LSD is a synthetic compound. It is derived from Iysergic acid which is found in Hawaiian Woodrose and Morning Glory seeds, or Ergot fungus, which can grow on rye, wheat, and other grams. Lysergic acid is also psychoactive, although not nearly as potent as LSD, and has been consumed for millennia in the form of the above mentioned plant sources. The most common street name for LSD is "acid."
LSD was first synthesized in 1938 by Dr. Albert Hofmann of Sandoz Pharmaceutical Company in Switzerland. Hofmann was also the first human to experience LSD when he inadvertently absorbed some through his fingertips in 1943. Three days later he took the first intentional dose of LSD.
During the next 20 years LSD was promoted as a psychiatric aid and numerous experiments were performed in clinical settings. The CIA and other covert agencies were likewise experimenting with LSD to determine its effectiveness in brainwashing and mind control.
In the early Sixties Timothy Leary and friends began spreading the word that LSD produces magnificent spiritual experiences. The revolution that sprang from this is legendary. It has had a major impact on western culture, its music and art, and has contributed to the expanded acceptance of different philosophies, religions, and lifestyles in our country, as well as to the development of a high tech information society .
LSD is extremely potent by weight and the amount required for a single dose is barely visible to the naked eye. LSD is usually sold on blotter paper, in tablets, or in liquid. With all of these forms it is impossible to tell the amount of LSD one is actually consuming. Frequently people will say that each dose contains 100 mcg., 200 mcg., etc. But unless they've worked with the solid crystalline substance to produce the consumable form, their information is just hearsay or a personal estimate. Even after many years and several hundred doses of LSD, I have never had an accurate gauge to measure dosage. My description of dosage levels is an estimate from what I've been told over the years, matched up to levels of intensity described by users of Sandoz LSD which was packaged in certified amounts.
100 mcg. of LSD is considered a minimum psychedelic dose. (one microgram (mcg.) = one millionth of a gram.) This amount should produce a low-level psychedelic experience, not overwhelming, and without hallucinations. 200 mcg. is the minimum dose required to produce a full psychedelic experience, complete with visuals and hallucinations, although it will take most people more than 200 mcg. to experience these full effects. The average dose of acid on the streets these days is in the 50 to 100 mcg. range.
The amount of LSD required to break into a full-on psychedelic state varies with each individual, and even each experience. As one gains familiarity with the experience it is likely that they will require a larger dose to achieve a "transformational state." I typically take about 500 mcg. and estimate my larger doses to be in the 1000+ mcg. range, and I've heard of people taking much more than that. Other factors such as the amount of food in one's stomach will affect the intensity of LSD and most other psychedelics, dosing on an empty stomach producing the stronger experience. Like most other psychedelics, LSD produces a tolerance lasting two or three days. Consuming an equivalent amount during this period will not get one as high the second time.
Larger doses make it more likely that one will have a full blown trip, but sometimes the intensity can be too much and feel like neural overload. (By the end of many high-dose acid trips I've wished I could turn down the intensity level of my senses.) The next section explains more about the range of LSD experiences.
Ecstatic feelings of love and happiness, affinity for other people, feeling of being at home with one's self and the universe, flowing visions with more intricacy, beauty, and color than anything found in nature, sound which one can taste and feel with heart and soul, a sense of suspension in time and feeling akin with eternity and infinity, a brilliantly lucid mind able to see itself from vast and novel perspectives, an overwhelming tide of emotions... These are the feelings that are common with LSD and most other psychedelics. One should also be prepared for the negative side: confusion, frightful visions and images, fear of dying or losing control, feeling controlled by and unable to escape from the definitions one has grown accustomed to, or being overwhelmed by the immensity of life.
The possible experiences on psychedelics are endless, and no two are ever the same. In the definitions I give for "THE HIGH" of each substance, I will try to describe the attributes that are frequently felt and distinguish the experiences produced by the different psychedelics.
LSD is the most transparent of the psychedelics. It has the least "signature" to it. Most users report that their first few trips are like a ride through the funhouse. Everything seems bizarre and completely unlike normal reality. After becoming familiar with the experience some people drop acid to perform complex computer programming, perform live music on stage, or do other tasks that require control and a strong connection with the physical plane. Frequent users may be able to blink their eyes, snap out of the high, and see things as they do in regular consciousness while on the peak of a 500 mcg. trip.
LSD's transparency makes it possible to have almost any type of experience. Users may guide themselves toward a particular flavor of experience using either internal focus, like meditation, or external stimulus like music or art. LSD's intensity is also quite variable. A 200 mcg. trip may feel more intense than a 500 mcg. trip from the same batch, and intensity can fade in and out during a session. Generally one will feel "higher" if taking the same amount of LSD, or any other psychedelic, in an unfamiliar environment. One aspect of dosage that seems consistent is the length of the trip. 100 mcg. Iasts me 5 to 6 hours, 200 mcg. - 8 to 10 hours, large doses have lasted up to 20 hours.
