Drugs that produced unusual experiences have been called “psychedelics” or
“hallucinogens”. Deeply imbedded in the nature of consciousness is the ability
of the brain to project an internal event into the world outside. Indeed, in
the final analysis, all events internal and external are brain events. If a
person takes a known psychedelic agent, LSD, he or she expects to have unusual
experiences and will report these experiences appropriately as, for example, an
The term “altered states of consciousness” became popular to describe the
affects of some of the more interesting psychotropic drugs. A more precise term
would be “altered contents of consciousness”. LSD can take you on a fascinating
“trip” which consists of a continuous stream of new and different contents of
conscious. LSD is a powerful mind-exploration tool for the experienced meditator
who is familiar with his or her usual contents of consciousness streaming by
during meditation practice. A hallucination is an experience
originated within the brain that is similar to or indistinguishable from an
experience originating from outside the brain.
If a psychedelic chemical is produced in the brain or is present as an
unknown entity in food or drinks, then the unusual experiences will be reported
as real experiences, happening out there in the real world. One theory of
"schizophrenia" is that unknown psychedelics act on the brain to cause psychotic
mind activity. Drugs used to treat this “illness” counter the brain disturbance
created by endogenous psychedelic chemicals.
Psychedelic drug use flourished in the 60’s in the US and Canada, along with
rock and roll, folk music and protests against racial discrimination and the
Vietnam war. LSD was popular in the sixties with researchers who were excited
about the therapeutic possibilities of a drug that “opened the doors of
perception and the gates of heaven and hell.” For many, LSD was a deep and
spiritual drug that appeared to be a key to understanding brain function.
Research into the action of LSD in the brain revealed a profusion of activity
that defied easy understanding, however. LSD research was outlawed and
psychedelic use subsided in the 1970’s and 80’s only to increase again in the
I am convinced that the diagnosis of schizophrenia may act against the
best interests of patients. Schizophrenia is
a term that can be applied such a variety of brain dysfunctions, that the focus
should be on discovering the root cause of the brain dysfunction and not this
antiquated diagnosis. Drug use and abuse is so prevalent among teenagers that
any brain dysfunction (aka mental illness) in an adolescent might be attributed
to drug use until proven otherwise. If not drug use, then the cause is eating
too much of the wrong food and exercising too little.
Cannabis (marihuana) is perhaps the most available and widely used
psychoactive plant. It contains the psychoactive drug, tetrahydrocannabinol
(THC). In the best case, THC induces mild euphoria, feelings of general
well-being, relaxation with increased appreciation of humor, music and food with
increased sensuality and creative or philosophical thinking. In the worst case,
disorientation, memory deficits, paranoia, agitation, and anxiety produce bad
experiences and antisocial behaviors. Cannibis use can produce any and all the
symptoms of psychiatric illness. Combine cannabis with other drugs, malnutrition
and punk rock, you can reproduce all the major mental illnesses in the
Other natural psychedelics include LSD (ergot fungus), psilocybin (magic
mushrooms), mescaline (peyote), LSA (Morning Glory Seeds) and Ayahuasca found in
teas brewed from plants containing dimethyltryptamine and harmine. Synthetics
such as MDMA (ecstasy), 2C-B (nexus), DOM (STP), and 5-MeO-DIPT (Foxy Methoxy)
are common street drugs. LSD and psilocybin are based on tryptamine. Mescaline
and 2C-B. are based on phenethylamine. Psychedelic effects include sensory
distortions, such as the warping of surfaces. 2C-B produces dose sensitive
effects: a small dose causes a
disconnection from “reality”. Empathogens are phenethylamines such as MDMA and
MDE that induce feelings of openness, euphoria, empathy, love, and heightened
self-awareness. MDA (unlike MDMA) is neurotoxic.
Alkaloids of the ergoline family produce a variety of compounds that can be
psychoactive or have medicinal value. Ergine was discovered by Albert Hofmann
working at Sandoz laboratories where ergot alkaloids became big business.
Hofmann administered new compounds to himself to assay psychoactive effects. A
500 microgram dose by injection led to a tired, dreamy state, with an inability
to maintain clarity of consciousness. After a short period of sleep theses
effects ended. Ergine is a precursor to LSD, and is listed DEA schedule III drug
in the United States. Hoffman was the first to synthesize LSD and appreciate its
psychedelic effects. Some drugs derived from ergot alkoaloids are
Bromocriptine, Cabergoline, Ergine, Ergonovine, Ergotamine, Lysergic acid,
Lysergol, LSD, D-Lysergic acid hydroxyethylamide, Lisuride, Methergine,
- You are viewing the Brain Drugs at Alpha Online.
Understanding the human brain is essential to become a well-informed, modern
citizen. Stephen Gislason MD, the author of
the Human Brain, is a physician-writer who is good at making complex subjects more
understandable. This is a book with important ideas, so be prepared to read
and then keep the book as reference.
- Alpha Online is a Division of Environmed Research, founded in 1984 at
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