Chapter 7- Psychedelics
Psychoactive Drugs - chemicals that have psychological effects
-those that illegal are called illicit drugs
LSD= d-lysergic acid diethylamide
-these 2, along with marijuana can be loosely regarded as psychedelics
Major Psychedelics- LSD, MDMA
Minor Psychedelics- da bob marley reefer shit
-The drugs PCP and ketamine have been frequently misrepresented and sold
as mescaline, LSD, marijuana, amphetamine, or cocaine
-The drug 4-methoxyamphetamine has often been passed off as MDA, though
it is 10 times more powerful and has killed many of its users
-28 pills of supposedly MDMA sent to a lab
-15 contained MDMA or similar drugs
-3 contained no drugs at all
-10 contained unrelated drugs (8 of these contained dextromethorphan- a
cough suppressant causing nausea, hallucinations, itchy skin, loss of
motor control- lasting for 36 hrs or longer)
Albert Hofmann stumbled upon LSD-25 first in 1938 and it was tested on animals
with no reaction and was discontinued
-On April 16, 1943 he reproduced some for further testing and had to stop
working and go home for the day due to restlessness and slight dizziness.
-upon lying down and closing his eyes at home, his imagination become so
stimulated for the next 2 hrs he saw an uninterrupted stream of pictures, shapes
-Hofmann concluded that some of the LSD must have been absorbed through his
fingertips during the crystalization period
-3 days later he took what he thought to be a conservative dose (250 micrograms)
-his body felt like it was being taken over by a demon and he was seized
by the fear of going insane
-everything in the room spun and familiar objects took the shape of
-gradually the terror subsided and the fantastic images returned taking the
shape of circles and spirals
-the next morning he felt refreshed and found sensory experiences to be
-After the effects of LSD had been confirmed by other employees samples were
sent out to research institutions and by 1960 more than 500 papers had been
-John Lilly experienced similar effects when he injected himself with 100
micrograms and climbed into an isolation tank. All external realities and feelings
disappeared and time ceased to exist. He felt outside of his own body.
In the first article concerning LSD in 1947, it was classified as a phantasticum
-psychedelics have often been classified as hallucinogens but this is not all that
accurate of a term as it is rare during intoxication with psychedelics to mistake
imaginary events as being physically real
-rather, what actually occur are distortions of ordinary perceptions of the
environment and have been more appropriately termed illusionogenics
Psychedelics are psychotropic in the sense of being mind-altering, the question
is whether these alterations are detrimental or beneficial.
-psychotropic can also refer to moving a person closer to a normal state of
mind and can therefore be used to indicate benefcial effects.
-they have been called psycholytic, which means 'mind-dissolving' but has also
been used to mean 'mind-freeing' or 'mind-loosening', which refers to the release
of emotional and cognitive inhibitions.
-these drugs have also been called psychodysleptic (mind-distrupting) and
psychotomimetic (mimicking or inducing psychosis)
-the last of these meanings has been contested because it is not
surprising that participants acted in a psychotic manner due to the fact that testing was carried out out in hospitals by psychiatrists in white lab coats
-they have also been called entheogens because they sometimes appear to
awaken or generate mystical experiences
-however our preferred term is psychedelic, meaning mind manifesting or soul
-this term was coined by Canadian psychiatrist Humphry Osmond in 1956.
THE PSYCHEDELIC 60s
-psychedelic drug use had movement in the 1960s after Harvard psychologist
Timothy Leary told Americans to 'turn on, tune in, and drop out' after he took
pyschedelics for the first time and had the 'deepest religious experience of his
-feeling like he had been awakened from a long ontological sleep he
classified this as turning on (this is similar to the feelings after one has had
an alien abduction experience and is typical of those tending towards the
very transcendent position on the material-transcendent dimension)
-tuning in means harnessing one's internal revelations to the external
world, perhaps in the form of artistic expression
-dropping out means to detach one-self from the social commitments to
which one was addicted so they are able to pursue an authentic spiritual quest
-in the US up until 1963, psychedelics were available to physicians until
restrictions were places on their availability.
