Lysergic acid diethylamide is commonly known as LSD (sometimes referred to as ‘acid’). LSD is an illegal hallucinogenic substance sometimes taken by people as a recreational drug or used to induce spiritual visions. However, scientists have recently done studies into the way LSD affects a user’s brain and come to the conclusion that there may be medical uses for this illegal substance.

How LSD affects the brain

LSD alters the taker’s brain in a few different ways that result in a large variety of symptoms. According to new studies done by doctors at the University of Zurich, LSD reduces communication between certain parts of the brain and increases it in others. These changes are linked to a brain receptor known as serotonin 2A.


The changes made in these regions give rise to some of the many symptoms of LSD use. The strongest and most important symptom is the experience of hallucinations, which can vary wildly in content and affect the person experiencing them in different ways.

The potential medical use

Some of the symptoms of LSD are very similar to those experienced by people with certain mental health disorders. Studying how LSD causes these symptoms may give doctors insight into how to treat such disorders, including schizophrenia.


There is even evidence that LSD itself could be used to treat some disorders, or at least alleviate their symptoms, by taking advantage of the way it alters brain communication. However, more research will definitely be necessary before anyone is prescribed acid for medical reasons.

Part of a larger movement

One of the reasons scientists are looking into LSD now and discovering these things is because of a recent rise in the study into using mind-altering substances, normally only used recreationally (and illegally), to treat people with mental disorders.


This is a growing body of study centered largely around the pending approval of a treatment for PTSD which includes the use of MDMA, a recreational drug known as ecstasy.