LSD is a drug that was first synthesized in 1938 by Swiss chemist Albert Hofmann. It is an empathogenic, hallucinogenic, and psychedelic substance of the lysergic acid diethylamide family. LSD has been used for therapeutic purposes as a psychotherapeutic aid but it is not considered by the government to be a medicine because it is considered a schedule 1 drug by the US government which means they find no medicinal purposes for it despite evidence to the contrary. In this article, we will discuss Bicycle Day and what happened on Bicycle Day with Dr. Hofmann, what Bicycle Day means to LSD users, and more!
What is LSD?
LSD is a drug that has been synthesized from lysergic acid, which can either be found in the fungus known as ergot which usually affects rye grain. Lysergic acid was derived from ergots because it contains alkaloids that are made by certain fungi and then absorbed with other seeds. While similar to an anti-depressant, LSD is known as a hallucinogenic drug that can alter a person’s mood, thoughts, and visions.
The effects of LSD
LSD use is not limited to those who are seeking psychedelia; the National Survey on Drug Use and Health has shown that there were 15 million people in 2016 alone who have reported using some kind of illicit drugs within 30 days of the time they were surveyed. The effects that LSD can have on a person’s body are heightened awareness, emotional changes, altered thinking processes, and spiritual experiences when taken in low doses and the high is called a trip or acid trip.
The most common effects when taking LSD are visual hallucinations, physical effects such as an increased heart rate and dilated pupils, emotional responses to things that would normally not cause the user stress or anxiety. LSD does not always produce a positive experience, some of the negative effects include fear, anxiety, panic attacks, and even flashbacks.
The discovery of LSD
LSD was discovered by Albert Hofmann who worked for Sandoz Laboratories researching drugs derived from ergot fungus which is found growing on rye. In 1938, the chemist was trying to make a new drug called serotonin which is used as a vasoconstrictor, which means it constricts blood vessels to affect blood flow. He combined lysergic acid with diethylamide and began testing it on animals before testing it himself by ingesting 250 micrograms of LSD accidentally in what would be his first experience with this hallucinogenic drug.
What is Bicycle Day?
Bicycle Day was the first time that Dr. Hofmann had ever taken LSD, but it wasn’t until years later after his discovery in 1938 that on April 19th, 1943 when he accidentally absorbed a 250 microgram dose, or .25 ml, of LSD, and then had the misfortune of having to bike home. After the accidental dose at his lab, Dr. Hofmann began to feel the effects of LSD and asked his lab assistant to escort him home on a bicycle because he felt like he was not able to function properly. It was during this bicycle ride that Dr. Hofmann had a series of different visions which included seeing “fantastic pictures” as well as experiencing feelings of anxiety, giddiness, and almost seasickness.
What happened to Hofmann on Bicycle Day?
LSD is one of the most popular recreational drugs in the world. His bicycle ride home from work on April 19th, 1943 changed his life forever when he accidentally took an unusually high dose of LSD and experienced what has been described as “a not unpleasant delirium.” He recorded his experience in his journal which would later become known as Bicycle Day because it occurred on that day.
After experiencing this intense bicycle ride home, Dr. Hofmann began conducting tests with LSD for the next two decades before it became illegal in 1966. He would give himself doses of LSD because he said that “he found his self-experiments to be most enjoyable and beneficial”. After the Bicycle Day occurrence, Dr. Hofmann began having more intense anxiety attacks which led him to shut down his LSD experiments for a while until he felt that it was safe enough again to resume them under controlled conditions.
As noted above, the feelings Hofmann described while on LSD are described as a “not unpleasant delirium,” in which he experienced anxiety, giddiness, and seasickness.
When was Bicycle Day first celebrated?
The first person after Hofmann to celebrate Bicycle Day is reported to be Thomas B. Roberts in DeKalb, Illinois, where he was a professor at Northern Illinois University. Bicycle Day is annually celebrated on April 19th, which commemorates the bicycle ride that Dr. Hofmann took while under the influence of LSD for the first time in 1943. Bicycle Day is used as a way to commemorate all psychedelic drug users around the world who have experienced this “not unpleasant delirium” and who have done so without experiencing any negative consequences. There is even a book now by Brian Blomerth called Bicycle Day which chronicles Hofmann’s experience.
Are there any negatives to taking LSD?
Although recreational use of acid is still relatively common today, its medical uses have been largely discontinued because the drug has become too much associated with counterculture movements such as hippie culture and psychedelic culture. Research has also been hampered by its labeling as a schedule 1 drug with no medicinal uses. As described by both Hofmann and our side effects section, the common negatives associated with tripping on LSD are anxiety, fear, and panic attacks.
Does LSD have medical purposes today?
Today, there are no sanctioned medical uses for LSD in the United States but that is not to say that it has no use at all because, despite the US government’s misconception, research still continues on the drug. Research published by MAPS (Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies) claims that LSD-assisted psychotherapy can be effective in treating anxiety-related to advanced illness and that it could also help with cluster headaches.
LSD has been used by researchers for years because of its ability to produce heightened awareness, changes in thought processes, and spiritual experiences when taken at a low dose. Today, the most common studies for LSD include treatment for alcoholism, depression in terminally ill patients, and anxiety associated with a life-threatening illness.
LSD is one of the classic psychedelic drugs, along with psilocybin mushrooms, and it was first discovered by Swiss scientist Albert Hofmann in his lab in 1938. It wasn’t until five years later that he accidentally absorbed 250 micrograms of LSD and was the first person to experience a psychedelic trip. He then asked his assistant to accompany him on the bike ride home where he experienced feelings of “a not unpleasant delirium” along with seasickness and giddiness. This day, April 19th, 1943, is known as Bicycle Day now and has been celebrated by the psychedelic community since 1985. It has led to wider acceptance of this hallucinogenic drug which is again being studied for its treatment of chemical dependence and depression today.
References and Sources:
- THE SATURDAY PROFILE; Nearly 100, LSD’s Father Ponders His ‘Problem Child’ (Published 2006)
- Albert Hofmann, the Father of LSD, Dies at 102 (Published 2008)
Fact Checked and Editorial Process
The Magical Mushroom is devoted to producing expert and accurate articles and information for our readers by tapping into psychedelic users, experts, journalists, and growing community. We encourage you to read more about our content, editing, and fact checking methods here. This was fact checked by Chris Riley.
Owner, entrepreneur, enthusiast of natural medicine