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“LSD and Its Lysergamide Cousins”.
Heffter Review. 2001;2:80-87.
Lysergic Acid N,N-diethylamide (LSD) is the most “famous” (notorious?) of the psychedelics. That dubious distinction came about not only because of its effects, but also because of its extremely high potency. The type of effect it produced was not completely unknown, however, because mescaline had been relatively available to interested persons since the late 1920s, and produced a similar mental state. Aldous Huxley’s book The Doors of Perception also generated a great deal of interest in mescaline in the 1950s, at least in certain circles, but its low potency (one gram is only 3-4 doses) made it somewhat uneconomical for manufacture. This cost factor may be one of the reasons that it never achieved the popularity gained by LSD in the 1960s and 1970s. By contrast, LSD was easily made from relatively available starting materials such as ergotamine, and its high potency made it economical to manufacture in relatively large quantities. One gram of LSD probably costs no more than a few hundred dollars in raw materials to manufacture, whereas it represents approximately 10,000 clinical doses that could “retail” on the street for upwards of $50,000. Combine this strong economic incentive with the high potency of the drug, which makes distribution easy because doses are very small and easily hidden, and one readily sees some of the factors that led to the high popularity of LSD.
I shall try in this chapter to explain a little bit of the medicinal chemistry of LSD and chemically-related lysergamides so that the reader may gain a better appreciation of the uniqueness of LSD; as the world knows, LSD is no ordinary molecule!
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