The History of Psychedelics

The History of Psychedelics



The history of psychedelics is a fascinating journey that spans thousands of years and encompasses various cultures and civilizations. Psychedelics, also known as hallucinogens, are substances that alter perception, cognition, and mood, often resulting in profound sensory experiences. These substances have been used for spiritual, medicinal, and recreational purposes throughout history.

Ancient Origins:

The use of psychedelics can be traced back to ancient civilizations. One of the oldest known examples is the consumption of the Amanita muscaria mushroom by indigenous Siberian tribes. These mushrooms contain the psychoactive compound muscimol, which induces hallucinogenic effects.

In South America, indigenous cultures have a long history of using psychedelic substances. For example, the indigenous peoples of the Amazon rainforest have utilized ayahuasca for centuries. Ayahuasca is a brew made from the Banisteriopsis caapi vine and Psychotria viridis leaves. The active ingredient in ayahuasca is DMT (N, N-Dimethyltryptamine), a potent hallucinogen.

Psychedelics in Ancient Civilizations:

Ancient civilizations such as the Aztecs, Mayans, and Incas also had their own psychedelic traditions. The Aztecs used peyote cacti and psilocybin mushrooms for religious and spiritual purposes. They believed these substances allowed them to communicate with the divine and gain insight into the nature of the universe.

The Mystery Schools of Ancient Greece practiced rituals involving a substance called kykeon, believed to be a psychedelic mixture. These rituals aimed to induce altered states of consciousness and provide mystical experiences.

Psychedelics in Modern Times:

The modern era of psychedelics began in the mid-20th century. In the 1940s, Swiss chemist Albert Hofmann synthesized lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD) while working at Sandoz Laboratories. Hofmann accidentally discovered LSD’s psychedelic properties when he ingested a small amount of the compound and experienced its mind-altering effects.

In the following decades, LSD gained popularity as a tool for psychological exploration and therapy. Influential figures like Timothy Leary promoted the use of LSD, leading to the counterculture movement of the 1960s. However, due to concerns about its potential misuse and negative effects, LSD was eventually criminalized in many countries, including the United States.

Other psychedelics, such as psilocybin, mescaline, and DMT, also gained attention during this time. They were studied for their potential therapeutic applications and for their ability to induce mystical experiences and personal insights.

Revival of Interest:

In recent years, there has been a resurgence of interest in psychedelics for therapeutic purposes. Clinical research studies have shown promising results in the use of substances like psilocybin, MDMA (commonly known as ecstasy), and ketamine for treating conditions such as depression, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and addiction.

This renewed interest has prompted changes in drug policy and regulations. Some countries and states have decriminalized or legalized psychedelics for medical or personal use, while others have allowed research into their therapeutic potential.


The history of psychedelics is a complex tapestry woven through time, connecting ancient rituals with modern scientific exploration. From ancient indigenous cultures to the counterculture movement of the 1960s, psychedelics have played a significant role in human societies. As we move forward, ongoing research and evolving attitudes may provide a deeper understanding of these substances and their potential benefits in various therapeutic contexts.

psychedelic retreats uk

psychedelic retreats uk Psychedelic retreats are gaining traction in the UK. They offer a unique blend of traditional healing practices and modern

Psilocybin Therapy

Exploring the Benefits of Psilocybin Therapy In the realm of mental health, new therapeutic options are emerging. One such option is psilocybin

Psychedelic Retreats

Exploring the Healing Powers of Psychedelic Retreats In recent years, there has been a growing interest in the use of psychedelic substances

We need your help

To keep providing information, articles, support groups & podcasts we need your support for costs of hosting, equipment & time. 

Simple & Easy

Simply click the Donate Now button and donate £9.97 a month, which is around $12.48. For the cost of a burger you can be part of our community so we can create more resources for you.


Important info,
Please read!

Please read the disclaimer before proceeding.

We want to ensure you enjoy the content and our commitment to harm reduction means we want to ensure you read our disclaimer and agree to it before accessing the content of this website.