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LSD - Encyclopedia

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LSD is classified as a hard drug and therefore it is illegal to produce or sell it. We do however offer Hawaiian Baby Woodrose and other LSA seeds, which are said to have effects comparable to those of LSD.

What is LSD?

LSD is the best known and most researched psychedelic. It is the standard against which all other psychedelics are compared. It is active at extremely low doses and is most commonly available on blotter or in liquid form.


1938: Albert Hofmann, a chemist working for Sandoz Pharmaceutical, synthesizes LSD-25 for the first time in Basel, Switzerland while looking for a blood stimulant. LSD research is not continued until 5 years later.

Apr 16, 1943: Albert Hofmann accidentally experiences a small amount of LSD for the first time. This is the first human experience with pure LSD-25. He reports seeing "an uninterrupted stream of fantastic pictures, extraordinary shapes with intense, kaleidoscope-like play of colours." The experience lasted just over two hours.

Apr 19, 1943: Albert Hofmann intentionally takes (250 ug) LSD for the first time. This is the first intentional use of LSD.

1952: Charles Savage publishes the first study on the use of LSD to treat depression.

Meanwhile, some other interesting things were going on. Most striking was the CIA's interest in this drug. The organization was keenly interested in the possibilities of using LSD for interrogation and mind control (see MK-ULTRA), and also for large-scale social engineering. The CIA conducted extensive research on LSD, which was mostly destroyed.

Several mental health professionals involved in LSD research, most notably Harvard psychology professors Drs. Timothy Leary and Richard Alpert (later known as Ram Dass), became convinced of LSD's potential as a tool for spiritual growth. Their research became more esoteric and controversial, alleging links between the LSD experience and the state of enlightenment sought after in many mystical traditions. They were dismissed from the traditional academic psychology community, and as such cut off from the legal scientific acquisition of the drug. Dr Leary was then (allegedly unbeknownst to himself) approached by agents of the CIA, who supplied him with such quantity of purified LSD-25 that he and Dr Alpert/Ram Dass made available to a much wider portion of the public.

His experiments lost their scientific pretence, and the pair evolved into countercultural spiritual gurus, making LSD a household brand among the hippies of the 1960s. The drug was banned in the United States in 1967, for scientific therapeutic research as well as individual research and recreation. Many other countries quickly followed suit.

Since 1967, underground recreational and therapeutic LSD use has continued in many countries, supported by a black market and popular demand for the drug. Legal, academic research experiments on the effects and mechanisms of LSD are also conducted on occasion but rarely involve human subjects.

In 1979 Albert Hofmann published "LSD: My Problem Child", that was followed by many other books from other writers.


D-lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD) is a synthetic chemical derived from ergot alkaloids which are produced by the ergot fungus which grows on rye. As a chemical substance, LSD is very quickly broken down by the body and even before the trip has ended all traces of it will be eliminated. This suggests that LSD triggers some sort of neurochemical cascade rather than acting directly to produce its effects.

LSD is sensitive to oxygen, ultraviolet light, and chlorine, especially in solution. However, its potency may last years if stored away from light and moisture in a freezer. In pure form, it is colourless, odourless, and bitter. LSD is typically delivered orally, usually on a substrate such as absorbent blotter paper, a sugar cube, or gelatin. In all these preparations, LSD is tasteless.

Positive effects

Depending on how much and how recently one has eaten, LSD generally takes 20 - 60 minutes (though sometimes as long as 2 hrs) to take effect. The primary effects of LSD last for 6-8 hours. For many people, there is an additional period of time (2-6 hrs) where it is difficult to go to sleep and there is definitely a noticeable difference from everyday reality, but which is not strong enough to be considered 'tripping'.

