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Oversoul by Alex Grey - An example of psychedelic artwork created by the renowned artist known as Alex Grey. This image is a representation of an experience report found within the 1901 book Cosmic Consciousness
(Русский перевод o PsychonautWiki / Russian Translation of PsychonautWiki. Работа в процессе / work in progress.)

Psychedelics are a class of hallucinogens that act primarily by binding to and activating the receptors for serotonin, a key signaling molecule in the brain. Serotonin plays a number of critical roles all throughout the human body but in the brain, it is especially linked to the proper functioning and regulation of sensory perception, behavior, mood, cognition and memory.[1]

Психоде́лики (от греч. ψυχή — «душа», «психика» и греч. δήλος — «ясный», «очевидный») — класс психоактивных веществ, изменяющих восприятие и влияющих на эмоциональное состояние и многие психические процессы, которые главным образом действуют путем связывания и активации рецепторов серотонина, ключевой сигнальной молекулы в Центральной Нервной Системе. Серотонин играет множество главных ролей внервной системе, но в мозге, он особенно связан с функцией и регуляцией чувствительного восприятия, поведения, настроения, познания и памятию.[1]

The term was coined by the British psychiatrist Humphrey Osmond in 1956 and derives from the Greek words ψυχή (psyche, "soul, mind") and δηλείν (delein, "to manifest") which taken together mean "soul-manifesting," with the implication being that psychedelics can allow one to access the soul and develop unused potentials of the human mind.[2][3]

In modern times, psychedelic substances are used in a range of contexts spanning from the shamanic, religious and "spiritual", or the transpersonal. They are often referred to as entheogens ("generating the divine within")[4] by those who use them for these purposes, although they are also used solely for recreational purposes as well.

Method of action

The diagram above demonstrates the neural connections associated with sobriety in comparison to being under the influence of psilocybin as demonstrated through the use of MRI scans. The width of the links is proportional to their weight and the size of the nodes is proportional to their strength. Note that the proportion of heavy links between communities is much higher (and very different) in the psilocybin group, suggesting greater integration[5]
This image shows how, with eyes-closed, much more of the brain contributes to the visual experience under LSD (right image) than under placebo (left image). The magnitude of this effect correlates with participants’ reports of complex, dreamlike visions.[6]
Figure 1 - Activation of the prefrontal network and glutamate release by psychedelics. The figure shows a model in which hallucinogens, such as psilocin, lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD) and dimethyltryptamine (DMT), increase extracellular glutamate levels in the prefrontal cortex through stimulation of postsynaptic serotonin (5-hydroxytryptamine) 2A (5-HT 2A ) receptors that are located on large glutamatergic pyramidal cells in deep cortical layers (V and VI) projecting to layer V pyramidal neurons. This glutamate release leads to an activation of AMPA (α-amino-3-hydroxy-5-methyl-4- isoxazole propionic acid) and NMDA (N-methyl-d-aspartate) receptors on cortical pyramidal neurons. in addition, hallucinogens directly activate 5-HT2A receptors located on cortical pyramidal neurons. This activation is thought to ultimately lead to increased expression of brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF).[7]
Further information: Serotonergic psychedelic

Psychedelics act on serotonin receptors (also referred to as 5-HT receptors) via the way in which they act as full or partial agonists through their structural similarity to the serotonin molecule. DMT, for example, works by simply fitting into and activating serotonin receptors. It has a higher affinity than serotonin itself for the receptors, therefore preventing serotonin from binding to the receptors by competing with it.

While the method of action behind psychedelics is not fully understood, serotonergic psychedelics are known to show affinities for various 5-HT receptors in different ways and levels and may be classified by their activity at different 5-HT subsites, such as 5-HT1A, 5-HT1B, 5-HT2A, etc. Many serotonergic psychedelics (such as the tryptamines) share very close chemical and structural similarities to serotonin itself which is thought to account for the range of affinities to 5-HT sites that it displays. It is almost unanimously agreed that serotonergic psychedelics produce their effects by acting as uniquely effective partial agonists at 5-HT2A receptor sites.[8]


The effects listed below are based upon the subjective effects index and personal experiences of PsychonautWiki contributors. The listed effects should be taken with a grain of salt and will rarely (if ever) occur all at once, but heavier doses will increase the chances and are more likely to induce a full range of effects. Likewise, adverse effects become much more likely on higher doses and may include injury or death.

Фармакологические группы

Psychedelic structural comparison diagram.

The "classical psychedelics" are all classed as serotonergic in nature.[8]This means that they structurally mimic the endogenous neurotransmitter known as serotonin, the neurotransmitter that regulates higher-level brain functions such as mood, sensory perception, cognition, and memory.[1] The diagram to the right shows the structural similarities and differences between the various classes of psychedelics and the serotonin neurotransmitter. The three classes (phenethylamines, lysergamides and tryptamines) all contain the same chemical rings (which have been labeled).

  • A represents the benzene ring, which all three classes contain.
  • B represents the pyrrole ring in both tryptamines and lysergamides.
  • A and B together form the indole ring.
  • C (cyclohexane) and D are only contained in the lysergamides, possibly contributing to their potency.


Responsible use

The information below describes and explains various concepts regarding the responsible use of psychedelic substances. These should be read over and carefully considered before one decides whether or not the potential benefits of experimenting with psychedelics outweighs the potential risks.


State of mind

Physical state

Trip sitters


Aborting trips

See also


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 Nichols, D. E., & Nichols, C. D. (2008). Serotonin Receptors. Chemical Reviews, 108(5), 1614-1641.
  2. A. Weil, W. Rosen. (1993), From Chocolate To Morphine: Everything You Need To Know About Mind-Altering Drugs.New York, Houghton Mifflin Company. p. 93
  3. Erowid. (1998, August 9). Erowid Humphry Osmond Vault. Retrieved from
  4. Dictionary - Entheogen |
  5. Petri, G., Expert, P., Turkheimer, F., Nutt, D., Hellyer, P. J., & Vaccarino, F. (2014). Homological scaffolds of brain functional networks, 14–18.
  6. Carhart-Harris, R. L., Muthukumaraswamy, S., Roseman, L., Kaelen, M., Droog, W., Murphy, K., … Nutt, D. J. (2016). Neural correlates of the LSD experience revealed by multimodal neuroimaging. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
  7. Vollenweider, F. X., & Kometer, M. (2010). The Neurobiology of Psychedelic Drugs: Implications for the Treatment of Mood Disorders. Nature Publishing Group, 11(9), 642–651.
  8. 8.0 8.1 Nichols, D. E. (2016). Psychedelics. Pharmacological Reviews, 68(2), 264-355.
  9. Psychedelics: entering a new age of addiction therapy |