People who have “experimented” with LSD know that its mind-altering effects can last upwards of 18 to 24 hours, which is unusual for a hallucinogenic drug. After nearly 30 years of research, scientists have finally mapped the physical structure of this fascinating molecule, revealing why it tends to linger in the brain.
New research published in the science journal Cell shows that the unique shape of lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD) allows it to fit snugly within serotonin receptors, and in a way that locks it in for an extended period of time. This may explain why its effects last so long even though the doses are so small, and why the hallucinogenic drug is so potent. Importantly, these insights could inspire the development of novel therapeutics to treat conditions such as anxiety and chronic headaches.