LSD
Overview
Lysergic acid diethylamide, abbreviated LSD or LSD-25, also known as lysergide and colloquially as acid, is a semisynthetic
Semisynthetic
"Semisynthesis" or partial chemical synthesis is a type of chemical synthesis that uses compounds isolated from natural sources as starting materials. These natural biomolecules are usually large and complex molecules...

 psychedelic drug
Psychedelic drug
A psychedelic substance is a psychoactive drug whose primary action is to alter cognition and perception. Psychedelics are part of a wider class of psychoactive drugs known as hallucinogens, a class that also includes related substances such as dissociatives and deliriants...

 of the ergoline
Ergoline
Ergoline is a chemical compound whose structural skeleton is contained in a diverse range of alkaloids including a few psychedelic drugs . Ergoline derivatives are used clinically for the purpose of vasoconstriction and in the treatment of migraines and Parkinson's disease...

 family, well known for its psychological effects which can include altered thinking processes, closed and open eye visuals, synaesthesia, an altered sense of time
Time
Time is a part of the measuring system used to sequence events, to compare the durations of events and the intervals between them, and to quantify rates of change such as the motions of objects....

 and spiritual experiences
Religious experience
Religious experience is a subjective experience in which an individual reports contact with a transcendent reality, an encounter or union with the divine....

, as well as for its key role in 1960s counterculture
Counterculture of the 1960s
The counterculture of the 1960s refers to a cultural movement that mainly developed in the United States and spread throughout much of the western world between 1960 and 1973. The movement gained momentum during the U.S. government's extensive military intervention in Vietnam...

. It is used mainly as an entheogen
Entheogen
An entheogen , in the strict sense, is a psychoactive substance used in a religious, shamanic, or spiritual context. Historically, entheogens were mostly derived from plant sources and have been used in a variety of traditional religious contexts...

, recreational drug
Recreational drug use
Recreational drug use is the use of a drug, usually psychoactive, with the intention of creating or enhancing recreational experience. Such use is controversial, however, often being considered to be also drug abuse, and it is often illegal...

, and as an agent in psychedelic therapy.
Encyclopedia
Lysergic acid diethylamide, abbreviated LSD or LSD-25, also known as lysergide and colloquially as acid, is a semisynthetic
Semisynthetic
"Semisynthesis" or partial chemical synthesis is a type of chemical synthesis that uses compounds isolated from natural sources as starting materials. These natural biomolecules are usually large and complex molecules...

 psychedelic drug
Psychedelic drug
A psychedelic substance is a psychoactive drug whose primary action is to alter cognition and perception. Psychedelics are part of a wider class of psychoactive drugs known as hallucinogens, a class that also includes related substances such as dissociatives and deliriants...

 of the ergoline
Ergoline
Ergoline is a chemical compound whose structural skeleton is contained in a diverse range of alkaloids including a few psychedelic drugs . Ergoline derivatives are used clinically for the purpose of vasoconstriction and in the treatment of migraines and Parkinson's disease...

 family, well known for its psychological effects which can include altered thinking processes, closed and open eye visuals, synaesthesia, an altered sense of time
Time
Time is a part of the measuring system used to sequence events, to compare the durations of events and the intervals between them, and to quantify rates of change such as the motions of objects....

 and spiritual experiences
Religious experience
Religious experience is a subjective experience in which an individual reports contact with a transcendent reality, an encounter or union with the divine....

, as well as for its key role in 1960s counterculture
Counterculture of the 1960s
The counterculture of the 1960s refers to a cultural movement that mainly developed in the United States and spread throughout much of the western world between 1960 and 1973. The movement gained momentum during the U.S. government's extensive military intervention in Vietnam...

. It is used mainly as an entheogen
Entheogen
An entheogen , in the strict sense, is a psychoactive substance used in a religious, shamanic, or spiritual context. Historically, entheogens were mostly derived from plant sources and have been used in a variety of traditional religious contexts...

, recreational drug
Recreational drug use
Recreational drug use is the use of a drug, usually psychoactive, with the intention of creating or enhancing recreational experience. Such use is controversial, however, often being considered to be also drug abuse, and it is often illegal...

, and as an agent in psychedelic therapy. LSD is non-addictive, is not known to cause brain damage, and has extremely low toxicity relative to dose
Therapeutic window
The Therapeutic window of a drug is the range of drug dosages which can treat disease effectively while staying within the safety range. In other words, it is the dosages of a medication between the amount that gives an effect and the amount that gives more adverse effects than desired effects...

, although in rare cases adverse psychiatric reactions such as anxiety or delusions are possible.

LSD was first synthesized
Chemical synthesis
In chemistry, chemical synthesis is purposeful execution of chemical reactions to get a product, or several products. This happens by physical and chemical manipulations usually involving one or more reactions...

 by Albert Hofmann
Albert Hofmann
Albert Hofmann was a Swiss scientist known best for being the first person to synthesize, ingest and learn of the psychedelic effects of lysergic acid diethylamide . He authored more than 100 scientific articles and a number of books, including LSD: My Problem Child...

 in 1938 from ergotamine, a chemical derived by Arthur Stoll from ergot
Ergot
Ergot or ergot fungi refers to a group of fungi of the genus Claviceps. The most prominent member of this group is Claviceps purpurea. This fungus grows on rye and related plants, and produces alkaloids that can cause ergotism in humans and other mammals who consume grains contaminated with its...

, a grain
GRAIN
GRAIN is a small international non-profit organisation that works to support small farmers and social movements in their struggles for community-controlled and biodiversity-based food systems. Our support takes the form of independent research and analysis, networking at local, regional and...

 fungus
Fungus
A fungus is a member of a large group of eukaryotic organisms that includes microorganisms such as yeasts and molds , as well as the more familiar mushrooms. These organisms are classified as a kingdom, Fungi, which is separate from plants, animals, and bacteria...

 that typically grows on rye
Rye
Rye is a grass grown extensively as a grain and as a forage crop. It is a member of the wheat tribe and is closely related to barley and wheat. Rye grain is used for flour, rye bread, rye beer, some whiskeys, some vodkas, and animal fodder...

. The short form "LSD" comes from its early code name LSD-25, which is an abbreviation for the German "Lysergsäure-diethylamid" followed by a sequential number. LSD is sensitive to oxygen
Oxygen
Oxygen is the element with atomic number 8 and represented by the symbol O. Its name derives from the Greek roots ὀξύς and -γενής , because at the time of naming, it was mistakenly thought that all acids required oxygen in their composition...

, ultraviolet light
Ultraviolet
Ultraviolet light is electromagnetic radiation with a wavelength shorter than that of visible light, but longer than X-rays, in the range 10 nm to 400 nm, and energies from 3 eV to 124 eV...

, and chlorine
Chlorine
Chlorine is the chemical element with atomic number 17 and symbol Cl. It is the second lightest halogen, found in the periodic table in group 17. The element forms diatomic molecules under standard conditions, called dichlorine...

, especially in solution
Solution
In chemistry, a solution is a homogeneous mixture composed of only one phase. In such a mixture, a solute is dissolved in another substance, known as a solvent. The solvent does the dissolving.- Types of solutions :...

, though its potency may last for years if it is stored away from light and moisture at low temperature. In pure form it is a colorless, odorless, and mildly bitter solid. LSD is typically delivered orally, usually on a substrate such as absorbent blotter paper
Blotting paper
Blotting paper is a highly absorbent type of paper or other material. It is used to absorb an excess of liquid substances from the surface of writing paper or objects. It is also commonly used as a beauty tool to absorb excess oil from the skin.-Manufacture:Blotting paper is made from different...

, a sugar cube
Sugar
Sugar is a class of edible crystalline carbohydrates, mainly sucrose, lactose, and fructose, characterized by a sweet flavor.Sucrose in its refined form primarily comes from sugar cane and sugar beet...

, or gelatin
Gelatin
Gelatin is a translucent, colorless, brittle , flavorless solid substance, derived from the collagen inside animals' skin and bones. It is commonly used as a gelling agent in food, pharmaceuticals, photography, and cosmetic manufacturing. Substances containing gelatin or functioning in a similar...

. In its liquid form, it can also be administered by intramuscular or intravenous injection. LSD is very potent, with 20–30 µg (micrograms) being the threshold dose.

Introduced by Sandoz Laboratories, with trade-name Delysid, as a drug with various psychiatric uses in 1947, LSD quickly became a therapeutic agent
Psychedelic psychotherapy
Psychedelic therapy refers to therapeutic practices involving the use of psychedelic drugs, particularly serotonergic psychedelics such as ergine, LSD, psilocin and DMT...

 that appeared to show great promise. In the 1950s, officials at the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency
Central Intelligence Agency
The Central Intelligence Agency is a civilian intelligence agency of the United States government. It is an executive agency and reports directly to the Director of National Intelligence, responsible for providing national security intelligence assessment to senior United States policymakers...

 (CIA) thought the drug might be applicable to mind control
Mind control
Mind control refers to a process in which a group or individual "systematically uses unethically manipulative methods to persuade others to conform to the wishes of the manipulator, often to the detriment of the person being manipulated"...

 and chemical warfare
Chemical warfare
Chemical warfare involves using the toxic properties of chemical substances as weapons. This type of warfare is distinct from Nuclear warfare and Biological warfare, which together make up NBC, the military acronym for Nuclear, Biological, and Chemical...

; the agency's MKULTRA research program propagated the drug among young servicemen and students. The subsequent recreational use of the drug by youth culture in the Western world
Western world
The Western world, also known as the West and the Occident , is a term referring to the countries of Western Europe , the countries of the Americas, as well all countries of Northern and Central Europe, Australia and New Zealand...

 during the 1960s led to a political firestorm that resulted in its prohibition. Currently, a number of organizations—including the Beckley Foundation
Beckley Foundation
The Beckley Foundation is a charitable trust that promotes health orientated cost effective harm reductive drug policy reform. It also investigates consciousness and its modulation from a multidisciplinary perspective working in collaboration with world renowned scientists. The Foundation is based...

, MAPS
Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies
The Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies is a membership-based 501 non-profit research and educational organization working to develop psychedelics and marijuana into legal prescription drugs...

, Heffter Research Institute
Heffter Research Institute
The Heffter Research Institute was incorporated in New Mexico in 1993 as a non-profit organization to support and promote investigation into the medical uses of psychedelic hallucinogens...

 and the Albert Hofmann
Albert Hofmann
Albert Hofmann was a Swiss scientist known best for being the first person to synthesize, ingest and learn of the psychedelic effects of lysergic acid diethylamide . He authored more than 100 scientific articles and a number of books, including LSD: My Problem Child...

 Foundation—exist to fund, encourage and coordinate research into the medicinal and spiritual uses of LSD and related psychedelics.

Physical

LSD can cause pupil dilation
Mydriasis
Mydriasis is a dilation of the pupil due to disease, trauma or the use of drugs. Normally, the pupil dilates in the dark and constricts in the light to respectively improve vividity at night and to protect the retina from sunlight damage during the day...

