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Structural formula
Structural formula of LSD
Non-proprietary name Lysergide
other names
  • (+) - Lysergic acid diethylamide
  • d -lysergic acid diethylamide
  • (5 R , 8 R ) -Lysergic acid diethylamide
  • 9,10-didehydro- N , N diethyl-6-methylergoline-8 β -carboxamide
  • N , N -diethyl lysergamide
  • LSD-25
  • Delysid
  • Lysergamide
  • LAD (Lysergic acid diethylamide)
  • EA 1653
  • EA 3528
  • EA 1729
Molecular formula C 20 H 25 N 3 O
Brief description

colorless, pointed prisms

External identifiers / databases
CAS number 50-37-3
EC number 200-033-2
ECHA InfoCard 100,000,031
PubChem 5761
DrugBank DB04829
Wikidata Q23118
Drug information
Mechanism of action

partial agonist at serotonin (5-HT 2A ) receptors

Molar mass 323.42 g mol −1
Melting point
  • 80-85 ° C (base)
  • 198–200 ° C (tartrate)
pK s value



very bad in water (2.1 mg l −1 at 25 ° C)

safety instructions
GHS labeling of hazardous substances
06 - Toxic or very toxic 08 - Dangerous to health


H and P phrases H: 300-310-330-351
P: 260-264-280-284-302 + 350-310
Toxicological data
As far as possible and customary, SI units are used. Unless otherwise noted, the data given apply to standard conditions .

Lysergic acid diethylamide , also briefly LSD or Acid ( English for acid ), is a chemically prepared derivative of lysergic acid , which in ergot alkaloids naturally occurs. LSD is one of the most powerful hallucinogens known and belongs to their subgroup of psychedelics , which act on the body's serotonin system. As a result, even in very small doses in the lower microgram range , it causes long-lasting effects, which include altered thoughts and feelings as well as an altered state of consciousness . It has no potential for dependence . In addition, there is no known death from an LSD overdose.

After its discovery by Albert Hofmann in 1938, it was initially available as a drug for a long time due to its great potential in psychotherapy. In the hippie era of the 1960s, recreational use of LSD was widespread and led many users to question common belief systems. In 1971, the United Nations therefore agreed in the Convention on Psychotropic Substances to ban almost all psychotropic substances known at the time, including LSD (only with the exception of the drugs caffeine, nicotine and alcohol, which had been widely used in the western world ). Since 1971, both the Narcotics Act in Germany and the Narcotics Act in Austria have classified LSD as not marketable . Since around 1990, research has been increasing again with hallucinogens such as LSD for psychotherapy, including the treatment of alcohol addiction and depression .


Albert Hofmann (2006)

The chemist Albert Hofmann first produced lysergic acid diethylamide on November 16, 1938 as part of his research on ergot . His goal was to develop a circulatory stimulant. After this hoped-for effect of LSD did not occur in animal experiments, Hofmann initially lost interest and archived his research results. On April 16, 1943, Hofmann decided to re-examine the possible effects of LSD; he suspected that he had missed something in the first few attempts. During his work with LSD Hofmann noticed a hallucinogenic effect in himself that he could not explain at first. He suspected that LSD had been absorbed into his body through unclean work through the skin.

He repeated this experience on April 19, 1943 by taking 250 micrograms of LSD. Compared to the effectiveness of the ergot alkaloids known at the time, this corresponded to the smallest amount at which one could still have expected an effect. However, it turned out that this amount already corresponded to ten times the normally effective dose (from approx. 20 µg) of lysergic acid diethylamide. This date is now considered to be the time of the discovery of the psychoactive properties of LSD. The anniversary is celebrated by LSD supporters in the pop culture as "Bicycle Day", as Hofmann rode his bike home at the beginning of his deliberately induced intoxication.

The company Sandoz , on whose behalf Hofmann carried out research, brought the preparation onto the market in 1949 under the name "Delysid". It was offered as a psychotomimetic that enabled psychiatry doctors to put themselves in the perceptual world of psychotic patients for a limited time .

