Timothy Leary might have been right after all–LSD does hold some keys in the world of pharmaceutical research. A new study shows that lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD) changes the brain chemistry in a similar way that occurs in schizophrenics. And these findings may eventually lead to improved treatments for schizophrenia.

According to the research, LSD affects the same serotonin pathways that are imbalanced in schizophrenics, both leading to hallucinations and, at times, delusions. In the experiment it was found that LSD works simultaneously on serotonin and glutamate regulating receptors, and these two complexes together create the effects of the drug. When mice under the influence of LSD were given a second drug–one which inhibited the binding of LSD to the glutamate regulating receptors–it neutralized the hallucinogenic effects (how they figured that one out I’ll never know).

The importance of this study is that previous treatments for schizophrenics concentrated on regulating serotonin levels by acting solely on the serotonin receptors. But now there is evidence that attacking both the serotonin and glutamate receptors are important when treating hallucinations and delusions common to both schizophrenics and acid heads.

Nice work out of the Mount Sinai School of Medicine. The scientists conducting the study have pointed out that they were not originally looking at schizophrenia at all, but, as you may or may not know, LSD does have a way of opening up doors to the unexplored. Doh! Did I just say that? Oh well–tune in, turn on, and drop out, hippies. See you in San Francisco.

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