The “God” Gene Meets the “Spirit” Molecule?

Dr. Dean Hamer from the National Cancer Institute published a book in 2005 titled The God Gene: How Faith Is Hardwired into Our Genes. In this book he identifies a specific gene named “VMAT2” as predisposing humans to spiritual/mystical beliefs and experiences.

The Wiki summary of the “God” gene rationale is as follows:
“The God gene hypothesis is based on a combination of behavioral genetic, neurobiological and psychological studies. The major arguments of the hypothesis are: (1) spirituality can be quantified by psychometric measurements; (2) the underlying tendency to spirituality is partially heritable; (3) part of this heritability can be attributed to the gene VMAT2; (4) this gene acts by altering monoamine levels; and (5) spiritual individuals are favored by natural selection because they are provided with an innate sense of optimism, the latter producing positive effects at either a physical or psychological level.”

To view a specific gene as playing a key role in someone’s “spiritual” nature, it’d appear that it would be important to take into account the epigenetic factors of the specific gene’s expression. Being that DMT Quest has a relatively defined scope of discussion when it comes to human biology, it’s interesting to take a look at the potential relationship between VMAT2 expression, Melatonin, and possibly DMT.

In 2003 the American Journal of Psychiatry published a study outlining the suppression of VMAT2 expression in human cocaine users. The conclusion was as follows: “Human cocaine users lose VMAT2 protein, which might reflect damage to striatal dopamine fibers. These neuronal changes could play a role in causing disordered mood and motivational processes in more severely dependent patients.”
In 2005, Progress in Neurobiology published a study outlining the detrimental effects of amphetamine and methamphetamine administration in terms of VMAT2 expression.

This is interesting but not surprising as observing cocaine and methamphetamine abuser’s behavior could be described as anything but “spiritual” in most cases. In some extreme unfortunate instances, it’d appear that some long-term abusers have lost all compassion completely. It’d be extremely surprising to see VMAT2 expression in a person committing unthinkable acts as it’d basically contradict the entire premise of the projected behavior of human’s with the “God” gene expression.
In 2011, Neuroscience Letters published a study which showcased melatonin’s ability to mitigate the effects of amphetamine induced decrease in VMAT2 expression in the striatum of rats. In unrelated research in 2015, Chronobiology International published a study showcasing melatonin’s effect on various gene expression (including VMAT2) in the suprachiasmatic nucleus (located in the hypothalamus) of mice.

While there have yet to be extensive, targeted studies regarding melatonin’s role in the “God” gene’s expression, it appears on the surface level that there might be the potentiality for correlation. Cocaine and methamphetamine abusers are commonly known to stay awake for extended hours, days, and even weeks at a time. It would hardly be surprising if their melatonin levels were abnormally low for prolonged periods which subsequently played a pivotal role in VMAT2 suppression.

A common side effect of methamphetamine and cocaine usage is pulmonary hypertension from hypoxia. Merck Manual states the following in regards to pulmonary hypertension: When oxygen levels are low for an extended time, pulmonary arteries constrict and their walls become thickened. This constriction and thickening increase the pressure in the pulmonary arteries. Lung disorders that damage or decrease the amount of lung tissue also decrease the number of blood vessels in the lungs. The decreased number of blood vessels increases pressure in the remaining vessels.

2004 study published in Experimental Physiology outlined the following in regards to hypoxia and hypercapnia in regards to pulmonary hypertension… “Exposure to chronic hypoxia causes pulmonary hypertension and pulmonary vascular remodeling. In chronic lung disease, chronic hypercapnia frequently coexists with hypoxia and is associated with worsening of pulmonary hypertension.”

Hypercapnia is succinctly defined as excessive carbon dioxide in the bloodstream which could be classified as respiratory acidosis which is the opposite of respiratory alkalosis. There have also been studies correlating cocaine and methamphetamine  usage with lactic & metabolic acidosis.

Remember? “Pyschedelic Melatonin” outlines the observation that it appears as though elevated levels of melatonin coupled with suppressed levels of carbon dioxide (alkalosis) equate to the potentiality for internal DMT synthesis. It’d appear that alongside any biochemical reactions from cocaine/methamphetamine use which leads to the suppression of VMAT2 expression, there are also the suppressed melatonin & increased carbon dioxide factors as well.

Or… could it be that side effects themselves (altered melatonin & CO2 levels) provide the environment and subsequent epigenetic regulation that turns off VMAT2 expression?

Something to ponder I suppose…

2009 study in the scientific journal Synapse published a paper which quantified the antagonistic relationship between VMAT2 expression and monamine oxidase (MAO). In essence, when VMAT2 is turned on, MAO is suppressed or inhibited.

This is interesting being that 6-MeO-THBC also known as Pinoline is reportedly derived from Melatonin and is an endogenous MAO inhibitor. When taking into consideration the powerful MAO inhibiting properties of the shamanic brew known as Ayahuasca and it’s subsequent effects, it might make one consider the relationship between Melatonin, Pinoline, DMT, and VMAT2 expression. Some researchers believe that endogenous Pinoline shows up in significant, measurable quantities only after melatonin levels have remained elevated for a period of time. How Pinoline’s MAO inhibition quality relates to VMAT2’s antagonistic relationship with MAO levels has yet to be fully dissected…

While it might sound like a quantum leap to associate the propensity for endogenous production of dimethyltryptamine aka “The Spirit Molecule” to have a direct effect on VMAT2 expression aka “The God Gene”, when taking in the scope of information the leap might be more akin to a bunny hop.

In 2009, a study published in the Journal of Neural Transmission showcased the following regarding the DMT/VMAT2 relationship. “DMT that has been taken up and stored within cells via SERT and VMAT2 and exhibit high binding-to-uptake ratios, >11 for SERT and >10 for VMAT2. High binding ratios suggest that there are separate substrate and inhibitor sites for SERT and VMAT2 and further supports that DMT (and other tryptamines) are substrates for both transporters.”

Even though the premise of the “God” gene hypothesis is that spirituality is potentially inheritable, it appears rather important to take into consideration the propensity for environmental factors to directly effect this gene’s expression. Much like anything in this world, it’s important to study the polarities of what causes antagonizing reactions so that we may paint a comprehensive picture of how things work. If specific environmental factors lead to VMAT2 expression while succinctly opposite environmental factors lead to VMAT2 suppression, it might behoove us to step back and tie in additional theories of how it all works.

“Spirituality” is a concept that has largely been unquantified from a biological standpoint. It’s been only up until recently that concepts such as “The God Gene” and “The Spirit Molecule” have been presented to the general public. It’s rather intriguing to see the potential correlations between both concepts and our further comprehension of the mechanics of what we perceive to be as a “spiritual” state.
While genetic expression and hormonal production is nothing extraordinary by most people’s standards, it is the potential innate abilities that human’s might be able to realize once these gene’s and hormones are fully synthesized and expressed in the body that might provide extraordinary transpiration’s beyond the current imagination. From DMT Quest’s perspective it appears that sustained Theta/Gamma EEG states, enhanced electrical potential of the body/brain, and extrasensory abilities might be in store for the spiritually evolved.

Once the measurable, “externalization” aspect of the spiritual state begins to gain ground in the public eye, the question then becomes… What else is there?

​DMT Quest is a non-profit 501(c)3 dedicated to raising awareness and funds for endogenous DMT Research. This specific field of psychedelic research has been underfunded for many decades now. It’s time to take our understanding of human physiology, abilities, and perception to the next level. E-mail me at with any comments or questions. You can also follow us at FacebookInstagram, or Twitter.