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Concept: Psychedelic drug


Lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD) is the prototypical psychedelic drug, but its effects on the human brain have never been studied before with modern neuroimaging. Here, three complementary neuroimaging techniques: arterial spin labeling (ASL), blood oxygen level-dependent (BOLD) measures, and magnetoencephalography (MEG), implemented during resting state conditions, revealed marked changes in brain activity after LSD that correlated strongly with its characteristic psychological effects. Increased visual cortex cerebral blood flow (CBF), decreased visual cortex alpha power, and a greatly expanded primary visual cortex (V1) functional connectivity profile correlated strongly with ratings of visual hallucinations, implying that intrinsic brain activity exerts greater influence on visual processing in the psychedelic state, thereby defining its hallucinatory quality. LSD’s marked effects on the visual cortex did not significantly correlate with the drug’s other characteristic effects on consciousness, however. Rather, decreased connectivity between the parahippocampus and retrosplenial cortex (RSC) correlated strongly with ratings of “ego-dissolution” and “altered meaning,” implying the importance of this particular circuit for the maintenance of “self” or “ego” and its processing of “meaning.” Strong relationships were also found between the different imaging metrics, enabling firmer inferences to be made about their functional significance. This uniquely comprehensive examination of the LSD state represents an important advance in scientific research with psychedelic drugs at a time of growing interest in their scientific and therapeutic value. The present results contribute important new insights into the characteristic hallucinatory and consciousness-altering properties of psychedelics that inform on how they can model certain pathological states and potentially treat others.

Concepts: Nervous system, Brain, Human brain, Cerebral cortex, Lysergic acid diethylamide, Psychedelic drug, Psychedelics, dissociatives and deliriants, Timothy Leary


What is the level of consciousness of the psychedelic state? Empirically, measures of neural signal diversity such as entropy and Lempel-Ziv (LZ) complexity score higher for wakeful rest than for states with lower conscious level like propofol-induced anesthesia. Here we compute these measures for spontaneous magnetoencephalographic (MEG) signals from humans during altered states of consciousness induced by three psychedelic substances: psilocybin, ketamine and LSD. For all three, we find reliably higher spontaneous signal diversity, even when controlling for spectral changes. This increase is most pronounced for the single-channel LZ complexity measure, and hence for temporal, as opposed to spatial, signal diversity. We also uncover selective correlations between changes in signal diversity and phenomenological reports of the intensity of psychedelic experience. This is the first time that these measures have been applied to the psychedelic state and, crucially, that they have yielded values exceeding those of normal waking consciousness. These findings suggest that the sustained occurrence of psychedelic phenomenology constitutes an elevated level of consciousness - as measured by neural signal diversity.

Concepts: Philosophy of mind, Consciousness, Unconscious mind, Phenomenology, Psychedelic drug, Altered state of consciousness, 8-Circuit Model of Consciousness


Use of unauthorized synthetic drugs is a serious, forensic, regulatory and public health issue. In this scenario, consumption of drug-impregnated blotters is very frequent. For decades, blotters have been generally impregnated with the potent hallucinogen known as lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD); however, since 2013 blotter stamps with N-2 methoxybenzyl-substituted phenylethylamine hallucinogen designated as “NBOMes” have been seized in Chile. To address this issue with readily accessible laboratory equipment, we have developed and validated a new HPTLC method for the identification and quantitation of 25-C-NBOMe in seized blotters and its confirmation by GC-MS. The proposed method was validated according to SWGTOX recommendations and is suitable for routine analysis of seized blotters containing 25-C-NBOMe. With the validated method, we analyzed 15 real samples, in all cases finding 25-C-NBOMe in a wide dosage range (701.0-1943.5 µg per blotter). In this situation, we can assume that NBOMes are replacing LSD as the main hallucinogenic drug consumed in blotters in Chile.

