This guide is for educational purposes only. While it is our belief that choosing to consume psychedelics is an inalienable right, many psychedelic substances are currently illegal to possess. -RS
Lysergic acid diethylamide better know as LSD, or acid, is one of the most famous and controversial Psychedelics that exist. In the 1960’s, the introduction of acid into popular culture defined the era. From the hippies, Timothy Leary, The Beatles, Jimi Hendrix, Ken Kensley, LSD inspired a rich subculture, new creative expression, and a prolific body of art.
In 1938, a Swiss chemist named Albert Hofmann started developing LSD to cure headaches. Accidentally, Hofmann discovered LSD’s psychedelic properties five years later. We still do not know exactly how LSD produces its medicinal effects. Nevertheless, it remains a popular Psychedelic for recreational use, and a promising substance in psychotherapeutic research.
What is LSD
LSD, or Lysergic Acid Diethylamide, is a Psychedelic Hallucinogen from the Ergoline family. It is a potent psychedelic and induces an experience that lasts anywhere between 8-12 hours. LSD can be micro dosed as well.
- Acid (The “S” in LSD stands for säure, the German word for acid)
- Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds, after the popular Beatles song (Although in a recent radio interview Paul McCartney claims that there is no connection between the two.)
There are 3 main serotonergic psychedelic groups: Phenethylamines, Tryptamines and Ergolines. LSD belongs to the Ergoline group.
LSD can be classified as either a semisynthetic or fully synthetic substance. In chemistry, synthesis is the result of elements coming together, which create a chemical compound. The formation of water is an example of synthesis via the reaction between hydrogen and oxygen gas.
Semi synthesis is a chemical process that isolates compounds from natural resources. The natural resources serve a foundation from which new compounds are built. LSD was originally formed this way. For example, alkaloids can be extracted from Hawaiian Baby Woodrose seeds, or a “Morning Glory” . They contain a psychedelic property called Ergine (Lysergic Acid)that then is turned into LSD. It can also be fully synthetic, meaning fabricated from scratch.
Forms of Consumption
LSD is consumed using a variety of forms: liquid, tablet, gummies, crystals, blotter paper, and directly through the skin.
- Tabs: blotter paper infused with LSD
- Drops: liquid drops
- Thumb-print: licking LSD crystal
- Microdot: a tiny tablet of LSD
- Patch: put on the skin
- Gummies: LSD candy
From top to bottom, this macro dosing chart lists doses from low to heavy. Any dose that is less than the threshold is a microdose.
The threshold indicates the amount necessary to begin to feel the effects of LSD. For beginners, a light dose is recommended. A light dose is perfect for socializing, appreciating art, music, etc. It’s the right amount if you want to engage with other people, and enhance your general enjoyment of life.
Common doses tend to induce hallucinations and “visions.” A dose less than 75 micrograms doesn’t typically result in hallucinations, unless the person is particularly sensitive to LSD.
Strong and heavy doses are for experienced users. They send the person into, what the community calls, “transcendental states.” Normally, users go in. Meaning, it’s more of an interior experience.
Having an experienced user in the room is a safety precaution. Challenging trips can happen. They can cause long-term psychological damage, such as Hallucinogen-Persisting Perception Disorder or Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. So, it’s a good idea to be with someone who can help guide the experience if a challenging trip occurs.
LSD analogues are substances that are similar to LSD. They are normally legal to buy and to consume in many countries, but double check the local laws.
Some popular analogues :
- 1P LSD
- LSD 25
In 1938, Albert Hofmann synthesized lysergic acid diethylamide-25.
At Sandoz Laboratories, Hofmann was studying the ergot fungus in an effort to synthesize active alkaloids for pharmaceutical use. These alkaloids are called Lysergic Acid Amides. Ergotamine is the most abundant, which became the precursor for LSD.
When Hofmann synthesized the twenty-fifth molecule, he named it LSD-25. Unfortunately, the molecule showed little to no effect on the animals he was testing on, so he abandoned the project. But in 1943, he decided that the molecule deserved a closer look. While Hofmann was handing the molecule, it somehow absorbed into his skin.
Hofmann began to trip, and felt a series of strange sensations he didn’t understand. He thought he was going crazy, and called a doctor. When the doctor arrived, he found Hofmann’s bout of “madness” unusual. It did not affect his vitals at all. His pupils were dilated but his heartbeat, blood pressure, and breathing were all normal.
At the end of the day, Hofmann got on his bike, and road home on LSD. That was April 19, 1943. April 19th became a day of celebration, known as “Bicycle Day,” which honors Hofmann’s psychedelic journey home. The first LSD trip.
Hofmann may have introduced LSD to the West in the 20th century, but many other Ergolines and their derivatives have been ingested for centuries.
For example, Hofmann was experimenting with ergot fungus plant in his laboratory. Ergot fungus is a fungi that contains lysergic acid, which became one of the key ingredients in LSD. The ergot fungus however has an ancient history. Assyrian tablets dating as far back as 600 B.C.E. describe ergot as a “noxious pustule in the ear of wheat,” because it infects rye and other related plants.
