What is the most unusual psychedelic

Serotonin high creates chaos in the brain


In the 1930s, the chemist Albert Hofmann (1906–2008) carried out research for the Basel company Sandoz on new drugs that were intended, among other things, to treat low blood pressure. In 1938 he produced several dozen substances from the cereal fungus ergot in a series of experiments, including LSD. The substance is also known as lysergic acid diethylamide-25 or LSD-25. At first he could not find any unusual effects of the substance in animal experiments. However, when he tested the substance again five years later, he suddenly felt uncomfortable at work. He began to see colored areas in front of his eyes.

A few days later Hofmann wanted to get to the bottom of the matter. He purposely ingested 250 micrograms of LSD - what is now known to be a fairly strong dose. Then he rode home on his bike, accompanied by his assistant, and experienced a colorful but threatening high. This famous chemist's bike ride was the first documented LSD trip.

"With the help of LSD, doctors should temporarily imitate the experience of schizophrenic states and thereby learn to better understand the inner world of their patients."

This article is featured in Spectrum Compact, Hallucinogens - Drugs That Change Perception

Initially, mainly psychiatrists were interested in the new remedy. The manufacturer Sandoz sold it to trigger "model psychoses": With the help of LSD, doctors were supposed to temporarily imitate the experience of schizophrenic states and thereby learn to better understand the inner world of their patients. In the so-called psycholytic therapy, LSD was also used to bring out suppressed psychological processes and to be able to treat them in this way.

In the 1960s, LSD gained cult status among hippies and war opponents in the United States. The drug has been heavily linked to anti-Lyndon B. Johnson's government, the Vietnam War, and the establishment in general. Since 1961, the substance has been banned almost everywhere in the world, including Germany.


In surveys in the United States, around ten percent of the adult population say they have taken LSD at least once in their life. In Germany, this only applies to 2.6 percent, according to a study from 2016. According to a report by the Federal Center for Health Education, it is only 0.2 percent of young people between the ages of 12 and 17. However, it is difficult to determine the actual number of consumers. On the one hand, there is an unreported number, and on the other hand, buyers on the street often do not get any real LSD at all if they are offered this - but other hallucinogens that are easier to produce and are less legally regulated.

"It is noticeable that, under the influence of LSD, brain regions that normally only rarely communicate with each other synchronize"


Perhaps the most unusual characteristic of LSD is that even a very small amount induces a high. 100 micrograms of LSD already correspond to a medium to strong dose. With MDMA, better known as ecstasy, around 100 milligrams, i.e. 1000 times the amount, are needed for a similarly strong effect.