Trippin Tuesday: Inside LSD (Updated)

( – promoted by buhdydharma )

from Erowid image vaults

Just wanted to give a heads up that National Geographic’s Explorer series will be premiering, Inside LSD, tonight (Tuesday 11/3) @ 7 PM and 10 PM; also showing on Sat Nov 7 at 4PM and Tues Nov 10 at 3 PM (TV Schedule).

review from NY Times

…as the 40th anniversary of Woodstock fades in the rearview mirror, the National Geographic Channel is giving LSD a second chance, as it were. On Tuesday night in its Explorer series, INSIDE LSD talks to scientists and therapists who are examining the narcotic (sic) anew, trying to learn specifically how it works in the brain and whether it might have uses that Jerry Garcia never envisioned. The program, as its narrator, Peter Coyote, says, is an attempt to separate the myth from the molecule.

One segment explores the possibility that some form of LSD could help sufferers of cluster headaches, and its footage of one such sufferer in the throes of an attack leaves you wishing the poor fellow relief no matter where it might come from. In another part of the program, a woman with terminal cancer talks about how an LSD trip helped her break free of the anxiety about death that was consuming her final months.

(note: I put “sic” after narcotic because LSD is not usually classified as such, medically or legally.)

Even if you watch the show you won’t see the following interview with Nick Sand, an underground LSD chemist.  It was cut from the program but the video is available at the Natl Geo site.  

Sand is an extraordinary guy – I’ve met him a few times.  He was a member of the Brotherhood of Eternal Love and one of the manufacturers of Orange Sunshine (which was actually an analog of LSD and therefore not illegal at the time).  He is also a practitioner of yoga, the Kabballah, meditation, Krishna consciousness, Sufism, aikido, Tai Chi, and Zen, as well as having studied the teachings of Krishnamurti, Milarepa, Ramakrishna, Rajneesh, and other great philosophers. In the early years of psychedelic exploration, Sand was one of the original guides at the Millbrook commune, where thousands of individuals were turned on. From 1996 until late 2000, he was a prisoner of the War on Drugs–first in Canada and then in the USA (Bio).

Some quotes from the video:

  • I felt the work I was doing was so important for humanity that I was willing to take the risks of being the alchemist, hiding away in his laboratory, making chemicals.

  • Q. How many hits do you think were made of orange sunshine?  

    A. (starts calculating doses in his head) … 10 million doses per kilo times 14 kilos … what’s 10 million times 14?  It’s a large number.

  • Narrator:  Arrested in 1972, he escaped to Canada while on appeal. For two decades Sand lived the life of a fugitive.  Until 1996 when drug enforcement officials shut him down for good. By this time he estimates that he and colleagues made a quarter of a billion doses. He has no regrets and still refers to LSD not just as a drug but as a sacrament.

After I watch the show I’ll post an update with my own review and/or thoughts about it.



First – Thanks for all the comments everyone.  I got a kick out of reading all the stories.  LOL!

I watched the show and overall I liked it a lot.  It gave a lot of new information on research that is being done, while making the point that this important work hit a brick wall 35 years ago.  As a trained Pharmacologist (I gave up that career a long time ago) that has always been a huge disappointment to me and a great loss to society as well. Now things are starting to change.

I liked that they discussed the therapeutic potential as well as the effects on spirituality and creativity.  Drugs aren’t just for sick people, ya know.

The show began with some of the psychedelic elders describing the effects:

  • Connectedness

  • Duality disappears

  • Opens your eyes to a vast horizon you never knew existed.  

  • The whole Universe is inside you.

  • It amplifies the mind.

  • Never see the world the same way again.  