, reduced appetite (for some, it increases), and wakefulness. Other physical reactions to LSD are highly variable and nonspecific, and some of these reactions may be secondary to the psychological effects of LSD. The following symptoms have been reported: numbness, weakness, nausea, hypothermia
Hypothermia
Hypothermia is a condition in which core temperature drops below the required temperature for normal metabolism and body functions which is defined as . Body temperature is usually maintained near a constant level of through biologic homeostasis or thermoregulation...

 or hyperthermia
Hyperthermia
Hyperthermia is an elevated body temperature due to failed thermoregulation. Hyperthermia occurs when the body produces or absorbs more heat than it can dissipate...

 (decreased or increased body temperature), elevated blood sugar
Blood sugar
The blood sugar concentration or blood glucose level is the amount of glucose present in the blood of a human or animal. Normally in mammals, the body maintains the blood glucose level at a reference range between about 3.6 and 5.8 mM , or 64.8 and 104.4 mg/dL...

, goose bumps
Goose bumps
Goose bumps, also called goose flesh, goose pimples, chill bumps, chicken skin, funky spots, Dasler Bumps, chicken bumps or the medical term cutis anserina, are the bumps on a person's skin at the base of body hairs which may involuntarily develop when a person is cold or experiences strong...

, increase in heart rate, jaw clenching, perspiration, saliva
Saliva
Saliva , referred to in various contexts as spit, spittle, drivel, drool, or slobber, is the watery substance produced in the mouths of humans and most other animals. Saliva is a component of oral fluid. In mammals, saliva is produced in and secreted from the three pairs of major salivary glands,...

 production, mucus
Mucus
In vertebrates, mucus is a slippery secretion produced by, and covering, mucous membranes. Mucous fluid is typically produced from mucous cells found in mucous glands. Mucous cells secrete products that are rich in glycoproteins and water. Mucous fluid may also originate from mixed glands, which...

 production, sleep
Sleep
Sleep is a naturally recurring state characterized by reduced or absent consciousness, relatively suspended sensory activity, and inactivity of nearly all voluntary muscles. It is distinguished from quiet wakefulness by a decreased ability to react to stimuli, and is more easily reversible than...

lessness, hyperreflexia
Hyperreflexia
Hyperreflexia is defined as overactive or overresponsive reflexes. Examples of this can include twitching or spastic tendencies, which are indicative of upper motor neuron disease as well as the lessening or loss of control ordinarily exerted by higher brain centers of lower neural pathways...

, and tremor
Tremor
A tremor is an involuntary, somewhat rhythmic, muscle contraction and relaxation involving to-and-fro movements of one or more body parts. It is the most common of all involuntary movements and can affect the hands, arms, eyes, face, head, vocal folds, trunk, and legs. Most tremors occur in the...

s. Some users, including Albert Hofmann, report a strong metallic taste for the duration of the effects.

LSD is not considered addictive by the medical community. Rapid tolerance build-up prevents regular use, and there is cross-tolerance
Cross-tolerance
Cross-tolerance refers to a pharmacological phenomenon, in which a patient being treated with a drug exhibits a physiological resistance to that medication as a result of tolerance to a pharmacologically similar drug. In other words, there is a decrease in response to one drug due to exposure to...

 shown between LSD, mescaline
Mescaline
Mescaline or 3,4,5-trimethoxyphenethylamine is a naturally occurring psychedelic alkaloid of the phenethylamine class used mainly as an entheogen....


and psilocybin
Psilocybin
Psilocybin is a naturally occurring psychedelic prodrug, with mind-altering effects similar to those of LSD and mescaline, after it is converted to psilocin. The effects can include altered thinking processes, perceptual distortions, an altered sense of time, and spiritual experiences, as well as...

. This tolerance diminishes after a few days without use and is probably caused by downregulation of 5-HT2A receptors
5-HT2A receptor
The mammalian 5-HT2A receptor is a subtype of the 5-HT2 receptor that belongs to the serotonin receptor family and is a G protein-coupled receptor . This is the main excitatory receptor subtype among the GPCRs for serotonin , although 5-HT2A may also have an inhibitory effect on certain areas such...

 in the brain.

Psychological

LSD's psychological effects (colloquially called a "trip") vary greatly from person to person, depending on factors such as previous experiences, state of mind and environment, as well as dose strength. They also vary from one trip to another, and even as time passes during a single trip. An LSD trip can have long-term psychoemotional effects; some users cite the LSD experience as causing significant changes in their personality and life perspective. Widely different effects emerge based on what Timothy Leary
Timothy Leary
Timothy Francis Leary was an American psychologist and writer, known for his advocacy of psychedelic drugs. During a time when drugs like LSD and psilocybin were legal, Leary conducted experiments at Harvard University under the Harvard Psilocybin Project, resulting in the Concord Prison...

 called set and setting
Set and setting
Set and setting describes the context for psychoactive and particularly psychedelic drug experiences: one's mindset and the setting in which the user has the experience. This is especially relevant for psychedelic or hallucinogenic experiences...

; the "set" being the general mindset of the user, and the "setting" being the physical and social environment in which the drug's effects are experienced.

Some psychological effects may include an experience of radiant colors, objects and surfaces appearing to ripple or "breathe", colored patterns behind the closed eyelids (eidetic imagery), an altered sense of time (time seems to be stretching, repeating itself, changing speed or stopping), crawling geometric patterns overlaying walls and other objects, morphing objects, a sense that one's thoughts are spiraling into themselves, loss of a sense of identity or the ego (known as "ego death
Ego Death
Ego death is an experience that reveals the illusory aspect of the ego, sometimes undergone by mystics, shamans, monks, psychologists, and others interested in exploring the depths of the mind....

"), and other powerful psycho-physical reactions. Many users experience a dissolution between themselves and the "outside world". This unitive quality may play a role in the spiritual and religious aspects of LSD. The drug sometimes leads to disintegration or restructuring of the user's historical personality and creates a mental state that some users report allows them to have more choice regarding the nature of their own personality.

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 than if he or she is in a comfortable environment and has a relaxed, balanced and open mindset.

Sensory

LSD causes expansion and an altered experience of sense
Sense
Senses are physiological capacities of organisms that provide inputs for perception. The senses and their operation, classification, and theory are overlapping topics studied by a variety of fields, most notably neuroscience, cognitive psychology , and philosophy of perception...

s, emotion
Emotion
Emotion is a complex psychophysiological experience of an individual's state of mind as interacting with biochemical and environmental influences. In humans, emotion fundamentally involves "physiological arousal, expressive behaviors, and conscious experience." Emotion is associated with mood,...

s, memories
Memory
In psychology, memory is an organism's ability to store, retain, and recall information and experiences. Traditional studies of memory began in the fields of philosophy, including techniques of artificially enhancing memory....

, time
Time
Time is a part of the measuring system used to sequence events, to compare the durations of events and the intervals between them, and to quantify rates of change such as the motions of objects....

, and awareness
Awareness
Awareness is the state or ability to perceive, to feel, or to be conscious of events, objects or sensory patterns. In this level of consciousness, sense data can be confirmed by an observer without necessarily implying understanding. More broadly, it is the state or quality of being aware of...

 for 6 to 14 hours, depending on dosage and tolerance. Generally beginning within thirty to ninety minutes after ingestion, the user may experience anything from subtle changes in perception to overwhelming cognitive shift
Cognitive shift
A cognitive shift is a psychological phenomenon most often experienced by individuals using psychedelic drugs, or suffering from mental disorders such as schizophrenia or bipolar disorder...

s. Changes in auditory and visual perception are typical. Visual effects include the illusion of movement of static surfaces
Motion aftereffect
The motion after-effect is a visual illusion experienced after viewing a moving visual stimulus for a time with stationary eyes, and then fixating a stationary stimulus. The stationary stimulus appears to move in the opposite direction to the original stimulus...

 ("walls breathing"), after image-like trails of moving objects ("tracers"), the appearance of moving colored geometric patterns (especially with closed eyes), an intensification of colors and brightness ("sparkling"), new textures on objects, blurred vision, and shape suggestibility. Users commonly report that the inanimate world appears to animate in an unexplainable way; for instance, objects that are static in three dimensions can seem to be moving relative to one or more additional spatial dimensions. Many of the basic visual effects resemble the phosphene
Phosphene
A phosphene is a phenomenon characterized by the experience of seeing light without light actually entering the eye. The word phosphene comes from the Greek words phos and phainein...

s seen after applying pressure to the eye and have also been studied under the name "form constant
Form constant
A form constant is one of several geometric patterns which are recurringly observed during hallucinations and altered states of consciousness.-History:...

s". The auditory effects of LSD may include echo
Echo (phenomenon)
In audio signal processing and acoustics, an echo is a reflection of sound, arriving at the listener some time after the direct sound. Typical examples are the echo produced by the bottom of a well, by a building, or by the walls of an enclosed room and an empty room. A true echo is a single...

-like distortions of sounds, changes in ability to discern concurrent auditory stimuli, and a general intensification of the experience of music. Higher doses often cause intense and fundamental distortions of sensory perception such as synaesthesia, the experience of additional spatial or temporal dimensions, and temporary dissociation.

Potential uses

LSD has been used in psychiatry for its perceived therapeutic value, in the treatment of alcoholism, pain and cluster headache relief, for spiritual purposes, and to enhance creativity. However, government organizations like the United States Drug Enforcement Administration
Drug Enforcement Administration
The Drug Enforcement Administration is a federal law enforcement agency under the United States Department of Justice, tasked with combating drug smuggling and use within the United States...

 maintain that LSD "produces no aphrodisiac effects, does not increase creativity, has no lasting positive effect in treating alcoholics or criminals, does not produce a 'model psychosis', and does not generate immediate personality change."

Psychotherapy

In the 1950s and 1960s LSD was used in psychiatry to enhance psychotherapy. Some psychiatrists believed LSD was especially useful at helping patients to "unblock" repressed subconscious material through other psychotherapeutic methods, and also for treating alcoholism. One study concluded, "The root of the therapeutic value of the LSD experience is its potential for producing self-acceptance and self-surrender," presumably by forcing the user to face issues and problems in that individual's psyche.

In December 1968, a survey was made of all 74 UK doctors who had used LSD in humans; 73 replied, 1 had moved overseas and was unavailable. Of the 73 replies, the majority of UK doctors with clinical experience with LSD felt that LSD was effective and had acceptable safety: 41 (56%) continued with clinical use of LSD, 11 (15%) had stopped because of retirement or other extraneous reasons, 9 (12%) had stopped because they found LSD ineffective, and 5 (7%) had stopped because they felt LSD was too dangerous.

End-of-life Anxiety

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.

