Psilocin (psilocyn), bufotenine, DMT (dimethyl tryptamine), psilocybin, AMT (a-Methyl tryptamine), and similar substances are psychoactive agents which mimic the naturally occurring neurotransmitter tryptamines.  There are a large number of synthetic and semi-synthetic tryptamines available for both legal and illicit use (1).  Tryptamines are found in a wide variety of plant and animal sources (2) and are of interest to ethnopharmacologists (3).

The most commonly abused illegal tryptamines give psychedelic effects, somewhat akin to LSD.  However, the behavioral effects may tend to be more bizarre, and include paranoia, stereotypy, and psychosis.  Some tryptamines also are significantly toxic.  They may be ingested both intentionally and unintentionally.  Of particular concern is their use in drug assisted sexual assault.  Tryptamines have become a common "party drug" class in many areas of this and other countries.  Tryptamine use should be suspected in any case of sudden, unexplained, aberrant behavior, especially in persons in the age range of 14-25 years.

The limits of detection for most of the tryptamines are in the range of 20-200pg/mL.  This varies based upon the matrix and the individual substance to be analyzed.

There is no immunological screening test available for the tryptamines.  Therefore, they are more difficult to find in routine work.  We analyze for an extensive list of tryptamines, including the above compounds plus DIIMT, 5-MEOT and others.  We use HPLC/MS/MS (tandem mass spectrometry) to detect and quantitate the substances in blood, urine, and other matrices.  We have found at least five different tryptamines in recent samples.  We provide a large number of forensic toxicological analyses, such as for THC, LSD, fentanyl, BZP (benzylpiperazine), TFMPP (trifluoro-methylphenypiperazine), and other drugs.  We also provide research analytical services to academic and pharmaceutical industry scientists.

Please contact Dr. Patricia Sulik or Dr. Robert Lantz  if additional information is needed.


1.    Shulgin, Alexander and Shulgin, Ann,  "TiHKAL"  Transform Press, Berkeley, CA. (1997).  This is the best single source for the majority of tryptamines and their synthesis.  Their companion text, "PiHKAL" covers the psychedelic phenylethylamines. 

2.    Shulgin, Alexander and Perry, W.E., "The Simple Plant Isoquinolines" Transform Press, Berkeley, CA (2002).

3.    Wasson, R. Gordon, "The Wondrous Mushroom; Mycolatry in Mesoamerica."  McGraw-Hill Book Company (1980). 



Last Revision:  16 APRIL 2012