In the beginning stages of onset, LSD is likely to cause a sort of undefinable feeling similar to anticipation or anxiety. There is often a slight feeling of energy in the body, an extra twinkle to lights, or the feeling that things are somehow different than usual. As the effects become stronger, a wide variety of perceptual changes may occur; non-specific mental and physical stimulation, pupil dilation, closed and open eye patterning and visuals, changed thought patterns, feelings of insight, confusion, or paranoia, and quickly changing emotions (happiness, fear, giddiness, anxiety, anger, joy, irritation).

An LSD trip may vary greatly from person to person, from one trip to another, and even as time passes during a single trip. Widely different effects emerge based on set and setting: the 'set' being the general mindset of the user, and the 'setting' being the physical and social environment in which the drug's effects are experienced.

It is common for users to believe that they have achieved insights into the way the mind works and some users experience permanent or long-lasting changes in their life perspective. Some users consider LSD a religious sacrament or a powerful tool for access to the divine. Many books have been written comparing the LSD trip to the state of enlightenment of eastern philosophy.

Negative effects

An LSD trip can have long-lasting or even permanent neutral, negative, and positive psycho-emotional effects. LSD experiences can range from indescribably ecstatic to extraordinarily difficult; many difficult experiences (or "bad trips") result from a panicked user feeling that he or she has been permanently severed from reality and his or her ego. If the user is in a hostile or otherwise unsettling environment or is not mentally prepared for the powerful distortions in perception and thought that the drug causes, effects are more likely to be unpleasant.

Dangers are purely psychological, not harmful to the body. LSD may release latent psychosis or exacerbate depression, leading to irrational behaviour. There is also a danger of foolish or incautious behaviour, e.g, misjudging distances or thinking one can fly. Physical overdose is not a hazard, though one may easily ingest more than one may be able to handle psychologically.

Chronic effects of the drug can be positive and negative. Positive effects include spiritual contact and self-exploration; the most severe negative effect is known as LSD psychosis. LSD psychosis has been linked to forms of schizophrenia, and thus, to some physiological disorders -- it appears to be dependent on the user, and not on the drug.

Really the only serious physiological concern about LSD use has been that it may cause chromosome damage -- this was first reported by Cohen et al. in 1967. These findings were seldom replicated and were contradicted by other studies (Loughman et al., 1967; Bender et al., 1968; Pahnke, 1970). In 1977, Maimon Cohen, one of the investigators who first reported this a decade earlier, stated that no conclusions could be drawn based on existing evidence (Cohen et al.1977).

The phenomena of LSD flashbacks has been over-sensualized by the media for many years. Flashbacks are associated with highly emotional experiences and often happen to people who have never used psychedelic drugs. A frightening war memory or positive experiences such as getting married, can all trigger flashbacks quite sometime later. Thus, an emotional experience on LSD can also cause flashbacks.

Physicians now refer to this as a condition known as Hallucinogen Persisting Perception Disorder (HPPD). It only appears to a very small percentage of users. LSD has zero physical addiction potential. It is not physically addictive and it is not a drug that you will want to immediately try again.

Tolerance builds up rapidly with LSD. The same amount the next day gives a noticeably diminished effect. This wears off after three days to a week. There is also some cross-tolerance with psilocybin-containing mushrooms.

Medical use

Introduced by Sandoz as a drug with various psychiatric uses, LSD quickly became a therapeutic agent that appeared to show great promise. However, the extra-medical use of the drug in western society in the middle years of the twentieth century led to a political firestorm that resulted in the banning of the substance for medical as well as recreational and spiritual uses.

LSD has been studied in the past as a painkiller for serious and chronic pain caused by cancer or other major trauma. Even at low (sub-psychedelic) dosages, it was found to be at least as effective as traditional opiates while being much longer lasting (pain reduction lasting as long as a week, after peak effects had subsided).

