Psychedelic Receptors

By Leo Gura - October 1, 2018

There are dozens of different kinds of psychedelics and dozens of different kinds of neurotransmitter receptor sites in the brain. Each psychedelic has a unique neurotransmitter receptor site profile. This is like the psychedelic’s unique fingerprint, which determines the qualitative effects you feel during the trip. It can be illuminating to compare the fingerprints for various psychedelics.

The following is a chart I put together that you won’t see anywhere else. It maps over 40 receptor sites and a dozen psychedelic substances. Each vertical column represents the psychedelic’s receptor fingerprint. Dark squares represent lowest activity, bright squares represent highest activity.


Looking over this data, some interesting observations jump out:

  • Notice the unique fingerprints of MDMA, ibogaine, and salvia. Salvia and ibogaine are two of the most unique substances. Ibogaine activates almost all the opposite receptor sites of conventional psychedelics like LSD, psilocybin, and DMT. This should tell us that an ibogaine trip will be unlike any other (as people report). Salvia pretty much only activates one receptor site: KOR, which no other convention psychedelic activates at all. KOR alone is responsible for salvia’s notorious craziness.
  • Notice how LSD is the most active overall psychedelic. It lights up so many receptors, and it certainly feels that way when you’re tripping.
  • Comparing ordinary DMT with 5-MeO-DMT we can see that DMT is very active in the Alpha1A – Alpha2C range while 5-MeO is not. This suggests that the Alpha range is responsible for the intensive visual hallucinations that DMT is best known for, but which 5-MeO-DMT almost entirely lacks.
  • Pay close attention to the Imidazoline1 row. This receptor site seems to be responsible for the experience of infinite divine love. The 3 greatest activators of Imidazoline1 are: MDMA (219.7), DPT (340), and DIPT (356). But any psychedelic which is active in this row will have a good chance of giving an infinite love feeling during your trip. Interestingly, LSD has no Imidazoline1 activation.
  • Notice how unique and “mild” mescaline looks compared to 2C-B and 2C-E (its closest chemical cousins). Perhaps this is why people report that mescaline trips (despite the initial nausea) are some of the most pleasant trips, with few reports of bad trips.
  • Notice the differences and similarities between Psilocin & LSD.

The chart would be even better if I could find some data for 4-AcO-DMT, 4-HO-MET, AL-LAD, DXM, ketamine, bufotinine, and datura.

In the future, with more research, we should have really accurate maps like this for all psychedelic substances. We could even design new psychedelics to uniquely target specific receptor sites.

Data Source: Psychedelics and the Human Receptorome, Thomas S. Ray, Feb 2010

Click Here to see ALL of Leo's juicy insights.