Chemistry and analytics

The four possible stereoisomers of LSD

Chemically, lysergic acid diethylamide belongs to the Ergoline structural class . The name "LSD-25" comes from the fact that it was the 25th substance in Hofmann's test series of synthetic lysergic acid derivatives .

LSD is a chiral compound with two stereocenters on carbon atoms C-5 and C-8. There are thus four different stereoisomers of LSD that form two pairs of enantiomers . LSD, more precisely (+) - LSD, has the absolute configuration (5 R , 8 R ). (-) - LSD is (5 S , 8 S ) -configured and is the mirror image of (+) - LSD. (+) - LSD epimerizes under basic conditions to the isomer (+) - iso -LSD with (5 R , 8 S ) -configuration; (-) - LSD epimerizes basic to (-) - iso -LSD with (5 S , 8 R ) configuration. The non-psychoactive (+) - iso- LSD, which forms during the synthesis (in different proportions depending on the method), can be separated off with the help of chromatographic separation methods and isomerized to active (+) - LSD ( e.g. by the action of dilute methanolic potassium hydroxide solution ) become. Several structural analogues of LSD are known which have LSD or the ergoline basic body as the lead structure , e.g. B. ALD-52 , 1B-LSD , 1P-LSD , 1CP-LSD , AL-LAD , ETH-LAD , 1P-ETH-LAD and PRO-LAD . Modifications were made in position 1 and in position 6 to the ergoline system.

Under ultraviolet light (360 nm) LSD exhibits a strong blue fluorescence . Further detection is possible with dimethylaminobenzaldehyde (Ehrlich reagent, Kovacs reagent). The forensically secure detection of LSD in the various examination materials such as B. Hair or urine succeeds after adequate sample preparation by the coupling of chromatographic methods with mass spectrometry . Because LSD is so powerful, there is no need to contaminate the substance. In laboratories, the drug is rarely available as a powder, so purity is rarely measured.

Effect on humans


There are various statements about the speed with which LSD is broken down in the blood plasma , since the published measurement results differ from one another. In 1964, Aghajanian and Bing found that LSD had a plasma half-life in the body of 2.9 hours. Papac and Foltz reported in 1990 that 1 µg / kg of orally administered LSD had a plasma half-life of 5.1 hours in a single male volunteer. This occurred with a maximum concentration of 5 ng / mL three hours after administration.

Investigations from 2017 on 40 healthy test participants showed that with doses of 100 µg and 200 µg maximum plasma concentration values ​​were reached after 1.4–1.5 h, the plasma half-life was 2.6 h and the subjective effects 8.2 ± 2, 1 h (100 µg) and 11.6 ± 1.7 h (200 µg) lasted. The subjective maximum effects of the LSD appeared at 2.8 hours (100 µg) and 2.5 hours (200 µg) after oral ingestion. The duration of an uncomplicated LSD experience is usually between five and twelve hours, depending on the dosage, body weight and age. Sandoz 'package insert for Delysid describes: "[It] occasionally [there] certain after-effects in the form of phasic affect disorders can last for a few days."

Receptors on the cell membrane

The binding affinities of (+) - LSD to individual receptors. The lower the K i value, the higher the binding of the LSD to the receptor.

One of the four stereoisomers [(+) - LSD or (5 R , 8 R ) -LSD] acts as a partial agonist with great affinity (binding strength) at the serotonin - 5-HT 2A receptor . This is associated with the mechanism of action of many atypical neuroleptics . Other classic psychedelic hallucinogens are also bound by this. But it is not a selective bond; A number of other receptor subtypes of the 5-HT receptors , the dopamine receptors and the adrenoceptors also bind LSD.


Sympathetic effects include an increase in the pulse rate ( tachycardia ), increase in blood pressure ( arterial hypertension ), dilation of the pupils ( mydriasis ), blurring of visual impressions and difficulties in focusing the eye ( accommodation disorder ), secretion of thick saliva, increased perspiration ( hyperhidrosis ) Constriction of the peripheral arteries ( vasoconstriction ), causing the hands and feet to become cold and bluish, straightening of the hairs on the body ( piloerection ). The most common parasympathetic effects are: slowing of the pulse rate ( bradycardia ), drop in blood pressure ( hypotonus ), excessive salivation ( hypersalivation ), lacrimation , possible nausea and occasional vomiting . Possible motor phenomena include: increased muscle tension, twitching and spasms, various forms of tremors, and complicated twisting movements.


