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Visual Language – Correlations between DNA and Psychedelics: PART ONE

in this article
  • Signposts
  • Mechanisms
  • Jeremy Narby - The Cosmic Serpent
  • Terence McKenna - The Invisible Landscape
  • Conclusion

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Chemical Collective or any associated parties.


DNS Psychedelics

In the mid-twentieth century, the emerging psychedelic culture was primarily nurtured by the various academic fields (from anthropology to chemistry) searching for signposts to guide them toward a greater understanding of these mysterious substances. 

Without a knowledge base to build from, these early studies were broad-ranging and perilously uninhibited, a proverbial Wild West of scientific exploration. This resulted in a corpus of nascent studies with diverse objectives, many veering into uncharted territory where reality is defied and science gets weird.

Academics like Timothy Leary, who earnestly sought spiritual discovery and higher levels of consciousness through scientific research on psychedelics, were able to “defocalize” their views and integrate concepts from disparate fields.

When the Controlled Substances Act of 1970 abruptly terminated all psychedelic research, the majority of these studies were left incomplete and uncorroborated. And during the ensuing psychedelic dark ages, the science community developed stricter research methodologies and regulations (largely to avoid the mistakes of early psychedelic research). 

By doing so, many academic fields and areas of investigation were downgraded to non-scientific, non-essential status, preventing researchers from finding inspiration from a broad range of outside disciplines. 

In such a restricting atmosphere, it would seem impossible for a psychedelic renaissance to emerge. But here it is.

The movement to decriminalize psychedelics is still at a critical juncture, however. Long-term changes hinge primarily upon further evidence that psychedelics have medical and therapeutic benefits. This means research programs have to limit their areas of focus to finding immediate, pertinent results; inquiries with a minimal potential of providing medical-related data are sidelined.

However, largely due to the psychedelic renaissance, many marginalized concepts and theories are gaining acceptance within mainstream society, allowing advocates of psychedelic culture to openly explore the numerous signposts that lie beyond the reach of science.

This article explores the matter of DNA. At present, it seems that the interactions (and related implications) between psychedelics and DNA are of little interest to prominent researchers, but undoubtedly, out there swirling around, exist myriad correlations linking the functions of DNA with the established neuropharmacological mechanisms at the center of psychedelic research.


dna psychedelics nerves

To keep things grounded, the speculative correlations explored in this article stem from known neurological mechanisms involving psychedelics.

Admittedly, reading (and writing) about neurological mechanisms can be tedious. But it’s worth pointing out that understanding certain concepts, such as neuroplasticity [1], can greatly enrich how we interpret and interact with our psychedelic experiences. 

What follows here is a brief overview of the mechanisms covered in this article:

The brain is made of a complex network of nerve cells called neurons, and molecules called neurotransmitters travel along these neurons, transferring commands and information throughout the brain. Each neuron contains billions of receptors that receive and regulate the neurotransmitters, and each receptor is designed to correspond with a specific neurotransmitter type (of which there are dozens).

Perhaps the most commonly researched neurotransmitter type is serotonin. The exact functions of serotonin are still poorly known, but research results have indicated that it plays a role in various brain activities, such as sleep, memory, pain, and social behavior. It is also believed to be involved in the development of consciousness. 

Early studies on serotonin frequently involved LSD due to similarities between the two molecules. And it has since been proven that many classical psychedelic compounds stimulate specific serotonin receptors, resulting in changes to sensory perception and cognition, and it’s believed that the boost of neuroplasticity is a result of this initial reaction.

Seeing that serotonin receptors lie at the center of all that is empirically known about psychedelics, they seem like a reasonable basis for exploring the countless correlations to be made.

Jeremy Narby - The Cosmic Serpent

ouroborus cosmic serpent

In the 1998 book, The Cosmic Serpent [2], author Jeremy Narby explores his hypothesis that psychedelics allow the human mind to perceive visual information emitted by DNA. While initially criticized for lacking scientific evidence, Narby’s investigation touches on avoided issues and raises potent questions that seem more relevant today than when the book was first published. 

