is it your grandfather, your uncle, my father, it’s your father. Okay. So who was your father?
Hamilton Morris 1:55:25
My father is a great documentary filmmaker named Errol Morris. And I really, you know, it’s funny when he’s brought up it’s usually I feel in a kind of like, disparaging way to diminish what I’ve done, which is unfortunate for me, because I want to give him credit for being an absolutely amazing filmmaker like I, I admire him I have learned so much from him. His documentaries are amazing, right? anyone’s listening to this, like, you know, thin Blue Lion, fast, even out of control tabloid, these are all great films that I recommend to anyone who’s interested in documentary filmmaking. And he taught me an enormous amount about storytelling. So yeah, that was, you know, lucky for me, because he’s a he’s a good a good person to grow up around if you want to learn about making documentaries.
Nick Jikomes 1:56:17
Interesting, what, what is, what is what is the most interesting to you in terms of inspiring your your chemistry research? What is the research going on today, in the psychedelic sphere that you think is particularly exciting? Uh
Hamilton Morris 1:56:37
huh. I mean, there’s now that so much of the work that’s happening is industrially pharmaceutically oriented. There’s, there’s, you know, of course, all this work like the David Olson work on Don psychedelic neuroplasticity enhancers that are similar to classical psychedelics. I think that’s an interesting idea. I think there’s a lot of pharmaceutical interest in that. I mean, I think that there’s a lot of basic work to be done. When I first read Alexander Gilligan’s books p call and tea call, I felt as if everything that had, that everything had been done, that there was nothing left if you made every conceivable psychedelic compound. But of course, the reality is that he had scratched the surface and there are, you know, 1000s more to be left to be discovered. And I think that every, every person that wants to get involved in the sphere has the opportunity to make a contribution if they’re, you know, dedicated and, and passionate about discovering new things.
Nick Jikomes 1:57:40
You got to meet Sheldon, didn’t you say many times, can you explain to people who don’t know who he is who he was?
Hamilton Morris 1:57:49
Yeah. Shogun was a chemist who, early in his career worked for Dow Chemical. And he made a profitable compound called Zack Tran. And because of the success of that compound, he was given some research freedom and some money. And the nice thing about chemistry relative to things like neuroscience is that a chemist can actually do a lot of work but not that much money, like you can stretch a few $1,000 in a chemistry lab, a long way if especially if you already have analytical instruments, the chemicals are not that expensive. So he was able to pretty much self fund enormous amounts of psychedelic structure activity relationship research in his backyard for decades, and published these two absolutely incredible strange, beautiful funny sexual books called p caliente call and and for me, he’s, you know, a scientific idol. I think that he really embodied a lot of very beneficial traits that any scientist should strive to exhibit in their work. And anyone that hasn’t already heard of P caliente called pi HKL and THK. l buy them on Amazon read them, you won’t regret it.
Nick Jikomes 1:59:21
in very simple terms, how would you describe those books?
Hamilton Morris 1:59:26
They’re gigantic books that cover his relationship with his wife and Shogun, who is a co author of these books and their romance, their testing and synthesis, different psychedelic compounds. That’s usually the first half of these books. And then the second half is pure chemistry and evaluation of the compounds. So they’re they’re half chemistry books, half love story, and then sprinkled Within those two components, there’s an enormous amount of psychedelic history. Yeah, they’re
Nick Jikomes 2:00:05
fascinating to read. I mean, most people probably wouldn’t know what to do with the chemistry, half of it. It literally is a manual for how to do chemical synthesis. All of the compounds that are in these books, but the first half, are these wonderful, strange, entertaining, beautiful stories often funny about Shogun his relationship with the other Shogun, his wife, all of the compounds they make and the the adventures that they had together, doing all this.
Hamilton Morris 2:00:35
Yeah, no, I, it’s, it’s amazing to me how many people who are involved in psychedelics have not read these books, because I consider them just like, the first thing, the first thing that you should do to not delay getting these books, and just get them. You don’t have to read them cover to cover, flip through them, read it, read around, and pick up little bits and pieces or read them cover to cover if you want. That’s also useful. And, and, and you won’t regret it. I mean, it’s it’s the best books ever written about drugs. So they are pretty certainly the best scientifically oriented ones.
Nick Jikomes 2:01:19
Yeah, no, I agree. They are. They are. They’re very unique. There’s really nothing like them out there. So we had some questions on the internet. I’ll just ask one very basic one from someone they wanted to know. What is Hamilton’s favorite psychedelic? I think they’re asking what do you personally enjoy the most? Yeah, I don’t know. If you even have an answer.
Hamilton Morris 2:01:40
It’s, you know, it’s just it’s like saying, What’s your favorite song? Or what’s your, you know, honest way you can you can make up some answer, but it’s not. It’s just not your favorite food or anything. Maybe there’s someone out there that has a favorite food. But think about these sorts of things. They’re all they’re all interesting. They’re all valuable in their own way. They’re good for different things summer. So you I would never call any psychedelic my favorite.
Nick Jikomes 2:02:09
Do you think there’s any that are underappreciated or lesser known besides the big ones? Like everyone? I think everyone knows about magic mushrooms and psilocybin. Everyone knows about LSD, maybe DMT. But what are some of the ones? What are some of the major ones mentioned in peak oil or teak oil, for example, that the average person probably hasn’t heard about?