LSD changes perception in such a way that it appears to the consumer as an intense experience, the perception of time is changed and environmental events become more apparent. This is perceived by the consumer as more experience within a shorter period of time. In addition, there are visual, sensory and acoustic changes in perception. These do not necessarily have to be experienced as hallucinations , but can also appear as changes compared to comparable experiences without LSD effects. Real objects can be perceived as more plastic and experienced as if they are in motion. At high doses, awareness of the intoxication can be lost and control over one's own actions can be reduced or even lost.

A basic euphoric mood - triggered, for example, by a landscape and music that is perceived as beautiful - can persist throughout the intoxication and determine the entire course of the experience. Existing fears and depression can also lead to a so-called “ bad trip ”, which is perceived as extremely unpleasant and no longer controllable by the consumer. An experienced and trusted person as a sober companion (" trip sitter ") can prevent or mitigate such experiences by taking appropriate measures.


LSD works even in low doses from 20 µg. According to the European Monitoring Center for Drugs and Drug Addiction (EMCDDA), the typical dosage for non-therapeutic use is between 20 and 80 µg. Passie u. a. (2008) gives 75 to 150 µg as a moderate dose for therapeutic use; it is estimated that doses between 100 and 200 µg develop the full spectrum of activity. However, the effect depends on the condition of the consumer as well as on the environment and the individual impressions caused by it, so that not only the dosage is decisive for the type of experience. (See Set and Setting .) The low dose of LSD in the threshold range below or within the effective dose is called microdosing or mini dosing .

LSD develops a tolerance of one to two weeks. During this time, LSD loses a large part of its effectiveness when taken repeatedly. The formation of tolerance also affects tolerance to other related substances. LSD, psilocybin / psilocin and mescaline are each cross-tolerant .


Comparison of the harm potential of common psychotropic substances and LSD in Great Britain (based on David Nutt, 2010).
Comparison of the addiction potential and the ratio between the usual and lethal dose of various psychoactive substances and LSD according to RS Gable .

Mental disorders

If the conditions are unfavorable, LSD can trigger temporary episodes of fear (horror trip ) or substance-induced psychosis . Further psychological disorders such as the abuse of hallucinogens and persistent perceptual disorder after hallucinogen use (HPPD) are included as a diagnostic category in the DSM-IV .

Medical treatment, among other things, is indicated if the patient is very excited. "Goodman & Gilman's The Pharmacological Basis of Therapeutics" suggests 20 mg diazepam orally . Soothing conversations have been shown to be effective and are therefore an appropriate first step. Antipsychotics can enhance the experience and are therefore contraindicated.

Around 10,000 patients took part in LSD research in the 1950s and 1960s. The incidence of psychotic reactions, suicide attempts and suicides during LSD treatment is comparable to that of conventional psychotherapy:

study Patient (noun) Meetings Suicide attempts Suicides prolonged psychotic reactions
Cohen ~ 5,000 ~ 25,000 1.2: 1000 0.4: 1000 1.6: 1000
Malleson ~ 4,300 ~ 49,000 0.7: 1000 0.3: 1000 0.9: 1000
Gasser 121 ~ 600 0 0 0

Harmfulness in comparison

A group of experts led by the British neuropsychopharmacologist David Nutt confirmed that LSD had the highest potential for harm in the impairment of mental functioning risk category of all the psychotropic substances examined . In the overall evaluation, however, the self-harm potential of LSD is classified as rather low compared to other substances, and no external damage potential was found. The comparatively low damage potential in the overall rating is largely due to the fact that the experts questioned found little or no damage potential for LSD in numerous categories (e.g. mortality, dependence, physical damage) in contrast to other substances. The results of the studies were published in 2007 and 2010 in the journal The Lancet . A follow-up study with similar results appeared in the Journal of psychopharmacology in 2015 . However, the ranking of the Nutt studies was questioned in the science journals The International journal on drug policy and Addiction (Abingdon, England) . Both publications criticized the classification of psychotropic substances in only one dimension (harmfulness) and the fact that they ignored the extent to which the damage mainly results from the respective substance alone or rather from the political and social framework.


