What is LSD?

Lysergide (LSD) is one of the most potent drugs known to man in high doses, but in smaller doses can lead to very positive intellectual benefits and creativity. LSD is a hallucinogen, and first synthesised by Albert Hoffman while working for Sandoz Laboratories in Basel in 1938. Some years later, he accidentally ingested the drug, and took an infamous bike ride, known as “the first trip”. Subsequently the compound was sent all over the globe for research, often being tested for mental illness. Its recreational use became popular in the 1960s, and began the ‘psychedelic period’.

LSD affects the brain, but the details of the process are not completely known. It is commonly believed to interact with numerous serotonin receptors (up to 14 of them), not just by binding to it, but by wrapping itself around the receptor, albeit loosely. All receptors of perception and consciousness can be affected by the drug. Yet, like other hallucinogens, it is not believed to be highly addictive.

LSD belongs to a family of tryptamines such as psilocin, and N,N-dimethyltryptamine (DMT). LSD is odourless and water soluble, and common street doses come in paper squares. Physical effects begin with dilated pupils, occasionally raised body temperature. Alterations of sensory-perception, and visual disturbances with both open and closed eyelids occur, with geometric shapes and patterns. Vivid colours can be seen on dull, inanimate objects that may appear to be in motion. For some, time seems to move at a slower pace. Effects are felt within 30 minutes of ingestion, and continue for 8-12 hours. Many users express an “afterglow” and the altered perception during the experience often leads to a new, improved mental state.

Similar to other psychedelic drugs, the effects on the user are greatly affected by the mental state prior to ingestion, and the setting in which the drug is taken. Deaths attributed to LSD overdose are virtually unknown, but there have been deaths associated with high doses and ‘bad trips’ where individuals made bad decisions.

LSD is listed in Schedule I of the United Nations 1971 Convention on Psychotropic Substances, and for a long time, LSD has had no medical use. However, anecdotal evidence of LSD trips from various prominent figures throughout modern history have been mostly positive. The drug also shows promise for mental injuries often with as little as one dose, but rerouting neural pathways, connecting parts of the brain that normally would not interact. The increase in weak connections of the brain, creates thoughts and mental abilities that sober people just cannot experience. Numerous not-for-profit studies exist for LSD, but very few big pharmacological studies can be quoted. Additionally, microdosing LSD has led many users to experience greater cognitive ability and focus. It is widely popular among the coding community in Silicon Valley. Mind Medicine plans to test microdosing LSD in Phase II trials for treatment of ADHD.

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