Concepts: Drug, Lysergic acid diethylamide, Lysergic acid, Ergot, Psychedelic drug, Psychedelics, dissociatives and deliriants, Ergoline


The first study of 3,4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine (MDMA)-assisted therapy for the treatment of social anxiety in autistic adults commenced in the spring of 2014. The search for psychotherapeutic options for autistic individuals is imperative considering the lack of effective conventional treatments for mental health diagnoses that are common in this population. Serious Adverse Events (SAEs) involving administration of MDMA in clinical trials have been rare and non-life threatening. To date, MDMA has been administered to over 1133 individuals for research purposes without the occurrence of unexpected drug-related SAEs that require expedited reporting per FDA regulations. Now that safety parameters for limited use of MDMA in clinical settings have been established, a case can be made to further develop MDMA-assisted therapeutic interventions that could support autistic adults in increasing social adaptability among the typically developing population. As in the case with classic hallucinogens and other psychedelic drugs, MDMA catalyzes shifts towards openness and introspection that do not require ongoing administration to achieve lasting benefits. This infrequent dosing mitigates adverse event frequency and improves the risk/benefit ratio of MDMA, which may provide a significant advantage over medications that require daily dosing. Consequently, clinicians could employ new treatment models for social anxiety or similar types of distress administering MDMA on one to several occasions within the context of a supportive and integrative psychotherapy protocol.

Concepts: Clinical trial, Clinical research, Serotonin, Clinical psychology, Psychotherapy, Adverse event, Psychedelic drug, Psychedelics, dissociatives and deliriants


Abused drugs can profoundly alter mental states in ways that may motivate drug use. These effects are usually assessed with self-report, an approach that is vulnerable to biases. Analyzing speech during intoxication may present a more direct, objective measure, offering a unique ‘window’ into the mind. Here, we employed computational analyses of speech semantic and topological structure after ±3,4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine (MDMA; ‘ecstasy’) and methamphetamine in 13 ecstasy users. In 4 sessions, participants completed a 10-minute speech task after MDMA (0.75, 1.5 mg/kg), methamphetamine (20 mg), or placebo. Latent Semantic Analyses identified the semantic proximity between speech content and concepts relevant to drug effects. Graph-based analyses identified topological speech characteristics. Group-level drug effects on semantic distances and topology were assessed. Machine-learning analyses (with leave-one-out cross-validation) assessed whether speech characteristics could predict drug condition in the individual subject. Speech after MDMA (1.5 mg/kg) had greater semantic proximity than placebo to the concepts friend, support, intimacy, and rapport. Speech on MDMA (0.75 mg/kg) had greater proximity to empathy than placebo. Conversely, speech on methamphetamine was further from compassion than placebo. Classifiers discriminated between MDMA (1.5 mg/kg) and placebo with 88% accuracy, and MDMA (1.5 mg/kg) and methamphetamine with 84% accuracy. For the two MDMA doses, the classifier performed at chance. These data suggest that automated semantic speech analyses can capture subtle alterations in mental state, accurately discriminating between drugs. The findings also illustrate the potential for automated speech-based approaches to characterize clinically-relevant alterations to mental state, including those occurring in psychiatric illness.Neuropsychopharmacology accepted article peview online, 03 April 2014; doi:10.1038/npp.2014.80.

Concepts: Drug, Amphetamine, Psychoactive drug, Metric space, Methamphetamine, Recreational drug use, Convention on Psychotropic Substances, Psychedelic drug


: Psychoactive drugs of fungal origin, psilocin, ibotenic acid, and muscimol among them have been proposed for recreational use and popularized since the 1960s, XX century. Despite their well-documented neurotoxicity, they reached reputation of being safe and nonaddictive. Scientific efforts to find any medical application for these hallucinogens in psychiatry, psychotherapy, and even for religious rituals support are highly controversial. Even if they show any healing potential, their usage in psychotherapy is in some cases inadequate and may additionally harm seriously suffering patients. Hallucinogens are thought to reduce cognitive functions. However, in case of indolealkylamines, such as psilocin, some recent findings suggest their ability to improve perception and mental skills, what would motivate the consumption of “magic mushrooms.” The present article offers an opportunity to find out what are the main symptoms of intoxication with mushrooms containing psilocybin/psilocin, muscimol, and ibotenic acid. The progress in analytical methods for detection of them in fungal material, food, and body fluids is reviewed. Findings on the mechanisms of their biologic activity are summarized. Additionally, therapeutic potential of these fungal psychoactive compounds and health risk associated with their abuse are discussed.

