Entheogens and Psychedelics including Ayahuasca, LSD, Peyote, Mescaline, Psilocybin Mushrooms, Salvia


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Page last updated June 9, 2020 by Doug McVay, Editor/Senior Policy Analyst.

16. Creation of LSD

"Chemist Albert Hofmann, working at the Sandoz Corporation pharmaceutical laboratory in Switzerland, first synthesized LSD in 1938. He was conducting research on possible medical applications of various lysergic acid compounds derived from ergot, a fungus that develops on rye grass. Searching for compounds with therapeutic value, Hofmann created more than two dozen ergot-derived synthetic molecules. The 25th was called, in German, Lyserg-Säure-Diäthylamid 25, or LSD-25."

"Hallucinogens and Dissociative Drugs, including LSD, PCP, Ketamine, Dextromethorphan," National Institute on Drug Abuse Research Report Series (Rockville, MD: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Public Health Service, National Institutes of Health, 2001), p. 3.

17. Effects of LSD

"The physiological effects of this powerful drug have been well documented. These effects can be grouped into five general areas of action: LSD works on the sympathetic nervous system (which is involved in regulation of heart muscle, smooth muscle and glandular organs in a response to stressful situations); the motor system (which is involved in carrying out limb movements); the affective states; thought processes; and it has profound effects upon the sensory and perceptual experience.

"LSD is a semisynthetic preparation originally derived from ergot, an extract of the fungus Claviceps purpurea, which grows as a parasite on rye wheat. The dosage that is required to produce a moderate effect in most subjects is 1 to 3mcg per kilogram of body mass, and the effects can last from seven to 10 hours (Bowman & Rand 1980).

"Stimulation of the sympathetic nervous system following LSD ingestion can lead to effects such as hypothermia with piloerection (hairs standing on end, such as can be found in reports of religious ecstasy), sweating, increased heart rate with palpitations, and elevation of blood pressure and blood glucose levels. These reactions of the autonomic nervous system are not as significant as other effects upon the body: action on the motor system can lead to increased activity of monosynaptic reflexes (such as the knee-jerk response), an increase in muscle tension, tremors, and muscular incoordination. This latter effect of muscular incoordination is also a symptom of religious ecstasy in many cultures, where the worshipper has such a profound feeling of love of God that he is said to be 'intoxicated by God.'"

Goodman, Neil, "The Serotonergic System and Mysticism: Could LSD and the Nondrug-Induced Mystical Experience Share Common Neural Mechanisms?" Journal of Psychoactive Drugs (San Francisco, CA: Haight Ashbury Publications, July-September 2002), Vol. 34, No. 3, p. 266.

18. Addictive Properties of LSD and Development of Tolerance

"Most users of LSD voluntarily decrease or stop its use over time. LSD is not considered an addictive drug since it does not produce compulsive drug-seeking behavior. However, LSD does produce tolerance, so some users who take the drug repeatedly must take progressively higher doses to achieve the state of intoxication that they had previously achieved. This is an extremely dangerous practice, given the unpredictability of the drug. In addition, cross-tolerance between LSD and other hallucinogens has been reported."

NIDA InfoFacts, "Hallucinogens: LSD, Peyote, Psilocybin, and PCP" National Institute on Drug Abuse (Bethesda, MD: National Institutes of Health, June 2009).

19. Description of Peyote

"Peyote is a small, spineless cactus in which the principal active ingredient is mescaline. This plant has been used by natives in northern Mexico and the southwestern United States as a part of religious ceremonies. Mescaline can also be produced through chemical synthesis."

NIDA InfoFacts, "Hallucinogens: LSD, Peyote, Psilocybin, and PCP" National Institute on Drug Abuse (Bethesda, MD: National Institutes of Health, June 2009)

20. Description of Peyote

"The top of the peyote cactus, also referred to as the crown, consists of disc-shaped buttons that are cut from the roots and dried. These buttons are generally chewed or soaked in water to produce an intoxicating liquid. The hallucinogenic dose of mescaline is about 0.3 to 0.5 grams, and its effects last about 12 hours. Because the extract is so bitter, some individuals prefer to prepare a tea by boiling the cacti for several hours."

NIDA InfoFacts, "Hallucinogens: LSD, Peyote, Psilocybin, and PCP" National Institute on Drug Abuse (Bethesda, MD: National Institutes of Health, June 2009)