To understand the ways that LSD affect the brain we must first discuss how the brain sends signals to the body. In the brain and the brain stem there are special cells called neurons. Neurons release a number of chemicals that are sent to various receptors. The receptors interpret chemical signals and use them to make you move, see, hear, learn, etc. These neurons are also responsible for such behaviors as obsessive-compulsive behavior and insomnia. The cells that are directly responsible for those behaviors are called serotonergic neurons. This means that they release the chemical serotin (5-HT).
In general serotin acts as an inhibiter. These cells number only in the thousands. Through research it has been determined that LSD travels along the same pathways that 5-HT travel. This happens mainly because LSD structurally resembles serotin. (see fig. 1) This inhibits the sending and receiving of serotin. When this occurs the signals that produce sensations , sleep, inhibition, visual signals and attention are interfered with. Serotonergic neurons are mainly located in two regions of the brain stem. The locus coeruleus (LC) and the raphe nuclei (RN).
The LC serotonergic neurons affect very large portions of the brain. The signals sent from the LC travel to the cerebellum, thamus, hypothalamus cerebral cortex, and the hippo campus. When LSD is introduced into the LC, it increases the sensitivity of sensory stimulation receptors. The reports of having an expanded mind and a heightened sense of things derive from the enhanced sensitivity. The RN is responsible for pain and sensory perception. When 5-HT is released from the RN it acts to inhibit sensory overloads. The blocking of serotin from the RN results in users seeing sounds and hearing colors.
There are a number of theories of how exactly LSD interferes with 5-HT. Molecules that interfere the binding of a neurotransmitter, such as serotin, to its receptor are called an antagonists. It is said that LSD interferes with the binding of serotin to its receptor causing it to be less sensitive to inhibition. Another theory is that LSD acts as an agonist to 5-HT receptors. An agonist molecule is one that excite a receptor. One way that an agonized receptor would cause the loss of inhibition is that the receptor is simply too excited to receive the serotin signal.
Additional theories suggest that the chemical 5-HT2 is either antagonized or agonized by LSD. Interference with 5-HT2 and its receptors is thought to be the reason for hallucinations ( Leicht Pg. 5-9) LSD other wise known as the far most potent hallucinogen, lysergic acid diethylamide-25, has been used for various reasons and purposes. It has been used for my mythological , cultural, religious and recreational purposes. LSD like other hallucinogens and others psychedelic drugs alters the way the subject perceives the outside world. This drug allows the user to alter the way he or she visually, udibly, and olfactorily interprets their surroundings (Kronwetter pg. 15).
Doses of LSD, in relation to the users body weight, can result in a number of effects that can be classified under somatic, psychological, cognitive, and perceptual categories (Leicht pg. 1). The study of these hallucinations (LSD) is a subdivision of the neurosciences otherwise known as neurology. Although this enigma has been researched for over fifty years it is difficult to comprehend that we are still not absolutely certain what occurs when Lysergic acid diethlamide is administered to the human body.
Humans have been taking LSD and other natural forms of hallucinogens apparently for several thousand years. Archaeologists have uncovered signs that these substances were used as late as 8500 B. C. in Central and South America (W. Check pg. 53). Historically speaking the use of these hallucinogenic drugs were almost exclusively for religious and mystical purposes (W. Check pg. 53). This drug supposedly unlocked magic to the world and a belief of spirits. It was used, mostly by shamans, in such ways to cure people and exorcise spirits. When the Europeans wiped out most of these primitive tribes the use of hallucinogens was almost forgotten.
However, recently the use and pharmicudical research of lysergic acid diethylamide has recovered. In the 1960s and 1970s, it was used recreational to open the mind to a whole new world (Kronenwetter pgs. 30-31). This antediluvian drug was almost extinct in the world until one bright sunny day in the year of 1943. The world renowned neoteric research chemist, Albert Hofmann, in the Sundoz Laboratories in Basel, Switzerland (W. Check pg. 58) had an absolutely burlesque psychedelic episode. He happened to stumble upon and ascertain the synthetic soon to be recreational drug known as Lysergic acid diethylamide.
When at that time, not knowing what he had done , he started the modern age revolution of drugs. As a practice of traditional researchers and chemists, Hofmann orally ingested the modernistic kef. He documented this ordeal: I lost all control of time and space, and time became more and more disorganized and I was overcome with fears that I was going crazy. The worst part of it was that I was clearly aware of my condition though I was incapable of stopping it. (Hofmann 1943) (W. Check Pg. 59) Even though he felt that the milder effects were pleasing the more harsh effects were extremely disturbing.
LSD can be taken orally (white powder) or injected (liquid). The effects of the solution if injected, s. c. or i. v. , are exactly identical, but the effects sets in faster (Desk Reference). The user is put into a state of exhilaration which affects the state of body and mind. This state lasts about eight to twelve hours. On LSD hallucinations are present usually extremely painful or exciting memories that are present are shapes such as cobwebs, gratings, spirals, and cones. People have also proclaimed to see music and hear colors. While under the influence of LSD one may undergo some major personality changes.
Some get suicidal tendencies or enter a depressed state. When high others in a non-technical sense become a vegetable. Some somatic change that occur are mydriasis or in simple terms pupil dilation (FAQ-LSD). LSD also has speed like effects such as nervousness, anxiety, sweating, jaw grinding, and insomnia. Other effects are nausea, dizziness, and loss of inhibition. Even though there is no physical addiction , LSD is one of the most potent unpredictable hallucinogenic drugs on the market. This if taken enough doses can drive a man/woman to a complete mental instability.
Some common slang terms used by street pharmacists are: acid, Sid, tabs, blotter, Sandoz, mind detergent, sugar, sunshine, wedding bells, windowpane, etc. There are two types of adverse reactions to LSD. they are acute toxic psychosis (bad trip) and flashbacks. A bad trip puts the subject into a state of acute paranoia, frightening illusions, and panic reactions. Usually the individual loses control of mental stability and becomes self-destructive. Many people have suffered from mental breakdowns with just one use of LSD and others after multiple use have undergone disturbing uncanny event known as flashbacks.