When ingested, Ergot causes a condition that results in madness. In the Middle Ages especially, there were major outbreaks of ergot poisoning that swept across towns. Whole populations experienced hallucinations, fever, and occasionally death.
Recently, another discovery of ergot poisoning in 1692 opened a whole new theory about the infamous Salem Witch Hunt. Now there is speculation that the little noxious pustule might have been the real culprit, not the devil or magic spells. The people of Salem might have been hallucinating from the ergotism the entire time. Go figure.
Another LSD precursor is Lysergic Acid Amine, but it has no psychoactive properties. The usage of Lysergic Acid Amine traces back to the Vedas, the most ancient of Hindu scriptures. Furthermore, Lysergic Acid Amine is an Ayurvedic medicinal treatment for erectile dysfunction and syphilis.
Important Events, Findings, Studies
A decade after Hofmann accidentally tripped onto the effects of LSD, the CIA became aware of LSD’s unusual and powerful effects. The CIA initiated the “MK-Ultra” project to experiment with LSD as a mind controlling tool for the purposes of the U.S. government. SubProjects within MK-Ultra also investigated hypnosis, neurosurgery, electroshock, torture, sexual blackmail, stage magic, and poison .
The CIA dosed unsuspecting civilians with LSD for almost a decade (1955-1964). The US government also funded research to investigate the potential use of LSD as a chemical weapon. Regardless, MK-Ultra dropped its efforts in 1964. Subsequently, the records were destroyed in 1972.
Finally, the truth was exposed by the New York Times in 1974. The Senate called for an immediate inquiry the U.S. Intelligence’s abuse of power. Then, journalist John Marks continued to uncover more files. In response, President Ford and Reagan issued executive orders (11905 and 12333) to stop human testing without consent.
Ken Kesey and the Merry Pranksters
Celebrated writer Ken Kesey was first exposed to psychedelics as a creative writing student at Stanford. He participated in government research program that was administering LSD, psilocybin, mescaline, and DMT. The experience changed his life. Shortly afterwards, he completed his first and seminal novel, One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest.
“I been silent so long now it’s gonna roar out of me like floodwaters…” –One’Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest
In the 1960’s Kesey was throwing a series of parties that became known as “acid tests” with his crew, “The Merry Pranksters.” They traveled in a psychedelically painted school bus named “Further.” Further became an icon for the hippie movement. In 1964, they took Further out West. They crossed paths with other notable psychonauts such as Allen Ginsberg, Timothy Leary, Ram Dass, and Jack Kerouac. Tom Wolfe would later write a book that immortalized their LSD fueled bus trip titled The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test.
“Everybody, everybody everywhere, has his own movie going, his own scenario, and everybody is acting his movie out like mad, only most people don’t know that is what they’re trapped by, their little script.” – The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test
In 1959, Timothy Leary had garnered a reputation as an esteemed personality, researcher, and Harvard professor. With his colleague Richard Alpert (the future Ram Dass), Leary spearheaded the Harvard Psilocybin Project after his first psilocybin experience in 1960.
Throughout the Harvard Psilocybin Project, Leary and Alpert administered psilocybin to hundreds of people. Leary and Alpert often participated, taking psilocybin themselves.
Crimson, the Harvard newspaper, covered Leary and Alpert’s project. The news of a Harvard professor administering and taking drugs with students was sensational, and soon spilled into the press nationwide .
Leary’s next experiment embarked in 1961. The Concord Prison Experiment aimed to determine whether psilocybin could reduce recidivism. Rick Doblin was impressed with the results (the founder of the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies). Sadly, he later found out that Leary had exaggerated the data.
In 1962, Leary led The Good Friday Experiment. He gave psilocybin to a group of ten students and a placebo to another group to gauge if one could induce mystical experiences voluntarily. This study established how important mental “set” and physical “setting” are when taking psychedelics, but Leary and his partner also distorted the data of the experiment. They failed to mention that one student had panic and anxiety attacks, and had to be sedated.
The negative backlash about LSD in America did not deter Leary, or keep him quiet. In fact, he declared openly that he planned to administer LSD to four million people. Leary’s famous slogan— “turn on, tune in, drop out”— sent a message far and wide that Psychedelics were for everyone. That did not please the government . Harvard fired Leary and Alpert soon after.
Leary continued to fuel the growing political fire by telling the government that “…the kids who take LSD aren’t going to fight in your wars.” After Leary’s exit from Harvard, the rate of recreational use of LSD increased among youngsters. They knew nothing about “mindset and setting.” Thus the rate of “challenging trips” increased dramatically, which also blistered LSD’s reputation.
Some people did have psychotic breaks, but only those who had a family history of schizophrenia. Most people who ended up in the hospital were experiencing hallucinations, not psychotic breaks. The doctors misinterpreted their panic as psychosis. Thus, the misunderstanding surrounding LSD also contributed to the downfall of its reputation.
