Better Living Through Psychedelic Chemistry? LSD, Psilocybin and Ketamine in the Headlines


“Taking LSD was a profound experience, one of the most important things in my life. LSD shows you that there’s another side to the coin, and you can’t remember it when it wears off, but you know it. It reinforced my sense of what was important — creating great things instead of making money, putting things back into the stream of history and of human consciousness as much as I could.” — Steve Jobs

The Centre for Neuropsychopharmacology at the Imperial College in London recently reported a study of 20 healthy volunteers who received LSD, not on a blotter but administered IV, on one occasion and a placebo on a second occasion. The pharmaceutical quality LSD produced “robust psychological effects” — as we would imagine (the placebo did not) — not just right away but notably two weeks after the drug was taken: The study reported increased optimism and openness two weeks after taking LSD. While the acute effects (at the time the drug was administered) included psychotic-like thinking (e.g., paranoia and delusions), these did not persist, and curiously the subjects did not report distress but rather were apt to describe a positive mood and even a “blissful” experience

LSD exerts its neurochemical effects on our brain’s serotonin system. One particular serotonin receptor, 2A, seems to be central to its effects because if it is blocked by an antagonist specific to this receptor site the psychedelic effects of psilocybin (another drug that amplifies serotonin action in the brain) do not occur.

The London research subjects were screened to exclude people under 21 years of age, with histories of mental and substance use disorders themselves (or in their families), having a significant general medical condition, or being pregnant. But that does not exclude a lot of —> Read More