Let's Take a Trip (LSD)

LSD, or Lysergic acid diethylamide, as you may have guessed, comes from the ergot fungus. It was first synthesized by the Swiss chemist, Albert Hofmann in 1938 when he was doing research on the fungus for medicinal purposes. He writes about his experiences in his book, LSD: My Problem Child, where he says: "Last Friday, April 16, 1943, I was forced to interrupt my work in the laboratory in the middle of the afternoon and proceed home, being affected by a remarkable restlessness, combined with a slight dizziness. At home I lay down and sank into a not unpleasant intoxicated-like condition, characterized by an extremely stimulated imagination. In a dreamlike state, with eyes closed (I found daylight to be unpleasantly glaring), I perceived an uninterrupted stream of fantastic pictures, extraordinary shapes with intense, kaleidoscope play of colors. After some two hours, this condition faded away." Later in 1948, LSD was introduced to the medical world as a psychiatric cure-all drug and it was prescribed extensively. Production was halted in 1965, however, because it was growing too popular and there was a lack of positive long term effects and they were actually finding a lot of adverse side effects, like flashbacks and terrors. Even though the use of LSD in the medical community for medicinal purposes was declining, history tells us that LSD was still very popular in the 1960s. One man that you have probably already heard of is Dr. Timothy Leary. Dr. Leary was a professor at Harvard University and was pro-LSD. He was giving it to students and running experiments on prisoners, which he claimed resulted in a 90% success rate in preventing repeat criminal offenses. Then his students began to take it recreationally and Leary later told Playboy Magazine that LSD was a potent aphrodisiac, something that got him expelled from the university. Shortly after this, President Nixon claimed that he was the "most dangerous man in the U.S." Leary did not stop there. In order to combat the extensive anti-LSD propaganda being issued by the government, he coined the phrase, "Turn on. Tune in. Drop out.", short for turn on your mind, tune in to what you believe, and drop out of the things you're not happy about. That's exactly what you want your children hearing!

Yes, you read that right. The CIA used and experimented on LSD! It was there top-secret mission, MK-ULTRA through which they were hoping to find a mind controlling agent. They were looking to use it as a form of psychological torture and they ran tests on members of the general public and CIA agents, often without their knowledge or consent. Many of the people that were involved in this experiment underwent such a sever trauma that many either committed suicide or wound up in a psychiatric ward. The researchers of this drug eventually realized that LSD was WAY too unpredictable to be used effectively. There is also a theory that the CIA covertly advocated for the use of LSD in the American youth in the 60's as a way to undermine the growing anti-war movement and emerging counterculture. Hmm, interesting!

Many believe that much of the great music produced by the Beatles was a result of taking some trips down LSD lane. In particular, the song "Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds" primarily written by John Lennon, is believed to be the offspring of LSD. Plus, the initials of the song are LSD, which I thought was a little ironic. Check out a video of this song below! Other bands, such as Grateful Dead helped give birth to the terms psychedelic or acid rock. LSD was very popular with the rebellious youth of the 60's and continues to be popular among college and high school age students. This is most likely because it only requires a small amount of LSD to send you on a trip and it is easy to make.

Side effects of LSD are mainly due to the fact that LSD is similar to serotonin, which regulates memory, anxiety, mood, aggression, learning and sleep. LSD is the most potent naturally occurring hallucinogen and is considered a "clean drug." This is because it only stays in the body for 30 hours and is not addictive. But what does it make you feel like? The mental side effects for LSD are pretty variable and dependent on one's personality, mood, expectations and surroundings. Many times, however, people report seeing, hearing and touching things that don't exist, which makes sense because LSD is a powerful hallucinogen. People also report an altered sense of time, mixing of senses, distortion of space, strange body sensations and changed and intensified thoughts. The physical effects include dilated pupils, higher body temperature, increased heart rate and blood pressure, sweating, loss of appetite, sleeplessness, dry mouth and tremors. Another fun fact; the term psychedelic was coined to describe the effects of LSD!


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