Furthermore, LSD has been investigated as a treatment for cluster headaches, an uncommon but extremely painful disorder. Although the phenomenon has not been fully investigated, case reports indicate that LSD and psilocybin can reduce cluster pain and also interrupt the cluster-headache cycle, preventing future headaches from occurring. Currently, existing treatments include various ergotamines, among other chemicals, so LSD's efficacy may not be surprising. A dose-response study, testing the effectiveness of both LSD and psilocybin, is as of 2005 being planned at McLean Hospital. Unlike attempts to use LSD or MDMA in psychotherapy, this research involves non-psychological effects and often sub-psychedelic dosages; therefore, it is plausibly the most likely way that a respected medical use of LSD will arise.


LSD comes in several different forms. The most common is paper blotter. Other forms include gel caps, liquid, and gelatin. Each form will contain different quantities and purities of lysergic acid diethylamide.

The most common form of LSD is paper blotter divided into about 1/4" squares called tabs. A single tab usually contains between 30 - 100 ug of LSD. Paper blotters are created by taking a sheet of absorbent paper (usually decorated and perforated) and soaking it in a dilution of lysergic acid diethylamide. The dilution can vary greatly from one batch to another, or one chemist to another. Because of the method used to make blotter tabs, there is no practical way to know the exact dosage of a particular tab without either trying it or knowing the chemist. Adjacent tabs on a sheet will usually contain very similar levels of LSD. Because a blotter tab is so small, only extremely potent chemicals such as LSD can fit at active levels.

LSD is soluble in water and other solvents, though liquid LSD is usually water-based. Liquid LSD is used in the creation of blotter tabs. A single drop of potent liquid LSD could be 50 times a normal dose, although it is generally diluted to the point where a single drop is equal to approximately one dose. This varies greatly from batch to batch and is sometimes a weak dose while other times a very strong dose. Liquid LSD is uncommon. Be extremely careful when dealing with it as there is no way to gauge its potency.

Gelatin LSD is made by mixing liquid LSD with gelatin and forming it into small, thin squares. The benefit of this method is that less of the LSD is exposed to sun and air which break down lysergic acid diethylamide. Also known as "window panes". A single square of gelatin is commonly stronger than a single blotter tab of LSD.


A standard dose of LSD for the past 20 years has been between 50 - 150 ug (micrograms). A single hit of most blotter paper contains somewhere in this range, though this varies depending on the source and there is no way for the average user to determine the strength of a piece of blotter other than by word of mouth. In the 60's and 70's, when LSD came primarily in pill form, the average single dosage unit was somewhat higher than it is with today's blotter, more often in the 200-400 ug range. A drop of liquid can contain a huge amount of LSD but is generally made so that one drop is a single medium dose.


MDMA: Known as candyflipping. Most prefer quite low doses of LSD.


Do not operate heavy machinery. Do Not Drive. Individuals currently in the midst of emotional or psychological upheaval in their everyday lives should be careful about choosing to use strong psychedelics such as LSD as they can trigger even more difficulty.

Individuals with a family history of schizophrenia or early onset mental illness should be extremely careful because LSD is known to trigger latent psychological and mental problems. LSD can cause uterine contractions and is probably better avoided by women who are pregnant.

Dangers are purely psychological, not harmful to the body. LSD may release latent psychosis or exacerbate depression, leading to irrational behaviour. There is also a danger of foolish or incautious behaviour, e.g, misjudging distances or thinking one can fly. Physical overdose is not a hazard, though one may easily ingest more than one may be able to handle psychologically.

Lethal (toxic) doses of LSD are conservatively several tens of thousands of times as much as a normal dose, making it (in the toxic sense) one of the safest drugs known.

Links / Further reading

My problem child by Albert Hofmann (online version)

The psychedelic experience by Timothy Leary, Ralph Metzner, and Richard Alpert (online version)

Timothy Leary

Albert Hofmann Foundation

A critical review of Theories and Research Concerning Lysergic Acid Diethylamide (LSD) and Mental Health

MAPS current LSD research (scroll down)


This article is based on the following pages:

Erowids LSD Vault

Erowids LSD FAQ

The Psychological Effects of LSD from Erowid

Timeline from Erowid

Wikipedia on LSD

The Good drugs guide on LSD

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