I was glad they didn’t spend too much time on the background – that story has been told so many times already. They also mention the bad trips and how a small minority of dosers  may be launched into a psychotic state.  It’s always important to mention the dangers but it didn’t sound propagandized.  Some of the negative effects:

  • You don’t feel attached to your body

  • Fear, Anxiety, Paranoia

  • Loss of sense of time

  • Disorientation

  • A waking nightmare

  • You just want it to be over  

A few segments on research:

Cluster headaches – using Bromo-LSD which is non-hallucinogenic.  A study in Germany found it helped 5 out of 6 patients to relieve the intense pain and improve quality of life.

Brain mapping – research conducted in Zurich using 64-electrode arrays attached to the scalp, along with PET scans, to map activity during altered states.  Results show the most activity in the cortex, thalamus and limbic system.  Structures related to sensory perception,  imagination and arousal, e.g. the thalamus is a structure that all sensory input gets filtered through before passing on to the cortex.

They claim we receive over 11 million bits of information per second, but our brain is only capable of processing 200 bits/sec.  LSD may increase the amount of info allowed in by damping down some of the filters.  It “deconditions the mind”.  

Finally, there were a few segments of people actually under the influence.   One woman was having a therapy session to enhance her creativity.  Another woman with terminal cancer took it to relieve her fear of dying.   She regained her faith that “there’s something out there.”  Spiritual reactions are common with psychedelic use.  It produces a feeling of oceanic boundlessness and a close proximity to God and the divine.

Two Burning Man devotees provided a look at what a “non-therapeutic” session looks like – playing with toys, having fun out in the woods.  Both of them sing LSD’s praises, saying how much it benefits them in ordinary life.  The woman says she is calmer, more patient and imaginative.  The man says it gives him a “Beginner’s mind”; taking novel approaches to solve problems.  Everything flows.

My final note from the show is this profound thought:

Psychedelics are a tool to turn us into what we are supposed to be.

I truly believe that.  


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  1. I’d also like to take this opportunity to plug MAPS (Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies).  They are funding some of the research on LSD, MDMA, and psilocybin as treatments for PTSD and anxiety in patients with terminal illness.  They are holding a Psychedelic Conference next year – for medical professionals and lay people alike.

    Disclaimer:  I am an unpaid volunteer for MAPS.  

    • Edger on November 3, 2009 at 19:34

    thanks for that, OTB. Is the full show series online there or only on TV? I’m at school so forgive me if I missed something there…

    • Alma on November 3, 2009 at 21:40

    Oh the memories!

    • Edger on November 3, 2009 at 23:13

    • Edger on November 3, 2009 at 23:37

  2. Jefferson Starship

  3. The professor was connecting buddhism, confucianism and taoism. I was really into it. I was praying she wouldn’t call on me, because all I could have said was “WOW”, in that drawn out and froggy like sound—

    I lucked out on that one.  

    • Diane G on November 4, 2009 at 01:48

    we’re already there, waiting for it.

    My husband was a test subject before test subjects were cool. Hell he once took a college final on 1000 mics just to prove he could ace it that way. And did.


  4. Towering Inferno in a theatre equipped with the new surround sound, or whatever they called it, on 4 way WP. Then we got lost going back to Pearl Harbor and when we finally found it, were too afraid to drive on base, so we parked and walked on.  

    I won’t tell you about the time the same two buddies went out to sea on a submarine and . .  

  5. this and acid might have you poking a school building with a stick so that it jiggles enough to knock down the coat hanging off the side of it….that may or may not actually be there.

    From what i’ve been told 😉

  6. Boarded a plane for boston at Dorval international in Montreal.

    Did a couple of hits at boarding, & was starting to get off when we were coming in for a landing.

    I`d never been to Boston before so I figured it would be a trip to alight in a strange (to me ) city tripping my head out.

    I spent two days there & forget how I got back to Montreal, where I smoked some DMT crystals up in a sculpture on top of Mount Royal with a few friends, as a welcome back party.

    • Edger on November 4, 2009 at 03:28

  7. and a little heavy for me anyway.