Alcoholism

Some studies in the 1950s that used LSD to treat alcoholism professed a 50% success rate, five times higher than estimates near 10% for Alcoholics Anonymous
Alcoholics Anonymous
Alcoholics Anonymous is an international mutual aid movement which says its "primary purpose is to stay sober and help other alcoholics achieve sobriety." Now claiming more than 2 million members, AA was founded in 1935 by Bill Wilson and Dr. Bob Smith in Akron, Ohio...

. A 1998 review was inconclusive.

Pain

LSD was studied in the 1960s by Eric Kast as an analgesic
Analgesic
An analgesic is any member of the group of drugs used to relieve pain . The word analgesic derives from Greek an- and algos ....

 for serious and chronic pain
Pain
Pain is an unpleasant sensation often caused by intense or damaging stimuli such as stubbing a toe, burning a finger, putting iodine on a cut, and bumping the "funny bone."...

 caused by cancer
Cancer
Cancer , known medically as a malignant neoplasm, is a large group of different diseases, all involving unregulated cell growth. In cancer, cells divide and grow uncontrollably, forming malignant tumors, and invade nearby parts of the body. The cancer may also spread to more distant parts of the...

 or other major trauma. Even at low (sub-psychedelic) dosages, it was found to be at least as effective as traditional opiates, while being much longer lasting in pain reduction (lasting as long as a week after peak effects had subsided). Kast attributed this effect to a decrease in anxiety; that is to say they were not experiencing less pain, but rather being less distressed by pain. This reported effect is being tested (though not using LSD) in an ongoing (as of 2006) study of the effects of the psychedelic
Psychedelic drug
A psychedelic substance is a psychoactive drug whose primary action is to alter cognition and perception. Psychedelics are part of a wider class of psychoactive drugs known as hallucinogens, a class that also includes related substances such as dissociatives and deliriants...

 tryptamine
Tryptamine
Tryptamine is a monoamine alkaloid found in plants, fungi, and animals. It is based around the indole ring structure, and is chemically related to the amino acid tryptophan, from which its name is derived...

 psilocybin
Psilocybin
Psilocybin is a naturally occurring psychedelic prodrug, with mind-altering effects similar to those of LSD and mescaline, after it is converted to psilocin. The effects can include altered thinking processes, perceptual distortions, an altered sense of time, and spiritual experiences, as well as...

 on anxiety
Anxiety
Anxiety is a psychological and physiological state characterized by somatic, emotional, cognitive, and behavioral components. The root meaning of the word anxiety is 'to vex or trouble'; in either presence or absence of psychological stress, anxiety can create feelings of fear, worry, uneasiness,...

 in terminal cancer patients.

Cluster headaches

LSD has been used as a treatment for cluster headache
Cluster headache
Cluster headache, nicknamed "suicide headache", is a neurological disease that involves, as its most prominent feature, an immense degree of pain in the head. Cluster headaches occur periodically: spontaneous remissions interrupt active periods of pain. The cause of the disease is currently unknown...

s, an uncommon but extremely painful disorder. Researcher Peter Goadsby describes the headaches as "worse than natural childbirth or even amputation without anesthetic." Although the phenomenon has not been formally investigated, case reports indicate that LSD and psilocybin
Psilocybin
Psilocybin is a naturally occurring psychedelic prodrug, with mind-altering effects similar to those of LSD and mescaline, after it is converted to psilocin. The effects can include altered thinking processes, perceptual distortions, an altered sense of time, and spiritual experiences, as well as...

 can reduce cluster pain and also interrupt the cluster-headache cycle, preventing future headaches from occurring. Currently existing treatments include various ergoline
Ergoline
Ergoline is a chemical compound whose structural skeleton is contained in a diverse range of alkaloids including a few psychedelic drugs . Ergoline derivatives are used clinically for the purpose of vasoconstriction and in the treatment of migraines and Parkinson's disease...

s, among other chemicals, so LSD's efficacy may not be surprising. A dose-response study testing the effectiveness of both LSD and psilocybin was planned at McLean Hospital
McLean Hospital
McLean Hospital is a psychiatric hospital in Belmont, Massachusetts.It is noted for its clinical staff expertise and ground-breaking neuroscience research...

, although the current status of this project is unclear. A 2006 study by McLean researchers interviewed 53 cluster-headache sufferers who treated themselves with either LSD or psilocybin, finding that a majority of the users of either drug reported beneficial effects. Unlike use of LSD or MDMA in psychotherapy
Psychotherapy
Psychotherapy is a general term referring to any form of therapeutic interaction or treatment contracted between a trained professional and a client or patient; family, couple or group...

, this research involves non-psychological effects and often sub-psychedelic dosages.

Spiritual

LSD is considered an entheogen
Entheogen
An entheogen , in the strict sense, is a psychoactive substance used in a religious, shamanic, or spiritual context. Historically, entheogens were mostly derived from plant sources and have been used in a variety of traditional religious contexts...

 because it can catalyze intense spiritual experiences, during which users may feel they have come into contact with a greater spiritual or cosmic order. Users claim to experience lucid sensations where they have "out of body" experiences. Some users report insights into the way the mind works, and some experience permanent shifts in their life perspective. LSD also allows users to view their life from an introspected point of view. From this point of view, a user can travel back in time to a specific moment or memory and relive that moment again. Some users report using introspection to resolve unresolved or negative feelings towards an individual or incident that occurred in the past. Some users consider LSD a religious sacrament, or a powerful tool for access to the divine. Stanislav Grof
Stanislav Grof
Stanislav Grof is a psychiatrist, one of the founders of the field of transpersonal psychology and a pioneering researcher into the use of non-ordinary states of consciousness for purposes of analyzing, healing, and obtaining growth and insight into the human psyche...

 has written that religious and mystical experiences observed during LSD sessions appear to be phenomenologically indistinguishable from similar descriptions in the sacred scriptures of the great religions of the world and the secret mystical texts of ancient civilizations.

Creativity

In the 1950s and 1960s, psychiatrists like Oscar Janiger
Oscar Janiger
Oscar Janiger was a University of California Irvine Psychiatrist who was best known for his LSD research, which lasted from 1954 to 1962....

 explored the potential effect of LSD on creativity. Experimental studies attempted to measure the effect of LSD on creative activity and aesthetic appreciation. Seventy professional artists were asked to draw two pictures of a Hopi Indian kachina doll, one before ingesting LSD and one after.

Potential adverse effects

There have been no documented human deaths from an LSD overdose. It is physiologically well tolerated and there is no evidence for long-lasting physiological effects on the brain or other parts of the human organism.

LSD may temporarily impair the ability to make sensible judgments and understand common dangers, thus making the user more susceptible to accidents and personal injury. It may cause temporary confusion, difficulty with abstract thinking, or signs of impaired memory and attention span similar to brain damage.

Adverse drug interactions

There is some indication that LSD may trigger a dissociative fugue
Fugue state
A fugue state, formally dissociative fugue or psychogenic fugue , is a rare psychiatric disorder characterized by reversible amnesia for personal identity, including the memories, personality and other identifying characteristics of individuality...

 state in individuals who are taking certain classes of antidepressants such as lithium salts and tricyclics
Tricyclic antidepressant
Tricyclic antidepressants are heterocyclic chemical compounds used primarily as antidepressants. The TCAs were first discovered in the early 1950s and were subsequently introduced later in the decade; they are named after their chemical structure, which contains three rings of atoms...

. In such a state, the user has an impulse to wander, and may not be aware of his or her actions, which can lead to physical injury. Anonymous anecdotal reports have attributed seizures and one death to the combination of LSD with lithium. SSRIs
Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor
Selective serotonin re-uptake inhibitors or serotonin-specific reuptake inhibitor are a class of compounds typically used as antidepressants in the treatment of depression, anxiety disorders, and some personality disorders. The efficacy of SSRIs is disputed...

 noticeably reduce LSD's subjective effects. MAOIs are also reported to reduce the effects of LSD.

Panic and anxiety

LSD may trigger panic attack
Panic attack
Panic attacks are periods of intense fear or apprehension that are of sudden onset and of relatively brief duration. Panic attacks usually begin abruptly, reach a peak within 10 minutes, and subside over the next several hours...

s or feelings of extreme anxiety, colloquially referred to as a "bad trip
Bad trip
Bad trip is a disturbing experience sometimes associated with use of a psychedelic drug such as LSD, Salvinorin A, DXM, mescaline, psilocybin, DMT and sometimes even other drugs including cannabis, alcohol and MDMA....

".

Suggestibility

While publicly available documents indicate that the CIA and Department Of Defense have discontinued research into the use of LSD as a means of mind control, research from the 1960s suggests there exists evidence that both mentally ill and healthy people are more suggestible while under its influence.

Psychosis

There are some cases of LSD inducing a psychosis
Psychosis
Psychosis means abnormal condition of the mind, and is a generic psychiatric term for a mental state often described as involving a "loss of contact with reality"...

 in people who appeared to be healthy before taking LSD. In most cases, the psychosis-like reaction is of short duration, but in other cases it may be chronic. It is difficult to determine whether LSD itself induces these reactions or if it triggers latent conditions that would have manifested themselves otherwise. The similarities of time course and outcomes between putatively LSD-precipitated and other psychoses suggest that the two types of syndromes are not different and that LSD may have been a nonspecific trigger.

Estimates of the prevalence of LSD-induced prolonged psychosis lasting over 48 hours have been made by surveying researchers and therapists who had administered LSD:
  • Cohen (1960) estimated 0.8 per 1,000 volunteers (the single case among approximately 1250 study volunteers was the identical twin of a schizophrenic and he recovered within 5 days) and 1.8 per 1,000 psychiatric patients (7 cases among approximately 3850 patients, of which 2 cases were "preschizophrenic" or had previous hallucinatory experience, 1 case had unknown outcome, 1 case had incomplete recovery, and 5 cases recovered within up to 6 months).
  • Malleson (1971) reported no cases of psychosis among experimental subjects (170 volunteers who received a total of 450 LSD sessions) and estimated 9 per 1,000 among psychiatric patients (37 cases among 4300 patients, of which 8 details are unknown, 10 appeared chronic, and 19 recovered completely within up to 3 months).


However, in neither survey study was it possible to compare the rate of lasting psychosis in these volunteers and patients receiving LSD with the rate of psychosis found in other groups of research volunteers or in other methods of psychiatric treatment (for example, those receiving placebo).

Cohen (1960) noted:
"The hallucinogenic experience is so striking that many subsequent disturbances may be attributed to it without further justification. The highly suggestible or hysterical individual would tend to focus on his LSD experience to explain subsequent illness. Patients have complained to Abramson that their LSD exposure produced migraine headaches and attacks of influenza up to a year later. One Chinese girl became paraplegic and ascribed that catastrophe to LSD. It so happened that these people were all in the control group and had received nothing but tap water."

