DMT, microtubules, kundalini and witnessing awareness – research hypotheses

by Ovidiu Brazdau

Paper presented at the Romanian Neuroscience Conference, 2015

“It may be that the DMT (N,N-Dimethyltryptamin) is enhancing the resonance-induced conductance in single microtubules, a process that would be inhibited by anesthetic gases”. Although there is no assay to measure endogenous production of DMT, it seems that 5-methoxy-DMT is likely to produce witnessing awareness experiences (also called presence in psychology). Is it possible that the witnessing awareness mode of our psyche has a physiological correlate in the production of endogenous DMT?

We are exploring a consequence of the Orch-OR theory launched by Stuart Hameroff and Roger Penrose.

The theory, called “orchestrated objective reduction” (‘Orch OR’), was first put forward in the mid-1990s by eminent mathematical physicist Sir Roger Penrose, FRS, Mathematical Institute and Wadham College, University of Oxford, and prominent anesthesiologist Stuart Hameroff, MD, Anesthesiology, Psychology and Center for Consciousness Studies, The University of Arizona, Tucson. They suggested that quantum vibrational computations in microtubules were “orchestrated” (“Orch”) by synaptic inputs and memory stored in microtubules, and terminated by Penrose “objective reduction” (‘OR’), hence “Orch OR.” Microtubules are major components of the cell structural skeleton.

Orch OR was harshly criticized from its inception, as the brain was considered too “warm, wet, and noisy” for seemingly delicate quantum processes. However, evidence has now shown warm quantum coherence in plant photosynthesis, bird brain navigation, our sense of smell, and brain microtubules. The recent discovery of warm temperature quantum vibrations in microtubules inside brain neurons by the research group led by Anirban Bandyopadhyay, PhD, at the National Institute of Material Sciences in Tsukuba, Japan (and now at MIT), corroborates the pair’s theory and suggests that EEG rhythms also derive from deeper level microtubule vibrations. In addition, work from the laboratory of Roderick G. Eckenhoff, MD, at the University of Pennsylvania, suggests that anesthesia, which selectively erases consciousness while sparing non-conscious brain activities, acts via microtubules in brain neurons.


In other words, this interdisciplinary hypothesis links these ideas: 

On one side, the neurosciences:

– the microtubules are components of the cells’ cytoskeleton (including neuron cells); recent researches has shown that these microtubules resonate and have a kind of “wifi” communication system. As a consequence, all the microtubules in the cells of the human body form a new type of electromagnetic “synchrony field”; Stuart Hameroff says that this field is what we experience as consciousness. In my opinion, this is better described in English by “fundamental awareness”

On the other side, the transpersonal psychology and the mystics:

– We are living in a space full of interconnections, in a space of fundamental awareness, and we can connect with this awareness itself; this is a capacity called “witnessing awareness”.
– Modern theories of psychological evolution (developed by Clare Grawes and recently, by Susanne Cook-Greuter) mention that witnessing is a capacity that appears naturally in the post-autonomous stages of ego development, when people decide to expand and to become “more” than their ego; an estimate of less than 1% of the population has this capacity as a permanent skill.
– This ability – “Just Being” – is described by mystical traditions in many ways, but people from various cultures experience somehow the same types of oneness experiences.
– The psychedelic states induced by the amazonian “ayahuasca” mix (which contains DMT) generate sometimes kundalini awakening experiences, just as they are described in the eastern kundalini yoga.
– Rick Strassman argues that we have an endogenous production of DMT, which activates in the moments of death, or when we stay in a dark space for more than 10 days.

My hypothesis is… that there is a link between ayahuasca and kundalini awakening. But how is this happening? What is the process? I had the chance to explore with ayahuasca a few times, just to observe and explore the experience in myself. And the subjective experience was that all my cells were connected with all other cells, and with environment, and then with space and time. This synchrony is observed also by the neuroscientists, who talk about the conscious experience in relation to the gamma synchrony in the brain. In my opinion, this gamma synchrony is just a result of a large vibrational synchrony.

