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Exploring The Relation Between Lsd And Serotonin In The Brain.

2377 words - 10 pages

Exploring the Relation Between LSD and Serotonin in the BrainLysergic acid diethylamide (LSD) is one of the most potent mind-altering chemicalsknown to man. It is a synthetic hallucinogen that is derived from lysergic acid, a chemical foundwhich is found in ergot, a fungus that grows on rye and other grains ("LSD"). LSD wasaccidentally discovered in 1938 by German scientist Albert Hofmann, who discovered thepsychoactive hallucinogenic properties of the drug by absorbing a small amount through hisfingertips during a routine synthesis of lysergic acid (Albert Hofmann Foundation).LSD can be administered a number of ways. The most popular method has been orallythrough paper, sugar cubes, on a piece of gelatin, or by pill. It can also be administratedintravenously or intramuscularly; however, the effects are the same as if taken orally with aslightly quicker onset. The average dose of LSD used by humans is about 100-200 micrograms.The intensity of the experience is proportional to the size of the dose, though the duration of thetrip seems to stay the same at higher doses. A dose of around 500 micrograms is likely toproduce a total, but temporary, breakdown of the usual ways of perceiving self and world. Theeffects of the drug begin within one hour and generally last 8-12 hours. At about 3-5 hours intothe trip, the user experiences what is generally known as the peak (Galanter, Kleber 143).Though LSD produces somatic effects such as dizziness, weakness, tremors, dilation ofthe pupils, brachycardia (slower heart beat), hypotension, hyperglycemia, nauseau, andparesthesias (numbness or tingling), the drug is primarily taken for its perceptual andpsychological effects. Distortions of perspective, euphoria, visual hallucinations with changes inshape and color, altered perception of time, heightened environmental stimulation, andimpairment of reason and thought processes are all characteristic effects of LSD (Katzung 541).These cognitive effects are triggered by chemical reactions in the brain that affect thefunctioning of certain neurons.To understand how LSD affects the mind, one must have a basic understanding of howneurons functions. The synapse is the location at which the electric signals of one neuron aretransferred to another neuron. There are two types of synapses between neurons: chemical andelectrical. LSD primarily affects chemical synapses, and following will be a description of howchemical synapses function. The transmitting cell is called the presynaptic cell, and the receivingcell is called the postsynaptic cell (Campbell 1003). At the tip of every presynaptic axon arenumerous sacs called synaptic vesicles. Each vesicle contains thousands of neurotransmitters,which are substances that are released as intercellular messengers into the synaptic cleft, thenarrow gap between the neurons. When an action potential arrives at the synaptic terminal anddepolarizes the presynaptic membrane, the surface of the synaptic terminal that faces thesynaptic...

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