LSD is considered a non- addictive substance by leading scientists in hallucinogen research, the European Monitoring Center on Drugs and Drug Addiction (EMCDDA), and the National Institute on Drug Abuse of the US Department of Health because it does not create addictive behavior . Many LSD users voluntarily reduce or discontinue their use over time.

Interactions with drugs or psychotropic substances

Chronic administration of MAO inhibitors and SSRIs weaken the effects of LSD, and it is assumed that the 5-HT 2A receptors are downregulated . However, there is a possible risk in combination with MAO inhibitors or SSRIs that have only been taken once or for a short period of time, as the downregulation of the 5-HT 2A receptors has not yet progressed there. Since MAO inhibition and serotonin reuptake inhibition increase the effects of serotonergic substances, including LSD, unpredictably, the risk of serotonin syndrome may be increased. However, in his 2010 review , Ken Gillman found that in over 50 years of LSD use there has been no documented case of serotonin syndrome associated with LSD use. Lithium and some tricyclic antidepressants increase the effects of LSD; anecdotal reports speak of temporary comatose states in combination with lithium.


According to a manufacturer's data sheet, lysergic acid diethylamide is highly toxic; according to another source, it has low toxicity. Animal experiments suggest that the ratio of effective dose to lethal dose in humans is around 1: 1000, i.e. that is, a dose of a thousand times the effective dose would cause fatal poisoning in humans. Pharmacists assume a therapeutic range of 280. That would make LSD a safe drug. So far, direct deaths are only known from animal experiments in which animals were deliberately given an intravenous overdose.

Under clinical conditions, LSD does not cause chromosome breaks, and it is assumed that LSD in moderate doses has no effects on human chromosomes . Questions regarding the carcinogenic, mutagenic and reproductive effects of LSD could not be adequately answered due to numerous poorly designed studies. However, it is assumed that LSD is not toxic to reproduction in humans and is weakly mutagenic or not mutagenic.

Risk of accident

The environment, which appears changed under the influence of LSD, can become a danger for the consumer, as he often no longer has a feeling for the risk assessment. Due to this change in perception, it is not advisable to operate machines or participate in road traffic (see also Driving under the influence of psychoactive substances ).

However, the European Monitoring Center for Drugs and Drug Addiction rates this risk as extremely low on its website:

“Serious side effects that are often ascribed to LSD, such as irrational acts leading to suicide or accidental death, are extremely rare. Deaths related to an LSD overdose are virtually unknown. "

Hofmann himself had previously made similar statements about the risk of accidents:

“[In] the manic, hyperactive state, the feeling of omnipotence or inviolability can lead to serious accidents. Such have happened when an intoxicated person, in confusion, stood in front of a moving car because he believed he was invulnerable or jumped out of the window believing he could fly. The number of such LSD accidents is not as great as one might assume based on the reports that are sensationally processed by the mass media. Nevertheless, they must serve as serious warnings. "

In 2010, no deaths were counted in Germany that were directly or indirectly related to the use of LSD. No LSD deaths were registered in Germany in 2013 either. The Federal Government's Drugs Commissioner did not publish any corresponding figures for other years, including 2014.


It wasn't until the 1980s that LSD regained popularity as a party drug in the techno scene . After the consumption of LSD had decreased at the beginning of the last decade according to estimates by the drug commissioner of the federal government, since 2008 there has been a slight increase in the number of first-time users.

Forms of consumption

An LSD blotter, dosed with 100–120 µg each.

The drug is usually put on pieces of paper called tickets, cardboard, or trips , and then sucked or swallowed. LSD is also taken as a solution in ethanol (so-called liquid or drops dripped with a pipette ), on sugar cubes, as capsules or in tablet form (special tablets are small crumbs that contain a desired dose and are called "micro") The gelatine capsules are empty, only the capsule shell itself is wetted with LSD solution and dried). A single microsphere can contain up to 1000 µg LSD, whereas conventional cardboard contains only 100–250 µg LSD.

