The Revival of LSD: From '60s Counterculture to Cutting-Edge Therapy
LSD is probably one of the better-known psychedelics, as it was popular in the 1960s and early 1970s for its hallucinogenic properties and reality-shifting experiences. Although it was originally known for what is referred to as “acid trips,” it is becoming more popular now as a potential psychedelic treatment for mental health and well-being as its therapeutic properties are being discovered.
LSD: A Background of its Birth
If you read our blog on psilocybin, then you know that Albert Hofmann—a Swiss chemist—isolated this “magic mushroom” chemical in the late 1950s. Well, almost 20 years prior, Hofmann first synthesized lysergic acid diethylamide, or as we commonly refer to it, LSD. Despite LSD being initially written off as uninteresting and unimportant, Hofmann saw its therapeutic potential and continued to experiment with it (even on himself!), and this experimentation eventually paid off.
Logistics of LSD
So how does LSD work? LSD’s effects on the brain are less known than other psychedelics, such as ketamine or psilocybin. However, similar to other psychedelics, LSD’s effects are believed to come from its interaction with serotonin and dopamine receptor sites in the brain. This psychedelic is also known for its long-lasting impact and potency because of the way serotonin receptors fold over LSD molecules, keeping them there for longer periods of time. Depending on the dosage, LSD can last up to 12 hours! It also takes less amount of this psychedelic compared to others to produce an effect.
Out of the main psychedelics, LSD is commonly reported as having some of the most prominent hallucinogenic effects. Have you ever looked into a kaleidoscope? Those types of images—colorful shapes that move—are typical reports of the visual experiences of LSD users. Depending on the person’s internal state and environment when taking LSD, LSD can have a range of other effects, including more overwhelming experiences (for example, anxious or suspicious) and more positive ones (for example, euphoric and energized).
Therapeutic Potentials of LSD
In the mental health realm, LSD has most commonly been studied/been hypothesized to be used with anxiety, depression, posttraumatic stress, and addiction.
Anxiety and Depression
While anxiety can sometimes result from taking LSD, the proper dosage, environment, and intention has been shown to allow for LSD to help with anxiety, especially related to stress. This is potentially related to LSD’s reported effects of changing established thought processes. The same goes for depression—LSD’s commonly reported euphoric and happy-go-lucky effects are likely the reason behind LSD’s positive impact on depression that were found in some studies.
LSD is thought to be able to change people’s perspectives and experiences with the world and thus, when harnessed the right way, help alleviate people’s fears and anxieties. This is part of what researchers think may be helpful about LSD for those who suffer from posttraumatic stress.
There have been several studies conducted exploring LSD’s impact on addiction. The results reveal LSD’s potential for a shift in thought patterns and mood related to drug use, such as allowing for an increase in positive mood and outlook on one’s ability to deal with their addiction.
While these studies are still being conducted and refined, the promising effects of LSD are beginning to surface and be looked at more seriously. The set, setting, and intention that go behind using LSD for medicinal purposes are at the forefront of this research, as these are all integral elements to consider when using LSD for the benefit of mental health.