Hamilton Morris 2:02:31
You know, I feel so conflicted about answering questions like that, because I really, I try not to draw too much attention, or to advocate for specific substances that aren’t widely known. Because then then, you know, I did an interview with Eric Andre recently, and I was trying to not draw attention to a substance and that, you know, like, what is it called the Streisand effect?
Nick Jikomes 2:02:54
Hamilton Morris 2:02:55
to draw attention to something. And then 100% of the response is like, I know what he was, I know what he’s referring to. So, you know, I want one thing I will say is I’m astonished by how negatively regarded the N benzel. phenethylamines. are, you know, when people talk about the NBA Emmys, it is 100% negative? It’s like, since I don’t really I’ve heard
Nick Jikomes 2:03:19
of those, but I don’t really know what they are
Hamilton Morris 2:03:22
like to fly by and do me to five siendo me to five d nbma. And what do they do? Their five ht to a agonist, phenethylamines psychedelics that are like that are almost ubiquitously despised by the psychedelic community, if they’re brought up, they’re brought up only in the context of their misrepresentation as LSD and how they’re more dangerous than LSD, which they probably are. In fact, they are more dangerous than LSD. But I don’t think they’re bad reputation is deserved. And it really pains me, whenever I see a substance, where the actual issue is people not dosing it responsibly, or not using it responsibly and blaming the substance for that, or just even worse, when they people have no evidence whatsoever, that they’ve even ingested that substance, but they had a bad experience. And so they say it was that it substance because they know that substance has a bad reputation. So I remember years ago, there was a vice journalist who, you know, had some kind of, you know, went to a rave took some took some unknown dose of an unknown, psychedelic and said, like, Oh, I think it was, you know, two, five, I nbo. Me based on what I heard, and it was so terrible. I’m making a piece about how bad those are. And this is before any of them were even illegal. And I said alright, well, at the very least give me a sample of it. Let me take it to the lab, that I can just identify what this compound is for you. So if you’re gonna make a piece about it, at least know what trug you took, yeah, recall, it was two, five b nbma. Before it was controlled substance. But again, she had no idea what dose it was, and then she’s going to To say that it’s the drugs fault and take no personal responsibility. You’re not I’m not trying to hate on this, it’s actually, you know, it’s very common for people to behave this way. Instead of saying I was foolish, I took an unknown dose of an unknown compound, irresponsibly, they’ll just say oh to five, the nbme is poison needs to be illegal, you know, that kind of thing. And I really dislike that. And I have used to five C and D. O me before it was a controlled substance. And, you know, I feel conflicted about saying it publicly, because these are such hated compounds, but I would be dishonest if I didn’t say that. I thought it was an absolutely fantastic experience.
Nick Jikomes 2:05:40
Oh, the other one I wanted to ask you about. So when we talk about mushrooms, by default, people are typically talking about psilocybin containing mushrooms. But I did want to ask you about Amanita muscaria. So what is the active compound that comes from Amanita? muscaria? How’s it different than ever tried that? Because it’s a very different kind of compound. I’ve never encountered it myself. And I’ve heard a lot of different things about it.
Hamilton Morris 2:06:06
Yeah, I mean, it was in amminadab, muscaria episode and second season of my show, I’ve I’ve tried it, it contains a form of logically unrelated to psilocybin, psychedelic or psychoactive or deliriant compound called muscimol, as well as IV tannic acid and, and muscarinic and some other compounds, but the primary compound in Amanita muscaria that is seemingly responsible for its effect is basketball. And it’s gabbeh to gab and instance, gab ergic. And its mechanism and a gamma a agonist specifically, and it it produces a kind of loose, watery delirium that is interesting.
Nick Jikomes 2:06:52
So it does not activate serotonin receptors like psilocybin or classical psychedelics, it activates GABA receptors, which are the same thing that something like a benzodiazepine would activate, right?
Hamilton Morris 2:07:03
Yes, but in it, but benzodiazepines are positive allosteric modulators of gabbay, typically, and muscimol is a agonist. So it has same receptor, but a different mechanism at that receptor. And why exactly it produces this psychedelic visionary effect is not well understood.
Nick Jikomes 2:07:23
Interesting. So it’s a completely different, it’s a completely different kind of psychedelic compound in terms of its mechanism, we don’t really know too much about it. Well, I don’t want to take too much more of your time. Do you have any final thoughts that you want to leave people with regarding the general subject matter that we’ve covered here about your show about anything else?
Hamilton Morris 2:07:43
Um, yeah, I mean, I just hope people enjoy the show. And I hope that Yeah, I hope that and you know, I think it’s a it’s a good way for people to be visually introduced to a lot of these things that have often kind of only existed in written works in the past to be able to see chemistry, many people never seen this synthesis before. I think it’s a great way to get people interested in chemistry. And I hope people enjoy it and benefit from the work because although it was very difficult, it was also fun to make. And I think that it’s, you know, a lot of work went into making sure that things were accurate and portrayed in a way that I hoped would ultimately be beneficial. So watch it however you can. And if you’re interested in checking out my podcast, it’s on Patreon.
Nick Jikomes 2:08:33
Awesome. Well, Hamilton, Hamilton Morris, thank you for your time. Thank you for making the show and putting this information out there. I love it. I’ve been watching it for a long time. I’ve seen almost every episode, some of them two or three times I think, and I know that there’s a lot of people that really appreciate it. So thank you. Yeah, great. Thanks for having me.