Everyone who has ever consumed LSD knows it is one hell of a trip. Not only are its effects potent, but they also last for a long time. On average, an LSD trip can last anywhere from 12 to 18 hours. By that time, effects from other drugs are already long gone. Scientists have known this for years. The fact that eluded them is why the hallucinogenic effects last so long in the first place.
There is one confusing aspect of LSD use and its half-life. The drug itself stays in the system for about half an hour. The hallucinogenic effects, on the other hand, last for almost a full day, or even longer.
In order to test how and why something like this occurs, scientists started using special photographs called crystallography images. These images show us how atoms are arranged inside a molecule. They used images of an LSD molecule entering a serotonin receptor (serotonin receptors can be located in various parts of the brain and body, and when they get in contact with LSD, they produce hallucinogenic effects). What scientists saw next is interesting. As the LSD binds to serotonin, the molecules get stuck in a pocket located within the receptor. This occurs at such a strong angle that it has difficulties moving out. On top of that, the serotonin receptor’s structure of proteins reconfigures itself in such a way that it blocks the LSD molecule even further, keeping it inside for longer.
This is a first real answer as to why the drug is as potent as it is, even though it has such a short shelf-life. The binding technique behind this process seems unique to LSD. Psilocybin and DMT, two of the other most popular hallucinogenic drugs, have effects that last much shorter than the ones connected to LSD.
Researchers behind this study plan to use this new-found knowledge to develop new drugs that may treat depression, schizophrenia, and other mental diseases to a greater effect than any of the drugs used today. The specific system that the LSD molecules use to stay in the brain of people that consume it is what may help these drugs stay in the patient’s body. A drug that releases its effects over a longer time period may be groundbreaking when it comes to medicine like this because the drugs used to treat various mental disease interact with serotonin in the same way LSD does.
Additionally, there is a chance that the binding mechanism that connects LSD molecules to serotonin receptors might work with other receptors as well. So, the use of this mechanism may enable the development of other drugs that affect receptors other than serotonin.
These latest findings shed some light on people’s claims that micro-dosing LSD is an effective way to stimulate the creativity of an individual. These micro-doses have even shown the capability of relieving depression. This is yet to be proven in official studies, but the claims are nothing if not promising.
There are very few people on this planet who enjoy their work more than Aner Banner. His friends often readily admit that Aner eats, sleeps, and breaths science 24 hours a day. He is always challenging old methods, proposing new ideas, and seeking to solve difficult problems. Aner spends most of the day imparting his wisdom to the young minds of a small elementary school. Thankfully he has also mastered the art of making science come alive for the future leaders of our nation. He is loved and well respected by students, parents, and faculty alike. His motto forever remains “never stop learning.