Introduction: Virtually no studies have looked at psychopharmacological combinations as models of the near-death experience (NDE), which is inadequate given the evidently complex neurochemistry occurring near- or at death. An example of such a combination is ‘changa’, a smoked mixture of the psychedelic N,N-DMT and monoamine oxidase inhibitor (MAOI)-containing plants, and as such has been referred to as ‘smokable ayahuasca’ (vine of the dead). Only very few studies, yet not systematically, have included experiencers of both NDEs and psychoactive substances. Methods: Two case studies are presented of individuals who have experienced both a near-death experience and a changa experience, making them invaluable in this comparative project. Interviews were conducted encompassing the content of both experience types, as well as the participants’ reflections on, including quantification of, perceived comparability. A detailed content analysis was performed and the presence or absence of each feature between the two experiences is tabulated. The near-death experience scale was also applied for both states as a quantitative measure. Results: Case SR (NDE from misaligned vertebra) reported high, while case DA (NDE, initially, from allergic reaction) reported medium perceived similarity between their NDE and changa experience, supported also by their NDE scale scoring. SR’s changa experience, however, shared only 36% of features with his NDE. Despite this, there were only a few notable differences in features with neardeath experiences at large (exhibiting 83% similarity with NDEs at large)—and the presence, and ordering, of other features is strikingly NDE-resembling. Although, the content by which these appeared was idiosyncratic of DMT. DA’s changa experience shared a comparably low-moderate 42% of features with his NDE, and did appear to entail more discrepancies with NDEs in general, which were classically DMT-like (but also exhibiting 83% similarity with NDEs generally). Despite this, several other features, though again DMT-like in content, appeared particularly NDE-resembling. Discussion: These similarities, to greater and lesser degrees, in both features and content, qualitatively and quantitatively, between the NDE and the DMT-MAOI admixture across the case studies are discussed in light of semantic analyses and physiological studies suggesting monoaminergic activity near-death, motivations for drug-induced re-experiencing of the NDE, and implications of state-dependent memory mechanisms.
Michael, Pascal; Luke, David; and Robinson, Oliver, "Smokable "Vine of the Dead": Two Case Studies of Experiencers of Both Changa and Near-Death Experiences" (2024). International Journal of Transpersonal Studies Advance Publication Archive. 94.