Flashbacks and HPPD

"Flashbacks" are a reported psychological phenomenon in which an individual experiences an episode of some of LSD's subjective effects long after the drug has worn off, usually in the days after typical doses. In some rarer cases, flashbacks have lasted longer, but are generally short-lived and mild compared to the actual LSD "trip". Flashbacks can incorporate both positive and negative aspects of LSD trips, and are typically elicited by triggers such as alcohol or cannabis use, stress, caffeine, or sleepiness. Flashbacks have proven difficult to study and are no longer officially recognized as a psychiatric syndrome. However, colloquial usage of the term persists and usually refers to any drug-free experience reminiscent of psychedelic drug effects, with the typical connotation that the episodes are of short duration.

No definitive explanation is currently available for these experiences. Any attempt at explanation must reflect several observations: first, over 70 percent of LSD users claim never to have "flashed back"; second, the phenomenon does appear linked with LSD use, though a causal connection has not been established; and third, a higher proportion of psychiatric patients report flashbacks than other users. Several studies have tried to determine how likely a user of LSD, not suffering from known psychiatric conditions, is to experience flashbacks. The larger studies include Blumenfeld's in 1971 and Naditch and Fenwick's in 1977, which arrived at figures of 20% and 28%, respectively.

Although flashbacks themselves are not recognized as a medical syndrome, there is a recognized syndrome called Hallucinogen Persisting Perception Disorder
Hallucinogen persisting perception disorder
Hallucinogen persisting perception disorder is a disorder characterized by a continual presence of visual disturbances that are reminiscent of those generated by the ingestion of hallucinogenic substances. Previous use of hallucinogens by the person is needed, though not sufficient, for...

 (HPPD) in which LSD-like visual changes are not temporary and brief, as they are in flash-backs, but instead are persistent, and cause clinically significant impairment or distress. The syndrome is a DSM-IV
Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders
The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders is published by the American Psychiatric Association and provides a common language and standard criteria for the classification of mental disorders...

 diagnosis. Several scientific journal articles have described the disorder.

HPPD differs from flashbacks in that it is persistent and apparently entirely visual (although mood and anxiety disorders are sometimes diagnosed in the same individuals). A recent review suggests that HPPD
Hallucinogen persisting perception disorder
Hallucinogen persisting perception disorder is a disorder characterized by a continual presence of visual disturbances that are reminiscent of those generated by the ingestion of hallucinogenic substances. Previous use of hallucinogens by the person is needed, though not sufficient, for...

 (as defined in the DSM-IV) is rare and affects only a distinctly vulnerable subpopulation of users. However, it is possible that the prevalence of HPPD is underestimated because most of the diagnoses are applied to people who are willing to admit to their health care practitioner that they have previously used psychotropics, and presumably many people are reluctant to admit this.

There is no consensus regarding the nature and causes of HPPD (or flashbacks). A study of 44 HPPD subjects who had previously ingested LSD showed EEG
EEG
EEG commonly refers to electroencephalography, a measurement of the electrical activity of the brain.EEG may also refer to:* Emperor Entertainment Group, a Hong Kong-based entertainment company...

 abnormalities. Given that some symptoms have environmental triggers, it may represent a failure to adjust visual processing to changing environmental conditions. There are no explanations for why only some individuals develop HPPD. Explanations in terms of LSD physically remaining in the body for months or years after consumption have been discounted by experimental evidence. Some say HPPD is a manifestation of post-traumatic stress disorder
Post-traumatic stress disorder
Posttraumaticstress disorder is a severe anxiety disorder that can develop after exposure to any event that results in psychological trauma. This event may involve the threat of death to oneself or to someone else, or to one's own or someone else's physical, sexual, or psychological integrity,...

, not related to the direct action of LSD on brain chemistry, and varies according to the susceptibility of the individual to the disorder. Many emotionally intense experiences can lead to flashbacks when a person is reminded acutely of the original experience. However, not all published case reports of HPPD appear to describe an anxious hyper-vigilant state reminiscent of post-traumatic stress disorder. Instead, some cases appear to involve only visual symptoms.

Uterine contractions

Early pharmacological testing by Sandoz in laboratory animals showed that LSD can stimulate uterine contractions, with efficacy comparable to ergobasine, the active uterotonic component of the ergot
Ergot
Ergot or ergot fungi refers to a group of fungi of the genus Claviceps. The most prominent member of this group is Claviceps purpurea. This fungus grows on rye and related plants, and produces alkaloids that can cause ergotism in humans and other mammals who consume grains contaminated with its...

 fungus. (Hofmann's work on ergot derivatives also produced a modified form of ergobasine
Ergonovine
Ergometrine , is an ergoline derivative, and one of the primary ergot and morning glory alkaloids...

 which became a widely accepted medication used in obstetrics
Obstetrics
Obstetrics is the medical specialty dealing with the care of all women's reproductive tracts and their children during pregnancy , childbirth and the postnatal period...

, under the trade name Methergine.) Therefore, LSD use by pregnant women could be dangerous and is contraindicated
Contraindication
In medicine, a contraindication is a condition or factor that serves as a reason to withhold a certain medical treatment.Some contraindications are absolute, meaning that there are no reasonable circumstances for undertaking a course of action...

. However, the relevance of these animal studies to humans is unclear, and a 2008 medical reference guide to drugs in pregnancy and lactation stated, "It appears unlikely that pure LSD administered in a controlled condition is an abortifacient
Abortifacient
An abortifacient is a substance that induces abortion. Abortifacients for animals that have mated undesirably are known as mismating shots....

."

Genetic

Beginning in 1967, studies raised concerns that LSD might produce genetic damage or developmental abnormalities in fetuses. However, these initial reports were based on in vitro studies or were poorly controlled and have not been substantiated. In studies of chromosomal
Chromosome
A chromosome is an organized structure of DNA and protein found in cells. It is a single piece of coiled DNA containing many genes, regulatory elements and other nucleotide sequences. Chromosomes also contain DNA-bound proteins, which serve to package the DNA and control its functions.Chromosomes...

 changes in human users and in monkeys, the balance of evidence suggests no increase in chromosomal damage. For example, white blood cell
White blood cell
White blood cells, or leukocytes , are cells of the immune system involved in defending the body against both infectious disease and foreign materials. Five different and diverse types of leukocytes exist, but they are all produced and derived from a multipotent cell in the bone marrow known as a...

s of people who had been given LSD in a clinical setting were examined for visible chromosomal abnormalities; overall, there appeared to be no lasting changes. Several studies have been conducted using illicit LSD users and provide a less clear picture. Interpretation of these data is generally complicated by factors such as the unknown chemical composition of street LSD, concurrent use of other psychoactive drug
Psychoactive drug
A psychoactive drug, psychopharmaceutical, or psychotropic is a chemical substance that crosses the blood–brain barrier and acts primarily upon the central nervous system where it affects brain function, resulting in changes in perception, mood, consciousness, cognition, and behavior...

s, and diseases such as hepatitis
Hepatitis
Hepatitis is a medical condition defined by the inflammation of the liver and characterized by the presence of inflammatory cells in the tissue of the organ. The name is from the Greek hepar , the root being hepat- , meaning liver, and suffix -itis, meaning "inflammation"...

 in the sampled populations. It seems possible the small number of genetic abnormalities reported in users of street LSD is either coincidental or related to factors other than a toxic effect of pure LSD. A 2008 medical review concluded, "The available data suggest that pure LSD does not cause chromosomal abnormalities, spontaneous abortions, or congenital malformations."

Antidotes

Adverse effects of psychotropics are often treated with fast-acting benzodiazepine
Benzodiazepine
A benzodiazepine is a psychoactive drug whose core chemical structure is the fusion of a benzene ring and a diazepine ring...

s like diazepam
Diazepam
Diazepam , first marketed as Valium by Hoffmann-La Roche is a benzodiazepine drug. Diazepam is also marketed in Australia as Antenex. It is commonly used for treating anxiety, insomnia, seizures including status epilepticus, muscle spasms , restless legs syndrome, alcohol withdrawal,...

 or triazolam
Triazolam
Triazolam is a benzodiazepine drug. It possesses pharmacological properties similar to that of other benzodiazepines, but it is generally only used as a sedative to treat severe insomnia...

 that have calming and antianxiety effects but do not directly affect the specific actions of psychotropics. Theoretically, specific 5-HT2A receptor
5-HT2A receptor
The mammalian 5-HT2A receptor is a subtype of the 5-HT2 receptor that belongs to the serotonin receptor family and is a G protein-coupled receptor . This is the main excitatory receptor subtype among the GPCRs for serotonin , although 5-HT2A may also have an inhibitory effect on certain areas such...

 antagonist
Receptor antagonist
A receptor antagonist is a type of receptor ligand or drug that does not provoke a biological response itself upon binding to a receptor, but blocks or dampens agonist-mediated responses...

s, which most commonly means atypical antipsychotics (quetiapine
Quetiapine
Quetiapine , is an atypical antipsychotic approved for the treatment of schizophrenia, and bipolar disorder....

, olanzapine
Olanzapine
Olanzapine is an atypical antipsychotic, approved by the FDA for the treatment of schizophrenia and bipolar disorder...

, risperidone
Risperidone
Risperidone is a second generation or atypical antipsychotic, sold under the trade name . It is used to treat schizophrenia , schizoaffective disorder, the mixed and manic states associated with bipolar disorder, and irritability in people with autism...

, etc.) or other 5-HT2A antagonist such as trazodone
Trazodone
Trazodone is an antidepressant of the serotonin antagonist and reuptake inhibitor class. It is a phenylpiperazine compound...

 or mirtazapine
Mirtazapine
Mirtazapine is a tetracyclic antidepressant used primarily in the treatment of depression. It is also sometimes used as a hypnotic, antiemetic, and appetite stimulant, and for the treatment of anxiety, among other indications...

, would be direct antidote
Antidote
An antidote is a substance which can counteract a form of poisoning. The term ultimately derives from the Greek αντιδιδοναι antididonai, "given against"....

s, although some anecdotal reports claim otherwise. Also, some people have reported that taking an SSRI such as fluoxetine
Fluoxetine
Fluoxetine is an antidepressant of the selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor class. It is manufactured and marketed by Eli Lilly and Company...

 will counteract the effects of LSD. Some reports indicate that although administration of chlorpromazine
Chlorpromazine
Chlorpromazine is a typical antipsychotic...

 (Thorazine) or similar typical antipsychotic
Typical antipsychotic
Typical antipsychotics are a class of antipsychotic drugs first developed in the 1950s and used to treat psychosis...

 tranquilizers will not end an LSD trip, it will either lessen the intensity or immobilize and numb the patient, a side effect of the medication. While it also may not end an LSD trip, the best chemical treatment for a "bad trip" is an anxiolytic
Anxiolytic
An anxiolytic is a drug used for the treatment of anxiety, and its related psychological and physical symptoms...

 agent such as diazepam
Diazepam
Diazepam , first marketed as Valium by Hoffmann-La Roche is a benzodiazepine drug. Diazepam is also marketed in Australia as Antenex. It is commonly used for treating anxiety, insomnia, seizures including status epilepticus, muscle spasms , restless legs syndrome, alcohol withdrawal,...

