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We’ve all heard the stories about LSD (acid) and its mind-altering ability to make the most mundane things seem meaningful. Formally referred to as LSD or lysergic acid diethylamide, it is one of the most popular psychedelics and it is adored for its superb ability to inspire epiphanies, spiritual enlightenment, and creativity.

LSD is a product made from lysergic acid, a natural substance which is taken from Claviceps purpurea, a fungus which grows on grains and rye. Since it’s synthesis in 1943, the drug has been taken by well over 30 million people at least once in their lifetime.

A successful trip can cause “joy (euphoria, or “rush”) and less inhibitions, similar to being drunk from alcohol use,” a feeling many people desire. Shockingly, some very famous people have experimented with this substance; from billionaires like Bill Gates to genius musicians like The Beatles.

While we’re proud advocates of the “Don’t do drugs” campaign, if you’ve decided to experiment with LSD, then you’ll want to do it safely.

Defining Psychedelics

Psychedelics are drugs that, when ingested, induce a dreamlike state which may last for a few minutes or hours depending on the type that was taken. They are potent psychoactive drugs that are capable of altering an individual’s: perception, mood, behavior, and cognitive processes. Psychedelics are typically recognized as being physiologically safe and users are not prone to addiction.

Some of the most popular psychedelics are: LSD, psilocybin (or magic mushrooms), DMT, mescaline, and MDMA.

Psychedelics were actually used by groups of indigenous people for several years and they were believed to have immense therapeutic potential.

Psychedelics gradually entered popular culture over the years and with the popularity came a lot of scrutiny, which resulted in them being made illegal. Many scientists have protested against this decision, arguing that the substance is far from harmful — in fact, they believe it’s quite the opposite.

What is LSD?

LSD, formally termed D-lysergic acid diethylamide, is one of the “most powerful mood-changing chemicals” according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse. LSD came into existence in 1938 when a Swiss scientist, Albert Hofmann, discovered its hallucinogenic effects after interacting with a small amount of the drug.

Like most psychedelics, the drug acts quickly on your brain (central nervous system), altering your mood, behavior, and the way you relate to the world around you; as stated by the U.S. National Library of Medicine.

This is due to its strong effect on serotonin chemicals in the brain; which regulate our mood, senses and overall behavior.

Is All LSD The Same?

It goes by a lot of different names in the street – Dots, Acid, Blotter, or Yellow Sunshine – which may leave you wondering if they’re all the same. Unfortunately, not all LSD is created equal.

Pure LSD comes directly from lysergic acid that’s taken from the aforementioned growing fungus.

So how can you tell if it’s fake? The fake stuff is pretty realistic so it’s on you to be skeptical about who you source the drug from. It’s usually only when you’ve tasted the substance that you’ll be able to tell the difference.

If you’re using the blotter paper, then the drug should have no taste regardless of the dosage, unless you’re tasting the paper that it’s on.

Real LSD is typically sold at concentrations that cannot be detected by the human tongue. So, whether it tastes like candy or puke, then you’ll know that you shouldn’t be taking it.

Alternatively you could use an Erhlich test kit and look for signs of an indole ring. If it’s real it should have an indole ring in its structure but keep in mind that this is no longer uncommon in fake drugs.

Pharmacology of LSD Effects

LSD dosages between 75-150 micrograms can have a significant effect on your state of mind. Once ingested the drug produces feelings of euphoria and enhances your awareness of mental and emotional feelings.

Once taken into the body, the drug acts similarly to a 5-HT (serotonin) receptor activator in the brain. It works by increasing serotonin levels within the brain while simultaneously disabling systems that normalize serotonin levels to produce a feeling of euphoria.

This is typically how LSD produces many of the benefits that it’s known for; due to its interaction in the prefrontal cortex of the brain.

The prefrontal cortex of the brain plays an essential role in: making decisions, expressing one’s personality, and moderating social and cognitive behavior.  It’s also actively involved in processing information from other brain systems and making goal-oriented choices.

There have been a plethora of recent studies on the magnitude of the effects that LSD has on its users. A neuroimaging study of LSD that was published by the National Center for Biotechnology Information revealed that the drug produces “life-changing experiences in microgram doses.” This indicated the powerful effect of that the drug has on the human mind.

The study was geared towards highlighting the effect that LSD has on brain activity by applying the latest advanced complementary neuroimaging techniques.

Findings the from the neuroimaging revealed that LSD “marked changes in brain blood flow, electrical activity, and network communication patterns that correlated strongly with the drug’s hallucinatory and other consciousness-altering properties.”

Is LSD Safe?

“According to the 2013 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, 229,000 Americans ages 12 and older reported current (past-month) use of LSD.” This is largely due to the positive effects of the drug.

