Is LSD Really That Dangerous?
- By : Oliver Santos
- Category : Articles, Blog
- Tags: age=14 15 16 17, and, c-Health & Medicine, crime, d news, dea, discovery news, DNews, drug trip, drugs, education, ergot, health benefits, is lsd dangerous, julia wilde, lsd, lsd benefits, lsd effects, lsd side effects, lsd trip, lucy in the sky with diamonds, Medicine, most dangerous drug, psychedelic, schedule 1 drug, science, That, the, the beatles, trip, what is lsd, why is lsd illegal
Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds, whether that’s
one of the best beatles songs of all time or just a weird song about LSD is up for debate.
But what is LSD and is it actually dangerous? Hey guys Julia here for DNews When you hear LSD you might think of a Beatles
song or a little piece of white paper that’ll take you on a trip, man. While both heralded
as a mind-expanding wonder drug or derided as dangerous and triggering delusions, LSD
holds some power in our collective imagination. But what is it? LSD is a derivative of ergot. If that’s
familiar to you, it’s because ergot is a fungus that frequently grows on rye and wheat.
And sometimes that’s baked into bread that people eat and some young girls start trippin
on the fungus and then suddenly the villagers decide to kill a whole bunch of people for
being witches. Seriously ergot probably caused the salem witch trials.
ANYWAYS in small doses, ergot was used as medicine
for centuries. It was used to aid childbirth to quicken delivery and stop bleeding afterwards. So naturally a pharmaceutical company looked
into it’s potential benefits in the early decades of the 20th century. One guy at the
company, chemist Albert Hofmann, was tasked with isolating the compounds and trying to
synthesize it by other means so that maybe it wouldn’t kill you. In 1938 he tried a few variations, but not
with much success. On a few animal experiments he noticed that one variation, Lysergic acid
diethylamide -25 or LSD-25 had a strange effect on the mice. They acted excited for some reason.
But still the company didn’t think much of the compound and mostly forgot about it.
Hofmann, however, couldn’t’ stop thinking about it and those excited animals. A few years later he tried to recreate the
compound. But one day, while working on it, he felt a little strange. He went home and
laid down. And well.. he tripped the heck out. But he couldn’t figure out what did
it- he knew it could be poisonous so he took extra precautions to avoid ingestion. So he
concluded that he absorbed a tiny tiny amount of LSD through his fingertips. So well…
he made the compound and proceeded to experiment on himself. And the rest, is history. LSD became a centerpiece of the counterculture
movement in the 60s after the patents expired. Millions saw it as a way to expand their spiritual
horizons. But soon, there was a cultural and literal crackdown on any sort of drug and
LSD became illegal in 1968. Since then it’s been really difficult to
study in a lab because of legal restrictions, I mean it’s hard to get funding for something
that’s technically illegal. It’s still classified by the Drug Enforcement Administration
as a Schedule I drug, labeling it one of the “most dangerous drugs” with “no currently
accepted medical use and a high potential for abuse.” But from early experiments and a few recent
ones, we know some things about the drug. It works in a few ways. One study published
in the journal Cell Press found that hallucinogens like LSD work on serotonin receptors in the
brain called 5-HT2A receptors (2ARs). While you might know serotonin as the “feel good
drug”, it actually has a number of uses in the brain. Clare Stanford, a psychopharmacologist at
University College London thinks that “serotonin helps keep a handle on perception and actually
stops us from hallucinating,”. So by blocking the serotonin receptors in your brain, your
brain just kind of loses its grip on perception. Or another idea, Andrew Sewell, a Yale psychiatrist
who studies psychedelic drugs, thinks that LSD enhances some part of your perception.
That such drugs lower activity in your thalamus. It sits in the center of your brain and filters
your sensory information from all your nerves. Sewell thinks that by dampening down this
filter, you become more aware of the information actually coming into your system. So sights
and sounds become louder or brighter, and you might start seeing things you never noticed
before. Or you might just start seeing things period. But anyways, is this mind altering
drug dangerous? Well, one study, published in the journal
Lancet found that it’s actually one of the least harmful drugs, both to the user and
to others. I mean when people do take it, they tend to be overly cautious, like being
aware that there’s a time and a place for it. Like festivals in the middle of a desert. And there’s no link between the drug and
mental illness, according to one study published in the journal Psychopharmacology and in fact
it might be beneficial for those who suffer from depression. Okay but before this sounds like a wonder
drug, there are some downsides. Like bad trips or one common charge aimed at the drug is
that it will induce “acid flashbacks”. Or the idea that the drug changes a person’s
brain so much that days, months, or years later, you’ll momentarily get the hallucinations
associated with the drug. Which in a recent case study published in the Israel Journal
of Psychiatry led to one person from ‘Alice in Wonderland Syndrome’. No he doesn’t keep
falling down rabbit holes, but he does keep seeing things and people as bigger or smaller
than they really are. But on the other hand one study published
in the journal Drug and Alcohol dependence concluded that such flashbacks or Hallucinogen
persisting perception disorder as it’s formally called, is incredibly rare. So either way it’s clear more research is
needed on this drug and in the past five years, more research is being greenlit so hopefully
we’ll have more to talk about in future DNews episodes.