LSD has the ability of allowing one's mind to penetrate things very deeply. I find this most prevalent listening to music, looking at artwork, or making love. With LSD one can "lock on" to something like a piece of music and allow it to guide them on a sensual journey through a garden of liquid sound. One can lavish a feeling, thought pattern, or emotion with similar intensity. It's also possible to latch on to negative feelings. If one finds themself on a downward spiral they can usually redirect their awareness to something else with little effort. Most people tend to spend the majority of their experience in a positive groove, because once in it they can remain there effortlessly for hours. The negative aspects of LSD's signature that many users report are a " metallic edge " (a slight grating on the nerves), and sometimes an overbearing intensity that some psychedelics, such as mushrooms, tend not to produce.
To get an idea of how diverse LSD experiences can be, (or psychedelic experiences in general) I've listed several publications in the bibliography that contain lucid descriptions of powerful experiences. One such description that I've included here is the first LSD experience of Stanislav Grof. Stan Grof became one of the premier psychiatric LSD researchers during the early Sixties. His current non-drug therapy, known as Holotropic Breathwork, has produced powerful "transpersonal" experiences in many people. Following is Grof's description of his first LSD experience in 1956 .
"I couldn't believe how much I learned about my psyche in those few hours. I experienced a fantastic display of colorful visions, some abstract and geometrical, others figurative and filled with symbolic import. The sheer intensity of the array of emotions I felt simply amazed me. I was hit by a radiance that seemed comparable to the epicenter of a nuclear explosion, or perhaps the light of supernatural brilliance said in oriental scriptures to appear to us at the moment of death. This thunderbolt catapulted me out of my body. First I lost my awareness of my immediate surroundings, then the psychiatric clinic, then Prague (Czechoslovakia), and finally the planet. At an inconceivable speed my consciousness expanded to cosmic dimensions. I experienced the Big Bang, passed through black holes and white holes in the universe, identified with exploding supernovas, and witnessed many other strange phenomena that seemed to be pulsars, quasars, and other cosmic events."
During his LSD session Grof instantaneously grasped that the experience he was having resembled those described in the great mystical scriptures of the world. "I was able to see the irony and paradox of the situation. The divine manifested itself and took me over in a modern scientific laboratory in the middle of a scientific experiment conducted in a communist country with a substance produced in the test tube of a 20th-century chemist."
Occasionally with large doses of LSD, and less frequently with other psychedelics, one will encounter what is known as the "Clear Light" or "White Light." This is perceived as a supernaturally brilliant and blazing pure light which radiates from within. The feeling which accompanies being in the presence of the Clear Light is almost always described as divine bliss. The experience of the Clear Light can only be attained by going through a full ego death. This process is described in detail in the book The Psychedelic Experience.
HARMALA ALKALOIDS - Harmala will add a unique dimension to an acid experience. I find that it infuses the trip with a mystical and ancient quality. While on acid I normally feel like I'm interfacing with my own mind, but with Harmala it feels like I'm in contact with the invisible world of Spirits. An even greater degree of synergism exists between Harmala and the tryptamine psychedelics, psilocybin and DMT.
DMT - I've had some powerfully enlightening experiences smoking N,N-DMT while on acid. The DMT experience overwhelms the acid experience during its short duration. I usually find myself immersed in the flowing, intricate visuals which are characteristic of DMT. The acid essentially puts me on a higher platform for launching into the DMT. And the "open mind" state produced by the acid allows me to experience the DMT that much more. See the chapter on DMT.
NITROUS OXIDE - A blast of nitrous usually puts me in a pleasurable, altered state of mind, this is amplified if I'm already high. A single breath of nitrous, as is generally consumed for recreational use, will produce a one to two minute "disassociative" state, during which I feel somewhat out of my body. I have found that nitrous works well with every psychedelic I've tried it with. It can put an additional peak in my peak, or it can be used to "break up" a state of mind so I can switch my focus to something else.
LUDIOMIL - I got inspiration to try LSD with Ludiomil (an anti-depressant) after reading an article in Psychedelic Monographs and Essays where the experimenter reported having lucid dreams after using this combination. This perked my interest as I've been a practitioner of lucid dreaming for the past few years.
The experience was quite enjoyable and exceeded my expectations. During the experience I found that Ludiomil nearly doubled the strength of the acid, while slightly altering the experience. I felt as though there was a thin invisible membrane between myself and anything my senses touched upon. This felt novel but did not allow me to feel completely "merged with the experience" as is common while on acid. My thought flow also seemed a bit different including what felt like "bleed through" from the dream state.
I didn't experience anything unusual during my sleep the first night. But on the next night I had some 25 to 30 highly vivid dreams. I continued having these vivid dreams, in decreasing numbers, for the next three or four nights. One point to note here is that the dreams I experienced, although quite vivid, did not fit the definition of Lucid Dreams as defined by Stephen LaBerge or others in the Lucid Dreaming field. LaBerge uses Lucid Dream to mean a dream in which you are aware that you are dreaming, frequently have access to the memories of your normal waking consciousness, and may be able to manipulate the events in your dream.
See the Ecstasy and Multiple Combinations chapters.
1. See Gentleman's Quarterly, July 1991.
2. See Yoga Journal July/August 1990