Deep Dive into LSD: Exploring its Effects and Potential Benefits

In this video, the journalist provides a comprehensive overview of LSD, its effects on the human body, and its potential therapeutic and legal usage. LSD, also known as acid, was first synthesized in 1938 and was later discovered to have psychedelic effects. The video explains the various dosage ranges of LSD, from microdosing to standard and large doses, and discusses the potential benefits and risks associated with consuming the drug. It also delves into the metabolization of LSD in the body and its effects on serotonin receptors. The video emphasizes the need for further research to understand the full potential of LSD in treating psychological conditions.

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Key Insights:

  • LSD, also known as acid, is a Schedule 1 drug in the United States, making its possession or distribution illegal without a research license.
  • LSD was first synthesized by Swiss chemist Albert Hoffman in 1938, who discovered its psychedelic effects accidentally five years later.
  • Dosages of LSD are measured in micrograms, with around 20 micrograms considered the threshold dose for feeling its effects.
  • Microdosing LSD, taking doses below the threshold, is believed to have positive effects on creativity, productivity, and interpersonal relationships.
  • The standard dose of LSD is between 100 to 150 micrograms, where users would experience the psychedelic effects of the drug.
  • Doses beyond 150 micrograms are considered large, while doses in the thousands of microgram range are referred to as heroic doses.
  • LSD is mostly consumed orally, but it can also be injected intravenously.
  • Once ingested, LSD is rapidly metabolized in the liver, resulting in several different metabolites. The breakdown process involves specific enzymes and produces various metabolites.
  • LSD and its metabolites bind and activate serotonin receptors in the body, primarily the 5-HT2A receptors, leading to the psychedelic effects of the drug. LSD also interacts with dopamine, histamine, andrenergic, and opioid receptors.
  • Common cognitive effects of LSD include visual hallucinations, synesthesia, enhanced pattern recognition, and a loss of ego and boundaries.
  • Physically, LSD consumption can cause dilated pupils, nausea, sweating, and muscle weakness, with intensity varying based on the dose.
  • While overdosing on LSD is technically possible, it is practically impossible as the drug only lasts in the body for about 12 hours. However, psychological effects can last longer.
  • Prolonged or high-dose LSD consumption can lead to harmful effects such as nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, increased heart rate, panic, aggression, depression, and even psychosis.
  • When used correctly, LSD has the potential to be beneficial, especially in treating psychological conditions like PTSD and grief.
  • Further research is needed to determine the efficacy and potential benefits of LSD, as well as its appropriate usage and dosages for therapeutic purposes.


In today’s video, we’re doing a deep dive into the substance LSD, commonly known as acid, and what it does to the human body. It’s going to be a trip, let’s do this.

It’s important to start this video with a quick disclaimer. LSD is a schedule one drug here in the United States, meaning that manufacturing, possessing, or distributing the drug is illegal unless you have a research license to do so. This video is meant for educational purposes as well as furthering the conversation as it pertains to any potential therapeutic and legal usage for psychedelics, nothing else.

Lysergic acid diethylamide or LSD was first synthesized in 1938 by the Swiss chemist Albert Hoffman. It was the 25th compound he had synthesized from the Fungus ergot, which grows on rye, and he didn’t believe it to be psychedelic at all. It wasn’t until five years later that Hoffman accidentally dosed himself with the compound and discovered its psychedelic effects, which had to be a wild experience, even if it wasn’t the most powerful or extreme trip in existence. I can only imagine that wasn’t on his list of expectations for that day.

Hoffman had been researching potential medicinal aspects of ergot because ergot alkaloids have multiple effects on the cardiovascular and nervous systems of mammals, such as vasoconstriction and alterations in neurotransmission. Once Hoffman realized what LSD could do, he intentionally dosed himself again in 1943, although the dose was just a bit bigger than it needed to be.

Dosages of LSD are measured in micrograms, which are millions of a gram. There isn’t any standardized dosage terminology for LSD, but you’ll typically find certain ranges of doses based on how much can be physically present on a paper, sugar cube, or other means of consumption. Around 20 micrograms is seen to be the threshold dose, which means that’s how much LSD you’d have to take in order to feel its effects. Anything under that dosage is called microdosing and is something many believe to have significant benefits in boosting creativity, productivity, and interpersonal relationships. Tech entrepreneurs in Silicon Valley made headlines years ago by openly stating that microdosing LSD and other psychedelics was becoming a norm in their workspace.

