MDMA Vs. LSD for Recreational and Clinical Use

MDMA Vs. LSD for Recreational and Clinical Use

As much as 11.7% of the US population aged 12 or older uses an illicit drug once or more a month. The consequences related to the abuse of drugs cost the US 20% of the federal budget on an annual basis. While recreational use of drugs is commonly reported, there are some substances used in medical settings too.

Two of the most commonly used drugs include MDMA and LSD. While LSD has a more significant impact on the brain itself, MDMA is associated with mood and emotional alterations. We compared MDMA vs LSD to help you understand how they differ.

Overview of LSD

LSD chemical structure
LSD chemical structure

Scientific Name

Lysergic acid diethylamide

Other Names

Acid, L, Doses, Lucy, Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds, Blotter, California Sunshine, Yellow Sunshine, Cid, Tabs, Window Pane, Battery Acid, Dots, Looney Toons, and Superman.

Time Before Effects Start

Within 45 minutes

Duration of effects

6 to 15 hours, up to 12 hours

What Neurotransmitters Affected by LSD?

Serotonin, dopamine, norepinephrine

What is LSD?

LSD is a type of psychedelic. It is a synthetic, man-made chemical but produced from a fungus known to infect grains. The fungus is known as ergot. The chemical has a white appearance with a crystal form. It is often combined with other chemicals and materials to dilute the substance. The dilution is done due to the high potency of LSD. LSD is often turned into a liquid form. These "drops" are then added onto sugar cubes, blotting paper, or a gelatin sheet.

How LSD Affect the Brain

Studies have shown that LSD affects specific proteins located in the brain - particularly serotonin receptors. These receptors are found in brain cells. These studies have found that LSD affects how serotonin receptors function.

Normally, there are two signaling pathways activated by serotonin - B-arrestins and G-proteins. When a person is on LSD, there is a higher level of activity in the B-arrestins pathway than the G-protein pathway.

Common Effects of LSD

When LSD is consumed or administered, the effects can usually be felt without a period of 30 minutes. In some cases, it can take up to an hour before you feel the impact. The results can last for as long as 12 hours. Euphoria is the primary effect associated with LSD. The drug changes the person’s state of mind, which affects the person’s concentration and alters consciousness. Some people experience headaches, nausea, a fast heartbeat, faster breathing, sweating, and confusion. Higher doses can cause hallucinations.

Uses of LSD

LSD is used recreationally for its ability to cause hallucinations. Many people also use this drug for recreation purposes to experience the feeling of wellbeing and euphoria.

In recent years, emerging evidence shows that there might be medical uses for LSD too.

Minimal doses of LSD have shown potential in the treatment of anxiety and depression. This is also known as microdosing. There is also some evidence that LSD could be helpful in the treatment of PTSD.

Overview of MDMA

Figure 2. MDMA with the Carbon and Extra Hydrogen on MDA
MDMA chemical structure

There are both similarities and differences when a comparison between MDMA and LSD is made. It is essential to consider these factors, especially when considering the medical use of the chemicals.

Scientific name


Other Names

Molly, Ecstasy, Adam, Scooby snacks, Snowball, X, XTC, E, MD, Lovedrug, and Hug.

Time Before Effects Start

20 minutes to one hour

Duration of Effects

4-6 hours, up to 12 hours

What Neurotransmitters Affected by MDMA?

Serotonin receptors

What is MDMA?

MDMA is more commonly known as ecstasy. The term “MDMA” stands for methylenedioxymethamphetamine. This drug is derived from what is known as amphetamine. The drug is sometimes classified as a type of entactogen. This is a term that refers to compounds that increases both empathy and self-awareness. The drug often comes in the form of a capsule or a tablet. In several cases, the MDMA is mixed with other drugs in these capsules - such as cocaine, dextromethorphan, phencyclidine, heroin, and ephedrine.

How MDMA Affect the Human Brain

MDMA is known to have effects on neurotransmitters that are released in the brain. Three specific neurotransmitters are affected by MDMA. These include norepinephrine, dopamine, and serotonin. By increasing the amount of these neurotransmitters in the brain, the person usually experiences an increase in mood.

Common Effects of MDMA

Once MDMA is ingested, it takes about 45 minutes for the effects to start showing. People generally find that they feel a significant enhancement in the sense of their wellbeing. Empathy, an enhancement in the perception of senses, and extroversion are also common effects reported by users.

Uses of MDMA

Many people call MDMA or ecstasy a party drug. When used for recreation purposes, people will often take the drug at a club - which causes them to experience an enhancement in their sensory perception. An increase in energy is often also reported.

In a therapeutic or medical setting, there also seem to be specific uses for MDMA. Currently, there is significant interest in discovering how MDMA could be a treatment option for patients with post-traumatic stress disorder. Several reports have already provided positive results.

What Similarities Exist Between MDMA And LSD?

Both MDMA and LSD are known to affect the brain. They both affect neurotransmitters, but not in the same way. This causes alterations in perception and the user’s state of mind.

What Are The Differences Between MDMA And LSD?

The dose of LSD will usually be significantly lower compared to MDMA, as the chemical is known to be exceptionally potent. While LSD affects serotonin receptors, MDMA directly impacts the release of three neurotransmitters - including serotonin.

Use Of MDMA And LSD Together - Candyflipping

When the two substances are used together, people often refer to it as "candyflipping." The specific effects seem to differ a bit among users. Many people describe candyflipping as feeling like they are on a high dose of MDMA. Others said it brought them back to the acid trip. It is important to say in general that mixing drugs is not a smart idea and should only be attempted after careful consideration since the consequences can be devastating.

Comedown: LSD Vs. MDMA

MDMA can result in irritability and fatigue during the comedown. Due to the reduction in essential neurotransmitters, some people also experience a worsening of depression symptoms. LSD also tends to cause depression and anxiety during the comedown, especially if the patient experienced a bad trip.


It is important to remember that drugs that are bought on the street are not always what we think they are. Therefore, always keep caution, and also if you decide to experiment with these types of materials, it is recommended to test them with a dedicated testing kit before you put these materials into your body.

MDMA and LSD may have certain similarities, but the differences need to be noted too. While harmful when used recreationally, there do seem to be specific medicinal uses for these compounds.

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