Molecule of the Week
May 5, 2014
LSD is familiar to anyone who remembers the 1960s. It is formally known as lysergic acid diethylamide or lysergide, but during its heyday it was simply called “acid”.
A. Stoll and A. Hofmann synthesized LSD in 1943 from ergotamine, which was derived from the grain fungus ergot. Hofmann also discovered its psychedelic properties, and for a while LSD was investigated as a psychotherapeutic drug. Its binding to serotonin receptors causes its psychedelic effects.
But along came the 1960s and Timothy Leary, who urged young people to take an acid “trip” to “turn on, tune in, and drop out”. The drug became widely abused; and in 1968, the US government made its possession illegal. Since that time, it has had little psychiatric use; but recently research into its uses has increased.