LSD is one of the most potent psychoactive drugs known to mankind, and its history is actually a rather curious one. It was synthesized by Dr.
Albert Hofmann in the Sandoz Laboratories in Basel, in 1938, while
Hofmann was working on a series of compounds derived from ergot alkaloids that had as their basic structure lysergic acid (Horowitz, 1976). But it wasn't until 1943, however, that Hofmann took his first 'trip' on this drug when it was accidentally absorbed through the skin of his fingers while he was working with it (Horowitz, 1976). Since then, it has made its entrance into the world of biochemical psychiatry and was at different times used by psychiatrists and physicians to "access the unconscious mind," to
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This paper will attempt to uncover some of the effects that LSD has on various brain structures and explain how those effects come about. D-lysergic acid diethylamide, which is what an abbreviation 'LSD' stands for, is the most potent (only 0.05 mg are needed for LSD to be active, and in some people a dose of 0.03 is effective (Ray & Ksir, 1996)) and notorious of the hallucinogens. It is usually classified as an indole hallucinogen of the phantastica family, that is, it contains the structure known as the indole nucleus, which is also the basic structure of the neurotransmitter serotonin; and it is capable of altering perceptions while allowing the person to remain in communication with the present world, meaning that somebody under the influence of this drug will often be aware of both the "fantasy" world and the "real" world at the same time (hence the category 'phantastica') (Ray & Ksir, 1996). The drug molecules of LSD have their action by acting on serotonin systems (initial research found that LSD structurally resembled serotonin
(5-HT), (Ashton, 1987)), thus LSD primarily affects only those brain systems that depend on serotonin. The LSD molecules that reach other types of receptors have no particular effect of which one can be aware (Ashton,
1987). Only a handful of neurons, however, are