Tryptamine is an alkaloid found in in plants, fungi and animals, and is chemically related to the amino acid tryptophan from which its name is derived.
Tryptamine is found in trace amounts in the brains of mammals and is believed to play a role as a neuromodulator or neurotransmitter.
Tryptamine is also the backbone for a group of compounds known collectively as tryptamines. This group includes many biologically active compounds including neurotransmitters and psychedelic drugs. The best-known tryptamines are serotonin, an important neurotransmitter, and melatonin, a hormone involved in regulating the sleep-wake cycle.
Tryptamine alkaloids found in fungi, plants and animals are commonly used by humans for their psychotropic effects.
Prominent examples of tryptamines include psilocybin (known as “magic mushrooms”) and DMT (from numerous plant sources, e.g. chacruna, often used in ayahuasca brews). Many synthetic tryptamines have also been made, including the migraine drug sumatriptan, bufotenine, DMT (dimethyl tryptamine), AMT (a-Methyl tryptamine), and others.
Synthetic tryptamines are psychoactive agents which mimic the naturally occurring neurotransmitter tryptamines, but which produce psychedelic effects similar to LSD.
Behavioral effects of synthetic tryptamines tend to be more bizarre than most hallucinogens, and include paranoia and psychosis. Some tryptamines are also physically toxic, producing effects such as vomiting, sweating, and respiratory and cardiac difficulties.
Tryptamines have become a common “party drug” and should be suspected in any case of sudden, unexplained, bizarre behavior, especially in persons in the age range of 14-25 years.