One of the pivotal elements of his hypothesis is the proven fact that serotonin molecules bind with strands of DNA and synthesize genetic information. With serotonin and psychedelics being interrelated, this fact made it reasonable to consider that DNA, too, is somehow involved.

DNA in all living organisms continuously emits biophoton light.

Often disregarded as a byproduct of biochemical reactions in the body, biophotons have received minimal attention from researchers. 

Fortunately, photonic light, the non-biological equivalent, has been highly studied for decades. (Aside from its use in transferring digital information, photons play an interesting role in quantum theory studies). For Narby, the fact that observations of photonic light have described it as luminescent and with holographic depth offered another correlation considering the nature of psychedelic visuals.

Furthermore, theories that plants and bacteria use biophotons for communication led Narby to propose that biphotons similarly communicate information that the human brain perceives (as visible light) while under the effects of psychedelics. 

With these correlations in mind, Narby saw a plausible chain reaction where psychedelics alter serotonin receptors which increase serotonin levels in the brain; then, the increased serotonin boosts DNA synthesis, resulting in increased genetic information entering the neural networks of the brain. 

The chain reaction is incomplete, however, due to the lack of substantial evidence showing how biophoton light from one organism can be received and processed by another organism. Such evidence would verify Narby’s hypothesis that biophotons from other organisms, such as plants, function as a genetic visual language perceivable when psychedelics stimulate the brain. 

Ultimately, Narby’s investigation was cut short due to the lack of information on the three central elements (serotonin, DNA and biophotons).

Terence McKenna - The Invisible Landscape

terence mckenna invisible landscape

In the years since Narby’s book was written, studies on the direct connection between psychedelically altered serotonin levels and biophoton reception are still hard to come by. And DNA remains the only correlating link between the two.

Independent research on the matter is a daunting endeavor, as it leads to ever broader concepts and theories, such as electromagnetic field theory [3], in which suggestions have been made that biophotons receive and transmit quantum information.

Unsurprisingly, a good starting point is with the legendary Terrence McKenna [4]. In their bewildering book, The Invisible Landscape [5], Terrence and his brother Dennis come close to bringing together the three key elements of Narby’s hypothesis, but their investigations never reach biophoton emissions.

Nevertheless, The Invisible Landscape reveals numerous avenues to explore. As for correlations involving serotonin, the McKenna’s bring up the fact that serotonin is synthesized in the pineal gland and that the pineal gland contains more serotonin than any other part of the brain.

Any mention of the pineal gland is always an attention-grabber.

Its spiritual significance and purported ability to produce natural DMT make it the most intriguing organ in the human body. But because it remains elusive to scientific understanding, not much can be said about it. Even the McKenna’s can only provide a few bold hypotheses made by other researchers.

It turns out however that their brief descriptions of what is known about the pineal gland offer the clearest signpost related to Narby’s hypothesis. 

What they say about the pineal gland is that it is known to receive and respond to different types (and qualities) of light input, such as intensity, timing, and wavelength. This makes it reasonable to consider that if the pineal gland receives and responds to light, then perhaps biophoton light is also received and responded to by the pineal gland.

As The Invisible Landscape wanders deep into the dizzying territory of quantum and holographic theories, with shamanism and the I-Ching mixed in, the book illustrates that in order to better understand psychedelics (and the wisdom and knowledge they provide) integrating disparate academic disciplines is crucial.


dna molecule

In the spirit of integration, the second part of this article will delve deeper into the correlations involving DNA and psychedelics with the mindset that opposing worldviews can coincide and synchronize.

Bret LeBeau | Community Blogger at Chemical Collective

Bret is one of our community bloggers here at Chemical Collective. If you’re interested in joining our blogging team and getting paid to write about subjects you’re passionate about, please reach out to David via email at blog@chemical-collective.com

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