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Psychedelic drug

psychedelic drugs, psychedelic drug list
A psychedelic drug is a drug whose primary action is to alter cognition and perception, typically by agonising serotonin receptors

Not to be confused with psychoactive drugs, such as stimulants and opioids, which induce familiar states of consciousness, psychedelics tend to affect the mind in ways that result in the experience being qualitatively different from those of ordinary consciousness The psychedelic experience is often compared to non-ordinary forms of consciousness such as trance, meditation, yoga, religious ecstasy, dreaming and even near-death experiences With a few exceptions, most psychedelic drugs fall into one of the three following families of chemical compounds; tryptamines, phenethylamines, and lysergamides

Many psychedelic drugs are illegal worldwide under the UN conventions unless used in a medical or religious context Despite these regulations, recreational use of psychedelics is common


  • 1 Origin of term
  • 2 Traditional use
  • 3 Examples
  • 4 Pharmacological classes and effects
    • 41 Serotonergic or classical psychedelics 5-HT2A receptor agonists
    • 42 Empathogen-entactogens serotonin releasers
    • 43 Dissociatives NMDA antagonists
    • 44 Other
  • 5 Psychedelics and the law
  • 6 See also
    • 61 Categories
  • 7 Notes
  • 8 External links

Origin of term

The term psychedelic is derived from the Greek words ψυχή psyche, "soul, mind" and δηλείν delein, "to manifest", hence "soul-manifesting", the implication being that psychedelics can access the soul and develop unused potentials of the human mind The word was coined in 1956 by British psychiatrist, Humphry Osmond, the spelling loathed by American ethnobotanist, Richard Schultes, but championed by the American psychologist, Timothy Leary

Aldous Huxley had suggested to Humphry Osmond in 1956 his own coinage phanerothyme Greek "phaneroein-" visible + Greek "thymos" soul, thus "visible soul" Recently, the term entheogenic has come into use to denote the use of psychedelic drugs in a religious/spiritual/mystical context

Traditional use

Psychedelics have a long history of traditional use in medicine and religion, where they are prized for their perceived ability to promote physical and mental healing In this context, they are often known as entheogens Native American practitioners using mescaline-containing cacti most notably peyote, San Pedro, and Peruvian torch have reported success against alcoholism, and Mazatec practitioners routinely use psilocybin mushrooms for divination and healing Ayahuasca, which contains the powerful psychedelic DMT, is used in Peru and other parts of South America for spiritual and physical healing as well as in religious festivals


Doses of lysergic acid diethylamide LSD Main article: List of psychedelic drugs

Classical or serotonergic psychedelics agonists for the 5-HT2A serotonin receptors include LSD also known as "acid", psilocin the active constituent of psilocybin mushrooms, commonly known as "magic mushrooms" or "shrooms", mescaline the active constituent of peyote, and DMT the active constituent of ayahuasca and an endogenous compound produced in the human body

Pharmacological classes and effects

Serotonergic or classical psychedelics 5-HT2A receptor agonists

This class of psychedelics includes the classical hallucinogens, including the lysergamides like LSD and LSA, tryptamines like psilocybin and DMT, and phenethylamines like mescaline and 2C-B Many of these psychedelics cause remarkably similar effects, despite their different chemical structure However, many users report that the three families have subjectively different qualities in the "feel" of the experience, which are difficult to describe At lower doses, these include sensory alterations, such as the warping of surfaces, shape suggestibility, and color variations Users often report intense colors that they have not previously experienced, and repetitive geometric shapes are common Higher doses often cause intense and fundamental alterations of sensory perception, such as synesthesia or the experience of additional spatial or temporal dimensions Some compounds, such as 2C-B, have extremely tight "dose curves", meaning the difference between a non-event and an overwhelming disconnection from reality can be very slight There can be very substantial differences between the drugs, however For instance, 5-MeO-DMT rarely produces the visual effects typical of other psychedelics and ibogaine a 'complex tryptamine' is also an NMDA receptor antagonist and κ-opioid receptor agonist in addition to being an agonist for the 5-HT2A receptors, resulting in dissociative effects as well see dissociatives below

Empathogen-entactogens serotonin releasers

The empathogen-entactogens are phenethylamines of the MDxx class such as MDMA, MDEA, and MDA Their effects are characterized by feelings of openness, euphoria, empathy, love, heightened self-awareness, and by mild audio and visual distortions an overall enhancement of sensory experience is often reported Their adoption by the rave subculture is probably due to the enhancement of the overall social and musical experience MDA is atypical to this experience, often causing hallucinations and psychedelic effects in equal profundity to the chemicals in the 5-HT2A agonist category, but with substantially less mental involvement, and is both a serotonin releaser and 5-HT2A receptor agonist

Dissociatives NMDA antagonists

Certain dissociative drugs acting via NMDA antagonism are known to produce what some might consider psychedelic effects The main differences between dissociative psychedelics and serotonergic hallucinogens are that the dissociatives cause more intense derealization and depersonalization For example, ketamine produces sensations of being disconnected from one's body and that the surrounding environment is unreal, as well as perceptual alterations seen with other psychedelics