 I see these logical connections as a working hypothesis:
– we all have this “fundamental awareness field, or structure”, it is developing naturally in humans, just as any other mutation/evolution.
– the “microtubules” field, and the “pure” awareness field experienced by mystics are related.
– this field can increase the interconnectedness of its parts, when DMT is involved, either by endogenous production (in the lungs or pineal gland, we don’t know yet) or by external means (e.g. using ayahuasca).
– how is DMT influencing the microtubules? By increasing the conductance in microtubules, making them more able to “resonate” and to tap into the “collective synchrony”.
– this increase in interconnectedness is subjectively experienced by mystics as oceanic pure consciousness, collective love, wisdom. Or, as spirals and fractals of energies, by DMT psychonauts. It’s like the field is increasingly becoming conscious of itself, through feedback loops (which can be cognitive, emotional or sensorial).

The research team interested to explore this hypothesis: Mihai Moldovan (NerveLab, Panum Institute, University of Copenhagen, Denmark), Jack Tuzynski & Travis Craddock (Alberta University, Canada), Massimo Pregnolato (University of Pavia, Italy), Walter Menozzi (Santo Daime Movement, Italy), Rick Strassman (University of New Mexico School of Medicine – author of “DMT: The Spirit Molecule”); Anirban Bandyopadhyay (National Institute for Materials Science, Japan); Leon Zagrean (Neuroscience Society of Romania) and myself.

Some researches have already made a few steps ahead, related to this topic. E.g. a team of researchers lead by Ede Frecska in Hungary explored the idea that the naturally occurring DMT molecule has vital therapeutic and clinical qualities, and it is pivotal to the progression of brain science. Their hypothesis is that, in the situations such as heart attacks, strokes and comas, DMT’s presence on emergency crash carts in ambulances and hospitals could prevent surviving patients from enduring brain damage. In my perspective, this may happen because the DMT is keeping an active electromagnetic connection between damaged neurons. The external DMT would create an extra time of 10-15 minutes for the medical team, while the patient is transported to hospital.

Another research that supports this hypothesis is recently published by Jordi Riba and his team, in association with The Beckley Foundation, who discovered a connection between ayahuasca and psychological mindfulness traits.

Why is the proposal of any significance?

If the hypothesis is confirmed, that would offer a fresh air to spirituality and science debates. And it would change many paradigms about interconnectedness. In psychology, this would be a step forward on exploring how the collective mind works. Our hypothesis would produce effects also on memory studies: in Alzheimer patients, the connection between neurons starts to weaken; using DMT (microdosing perhaps) we may support the re-connection.

If the hypothesis is not confirmed, we would know that DMT is not doing anything to microtubules, and we will have to search for another hypothesis.

How will we test the hypothesis?

The research design would involve explorations of the DMT effects on practicants of Santo Daime church from Italy, a spiritual movement created in Brazilian Amazonian state in 1930 that uses ayahuasca as a part of their spiritual ceremonies. What I am thinking, as a psychologist, is that perhaps, giving an extra quantity of ayahuasca to the subjects would create an extra-synchrony between microtubules in the body, an increased density in the synchrony field . We need a device that could be tuned into the “microtubules frequency field”, and see if there are observable patterns in this web of connections. A research colleague suggested that we should start by adapting an EEG to MHz scales and see what happens when DMT is added. Then perhaps exploring with a modified PET scanner.

Our research hypothesis is informed by Mircea Steriade’s researches on coalescence of brain rhythms. He observed that different brain rhythms, with both low-frequency and fast-frequency, are grouped within complex wave-sequences. This concept of unified brain rhythms does not only include low-frequency sleep oscillations but also fast (beta and gamma) activities that are not exclusively confined to brain-activated states, since they also occur during slow-wave sleep.

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