 (Valium) or another benzodiazepine
Benzodiazepine
A benzodiazepine is a psychoactive drug whose core chemical structure is the fusion of a benzene ring and a diazepine ring...

. As the effect of the drug is psychological as well as physical, any treatment should focus on calming the patient. Limiting stimuli such as bright lights and loud noises can help in the event of an ill reaction.

Many rumor
Rumor
A rumor or rumour is often viewed as "an unverified account or explanation of events circulating from person to person and pertaining to an object, event, or issue in public concern" However, a review of the research on rumor conducted by Pendleton in 1998 found that research across sociology,...

s about home remedies
Home remedy
A home remedy is a treatment to cure a disease or ailment that employs certain spices, vegetables, or other common items. Home remedies may or may not have medicinal properties that treat or cure the disease or ailment in question, as they are typically passed along by laypersons...

 to counteract psychedelic effects are circulated, including vanilla essence, and anti-histamines. These may have a placebo effect
Placebo effect
Placebo effect may refer to:* Placebo effect, the tendency of any medication or treatment, even an inert or ineffective one, to exhibit results simply because the recipient believes that it will work...

, working by making the taker think they have done something to make it better.

Chemistry and structure

LSD is an ergoline
Ergoline
Ergoline is a chemical compound whose structural skeleton is contained in a diverse range of alkaloids including a few psychedelic drugs . Ergoline derivatives are used clinically for the purpose of vasoconstriction and in the treatment of migraines and Parkinson's disease...

 derivative. It is commonly synthesised by reacting diethylamine
Diethylamine
Diethylamine is a secondary amine with the molecular structure CH3CH2NHCH2CH3. It is a flammable, strongly alkaline liquid. It is miscible with water and ethanol. It is a colorless liquid which often appears brown due to impurities...

 with an activated form of lysergic acid
Lysergic acid
Lysergic acid, also known as D-lysergic acid and -lysergic acid, is a precursor for a wide range of ergoline alkaloids that are produced by the ergot fungus and some plants. Amides of lysergic acid, lysergamides, are widely used as pharmaceuticals and as psychedelic drugs...

. Activating reagents include phosphoryl chloride
Phosphoryl chloride
Phosphoryl chloride is a colourless liquid with the formula 3. It hydrolyses in moist air to phosphoric acid to release choking fumes of hydrogen chloride. It is manufactured industrially on a large scale from phosphorus trichloride and oxygen or phosphorus pentoxide...

 and peptide coupling reagents. Lysergic acid is made by alkaline hydrolysis
Hydrolysis
Hydrolysis is a chemical reaction during which molecules of water are split into hydrogen cations and hydroxide anions in the process of a chemical mechanism. It is the type of reaction that is used to break down certain polymers, especially those made by condensation polymerization...

 of lysergamides like ergotamine, a substance derived from the ergot
Ergot
Ergot or ergot fungi refers to a group of fungi of the genus Claviceps. The most prominent member of this group is Claviceps purpurea. This fungus grows on rye and related plants, and produces alkaloids that can cause ergotism in humans and other mammals who consume grains contaminated with its...

 fungus
Fungus
A fungus is a member of a large group of eukaryotic organisms that includes microorganisms such as yeasts and molds , as well as the more familiar mushrooms. These organisms are classified as a kingdom, Fungi, which is separate from plants, animals, and bacteria...

 on rye
Rye
Rye is a grass grown extensively as a grain and as a forage crop. It is a member of the wheat tribe and is closely related to barley and wheat. Rye grain is used for flour, rye bread, rye beer, some whiskeys, some vodkas, and animal fodder...

, or from ergine
Ergine
Ergine, also known as d-lysergic acid amide , d-lysergamide, and LA-111, is an alkaloid of the ergoline family that occurs in various species of vines of the Convolvulaceae and some species of fungi...

 (lysergic acid amide, LSA), a compound that is found in morning glory
Morning glory
Morning glory is a common name for over 1,000 species of flowering plants in the family Convolvulaceae, whose current taxonomy and systematics is in flux...

 (Ipomoea tricolor) and Hawaiian baby woodrose
Hawaiian baby woodrose
Argyreia nervosa is a perennial climbing vine that is native to the Indian subcontinent and introduced to numerous areas worldwide, including Hawaii, Africa and the Caribbean. Though it can be invasive, it is often prized for its aesthetic value...

 (Argyreia nervosa) seeds.

LSD is a chiral
Chirality (chemistry)
A chiral molecule is a type of molecule that lacks an internal plane of symmetry and thus has a non-superimposable mirror image. The feature that is most often the cause of chirality in molecules is the presence of an asymmetric carbon atom....

 compound with two stereocenter
Stereocenter
A stereocenter or stereogenic center is an atom, bearing groups such that an interchanging of any two groups leads to a stereoisomer.A chirality center is a stereocenter consisting of an atom holding a set of ligands in a spatial arrangement which is not superposable on its mirror image...

s at the carbon
Carbon
Carbon is the chemical element with symbol C and atomic number 6. As a member of group 14 on the periodic table, it is nonmetallic and tetravalent—making four electrons available to form covalent chemical bonds...

 atoms C-5 and C-8, so that theoretically four different optical isomers of LSD could exist. LSD, also called (+)-D-LSD, has the absolute configuration
Absolute configuration
An absolute configuration in stereochemistry is the spatial arrangement of the atoms of a chiral molecular entity and its stereochemical description e.g. R or S....

 (5R,8R). The C-5 isomer
Isomer
In chemistry, isomers are compounds with the same molecular formula but different structural formulas. Isomers do not necessarily share similar properties, unless they also have the same functional groups. There are many different classes of isomers, like stereoisomers, enantiomers, geometrical...

s of lysergamides do not exist in nature and are not formed during the synthesis from D-lysergic acid. Retrosynthetically, the C-5 stereocenter could be analysed as having the same configuration of the alpha carbon of the naturally occurring amino acid L-tryptophan
Tryptophan
Tryptophan is one of the 20 standard amino acids, as well as an essential amino acid in the human diet. It is encoded in the standard genetic code as the codon UGG...

, the precursor to all biosynthetic ergoline compounds.

However, LSD and iso-LSD, the two C-8 isomers, rapidly interconvert in the presence of bases
Base (chemistry)
For the term in genetics, see base A base in chemistry is a substance that can accept hydrogen ions or more generally, donate electron pairs. A soluble base is referred to as an alkali if it contains and releases hydroxide ions quantitatively...

, as the alpha proton is acidic and can be deprotonated
Deprotonation
Deprotonation is the removal of a proton from a molecule, forming the conjugate base.The relative ability of a molecule to give up a proton is measured by its pKa value. A low pKa value indicates that the compound is acidic and will easily give up its proton to a base...

 and reprotonated. Non-psychoactive iso-LSD which has formed during the synthesis can be separated by chromatography
Chromatography
Chromatography is the collective term for a set of laboratory techniques for the separation of mixtures....

 and can be isomerized to LSD.

A totally pure salt of LSD will emit small flashes of white light when shaken in the dark. LSD is strongly fluorescent and will glow bluish-white under UV light.

Reactivity and degradation

"LSD," writes the chemist Alexander Shulgin
Alexander Shulgin
Alexander "Sasha" Theodore Shulgin is an American pharmacologist, chemist, artist, and drug developer.Shulgin is credited with the popularization of MDMA, commonly known as ecstasy, in the late 1970s and early 1980s, especially for psychopharmaceutical use and the treatment of depression and...

, "is an unusually fragile molecule." It is stable for indefinite time if stored as a solid salt or dissolved in water, at low temperature and protected from air and light exposure.

LSD has two labile protons at the tertiary stereogenic C5 and C8 positions, rendering these centres prone to epimerisation. The C8 proton is more labile due to the electron-withdrawing carboxamide attachment, but removal of the chiral proton at the C5 position (which was once also an alpha proton of the parent molecule tryptophan
Tryptophan
Tryptophan is one of the 20 standard amino acids, as well as an essential amino acid in the human diet. It is encoded in the standard genetic code as the codon UGG...

) is assisted by the inductively-withdrawing nitrogen and pi electron delocalisation with the indole ring.

LSD also has enamine
Enamine
An enamine is an unsaturated compound derived by the reaction of an aldehyde or ketone with a secondary amine followed by loss of H2O.The word "enamine" is derived from the affix en-, used as the suffix of alkene, and the root amine. This can be compared with enol, which is a functional group...

-type reactivity because of the electron-donating effects of the indole ring. Because of this, chlorine
Chlorine
Chlorine is the chemical element with atomic number 17 and symbol Cl. It is the second lightest halogen, found in the periodic table in group 17. The element forms diatomic molecules under standard conditions, called dichlorine...

 destroys LSD molecules on contact; even though chlorinated tap water contains only a slight amount of chlorine, the small quantity of compound typical to an LSD solution will likely be eliminated when dissolved in tap water. The double bond
Covalent bond
A covalent bond is a form of chemical bonding that is characterized by the sharing of pairs of electrons between atoms. The stable balance of attractive and repulsive forces between atoms when they share electrons is known as covalent bonding....

 between the 8-position and the aromatic ring
Aromatic hydrocarbon
An aromatic hydrocarbon or arene is a hydrocarbon with alternating double and single bonds between carbon atoms. The term 'aromatic' was assigned before the physical mechanism determining aromaticity was discovered, and was derived from the fact that many of the compounds have a sweet scent...

, being conjugated with the indole ring, is susceptible to nucleophilic attacks by water or alcohol, especially in the presence of light. LSD often converts to "lumi-LSD", which is totally inactive in human beings (to the best of current knowledge).

A controlled study was undertaken to determine the stability of LSD in pooled urine samples.
The concentrations of LSD in urine samples were followed over time at various temperatures, in different types of storage containers, at various exposures to different wavelengths of light, and at varying pH values. These studies demonstrated no significant loss in LSD concentration at 25°C for up to four weeks. After four weeks of incubation, a 30% loss in LSD concentration at 37°C and up to a 40% at 45°C were observed. Urine fortified with LSD and stored in amber glass or nontransparent polyethylene containers showed no change in concentration under any light conditions. Stability of LSD in transparent containers under light was dependent on the distance between the light source and the samples, the wavelength of light, exposure time, and the intensity of light. After prolonged exposure to heat in alkaline pH conditions, 10 to 15% of the parent LSD epimerized to iso-LSD. Under acidic conditions, less than 5% of the LSD was converted to iso-LSD. It was also demonstrated that trace amounts of metal ions in buffer or urine could catalyze the decomposition of LSD and that this process can be avoided by the addition of EDTA
EDTA
Ethylenediaminetetraacetic acid, widely abbreviated as EDTA , is a polyamino carboxylic acid and a colourless, water-soluble solid. Its conjugate base is named ethylenediaminetetraacetate. It is widely used to dissolve limescale. Its usefulness arises because of its role as a hexadentate ligand...

.