Salvia divinorum is a dissociative that is sometimes classified as an atypical psychedelic The active molecule in the plant, salvinorin A, is a kappa opioid receptor agonist, working on a part of the brain that deals with pain Activation of this receptor is also linked to the dysphoria sometimes experienced by users of opiates either therapeutically or recreationally An unusual feature of S divinorum is its high potency dosage is in the microgram range and extremely disorienting effects, which often include "entity contact", complete loss of reality-perception and user's experiencing their consciousness as being housed in different objects eg a pane of glass or a pencil

Psychedelics and the law

See also: Legal status of psilocybin mushrooms, Drug liberalization, and Category:Drug control law

Despite many psychedelic drugs being non-addictive and there being no evidence to support long term harm on mental health many of these drugs have been declared illegal under the UN Convention on Psychotropic Substances of 1971 In addition, many countries have analogue acts that automatically forbid any drugs sharing similar chemical structures to common illicit substances regardless of whether they are harmful

See also

  • Ayahuasca
  • Bwiti
  • Dimethyltryptamine
  • Dissociative drug
  • Concord Prison Experiment
  • Entheogen
  • Freedom of thought
  • God in a Pill
  • Hallucinogen
  • Hallucinogenic fish
  • Hallucinogenic plants in Chinese herbals
  • Hard and soft drugs
  • Ibogaine
  • List of psychedelic drugs
  • List of psychedelic plants
  • Lysergic acid diethylamide
  • Marsh Chapel Experiment
  • Morning glory
  • Mystical psychosis
  • Peyote
  • Psilocybin mushroom
  • Psychedelia
  • Psychedelic art
  • Psychedelic experience
  • Psychedelic music
  • Psychedelic therapy
  • Psychedelics in problem-solving experiment
  • Serotonergic psychedelic
  • Set and setting
  • Tabernanthe iboga
  • War on Drugs


► Psychedelic drugs ► Drug classes defined by psychological effects ► Drugs by psychological effects ► Psychoactive drugs


  1. ^ "Peyote San Pedro Cactus - Shamanic Sacraments" DMTaylor 
  2. ^ "Serotonin and Hallucinogens" Neuropsychopharmacology Reviews 
  3. ^ A Weil, W Rosen 1993, From Chocolate To Morphine:Everything You Need To Know About Mind-Altering DrugsNew York, Houghton Mifflin Company p 93
  4. ^ W Davis 1996, "One River: Explorations and Discoveries in the Amazon Rain Forest" New York, Simon and Schuster, Inc p 120
  5. ^ iia700700usarchiveorg
  6. ^ Luke, D 2010 "Rock art or Rorschach: Is there more to entoptics than meets the eye" Time and Mind 3: 9–28 doi:102752/175169710x12549020810371 
  7. ^ Vollenweider FX, Geyer MA 2001 A systems model of altered consciousness: integrating natural and drug-induced psychoses Brain Res Bull 56: 495 - 507
  8. ^ Pomarol-Clotet, E; Honey, GD; Murray, GK; Corlett, PR; Absalom, AR; Lee, M; McKenna, PJ; Bullmore, ET; Fletcher, PC 2006 "Psychological effects of ketamine in healthy volunteers Phenomenological study" Br J Psychiatry 189: 173–179 doi:101192/bjpbp105015263 
  9. ^ Lüscher, Christian; Ungless, Mark Nov 2006 "The Mechanistic Classification of Addictive Drugs" PLoS Med 3 11: e437 doi:101371/journalpmed0030437 PMC 1635740 PMID 17105338 Retrieved 2 June 2015 
  10. ^ Krebs, Teri; Johansen, Pål-Ørjan August 19, 2013 "Psychedelics and Mental Health: A Population Study" PLOS ONE 8: e63972 doi:101371/journalpone0063972 PMC 3747247 PMID 23976938 Retrieved 2 June 2015 

External links

  • Scholarly bibliography on psychedelic drug use in the history of psychology
  • WWW Psychedelic Bibliography - A searchable database with full text of many scientific articles on psychedelics
  • Magic Mushrooms and Reindeer - Weird Nature A short video on the use of Amanita muscaria mushrooms by the Sami people and their reindeer produced by the BBC
  • People on Psychedelics A collection of people who have spoken openly about psychedelics
  • Manual for Ibogaine Therapy Contributing Authors : Marc Emery, Geerte Frenken, Sara Glatt, Brian Mariano, Karl Naeher, Dr Martin Polanco, Marko Resinovic, Nick Sandberg, Eric Taub, Samuel Waizmann and Hattie Wells
  • Trips Beyond Addiction Living Hero Radio Show and Podcast special With Dimitri Mobengo Mugianis, Bovenga Na Muduma, Clare S Wilkins, Brad Burge, Tom Kingsley Brown, Susan Thesenga, Bruce K Alexander, PhD ~ the voices of ex-addicts, researchers from The Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies and Ibogaine/Iboga/Ayahuasca treatment providers sharing their experiences in breaking addiction with native medicines Jan 2013
  • ERIE Entheogenic Research, Integration, and Education 501c3 provides support to individuals navigating their entheogenic integration process

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