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The Pharmacology of Lysergic Acid Diethylamide: A Review

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Abstract

Lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD) was synthesized in 1938 and its psychoactive effects discovered in 1943. It was used during the 1950s and 1960s as an experimental drug in psychiatric research for producing so-called “experimental psychosis” by altering neurotransmitter system and in psychotherapeutic procedures (“psycholytic” and “psychedelic” therapy). From the mid 1960s, it became an illegal drug of abuse with widespread use that continues today. With the entry of new methods of research and better study oversight, scientific interest in LSD has resumed for brain research and experimental treatments. Due to the lack of any comprehensive review since the 1950s and the widely dispersed experimental literature, the present review focuses on all aspects of the pharmacology and psychopharmacology of LSD. A thorough search of the experimental literature regarding the pharmacology of LSD was performed and the extracted results are given in this review. (Psycho-) pharmacological research on LSD was extensive and produced nearly 10,000 scientific papers. The pharmacology of LSD is complex and its mechanisms of action are still not completely understood. LSD is physiologically well tolerated and psychological reactions can be controlled in a medically supervised setting, but complications may easily result from uncontrolled use by layman. Actually there is new interest in LSD as an experimental tool for elucidating neural mechanisms of (states of) consciousness and there are recently discovered treatment options with LSD in cluster headache and with the terminally ill.

Passie, T., Halpern, J. H.,  Stichtenoth, D. O., Emrich, H. M., & Hintzen, A. (2008). The Pharmacology of Lysergic Acid Diethylamide: A Review. CNS Neuroscience & Therapeutics, 14(4), 295–314. http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/j.1755-5949.2008.00059.x
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