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Desmanthus illinoensis

desmanthusDesmanthus illinoensis is Uncontrolled in the United States, however, it is not approved for human consumption. This is a gray area of the law because the plant contains DMT, which is classified as a Schedule I drug.

Addictive Potential: None

Emergency Room Visits Yearly: Unknown

Mandatory Minimum Sentence: Unknown

Mechanism of Action: Increases Serotonin when combined with an MAOI


Desmanthus illinoensis is also known as prairie bundleflower, Illinois bundleflower, prairie-mimosa, or prickleweed. The root bark of Desmanthus illinoensis has been found to contain 0.34% DMT (Thompson et al., 1987). The root bark also contains NMT and a “low concentration” of gramine (Trout, 2009). Gramine is toxic to mammals, insects, and plants (Yoshida, 1993). That said, it is unclear as to what extent the consumption of low concentrations of gramine may cause negative health consequences in humans.

Desmanthus illinoensis is a native, warm season perennial legume which spreads by seed. It averages three to four feet tall at maturity. Small self-pollinating flowers form a ball-like cluster and bloom from May to September. The seed pods are made up of curved pods that are green until the seed matures, then they turn to brown or black and split open to release two to six seeds. The leaves are doubly compound and attached to the stem in alternate arrangements.

Ott (1993) described consuming 56.2 grams of Desmanthus illinoensis root along with 4 grams of peganum harmala. Ott wrote that “this potion produced distinct entheogenic effects of DMT commencing at 30 minutes, building to a peak by 1:05 with a 30 minute plateau. By 2:00 Effects had noticeably diminished, and had all but disappeared by 3:00 after ingestion. The effects were mild but unmistakable, with tinnitus, euphoria and mild visual phenomena” (p. 253).

Desmanthus illinoensis is currently legal to buy, sell, and possess in the United States.


General MAOI warnings. When ingested orally, MAOIs inhibit the catabolism of dietary amines. Sufficient intestinal MAO-A inhibition can lead to hypertensive crisis, when foods containing tyramine are consumed (so-called “cheese syndrome”), or hyperserotonemia if foods containing tryptophan are consumed. The amount required to cause a reaction exhibits great individual variation and depends on the degree of inhibition, which in turn depends on dosage and selectivity.

The exact mechanism by which tyramine causes a hypertensive reaction is not well understood, but it is assumed that tyramine displaces norepinephrine from the storage vesicles. This may trigger a cascade in which excessive amounts of norepinephrine can lead to a hypertensive crisis. Another theory suggests that proliferation and accumulation of catecholamines causes hypertensive crises.



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