LSD-bunked: How Research Is Finally Separating The Facts From The Myths Surrounding Acid

LSD fueled a countercultural revolution in the 1960s, but is now becoming the subject of genuine scientific research. An Vino/Shutterstock

Regardless, LSD jumped out of the frying pan and into the fire in 1970, when the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) classified it as a Schedule I substance, implying that it has a high potential for abuse and no therapeutic value.

At the time, people across the US were experimenting with LSD and developing a distaste for violence and a sense of rebellion, which didn’t suit the agenda of a government that needed soldiers for its disastrous campaign in Vietnam. In response, the establishment began to make a series of unscientific and occasionally outrageous claims about the dangers of LSD, using the front pages of newspapers as a weapon against those who endorsed the drug.

Newspapers became a weapon against LSD in the 1960s. Source unknown

Myth four: LSD gives you more brain cells

Fighting fire with fire, supporters of LSD have responded to the militancy of anti-drug campaigners with some unscientific claims of their own. For instance, after a few small-scale studies began to indicate that psychedelics can increase creative thinking and treat depression, rumors emerged that acid and other similar drugs cause neurogenesis – or the birth of new brain cells.

Though there is no evidence that taking LSD has this effect, a recent study did reveal that some compounds found in a psychoactive Amazonian brew called ayahuasca can stimulate stem cells to develop into neurons when placed together in a petri dish. “Our research hasn’t shown that LSD causes neuroregenesis, but the beginning of our research with ayahuasca has shown that,” says Feilding. “We’ve only done it in a dish, we haven’t done it in vivo… although I’m very much wanting to do it with LSD as well, because I wouldn’t be at all surprised if we get the same results.”


At present, there is no evidence that taking LSD directly destroys or creates new brain cells. Sergey Nivens/Shutterstock

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