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Can MAO create illicit chemicals in my body?
Q: I have heard that taking l-tryptophan and an MAO-I along with something to facilitate its transportation to the brain such as a candy bar can cause the pineal gland to create 5-meo-dipt or 5-meo-dmt or something similar. Is this true and if so, would it be considered production of an illicit chemical if it occurs within your body's natural processes?

A: Monoamine oxidase (MAO) is a metabolic enzyme that initiates the breakdown of a number of neurotransmitters, metabolites, and other "monoamines". The danger of taking an MAO inhibitor (MAO-I) is that you inhibit the enzymes ability to break down things the body normally likes to get rid of. Sometimes, this is useful for getting certain things into the brain before MAO has a chance to break them down and inactivate them, such as DMT. However, if one were to eat any fermented foods or drinks, such as cheese, beer, wine, etc that contains the amino acid tyramine, the body would be unable to break down the excess tyramine (in high amounts in these foods). This causes toxic levels to build up, which elicits flushing, cardivascular disturbances, and in extreme cases could be lethal.

Enzymatically converting l-tryptophan to an illicit substance would take several enzymes, none of them MAO. Again, MAO would only serve to begin the breakdown of said illicit substance once it was present. Many psychoactive chemicals are broken down in the body into other psychoactive chemicals, such as Psilocybin --> Psilocin, MDMA --> MDA, and 1,4-Butanediol --> GHB. However, we know of no substances one can injest which will cause the body to synthesize a more complex psychoactive chemical.

Your body does produce very trace amounts of DMT naturally, and it is a valid questioning of analog and other posession/production laws as to the fact that all of us are walking, talking, psychedelic factories. We would guess that if an endogenous (in the body) synthesis were found, it would be extremely difficult for a person to be successfully prosecuted for ingesting a legal substance which caused internal production of an illegal one. New laws would likely have to be passed to make ingestion of certain combinations of legal substances, illegal.



On the legal question, there are three points I can think of:

  1. Natural production of scheduled substances

  2. Ingesting exogenous substances in order to cause the body to create Scheduled substances

  3. Genetic alteration or implanted biosynthetic systems

As for the natural production question, like GHB or DMT present in the body, I would guess that no court in the United States would be able to find that the government can prosecute someone for their brain containing something the congress had scheduled.

On the issue of intentionally ingesting things in order to have the body synthesize scheduled compounds, this is somewhat more complicated but we would hope that the courts would disallow any prosecution which is predicated on the idea that psychoactives substances produced inside the body are illegal, and instead require that the specific substances to be ingested would be the subject of legislation instead. At this point, however, I do not believe someone could be successfully prosecuted for eating an unscheduled chemical or plant which caused the body to synthesize n,n-DMT or another Schedule I chemical.

In the not-to-distant-future, custom genetic modifications or biosynthetic implants which could increase or synthesize Controlled Substances in the body. It seems not unlikely that, given the current legislative direction in US to a parental state, the US would ban any device or procedure which would intentionally produce or alter the levels of any controlled substance without the appropriate license from the State. While this might sound a bit science-fictiony at the moment, we are on the threshold of of custom genetics and human-implantable integrated systems. Its anyone's guess when this technology will become consumer-level.


Asked By : anon
Answered By : psilo, fire, earth
Published Date : 4 / 16 / 2002
Last Edited Date : 4 / 17 / 2002
Question ID : 2932

Categories: [ Pharmacology ] [ Law ]

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