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Tuesday, 26 August 2008 16:34

LYSERGIC ACID DIETHYLAMIDE (LSD)

History

LSD is the best known of the indolamides. It was first synthesized in 1938 by Albert Hofmann, a chemist working for Sandoz, which was a small company at the time.
He synthesized it from ergot (Claviceps purpurea), a fungus which grows on rye. He synthesized it again on 16 April 1943 and some of it must have got inside him without his noticing the fact.
"Soon afterwards I was forced to stop my work in the laboratory in the middle of the afternoon and to go home, as I was seized by exceptional restlessness accompanied by a feeling of slight dizziness.
Once I was home, I went to lie down and drifted into a sort of drunkenness which was not unpleasant and was characterized by an extreme activity of the imagination.
As I lay in a blurred state with my eyes closed, I experienced daylight as extremely bright. An uninterrupted stream of fantastic images of exceptional plasticity and liveliness, accompanied by an intense kaleidoscopic play of colours, welled up in me. This state ended some three hours later."
This is Hofmann's report of the incident (note 100), the first account of an acid trip. Although Hofmann could not imagine how the substance had got inside him, he decided to experiment, and three days later he took the smallest quantity of LSD which could be expected to have any effect at all: a quarter of a milligram. The effect was overwhelming! Although he started to take notes on the effects, 40 minutes later he was no longer able to write anything and he asked an assistant to cycle home with him. A doctor was called after he had arrived home, but he was unable to detect anything unusual, at least in a physical sense. The psychic effects, however, were impressive: large visual distortions: faces became grotesque masks, dizziness, motor restlessness alternated with the feeling that his limbs were lead, sometimes an inability to speak coherently all by taking a minimal amount of LSD, a substance which, when administered in minute quantities, proved able to influence something nonmaterial the consciousness.

At first it was thought that LSD caused a kind of artificial psychosis. Later it was used as a psychotherapeutic resource. Later still, when masses of hippies started using it, this drug created a tremor in the US which was felt all over the world. All certainties, the American Dream, were rudely thrown into confusion by a substance which stood every certainty on its head (note 101).

It seems as if the use of LSD died out with the hippies, but this was never the case. Problems were prevented by the culture. LSD is generally used on an incidental basis: people used LSD a few times a year for a few years, until they lost interest in it. It is not addictive. As a result of these factors, and of the corresponding low price and minimal profit, the production and marketing of LSD did not take place in the world of crime. It is only criminal in terms of the letter of the law.

Recently there has been a slight increase in LSD use, probably under the influence of the Sixties revival.

Operational mechanism

LSD has an agonistic effect on presynaptic serotonin receptors in the midbrain. It also inhibits the activity of raphe neurons, which themselves brake sensitivity to visual and other sensory input.

This effect, like that of other indolamines, is based on the structural resemblance to serotonin. (notes 102, 103, 104)

Dependence and tolerance

There is no record of physical or psychic dependence. Tolerance for LSD is developed at such a speed that an enormous increase in the dose is required to maintain the effects in the case of repeated shortterm use, practically resulting in a refractory period up to 2 days after use.

The usual dose is between 30 and 150 micrograms; generally 1 microgram/kg; the effect lasts for about 8 hours.

Effects

LSD is a strong hallucinogen with very mild sympathomimetic effects. The effect depends to a large extent on the psychic state of the person. A slight increase in blood pressure and tachycardia can usually be observed. Mild muscular relaxation. The other somatic effects are slight dilation of the pupils, tremor, sometimes nausea, hyperreflexion, piloerection, and a slight rise in body temperature. (note 105) The lively hallucinations are primarily visual in kind. It also reinforces existing or evoked emotions. Its use can lead to what are generally reversible (peripheral) psychotic states (flipping, bad trips), which usually disappear when the effect is wearing off. The sensitivity to bad trips is not necessarily dependent on the dose, but is primarily dependent on set and setting: the personality of the user and his/her mood, and the setting in which the trip takes place. (note 106)

Luxation of preexisting psychiatric problems (note 107) has been demonstrated in a study of 5,000 persons who had taken LSD at least 25 times. Among healthy, normal individuals, the rate of psychotic episodes was 8 per 10,000 trips, while among psychiatric patients the corresponding rate was 18 psychotic episodes per 10,000 trips, as well as 12 suicide attempts and 4 suicides per 10,000 trips.

During the Summer of Love in the Vondelpark in Amsterdam in 1972, where more than 4,000 people were regularly tripping, there were 112 requests for help: 8 were requests for information for the trip, 4 were requests for tranquillizers, 4 were cases of aggressive behavior, which could be calmed down without any difficulty, 92 were calmed down without any medication. There were only 4 cases of more prolonged psychoses (all among individuals with a very serious psychiatric background). (note 108)

The most prominent of negative effects is fear, but is directed against the person him/herself. Genuine agressive behavior is extremely rare:
usually they are merely states of excitement. (notes 109, 110)
No satisfactory explanations have been found for the flashbacks, if the phenomenon really excists.
Simultaneous use of alcohol is discouraged in the scene.

Chronic Effects
Various negative effects have also been attributed to the use of LSD that could not been proved.
In particular, chromosome damage has been detected, with the suggestion of tetrogenicity.
However this "damage" proved to be harmless. (notes 111)

 

Further information on LSD can be obtained at the following pages:

 

The Psychedelics Library

 

 

Last Updated on Tuesday, 26 August 2008 17:02
 

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