    ‘Shrooms, on the other hand, always make me talk to trees – and the great thing is the trees always talk back. 🙂

    • Miep on November 4, 2009 at 04:47

    because religious epiphanies are really kind of different…but that’s where I got my lifetime affection for the song “Angel from Montgomery,” during a religious epiphany, the only one I’ve ever had.

    I was living parttime in the attic of my house, and had set up a kind of shrine there, with a radio, and Rolling Stone newspapers (they were newspapers back then) and hippie posters on the insides of the slanted attic roof. I’d site there and look out the little attic window at the yard, and watch what people were doing down below (that was where people parked their cars, and came and went).

    This was in the early 70’s and I was living close enough to Boston and Providence both, to pick up some really great radio, and listen to it I did.

    One afternoon I was sequestering myself thusly, and they were playing Angel From Montgomery on the radio, the Bonnie Raitt version, and suddenly I saw it.

    It was all very clear, it was all about light, and there was somebody there, but it wasn’t like some person, it was bigger than that, enormous, and quite neutral, except it was all tied up in the sun. So it was kind of benevolent, whatever it was. And it spoke to me, whatever that means.

    It was a calming, reassuring, amazing, and overwhelming experience. It’s always stayed with me.

    It left me with a sentence. “There is no reflection without the mirror.”

    It took me years to process this statement. I think now that what it meant was that we are the mirror, what we see as God is the reflection, and what is being reflected is teh great mystery.  

  8. I haven’t been very verbal lately.  I’m in a mental cocoon.  But this has been good to read.

    • Inky99 on November 4, 2009 at 06:54

    that I’ve never done it.

    They always tell me that I sure seem like I have.

    I take it as a compliment.

  9. … you can be anyone.

    (From an LP by Timothy Leary; a CD is or at least used to be available on the Rykodisc label)

    • publicv on November 4, 2009 at 16:21

    final assessment.  I have long wanted to try it under supervision.  Never had the opportunity.

    • Atticus on November 4, 2009 at 18:45

    I’ll bet Peter Coyote found it hard to narrate without telling the story of how he got his name.

  10. I almost missed it, reading the interesting comments! lol


    The show began with some of the psychedelic elders describing the effects:

       * Connectedness

       * Duality disappears

       * Opens your eyes to a vast horizon you never knew existed.  

       * The whole Universe is inside you.

       * It amplifies the mind.

       * Never see the world the same way again.  

    why the need for a “drug”… okay, not need. I see it more as maybe…. what to call it? an activator, stimulus, something, that activates or accentuates what’s already there, in our brains. and psyches. Accelerant…. that’s the word Im looking for.

    So why all the worship of the substance that produces or enhances that sense, and why so little attention to the reality itself of the Connectedness…? I dont really understand that. The means vs the end?

    I know the Connectedness, but I admit it took me a long time to accept that I know it. Its always been there though.

    I mean, it just is.

    • Edger on November 4, 2009 at 23:41

    • Edger on November 5, 2009 at 00:13

    I saw one of these last night, about 1 AM. I’d never seen one before, but it was pretty amazing. This picture doesn’t do it justice. It was about half the width of the sky. And I was straight.

    • Robyn on November 5, 2009 at 05:05

    …not because I don’t have stories, but rather because of the election shit.  I didn’t want to be a downer.

  11. but wanted to tell an lsd story

    I had a bad cold and was up all night reading Buddhist texts like the Heart Sutra. Early the next morning a friend came down from his cabin (in the N Cal woods) and he had some clinical acid from Sandoz.

    In short, satori, white light, oneness. I remember listening to The Moody Blues and watching dust fall through a sunbeam forever – in “the fourth time” that Buddhist scripture mentions.

    I happen to also have had the “vajra thunderbolt” experience, not on acid, well, one one average toke of hashish, and meditating on my new vajra bracelet, and it was the same Buddha consciousness. The vaunted Vajrayana path leads to the same thing, then. Without the special effects, I might add, because the lsd trip with the cuckoo clocks was pretty strange.

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