In fact researchers have found that the hallucinogenic effect of this drug can be effective in helping people that are suffering from various health issues. In fact “A few single administrations of LSD or related substances within a therapeutic setting may be beneficial for patients with anxiety associated with severe illness, depression, or addiction. These old–new treatments may have a potential in psychiatry.” (Matthias E Liechti, 2017)

Moreover LSD does not seem to pose any life threatening issues in its pure form. Once taken, under the supervision of an experienced guide who can monitor your actions, the drug is relatively safe. One of the main issues that usually arise with taking any type of drug is addiction — in the case of LSD this is unlikely. Currently, “LSD is not considered an addictive drug because it doesn’t cause uncontrollable drug-seeking behavior.” (The National Institute on Drug Abuse, 2016).

“However, LSD does produce tolerance, so some users who take the drug repeatedly must take higher doses to achieve the same effect. This is an extremely dangerous practice, given the unpredictability of the drug.”  (The National Institute on Drug Abuse, 2016).

The adverse effects that are experienced from LSD use are dependent on the dose taken by the users. This typically includes: dilated pupils, raised body temperature, increased heart rate and blood pressure, profuse sweating, loss of appetite, sleeplessness, dry mouth, and tremors. High doses of LSD can induce a “bad trip” (more on this later) characterized by intense anxiety or panic, confusion, and combative behaviors. After a LSD trip, a user may also experience fatigue, acute anxiety, or depression for 12 to 24 hours. (Drug Enforcement Administration Office of Diversion Control, 2013)”

The Therapeutic Use of LSD

The therapeutic applications of LSD were notably investigated to a great extent in the 1950s and also in the 1960s. One of the most significant parts of these investigations were studies that focused on the possibility that LSD could in fact lessen the effects of anxiety in patients that were suffering from cancer.

However, after these initial couple of decades, once the 1970s rolled around, more stringent regulations were introduced. These new regulations were directly related to: medical testing procedures, drug use, and healthcare techniques. As a result of this, the 1970s marked the end of any notable and worthwhile clinical research that was related to LSD. However, recently there has been a rekindled interest in the possible applications of hallucinogens in psychiatric practices. These new forms of research and trials are not only focusing on LSD, but also on other drugs like:

  • MDMA (more commonly known as ecstasy)
  • Psilocybin (the primary active substance in “magic mushrooms”)
  • Ayahuasca (an entheogenic South American brew that contains DMT, a known hallucinogen)

In fact, in 2012 there was an overall meta-analysis that highlighted previous studies and trials that showed evidence that LDS had the notable potential to help in treating alcoholism. Over a period of twelve months, with a test group of over 500 patients, the results that were obtained were promising – with the use (and abuse) of alcohol being reduced significantly in the LSD group.

Adding to this a modern clinical research that was done on healthy patients exposed to hallucinogen lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD) in a controlled setting revealed that “increased feelings of closeness to others, openness, trust, and suggestibility. LSD impaired the recognition of sad and fearful faces, reduced left amygdala reactivity to fearful faces, and enhanced emotional empathy.”(Matthias E Liechti1, 2017). “In patients with anxiety associated with life-threatening disease, anxiety was reduced for 2 months after two doses of LSD. In medical settings, no complications of LSD administration were observed.” (Matthias E Liechti1, 2017). This further supports the idea that LSD has therapeutic potential in psychiatry treatment.

Use of LSD in therapeutic care over the years have shown that the drug may be effective in treating a number of conditions; ranging from OCD, depression, addiction, and severe anxiety.

What Are the Effects of LSD?

Once a hallucinogen is ingested the users will typically begin to experience the effects within 20 to 90 minutes and this will typically last between 6 and 12 hours.  The physical effects of the drug varies from user-to-user and it’s almost impossible to predict the effects that someone will experience – whether it’s a good trip or a bad trip. When taken orally, the effects of the drug are typically felt within 30 to 45 minutes and they may last up to 12 hours or longer in some instances.

The effects can also be felt in small doses of 75-150 micrograms (μg) at which point it still has the ability to alter one’s state of mind. It’s one of the most highly potent drug types, with the minimum dosage at 25 μg. Dosage below 25 μg are sub-perceptual doses in humans and often referred to as a “microdose.” Doses of 100-200 µg generally bring about a wide range of psychedelic experiences.

The effects of LSD ranges from physiological to psychological.

Psychological Effects

LSD is associated with a number of psychological side effects that typically vary with each user, based on a number of factors; such as the dosage taken.  The psychological effects of the drug typically falls under three categories: negative, positive, and neutral side effects. When taken in low dosage, users are more likely to experience the neutral or positive effectives of the drug.