-in 1966 laws against the manufacture and sale of psychedelics were enacted -
this included possession for some states with all states following this lead in 1968
-in 1970, many psychedelic drugs became schedule 1 controlled drugs under the
comprehensive drug abuse prevention and control act of 1970
-a scheduale 1 drug indicates lack of safety, even in medically supervised use,
high abuse potential, and no current medical use.
-though this virtually ended the research on psychedelics, many of the several
million who used LSD never waivered on the fact that it had helped them to
achieve expanded awareness and apparently many turned to spiritual practices
to explore consciousness without the use of drugs
-in a 1990 survey of Tibetan Buddhist practitioners 77% of 64 respondents reported previous experience with major psychedelics and
32% claimed that major psychedelics had contributed at least somewhat to
attracting them to Buddhism
-in the early 90's small amounts of gov't sanctioned research quietly resumed for
research into the possible uses of psychedelics for the treatment of severe
substance abuse and pain and depression associated with terminal illnesses
VARIETIES OF PSYCHEDELICS
-LSD is one of the most potent known drugs with doses as small as 10
micrograms producing mild euphoria, loosening of inhibitions, and empathic
-psychedelic effects begin around 50-100 micrograms and increase up to around
-a typical dose is betwen 50-150 micrograms with effects beginning 45-60 mins
after ingestion and can last up to anywhere betwen 5 and 12 hours.
-the physiological effects include increased heart rate and blood pressure,
increased body temp, dilated pupils, and mild dizziness.
-the psychological effects depend, to some extent, on set and setting
-set refers to the expectations that a person has at the time of taking a
-setting refers to the physical, social, and cultural environment in which a
drug is taken
-in general, LSD produces an intensification of mental processes with vivid
perceptions, magnified feelings, and profound introspective thoughts.
-perceptual changes can include the intensification and distortion of
sensory impressions, synesthesia, and, with eyes closed, the presence of
geometric patterns, fantastic landscapes, and symbols.
-there can also be dramatic mood swings from happiness to sadness and
back again as well as the simultaneous presence of disarate emotions.
-an anthropologist took about 500 micrograms of LSD with the expectation that
he would morph into an animal. After listening to some ritual music, he found
himself on his hands and knees in front of a mirror, confronted by a huge, magnificent tiger.
-he felt himself having a tigers body and even made spitting and snarling
noises and prepared for combat against the 'image' in the mirror
-as he came down he realized that although he had not been very happy
as a tiger, he felt that the tiger had to reprsent some essential aspect of his life
-McKenna came across a single large mushroom Stropharia cubensis during a
walk in Columbia and ate the whole thing.
-a while later he paused and streched, sat heavily on the ground, and felt
a silent thunder shake the air - things stood out with a new presence and
-Stropharia cubensis is one of about 90 mushroom species that contain psilcybin
or psilocin (discovered and named by Hofmann in 1958)
-Psilocybin, the more stable of the two compounds, gets converted to
psilocin when ingested, with 15 milligrams or more of psilocybin resulting in
the trip that lasts from 2-5 hours
-both the physiological and psychological effects are similar to LSD but milder
-mescaline is one of 30 psychoactive substances found in the peyote cactus and
have been used by natives from Southwest US and northern Mexico since at
least 100 B.C.
-the popular way to ingest peyote is the cut and dry the tops of the cactus to form
'buttons' that can be eaten.
-the buttons can cause vomiting, headaches, and nausea and have a
-an effective dose of mescaline is about 200 milligrams (or 3-5 buttons) and
effects last 8-12 hours
-the drug has been said to produce a more intense, stable trip than LSD,
however in general it can be said that LSD, psilocybin, and mescaline produce
-on taking mescaline, Huston Smith found that the drug acted as a psychological prism, revealing multiple layers of the mind from which he could move at will by
shifting his attention.
-the structure of these layers of reality had the 'force of the sun' compared
to everyday experiences which reveal only flickering shadows in the dim
-N,N-dimethyltryptamine (DMT) has been found throughout the living natural
world, including the human brain, but has also been synthesized.
