Podcast # 496: Hallucinogens - The Emergency Medical Minute

Author: David Holland, MD

Educational Pearls:

  • Hallucinogenics have been used for a variety of cultural and religious reasons for thousands of years
  • In the 1960’s a Harvard professor began experimenting with psilocybin mushrooms. There was resulting public outcry, eventually leading to all hallucinogens being listed as schedule I drugs
  • Common hallucinogens include: LSD (acid), Mescaline (peyote), DMT (ayahuasca), Psilocybin (mushrooms), MDMA (ecstacy)
  • Effects vary by specific drug but may include auditory/visual hallucinations, increased empathy, loss of fear
  • Physiologic effects often include mydriasis, tachycardia, hyperthermia and hypertension 
  • Recent neuroimaging studies have shown increased neural connectivity in people after administration of hallucinogens
  • Each hallucinogen has a specific dose and duration, some can last half a day or more 


Heal DJ, Gosden J, Smith SL. Evaluating the abuse potential of psychedelic drugs as part of the safety pharmacology assessment for medical use in humans.Neuropharmacology. 2018 Nov;142:89-115. doi: 10.1016/j.neuropharm.2018.01.049. Epub 2018 Feb 8. Review. PubMed PMID: 29427652.

Garcia-Romeu A, Kersgaard B, Addy PH. Clinical applications of hallucinogens: A review. Exp Clin Psychopharmacol. 2016 Aug;24(4):229-68. doi: 10.1037/pha0000084. Review. PubMed PMID: 27454674; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC5001686.

Bogenschutz MP, Johnson MW. Classic hallucinogens in the treatment of addictions.Prog Neuropsychopharmacol Biol Psychiatry. 2016 Jan 4;64:250-8. doi: 10.1016/j.pnpbp.2015.03.002. Epub 2015 Mar 14. Review. PubMed PMID: 25784600.

From CarePoint PA Academy

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