Positive effects of LSD typically include: increased creativity or involvement in different activities, a complete loss of ego, closed eye hallucinations or visuals, an enhanced sense of togetherness to other forms of life, increased feelings of euphoria, and spiritual awakening. Neutral effects of the drug typically include: lack of focus, losing track of the day or time, changes in the user’s state of mind, strange speech, and unusual thoughts in addition to a range of emotions.

At higher dosages, the chances or having a bad trip or experiencing negative psychological effects is more significant. The negative effects that are mainly associated with bad trips include: paranoia, anxiety, sudden fear of losing one’s life, and overwhelming emotional feelings and flashbacks.

Physical Effects

LSD users can also experience a number of physical effects. Some common physical effects that are likely to be experienced by most users include: increased awareness of one’s surroundings, pupil dilation, and reduced appetite.  

Other physical effects that are less common and vary among users include: hyperthermia, feelings of weakness, numbness, feeling nauseated, an increase in blood sugar levels, sudden tremors, increased heart rate, uncontrollable jaw clenching, and others.

The aforementioned side effects may vary based on environmental factors and dosages.

When taken in low dosages over a period of time, can result in changes in sleeping patterns. This is primarily because LSD ingestion is associated with REM disinhibition and serotoninergic transmissions in the body. While drugs such as benzodiazepines shorten the number of time users spend in REM sleep, LSD does the opposite and lengthens the amount of time.

Tolerance

While dependency or addiction to LSD is rare, it is possible for users to develop tolerance to the drug. LSD users will typically develop tolerance or become less responsive to the effects of the drug after consistent uses. Users will typically have to abstain from using the drug for 3 or more days for its intensity to return.

Sensory Effects

LSD is largely recognized for its ability to enhance the sensory perception of its users. Many users will experience an increased appreciation for music, claiming that they’ve never heard music quite like this before. Some users claim to experience an enhanced sense of smell and taste. Users may also feel the increased need to touch things in their surroundings; including other humans.

Long-term Usage Effects of LSD

Since the earlier years, specifically the 50s and 60s, research on LSD has gradually declined. Although findings from different studies indicated that the drug does not cause long-term brain complications, due to its prohibition as a Schedule 1 drug many companies halted their research.

While there is no evidence that LSD or other psychedelics can cause mental health issues, it’s not recommended for people with existing mental health conditions; although many scientist theorized that LSD can be used to treat conditions such as depression People with serious mental illnesses, especially schizophrenia, are advised to not use LSD and other psychedelics.

Psychedelics like LSD, unlike other drugs, are not linked to long term physical dependence or addiction. Scientist have yet to establish why this is the case, but many theorize that this occurs due to psychedelic effects on dopamine and serotonin receptors in the brain when compared to other drugs.

LSD works by moderately reducing serotonin levels in the brain but it does not have a long-term effect on serotonin levels. Once there is an absence of the drug, serotonin levels will return to normal within one or two weeks.  

One long-term effect of LSD is that it may lead to hallucinogen persisting perception disorder (HPPD). HPPD is a condition that is generally characterized by visual hallucinations, which may continue months or even years after discontinuing psychedelic use. The condition is typically treated using antipsychotic or antiseizure drugs. This condition is very rare and is more likely to happen if the drug is taken in higher dosages or without following the right precautions.

What Are “Bad” Trips

When the word “trip” is used in this context, it is used to define a discernible period of intoxication that arises from making use of a hallucinogenic drug – commonly in reference to LSD (lysergic acid) and magic mushrooms (psilocybin).

So, why is it called a trip? Well, just like how the common definition of the word “trip” deals with a physical journey, this definition that pertains to hallucinogenic drugs deals with a mental journey.

Once someone takes a hallucinogenic drug, then more often than not the way that they mentally perceive the world around them changes – at that time, in their mind and through their thoughts, they feel as if they have taken a cerebra journey to an interesting and unusual place. Just like how we expect the best when we plan to go on a physical journey, when it comes to a hallucinogenic trip, we always hope that it will be a pleasurable and overall enjoyable experience.

However, this is not always the case; a trip can be bad from the get-go and sometimes even a good trip can at times become unpleasant.

How Probable Is A Bad LSD Trip?

Well, the most influential and straightforward factor that can affect the probability of a bad trip is the dosage of the hallucinogen (LSD, etc.) that you take. However, there are also other relatively minor – but still influential – factors that can be at play as well. Two such factors are: the location and/or environment where you are taking LSD and also your current state of mind just as you are about to go on the trip.

By extrapolating data from a study that was carried out on psilocybin mushrooms and fine-tuning it to allow it to apply to LSD, we can estimate to following probable results:

How to Have a Safe Trip on LSD?

