What is LSD?
LSD is a man-made, semi-synthetically produced chemical that produces strong psychedelic effects. In psychedelic culture, LSD is also commonly known as acid.
What is the LSD experience like?
LSD is typically consumed when LSD-containing liquid is transferred to small squares, or tabs, of absorbent paper. The tabs are dried and then consumed orally, through placement on the tongue. LSD tabs often feature small cartoon icons or motifs. Doses may also be swallowed in tablet or capsule form. An LSD experience can produce strong visual effects, alterations in perception, time distortions, and deep personal insights.
Brief history of LSD
LSD is one of the most well-known psychedelic substances and is often associated with the hippie counter-culture of the 1960s. LSD was first synthesized in 1938 by Albert Hofmann, a chemist working for a pharmaceutical company. Hofmann was looking for a blood thinner when he accidentally ingested some of his own creation and discovered its psychedelic properties. In recent years, however, LSD has made a come-back as a substance that has strong potential for inner work, personal transformation, and the treatment of depression.
LSD has been ranked among the least harmful drugs, second only to psilocybin mushrooms. It is virtually impossible to physically overdose on LSD and it is not addictive. Contrary to misinformation and scare propaganda leftover from the War on Drugs, LSD does not make people go crazy (although, as with all psychedelics, care should be taken if a participant has a family history or personal history of psychosis). In fact, recent studies indicate that psychedelic use is likely to reduce psychological distress, rather than cause it.
At the same time, the safety information that applies to all psychedelics also applies to LSD. Check out the Psychedelic Experience safety guide for recommendations on harm reduction.
As mentioned above, cases involving physical overdoses on LSD are almost non-existent. One case has been reported of cardiac arrest in association with LSD, but the individual had a pre-existing condition and it is not clear how or why the heart attack occurred.
Other safety concerns relate to distortions of time, space and ego that occur during an LSD journey. There is a possibility that a participant might feel invincible during an LSD journey, and might engage in risky behavior, such as walking out into traffic or jumping off a high balcony. Having a safe environment and a reliable sitter is absolutely crucial for this reason, especially if taking a larger dose.
Finally, there are physical risks associated with the possibility that the LSD has been mixed with other substances, or is not LSD at all. There have been isolated cases of injury and death associated with people who consumed other drugs, such as 25b-NBOMe, while believing that they were consuming LSD. Always obtain substances from trusted, reliable sources.
There is no evidence that psychedelics, including LSD, cause psychosis in otherwise healthy individuals. At the same time, psychedelics can cause latent psychosis to surface in some vulnerable individuals. People with a history of psychosis or serious mental illness, including schizophrenia and bipolar disorder, should take great care with any psychedelics, including LSD. It is recommended to start with a very low dose and assess one’s reaction before moving to higher doses.
LSD is synthesized from lysergic acid, or or Lysergic acid diethylamide. In its synthetic form, LSD is produced either as a crystal, which is then mixed with other inactive ingredients, or as a liquid. It is odorless, colorless and has a slightly bitter taste. In nature, lysergic acid is found naturally in ergot, a fungus that grows on barley, rye and other grains.
LSD is part of a chemical family of indole alkylamines, all of which involve tryptamines. The active component of LSD interacts with serotonin receptors in the brain, just like psilocybin mushrooms ,and N,N-dimethyltryptamine (DMT), the active component in ayahuasca.
Although the visual effects and potential for insight can be similar to other substances, LSD is not synthesized in the body as quickly as psilocybin or DMT. This means that the LSD experience lasts considerably longer than other substances. A typical LSD journey is around 12 hours, in comparison to psilocybin (4-6 hours) and ayahuasca (4-8 hours).