4-ACO-DMT, O-Acetylpsilocin is a semi-synthetic psychoactive drug that has been suggested by David Nichols to be a potentially useful alternative to psilocybin for pharmacological studies, as they are both believed to be prodrugs of psilocin.
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4-AcO-DMT (4-Acetoxy-N,N-dimethyltryptamine) is a synthetic psychedelic compound. People often refer to it as “synthetic mushrooms” due to it producing subjective effects nearly identical to those of psilocybin mushrooms. This drug chemical structure is also similar to that of psilocin, the psychoactive compound that psilocybin turns into when processed by the body.
How does this drug Causes A Psychedelic Experience
This drug is a structural analog of the psychedelic compound psilocybin, meaning they both have a similar chemical structure.
Like psilocybin, it is thought that this drug acts as a prodrug to psilocin, meaning that when the body processes it, it breaks down into psilocin, which is responsible for magic mushrooms’ subjective effects. The psychedelic researcher David E. Nichols suggested this in 1999.
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The body also converts this drug (Figure 3) to psilocin via removal of the acetyl group by deacetylase and acetyltransferase enzymes. Scientists don’t know if 4-AcO-DMT is biologically active on its own. Interestingly, in their 1963 patent, Albert Hofmann and Franz Troxler described indole acetate esters like 4-AcO-DMT as serotonin receptor antagonists. However, over the years, scientists have come to classify them as prodrugs that are inactive on their own by way of analogy to psilocybin.
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The History of 4-AcO-DMT
Albert Hofmann and Franz Troxler first synthesized this drug in the early 1960s. Sandoz, a Swiss chemical company that produced LSD (discovered by Hofmann), then patented 4-AcO-DMT in 1963. However, its subjective effects were not investigated at the time.
It is currently unknown when people first started using 4-AcO-DMT and exploring its psychedelic effects. Its recreational use peaked in the 2010s, which is when the drug appeared on the online research chemical market.
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Comparing the Effects of Psilocin and 4-AcO-DMT
It’s important to understand that ingesting pure psilocybin by itself is very different from the cocktail of chemicals a person receives after eating magic mushrooms. All the psychoactive compounds in magic mushrooms (like baeocystin, norbaeocystin, norpsilocin, and aeruginascin) work together to produce the overall psychedelic experience for the user. For example, researchers have noted that aeruginascin has a synergistic effect on the pharmacological action of psilocybin in magic mushrooms.