The European Monitoring Center for Drugs and Drug Addiction reports that the retail prices for LSD in most European countries are between 5 euros and 11 euros per unit.

LSD and Ecstasy ("Candyflip"): This combination can lead to strong changes in perception with visual and acoustic hallucinations. The psychoactive effects of both substances can reinforce each other. This can lead to desired pleasant experiences, but the risk of drug-induced psychosis is also increased.

Another danger point is the black market goods caused by illegality, the composition or dosage of which can never be precisely identified. For example, two trips purchased from the same dealer that look the same can be dosed completely differently. Carrier materials do not necessarily have to contain LSD, as other hallucinogenic substances such as DOI , DOB , 25I-NBOMe , Bromo-DragonFLY etc. are also effective in the sub -milligram range and are also sold as blotting papers. The duration of action of these substances is usually greatly increased, in the case of Bromo-DragonFLY up to several days. However, the fact that strychnine may be included has proven to be a myth. Such a case has never been confirmed. Carrier materials of only small size (example: blotting paper, micros) do not absorb any effective amount of strychnine.

Application history

LSD in psychiatry and psychotherapy

For psychiatric treatment and research purposes, LSD was made available in 1949 by the pharmaceutical company Sandoz under the trade name Delysid . The LSD preparation lysergamide was manufactured by the Czechoslovak company Spofa and was mainly exported to the Eastern Bloc countries , including the GDR.

LSD puts many users in a state that is similar to certain symptoms of psychosis ( schizophrenia ). In contrast to psychosis , the user usually knows that the changed perception was brought about deliberately. Such artificially induced states are called model psychosis . The researchers were particularly impressed by the very low dosage and the pronounced effect.

The package insert of Delysid pointed to the possibility of using as Psycholytikum and Psychotomimetikum out. Text excerpt indication: “(a) In analytical psychotherapy to promote mental relaxation by releasing repressed material. (b) Experimental studies of the nature of psychosis: By taking Delysid, the psychiatrist himself is enabled to gain insight into the world of ideas and perceptions of psychiatric patients. "

LSD was first used in what is known as “psychedelic therapy”, for example for people with severe cancer or alcoholics. Their goal was to make the test subjects less fearful or to dissuade them from alcoholism through a shocking ecstatic, strongly religious or mystical experience. In his study on this subject, the pioneer of therapeutic LSD research in Germany, Hanscarl Leuner , speaks of a kind of "healing through religion". Even today, LSD is used in psychotherapy as so-called psycholytic psychotherapy . With all the advantages confirmed by research, this form of therapy also has its downsides, especially because of the power imbalance between the therapist and the therapy client, who has been made highly suggestible by taking LSD. Qualified training and supervision of the therapists is hardly possible because the treatments - apart from special permits - mainly take place illegally.

LSD used to treat alcoholism

Studies in the 1950s found a 50 percent success rate for treating alcoholism with LSD. However, some LSD studies have been criticized for methodological flaws, and different groups gave different results. An article published in 1998 re-examined the work on the subject. It was concluded that the question of the effectiveness of LSD in treating alcoholism remains unanswered. In contrast , a meta-analysis published in 2012 confirmed the results of the original studies and stated a beneficial effect.

LSD attempts by US intelligence agencies and the army

Given the possibility of intoxicating the entire population of the United States with just 10 kilograms of the highly potent psychedelic, research into the use of LSD as a chemical weapon , truth serum, or other purposes began in the early 1950s, under the auspices of the Cold War . Research that the CIA and the Chemical and Biological Warfare Department of the American Armed Forces carried out or had carried out focused on the possibility of using it as a means of mind control and the like. a. to be used in the laboratories of the Edgewood Arsenal . As part of MKULTRA and other projects, LSD was administered to employees without their knowing it; the drug was given to volunteers, drug addicts or prostitutes' clients in so-called safe houses in New York City and San Francisco ; Human experiments on prisoners or on inmates of psychiatric institutions included keeping test subjects under the influence of LSD for several weeks or testing the effects of the drug in combination with electric shocks , sensory deprivation or other drugs. None of these attempts gave any useful results. After the research became public in the mid-1970s, it was discontinued.

