Lysergic Acid Diethylamide (LSD)
This powerful psychoactive drug is also called LSD-25, lysergide, and commonly ‘acid’. LSD is a psychedelic catalyst derived from the fungus ergot. It is well known for its extreme psychological effects. Affected mind functions include altered sensory perception and transcendental cognitive processes. Most of the effects LSD has on the mind, are still mysterious; despite years of scientific research and civilian recreational experimentation.
LSD is NOT addictive, does NOT physically ‘damage’ the brain, and is chemically NOT lethal (low toxicity). Despite those known facts, it is also true that the psychological reactions of LSD are unpredictable; but often include extreme amounts of anxiety, delusions, illusions, confusion, trances, and paranoia. So users of LSD should be warned in depth, and have therapy support resources before, during, and after LSD affects their system. Experiences on LSD are called ‘trips’, referring to how our mind can ‘travel’ in various ways, get ‘tripped-up’ (and fall afterwards), and how such shifting thoughts create and become adventures.
The first scientist to synthesize LSD was Albert Hofmann in 1938. Arthur Stoll discovered the chemical found in the grain-fungus ergot that grows on rye (grain / bread). In 1947 Sandoz Laboratories made and sold LSD as an industrial product called Delysid. In the 1950’s the CIA composed proposals and conducted programs involving LSD. The main CIA LSD research program was ‘MK-ULTRA’. CIA officials covertly gave the drug to many young American military soldiers and students; in attempts to discover chemical weapon and mind control applications. Within a few years LSD had gone ‘main-stream’, and was being used nation-wide ‘recreationally’ by the 1960’s popular counter-culture movements (hippies and other radicals). Main-stream political authorities were opposed to the mass protestors, and therefore banned the ‘consciousness-expanding’ drug LSD, “for their own good”. Now, it is currently still illegal to possess or sell LSD.
In pure form it is a clear, odorless, tasteless, solid; however it is usually transferred to paper, or administered as a liquid. LSD liquid is usually dripped onto ‘blotter’ paper, gelatin, or sugar cubes for consumption. Small drops are used because of the potency of small quantities. LSD affects 5-HT(2a) receptors in the brain.
Despite our linguistic lack of words, and the limits of those words, to describe mental or spiritual experiences; I will attempt to list and explain some of what is known by scientists and users alike. I have divided the subject of LSD effects into two main categories: sensory perception and cognitive reasoning. The two functions of ‘sensing’ and ‘thinking’ are obviously connected, but this deconstruction is meant to logically explore and understand what a human mind can go through, while on LSD. All LSD experiences depend on the user’s previous experiences, current state-of-mind, and environment; as well as dose strength of the drug. Timothy Leary spoke about the ‘set & setting’ of LSD use.
Sensory Effects: LSD can cause physical sensory (and nervous system) reactions such as visual ‘illusions’, pupil dilation, synesthesia, audio echoes, sound confusion, electro-magnetic sensitivity, time perception changes, appetite changes, wakefulness, numbness, weakness, nausea, temperature changes, hyperactivity, goose bumps, clenching, perspiration, hyper-reflexia, tremors, strong metallic taste, and heightened senses. The sensory effects of LSD are highly variable and often vague, some of which may be secondary to the psychological effects of LSD, the user, the environment, and other drugs. Time sense experience repeats, stops, slows, stretches, and quickens. Visual ‘illusions’ for LSD include: colors, tones, shades, patterns (textures), hallucinations, blurs (tracers), image replication, eidetic imagery, flight, floating, and many other optical deviations. Objects and surfaces appear to ripple, flow, breathe, change shape, change color qualities, and animate.
Cognitive Effects: LSD trips often have long-term psychological effects. It can cause significant changes in mental conditions, life goals, personality, social perspective, and universal consciousness. LSD affects thought in relation to memory, time, objects, senses, self identity (ego and personality), emotional feelings (moods), connectivity, and every other type of cognition. When LSD is taken ‘Doors of perception’ tend to open in the mind, allowing users to ‘look or move into another way of perceiving reality’. LSD works within the first hour of taking it, but lasts for an average of 12 hours. LSD is used as an ‘entheogen’ by psychedelic shamans and new-age ‘psychonauts’ for spiritual therapy. Higher doses often cause intense distortions of perception such as synesthesia, catatonic trances, distortions of space, temporal dimensions, and temporary dissociation. LSD is often helpful for intense therapeutic sessions like: pain reduction, anger management, aura cleansing, soul searching, inspiring creativity, enhancing imagination, self-awareness, pattern recognition, metaphysical sexuality, empathetic melding, and other forms of psycho-therapy.
Warning! If the user is in a hostile or otherwise unsettling environment, or is not mentally prepared for the powerful distortions in perception and thought that the drug causes, effects are more likely to be unpleasant; in contrast to a pleasant atmosphere in a comfortable environment with a relaxed, balanced, and open mind-set. This strong drug is illegal, but the US DEA makes false statements regarding it, just as they do with other illegal drugs. LSD may trigger panic attacks or feelings of extreme anxiety, colloquially referred to as a ‘bad trip’. No real prolonged effects have been proven; however, people with such conditions as schizophrenia and depression can worsen with LSD. CIA tests show that LSD does make people more susceptible to suggestion and interogation. LSD ‘flashbacks’ (intense deja-vu) can occur sometimes, from related ‘triggers’. Flashback triggers can be caused by other drugs, or just mentally (drug-free). Flashbacks can be as real as hallucinations recreating specific experiences, or simply vague feelings of recollection.
New clinical LSD experiments started in 2009 for the first time in 40 years. From 2008–2011 there has been ongoing research in Switzerland into using LSD to alleviate anxiety for terminally ill cancer patients coping with their impending deaths. Preliminary results from the study are promising, and no negative effects have been reported. The Beckley Foundation, MAPS, Heffter Research Institute, and the Albert Hofmann Foundation exist to fund, encourage and coordinate research into the medicinal and spiritual uses of LSD and related psychedelics. Thanks Wikipedia!