In the middle of the twentieth century, the prevailing hypotheses in psychology and psychiatry were the hypotheses that mood, desires, feelings, memory, behavior, and personality are determined by the environment, childhood experiences, the relationship of reward, punishment, repression, and reinforcement of the subconscious mind, and, among others, psychosexual mechanisms. Brain activity was thought to be electrical in nature. Prior to the 1940s and early 1950s, the view that consciousness is influenced, if not conditioned, by the chemicals produced in the brain was completely alien to the medical environment.
The important events that influenced the change in existing paradigms and gave rise to neurochemistry and neuropharmacology and led to the direct development of psychopharmacology as a scientific discipline, in fact, centered around the discovery and research of the psychoactive effects of lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD), N-dimethyltryptamine (DMT), Psilocybin, and other psychedelic substances.
Perhaps the most important finding in psychedelic research has been the role of serotonin in mental processes. Serotonin, whose chemical structure was determined in 1949, has been known since the late 1800s, when it was found in clotted blood. Here we discover its hemostatic role: in case of tissue damage, it helps prevent bleeding. In the event of injury, serotonin is released from platelets, causing local vasoconstriction, and stimulating further platelet aggregation, helping to form a clot and stop bleeding.
Serotonin was also discovered in brain tissue in the early 1950s, indicating a potential role in the functioning of the brain and consciousness. The detection of serotonin in the brain was carried out independently and simultaneously by a team in the United States and another team in Edinburgh, Scotland, led by Sir John H. Gaddum. However, in the formation of early theories about the participation of serotonin in the processes of consciousness, Gaddum's experiments with LSD, carried out on himself, were of particular importance.
Sir John Henry Gaddum, a British pharmacologist, was involved in the initial research on serotonin. Four times in 1953, Gaddum took LSD to learn about its effects on his body. No doubt, thanks in part to these experiments on himself and in part to his laboratory experiments with LSD and serotonin, Gaddum was the first to suggest a link between LSD and serotonin, and then to suggest that the effects of LSD on serotonin function were responsible for the psychedelic effects of LSD. His handwritten notes on a self-experiment with 86 micrograms of LSD, dated June 1, 1953, read as follows:
"My hand looks weird, like it's a monstrous hand drawing that writhes until I focus my eyes on it. She has amazing color contrasts. I see as if more than a real drawing, which causes a rather strange feeling - as if it belongs to someone else. Everything in the room is rather unstable."
Thus, in the personality of Sir John Gaddum there was a fusion of personal experience of using LSD and scientific understanding, which gave impetus to the birth of chemical neuroscience.
Endogenous DMT plays an important role in states of consciousness such as ecstasy, daydreaming, creativity, clinical death ...
In these early reports, one can see the source of the ongoing research and development of modern psychotherapeutic drugs that spawned a billion-dollar pharmaceutical industry aimed at altering the actions of serotonin and other neurotransmitters in the brain to treat mental illness.
DMT has also strongly influenced the evolution of our understanding of normal and extraordinary states of consciousness. In 1961, Nobel laureate Julius Axelrod made a remarkable discovery: mammalian tissue (rabbit lung) has the ability to synthesize DMT.
While some researchers have been able to confirm the presence of DMT in human tissues and fluids, others have failed. Some scientists at the time believed that the result of laboratory observations by Axelrod and other researchers was more of an artifact than an objective phenomenon. The issue remained unresolved for almost 30 years.
Then, in 1999, Michael Thompson and his colleagues at Mayo Medical Institute in Rochester, Minnesota, using molecular biology techniques - cloning and sequencing - discovered a human gene that encodes an enzyme that synthesizes DMT from tryptamine. Thompson's discovery rekindled numerous discussions and fully reinforced the hypothesis that endogenous DMT plays an important role in states of consciousness such as ecstasy, daydreaming, creativity, clinical death, and others. The point of view that the presence of DMT in mammalian tissues is just an artifact not characteristic of the object, and distorts the results of the study, turned out to be untenable.
Since the days of Gaddum, research on psychedelics, serotonin and other neurotransmitters and their receptors has continued at an accelerated pace. Building on the early theories of Geddam, Wooley, and Shaw on the role of serotonin in the pharmacology of LSD, in the 1980s, Richard Glennon and colleagues at the Virginia Commonwealth University Graduate School of Pharmacy were the first to determine that the serotonin receptor 2- (now called receptor type 5- HT2A) is a major target that binds psychedelic agents such as lysergamide, phenylalkylamine, and indolealkylamine. Additional binding sites were discovered over the next two decades; there are currently 40 or more additional receptor sites for psychedelic drugs. Although 5-HT2A is still considered a common receptor for the effects of psychedelic drugs.
ESCAPE INTO THE DREAM － TERENCE MCKENNA