LSD in the 1960s

Front view of the

As part of a sub-project of the CIA research program MKULTRA , Ken Kesey , who after his military service worked as a nurse in a mental hospital for some time , took part in LSD experiments there as a test subject. Ken Kesey, like the psychologist Timothy Leary in Berkeley (where research was also carried out in the context of MKULTRA), assumed that LSD could liberate and improve people's personalities by expanding their consciousness and thus also change society in a positive way. He founded a hippie group, the Merry Pranksters , who drove through the USA in a brightly painted school bus, the FURTHER , and held so-called acid tests everywhere, in which lysergic acid diethylamide was used for testing the audience was distributed. The Grateful Dead performed as a band at these LSD happenings . Since LSD was still legal at the time, the idea and practice of LSD use had a strong influence on the hippie era of the late sixties. The journeys of the Merry Pranksters were immortalized in the book Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test by the author Tom Wolfe , who was on the bus for some time . They were an important factor in the creation of the San Francisco hippie movement and psychedelic rock of the late 1960s and early 1970s.

In 1962, Sidney Cohen presented his first warning of the dangers of LSD to the medical community. Cohen's 1960 study of LSD effects concluded that the drug was safe when administered in a supervised medical setting, but by 1962 his concerns about popularization, non-medical use, black market LSD and patients led him to who were harmed by the drug, warned that the spread of LSD was dangerous. In the mid-1960s, Cohen described the LSD state as "completely uncritical" with "the high probability that the knowledge obtained is not at all valid and will overwhelm certain gullible personalities". His alternative to LSD came from the advice he gave to an audience at the end of his life: "I want to recommend them to the sober mind."


When Timothy Leary propagated the mass consumption of LSD in the USA in the 1960s, Albert Hofmann was strongly criticized. After the 1966 ban in the USA and the classification as a non-marketable substance in Germany in 1971, research into LSD-containing therapeutics largely came to a standstill.

As a drug, it was also largely pushed back due to the lack of addiction potential and the strong development of tolerance . Since LSD, unlike most other drugs, is not suitable for daily consumption, the amount demanded is insignificant for the drug trade, and since there is no addiction, users are not forced to pay high prices such as B. to pay for heroin or cocaine .

Current research with LSD

Hallucinogen research has been experiencing a renaissance since around 1990. In December 2007, the Swiss psychiatrist Peter Gasser was approved to conduct a double-blind, placebo-controlled phase II dose-response pilot study for psychotherapeutic treatment with LSD in patients with end-stage cancer. The pilot study should “be able to give indications as to whether it is worthwhile and whether it is justifiable to continue researching with LSD-supported psychotherapy, if necessary also on a larger scale with larger numbers of subjects”. The results are promising, but the test group of 12 people is too small to be statistically representative. The study was funded in part by the Swiss Medical Association for Psycholytic Therapy and mainly by the lobby organization Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies (MAPS) .

More recent publications discuss LSD and the non-hallucinogenic 2-bromo-LSD (BOL-148) as possible remedies for cluster headache .

Legal status

In the Federal Republic of Germany, LSD is a non-marketable narcotic due to its appearance in Appendix I BtMG . Handling without permission is generally a criminal offense. Further information can be found in the main article Narcotics Law in Germany .

With the fourth Narcotics Equality Ordinance (4th BtMGlV) of February 21, 1967, which came into force on February 25, 1967, LSD in the Federal Republic of Germany was made subject to the narcotics law provisions of the Opium Act , the forerunner of today's BtMG.

In 1966, lysergic acid diethylamide was banned in the USA. Lysergic acid diethylamide was banned in Austria in 1971.

Lysergic acid diethylamide also falls under the control of the United Nations Convention on Narcotic Drugs (1961) and the Convention on Psychotropic Substances (1971), which were adopted by the United Nations .




Web links

Commons : LSD  - collection of pictures, videos and audio files
Wiktionary: LSD  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations

Individual evidence

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