Current Studies and Research
Currently, multiple studies are being conducted on the neuroscience behind LSD in the U.S. and abroad.
At John Hopkins University, renowned professor and psychonaut Roland R. Griffiths is comparing naturally occurring experiences and those provoked by psychedelics, such as psilocybin, LSD, ayahuasca, and DMT.
Other studies are gauging the value of LSD-assisted psychotherapy and its potential benefits in reducing anxiety and catalyzing spiritual/mystical experiences.
Today LSD is better understood, but misconceptions are still perpetuated by the media.
Laws and Legal Status
Is LSD Illegal in the US?
Yes. LSD is a Schedule I substance under the Controlled Substances Act. This means LSD is illegal to manufacture, buy, possess, and distribute without a license from the DEA. By categorizing Lysergic acid diethylamide as a Schedule I substance, the DEA believes that LSD meets the following three criteria: having a high potential for abuse, no legitimate medical use in treatment, and a lack of accepted safety laws for its use under medical supervision. Many psychedelic communities in America are currently working to change its legal status.
When was LSD made Illegal?
The US increased the penalties related to the unlawful act of having or consuming LSD on October 24th, 1968 by Public Law 90-639.
Where is Legal Internationally?
Even though Mexico regulates LSD, they passed a law in 2009 that legalized the possession of 15 micrograms of LSD.
Portugal decriminalized LSD in 2001. Possession of less than 500 ug is not regarded as a criminal offense, but the substance can still be seized and the possessor may be referred to mandatory treatment.
One of the major concerns with consuming psychedelics is that they may be neurotoxic.
When a substance is neurotoxic, it damages neurons, which are the cells that make-up the central brain and peripheral system (the nerves running down the spinal cord and throughout the rest of the body). Fortunately for LSD users, multiple studies have shown that there isn’t any risk of toxicity when consuming pure LSD.
To human beings, the lethal dose of LSD is unknown. In some animals, such as rats, the LD50 is 16,5mg/kg. That means a person that weighs 75kg would have to consume 1,2375g or 1.237.500μg of Lysergic acid diethylamide. That equates to about 12 THOUSAND strong doses of this very potent compound.
Studies performed on monkeys also suggested no risk of toxicity. Monkeys that were injected with doses as high as 1mg/kg i.v. did not have lasting somatic effects. For a human being, the equivalent dose would be up to 700 common doses of LSD.
Cumulative effects on the body are a different story. There are concerns that prolonged exposure to LSD can impact the heart, since there are serotonin receptors on the heart.
This is still up for debate. There isn’t any reliable evidence that either confirms or denies the long-term effects of LSD on the heart.
There are two categories of interactions: Unintentional and Intentional
An unintentional interaction is mixing Psychedelics and Ergolines with medications, or if there is a preexisting medical condition. It is not recommended to mix LSD with prescription medications. In particular, Benzodiazepine tends to lower the effectiveness of lysergic acid diethylamide or any other Psychedelic substance.
An intentional interaction is mixing two plant-based or synthesized substances. Substances that can be taken with LSD are called “flips.” Interactions also have their own names. The most popular flip is a “candy flip,” which is the combination of LSD and MDMA. Mixing psilocybin and LSD is called a “hippie flip.” A “Jedi flip” is a mixture of psilocybin mushrooms, LSD and MDMA.
For a more thorough list of interactions, consult the image below by Tripsit:
There isn’t substantial data to suggest LSD can be fatal in healthy adults. In babies and small animals, substances are problematic due to the risk of vasoconstriction. Vasoconstriction is a phenomena where the blood vessels contract. In extreme cases, such as ergotism, people have lost fingers and extremities.
To refer to David Nutts study about the dangers of popular drugs, here is his chart.
The chart illustrates that LSD is less harmful than most popular drugs, such as Alcohol, Benzodiazepines and Cocaine. However, it’s possible that LSD can trigger psychosis in those who are predisposed to this condition. Psychosis is a risk when taking most drugs, including alcohol. If there is a history of mental illness in the family, such as schizophrenic disorders, consult with a psychiatrist before engaging with any substance.
Other concerns include HPPD and PTSD. HPPD, or hallucinogenic persisting perception disorder, is a disorder where users see “visual snow” long after the trip has ended. Visual snow is not harmful or dangerous.
LSD activates 20-60 minutes after consuming it and typically lasts between 8-12 hours. LSD is a long-lasting Psychedelic substance, tripsitters, food, water and shelter, and movement can be helpful in case of a challenging trip.
Who Invented LSD?
Albert Hoffman first synthesized LSD in 1938.
Does LSD Go Bad?
LSD degrades with time in the presence of light, moisture and heat.
Are LSD and Acid the Same Thing?
Yes, “acid” is an acronym for “lysergic acid diethylamide”.