-when 50 milligrams are smoked or injected, effects begin almost immediately
and end after about 30 mins
-the effects are similar to LSD, but more intense
-a young woman , was told that she would see God before she was injected with
-where there had been doors and cabinets, there were now parallel lines
falling away into absurdities
-she closed her eyes and what was a pinpoint, grew into a formless shape
until it became a 'cosmic diamond cat' which moved in rhythmic spasms and
had a shrill voice which told her that she was a squishy-squashy worm
-the cat was all that existed and this was the only reality she had ever
-high doses of DMT has led to experiences that are similar to alien abduction
-though similar, there are differences found in a study by Rick Strassman.
Volunteers injected with DMT encountered clowns, reptiles, mantises,
bees, spiders, cacti, and stick figures but apparently, no grays.
-in the upper amazon of south america, natives drink a psychedelic cocktail
called ayahuasca or yage
-it is made by pounding and cooking in water the banisteriopsis vines and
adding other plants (such as psychotria viridis) to lengthen and heighten
the intoxication -Banisteriopsis contains a number or psychoactive ingredients such as the
beta-carbolines, which includes harmine, harmaline and tetrahydroharmine
-about 200 milligrams of harmine or harmaline are needed for a 4-8 hr trip.
-including psychotria viridis adds DMT to Ayahusca
-normally DMT is broken down in the stomach by monoamine oxydase,
however the beta-carbolines inhibit the action of monoamine oxydase
-the addition of DMT to the ayahuasca cocktail is said to make for better
and brighter visions.
-Ayahuasca is known as purgative in part because it induces vomiting and
-other physiological effects include an increase in blood pressure and
heart rate, sweating, tremors, prickling feelings in the skin, and a buzzing sound
in the ears
-Psychological effects include: a sense of flying, images of colored lights,
geometric patterns, and animals such as jaguars, birds, and reptiles, and visions
of spirit helpers, demons, deities, and distant events.
-the dreamlike sequences are sometimes said to be longer, more vivid, and more
realistic than those produced by mescaline or LSD
-some native people have reported extrasensory empowerment, including
acquiring protective spirits, determining the causes and cures of diseases,
prophesying the future, contacting distant relatives, and gaining life direction
-at one time the psychoactive ingredients of Banisteriopsis were named
-Benny Shannon, studying ayahuasca during more than 2 years in South
america, by interviewing almost 200 people and partaking himself about 130
-he found that one's sense of time can become confused, with more time
appearing to have passed than what actually has.
-one may also become confused as to if an perceived event is a memory,
or a thought about the future. e.g. events from ancient history may seem quite
-in more extreme cases, one may experience himself as displaced from the present, observing events from the point of view of an independent
observer as though they were looking through a small and distant hole
-with a sufficient high, one may experience themselves to be outside of
time with a divine or cosmic dance with rhythmical patterns of movement taking
place in a realm totally different from the ordinary one.
-users have also reported experiencing eternity with associated feelings of
well being, bliss, grace, and spiritual uplifting.
The Neuropharmacology of Psychedelics
-tolerance refers to the need for increased amounts of a substance in order to
achieve a desired effect or a markedly diminished effect with continued use of the
same amount of the substance.
-tolerance for LSD develops within 2-3 days and then disappears just as
-this is similar for psilocybin, mescaline, and DMT.
-there is a cross-tolerance between many of the psychedelics, meaning that
intoxication with one of them will inhibit the effectiveness of a second one if taken
shortly after the first.
-this suggests these drugs having common effects in the brain
-because molecules of LSD, psilocybin, DMT, and the beta-carbolines are
structurally similiar to the neurotransmitter serotonin, investigators concluded that
the psychedelic effects result from the mediation of serotonergic neural pathways
in the brain.
-in fact, it has been demonstrated that many psychedelic drugs increase
activity in serotonergic pathways by stimulating the 5-HT subtype of
-MDMA is somewhat removed from the other psychedelics because its
perceptual and emotional effects are less dramatic
-it has been called an entactogen because it engenders a sense of closeness to
-usually taken orally in doses of 75 to 175 milligrams with effects lasting from 4-6
hrs -tolerance usually develops with high doses and repeated use.
-physiological reactions include: increased HR and BP, dry mouth, loss of
appetite, jaw clenching or teeth grinding, and somet