Body & Fitness

Click to see: Here’s what the brain looks like on LSD

New research has revealed the drug may be perfect for treating certain psychiatric disorders, thanks to its unique effect on how parts of the brain interact with one another.
Is LSD the key to treating mental disorders?

Is LSD the key to treating mental disorders?

LSD has long been known as one of the most powerful and mind-altering drugs in the world.

But rather than being studied for its potential benefits, the drug was outlawed, making it difficult for research on humans to be conducted.

Decades after it was banned, researchers are finally looking at how we could benefit from the psychedelic, and have captured exactly how the brain reacts when exposed to LSD.

Researchers used modern neuroimaging technology to record how the brain changes on the drug compared to on a placebo, and the results are clear.

In the study, lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD) produced: “Marked changes in brain blood flow, electrical activity, and network communication patterns that correlated strongly with the drug’s hallucinatory and other consciousness-altering properties.”

In other words, the drug reduced the degree of separateness or segregation between brain networks, meaning that different parts of the brain ‘talked to each other’ that previously had not.

Pictured above: The interactions between networks of the brain were marked

So what does this mean for mental health medicine?

According to the researchers, LSD could potentially be used to treat disorders where a person had become stuck in a rut, “entrenched in a pathology,” such as in cases of depression and anxiety.

“Psychedelics may work to break down such disorders by dismantling the patterns of activity on which they rest.”

Researchers from the University of Auckland, Imperial College London, Cardiff University and beyond worked together on the study, which used 20 volunteers.

LSD is traditionally found in tabs

What is LSD?

LSD, also known as ‘acid,’ was first synthesised in Switzerland in 1938 from a chemical found in the fungus ‘ergot.’

Its creator Albert Holfmann did not discover its psychedelic properties until 1943, and it was introduced as a commercial medication in 1947. In the ’50s it was trialled on servicemen and students as a potential mind control drug for the CIA.

Subsequent recreational use by the counterculture of the ’60s resulted in it being outlawed – and set back research into the subject.

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