Rick Strassman, M.D. ( http://www.rickstrassman.com/ )
Rick Strassman was permitted to embark on the first human research with psychedelic, hallucinogenic, or entheogenic substances in the 1990s in the United States after 20 years’ intermission in the field. In the intermission period it has only been legally possible to research on animals.
Strassman’s studies investigated the effects of N,N-dimethyltryptamine (DMT), a powerful entheogen, or psychedelic, that he theorizes is a substance produced by the human brain in the pineal gland (without any conclusive proof), and an active ingredient in ayahuasca. Ayahuasca is any of the various psychoactive infusions or decoctions prepared from the Banisteriopsis spp. vine, native to the Amazon Rainforest (which is also called ayahuasca). The resulting drinks are pharmacologically complex and used for shamanic, folk-medicinal, and religious purposes. Occidental ethno-biologists have noted a variety of 200-300 plants used in the different brews made by the Ayahuasceras. It is an open question whether Ayahuasca should be noted as one particular shamanic medicinal brew, or that it should be noted as an entire medicinal tradition alongside, for instance, Ayurveda or Tibetan Medicine.
During the project’s five years, he administered approximately 400 doses of DMT to 60 human volunteers. This research took place at the University of New Mexico’s School of Medicine in Albuquerque, New Mexico where he was tenured Associate Professor of Psychiatry. Strassman has conjectured that when a person is approaching death, the pineal gland releases DMT, accounting for much of the imagery reported by survivors of near-death experiences.
Strassan wrote about the research program in his book DMT: The Sprit Molecule. A documentary movie based on this book is currently in production.