What is 4-AcO-DMT? Understanding The Synthetic Psilocybin Analog

What is 4-AcO-DMT? Understanding The Synthetic Psilocybin Analog

What is 4-AcO-DMT?

4-AcO-DMT, also called O-acetylpsilocin, psilacetin, and psilocetin, is a synthetic psychedelic substance. The compound is structurally similar to magic mushrooms' primary hallucinogenic compound, psilocybin. Like psilocybin, 4-AcO-DMT acts as a prodrug to psilocin, which means that the body converts the compound into psilocin after ingestion. This function is incredibly valuable as psilocin is the active tryptamine that exerts magic mushrooms’ psychedelic effects upon ingestion.

This article comprehensively explains 4-AcO-DMT, focusing on its chemical properties, dosage, psychedelic effects, lab testing, and legality.

4-AcO-DMT Discovery

Albert Hofmann and Franz Troxler synthesized 4-AcO-DMT in 1963 while researching psilocin analogs. However, they did not examine psychoactive properties at that time.  In 1999, medicinal chemist David E. Nichols highlighted its promise as a more cost-effective substitute for psilocybin in pharmacological studies. Following its emergence in the online research chemical market in the 2010s, anecdotal accounts of its recreational use began to emerge.

Chemical Profile and Synthesis

4-AcO-DMT, chemically known as 4-Acetoxy-N, N-dimethyltryptamine, is a synthetic compound under the hallucinogen category. The '4-AcO' in its name refers to a 4-acetoxy group attached to the nitrogen atom of the tryptamine backbone.

The chemical structure of 4-AcO-DMT, with this 4-acetoxy group, differentiates it from psilocybin, which contains a 4-phosphoryloxy group. Despite the differences, both compounds share a similar indole ring structure that is typical of tryptamines. This structural similarity underpins their comparable pharmacological effects, as scientists believe both to be prodrugs of psilocin in the human body. 

Synthesizing 4-AcO-DMT in a laboratory setting typically involves acetylating psilocin, although scientists can also synthesize it from other tryptamine precursors. The process usually requires advanced knowledge of organic chemistry and access to specific reagents and equipment. The method can vary but typically involves a series of chemical reactions introducing the acetoxy group into the tryptamine structure.

Psychoactive Effects 

4-AcO-DMT’s tryptamine structure gives it a range of mind-altering effects comparable to classic psychedelics, particularly psilocybin. 

Sensory Enhancements

  • Explorers often report enhanced colors, geometric patterns, and visual distortions or hallucinations. These can range from subtle enhancements in color and texture to complex, shifting patterns and fractal-like images.
  • Sounds may seem more distinct or take on a different quality, such as echoing. Music can feel more emotionally profound. 
  • Some people experience a heightened sense of touch, often described as more immersive.

Emotional Shifts

4-AcO-DMT can induce a wide range of emotional states, from euphoria and bliss to introspection and empathy. In some cases, it can also lead to challenging experiences, such as anxiety or introspective thoughts. There's often an increased feeling of openness and connectedness with others, similar to MDMA but less intense.

Cognitive Alterations

Users often report changes in their patterns, including nonlinear thinking, a sense of interconnectedness, or profound philosophical insights. Time may slow down, speed up, or become irrelevant.

Comparing 4-AcO-DMT  with Psilocybin

4-AcO-DMT’s effects are largely similar to psilocybin due to their shared metabolic pathway to psilocin. 

However, some people report subtle differences.

The onset and duration of effects can differ slightly depending on the route of administration and individual metabolism.  Some people report that 4-AcO-DMT has a smoother onset than psilocybin, potentially leading to a more gentle experience. The emotional and cognitive effects can be very subjective and variable between individuals, but both substances are known for their potential to induce profound and meaningful experiences.

Dosage and Administration Methods

According to retired police sergeant Keith Graves’ law enforcement guide, the typical  4-AcO-DMT dosage ranges are:

  • Mild: 5-10 mg
  • Standard: 10-25 mg
  • Potent: 25-40 mg
  • Extreme: 40+ mg

Administration Methods

  • Oral Ingestion: Most people ingest 4-AcO-DMT through it as pills, capsules, or powders dissolved in liquid. The onset of effects typically takes 20-40 minutes, with the experience peaking around 2-3 hours and lasting up to 6 hours.
  • Insufflation (Snorting): Snorting 4-AcO-DMT leads to a quicker onset of effects. This method may make the experience's overall duration shorter and more potent. 

