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LSD d-Lysergic Acid Diethylamide, C20H25N3O, MW 323,2

LSD is an Indole alkaloid from ergot (botanic name: Claviceps pupurea), a mushroom growing parasitically on rye and grain containing Ergotine and other alkaloids (Scene term: "acid"). While the d-isomer is one of the most potent hallucinogenic agents known, the l-isomer is apperently inactive.


1943 discovered Dr. Albert Hofmann, leader of the natural substance laboratory of the pharmaceutical company Sandoz/Basel in the self-attempt the psychological effects of LSD which was already invented by himself in 1938. He felt restless and as in anesthesia, particularly impressing he had colorful visions with closed eyes. Already small quantities, on the average only 100 µg LSD, are sufficient for a change of experiencing (Scene term: "LSD Trip") over eight to twelve hours. Orally taken, the LSD effect begins after 45 minutes, injected after few minutes.

Physiological effect

Physiological works LSD particularly on the brain, especially on the limbic system, which steers the emotional reactions to sensory stimuli and on the reticular system, which influences the selection of the information. Further vegetative reactions are caused, which are pupil's extension, leading to nausea and vomiting, a subjective change of the regulation of warmth, and sudden feelings of cold. Pharmacological it comes to a rather fast habituation, i.e. already on the third day of a continuous LSD consumption the dose must be increased, in order to obtain the same effect.

Psychological effect

Stanislav Grof (1978) investigated above all the psychological LSD effects. Agreeing as the first characteristic an increased brilliance of colors, as well as a general intensification of the perception are called. With higher dosage "pseudo hallucinations" can occur, e.g. flickering and glittering colored ornamentations, multicolored circles, ellipses, spirals or dune landscapes, bloom cups, in addition masks, which are noticed with closed eyes. The consciousness clarity under normal LSD doses remains however. Mystic experiences and psychological insights into the own personality, e.g. neurotic behaviors, with an evidence character, led to the term of the "consciousness extension" by hallucinogenic drugs. Due to these experiences LSD was used, e.g. by Hans Carl Leuner (1962) in the psychotherapy. As physical dangers by LSD consumption break of chromosomes in body cells or deformations are particularly mentioned with children, whose mothers took LSD in the pregnancy. As psychological danger above all the so-called "bad trip", an acute fear accumulation, as short term reaction is called, which resembles a psychotic reaction. Contents of "bad trips" are usually fears of pursuit, which feels concerning from wild animals or however from the police pursues. Usually the "bad trip" fades away automatically again or can be treated with medicines (e.g. Neuroleptica or Valium). With according to disposed persons a psychosis (in form of a hallucination to usually paranoid schizophrenia) can be "triggered", e.g. released. Further dangers by LSD consumption consist in physical attacks of others, in accidents or aggression delinquency; released by hallucinatory misjudging of the reality, fall from the window in the certainty to be able to fly or due to paranoid pursuit ideas. In addition also weeks or months after the last LSD consumption unpredictable so-called flashbacks can happen, with intensive fear and disorientation feelings, which can work like a psychotic idea.

The WHO lexicon mentions likewise: " Use (of most hallucinogens) is typically episodic; chronic, frequent use is extremely rare. Effects are noted within 20-30 minutes of ingestion and consist of papillary dilatation, blood pressure elevation, tachycardia, tremor, hyperreflexia, and the psychedelic phase (consisting of euphoria or mixed mood changes, visual illusions and altered perceptions, a blurring of boundaries between self a and non-self, and often a feeling of unity with the cosmos). Rapid fluctuations between euphoria and dysphoria are common. After 4-5 hours that phase may be replaced with ideas of reference, feelings of increased awareness of the inner self, and a sense of magical control.

In addition to the hallucinosis that is regularly produced, averse effects of hallucinogens are frequent and include:

  • Bad trips,
  • Post-hallucinogen perception disorder or flashbacks,
  • Delusional disorder, which generally follows a bad trip; the perceptional changes abate but the individual becomes convinced that the perceptual distortions experienced correspond with reality; the delusional state may last only a day or two, or it may persist;
  • Affective or mood disorder, consisting of anxiety, depression, or mania occurring shortly after hallucinogen use and persisting for more than 24 hours; typically the individual feels that he or she can never be normal again and expresses concern about brain damage as a result of taking the drug.

Hallucinogens have been used for insight therapy in psychotherapy but this has been restricted or even banned by legislation.

Chemical Analysis

Urine concentrations of unchanged drug ranged from 1 to 55 ng/ml 24 h after uptake of 200-400 µg. The metabolism of LSD has not been thoroughly investigatated. The main metablite is the 2-Oxo-3-hydroxy-LSD. Detection is usually done by GC/MS- or LC/MS-detection. Urine samples are sensitive against light and temperature. By protection, they are stable for up to 4 weeks.

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