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Is LSD Really That Dangerous?

LSD is a psychedelic drug that was popularized in the 1960's. What are the effects, and is it really dangerous?

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LSD, or lysergic acid diethylamide, is a derivative of ergot first synthesized in the lab by chemist Albert Hoffman 1938 while he was trying to create a chemical compound that would stimulate the respiratory and circulatory systems. When he accidentally absorbed a tiny amount of it through his fingertips, he reported feeling "a little strange." He went home, laid down, and proceeded to have the world's first acid trip. After the drug's patent expired in the 60s, lots of people started using LSD and it became one of the centerpieces of the counterculture revolution of the 60s. Fearing for the potential for abuse, the Drug Enforcement Act made LSD illegal in 1970, classifying it as a "Schedule I" substance, making it as one of the "most dangerous drugs," with "no accepted medical use and a high potential for abuse."

However, recently, there's been a number of studies shedding light on not just the mysterious drug's effects, but also how it actually works on the human brain. LSD binds to 5-HT2A receptors in the brain and stimulates the release of the neurotransmitter serotonin. Clare Stanford, a psychopharmacologist at University College London hypothesizes that serotonin prevents us from hallucinating. As LSD blocks serotonin receptors, it, in turn, creates the hallucinations traditionally associated with an acid trip. Andrew Sewell, a Yale psychiatrist who studies psychedelic drugs, thinks that LSD works by enhancing some part of your perception. By lowering thalamus activity, Sewell thinks it makes one more aware of sensory information coming into their system. So: is this mind-altering drug actually dangerous? The short answer is no. The journal Lancet recently published a study that found LSD one of the least harmful drugs, both to the user and to others. There's no link between the drug and mental illness, according to one study published in the journal Psychopharmacology and a growing number of psychiatrists think it may be beneficial in fighting depression.

Have you or anyone you know had any interesting experiences with LSD ... good or bad? We'd love to hear your opinions and so we strongly encourage you to leave a comment down below.

Learn More:

'Alice in Wonderland Syndrome' Caused by Acid Flashback (Live Science)
"Lewis Carroll's delightful children's novel 'Alice's Adventures in Wonderland' turns 150 this year. But there's another, less celebrated Wonderland-related anniversary occurring this year: the discovery of 'Alice in Wonderland syndrome' (AIWS), a disorder named in honor of the book."

Mechanism Of Hallucinogens' Effects Discovered (Science Daily)
"The brain mechanism underlying the mind-bending effects of hallucinogens such as LSD, mescaline, and psilocybin has been discovered by neuroscientists."

5 Harmful Myths We Need to Stop Telling About LSD (Mic.com)
"First synthesized by chemist Albert Hofmann in 1938, lysergic acid diethlamide, commonly known as LSD, remains one of the most spectacularly sensationalized and popularly misunderstood drugs."

'Apparently Useless': The Accidental Discovery of LSD (The Atlantic)
"After the drug was dismissed by the pharmaceutical company that developed it, a researcher started experimenting on himself with it. Powerful hallucinations ensued."