What is LSD?
LSD (lysergic acid diethylamide), first synthesized in 1938, is an extremely potent hallucinogen. It is manufactured from lysergic acid, which is found in ergot, a fungus that grows on rye and other grains.
LSD is produced in crystalline form and then mixed with excipients, or diluted as a liquid for production in indigestible forms. It is odorless, colorless and has a slightly bitter taste. LSD is sold in tablet form (usually small tablets known as Microdots), on Sugar Cubes, in thin squares of gelatin (commonly referred to as Window Panes), and most commonly, as blotter paper (sheets of absorbent paper soaked in or impregnated with LSD, covered with colorful designs or artwork, and perforated into one-quarter inch square, individual dosage units).
Benefits of LSD
Far from being harmful, they found, hallucinogens can help sick people: They helped alcoholics drink less; terminal patients eased more gently into death. And it’s not just the infirm who are helped by the drugs. Psychedelics can make the healthy healthier, too.
In the early 2000s, a handful of scientists began looking into psychedelics as a way to relieve anxiety and addiction. (They were drawn to the drugs after reviewing the work of researchers from the 1950s and ’60s.) These experiments were successful. In one study, cancer patients were given LSD and psilocybin, a component of psychedelic mushrooms. Each patient was given one dose and then allowed to trip in a hospital room designed to look like a living room. Two medical professionals stayed close by.
Afterward, almost all of the participants experienced a significant reduction in anxiety and depression. Scientists checked in with the patients six months later; all reported that they still felt calmer and happier. Volunteer Gail Thomas told me that the treatment helped her overcome a deep sense of loneliness. “The main message from the trip was that we’re all connected,” she said. “We’re not alone.”
Other researchers have tested the drug as a treatment for depression, addiction and other mental problems such as obsessive-compulsive disorder. Remarkably, in each small trial, scientists saw incredible results.
Research has shown that healthy people also benefit from the brain shift that psychedelics provide. Taking the drug even one time can fundamentally reshape our lives, making us happier and kinder, more productive at work and more open-minded.
Beyond the studies, there is a small community of people who are using LSD to self-medicate through micro-dosing, or consuming tiny portions of the drug. There’s no scientific rigor to their work. But in articles and on Internet message boards, these users claim to have experienced some success in using LSD to improve focus, concentration, memory and creativity. regular acid users said small doses helped them work harder and smarter. Some Silicon Valley workers are taking the drug to increase their productivity.
LSD as a treatment
Recent findings indicate that psychedelic drugs can affect the function and structure of the brain and promote neuron growth. Exactly how LSD affects the brain is complicated, but it seems to interact with multiple receptors, such as serotonin and dopamine.
Research is exploring the potential of LSD to encourage new ways of thinking and ‘reset’ the brain’s habitual patterns of thought.
The resurgent interest in LSD is building on studies conducted 40 years ago: primarily focusing on treating depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, drug dependency, and reducing anxiety in patients with a life-threatening disease. The role of LSD in improving mental health seems to be linked to a weakening or ‘dissolution’ of the ego, helping individuals see the ‘bigger picture’ beyond their personal problems.
Effects of LSD Use
The effects of LSD are unpredictable. Usually, the first effects of the drug are felt 30 to 90 minutes after taking it. The user may experience extreme changes in mood, feel several different emotions at once, or swing rapidly from one emotion to another. If taken in large enough doses, the drug produces delusions and visual hallucinations. The physical effects include dilated pupils; higher body temperature and sweating; nausea and loss of appetite; increased blood sugar, heart rate and blood pressure; sleeplessness.
The user may also suffer impaired depth and time perception, with distorted perception of the size and shape of objects, movements, color, sound, touch and own body image. Sensations may seem to “cross over,” giving the feeling of hearing colors and seeing sounds.
An experience with LSD is referred to as a “trip” and acute adverse reactions as a “bad trip”. These experiences are long, with the effects of higher doses lasting for 10 to 12 hours.