However, meeting that 20 microgram threshold doesn’t necessarily mean that someone is going to feel the psychedelic effects of LSD. It usually requires between 25 to 50 micrograms of LSD in order for the visuals and other effects to begin. However, this is also dependent upon your body type, meaning larger individuals probably wouldn’t see any psychedelic effects at this range while smaller individuals would. Between 150 to 500 micrograms of LSD is largely considered to be a normal or standard dose of LSD, regardless of your body type. This is where you’d be feeling the psychedelic aspects of the drug, although its intensity can still widely vary based upon your body type. Typically, doses in this range aren’t overwhelming, but you wouldn’t be considered sober.

100 to 150 micrograms is where most users begin to see strong visuals and start experiencing other effects, including oftentimes anxiety, meaning bad trips become more likely. But it’s important to understand that dosage doesn’t equate to bad trips. So just because someone took a large dose doesn’t guarantee that they’re going to have a bad trip. Anything beyond 150 micrograms is considered a large dose of LSD, but around the 400 to 500 range and even beyond is considered a heroic dose of the drug. Many users out there will consume LSD in the thousands of microgram range, and many will argue that psychedelics should only be consumed if it’s in the heroic dosages, since this is where benefits are seen to be at their largest, especially when it comes to detaching from the ego. However, large doses of LSD are not something to take lightly and have been known to affect individuals for years afterward in sufficiently large doses, oftentimes in undesirable ways.

In case you’re wondering, Albert Hoffman took a dose of 250 micrograms in April 1943 and concluded that somewhere around 50 micrograms was likely the ideal dose. So you’re probably curious to know what someone can expect to experience with LSD.

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LSD is an odorless and colorless substance that doesn’t have much of a taste, if any at all. In fact, if the user tastes something bitter, that’s a good indicator that the substance isn’t LSD but instead a fake form of it that can be extremely harmful to the body.

LSD is initially synthesized in a crystal form and is extremely potent. In order to lower its strength, it’s diluted into a liquid, and then droplets of the drug can be added to an absorbent paper or even sugar cubes. It can also be found in tablets, capsules, or liquid form.

So based on this, you’ve probably figured out that LSD is mostly consumed orally, but it can also be injected intravenously. But depending on the method of consumption, it’s important to know that LSD can actually be absorbed at multiple different spots in the digestive tract. If a liquid dropper or paper is used, LSD will primarily be absorbed through the mucosal membranes in the oral cavity, which means it’ll get into circulation quicker than if swallowed by capsule or tablet form. If it is swallowed, the LSD will be partially absorbed by the stomach, although most of it will be absorbed by the small intestine and brought toward the liver and body circulation.

Historically, this is where things get cloudy concerning LSD, and that’s because, given its schedule one status here in the United States, there hasn’t been a ton of research detailing exactly what happens from here. However, since 2015, multiple studies have been working to clear this up, and we’re finally starting to get a clearer picture.

In human beings, LSD is rapidly metabolized into several different metabolites, such as two Oxo three-hydroxy LSD or oh LSD and six nor lysergic acid diethylamide or nor LSD. It appears that enzymes in the liver, specifically monoamine oxidase enzymes, as well as multiple cytochrome p450 enzymes, are at least partially responsible for the breakdown. Interestingly, oh LSD is the major urinary metabolite of LSD and can also be detected in blood plasma. One study showed that 13 percent of orally ingested LSD finds its way into the urine in the form of oh LSD, which isn’t believed to be psychedelic. That same study showed that only one percent of the orally ingested LSD remains LSD and is excreted into the urine by the kidneys. That means the other 86 percent of the ingested LSD is converted into various other metabolites, of which there are many. The goal now is to discover the entirety of the metabolites and what effect they each have on the body. But our current understanding suggests that most of the effects of LSD and its metabolites come from their relationship with the various serotonin receptors throughout the body.

Serotonin belongs to the class of monoamine neurotransmitters, along with dopamine, norepinephrine, and epinephrine. It’s derived from the amino acid tryptophan and is produced and released in both the brain and digestive tract. Serotonin participates or even outright regulates a wide range of effects in the body, including appetite control, bone health, blood clotting, sexual function, temperature regulation, digestion, social behavior, impulse control, learning, memory, as well as the regulation of sleep and mood.