First let’s say thank you to Steve Jobs, Shia LaBeouf, Angelina Jolie, and celebrities whose use of LSD was publicized — now we all now it’s possible to use LSD safely. Just Google “how to trip safely on LSD and you’ll come across a number of guidelines which are designed to help to maximize the good and minimize the bad (if there are potentially any) of using the drug. No doubt that’s how you ended up here.

Before you even decide to take LSD here is an example of a checklist that you’ll want to meet first:

  • I have no serious health conditions that prohibit LSD usage.
  • I’m not on any prescription drugs that may cause a negative reaction when interacting with LSD.
  • I will initially not exceed a dosage of 30 to 100 micrograms to maximize the good and minimize the bad.  
  • I have confirmed that the LSD I plan to take is not fake by using an Ehrlich’s reagent test kit or by other means.
  • I will be in the company of a sober guide who will supervise me for the next 16 hours.
  • I will be in a safe and secure environment
  • I am in a good emotional state
  • I’ve educated myself on the effects of the drug.
  • I own earplugs and an eyeshades.
  • I have adequate food and water at home.
  • I have no assignments, work, or important tasks to do.

If you’ve ticked off all of the aforementioned items off of your checklist then you’re ready to begin your LSD trip.

It’s natural to be nervous before a trip; however, by ensuring that you have all of these conditions met before taking the drug, then there isn’t much to worry about. Your goal should be to have a fulfilling life experience rather than simply about having fun.

Once you’ve successfully come off of your first trip you may be eager to go for another ride immediately.

However, it’s important that you do not trip again until your previous trip is completely over and you have had time to recoup. Understand that LSD is a powerful psychedelic with strong psychological effects and therefore it should not be misused.

Do not go on another trip until you’re sure that you are ready to.

LSD Myths

Myth #1: When you take LSD, it actually never fully leaves your body

This is actually a myth that has been spread for a relatively long time now, by a wide range of people. In fact, it is notable for being circulated by both people who use LSD and also by people who have some sort of agenda against LSD (and want to give it a bad reputation).

The most common iteration of this myth states that if you take LSD – even just once – then an indeterminate amount of it is stored by the body in the spinal fluid and it never leaves there. The myth also goes further to state (and somewhat contradict itself by saying) that this LSD that is stored in the spinal fluid over time, can then be released back into the body at any moment, forcing the individual into an overwhelming trip that is out of their control.

Yes, it is true that after taking LSD, many people have reported that they experience flashbacks that are reminiscent of their trip. However, this is simply a direct result of memories being triggered and nothing more.

LSD is not stored in the spinal fluid or anywhere else in the body for any notable period of time. The fact of the matter is that countless studies have proven that LSD is what is considered to be an “unstable” drug – meaning that it simply breaks down easily in the body and passes through relatively quickly.

Myth #2: If you want to stop a trip, then you should take orange juice or vitamin C.

This is a common myth that is more often than not spread by people who are inexperienced with taking LSD and hear rumors of ways to stop the effects of the drug whenever they please. Most versions of this myth state that it doesn’t even take a full glass of orange juice to stop an LSD trip; all it takes is a few sips.

An LSD trip is in fact the after effects of the drug based on how it has interacted with your brain. What this means is that by the time your trip starts, your body has actually metabolized the drug and it is on its way out of your body. So, what does the orange juice do? At best it simply gives you a boost of energy and makes you feel revitalized; however, what is more likely is that it is just a placebo effect.

Myth #3: LSD may cause birth defects and damage chromosomes This myth dates all the way back to 1967 when a short research was published by Science, a reputable journal at the time; claiming LSD may cause chromosomal abnormalities.

This was the foundation for the myth of “birth defect” in newborn babies and chromosome damage in adults. This statement quickly created fear among users who once loved the drug.

Since then, numerous studies have revealed that the initial research findings were inaccurate. Other studies have proven that pure LSD in the correct dosage will not cause any detectable genetic damage.

Myth #4: LSD will make you crazy

This is probably one of the most common myths that you’ll come across. Many believe that LSD can make people crazy or somehow activate mental illnesses.

While the drug may cause visual hallucinations and does produce acute behavioral effects, these are not long term and are typically related to the how much is ingested. A number of people have taken LSD without believing that they can fly.

Closing note

From its inception, LSD has always been more than a substance that is taken for pleasure. It has been utilized as a means of facilitating both personal and spiritual growth, as well as also enabling self-exploration.

While these positives are easy to see, there should be no confusion around the fact that LSD should never be the sole solution to any and all major problems in your life – people that think otherwise are simply misguided.

In fact, the aforementioned benefits can be experienced from other avenues in your life; like meditation.

Psychedelics like LSD should always be viewed as a replaceable tool that facilitates the aforementioned growth and self-exploration.