Lysergic acid diethylamide, commonly referred to as LSD, or “acid,” is considered the best known and most researched psychedelic drug. LSD is active at exceptionally small doses (around 20 micrograms) and is taken orally, sometimes as droplets or more commonly on blotter paper and absorbed on the tongue and then swallowed.
The Discovery of LSD
LSD was discovered in 1938 by Albert Hofmann, a Swiss chemist working at Sandoz Laboratories. He later became the first person to experience the drug’s psychoactive effects after he accidentally ingested a small amount in 1943. The effects Hofmann reported included, “restlessness, dizziness, a dreamlike state and an extremely stimulated imagination.”
Sandoz sent samples of LSD to psychiatrists, scientists, and mental health professionals around the world for more research. For the next two decades, thousands of experiments with LSD led to a better understanding of how LSD affected consciousness by interacting with the brain’s serotonin neurotransmitter system.
Uses for LSD
Scientists considered psychedelics to be promising treatments as an aid to therapy for a broad range of psychiatric diagnoses, including alcoholism, schizophrenia, autism spectrum disorders, and depression. Recent results from epidemiological studies have shown lower rates of mental health disorders and suicide among people who have used psychedelics like LSD.
LSD is currently in Schedule I of the Controlled Substances Act, the most heavily criminalized category for drugs. Schedule I drugs are considered to have a “high potential for abuse” and no currently accepted medical use – though when it comes to LSD there is significant evidence to the contrary on both counts.