To influence or accomplish these effects, serotonin binds to numerous receptors in the body, called the 5-HT receptors. These receptors are distributed all throughout the body, including multiple regions in the brain, blood platelets, the heart, lungs, and multiple tissues of the digestive tract. LSD and its metabolites are known to bind to and activate several of these receptors, and in some cases, they are partial agonists, and in other cases, they are full agonists. The difference here is that partial agonists don’t have a full effect at the receptor site, while full agonists obviously do, based on their name. Current research suggests that the primary target for LSD, at least in regards to the psychedelic effects of LSD, is going to be what’s known as the 5-HT2A receptor, where LSD is a partial agonist.

5-HT2A receptors are found in multiple locations in the brain but are especially dense in regions associated with learning and cognition, which includes the entirety of the cerebral cortex, as well as the hypothalamus and amygdala of the limbic system. This is important to understanding LSD because these regions are essentially responsible for the human experience. The amygdala plays a role in memory, decision-making, and is responsible for negative emotions. The occipital cortex is responsible for visual processing, the temporal cortex is responsible for auditory processing, and the frontal cortex is responsible for motor control, rationality, empathy, and more.

However, LSD and its metabolites have been shown to bind to more than just serotonin receptors, but also dopamine, histamine, andrenergic, and even opioid receptors. So while plenty of science still needs to be done in order to properly understand how manipulating these receptors creates the characteristic effects of LSD, it’s not all that surprising, given the location and distribution of these receptors, that we see the effects that we do.

So, again, what are these effects? First up, let’s discuss some of the cognitive effects of LSD, beginning with visual hallucinations. These include seeing shapes, colors, and motions that are not really there and are often more vivid with the eyes closed. Then there’s something called synesthesia, which is the blending of the senses. So, sounds may be seen or colors may be heard. While the full mechanism of how LSD influences synesthesia is still being explored, it’s likely a product of those serotonin receptors being activated in such a way that regions of the brain that don’t normally communicate, or if they do, they communicate more subtly, are now cross-talking with each other in unique ways. It’s also thought that LSD can influence the amount of sensory stimuli being processed, causing the brain to be flooded with information that it would normally filter out.

Furthermore, you’ll also see enhanced pattern recognition with LSD consumption, as well as a loss of ego and boundaries at higher doses. Physically, dilated pupils, nausea, sweating, and muscle weakness are all common, although the dose heavily influences this.

So, what about the harmful effects of LSD? Every bit of data we have available to us suggests that overdosing on LSD is technically possible but practically impossible. People have consumed an incredible amount of LSD and physically, are fine about 24 to 48 hours afterwards, at maximum. This is because LSD only lasts in the body for about 12 hours or so. Higher doses mean more receptors are being taken up by the LSD and its metabolites, but again, the LSD can only last so long in the body.

But that doesn’t mean that higher doses are a pleasant experience. Nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, increased heart rate, and more have all been shown to occur with LSD consumption. LSD is detectable in the urine for up to four days afterward and up to 12 hours or so through the bloodstream. The psychological effects of LSD, however, can last a long time, and arguably this is the reason LSD is consumed for many people, it’s to have these psychological effects. It’s important to understand that this isn’t a ride that you can choose to stop whenever you want. An improper environment or reason for consumption, such as partying, can lead to dangerous decisions. Panic, aggression, and depression are all possible. If the user is having a bad trip, they can become hyperfocused on death and even feel as though they are physically dying. For some people, though, that’s the entire point, or at least to encounter that and then overcome it. But still, though, where you physically are after consuming the LSD and where that’s happening is not a small matter.

On top of that, for some, the psychological impact of an LSD trip can last for months or even years, again depending on the dose and the overall environment. For some people, psychosis is a legitimate possibility with a sufficient dose or an improper environment. Look, this is a powerful substance. It significantly alters the perception of reality. To assume that everything is going to be okay just because you can’t physically overdose and die from it, honestly, that’s reckless.

Now, this may sound strange, but for the same reasons the LSD can be harmful, it can also be beneficial, given the correct dosage and circumstances for consumption. Psychedelics as a whole are in the midst of a needed re-evaluation and overall revolution. While LSD isn’t getting the same attention as, say, ketamine or psilocybin in regards to treating psychological conditions, the data does suggest it has real potential if done correctly. Is that potential greater than ketamine or psilocybin, or is it the same as them? I couldn’t tell you. But that doesn’t mean that it has no benefit. And again, it’s a schedule one drug here in the United States, so we at The Institute of Human Anatomy are not out here advocating for people to just go out and consume the product. Instead, we’re hoping there will be more research done on LSD to determine its efficacy in treating psychological conditions such as PTSD and grief.

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