Old 03-08-2003, 06:25 PM
Engywook is offline
Join Date: Jun 2002
Location: New York
Posts: 815

What is LSD6?

In the (rather sober) appendix to Naked Lunch, Burroughs refers to a substance called LSD6.

Albert Hoffman's problem child is, in fact, LSD-25. But had it ever been identified as LSD6 at any point? Or is the sixth lysergic acid derivative also psychoactive?

Or was Burroughs still lost in space, and the appendix only appeared to be well informed?

Web searching didn't help... exclude all references to Burroughs or Naked Lunch, and what's left is irrelevant...
Old 03-08-2003, 07:21 PM
Logical Phallacy is offline
Join Date: Sep 2002
Posts: 353
there is only one form of lsd.
Old 03-08-2003, 07:46 PM
Squink is offline
Join Date: Oct 2000
Location: Yes
Posts: 20,632
LSD-6 is the USS Lindenwald
Old 03-08-2003, 10:13 PM
Johanna's Avatar
Johanna is offline
Charter Member
Join Date: Oct 1999
Location: Altered States of America
Posts: 13,906
Albert Hoffman in 1938 was attempting to synthesize a compound based on ergot that would induce muscle contractions, to induce labor, since ergot was known to do that (but ergot by itself wasn't very safe; Hoffman was trying to isolate a safe compound that would do the trick). He made up a number of batches, but somehow they didn't seem like they were what he was looking for. He shelved the stuff.

Five years later, he started having dreams about this compound. His curiosity reawakened, he got out batch #25 of lysergic acid diethylamide and had another look at it. He must have absorbed some through his skin, because he noticed it doing odd things to his visual field. Then to investigate further he deliberately ingested what he thought was a minor dose of 500 micrograms, which was in fact a whopping big dose of LSD, although he couldn't have known that at first. Then he pedaled away on that legendary bicycle trip into a new world....

So that's why it was called LSD-25. Hoffman made his epochal discovery with the 25th batch of his experimental compound.

Burroughs in his Naked Lunch appendix wrote an article listing the addictiveness of pretty well every drug known to man, based on his experience. (He used as a running title, "The British Journal of Addiction, Vol. 53, No. 2"— was this facetious? Have I been whooshed?). In a footnote, he wrote
Since this was published I have discovered that the alkaloid of Bannisteria [i.e., ayahuasca] are closely related to LSD6, which has been used to produce experimental psychosis. I think they are up to LDS25 already.
I found this in my copy of Naked Lunch with a copyright date of 1959. So... is there really such a publication as the British Journal of Addiction? Yes. There is such a title in the Library of Congress Database, so Burroughs didn't just make up the title. Vol. 44 was dated 1947, so Vol. 53 would have been in 1956. Did Burroughs really publish this article as he claimed? He presented it as a letter sent to a doctor to fill him in on addictive properties, dated August 1956. This letter has been reproduced on countless web sites, but without looking up the actual back issue of the journal from 1956, I can't verify Burroughs isn't pulling our leg. But it does look genuine.
Old 03-08-2003, 11:34 PM
Johanna's Avatar
Johanna is offline
Charter Member
Join Date: Oct 1999
Location: Altered States of America
Posts: 13,906
I looked up Albert Hofmann's story in his own words: LSD, My Problem Child, Chapter 1.
I further employed my synthetic procedure to produce new lysergic acid compounds for which uterotonic activity was not prominent, but from which, on the basis of their chemical structure, other types of interesting pharmacological properties could be expected. In 1938, I produced the twenty-fifth substance in this series of lysergic acid derivatives: lysergic acid diethylamide, abbreviated LSD-25 (Lyserg-säure-diäthylamid) for laboratory usage.
I was mistaken above on one detail: Hoffmann's whopping big experimental dose was a mere 250 micrograms. Now, he knew that he had a highly potent substance there, and was being deliberately cautious and prudent to start out with a miniscule dose, which he measured out very carefully. But even an expert chemist like Hoffmann could not have anticipated just how potent it really was. His supervisor couldn't believe the report—until he tried LSD himself and was flabbergasted.