Concepts: Drug, Cognition, Psychoactive drug, Recreational drug use, Psychedelic drug, Amanita muscaria, Psilocybin, Muscimol


In the recent years, new molecules have appeared in the illicit market, claimed to contain “non-illegal” compounds, although exhibiting important psychoactive effects; this heterogeneous and rapidly evolving class of compounds are commonly known as “New Psychoactive Substances” or, less properly, “Smart Drugs” and are easily distributed through the e-commerce or in the so-called “Smart Shops”. They include, among other, synthetic cannabinoids, cathinones and tryptamine analogs of psylocin. Whereas cases of intoxication and death have been reported, the phenomenon appears to be largely underestimated and is a matter of concern for Public Health. One of the major points of concern depends on the substantial ineffectiveness of the current methods of toxicological screening of biological samples to identify the new compounds entering the market. These limitations emphasize an urgent need to increase the screening capabilities of the toxicology laboratories, and to develop rapid, versatile yet specific assays able to identify new molecules. The most recent advances in mass spectrometry technology, introducing instruments capable of detecting hundreds of compounds at nanomolar concentrations, are expected to give a fundamental contribution to broaden the diagnostic spectrum of the toxicological screening to include not only all these continuously changing molecules but also their metabolites. In the present paper a critical overview of the opportunities, strengths and limitations of some of the newest analytical approaches is provided, with a particular attention to liquid phase separation techniques coupled to high accuracy, high resolution mass spectrometry.

Concepts: Drug, Toxicology, Cannabis, Metabolomics, Recreational drug use, Forensic toxicology, Psychedelic drug


Novel psychoactive drugs, such as amphetamine-, cathinone-, benzofury- and tryptamine derivatives, gained high popularity on the global drug market in the last years. These drugs are sold via the Internet as for example “research chemicals”, “room odorizers” or “lawn fertilizers” by different online suppliers. They are also known as “Legal Highs”, among them, cathinone derivatives play an important role. Well known substituted cathinone derivatives are mephedrone, brephedrone and flephedrone. Since a couple of weeks, a chlorine substituted methcathinone derivative, namely clephedrone (4-chloromethcathinone), is commercially available via the Internet from The goal of this study was to confirm identity of this substance, which was done successfully by GC-MS and NMR. Since all cathinone derivatives are chiral, it was found out, whether the purchased sample was present as a racemic mixture. For this purpose, methods for enantioseparation by GC and CE were developed and applied successfully. In case of CE a chiral selector was added, whereas chiral separation with GC-MS was done indirectly, after derivatization of clephedrone with trifluoroacetyl-l-prolyl chloride.

Concepts: Drug, Drugs, Opioid, Psychoactive drug, Recreational drug use, Psychedelic drug, Mephedrone, Substituted cathinone


Dextromethorphan (DXM) in combination with antihistamines and/or pseudoephedrine is widely available as an over-the-counter remedy commonly used for relief of colds and cough. In supratherapeutic amounts, DXM can be extremely activating. These cough preparations have been adopted by many young users of recreational drugs for their psychoactive effects. When used in amounts exceeding those recommended, this practice, known as “robotripping,” may result in a manic toxidrome of psychomotor agitation, hostility, grandiose behavior, hallucinations, paranoia, and panic. A case illustration of this phenomenon is described and implications of this phenomenon discussed. There are few reports associating DXM use with bipolar symptomatology.

Concepts: Cough, Opioid, Psychosis, Ketamine, Common cold, Recreational drug use, Psychedelic drug, Dextromethorphan


Many psychoactive drugs are used recreationally, particularly by young people. This use and its perceived dangers have led to many different classes of drugs being banned under national laws and international conventions. Indeed, the possession of cannabis, 3,4-methylenedioxy-N-methylamphetamine (MDMA; also known as ecstasy) and psychedelics is stringently regulated. An important and unfortunate outcome of the controls placed on these and other psychoactive drugs is that they make research into their mechanisms of action and potential therapeutic uses - for example, in depression and post-traumatic stress disorder - difficult and in many cases almost impossible.

Concepts: Drug, Opioid, Serotonin, Cannabis, Psychoactive drug, Recreational drug use, Psychedelic drug, Prohibition