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There Are No Major Differences Between an LSD and a Psilocybin Trip, Study Finds

By Leo Bear-McGuinness

Published: Mar 01, 2022   
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There are no significant differences between a hallucinogenic trip triggered by LSD and one triggered by the magic mushroom compound psilocybin, according to a new study.

Published in Neuropsychopharmacology, the study directly compared the effects of the two drugs in a double-blind, placebo-controlled trial. Over the course of five sessions, all 28 participants were given each drug at two different doses, as well as a placebo.

After reviewing the participants’ experiences, the researchers concluded that both doses of LSD and the higher dose of psilocybin produced comparable psychedelic effects.

Four trips, two drugs

Both LSD and psilocybin are known to induce psychedelic, hallucinogenic trips. But little is known, from a research perspective, about how these trips differ, if they do at all.

To find out more, a research team from the University Hospital Basel, Switzerland, set out to test how the same subjects experience LSD and psilocybin.

Over five sessions, the team gave 14 men and 14 women a placebo, 100 micrograms (µg) of LSD, 200 µg of LSD, 15 milligrams (mg) of psilocybin, and 30 mg of psilocybin.

At each session after they’d taken their drug, the participants were monitored by a researcher for 24 hours and asked to complete a questionnaire to detail their experiences.

The participants often rated the stronger dose of LSD (200 µg) as the most impactful of all four drugs, ranking it highly for feelings of “insightfulness” and visions of “complex imagery”.

However, after statistically analyzing all the participants’ scores, the researchers concluded that the effects of the 200 µg LSD dose were “not significantly different” to the effects of the 30 mg psilocybin dose, which were also “nominally similar” to the effects of the 100 µg LSD dose.

Only the 15 mg psilocybin produced significantly different (significantly lesser) effects.

Irrespective of whether the effects of the drugs were stronger or not, though, the effects of the LSD doses lasted significantly longer than the effects from both doses of psilocybin.

But aside from this duration difference, the researchers concluded that there were really no significant differences between the effects of the higher-dose trips.

“These findings further support the view that alterations of states of consciousness that are induced by LSD and psilocybin are more likely dose-dependent rather than substance-dependent and that the differences in their pharmacological profiles do not relevantly influence subjectively experienced effects,” the researchers wrote in their paper.

They also remarked that if the drugs were to be accurately scaled for two equivalent trips, a 20 mg dose of psilocybin would likely be equivalent to a 100 µg dose of LSD.

LSD and psilocybin research

The LSD-psilocybin study isn’t the first piece of psychedelic research from the University Hospital Basel.

In a paper published last September, several of the same researchers reviewed four double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled LSD trials to assess the safety of taking LSD. They concluded that a single dose is safe for healthy subjects in a controlled clinical setting.

Similarly, in a paper published earlier this year, a research team from King's College London concluded that psilocybin is safe to use in 10 mg and 25 mg doses.

Previous research into both substances has suggested that the compounds exert their psychedelic effects by acting on the body’s serotonin 2A receptors (5-HT2AR). Through this mechanism, and the presence of a trained therapist, many psychedelic researchers believe that psilocybin and LSD could become valuable drugs for the treatment of depression.

Indeed, a recent trial conducted by a team from Johns Hopkins University found that the anti-depressive effects of psilocybin can last for at least a year.


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