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Supposedly serotonin is converted to melatonin like this: serotonin - N-acetyl-serotonin - melatonin
And dreams are supposedly caused by a lowering of acetylcholine.
I don't buy that one bit.
Another metabolic pathway involves mexamine: serotonin - mexamine - melatonin.
Mexamine is 5-MeO-Tryptamine. It is found in the body and has full agonist properties at all serotonin receptors (except 5-HT3).
It has been proven that when serotonin binds to 5-HT2A, the classical psychedelic receptor, it does NOT fully activate it! Different proteins that are permanently in place are activated when hallucinogens bind to that receptor than when serotonin binds to it. I can find the study later, but I guarantee that is true.
So, what does mexamine do? Well, I came across an amazing trip report where a guy put some melatonin on his cannabis and smoke it and it made him slightly tired, but also brought on a waking-dream state. The dream overlapped reality just like a hallucinogen does, but he was still able to function normally. I tried SO hard to find this report again, but I couldn't find it. It wasn't on erowid, I found it through google.
So what happened with that experience is burning melatonin at the right temperature causes deacetylation. Melatonin turns into mexamine. He started dreaming while he was awake.
More proof is that mexamine levels increase in alternating fashion with melatonin at night. There was a study done on it, I will find it later (I really need to start saving these studies... lol). In the day there are high levels of serotonin, but at night the brain converts it to melatonin. But, when REM sleep starts, the brain converts melatonin to mexamine. When the dream ends, mexamine turns back into melatonin.
I'm not sure if mexamine causes all of the effects of dreams (like acetylcholine inhibition). Actually I highly doubt that, I think most of those effects are caused by melatonin, although I need more proof of that. I'm pretty sure mexamine causes your brain to build reality inside itself based off of what it has experienced already, instead of what is coming through the senses.
So this means if we synthesized mexamine we could use it as a dreaming molecule. Unfortunately, the xlogp3 is 0.57, so... Hahahaha
It really is a miracle that guy got any visuals at all from mexamine. Perhaps it will work for us. too?
OR, we could attach a carboxyl group to the alpha carbon and make an amino acid! Or we could methylate the oxygen on 5-HTP. Using this, we could first ingest EGCG to block all the decarboxylases in the body (but EGCG doesn't cross the BBB, so no enzymes in the brain are stopped) and then ingest 5-MeO-Tryptophan. In the brain it would decarboxylate into mexamine and we would start dreaming while awake.
That sounds like an INCREDIBLY useful tool! It also shows us why psychedelics work like they do. They work on our dreaming receptor!
So, the endogenous ligand of the 5-HT2A receptor is Mexamine. DMT and several other hallucinogens are also there, but they don't play as major of a role as mexamine. I've felt the effects of DMT and others from taking tryptophan with EGCG and TMG, so it could still be a part of the theory.
Or maybe I didnt! Maybe the CEV's I got were from Mexamine! :O !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
And then, somewhere down the line, the actual cause of the ability to see in dreams is because 5-HT2A activates D2. It's just MUCH more highly controlled and realistic. :D