Psychedelics such as LSD they have always been embroiled in controversies over their use, but what there is no doubt is that their effect on the body reveals interesting aspects about the human brain.
Many people who usually take these drugs, in fact, claim that under their influence, they notice that they are accessing other reality TV shots. It’s not just that they see strange things, impossible things; is that they truly believe that in their own way the world they can see, touch and feel exists and remains hidden when not using these substances.
This phenomenon is very similar to what happens when we dream. After all, dream events, as surreal as they may seem objectively, seem valid to us at the time, and we seldom question them the very moment we perceive them. But recent research has revealed that the resemblance between the effect of LSD and dreams goes further of this resemblance.
The effects of psychedelics
The use of the psychedelic drug LSD, well known for its recreational use in areas like concerts or music clubs, it completely changes the world for those who consume it for hours at a time. It changes everything you see around you, but it also changes the beliefs and ideas you have about yourself (i.e., self-concept).
This powerful effect on the minds of people is in part a mystery to be unraveled. The interaction between drugs and the human brain is a very complex process and it is very difficult to distinguish what exactly it is. what goes on in our brains when using LSD.
Fortunately, a study conducted by a team of scientists from the University of Zurich identified causes behind dream-like states of consciousness that appear after consuming LSD.
This group of researchers is working to discover the therapeutic potential of psychedelics known to generate hallucinations, i.e. they cause altered states of consciousness. Specifically, they focused on the effects of LSD, which lasts between 12 and 17 hours, and those of psilocybin, another similar substance whose effects are felt for about 4, 5 or 6 hours.
And although we use the term “drugs” to refer to various substances, their mechanisms of action are often very different, and those of psychedelics, in particular, are easily distinguished from those of consumables such as cannabis or the alcohol. Now … what exactly makes you dream of waking up after taking LSD?
The therapeutic potential of LSD
The study conducted by these Swiss researchers was conducted with the participation of 25 volunteers, some of whom received only one placebo. Generating the phenomenon to be studied in the laboratory (the effect of LSD on the nervous system, these scientists analyzed the data obtained and published their findings in the scientific journal Psychopharmacology.
Rainer Kraehenmann, a member of the research team that conducted the study, notes that measuring altered states of consciousness, comparable to the dream episodes we experience while dreaming, Were measured from the marker called cognitive surrealism from real-time descriptions of what is experienced.
But what people who have experienced LSD are not just strange occurrences. These experiences are much more alive than what an adult without a diagnosed mental disorder experiences without the effects of a drug, and also emerges as a clear pattern of thinking that is less relational, creative in some ways and less attached to rigid patterns.
It is precisely these latter properties that make LSD a potentially useful tool in certain therapies, Especially with those in which a thought pattern is fought in which the perceived limits generate anxiety.
How do dream states appear with LSD?
LSD has been known for years it works by potentiating the effect on the brain of a neurotransmitter called serotonin. Neurotransmitters are microscopic elements that neurons use to communicate with each other, and LSD causes receptors in these nerve cells to take up more of these tiny particles.
Kraehenmann and his colleagues made this hypothesis about how LSD works in neurons in more detail, observing that a drug called ketanserin blocks the dream potential of LSD. Ketanserin suppresses the working capacity of serotonin 2A receptors, Thus, it prevents the possibility that external substances amplify the effects of the neurotransmitter.