As for LSD-6, all I found with Google was an interview with Ken Kesey in which he mentioned the CIA mind-control experiments that first turned him on to LSD as a human guinea pig. Sinister, eh? Kesey named LSD-25 and LSD-6 as the drugs used in the CIA experiments.

I still haven't answered the OP question of where this "LSD-6" name came from. It might mean the sixth in the series of lysergic acid derivatives prepared at the Sandoz lab in 1938, but I doubt that. Hofmann only reported on LSD-25. Going by the references from Burroughs and Kesey, LSD-6 was a name connected with those Army and CIA mind control experiments. It isn't mentioned outside those contexts. Hofmann's book does not mention the sinister American government experiments. It does have a chapter on the interesting study by serious psychologists like Dr. Stanislav Grof done quietly in the 1950s before Timothy Leary blew the whole thing up into a media circus which got it outlawed. But the only chemical name Hofmann uses in his book is LSD-5. No 6.

In the Poetic Irony department, I find it interesting that Hofmann was looking for a drug to induce labor. And so, indeed, he turned out to be the midwife at a very extraordinary birth. He called LSD his "child" in recognition of his maieutic function, one that Socrates may not have dreamed of.
Old 05-22-2020, 01:15 AM
ChiefKeef is offline
Join Date: May 2020
Posts: 1
The first time Hoffman took lsd it was actually 2.5 MG so 2500 micrograms and he rode his bike home!

Last edited by ChiefKeef; 05-22-2020 at 01:19 AM.
Old 05-22-2020, 10:49 AM
markn+ is offline
Join Date: Feb 2015
Location: unknown; Speed: exactly 0
Posts: 3,318
Originally Posted by ChiefKeef View Post
The first time Hoffman took lsd it was actually 2.5 MG so 2500 micrograms and he rode his bike home!
Wikipedia says:
Originally Posted by Wikipedia
On April 19, 1943, Hofmann performed a self-experiment to determine the true effects of LSD, intentionally ingesting 0.25 milligrams (250 micrograms) of the substance, an amount he predicted to be a threshold dose (an actual threshold dose is 0.02 milligrams).
Do you have a cite for 2500 micrograms?
Old 05-22-2020, 11:28 AM
HMS Irruncible is offline
Join Date: Nov 2004
Posts: 9,358
Originally Posted by Engywook View Post
Albert Hoffman's problem child is, in fact, LSD-25. But had it ever been identified as LSD6 at any point? Or is the sixth lysergic acid derivative also psychoactive?
All of Hoffmann's test batches were derivatives of lysergic acid. AFAIK, no special use was found for any of them, and we don't know what compounds were in the other batches. They were shelved for years until Hoffmann got an unexplained urge to go back and re-test batch #25. He determined that it was highly psychoactive, and the active component was LSD.

The other batches may have contained psychoactive analogs, or there may have been nothing interesting at all. You'd think after his serendipitous result with LSD-25, Hoffmann might have been curious enough to re-test the other supposedly useless batches, but I've never seen any information published to that effect. Hoffmann continued synthesizing lysergic acid derivatives for some time after that, which makes me think there really was nothing else of interest in the original 1938 series.


Thread Tools
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is Off
HTML code is Off

Forum Jump

All times are GMT -5. The time now is 06:28 AM.

Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.7
Copyright ©2000 - 2020, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.

Send questions for Cecil Adams to: cecil@straightdope.com

Send comments about this website to: webmaster@straightdope.com

Terms of Use / Privacy Policy

Advertise on the Straight Dope!
(Your direct line to thousands of the smartest, hippest people on the planet, plus a few total dipsticks.)

Copyright © 2019 STM Reader, LLC.

Copyright © 2017