Dosage

A single dose of LSD may be between 100 and 500 micrograms—an amount roughly equal to one-tenth the mass of a grain of sand.
Threshold effects can be felt with as little as 25 micrograms of LSD. Dosages of LSD are measured in micrograms (µg), or millionths of a gram
Gram
The gram is a metric system unit of mass....

. By comparison, dosages of most drugs, both recreational and medicinal, are measured in milligrams (mg), or thousandths of a gram. For example, an active dose of mescaline
Mescaline
Mescaline or 3,4,5-trimethoxyphenethylamine is a naturally occurring psychedelic alkaloid of the phenethylamine class used mainly as an entheogen....

, roughly 0.2 to 0.5g, has effects comparable to 100 µg or less of LSD.

Typical doses in the 1960s ranged from 200 to 1000 µg while street samples of the 1970s contained 30 to 300 µg. By the 1980s, the amount had reduced to between 100 and 125 µg, lowering more in the 1990s to the 20–80 µg range, and even more in the 2000s.
Estimates for the median lethal dose (LD50) of LSD range from 200 µg/kg to more than 1 mg/kg of human body mass, though most sources report that there are no known human cases of such an overdose. Other sources note one report of a suspected fatal overdose of LSD occurring in November 1975 in Kentucky
Kentucky
The Commonwealth of Kentucky is a state located in the East Central United States of America. As classified by the United States Census Bureau, Kentucky is a Southern state, more specifically in the East South Central region. Kentucky is one of four U.S. states constituted as a commonwealth...

 in which there were indications that ~1/3 of a gram (320 mg or 320,000 µg) had been injected intravenously. (This is a very extraordinary amount, equivalent to over 3,000 times the average LSD dosage of ~100 µg). Experiments with LSD have also been done on animals; in 1962, an elephant named Tusko died shortly after being injected with 297 mg, but whether the LSD was the cause of his death is controversial (due, in part, to a plethora of other chemical substances administered simultaneously).

Pharmacokinetics

LSD's effects normally last from 6–12 hours depending on dosage, tolerance, body weight and age. The Sandoz prospectus for "Delysid" warned: "intermittent disturbances of affect may occasionally persist for several days." Contrary to early reports and common belief, LSD effects do not last longer than the amount of time significant levels of the drug are present in the blood. Aghajanian and Bing (1964) found LSD had an elimination half-life of only 175 minutes. However, using more accurate techniques, Papac and Foltz (1990) reported that 1 µg/kg oral LSD given to a single male volunteer had an apparent plasma half-life of 5.1 hours, with a peak plasma concentration of 5 ng/mL at 3 hours post-dose.

Detection in biological fluids

LSD may be quantified in urine as part of a drug abuse testing program, in plasma or serum to confirm a diagnosis of poisoning in hospitalized victims or in whole blood to assist in a forensic investigation of a traffic or other criminal violation or a case of sudden death. Both the parent drug and its major metabolite are unstable in biofluids when exposed to light, heat or alkaline conditions and therefore specimens are protected from light, stored at the lowest possible temperature and analyzed quickly to minimize losses.

Pharmacodynamics

LSD affects a large number of the G protein coupled receptors
Receptor (biochemistry)
In biochemistry, a receptor is a molecule found on the surface of a cell, which receives specific chemical signals from neighbouring cells or the wider environment within an organism...

, including all dopamine receptor
Dopamine receptor
Dopamine receptors are a class of metabotropic G protein-coupled receptors that are prominent in the vertebrate central nervous system . The neurotransmitter dopamine is the primary endogenous ligand for dopamine receptors....

 subtypes, and all adrenoreceptor
Adrenergic receptor
The adrenergic receptors are a class of metabotropic G protein-coupled receptors that are targets of the catecholamines, especially noradrenaline and adrenaline ....

 subtypes, as well as many others. LSD binds to most serotonin receptor
5-HT receptor
The serotonin receptors, also known as 5-hydroxytryptamine receptors or 5-HT receptors, are a group of G protein-coupled receptors and ligand-gated ion channels found in the central and peripheral nervous systems. They mediate both excitatory and inhibitory neurotransmission...

 subtypes except for 5-HT3
5-HT3 receptor
The 5-HT3 receptor is a member of the superfamily of ligand-gated ion channels, a superfamily that also includes the neuronal nicotinic acetylcholine receptors , and the inhibitory neurotransmitter receptors for GABA and glycine...

 and 5-HT4
5-HT4 receptor
5-hydroxytryptamine receptor 4 is a protein that in humans is encoded by the HTR4 gene.- Location :The receptor is located in the alimentary tract, urinary bladder, heart and adrenal gland as well as the central nervous system ....

. However, most of these receptors are affected at too low affinity to be sufficiently activated by the brain concentration of approximately 10–20 nM. In humans, recreational doses of LSD can affect 5-HT1A
5-HT1A receptor
The 5-HT1A receptor is a subtype of 5-HT receptor that binds the endogenous neurotransmitter serotonin . It is a G protein-coupled receptor that is coupled to Gi/Go and mediates inhibitory neurotransmission...

, 5-HT2A
5-HT2A receptor
The mammalian 5-HT2A receptor is a subtype of the 5-HT2 receptor that belongs to the serotonin receptor family and is a G protein-coupled receptor . This is the main excitatory receptor subtype among the GPCRs for serotonin , although 5-HT2A may also have an inhibitory effect on certain areas such...

, 5-HT2C
5-HT2C receptor
The 5-HT2C receptor is a subtype of 5-HT receptor that binds the endogenous neurotransmitter serotonin . It is a G protein-coupled receptor that is coupled to Gq/G11 and mediates excitatory neurotransmission. HTR2C denotes the human gene encoding for the receptor, that in humans is located at the...

, 5-HT5A
5-HT5A receptor
5-hydroxytryptamine receptor 5A, also known as HTR5A, is a protein which in humans is encoded by the HTR5A gene.- Function :...

, and 5-HT6 receptor
5-HT6 receptor
The 5-HT6 receptor is a subtype of 5-HT receptor that binds the endogenous neurotransmitter serotonin . It is a G protein-coupled receptor that is coupled to Gs/Go and mediates excitatory neurotransmission. HTR6 denotes the human gene encoding for the receptor.-Distribution:The 5-HT6 receptor is...

s. 5-HT5B receptors
5-HT5B receptor
5-HT5B receptor is a 5-HT receptor protein and the gene which encodes it. The protein is found in rodents, but not in humans, because stop codons in the gene's coding sequence prevent the gene from expressing a functional protein. It is believed that the function of the 5-HT5B receptor has been...

, which are not present in humans, also have a high affinity for LSD. The psychedelic effects of LSD are attributed to its strong partial agonist
Partial agonist
Partial agonists bind and activate a given receptor, but have only partial efficacy at the receptor relative to a full agonist...

 effects at 5-HT2A receptors as specific 5-HT2A agonist
Agonist
An agonist is a chemical that binds to a receptor of a cell and triggers a response by that cell. Agonists often mimic the action of a naturally occurring substance...

s are psychedelics and largely 5-HT2A specific antagonist
Receptor antagonist
A receptor antagonist is a type of receptor ligand or drug that does not provoke a biological response itself upon binding to a receptor, but blocks or dampens agonist-mediated responses...

s block the psychedelic activity of LSD. Exactly how this produces the drug's effects is unknown, but it is thought that it works by increasing glutamate
Glutamic acid
Glutamic acid is one of the 20 proteinogenic amino acids, and its codons are GAA and GAG. It is a non-essential amino acid. The carboxylate anions and salts of glutamic acid are known as glutamates...

 release in the cerebral cortex
Cerebral cortex
The cerebral cortex is a sheet of neural tissue that is outermost to the cerebrum of the mammalian brain. It plays a key role in memory, attention, perceptual awareness, thought, language, and consciousness. It is constituted of up to six horizontal layers, each of which has a different...

 and therefore excitation in this area, specifically in layers IV and V. LSD, like many other drugs, has been shown to activate DARPP-32-related pathways.

History

LSD was first synthesized on November 16, 1938 by Swiss chemist Albert Hofmann at the Sandoz Laboratories in Basel
Basel
Basel or Basle In the national languages of Switzerland the city is also known as Bâle , Basilea and Basilea is Switzerland's third most populous city with about 166,000 inhabitants. Located where the Swiss, French and German borders meet, Basel also has suburbs in France and Germany...

, Switzerland
Switzerland
Switzerland name of one of the Swiss cantons. ; ; ; or ), in its full name the Swiss Confederation , is a federal republic consisting of 26 cantons, with Bern as the seat of the federal authorities. The country is situated in Western Europe,Or Central Europe depending on the definition....

 as part of a large research program searching for medically useful ergot alkaloid
Ergoline
Ergoline is a chemical compound whose structural skeleton is contained in a diverse range of alkaloids including a few psychedelic drugs . Ergoline derivatives are used clinically for the purpose of vasoconstriction and in the treatment of migraines and Parkinson's disease...

 derivatives. LSD's psychedelic
Psychedelic
The term psychedelic is derived from the Greek words ψυχή and δηλοῦν , translating to "soul-manifesting". A psychedelic experience is characterized by the striking perception of aspects of one's mind previously unknown, or by the creative exuberance of the mind liberated from its ostensibly...

 properties were discovered 5 years later when Hofmann himself accidentally ingested an unknown quantity of the chemical. The first intentional ingestion of LSD occurred on April 19, 1943, when Hofmann ingested 250 µg of LSD. He said, this would be a threshold dose based on the dosages of other ergot alkaloids. Hofmann found the effects to be much stronger than he anticipated. Sandoz Laboratories introduced LSD as a psychiatric drug in 1947.

Beginning in the 1950s the US Central Intelligence Agency
Central Intelligence Agency
The Central Intelligence Agency is a civilian intelligence agency of the United States government. It is an executive agency and reports directly to the Director of National Intelligence, responsible for providing national security intelligence assessment to senior United States policymakers...

 began a research program code named Project MKULTRA
Project MKULTRA
Project MKULTRA, or MK-ULTRA, was the code name for a covert, illegal CIA human experimentation program, run by the CIA's Office of Scientific Intelligence. This official U.S. government program began in the early 1950s, continued at least through the late 1960s, and used U.S...

. Experiments included administering LSD to CIA employees, military personnel, doctors, other government agents, prostitutes, mentally ill patients, and members of the general public in order to study their reactions, usually without the subject's knowledge. The project was revealed in the US congressional Rockefeller Commission report
United States President's Commission on CIA activities within the United States
The U.S. President's Commission on CIA activities within the United States was set up under President Gerald Ford in 1975 to investigate the activities of the Central Intelligence Agency and other intelligence agencies within the United States...

 in 1975.

In 1963 the Sandoz patents expired on LSD. Also in 1963, the US Food and Drug Administration classified LSD as an Investigational New Drug
Investigational New Drug
The United States Food and Drug Administration's Investigational New Drug program is the means by which a pharmaceutical company obtains permission to ship an experimental drug across state lines before a marketing application for the drug has been approved...