Less common methods include vaporization and intravenous administration, which may have increased risks and difficulty controlling the dosage.

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Potential Therapeutic Uses

 4-AcO-DMT’s potential therapeutic uses are an area of growing interest, especially considering the renewed research into psychedelic compounds for mental health treatment. 4-AcO-DMT is less studied than psilocybin, but its structural and pharmacological similarities suggest it might have similar therapeutic applications.

Additionally, a 2017 animal study found that one 4-AcO-DMT dose could prevent and reverse heroin and nicotine addictions. The researchers believe the process works by stopping an increase in a brain substance called brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF). This happens by interacting with a specific serotonin receptor in the brain, the 5-HT2A receptor. Essentially, this interaction helps regulate brain activity related to mood and cognition.

Ongoing Research and Applications

Like psilocybin, psilacetin may have the potential to treat depression, particularly treatment-resistant forms. Its ability to promote neuroplasticity and alter thought patterns could be beneficial in providing relief from depressive symptoms.

Early research and anecdotal reports suggest that the reflective and emotional experiences induced by psychedelics like 4-AcO-DMT could help individuals process traumatic memories and reduce symptoms of PTSD and anxiety disorders.

Additionally, a growing body of psychedelic research implies that O-acetylpsilocin might also be effective in treating various addictions, possibly by disrupting maladaptive patterns of behavior and thought.

Current State of Scientific Understanding

The scientific understanding of 4-AcO-DMT is still in its infancy compared to more extensively researched psychedelics like psilocybin and LSD. However, the interest in this compound is increasing within the scientific community.

Research has focused chiefly on its pharmacological profile and subjective effects, laying the groundwork for more applied therapeutic studies.

Legal Status 

The DEA’s Controlled Substances List does not explicitly include 4-AcO-DMT as a controlled substance, meaning it is not expressly illegal under US federal law. However, psilacetin is an analog of psilocin. Law enforcement could penalize possession and sales under the Federal Analogue Act. However, according to Keith Graves, attorney generals may not want to pursue such cases.

Mushroom brands interested in producing and selling 4-AcO-DMT products must navigate a complex and often unclear regulatory landscape. This requires significant legal expertise and compliance with various drug laws. Consumers must also accept some inherent level of risk and stay updated on state laws. 

The Role of Lab Testing in Understanding 4-AcO-DMT

Full panel testing is crucial in understanding the safety and quality of psychedelic substances like 4-AcO-DMT. Third-party lab testing looks at purity, potency, and safety. 

  • Potency testing quantifies the concentration of active ingredients, like 4-AcO-DMT, in a sample. This information is crucial for dosing, especially given the compound's potent effects. Accurate results are critical in minimizing adverse reactions and maximizing target therapeutic potential. Understanding 4-AcO-DMT potency also allows for more consistent experiences.
  • Safety tests can identify the presence of contaminants that can damage human health. Contaminants include pesticides, heavy metals, and microbial compounds. 
  • Purity testing looks for unwanted additives like chemical reactants and residual solvents, which can significantly alter the effects of the substance and potentially lead to harmful side effects.

For researchers, lab testing provides essential data contributing to the scientific understanding of 4-AcO-DMT. This includes its pharmacokinetics (how the body processes the drug) and pharmacodynamics (how it affects the body), and potential therapeutic effects.

Bottom Line

4-AcO-DMT is a substance of significant interest in the field of psychedelic research, offering the potential for therapeutic applications while also posing challenges in terms of legal status and safety. Psilocetin’s similarity to psilocybin in structure and effects highlights its promise, particularly in treating conditions like depression, PTSD, and addiction. 

As research evolves, 4-AcO-DMT stands at the forefront of a new wave of psychedelic compounds, poised to offer novel insights and treatments in mental health.

Contact ACS Laboratory about third-party mushroom testing today. 

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