Turns Out, LSD Lasts So Long Because It Gets Stuck In Your Brain

Apparently, LSD gets straight up stuck in your brain. Will this knowledge make for better, longer-lasting psychiatric drugs?

Feb 21, 2017

The psychoactive effects of Lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD) can last between 12 and 18 hours. This is quite odd, since the effects of other psychotropic substances, like magic mushrooms or cannabis, typically last for up to six hours max, depending on how the products are consumed. Back in January [2017], scientists from the University of North Carolina finally discovered why LSD lasts so darn long.

Why does LSD last so long?

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Sometimes the simplest explanation is the best one. For the longest time, no one really understood why the LSD last such a long time.

The compound is out of the bloodstream within 30 minutes after consumption, but the psychological effects of the drug last significantly longer. People can still be high on acid even though the compound isn’t present in the blood or urine.

Recently, researchers have figured out the modest truth of why the acid is so potent. As reported by Popular Science, scientists recently published a study which discovered that LSD lasts so long because it gets stuck in the brain. ‘Nough said, it’s as simple as that.

LSD is a partial synthetic compound that is made from a fungus that grows on grains. Depending on how the stuff is manufactured, it can also be purely synthetic. The compound was first synthesized back in the 1930s from a compound called ergotamine, which is a chemical from the ergot fungus.

After consuming LSD, it travels into the bloodstream and flows into the brain and connects with serotonin receptors. And then, the acid just sort of gets stuck there on those receptors. It dives in at such an odd angle that it can’t get back out again. Then, the receptor protein sort of awkwardly slumps over the compound, trapping it inside the receptor even more.

Fascinating, right? Now, researchers think that discovering this mechanism could help them make better, longer-lasting psychiatric drugs.

A new wave of psychedelic research?

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Interestingly, cannabis researchers made critical discoveries about the shape of cannabinoid receptors this year as well. For the first time, scientists were able to get a clear picture of the structure of the CB1 receptor, the primary binding site for the main psychoactive in the herb, tetrahydrocannabinol (THC).

These discoveries, while smaller than microscopic, are important discoveries in psychedelic research. Back in the 60s and 70s, research into mind-altering natural and semi-natural products became a major area of research.

However, psychedelic research in the United States was more or less put on pause after over two decades of the War on Drugs and harsh zero tolerance policies.

Of course, cannabis is the primary psychoactive that is making headlines. Also for the first time in decades, the majority of the American public is in support of serious reform. However, the herb is not the only psychoactive of interest to the medical community these days.

In 2016, researchers conducted successful trials of using psilocybin for the treatment of cancer-related anxiety and depression. Psilocybin is the active ingredient in magic mushrooms.

Another 2016 study successfully used a purified, pharmaceutical version of the common street drug, MDMA, in trials of patients with treatment-resistant post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

Though it is difficult to tell where any of this research is headed in the long-term, these recent experiments are certainly breakthroughs in what could turn out to be a new medical approach to mind-altering substances sometime in the future.

Feb 21, 2017