, which meant new restrictions on medical and scientific use. Several figures, including Aldous Huxley
Aldous Huxley
Aldous Leonard Huxley was an English writer and one of the most prominent members of the famous Huxley family. Best known for his novels including Brave New World and a wide-ranging output of essays, Huxley also edited the magazine Oxford Poetry, and published short stories, poetry, travel...

, Timothy Leary
Timothy Leary
Timothy Francis Leary was an American psychologist and writer, known for his advocacy of psychedelic drugs. During a time when drugs like LSD and psilocybin were legal, Leary conducted experiments at Harvard University under the Harvard Psilocybin Project, resulting in the Concord Prison...

, and Al Hubbard
Alfred Matthew Hubbard
Alfred Matthew Hubbard was an early proponent for the drug LSD during the 1950s. He is reputed to have been the "Johnny Appleseed of LSD" and the first person to emphasize LSD's potential as a visionary or transcendental drug...

, began to advocate the consumption of LSD. LSD became central to the counterculture of the 1960s. On October 24, 1968, possession of LSD was made illegal in the United States. The last FDA
Food and Drug Administration
The Food and Drug Administration is an agency of the United States Department of Health and Human Services, one of the United States federal executive departments...

 approved study of LSD in patients, ended in 1980, while a study in healthy volunteers was made in the late 1980s. Legally approved and regulated psychiatric use of LSD continued in Switzerland until 1993. Today, medical research is resuming around the world.

Production

Because an active dose of LSD is very minute, a large number of doses can be synthesized from a comparatively small amount of raw material. Beginning with ergotamine tartrate
Tartrate
A tartrate is a salt or ester of the organic compound tartaric acid, a dicarboxylic acid. Its formula is O−OC-CH-CH-COO− or C4H4O62−.As food additives, tartrates are used as antioxidants, acidity regulators, and emulsifiers...

, for example, one can manufacture roughly one kilogram of pure, crystalline LSD from five kilograms of the ergotamine salt. Five kilograms of LSD—25 kilograms of ergotamine tartrate—could provide 100 million doses, according to the DEA, more than enough to meet what is believed to be the entire annual U.S. demand. Since the masses involved are so small, concealing and transporting illicit LSD is much easier than smuggling other illegal drugs like cocaine
Cocaine
Cocaine is a crystalline tropane alkaloid that is obtained from the leaves of the coca plant. The name comes from "coca" in addition to the alkaloid suffix -ine, forming cocaine. It is a stimulant of the central nervous system, an appetite suppressant, and a topical anesthetic...

 or cannabis
Cannabis (drug)
Cannabis, also known as marijuana among many other names, refers to any number of preparations of the Cannabis plant intended for use as a psychoactive drug or for medicinal purposes. The English term marijuana comes from the Mexican Spanish word marihuana...

.

Manufacturing LSD requires laboratory equipment and experience in the field of organic chemistry
Organic chemistry
Organic chemistry is a subdiscipline within chemistry involving the scientific study of the structure, properties, composition, reactions, and preparation of carbon-based compounds, hydrocarbons, and their derivatives...

. It takes two to three days to produce 30 to 100 grams of pure compound. It is believed that LSD is not usually produced in large quantities, but rather in a series of small batches. This technique minimizes the loss of precursor chemicals in case a step does not work as expected.

Forms

LSD is produced in crystalline form and then mixed with excipient
Excipient
An excipient is generally a pharmacologically inactive substance used as a carrier for the active ingredients of a medication. In many cases, an "active" substance may not be easily administered and absorbed by the human body; in such cases the substance in question may be dissolved into or...

s or redissolved for production in ingestible forms. Liquid solution is either distributed in small vials or, more commonly, sprayed onto or soaked into a distribution medium. Historically, LSD solutions were first sold on sugar cubes, but practical considerations forced a change to tablet
Tablet
A tablet is a pharmaceutical dosage form. It comprises a mixture of active substances and excipients, usually in powder form, pressed or compacted from a powder into a solid dose...

 form. Appearing in 1968 as an orange tablet measuring about 6 mm across, "Orange Sunshine" acid was the first largely available form of LSD after its possession was made illegal. Tim Scully, a prominent chemist, made some of it, but said that most "Sunshine" in the USA came by way of Ronald Stark, who imported approximately thirty-five million doses from Europe.

Over a period of time, tablet dimensions, weight, shape and concentration of LSD evolved from large (4.5–8.1 mm diameter), heavyweight (≥150 mg), round, high concentration (90–350 µg/tab) dosage units to small (2.0–3.5 mm diameter) lightweight (as low as 4.7 mg/tab), variously shaped, lower concentration (12–85 µg/tab, average range 30–40 µg/tab) dosage units. LSD tablet shapes have included cylinders, cones, stars, spacecraft and heart shapes. The smallest tablets became known as "Microdots".

After tablets came "computer acid" or "blotter paper LSD", typically made by dipping a preprinted sheet of blotting paper
Blotting paper
Blotting paper is a highly absorbent type of paper or other material. It is used to absorb an excess of liquid substances from the surface of writing paper or objects. It is also commonly used as a beauty tool to absorb excess oil from the skin.-Manufacture:Blotting paper is made from different...

 into an LSD/water/alcohol solution. More than 200 types of LSD tablets have been encountered since 1969 and more than 350 blotter paper designs have been observed since 1975. About the same time as blotter paper LSD came "Windowpane" (AKA "Clearlight"), which contained LSD inside a thin gelatin
Gelatin
Gelatin is a translucent, colorless, brittle , flavorless solid substance, derived from the collagen inside animals' skin and bones. It is commonly used as a gelling agent in food, pharmaceuticals, photography, and cosmetic manufacturing. Substances containing gelatin or functioning in a similar...

 square a quarter of an inch across. LSD has been sold under a wide variety of often short-lived and regionally restricted street names including Acid, Trips, Uncle Sid, Blotter, Lucy
Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds
"Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds" is a song written primarily by John Lennon and credited to Lennon–McCartney, for The Beatles' 1967 album Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band...

, Alice and doses, as well as names that reflect the designs on the sheets of blotter paper. Authorities have encountered the drug in other forms—including powder or crystal, and capsule.

Modern distribution

LSD manufacturers and traffickers in the United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

 can be categorized into two groups: A few large-scale producers, and an equally limited number of small, clandestine chemists, consisting of independent producers who, operating on a comparatively limited scale, can be found throughout the country As a group, independent producers are of less concern to the Drug Enforcement Administration
Drug Enforcement Administration
The Drug Enforcement Administration is a federal law enforcement agency under the United States Department of Justice, tasked with combating drug smuggling and use within the United States...

 than the larger groups, as their product reaches only local markets.

Mimics

Since 2005, law enforcement in the United States and elsewhere has seized several chemicals and combinations of chemicals in blotter paper which were sold as LSD mimics, including DOB
2,5-Dimethoxy-4-bromoamphetamine
DOB, also known as Brolamfetamine and Bromo-DMA, is a psychedelic hallucinogenic drug and a substituted amphetamine of the phenethylamine class of compounds, which can be used as an entheogen. DOB was first synthesized by Alexander Shulgin in 1967...

, 2C-I
2C-I
2C-I or 2,5-dimethoxy-4-iodophenethylamine is a psychedelic phenethylamine of the 2C family. It was first synthesized by Alexander Shulgin. It was described in Shulgin’s book PiHKAL: A Chemical Love Story. The drug is used recreationally for its psychedelic and entactogenic effects...

, DOC, a mixture of DOC and DOI
2,5-Dimethoxy-4-iodoamphetamine
2,5-dimethoxy-4-iodoamphetamine is a psychedelic drug and a substituted amphetamine of the phenethylamine family. It is also a powerful anti-inflammatory that is effective at doses on the order of 100 micrograms in humans, far below its effective dose as a psychedelic. Despite being a substituted...

, and a mixture of DOC and DOB. Street users of LSD are often under the impression that blotter paper which is actively hallucinogenic can only be LSD because that is the only chemical with low enough doses to fit on a small square of blotter paper. While it is true that LSD requires lower doses than most other hallucinogens, blotter paper is capable of absorbing a much larger amount of material. The DEA performed a chromatographic
Chromatography
Chromatography is the collective term for a set of laboratory techniques for the separation of mixtures....

 analysis of blotter paper containing 2C-C
2C-C
2C-C is a psychedelic drug of the 2C family. It was first synthesized by Alexander Shulgin, sometimes used as an entheogen. The full name of the chemical is 2,5-dimethoxy-4-chlorophenethylamine. In his book PiHKAL , Shulgin lists the dosage range as 20–40 mg. 2C-C is usually taken orally,...

 which showed that the paper contained a much greater concentration of the active chemical than typical LSD doses, although the exact quantity was not determined. Blotter LSD mimics can have relatively small dose squares; a sample of blotter paper containing DOC seized by Concord, California
Concord, California
Concord is the largest city in Contra Costa County, California, USA. At the 2010 census, the city had a population of 122,067. Originally founded in 1869 as the community of Todos Santos by Salvio Pacheco, the name was changed to Concord within months...

 police had dose markings approximately 6 mm apart.

Legal status

The United Nations
United Nations
The United Nations is an international organization whose stated aims are facilitating cooperation in international law, international security, economic development, social progress, human rights, and achievement of world peace...

 Convention on Psychotropic Substances
Convention on Psychotropic Substances
The Convention on Psychotropic Substances of 1971 is a United Nations treaty designed to control psychoactive drugs such as amphetamines, barbiturates, benzodiazepines, and psychedelics signed at Vienna on February 21, 1971...

 (adopted in 1971) requires its parties to prohibit LSD. Hence, it is illegal in all parties to the convention, which includes the United States, Australia, New Zealand, and most of Europe. However, enforcement of extant laws varies from country to country. Medical and scientific research with LSD in humans is permitted under the 1971 UN Convention.

Canada

In Canada
Canada
Canada is a North American country consisting of ten provinces and three territories. Located in the northern part of the continent, it extends from the Atlantic Ocean in the east to the Pacific Ocean in the west, and northward into the Arctic Ocean...

, LSD is a controlled substance under Schedule III of the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act
Controlled Drugs and Substances Act
The Controlled Drugs and Substances Act is Canada's federal drug control statute. Passed in 1996 by the Chrétien government, it repeals the Narcotic Control Act and Parts III and IV of the Food and Drug Act and establishes eight Schedules of controlled substances and two Classes of precursors...

. Every person who seeks to obtain the substance, without disclosing authorization to obtain such substances 30 days before obtaining another prescription from a practitioner, is guilty of an indictable offense and liable to imprisonment for a term not exceeding 3 years. Possession for purpose of trafficking is an indictable offense punishable by imprisonment for 10 years.

