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LSD & how it works in the brain

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I see a few people just discovering MAPS. Here is a video from one of the researchers associated with MAPS.

This video with David Nichols explains how LSD works in the brain, and touches on the idea of why people get annoyed by the trip after six hours or so.

When you take LSD, it first targets your serotonin receptors, after about 4-6 hours, the compound is broken down by the liver, and then re-enters the blood stream as a modified compound which targets dopamine receptors. Most users get annoyed and want the experience to end around the 4-6 hour mark. But of course everyone's brain chemistry is different and different people experience different things

This is just a snippet, of what the video contains. It is very "sciency" and difficult to follow at times

But I am sure those who watch will at least have a laugh, and take something from it, and hold a slightly better understanding of what LSD does in the brain.

It also touches on psilocybin, and what receptors are targeted, the difference in LSD and psilocybin is remarkable.

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Thanks for that post, I haven't gotten a chance to watch it yet but I'm definitely going to....I've seen some other things with David Nichol's and he seems like an amazing dude.

A year or two ago I stumbled on the info about LSD boosting dopamine as well as serotonin...and the effect that LSD has on me made a lot more sense.  I get more energetic, and my brain feels a bit more "streamlined".  The biggest mystery too me about my experiences started to make sense to me too--Mainly "how come I can take MORE mushrooms if I take LSD too?"  Like a lot more...

Cause it's a lot like taking a bit of stimulant like cocaine or amphetamine (both dopamine boosting substances) with your mushrooms. 

This also touches on one of the cooler aspects of LSD, that it is a very "atypical" tryptamine.  Some people have argued that it is not even a true tryptamine (I disagree) I think the most accurate assesment of it I've seen is that it is a tryptamine with phenethylamine (class of drugs that mescaline, MDMA, and all the "2C" drugs live in) qualities, but when you really look around you find people making convincing arguments that it is just a tryptamine, that it is both, or that it is neither and deserves to be it's own thing.

Here's a link to a bunch of people talking about it...


And while we're talking about it,  I have to admit that I've wondered if combining Psilocybin with an MAO inhibitor is causing dopamine release too--only because when I take mushrooms it feels so much more LSD like.  Just a theory....

Thanks again for posting that 1eye, I'm looking forward to watching it.


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Another thing mentioned in the video, is the fact that when serotonin levels go up, dopamine goes down. When dopamine goes up serotonin levels go down.

I think the controversy with what class LSD should be in, is caused by the different brain chemistry people have. Different people experience different things.

In the video Nichols asks the audience of you will, how many have takin LSD. Most everyone raises their hands lol. Then he asks if they enjoyed the entire trip OR after about 4-6 hours you got sick of it or annoyed and wanted it to stop. It seemed to be about 50/50, similar to the poll in the link you posted.

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I was there at the "Psychedelic Science in the 21st Century" conference but  missed that presentation.  There were so many good ones at that MAPS event. 

Bob spoke there also:


This link takes you to the page on the list of video presentations.


Almost everything you could want to know. 

It was an incredible weekend!!

Rick Doblin and the entire MAPS organization/team do an amazing job.


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I think the controversy with what class LSD should be in, is caused by the different brain chemistry people have.

Actually it's coming from the molecular structure of LSD, because it has both a tryptamine "backbone" AND a phenethylamine "backbone"...This makes it so it can hit the receptors for both.


Different people experience different things.

Ain't that the truth!   Recently when I was reading Stanislov Grof's "Realms of the Human Unconscious, Observations from LSD research" he says

    "The search for the typical, mandatory pharmacological effects of LSD was an important aspect of my analytical work on the LSD data.  The result of this quest was rather surprising; after analyzing over thirty eight hundred records from LSD sessions, I have not found a single symptom that would be an absoloutely constant component in all of them and could be thus considered truly invariant."

Rick Doblin and the entire MAPS organization/team do an amazing job.

Truer words have not been spoken, we all owe them a debt of gratitude...Especially when they are willing to do what they do in the face of all our drug war propaganda.


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  • 3 weeks later...

I have to say, that video that you posted 1eye, was frickin awesome.  Also very thick with medical jargon, one of the few video's I've watched where I had to keep stopping the video and googleing terms, saying to myself--"what the hell is he talking about?!?"  I actually started taking notes, I felt like I was back in school.  For a lot of it to sink in, I really think I'm going to have to watch it again...but I got a lot out of it the first time around too. 

One thing I thought was amazing was that he said something about the tryptamine hallucinogens causing some sort of firing in your brain that was similar to REM sleep.  I know with myself, if I miss a good nights sleep it really messes with me--UNLESS I take hallucinogens and stay up all night, then I can get 3 or 4 hours sleep and be fine.  Maybe this has something to do with it.  I watched this a couple weeks ago and the memory is a little fuzzy, but that really stuck out to me...especially with it seeming like cluster headache and sleep disorders having some sort of connection...but maybe it's just a coincidence. 

Another thing that surprised me was when he was talking about that effect you were talking about 1eye, where dopamine ends up getting released towards the end of the trip.  He said what you had said, that many people want the trip to stop..He went furthur though, saying many people experience a lot of anxiety at this point too...I have never really experienced this, but I wonder if it might be the case with some friends of mine who get anxiety from LSD--gonna have to ask them if it's really just towards the end.   I also wonder, will it help people to know that anxiety might be coming?  Maybe just making it a schedule and knowing that your 6 hour mark is coming up and you should probably start some anti-anxiety herbs might help.  (maybe)

Have other people experienced this anxiety or not too happy about the trip effect after 6 or so hours on LSD?


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  • 2 weeks later...

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