LSD: How It Works and What It Does


By: Caleb Holzer, Natacha Foo Kune, Ben Harris, Jeanette Ziegenfuss

Hallucinogens are drugs that are plant-derived or synthetic chemical substances that cause various degrees of hallucinatory states. They have been used throughout time for medicinal as well as recreational purposes. The hallucinations caused by this class of drugs are not to be confused with those which occur during toxic psychosis. While high doses of anything, a high temperature, lack of sleep, or great hunger will cause hallucinations, the type that will be discussed here are those resulting from drugs taken at levels where they have few toxic effects. In other words, they are the result of the drug, not an indirect result of poison to the body. The U.S. government currently prohibits by federal law the manufacture, distribution, or possession of these types of drugs for anything but government approved research.

Specific neurons in the brainstem have been shown to be sensitive to small doses of hallucinogens. The primary neurotransmitter in these neurons is Serotonin. Because of this finding and the similar structure of Lysergic Acid Diethylamide(LSD), a potent hallucinogen, and Serotonin it has been suggested that LSD may act on Serotonin receptors. After investigating the history of the drug, the nature of Serotonin, and the nature and behavioral effects of LSD, we will give our conclusion on this topic.

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