United Kingdom

In the United Kingdom, LSD is a class A drug. This means possession of the drug without a license is punishable with 7 years imprisonment and/or an unlimited fine, and trafficking is punishable with life imprisonment and an unlimited fine (see main article on drug punishments Misuse of Drugs Act 1971
Misuse of Drugs Act 1971
The Misuse of Drugs Act 1971 is an Act of Parliament which represents UK action in line with treaty commitments under the Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs, the Convention on Psychotropic Substances, and the United Nations Convention Against Illicit Traffic in Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic...

).


In 2000, after consultation with members of the Royal College of Psychiatrists
Royal College of Psychiatrists
The Royal College of Psychiatrists is the main professional organisation of psychiatrists in the United Kingdom responsible for representing psychiatrists, psychiatric research and providing public information about mental health problems...

' Faculty of Substance Misuse, the UK Police Foundation issued the Runciman Report
Runciman Report
The Runciman Report was a 2000 Police Foundation inquiry into the United Kingdom's Misuse of Drugs Act 1971 authored by Viscountess Runciman.-Recommendations:...

 which recommended "the transfer of LSD from Class A to Class B".

In November 2009, the UK Transform Drug Policy Foundation
Transform Drug Policy Foundation
The Transform Drug Policy Foundation is a registered non-profit charity based in the United Kingdom working in the field of drug policy and law reform. TDPF began as an independent campaign group called 'Transform, the campaign for a just and effective drug policy', and was set up in 1996 by its...

 released in the House of Commons a guidebooks to the legal regulation of drugs, After the War on Drugs: Blueprint for Regulation, which details options for regulated distribution and sale of LSD and other psychedelics.

United States

LSD is Schedule I in the United States, according to the Controlled Substances Act
Controlled Substances Act
The Controlled Substances Act was enacted into law by the Congress of the United States as Title II of the Comprehensive Drug Abuse Prevention and Control Act of 1970. The CSA is the federal U.S. drug policy under which the manufacture, importation, possession, use and distribution of certain...

 of 1970. This means LSD is illegal to manufacture, buy, possess, process, or distribute without a DEA license. By classifying LSD as a Schedule I substance, the Drug Enforcement Administration
Drug Enforcement Administration
The Drug Enforcement Administration is a federal law enforcement agency under the United States Department of Justice, tasked with combating drug smuggling and use within the United States...

 holds that LSD meets the following three criteria: it is deemed to have a high potential for abuse; it has no legitimate medical use in treatment; and there is a lack of accepted safety for its use under medical supervision. There are no documented deaths from chemical toxicity; most LSD deaths are a result of behavioral toxicity.

There can also be substantial discrepancies between the amount of chemical LSD that one possesses and the amount of possession with which one can be charged in the U.S. This is because LSD is almost always present in a medium (e.g. blotter or neutral liquid), and the amount that can be considered with respect to sentencing is the total mass of the drug and its medium. This discrepancy was the subject of 1995 United States Supreme Court case, Neal v. U.S.

Lysergic acid and lysergic acid amide, LSD precursors, are both classified in Schedule III of the Controlled Substances Act. Ergotamine tartrate, a precursor to lysergic acid, is regulated under the Chemical Diversion and Trafficking Act
Chemical Diversion and Trafficking Act
The Chemical Diversion and Trafficking Act of 1988 was an amendment to the Controlled Substances Act to regulate precursor chemicals, essential chemicals, tableting machines, and encapsulating machines by imposing record keeping and import/export reporting requirements on transactions involving...

.

Notable individuals

Some notable individuals have commented publicly on their experiences with LSD. Some of these comments date from the era when it was legally available in the US and Europe for non-medical uses, and others pertain to psychiatric treatment in the 1950s and '60s. Still others describe experiences with illegal LSD, obtained for philosophic, artistic, therapeutic, spiritual, or recreational purposes.
  • Steve Jobs
    Steve Jobs
    Steven Paul Jobs was an American businessman and inventor widely recognized as a charismatic pioneer of the personal computer revolution. He was co-founder, chairman, and chief executive officer of Apple Inc...

    , co-founder and CEO of Apple Inc. said, "Taking LSD was a profound experience, one of the most important things in my life."
  • In a 2004 interview, Paul McCartney
    Paul McCartney
    Sir James Paul McCartney, MBE, Hon RAM, FRCM is an English musician, singer-songwriter and composer. Formerly of The Beatles and Wings , McCartney is listed in Guinness World Records as the "most successful musician and composer in popular music history", with 60 gold discs and sales of 100...

     said that the Beatles
    The Beatles
    The Beatles were an English rock band, active throughout the 1960s and one of the most commercially successful and critically acclaimed acts in the history of popular music. Formed in Liverpool, by 1962 the group consisted of John Lennon , Paul McCartney , George Harrison and Ringo Starr...

     songs Day Tripper
    Day Tripper
    "Day Tripper" is a song by The Beatles, released as a double A-side single with "We Can Work It Out". Both songs were recorded during the sessions for the Rubber Soul album...

     and Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds
    Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds
    "Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds" is a song written primarily by John Lennon and credited to Lennon–McCartney, for The Beatles' 1967 album Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band...

     are about LSD. John Lennon
    John Lennon
    John Winston Lennon, MBE was an English musician and singer-songwriter who rose to worldwide fame as one of the founding members of The Beatles, one of the most commercially successful and critically acclaimed acts in the history of popular music...

    , George Harrison
    George Harrison
    George Harrison, MBE was an English musician, guitarist, singer-songwriter, actor and film producer who achieved international fame as lead guitarist of The Beatles. Often referred to as "the quiet Beatle", Harrison became over time an admirer of Indian mysticism, and introduced it to the other...

    , and Ringo Starr
    Ringo Starr
    Richard Starkey, MBE better known by his stage name Ringo Starr, is an English musician and actor who gained worldwide fame as the drummer for The Beatles. When the band formed in 1960, Starr was a member of another Liverpool band, Rory Storm and the Hurricanes. He became The Beatles' drummer in...

     also experimented with the drug, although McCartney cautioned that "it's easy to overestimate the influence of drugs on the Beatles' music."
  • Kary Mullis
    Kary Mullis
    Kary Banks Mullis is a Nobel Prize winning American biochemist, author, and lecturer. In recognition of his improvement of the polymerase chain reaction technique, he shared the 1993 Nobel Prize in Chemistry with Michael Smith and earned the Japan Prize in the same year. The process was first...

     is reported to credit LSD with helping him develop DNA amplification technology.
  • Aldous Huxley
    Aldous Huxley
    Aldous Leonard Huxley was an English writer and one of the most prominent members of the famous Huxley family. Best known for his novels including Brave New World and a wide-ranging output of essays, Huxley also edited the magazine Oxford Poetry, and published short stories, poetry, travel...

    , author of Brave New World
    Brave New World
    Brave New World is Aldous Huxley's fifth novel, written in 1931 and published in 1932. Set in London of AD 2540 , the novel anticipates developments in reproductive technology and sleep-learning that combine to change society. The future society is an embodiment of the ideals that form the basis of...

     became a user of psychedelics after moving to Hollywood, CA. He was at the forefront of the counterculture's experimentation with psychedelic drugs, which led to his 1954 work The Doors of Perception
    The Doors of Perception
    The Doors of Perception is a 1954 book by Aldous Huxley detailing his experiences when taking mescaline. The book takes the form of Huxley’s recollection of a mescaline trip which took place over the course of an afternoon, and takes its title from William Blake's poem The Marriage of Heaven and Hell...

    . Dying of cancer, on November 22, 1963, he asked his wife to inject him with 100ug of LSD. He died from the cancer later that day.

See also

  • ALD-52
    ALD-52
    ALD-52, also known as N-acetyl-LSD, is a chemical analogue of lysergic acid diethylamide . It was originally discovered by Albert Hofmann but was not widely studied until the rise in popularity of psychedelics in the 1960s.- Effects :...

    , chemical analogue of LSD
  • Ergine
    Ergine
    Ergine, also known as d-lysergic acid amide , d-lysergamide, and LA-111, is an alkaloid of the ergoline family that occurs in various species of vines of the Convolvulaceae and some species of fungi...

     Lysergic acid amide (LSA), chemical analogue of LSD
  • Methysergide
    Methysergide
    Methysergide is a prescription drug used for prophylaxis of migraine headaches and is sold under the brand names Sansert and Deseril in 2 mg dosages.-Pharmacology:Methysergide interacts with serotonin receptors...

    , headache medication, chemically related to LSD
  • Psychedelic drug
    Psychedelic drug
    A psychedelic substance is a psychoactive drug whose primary action is to alter cognition and perception. Psychedelics are part of a wider class of psychoactive drugs known as hallucinogens, a class that also includes related substances such as dissociatives and deliriants...

  • Psychedelic experience
    Psychedelic experience
    The term "psychedelic experience" is vague – characterized by polyvalence or ambiguity due to its nature – however in modern psychopharmacological science as well as philosophical, psychological, neurological, spiritual-religious and most other ideological discourses it is understood as an altered...

  • Unethical human experimentation in the United States
  • Urban legends about LSD


Further reading

  • BBC News: Pont-Saint-Esprit poisoning: Did the CIA spread LSD?
  • Bebergal, Peter, "Will Harvard drop acid again? Psychedelic research returns to Crimsonland", The Phoenix
    The Phoenix (newspaper)
    The Phoenix is the name of several alternative weekly newspapers published in the United States by Phoenix Media/Communications Group of Boston, Massachusetts including the Boston Phoenix, the Providence Phoenix, the Portland Phoenix and the now-defunct Worcester Phoenix...

     (Boston), June 2, 2008
  • Grof, Stanislav. LSD Psychotherapy. (April 10, 2001)
  • Lee, Martin A. and Bruce Shlain. Acid Dreams: The Complete Social History of LSD: The CIA, the Sixties, and Beyond (1992) ISBN 978-0-8021-3062-4
  • Marks, John. The Search for the Manchurian Candidate: The CIA and Mind Control (1979), ISBN 0-8129-0773-6
  • Roberts, Andy. Albion Dreaming: A Popular History of LSD in Britain (2008), Marshall Cavendish,U.K, ISBN 1-905736-27-4
  • Stevens, Jay. Storming Heaven: LSD And The American Dream (1998) ISBN 978-0-8021-3587-2
  • Hofmann, Albert. LSD My Problem Child: Reflections on Sacred Drugs, Mysticism and Science (1983) ISBN 978-0-9660019-8-3
  • Henderson, Leigh A. and William J. Glass. LSD: Still With Us After All These Years: Based on the National Institute of Drug Abuse Studies on the Resurgence of Contemporary LSD Use (1st edition 1994, 2nd edition 1998) ISBN 978-0-7879-4379-0
  • de Rios, Marlene Dobkin and Oscar Janiger. LSD, spirituality, and the creative process (2003, Inner Traditions) ISBN 978-0-89281-973-7 - "An exploration of how LSD influences imagination and the creative process. Based on the results of one of the longest clinical studies of LSD that took place between 1954 and 1962, before LSD was illegal. Includes personal reports, artwork, and poetry from the original sessions as testimony of the impact of LSD on the creative process."


External links



Documentaries
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